Transcript #502


MuggleCast 502 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #502, All The Ways Hogwarts Is A Security Nightmare

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: We have a big episode today. After years of occasionally touching on the subject – laughing about it – we’re going to run through every security and safety issue at Hogwarts. It was just time to get it all out there to prove the case and to laugh and cry about it all. But before we do that, there is a little news item to mention. We here at the show have been concerned about the fate of Lavender Brown. The books left it open ended – the final book did, I should say – and the movie, it was a little more clear in the movie. She looked like she was dead, but we didn’t know for sure. And then Pottermore – now Potter-no-more – came along and they published character profiles, and they had one for Lavender, and it said, “Fate: presumed dead.” And we were like, “Presumed dead? This is J.K. Rowling’s website. Shouldn’t she know?” So then we started calling it out – I think I wrote about it on my site Hypable – and then that section disappeared!

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: Didn’t say if she was alive or dead. Just nothing. Well, now people have noticed that in the popular iOS Android game Wizards Unite, there is a page for Lavender Brown, and it says, “A member of Dumbledore’s Army, she tragically died during the Battle of Hogwarts.” Now, I know this is Wizards Unite; it’s not canon, technically. But I feel like they’re probably working off of some sort of behind-the-scenes database with all of the canon information, all the officially approved information that they can publish in the game, right? So is this confirmation?

Eric: This might be as close as we’re going to get.

Micah: Agreed.

Laura: I agree. I still… justice for Lavender, though. They did her dirty.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Like, come on. We’ve been wondering about this for years, and then finally, instead of it being a big announcement, a solemn recognition of what happened, they’re like, “Let’s just put it in Wizards Unite.”

Andrew: [laughs] “Let’s bury it.”

Laura: “She’s dead.”

Andrew: Last sentence in her character bio.

Laura: “Dead as hell.”

[Eric laughs]

Micah: It is an appropriate news story, though, for the discussion we’re about to have on Hogwarts being a security nightmare. Students just die in battles that are hosted on the school grounds. I think honestly, though, they’re saving Lavender for the upcoming spinoff series; it’s going to be a big reveal. She’s basically the Michael Myers of the Harry Potter series.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh my gosh.

Micah: You never really know if she’s dead or not.

Andrew: Oh, fun.

Laura: That’s a great idea.

Andrew: I’m going to take this as canon because I feel like that’s some sensitive information that I think they would need to pull from some sort of behind-the-scenes, like I said, database with all the canon info.

Eric: Yeah, they can’t announce a new Lavender Brown spinoff series while this information is in one of their games.

Andrew: Yeah, Wizards Unite just can’t go out there and claim Lavender Brown is dead without being sure.

Eric: Right!

Main Discussion: All the ways Hogwarts is a security nightmare

Andrew: So let’s move to our main discussion now: all the ways that Hogwarts is a security and safety nightmare.

[“It’s starting to sound like a security nightmare!” sound effect plays with sirens]

Andrew: Thank you, Linden, for making that sound effect. So we started talking about this on the show probably two, maybe three years ago. This idea had entered my head because I was at a Halloween party in Chicago and I was dressed as a Hatstall student, like I just couldn’t decide which House to be in so I was wearing gear from all four. And somebody decided to start talking to me about Harry Potter, and he was bringing up all the ways that Hogwarts was a security nightmare. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so funny,” and then I brought it to MuggleCast. And it’s really resonated with listeners, but we’ve never actually spent an entire episode on it. So it’s an important discussion because for decades, the students and the teachers at the school have been lied to. “Harry Potter is in danger? Put him at Hogwarts. It’s safe there, totally!” they claim.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: “Major threats afoot to the larger wizarding world? Oh, keep all the kids at Hogwarts. It’s fine; no problem. That’s the safe place for them. Threats within the school? Within the school? Oh, keep the kids in school. No problem. It’s totally fine. Don’t worry, parents.” Even Hagrid, remember that one time, said Gringotts was the safest place in the world for something you wanted to hide – except perhaps Hogwarts. So we’ve been misled this whole time. You know who had it right? Dobby. Remember when he said, “Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts”? “Harry Potter must stay where he is safe. He is too great, too good, to lose. If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger!” Dobby warned us so early on about the staircases and the Forbidden Forest.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: So Dobby wasn’t talking about the looming threat of Slytherin’s monster.

Andrew: Nope.

Eric: He was just talking about Hogwarts’s natural state as way too dangerous.

Andrew: Exactly. And we will talk about Slytherin’s monster; that is one of the biggest security nightmares at Hogwarts.

Eric: Obviously, yeah.

Andrew: But he was also talking about the staircase. That was actually a deleted scene.

Micah: I don’t know how I feel about this, because isn’t Dobby part of the security nightmare that Harry encounters in his second year there?

Andrew: Whoa.

Micah: Doesn’t he take some action that injures Harry?

Eric: Yeah, the Bludger.

Micah: Could have killed him?

Andrew: Don’t you… well, we will talk about Quidditch being a problem, but that wasn’t Dobby’s fault. I mean, it was, but it’s not his fault they play Quidditch.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: It’s like security nightmare inception.

Andrew: [laughs] And Harry actually caught on to the fact that Hogwarts was a security nightmare by the end of his time there. He said in Deathly Hallows – Part 2 to Snape, “It seems despite your exhaustive defensive strategies, you still have a bit of a security problem, Headmaster.” See? So there’s been some clues over the years that Hogwarts was a total mess; we just really didn’t catch on until more recently. But that’s the thing; you grow. You live and learn. So we have 23 here.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: And I’m sure we’ll have some others that spin off of these. Let’s start with security nightmares 101: moving staircases at Hogwarts. We’re introduced to these early on. Why do the staircases have to move?

Eric: It’s fun.

Laura: It’s magical.

Andrew: It’s not fun.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: It’s like train tracks, right? They’re made to be switched so that you can have more efficient transportation. Now, I will say what I don’t understand is why one of these moving staircases, if I recall correctly, has a missing step.

Eric: Yep. A trick step.

Laura: Yeah, why?

Andrew: Ugh, my gosh. We have 24 now.

Eric: You will twist an ankle. That is a health and safety nightmare.

Andrew: Well, and how about this? How about a warning that the staircases are going to move? Is there any sort of warning, like a little “Alert, alert, they’re about to move, hold on”?

Micah: The portraits, right? I mean, they’re not doing anything else.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, they should… I mean, do they move at certain intervals? Is it random? Because when you’re on a monorail or a train or a plane, what do they tell you before takeoff or the monorail starts moving? “Please be seated. Please hold on to the railing; it’s about to move.” And then what happens when you’re on the subway and you’re not holding on to anything and the subway car starts to move? You fall backwards. You look like an idiot. This is what would happen with the moving staircases. This is what does happen! And Hogwarts doesn’t tell us this, but I am sure that at least three students a year fall off the stairs and fall to their deaths because of these moving staircases.

Laura: Is this your Bill Maher “I don’t know it for a fact, I just know it’s true”?

Andrew: [laughs] Yes, yes. I don’t know it for a fact, but I just know it’s true. Students die on these staircases.

Eric: [laughs] The staircases as we commonly think of them are more of a movie-ism, in my opinion. I think it’s one of those things that J.K. Rowling really liked and may have embraced in later books, but I think the textual basis for the staircases just straight up moving… let’s not forget that’s how they get to the third floor corridor, because they omitted the whole trophy room scene, or the Midnight Duel scene, so that was a convenient movie-ism. But also, the actual textual basis was the line about staircases on Harry’s first day of school: “There were 142 staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday…”

Andrew: There you go.

Eric: “… some with a vanishing step halfway up…” So it’s not that the staircases would ever move while you’re standing on them; that’s ridiculous. But the idea that the configuration of Hogwarts internally is changing, so that a staircase would just happen to put you out somewhere else, that sounds more like a transporter beam than moving… yeah.

Micah: This sounds like it’s a psychological nightmare to me…

[Eric laughs]

Micah: … especially for young students that are trying to get to class, especially first years. They’re trying to make sure they’re on time, they know where they’re going… all these staircases doing different things, taking them in different directions, what kind of impact is that having on their mental health at such a young age?

Eric: I think it keeps their wits about them. It keeps their wits; they allow themselves… they’re learning valuable life lessons, like having their bearings and figuring out where they are from other landmarks and not the same old set of staircases.

Micah: If that landmark is in the same place every day.

Eric: Well, that’s true; the suits of armors move too. Maybe that’s a… [laughs] you can get lost. Here’s something that’s pretty much exactly as it appears in the books and the movies: the fact that Hogwarts is located right next to what some call or have called the “Dark Forest,” the Forbidden Forest. This is a forest containing endless dangerous creatures. Students are told to stay out, but we know that has the effect of only increasing their interest in taking a look. There’s no gate. There’s no security. You can just walk right in, and not only that, but due to the proximity of this crazy dangerous dark forest, the students are then given detention in the forest. So one of our listeners Feryal brilliantly points out, “Third years cannot go to Hogsmeade without written permission, but first years can go into the forest of crazy creatures under the supervision of Hagrid? The man who sees Acromantulas as teddy bears?” We’ll get to Hagrid. I’m sure there’s a whole list of Hagrid as a security nightmare on these things.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: But yeah, the Black Forest. “This is a perfect place for a school,” thought the founders. Uh… hello.

Andrew: Right next to a dangerous forest, yeah. The detention really gets me because it’s like, “You’re not allowed to go in here, except for when you’re being punished. And we don’t care if you’re a first year; you still have to go in here.” If you’re allowed to serve a detention in the Forbidden Forest, I think that implies that the Forbidden Forest actually isn’t that dangerous, which isn’t true. So it’s misleading, which makes it more dangerous.

Eric: Right. Well, and there’s so many kinds of danger, too, in the forest. There’s centaurs, for example; they could kill you. But that’s more of like, if they disagree with you or if you try and interfere or whatever, so there’s so many ways you can get yourself in hot water. It’s not just with dangerous poisons or regular old nature stuff, getting lost and starvation and the elements. There’s a number of things.

Andrew: There’s a car running loose in there.

Eric: Yeah, you could get hit by a car in the Forbidden Forest!

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Oh my gosh. Yeah, this feels to me like perhaps some medieval punishment that’s just been passed down over the years. I feel like that’s how we can explain a lot of these security nightmares.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: It’s just common practices that have been passed down over the centuries.

Andrew: So nobody thinks of it anymore.

Laura: Yeah, exactly. They’re like, “That’s just normal. Yeah, send the kids out into the forest with the haunted car and the giant spiders. Yeah, that’s fine.”

Andrew: I think… I obviously don’t want the forest torn down. We don’t like deforestation here at MuggleCast. But maybe a nice tall gate, or an age line like they put around the Goblet of Fire.

Eric: Ohh.

Andrew: I mean, come on. There’s ways to easily keep the kids out.

Eric: The fact that they traipse into the forest deliberately looking for something that can kill a unicorn is another thing entirely. [laughs] That’s the worst.

Laura: Well, also, Hagrid takes them into the forest for his class, remember? To see the Thestrals. And he was like, “Oh, I’m not taking you very far,” but it’s like, “I’m still in.”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: There’s no in or out of danger when you’re in the forest. If you’re in, you’re in.

Laura: Right. Exactly.

Eric: I wonder if originally they didn’t think that the proximity of all this nature to the school would be good for students, to learn more about their world? But something or someone happened and then it was just way too dangerous.

Andrew: Or why did it have to be right next to the school? It’s right next to the school.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: It’s just a nice outdoor classroom.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Nice? Or sick?

Micah: I’m actually okay with the forest. I think it adds character to Hogwarts.

Eric: “Character.”

Andrew: Oh, these all add character. That’s for sure.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Laura: I was going to say – speaking of a very different kind of danger – let’s talk about the Black Lake.

Eric: Okay.

Laura: Hogwarts plumbing apparently drains into this lake.

[Andrew gags]

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Which just raises so many questions for me. First of all, the giant squid lives there. That’s the giant squid’s house, and you’re flushing your you-know-what into his house! What?

Andrew: [laughs] Oh man, this would have been a perfect episode to have the host of FartCast on, getting back to our pre-show discussion.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Micah: Yeah, let’s see if we can get that for next week.

Laura: This also raises the question for me, why was the second task in the Triwizard Tournament to make them swim in this lake?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh no!

Andrew: Look, I’m telling you, I looked it up, and yes, this is where the Hogwarts plumbing leads to. It’s true.

Eric: It’s a sepsis nightmare.

Laura: But why? Exactly. It’s a cholera nightmare. What I don’t understand is… I feel like I’m getting whiplash here, because we heard within the last couple years that wizards can just vanish their, mm…

Andrew: Right.

Laura: … and now you have indoor plumbing, and you’re all precious about needing to use it? Just vanish it.

Eric: They could have a Vanishing Charm set up on the U-bend of every toilet.

Laura: Exactly.

Eric: So wizards don’t even need to worry about waving their wand near their you know what.

Andrew: I am, by the way, looking at where the plumbing information came from, the source, and that did come from Chapter 26 of Goblet of Fire, “The Second Task,” so I guess it’s brought up.

Laura: What?!

Andrew: Before they take a dive in there. [laughs]

Laura: So wait a… yeah, so Harry knows this, and he’s like, “Yeah, sure”?

Eric: Myrtle talks about it too. Yeah, Myrtle talks about not paying attention and accidentally finding yourself out at sea if somebody flushes and she doesn’t expect it.

Andrew: Oh, that’s exactly right. Yeah, that’s where it came from. Oh my gosh. [laughs]

Eric: But so it’s also… but wait a minute; it’s also a security nightmare to the squid and all the animals in the lake.

Micah: The merpeople.

Laura: Yeah, what about the merpeople? Yeah, exactly.

Eric: [laughs] Oh, God.

Andrew: And it’s super deep, so students could go for a swim in there and then drown. That also makes it a security nightmare. A safety nightmare.

Eric: Isn’t it common practice for waste removal methods built by humans to empty into water?

Laura: Yes.

Andrew: But don’t they get purified or something?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: No, the water gets purified coming in when we pull it in to drink it, but I am not convinced there’s actually any sort of cleaning method the other direction.

Laura: Yeah, no. I mean, also… generally speaking – I can’t speak for every locality – but there are usually laws about where and how much, and I just don’t see that being a consideration at Hogwarts. I can see Dumbledore just being like, “Yeah, flush it.”

[Eric laughs]

Micah: Flush it.

Eric: I didn’t even think about the students swimming around in their own fecal matter.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: Why is it black, you guys? Most lakes are green.

Micah: Eughh.

Eric: Toxic sludge.

Micah: No, but can you imagine at some point during the day all of a sudden you start to hear a little bit of rumble, and one merperson says to the other, “Oh no, Hagrid used the toilet again”?

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Wait, does Hagrid have a toilet?

Micah: Oh.

Eric: He might just go in the lake.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: He goes in the woods. He’s definitely a woods-goer.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Let’s move on. This is too much.

Laura: Oh my God. I know; this is straight-up toilet humor. [laughs]

Micah: Yeah, well, speaking of the Triwizard Tournament and the second task, let’s talk a little bit about the tournament itself. It is extremely dangerous to compete in no matter what age you are; we learn this in the beginning of the fourth book. We even heard that students have died in the past. But given what’s happened in Harry’s first three years at Hogwarts, why not bring a task to the school where students can perish? It just makes sense, right?

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: And not only are you bringing a fatal tournament to the school with tasks where students can die, you’re bringing in two other schools to compete, one of which is led by a former Death Eater in Igor Karkaroff and whose most famous alumni is Grindelwald. So I don’t get it, Dumbledore. What the bleep are you doing here?

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, there’s not much concern, is there, really?

Eric: The Triwizard Tournament is sold to the students, to Harry and all them, as being a fun way to promote international cooperation and really just break up the horror from last year’s Dementors on the grounds. So like, “We know what will cheer the students up: Let’s have a very dangerous contest where one of you will most certainly, if we’re going by statistics, be dead.”

Andrew: Right. “Oh, and Harry, yeah, your name was spit out of the Goblet. I mean, we already have three, and now you’re the fourth, which never happens, but no problem. Sorry. You still have to compete. We don’t care if you’re underage.”

Micah: “Yeah, that binding magical contract; we can’t do anything about it.”

Andrew: “Yeah, we have to abide by it. So sorry.”

Micah: “You’ve just got to go through the motions, and best of luck.” Tell that to Cedric Diggory.

Andrew: Right. What would’ve happened? Was that ever answered? What would have happened if Harry just said, “No, I’m not doing this”? Does he explode?

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Does imposter Moody explode for putting his name in? All right, so let’s get back to Hagrid. His Care of Magical Creatures class, you come face to face with dangerous creatures. And the class is taught by – I’m sorry – an incompetent half-giant, which further endangers the students. The hippogriff situation, I think, was one of the most on-point examples of the dangers. Also, Laura pointed out that Hagrid teaches a couple classes in the Forbidden Forest. There’s a way to teach this class without endangering the students. I know Hagrid wants to do some more, host hands-on lessons, but maybe keep these animals – I hate to say this, but – in a cage.

Laura: Oof.

Andrew: Make the class a little safer. And I know Draco, he wasn’t following the rules, but still, you have to assume that a student in the class is not going to follow the directions perfectly.

Eric: Absolutely.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, to make sure we don’t go too Umbridge here, I just want to say that Hagrid’s incompetence has nothing to do with him being half-giant, right?

Andrew: No, I wasn’t… I didn’t know how to describe him otherwise. He is a half-giant. An incompetent teacher. [laughs]

Laura: There we go. I was about to say, how is his blood status relevant to his incompetence?

Andrew: [obnoxiously] “Well, we all know that half-giants…”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: Yeah, I would agree with Laura. I think the security nightmare isn’t necessarily the class; it’s the person who’s teaching it.

Eric: Exactly.

Micah: Hagrid has a track record. We’ve talked about it on the show. You go back to Sorcerer’s Stone; think about Norberta. Think about Fluffy. Think about Aragog in Chamber of Secrets. And now you get to him teaching in Book 3. He’s got a good heart, but the execution of teaching for him just doesn’t work because his heart wins out all the time. He’s just so excited to show these creatures off to the students, especially Harry, Ron, and Hermione, that he just loses complete track of what it is that he’s supposed to be doing. And he really does put the security of the students second to just his overall excitement for being able to teach the class.

Eric: Absolutely. And any good teacher should understand implicitly the skill level and the care that your students are going to take when introduced with a new living creature, and Hagrid neglects to care for that. Even if he wanted to teach everyone hippogriffs, he knows somebody like Malfoy is his student and would not be paying attention to the finer points and would get himself injured. You need to adjust your curriculum. I think the Hogwarts teachers have this ability to adjust their curriculum based on the level that the students are at. I mean, if you have a bunch of students who really, really, really care, you can do more dangerous potions, like we imagine Snape does with his NEWT classes. But someone like Hagrid is just like, “No, I want to teach them this beast, and they’ll get it; they’ll find all the same things interesting that I do.” It’s just wrong. It’s incorrect.

Laura: Yes, I agree. And he allows his enthusiasm to impact his curriculum, to your point. I think Hermione points out that hippogriffs are actually above grade level for them being third years, but Hagrid is just so excited that he wants to show them something flashy and cool that he doesn’t start with the basics where he should.

[Ad break]

Andrew: So we did get some from our listeners as well.

Eric: Yeah, and here’s one from Justin. He says, “The Gryffindor common room’s fireplace being on the Floo Network,” and Laura added, “Because of this, an escaped convict was able to talk to fourth years, which is not great.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: In fact, I would extend this to say all of the ways in which Sirius Black got into Hogwarts, or can get into Hogwarts. Or not even Sirius Black – actual criminals, actual Death Eaters. All the ways in which somebody from the outside… even when Hogwarts is at its maximum state of vigilance, the very fact that there are so many ways into the castle is a ridiculous… possibly the most damning security nightmare of them all.

Andrew: We have some examples of that later in this discussion, I think. But it makes you wonder, why was the Gryffindor common room on the Floo Network? And were the other Hogwarts House common room fireplaces on the Floo Network as well? And like, okay, maybe the students can talk to their parents; that could be nice.

Eric: Right.

Andrew: But the common rooms seem like a pretty private place. Students deserve privacy in the common room. And I mean, Sirius – or anyone, it seems – could basically spy on the children in the common room.

Eric: Oh, creepy. You just look over from homework and there’s a head in there of somebody you don’t recognize.

Andrew: Right, right.

Laura: Yeah, especially Umbridge, because we know she does this too.

Micah: She’s a peeper.

Laura: How many times that year during their fifth year do you think she was just low-key pulling an NSA on the trio and just monitoring them? So gross.

Andrew: I was doing some reading on the Floo Network, and it seems like every magical house is connected to the Floo Network. I don’t know if I would trust the Ministry. I want to know more about the security around the Floo Network.

Eric: Right.

Andrew: How do you place a call? Can you can you shut off access easily? I don’t know. There’s a lot of questions there. That’s a home security nightmare. I would not like having the Floo Network attached to my home; I just would be afraid that somebody would somehow break in.

Micah: Of course.

Laura: What if it was the Floo Network by Apple, though? Would you do it then?

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: They have some security flaws from time to time, Laura, so I don’t know.

Micah: iFloo.

Andrew: [laughs] iFloo. Wow. Great name.

Micah: There you go. But yeah, I’m curious here too. I mean, we see how Sirius uses it, but could it also be used for actual travel like we see in Chamber of Secrets? Could anybody just decide “I’m going to the Gryffindor common room today” and pop in?

Andrew: Right, yeah. It’s not right.

Laura: All right, this next one comes from Julianne. Julianne says, “Prefects being left in charge of students when Sirius Black is roaming the castle. Did anyone think maybe a few actual adults should be in charge?”

Micah: No.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Yeah, this is… I can definitely see the Hogwarts teachers being like, “Yeah, just… prefects do your thing,” and then they go to the staff room, Trelawney gets out her bottle of sherry, and they just rave.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: They’re like, “Yeah, there’s an escaped convict in the castle. Whatevs.”

Andrew: “The kids got this. No problem.”

Eric: I feel like they’re out searching the grounds, but that’s still an oversight.

Laura: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: There is way too much trust placed in the students; I think that’s what really this all comes down to. The Care of Magical Creatures classes; the Triwizard Tournament, competing in that; the Forbidden Forest… everything comes down to, do you trust the students? And I think we learned throughout the series that no, a lot of them cannot be trusted.

Micah: No.

Laura: Do we think…?

Micah: I was thinking, too… oh, go ahead, Laura.

Laura: Oh, I was going to say, do we think maybe this is a commentary on boarding school life? Because prefects are a thing.

Eric: Right.

Laura: And I wonder if it’s intended to be a commentary on how students or young people can sometimes find themselves in positions of authority, and you can have mixed results depending on the motivations that each person has, right? We see this with Draco and his fellow Slytherins when they get put on the Inquisitorial Squad. And even though that happens, they still make Draco a prefect. I don’t understand. [laughs]

Micah: You’re putting so much trust into these young adults. And I’m even thinking back to Sorcerer’s Stone when they’re told to take the students from the Great Hall back to their dormitories when there’s the troll in the dungeon, but what if they run into the troll somehow? Maybe the troll was feeling a little bit energetic that day and ran up the stairs and was in the hallway somewhere. Do you really trust that Percy would be able to save the Gryffindor students from the troll if in fact they encountered the danger?

Laura: No.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Nothing against Percy. Anyway, we talked about this one a little bit already, but Quidditch is a big security nightmare. You have this high-flying, high-impact game in which you send balls directly at people with the intent of hurting them.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Oh, Andrew.

Andrew: What?

Laura: Nothing. Just move on. [laughs]

Andrew: This is serious, Laura…

Micah: Bludgers, okay?

Andrew: … in which you sell balls directly at people, heavy, big balls directly at people to hurt them.

Eric: Yeah, hit in your face. Just thwapping against the side of your face.

Laura: Oh my God.

Eric: That hurts.

Andrew: Imagine this being a Muggle sport. You don’t see this in baseball, tennis, football…

Eric: Maybe hockey, right? Like, vicious…

Andrew: Well, you check people.

Micah: I mean, in football, they are throwing themselves at each other. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, but they’re not… it’s not the same, though. This is a lot more violent, in my opinion.

Laura: Yeah, they’re not doing it in the middle… like, 70 feet in the air.

Eric: That’s the other thing, yeah. Land sports are one thing, things with a field. But when you’re in the air and can go all directions, that’s so many more directions that things could go wrong.

Micah: Yeah. No, I actually like this point a lot about being sent hundreds of feet up into the air, and you’re being targeted, essentially. What if you fall off your broom? You’re not always going to have Dumbo though – [laughs] sorry – you’re not always going to have Dumbledore there to go “Arresto momentum” and stop you from falling from the sky.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Well, that’s the other thing; the brooms don’t have a seat belt. I mean, the whole Quidditch pitch, the field should just be a giant cushion for these students. Why is it hard ground below them? I know there’s Skele-gro; I know they can be fixed. But why let their bones break at all? [laughs]

Eric: That’s a really good question, honestly. It might be the defining question. Why let the students suffer that pain? You’re right. I mean, they have that playground material now that’s made from cut-up tires; why isn’t the pitch just that? Or a net, like a trapeze artist uses?

Andrew: Yeah, a net. There you go.

Micah: Oh, they should put a net. That’d be interesting.

Andrew: Yeah, a net.

Eric: Could be a magical net. I mean, anything – literally anything – to prevent the ground from coming up on you.

Laura: I feel like if they were to implement this, I could see certain Hogwarts alumni being like, “Back in my day, we fell off our rooms and we liked it!”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “Students are babies these days!”

Micah: That said, the game of Quidditch does sound like it’s in a much better state than what we heard about when we were going through our review of Quidditch Through the Ages.

Eric: Right, it used to be worse, but that doesn’t mean it’s good now. [laughs]

Andrew: Right. All right, so the next one, this is mind-blowing. We mentioned this earlier: the Basilisk. There’s a giant snake running through oversized pipes in the school put there by Muggle-blood hater Salazar Slytherin. The Basilisk remained in the school for centuries, and then Tom Riddle, Slytherin’s true heir, eventually sending it into action, it kills Moaning Myrtle. But the Basilisk remains in the school, and everybody acts like everything’s okay. And then, of course, it gets brought back to life during Harry’s second year. I mean, what on earth? The school should have been shut down the moment Salazar put the snake in the school. It should have been dead on arrival at that point. “We cannot teach here while a giant snake is lurking under the school, just waiting to be activated by Slytherin’s true heir to go and kill half-bloods or Muggle-borns.”

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Well, at the time that he left the school, would anyone have known about this? I can understand Hogwarts continuing at that point if nobody else knew that it was there, but certainly after the events that got Hagrid expelled from Hogwarts, something should’ve been done. [laughs]

Andrew: Right. I mean, I guess the question is when was it discovered initially?

Eric: Well, there were rumors, right? I think that ever since Slytherin left, there were rumors that he left something behind, a secret chamber. It’s persisted throughout the centuries. I think Laura is right, though; where it really comes to a head is where Myrtle is killed. And now, to be fair, Hogwarts is not under Dumbledore at the time. It’s Dippet’s security nightmare.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But nobody follows up. Myrtle is literally killed 15 feet from the very entrance to the Chamber, and we’re just meant to believe that for the next 50 years, teachers and everybody alike were like, “No, we don’t know where that thing is”? “We can’t find the Chamber of Secrets. We don’t know anything about it. Maybe it doesn’t exist.” People want to believe that it’s the Acromantula in Hagrid’s cupboard that was doing all the killing, but somebody like Dumbledore, who isn’t headmaster, has all the free time in the world to track down this chamber, and doesn’t. Just like, “Yeah, hold my classes; have Grubbly-Plank or somebody stand in for Transfiguration. I got this, Dippet. I’m going to find the Chamber.” He doesn’t. There’s no follow-through at all throughout the decades following Myrtle’s very real death. It’s unbelievable.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, I don’t like excusing Dumbledore of responsibility because I feel like if he were in charge at this time, he would have just let it go as he’s let so many other security nightmares go during his time as headmaster.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: But I just still can’t wrap my head around the idea that they are comfortable with a baby Acromantula being responsible for what happened to Myrtle. Don’t they know what she died from? Don’t they know enough to understand that putting this on Hagrid just doesn’t make sense? I get it was a cover-up, and honestly, Dippet should have spent time in Azkaban for it, if you ask me. But yeah, this is just again, the school, as Andrew said, being a security nightmare. You have this gigantic snake slithering through… again, the plumbing. We’re back at the plumbing.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: Always comes back to the plumbing.

Eric: One things leads to another here.

Micah: J.K. Rowling, maybe she loved a plumber in her early years of dating or something.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: But the other thing is like, surely this giant snake can be detected. The Marauder’s Map is a thing that is possible; there’s got to be other ways to detect who and what is around Hogwarts. So it just doesn’t check out to me that this thing… even if Salazar put it there and nobody noticed or nobody knew, I don’t know. There’s got to be some hints. The pipes rattling a lot, there’s a growling happening underneath all the toilets all the time…

Eric: Well, that’s the whole thing, is the main entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is guarded by Parseltongue. You need to be… and that’s a very rare sort of thing, but I think you can infer from the legend if it’s something that only Slytherin can call, Parseltongue seems to be a very likely way in which the Chamber is guarded. If they ever did a search – and we were told I think in Chamber of Secrets that searches have been conducted – nobody competent was running those searches, because they would have been sure to send far and wide word that they need somebody who can do Parseltongue, and any excuse that that could make is cut off at the knees by the fact that Ron in Deathly Hallows just mutters a little bit and imitates Parseltongue, and it works.

Andrew: Exactly. “I just did an impression!” [laughs]

Eric: Literally no one even just tried going [makes hissing sounds] to the faucet when Myrtle died. Nobody tried.

Andrew: Whoa, Eric, you just activated a snake in my house. Oh my God.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: That was crazy.

Micah: Yeah, what was it doing for that long?

Eric: Sorry, is it your Alexa Snake? Your Echo Snake?

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Did anyone even bother to talk to Myrtle after all this?

Eric: Oh, yeah!

Laura: Obviously we know the trio does, and she describes perfectly what happened to her, and if you took 30 seconds to ask her what the last thing she saw before she died was, it wasn’t a baby spider.

Andrew: Right!

Eric: Oh my God. You’re right.

Micah: Yeah, it was two eyes, not eight.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah, anybody ask her? Did anybody think to ask the dead girl what happened? She’s a ghost.

Eric: Yeah, and there’s not… even if that’s the entrance to the Chamber, the snake gets around the school inside the walls. There have to be other methods by which you can gain access to those same tunnels and then trace them down to find the Chamber. Nuts. Here is another one: This one’s quick, but it’s required reading. Assigned reading. The Monster Book of Monsters, a massive book that’s required reading and can eat you alive.

Andrew: [laughs] Come on.

Eric: I mean, I think at the most, it probably… you might lose a knuckle, but yeah, it’s an unnecessary risk. Hagrid thinks it’s funny, and that in and of itself should tell you everything you need to know about how safe it is.

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, look at it this way. Would you three be comfortable studying with this book?

Eric: Not really.

Laura: No.

Andrew: I wouldn’t. How could you focus on your work knowing that maybe this book is…? I know you’ve got to tickle the spine and then it’s friendly, but what if it goes rogue? What if it’s hungry? What if it’s having a bad day?

Laura: Also, I think this is a publishing nightmare, because it’s obviously not Hogwarts’s or Hagrid’s fault that this book exists. Like, this was somebody’s idea.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: They were like, “You know what would be really cool? If we made a book about monsters that tried to bite your hand off. Yeah, send it to the press.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: They don’t even tell the bookstores how to handle it. There are no instructions that come with it, so that poor clerk at Flourish and Blotts has bandages over all of his hands, and he’s like, “This is the worst thing ever.” He sees Harry coming a mile away, and he’s like, [weepily] “Hogwarts? Okay, I’m going to call my wife and tell her I love her.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: As he goes into the cage to get the book. Yeah, it’s nuts. These books should come with instructions. And the books should be docile or drugged at the time of sale, and it should be something that you have to… like a Tamagotchi; you have to activate it, and then it’s kind of alive.

Andrew: Yes.

Laura: Well, back to Hogwarts just not having adequate protection from the outside world, a dog was able to break into the school, which strongly suggests that it isn’t that hard to get in in the first place.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: And just first of all, great point here; it seems like a pretty big oversight, when you consider the number of valuables and just the history of the school, that a dog could get in.

Eric: Well, a dog with a human mind.

Laura: Yeah, yeah, but they also… in this world, Animagi exist. [laughs] So why would you not think of this as being one of the top ways that somebody might try to infiltrate the school?

Andrew: Yeah, and I think… my point here, too, is just that anybody seemingly can get into the school, period. I don’t think it’s that hard. If you really wanted to break into Hogwarts, you could.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: I mean, Peter Pettigrew practically lived at Hogwarts for years.

Andrew: Right.

Eric: That’s the biggest security nightmare.

Laura: Yeah! It’s like, nobody caught that?

Andrew: [laughs] Right. I mean, Dumbledore needs his own Marauder’s Map. I know why Fred and George wouldn’t recognize Pettigrew on the map, but Dumbledore needs his own to keep an eye on everybody, or just… maybe not a map, just a long list of everybody who’s currently in the school. That would probably solve a lot of problems. I know the map is creepy, so a list could be a good alternative.

Micah: And just to bring back the forest for a second, if you’re staking it out, trying to figure out the best time to infiltrate, you have that entire forest just to be able to pass the time. You could just hang out there. Nobody’s going to find you there.

Andrew: And if you’re a dog, plenty of trees to pee on.

Laura: Oh, we’re back to bathroom humor.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Just don’t go in the lake.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: Just back to the plumbing. Every time.

Micah: Well, one person who you could argue was sent to deal with all of this nonsense from Dumbledore was Dolores Umbridge, so maybe in fact she was the savior of Hogwarts being a security nightmare.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: That said, she certainly created some of her own problems at the school, some of her own security nightmares, probably the top one being her detentions. She literally tortured, physically and mentally, the students at the school.

Andrew and Eric: Yep.

Micah: They have scars to prove it.

Andrew: It’s so disturbing. I just… I’ll never be over that.

Eric: How bad must you be at governing a school and keeping the kids safe that the government needs to step in and send one of their own to do it?

Andrew: Right.

Eric: Hogwarts’s reputation was so poor at that moment that literally Dumbledore, one of the smartest wizards of all time, couldn’t talk his way out of getting the government to step in. That’s how bad the situation at Hogwarts had become.

Andrew: Yeah. All right, next one: the Whomping Willow. There’s a massive tree at Hogwarts that can kill you if you approach it. [laughs] I know why it’s there, but maybe…

[Eric laughs]

Micah: This one is on Dumbledore.

Eric: Yes, it is.

Micah: This one is totally… he put it there.

Eric: Yeah, he went through all that trouble of putting the Whomping Willow on the grounds, and then the whole thing with the Shrieking Shack, convincing everyone it was haunted, etc., all for one student. And I love Lupin; y’all know that my AOL screen name was very nearly But I’m telling you, I don’t know that the risk of the Whomping Willow, for being on the Hogwarts grounds forevermore, was actually worth what it gave one student.

Andrew: Well, here’s the thing. I mean, I think it’s… I get Dumbledore put it there, but I think it’s on Dumbledore because it’s still there. Like, it’s time to take it down. That’s not needed anymore. Or it’s time to petrify it or something.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: So it doesn’t… just remove it. Again, we are not for deforestation here on MuggleCast, so how about you just take out the fact that it’s going to… the feature in which it beats people.

Micah: Or move it to the forest.

Laura: I mean, maybe he’s thinking that they might get another student who is a werewolf, so they might need it, right?

Andrew: But come up with a room at Hogwarts where they can go chill. I don’t know.

Laura: Well, and that’s the thing, is we see in Prisoner of Azkaban that Lupin is able to take his potion and just curl up in a room for three days. Why wasn’t that just the way it was handled always?

Eric: Well, the Wolfsbane Potion wasn’t around yet.

Laura: Ah, okay. Well, that makes sense.

Eric: So that is stated. But there’s no reason that can’t exist today. The Whomping Willow does not really need to exist anymore. And then do you guys know what I’m saying when I say drinking bird? It’s those mechanical birds that dip their beak in…

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: And it’s on a spring? You could have one of those and magically enchant it and set it up right at the Whomping Willow to push the knot so that it’s always docile.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: So that it’s always just kind of chill. It’s just always like, “Eh, whatever, I’m a willow. It’s cool.” Behaves like a normal willow tree, and then just never remove the bird. [laughs]

Micah: I just think about those poor birds from Prisoner of Azkaban that Alfonso CuarĂ³n added.

Andrew: Right.

Eric: Aww. Yeah, Alfonso really pointed out a… I think he was trying to tug at our heartstrings there, make us realize how dangerous Hogwarts is. The avian death count is just way too high.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: But here’s another one, and this one stands out. We were just talking about Umbridge and the government needing to intervene? But yeah, poor background checks on teachers. Between Professor Quirrell; Gilderoy Lockhart; Alastor Moody, who was really Barty Crouch, Jr… just poor background checks. Dumbledore does really not seem to be doing the due diligence on these people that he’s bringing in to teach the kids.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Trelawney.

Eric: Some of them you’re lucky if half these teachers didn’t actually serve time in Azkaban, because some of them did. It’s just crazy. For violent crimes, I will say, too, so it’s a big mistake on Dumbledore’s part he doesn’t follow through. Also, the things that do happen at Hogwarts, he doesn’t seem to have the right course of action. Do we know, did he ever investigate the troll coming in? After Quirrell let the troll in at the end of Book 1, was he just so convinced that whoever the culprit was would probably be out by the end of the year because of the DADA curse that he’s like, “I won’t investigate this any further”? There’s just some really weird mixed messaging as far as Dumbledore being desperate for DADA teachers and Dumbledore just willingly bringing people in who are going to harm the students.

Laura: Yeah, it’s such a good point, especially when you consider the fact that there is a commonality between these people. He should be very concerned about anybody who wants to take this job. His first question should be, “What is wrong with you?”

[Andrew and Eric laughs]

Micah: I would just add to this list Trelawney; we know why he hires her. Snape is a questionable hire as well, though he’s very good at his job, but he’s terrible to the students, most of them. And one other which we’ve already talked about, and that’s Hagrid, who is not qualified to do his job.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: So it’s not just the DADA. It seems like – and I’d have to go back and do a check on when these other professors were hired – but it seems like it’s possible that McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout were all holdovers from Dippet, and Dumbledore just isn’t a good hirer. [laughs]

Andrew: Dumbledore had reasons to hire Hagrid. Getting him back on his feet, clearing his name…

Eric: Right.

Andrew: The thing is, Dumbledore knew the DADA role was cursed, so you need to do extra, extra research into these people that you’re appointing. I don’t know when he figured out it was cursed, but he knew at some point.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. And to the point about hiring and all the other professors, he’s really just stacking the deck and stacking the school with his friends, or with people who are of strategic importance. None of the reasons why Trelawney is at school and actively allowed to still teach classes and teach a young generation of students has nothing to do with the students or the value of education that she can bring them. She’s there because she needs to be protected at all costs from Voldemort.

Laura: So Alohomora. Can we just agree that this is a plot device that just got used way too frequently? Why are so many doors locked at Hogwarts if pretty much all of them can be opened with Alohomora?

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah, what is the point of a lock if it can so easily be unlocked without the key?

Eric: Wasn’t there a legal precedent where if something’s unlocked, you don’t break in; it’s not breaking and entering? So they have to lock it because there’s a threshold to understand it. I don’t know. But everything security-wise, everything that’s ever meant to be secure in the Harry Potter books is broken into, and the Ministry is twice if you include Cursed Child, via the same method, 17 years apart, or 11 years apart. So there’s really just no regard at all for actual practical safety. If somebody has the will, they will find the way. But it’s seemingly so easy for 11-year-olds to get down into and get the Sorcerer’s Stone. I understand a little bit of favoritism, special circumstances, but I mean, it’s that problem from Sorcerer’s Stone spread out across all seven books. Secure places are not secure. Locked doors do not remain locked up, period.

Andrew: Right. [laughs]

Micah: And especially to get into where Fluffy is! That’s all you have to do?

Andrew: The Fluffy one, that one just… that kills me.

Laura: Yeah. And Dumbledore is just like, “Don’t go there. Just don’t go.”

Andrew: [laughs] Don’t go there, don’t go to the forest…

Eric: “I told them not to go.” He’s wiping his hands of responsibility. Washing his hands.

Andrew: Yeah. When you tell kids to not go somewhere, they’re going to go. They’re going to get curious. You’re tempting them.

Laura: It makes me wonder if that was his plan all along. I could see Dumbledore being like, “I’m going to tell them not to go, and then we’re going to see what happens.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: “We’re going to see who the problem children are.” All right, this next one, this is a mental health nightmare: making kids face their boggarts in front of their fellow students with no clue what the boggart might turn out to be. I mean, a lot of these kids are experiencing these creatures for the first time, so they don’t know what’s going to happen. I think it’s just so embarrassing for these kids to have their worst fears exposed.

Eric: The more you know…

Andrew: And then you might be bullied about it for months and years to come.

Eric: Oh yeah, that’s true. That is making the children vulnerable.

Andrew: Yeah, because we have another one here from Melissa. To Melissa’s point, “There’s no anti-bullying initiative” at Hogwarts. “What are the consequences? How are parents involved? How are bullies being made to feel responsible for their actions? Bullies are often going through their own crises. How are they being helped? How are the victims being helped?! All of these students in a school away from their families and not a single mental health professional in the building. It’s outrageous! Poor Neville is going through some real hardships and has no one to talk to.” Yeah, where’s the guidance counselor at Hogwarts? It’s your Head of House; that’s about it, right? And they’re not really doing it.

Micah: I can see Sprout as being a really good guidance counselor Head of House.

Andrew: Okay.

Micah: No?

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: I figured I’d throw that out there.

Andrew: And McGonagall.

Micah: McGonagall too. Speaking of mental health nightmares, back in Book 3 they thought it would be a great idea – and I understand the Ministry was involved here too – to put Dementors to guard the school from Sirius Black. Soul-sucking creatures that are completely and utterly irrational and have no means of human communication, so if one comes after you, you’re basically screwed.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: They’re there for protection against a wizard who already eluded them to begin with, so what makes them think that they are going to keep him out from what he’s looking to do? I mean, based on everything we just talked about, if this man can break out of Azkaban, he can sure as hell get into Hogwarts.

Andrew: [laughs] Right.

Micah: Dementors or no Dementors. So I’m just curious… what a brilliant idea to have creatures that keep felonious Dark wizards in check around a bunch of students.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: I also…

Micah: Were there no incidents? Sorry, Laura.

Laura: Oh, no, you’re good. I also just wonder, too, how hard did Dumbledore fight this? It just seems like he accepted it. He was like, “Yeah, it’s just not in their nature to be forgiving, so be careful.” It’s the same thing with Fluffy; he’s like, “Ehh, don’t go there.” I think Dumbledore is drunk. I think we have discovered Dumbledore is just drunk throughout the entire series.

Andrew: He’s the real drunk at Hogwarts, not Trelawney. Micah, at the top of this you brought up a good point that the students are really screwed if they encounter these Dementors. It’s hard to cast a Patronus, so they’re not going to be able to fend them off very easily.

Micah: No. And the whole thing is that they think that they can keep the Dementors under control, but we know from incidents that happen throughout Prisoner of Azkaban that that’s not the case. They just float about, do what they do, and you can’t really rationalize with them in any way. So to put these creatures around the school, especially with young kids, that is just a terrible idea. And if you’re a parent, and you hear that Dementors are guarding Hogwarts, what are you thinking?

Andrew: The parent angle, too, is just insane. I mean, parents aren’t notified ever.

[Ad break]

Andrew: All right, next one, from Steph: “A room full of ‘lost’ artifacts seems like a pretty huge security nightmare to me, considering no one knows what’s in there and one of the pieces just happened to be a Vanishing Cabinet that, oh I dunno, LET IN DEATH EATERS.” Again, Dumbledore needs a list of everything. The headmaster needs a list of everything that’s in there. “Oh, a Vanishing Cabinet? Hmm, seems like an issue.”

Laura: Well, and also, they know that its sister is in Borgin and Burkes, and they know what sort of clientele is attracted to that store. Why would you allow this item to be inside of what is supposed to be the most secure place in the wizarding world? Give me a break.

Eric: “Oh, it’s busted, so it’s okay. It’s no longer a threat to us.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Montague was in there rattling around in it for a while, and he said, “Oh, yeah, it did sound like it’s working,” and they did no follow up. That’s the thing, again, follow up. Once Montague does show up in Hogwarts, ask him where he’s been and actually do the work of figuring out what cabinet it was and where you were and all that stuff. Nobody really seemed to follow up on that, creating a security nightmare. And I will say, a lot about this stuff, it has to do with there being generations upon generations of students, right? These kids who… first of all, it’s dangerous that they don’t know how to control their magic that they have, that they were born with, so the school is inherently a dangerous place because they’re learning to control it. But then you get these things like the Vanishing Cabinet, where these magical items that are huge security risks just exist in a school like this. And it’s just normal, because this is a school of magic, and so things tucked away in the Room of Requirement could have deadly consequences. But nobody’s doing an inventory of the room of all things inside the Room of Requirement. Nobody’s doing a health and safety check to make sure there aren’t hazards and other things in there. It’s a school of magic.

Micah: It’s a Horcrux hidey-hole, too.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: A Horcrux hidey-hole, yeah. There’s pieces of soul, and that leads directly into the next item here from Melissa: “The restricted section in the library. Some of these books are literally dangerous, and obviously it’s not so hard to get in there as the trio do so multiple times.” You’re right; why are these books there at all? Not just the Horcrux ones.

Andrew: Restricted, unless you have an Invisibility Cloak, then you’re good.

Eric: A cloak, and it’s just supposed to be a teacher’s, what, sign off permission? You need to demonstrate your need or reason for having these books and a teacher can sign off on it. Harry, one of the times, his way into the restrictive section is just to ask Lockhart for his autograph. I mean, it’s just ridiculous!

Andrew: Yep.

Eric: I know Dumbledore removed the Horcrux books, but his way for Hermione to get them was not that secure, either. So it’s just ridiculous.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, these types of allowances for students to access dangerous items, they’re pretty lax. Hermione got a freakin’ Time-Turner when she was 13 because McGonagall was like, “She’s a really good student.”

Micah: Yeah, we forgot about that one altogether. That’s a huge security risk.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: You can screw up the whole world.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: “Oh, we trust her, though.”

Eric: Listen, they had a talking-to with Hermione, yeah.

Laura: They gave her a stern talking-to. Okay, well, this next one comes from Anthony. Anthony says, “Secret passages that lead from outside of the school grounds (and therefore outside any of the magical fortifications protecting the school) to literally directly inside of the castle. And not only that, but the teachers who are also meant to be protecting the students don’t even know about some of them. The school is hundreds of years old.” Well, I think it’s older than that. “You’d think someone other than the Marauders would’ve drawn up a map detailing the layout to at the very least to educate the staff on all possible exits and entrances.”

Andrew: Yes! At the start of year meeting, Dumbledore should be reminding everybody about all the entrances and exits, especially while Harry is there when there are a lot of threats on the school.

Eric: They probably don’t even have a fire escape plan because they’re relying on their ability to use Aguamenti.

Andrew: [laughs] Right. Or take all that nasty water from the Black Lake and throw it on the school in the event of a fire.

[Laura makes a disgusted sound]

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, where are the fire drills? Where are the Dementor drills? The Death Eater drills? [laughs] Yeah. Okay, next one is from Eleanor. This one kills me too. “The Fat Lady as gatekeeper to the common room, which is presumably intended to help keep the students safe. She gets drunk on duty at one point, she can hardly do her job responsibly then, plus she goes off for chats in other portraits, meaning students can’t get back into their dorm. Slavishness to password system – she prevents Neville from entering the tower because he can’t remember the password, despite clearly knowing who he is and that he should be allowed, leaving him alone in the corridor, including at night.” And while we’re on the subject of passwords, Eleanor says, “Dumbledore’s are clearly too easy to guess. He needs to change it up if he wants decent security on his office!”

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: His office has so many valuables. Why not have a secure password?

Eric: Well, how many people know Dumbledore the way Harry knows Dumbledore? But still, I agree wholeheartedly with this whole Fat Lady thing. The password system is antiquated. It’s like why your iPhone switched from passwords to face ID, because if you’re a Gryffindor, you get in, period. You don’t need to remember a complicated password or a password that under Sir Cadogan changes every day. There are better ways.

Andrew: Also, Dumbledore’s passwords, they are super simple. If he tried to put those into one of these password manager apps like 1Password or LastPass…

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: … it would be like, “Yo, this is way too insecure. You need some exclamation points. You need some semicolons. You need uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers…”

Eric: The complexity is way too low.

Andrew: Right, you need like, 35 characters. Come on, Dumbledore. I have a more secure password on my… on my…

Eric: Neopets account.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Absolutely. Well, we just talked about the Fat Lady; here’s another one related to portraits. This is from Dodgeball Hero, who says, “The ability for portraits to flit between different places and tell real people about what they see kids doing at school, in all places in the school. Seems creepy!” I agree. Portraits are a huge security nightmare, and one that we don’t talk about often enough.

Andrew: Yeah, they deserve privacy, people. I mean, come on. Look, the students need to be watched over maybe in the Great Hall, in the corridors, but in the common rooms? There shouldn’t be portraits in there staring at them. Dumbledore. Poor Dumbledore always being watched too.

Micah: Or ghosts. Think about ghosts, too. I mean, they can just drop in on you in an inopportune moment.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I mean, Myrtle is in the bath with Harry.

Andrew: [laughs] I shouldn’t laugh; that’s really disturbing.

Micah: All right. Well, Chelsea does a good job putting a bow on this whole discussion. She asks, “The fact that parents are notified of literally nothing. Imagine picking up Hermione at the end of her second year,” and you’re her parent and you say, “How was your year, darling?” To which Hermione replies, “Yeah, not really sure. I spent most of it Petrified in the hospital wing. Also, I accidentally turned into a cat before that and spent a solid month in the hospital wing.”

Andrew: [laughs] “Oh, and there was a giant snake running beneath the school. But it was a great year.”

Eric: Oh my God.

Laura: We also know that Hermione does not tell her parents about things, clearly. I mean, we see in the fifth book, she’s supposed to go on a skiing trip with her parents, and she just dips out. She’s like, “Hey, I have some magic stuff to deal with,” and they don’t really seem to ask beyond being disappointed that she’s leaving their family vacation. So Hermione almost has a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy going with her parents. Then she wipes their memories.

Andrew: I think all of our parents would be very concerned if we told them about being in these situations. And I also wonder how many students actually tell their parents what’s going on at the school.

Eric: I don’t know.

Andrew: Because if you brought up a lot of these things, I think they would write to the headmaster.

Laura: Well, Draco clearly does.

Andrew: Yeah, some do.

Micah: How much do you feel Molly and Arthur know? I feel like they know quite a bit, but they also have, like, ten kids at the school. [laughs]

Andrew: And they also went there, so I think that plays into it too. I think they knew what their kids are getting into, whereas Hermione’s parents wouldn’t know.

Micah: I mean, their daughter is taken into the Chamber of Secrets and almost killed by Lord Voldemort.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: “Spend five more years there! No problem!”

Micah: Yeah, “Go back next year, Ginny. Good luck.”

Andrew: [laughs] Well, I guess it shows that they trust Dumbledore and the professors there? I don’t know. It’s all one big mess. But there’s another question here: Should Hogwarts improve? Or as one person on the website, the Q&A site Quora brought up, are these issues there by design? Because maybe they give students real world practice with what they can encounter, sort of like how it’s argued in the books that they need practical lessons in Defense Against the Dark Arts so they can prepare for the real world. Are all of these dangers in Hogwarts by design, so they’re ready for what’s to come, potentially?

Micah: I think some of them are. But I would go back to the point you raised about why we love the school despite us having this entire conversation about Hogwarts being a security nightmare. I do feel like a lot of these things are what makes Hogwarts fun and interesting to read about. We’re a bit older, so we can reflect on some of these things as definitely being questionable, but I chalk it all up to why the school is just so much fun to read about.

Andrew: [laughs] Keep suffering for our entertainment, kids. Thank you.

Eric: Like I said earlier, I think to some extent there’s always going to be some danger, because these kids who are wielding magic don’t know how to do so safely, but it’s a far cry between that and actively welcoming more danger than would normally be. There’s chaos, but there doesn’t need to be an open invitation for people who would not have the best interest at heart of the students or the school to be brought to the school, and they consistently – and under Dumbledore, repeatedly – are, so it’s a no for me.

Andrew: [laughs] “It’s a no for me.”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: It’s going to be a no for me.

Laura: It really does make me wonder – circling back to an earlier point – if to some extent, all of this is intended to be a commentary on boarding school life. I’ve never attended boarding school myself, but I’ve definitely read articles about some of the crazy things that happen at boarding schools, and people continue sending their kids there. So there are definitely real world scandals that break out in these kinds of environments, and I wonder if this is all a subtextual commentary on that.

Micah: Yeah. It’s funny that you say that because it reminds me of two things. One is David Heyman saying he really took this on because it was a reflection for him back to his time at boarding school. So I don’t know what he did at boarding school, but it must have been off the charts.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: The other was the Quizzitch question, Eric, that you had a couple of weeks ago about Tilda Swinton not taking the role of… was it Trelawney?

Eric: I believe so.

Micah: Because she didn’t want to basically glorify boarding school life. So maybe, Laura, to your point, there is something there.

Eric: Maybe real life boarding schools are more dangerous. [laughs]

Laura: If you went to boarding school, please write in.

Andrew: Yeah, let us know.

Micah: Did you poop in the lake?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Was there a Triwizard Tournament? Were there portraits staring at you? Was there a book that can eat you? Okay, so if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, if you have any other security nightmares, please send them in., or use the contact form on We would love to collect some more. Maybe we can do another installment of this discussion. You can also record a voice memo; just email that to You can also call us, 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Just try to keep your message about a minute long. We love seeing and reading your feedback, and sometimes we include it on air, so please do send it in.


Andrew: All right, it’s time for Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: When Harry and Dumbledore Apparate to the cave, what is the first spell Dumbledore uses? The correct answer, you guys, was Lumos!

Andrew: Of course.

Micah: I would have guessed Alohomora.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: Maybe he nonverbally said Alohomora, because that makes the most sense. Well, I will say, to a person, you guys, everyone who submitted answers did so via the new Quizzitch form on MuggleCast’s website, We only got one complaint from our leaving Twitter, and it was from Time-Traveling Unicorn, who says in all caps, “I LITERALLY GOT A TWITTER ACCOUNT TO PLAY #QUIZZITCH. WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?”

Andrew: [laughs] Well, look…

Micah: Yeah, Eric, what is this nonsense?

Andrew: Twitter’s a hellscape, so now you can leave it again. It’s for the best.

Eric: [laughs] That same person’s bio says, “Came for the Twitter games, stayed for the energy,” so they’ve decided to keep on Twitter even though Quizzitch is no longer found there.

Andrew: Okay. All right.

Eric: And they submitted; they’re one of these winners, so… awesome. Thank you for making the transition. Thank you, everybody, for humoring me and allowing us to consolidate all of our submissions on the MuggleCast website, slash Quizzitch. Up at the top menu, just click it. Correct answers were submitted by Ali, Ann, Billy, Ciara, Crillyc, Dilesh, Elizabeth, Ellen, Gussy, Jude, Katalin, Katie, Kelly, Michelle, Nadia, Ning, Phlaym, Romina, Sabrina, SavyAllen, Shyam, Snuffles69, Stefanie Dee, Suhas, Tara, and Tuesday. Next week’s question: After Neville falls off his broom in year one, who tells Malfoy to shut up? Submit your answer to us via the MuggleCast website,

Andrew: Great. So to wrap up here, a couple reminders. We would appreciate a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to MuggleCast; thank you in advance. Also, follow us on social media. We’re @MuggleCast on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and LinkedIn, too, and YouTube. Really, we’re everywhere. You can also join our community of listeners today at You get early access to MuggleCast. You get ad-free MuggleCast. You get access to our planning docs, our weekly livestream; you can tune in and hear us record each episode live. We also banter before the show begins and a little bit after as well, so you really get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of MuggleCast. You also get bonus MuggleCast installments, a new physical gift every year… you get these benefits depending on which level you pledge at. And we have a new AMA benefit for our Slug Club level patrons; once a month, one of the four MuggleCasters will be recording an Ask Me Anything video, and I think sometime this summer, we will also do a group one as well, so that’ll be fun and change up the dynamic. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. We hope you enjoyed this major look at every single security nightmare at Hogwarts.

[“It’s starting to sound like a security nightmare!” sound effect plays with sirens]

Andrew: I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Bye, everybody!

Eric, Laura, and Micah: Bye.

[Andrew makes a siren sound]