Transcript #523


MuggleCast 523 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #523, What If Neville Longbottom Was ‘The Chosen One’?

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: I’ll also observe, this is Episode 523. It’s kind of my birthday episode because I was born on 5/23.

Laura: Ohh.

Eric: Hey!

Andrew: This will only happen once in our lifetime, so I have to acknowledge it.

Laura: [laughs] Well, no pressure. We’ll just have to make the most out of this episode.

Micah: I have to wait until 817; that’s really not fair.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: We’re not hitting that.

Eric: We’re going to make it.

Laura: Yeah, I have to make it to 1219.

Andrew: Oh, that’s definitely not happening.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Wow. Yeah, no. Sorry, Laura.

Andrew: We missed Eric’s 100 episodes ago.

Eric: I know. I enjoyed it silently, I think.

Andrew: We’ll have to see if you… it’d be funny if you weren’t on that episode. Now we’ve got to look and see what was happening on that episode.

Eric: [laughs] I was just gone.

Andrew: Anyway, on this episode, we are going to celebrate my – wait, no – Neville’s birthday by doing a deep dive character discussion on the alternate Chosen One. And we’re going to have a discussion about what if Neville was the Chosen One after all? And ever since we decided to discuss this, my mind’s been racing with ideas. It’s a fun thing to think about, so we’ll talk about that.

Laura: Can you imagine all of those book titles? Neville Longbottom and the Philosopher’s Stone.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: I can say with almost absolute certainty that I never would have gotten into this series if they were called “Longbottom.”

Andrew: Wow. I mean, Potter is not the most exciting name either.

Eric: No, yeah. Potter is a little cheesy, I guess, if you think, “Oh, Harry Potter,” but Longbottom? Yeah, absolutely not. I was way too self-conscious to read a book with “bottom” on the title.

Andrew: By the way, Eric’s birthday episode was our Wizards Unite review. That’s fun.

Eric: Oh, yeah, I remember that.

Main Discussion: Neville Longbottom

Laura: Well, I was going to say we’re doing this discussion to coincide with Neville’s birthday, which is July 30. He was actually born before Harry, so I guess we can say in that regard he was first, whereas throughout the rest of the series, he tends to feel second to Harry. So he won that one; he won the birthday contest. But I thought that since Neville and Harry’s birthdays plays such a role in marking them as the potential Chosen One, we should start by refreshing ourselves on the prophecy that marked these two characters, and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that Sybill Trelawney has joined us to give us a rendition of the prophecy.

Andrew: [imitating Trelawney] “Yes, hello, Laura. Hello. I am here for Andrew’s birthday episode.”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: “I will now recite my prophecy.”

[Echoey effect happens]

Andrew: “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as a seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as a seventh month dies…”

[Echoey effect stops]

Laura: And Andrew’s voice has now died. [laughs]

Andrew: Do we get healthcare on this show? I just ruined my voice and now I need to see a doctor.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: No, this is…

Micah: Yeah, man, do you need some water? Some cough drops?

Laura: This is America, Andrew. You’re not guaranteed healthcare. Come on, now.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: There must be podcasters’ insurance, voice insurance for podcasters. That must be a thing you can pay for.

Andrew: Yeah, let’s look into that.

Laura: There should be.

Andrew: I’m going to a podcasting conference in a couple of weeks. I’ll investigate. [laughs]

Laura: So to kick us off, I thought that we could dig a little bit into the notion that Voldemort could have chosen Neville. I mean, really, what this prophecy came down to was Voldemort’s choice. It didn’t more substantially make Harry the Chosen One any more than Neville; it really came down to Voldemort seeing himself in Harry as a half-blood, right? But what if he had chosen Neville? Do we think that a similar situation would have played out, specifically with regard to Alice sacrificing herself to save her son? And what could Neville’s power the Dark Lord knows not of have been? Harry’s was his mother’s love; would it have been the same for Neville?

Andrew: You would hope it would be the same.

Eric: Yeah, I tend to… when I do this in my head, it’s basically that Frank and Alice then die, because nothing short of that would allow Voldemort to have attacked Neville or marked him, and then Bellatrix and Barty Crouch, Jr. and all of them would have been sent to the Potters. So if you do that switcheroo, it may end up that Lily and James are the ones who are in St. Mungo’s then, that Neville discovers Harry’s tragic past in year five. The other thing that’s interesting is Frank and Alice were Aurors. Lily and James were not. So Frank and Alice were, I guess, more officially anti-Dark wizard catchers, and I find it so sad that they’ve lost that encounter and Neville had to grow up not really being able to speak with them.

Micah: I think Alice would have sacrificed herself, though. We see just how close their relationship is in St. Mungo’s with her giving Neville the gum wrappers sort of as a sign of affection. And of course, there were loads of theories back in the day that Alice was in fact giving Neville clues but he wasn’t really reading into it the way that he should have, but that got debunked by J.K. Rowling. But I think given the fact that they were tortured the way that they were, there’s no reason to think that they wouldn’t have sacrificed themselves. Frank also; he was tortured into insanity. And both of them, many would argue, suffered a fate worse than death in the fact that they’re now both insane and can’t even recognize, really, their own son.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: And I think it also raises the question, who has it worse, Neville or Harry? Neither of them ever really got to know their parents because Harry’s are dead and Neville’s have been driven to insanity. But at least Harry doesn’t have to watch them live out their days in a hospital.

Andrew: Right.

Eric: I hesitate to make an argument either way of who had it worse, because they both get sort of a short straw. But I will say, Neville did have his extended family to remind him of what he was, or what he wasn’t. And Harry also just never really had that because his relations, the Muggle Dursleys, never embrace this magical side of him. So I would hope that things would be different with Harry, but he still would have been just as neglected with the Dursleys; he just wouldn’t have been as famous or as special to the wizards. And when you… it’s exciting to analyze this from a Neville perspective, but it’s kind of depressing to think about what Harry’s life would have been without being the Chosen One.

Andrew: I wonder if the predictions of the prophecy could have been fulfilled if Voldemort tortured Neville’s parents into insanity, like what happened in the Harry Potter books, and then they were still hospitalized, like they were in the Harry Potter books. And then we see Neville throughout the series, [laughs] and this is getting into our discussion later already, but we see Neville throughout the series constantly going back to his parents, and you would just see these scenes in which he wants to, A, communicate with them and just go through all that, but also, B, just be like, “I will avenge you, Mom and Dad. I will right this wrong.” Do we think if they were tortured and not killed, the prophecy still would have been fulfilled? I don’t know.

Eric: I think absolutely to the prophecy, because he still would have… I tend to think that the marking him as his equal is less about Lily’s love and more about the accidental Horcrux scenario.

Laura: Yes. Lily’s love was the part that Voldemort was, well, he had too much hubris to even imagine that something like that could exist. And I think it also plays into Voldemort’s hubris that he didn’t just try to kill both Harry and Neville when they were both…

Andrew: He was so sure who it was.

Laura: Yeah, they were both identified as options. And not that I’m a Dark wizard or anything, but I’m like, if you’re really that threatened by these infants, why would you just pick one? It’s such a reflection of Voldemort’s arrogance, I guess. Arrogance, ignorance.

Eric: Well, I mean, didn’t he send Bellatrix to take care of the Longbottoms with the understanding that the kid would die? Because they weren’t taking any chances? It’s just that he didn’t do it himself, right?

Laura: I don’t know if we even know that the Longbottoms were with Neville, because it’s always struck me as odd that the Longbottoms got tortured in this way but that Neville apparently didn’t. So I don’t know if he was with his grandmother at the time and they were off on a Ministry mission…

Eric: I always thought he did get tortured as a kid because that’s why he’s so forgetful.

Laura: Have we had that confirmed? Or is it…?

Micah: Uhh…

Eric: Yeah, probably not. But that was definitely my thought process, was that he was present when they were there.

Micah: I think we may talk a little bit more about this later, but I think for Neville, his forgetfulness may be in large part due to how he was raised by his grandmother and his great uncle, and it’s not all that dissimilar from how Petunia and Vernon raised Harry, to be honest with you. We can make a lot of comparisons there.

Laura: For sure.

Micah: Both of them in effect are orphans, right? Neville is orphaned because of the state of his parents’ condition, Harry is obviously orphaned with Voldemort killing James and Lily, and then they’re both raised in very similar types of situations. We may not look at it that way because we view Augusta and the family of the Longbottoms to be more on the good side, but just because they’re on the good side doesn’t mean they did a good job raising Neville.

Laura: Yeah, and perhaps we give Augusta a little bit of a pass as readers because ultimately, she does come around, right? But we never really get to see that from the Dursleys. I mean, we heard about it after the fact through interviews with the author, where she confirmed that Harry and Dudley would send polite Christmas cards, but that’s all we got, so there wasn’t really much redemption there as much as there was for Augusta. Something I thought was interesting – looking into signs – Neville is a Leo. I know that we bring this up with all the birthday discussions. I know we have some critics on the panel, myself included; I don’t take this stuff super seriously.

Micah: Hey, I’m a Leo.

Eric: I love these.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Laura: But I think these stories were written and plotted very intentionally, and I don’t think that anyone was given a birthday by accident, just like a lot of names are not done by accident in these books. And I was reading about Leos, and it said, “Leo is ruled by the sun, the dazzling celestial body that governs life and vitality. The sun never goes retrograde, and likewise, Leos are renowned for their stability, loyalty, and consistency.” So I thought it was interesting that the two main Leos, Neville and Harry, are effectively named in the prophecy before they were born, kind of showing that neither of them really has a choice about their destiny, and I’m wondering if assigning them as Leos was an additional literary allusion to neither of them ever really getting a break?

Eric: Oh, I like that a lot.

Laura: Poor guys.

Eric: Not to mention they’re both Gryffindors, the Leo house, the lion house.

Micah: Yeah. And loyalty is definitely one of Neville’s stronger characteristics, I would argue. We see it even as early as Sorcerer’s Stone.

Eric: Right.

Laura: Well, we know that he, after the core books, went on to marry Hannah Abbott, who is someone who we’ve heard mentioned in the books, but we haven’t gotten too-too much exposition on her. But we know that she’s a Hufflepuff, she joined Dumbledore’s Army, she also served as a prefect, and she fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, so I think that she’s pretty in line with Neville’s values. Something that I noted while doing research for this episode is that Hannah, while she was struggling with stress related to her OWL exams in year five, broke down crying during a Herbology lesson and was sobbing that she was too stupid to take exams and wanted to leave school now. Definitely been there, so I feel you, Hannah. But in my headcanon, I like to imagine that Neville saw Hannah struggling and attempted to help her in some way, which led to their eventual romance.

Andrew: That is a nice little tie-in with Herbology.

Laura: Yeah. I think the fact that it was in Herbology feels to me like, again, it was very intentional, because that’s Neville’s best subject.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: I’m wondering, do we think that it would have been a positive addition to the books to see more representation of Hannah?

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. I feel that way about all the female characters in Harry Potter. I think they should have gotten more to do or we should have seen them more.

Andrew: In terms of Hannah, I guess it would have contributed to Neville’s growth. If we saw Neville and Hannah together in the books, maybe that would have given us the opportunity to see some confidence grow within Neville, because you would think that if someone who’s insecure, clumsy, etc. enters a healthy relationship, he’d see that people can view him as a good and talented person. It would change how he feels about himself.

Eric: It actually would have been really funny because it was during year five, towards the end of the year. Harry just had his unsuccessful romance with Cho. To then see Neville actually succeed at starting to date and stuff in the years between five and six before Harry does, to see him dating… and then we also would have gotten a lot of more things about inter-House unity. Hannah and Neville would have started hanging out and maybe the trio would have been invited to a mixer of some sort.

Micah: [laughs] Get that Hufflepuff representation, Er’.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: I know. Gotta have more of that. I’m all for it.

Micah: Neville, though. I mean, he’s a man ahead of his time, though. You’re comparing him to Harry, but he actually is the one who dips his toe in the water a little bit when it comes to asking out people for the Yule Ball.

Eric: Yep.

Laura: Yes, he does. Yeah, he asks Hermione, right? And I admire that about him. He saw a smart female friend of his who he really admired, and he shot his shot with her. And she politely turned him down, but I think in an alternate reality, Neville and Hermione could be a really good pairing, actually.

Andrew: Yeah, we all know how much courage it takes to ask somebody out to a dance on a date for the first time.

Laura: Yeah. Harry could barely do it.

Andrew: Right.

Micah: Yeah, Andrew, you turned me down.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: That was for the show.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Oh.

Laura: We couldn’t…

Andrew: I think one of Laura’s lessons today, too, is that if you ever see a crush struggling with Herbology, swoop in and help out.

Laura: Yep, that’s the time.

Micah: Laura, how much Neville/Hermione fanfiction exists?

Laura: I don’t know of any prominent ones, but it definitely does exist. It’s absolutely a pairing that you can find categories for on most major fanfiction sites.

Eric: Heville or Nermione? What is it called?

Andrew: I would vote Heville.

Laura: I like Nermione.

Andrew: Oh, really? [laughs]

Eric: Grongbottom?

Andrew: Nermione? But it reminds me of “nerd.”

Eric: Langer?

Laura: Yeah, but that sounds lame. [laughs]

Eric: Warrants further…

Andrew: Is any ship name not lame? Heville is bad too.

Eric: Drarry rolls off the… well, not the tongue.

Laura: It does. That’s because I think, depending on the writer, it can be well done. So thinking about the fact that we know that some of the major relationships in the books were planned pretty much for the entirety of the story arc – we know Ron and Hermione were intended from a writing perspective to end up together – do we think that it was the plan all along that Hannah and Neville would end up together? Or did the idea just evolve as the series neared its end? It was convenient, they were two single characters, Hannah hadn’t had very much character exposition, so she was an easy character to pair off with somebody, or do you think there might have been a little more intentionality behind that?

Eric: Well, we find these other remnants of factoids about Hannah Abbott’s character, and also in by what’s been revealed that she does after Hogwarts. She becomes the landlady of the Leaky Cauldron.

Laura: That’s right.

Eric: And she and Neville actually live above the Leaky Cauldron. Just the random idea that these various smatterings of facts exist and have been put out into the world of somebody who I don’t think really has even a line in the Harry Potter books shows that there was some – probably in a dropped plot – a lot more to do with Hannah specifically. So I would err on the side of it was planned.

Laura: Yeah, I think that’s pretty solid.

Micah: I do think, though – and I know we’re about to talk about this as it relates to the movies – but for moviegoers, it probably did make more sense to pair up Luna and Neville, because they were actually getting the screen time.

Andrew: Right.

Micah: Versus Hannah, we may have gotten her once or twice throughout the course of the entire series, and so it just wouldn’t have made sense. Not that it was even needed, to be honest with you. I don’t think that it really did much for Deathly Hallows – Part 2, but it makes sense.

Andrew: No, but it gives Luna a little bit of resolution for moviegoers.

Laura: I don’t know. I will say, to me, my jury’s kind of out about Neville’s romantic history and how much of it was intentional in the books, but in the movie, it straight up came across to me as convenience. We have these two primary characters, or secondary characters that we see a lot. Neither of them is paired off. Let’s do it in a last ditch effort to tie up all of the loose ends, or what we perceive to be loose ends in the story. And there really hadn’t been anything done in the movies to build up an idea of Neville and Luna. If they had decided they wanted to go that direction and they had actually built that relationship up as a movie-ism, I think I would have been okay with it, but it just felt random, the way they threw it into Deathly Hallows.

Micah: It was. It was a bit random. I think if it would have been… it made sense, to your point. I mean, you had these other two members of Dumbledore’s Army that really weren’t paired up, and they were really the core members of Dumbledore’s Army, right? They’re part of the contingent that go to the Ministry of Magic in Order of the Phoenix, and so they’re obviously spending a lot of time with each other. They would have been together at Hogwarts, at least for the second half of the seventh year when Harry, Ron, and Hermione aren’t there, so it makes sense. They’re also kind of the outsiders of the group in a lot of ways, so…

Eric: Yeah, it really resonates what Luna says about the DA being like they had friends. I think people often see both Neville and Luna as not having so much going on outside of the DA.

Laura: Well, they’re both seen as outcasts, right?

Micah: Exactly.

Laura: So I feel like from a filming perspective, that was treated as a convenience.

Eric: And it’s even in the Goblet of Fire movie – I had to look this up – but Neville takes Ginny to the Yule Ball. They could have started shipping… and Ginny goes to the Department of Mysteries too.

Micah: Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Hannah… Neville, man.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Neville is a player, apparently.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Yeah, we’ve discovered the untouched secret. The original plan was polyamory for Neville.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Can you imagine?

Micah: Professor Sprout…

Andrew: He’s just a player. [laughs] Professor Sprout.

Laura: And also, just to wrap up this high level overview of what we know about Neville, he did briefly serve as an Auror after Hogwarts prior to accepting the Professor of Herbology post.

Eric: That’s cool. That feels right. To become an Auror, you can’t just waltz in and apply for the job. You need tests. Tonks talks about this; there’s extensive tests. And it’s nice to know that Neville, with all the confidence he has coming out of year seven, would pass all those tests and then decide, “Eh, you know, it’s not for me.”

Laura: I like the idea of him trying to fill his father’s shoes, and then realizing he doesn’t have to.

Andrew: Aw, yeah.

Laura: That’s my happiest imagined outcome for Neville.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: That is really sweet. All right, so we’re going to talk about Neville’s upbringing in a second, but first, this week’s episode of MuggleCast helps people look as cool as Neville Longbottom defeating Nagini.

[Ad break]

Laura: Awesome, thanks for that. So we’re going to continue this discussion by digging in on the impact of Neville’s upbringing, something we alluded to a few moments ago. But we know that because Frank and Alice Longbottom were not equipped to raise a child, he was raised by his paternal grandmother, Augusta Longbottom. And we’ve definitely discussed before on the show how Augusta constantly comparing Neville to Frank really stunted Neville’s growth and competence, so we don’t have to spend a ton of time on that today because I found some other examples of things that Neville experienced as a child that happened with other family members than Augusta that also had an impact, so we can really dig in on these.

Eric: [laughs] The remaining family members for Neville all kind of suck, actually.

Laura: Yeah! Right? I was reading this and I was like, “Oh my God, these people are terrible.”

Eric: They’re all really bad, yeah.

Laura: So speaking of which, Eric, I’m wondering if you can see this first quote under point A. This happened in Sorcerer’s Stone when the kids are all sitting in the Great Hall and they’re sharing their family histories.

Eric: Yes, Neville says, “The family thought I was all-Muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me – he pushed me off the end of Blackpool Pier once, I nearly drowned – but nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced – all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased. Gran was crying, she was so happy.”

Laura: Can you imagine being happy about that? The child who is under your care being dangled out a window?

Eric: Can you imagine being offered a meringue and then just being so excited that you let go?

Laura: [laughs] Dropping the child.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Yeah. It’s so bizarre. And I mean, Great Uncle Algie sucks. I agree with that.

Micah: I was going to say, he is not the cool uncle that everybody likes.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: No, not at all. Can you imagine being nearly drowned?

Eric: Well, and what kind of…? As a kid, you just have no control. There’s nothing Neville could have done to have prevented that. It’s just kind of, you’re always being hunted by your uncle. Every time the uncle comes over, you’re either drowned or thrown out a window.

Micah: And I wonder, though, it doesn’t seem like Neville was really nurtured in the way that a child should be. And there are so many examples out there, obviously, of grandparents or aunts and uncles raising children and doing so in a loving and a caring way, and this just does not seem like it. I wonder how early was the expectation level set for Neville to start showing signs of magic and doing the things that Augusta wanted him to do? It just seems unfair, in a way. And undoubtedly, that frustration probably comes from what happened to Frank, but it just seems unfair to Neville.

Laura: Yeah. And I wonder if the pressure was even more intense because Neville was an only child. Frank and Alice, we don’t know if they would have had other children, but they did not maintain their sanity long enough to have the choice to do so. I don’t think any of us are single children, but I have friends who are only children, and the stress that comes with that, of sort of being the one person carrying on the family legacy if that’s something that your family cares a lot about, has to be really intense. And it’s amplified in this case because Neville had these amazing, accomplished parents who lost all of that, and he’s the one remaining possibility for the Longbottom family to achieve anything notable, right? So I think that’s where a lot of this comes from. They were so desperate for him to be special.

Eric: He was just never allowed to find his own path or forge his own way. He was not his entire childhood.

Andrew: But he does in the end, so at least there’s that.

Laura: Even if we flip the script and we assume that Augusta is a very nurturing grandmother and Neville’s family is very embracing of him, do we think that he might have still been doomed to feeling second best to Harry?

Eric: Do we ever…? I mean, I don’t think he ever really takes it out on Harry that he feels second best to Harry.

Laura: He doesn’t. And that’s a testament to his character, because Ron definitely takes it out on Harry. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, that’s true. Well, I mean, just Neville most of the time is so busy being tortured by Draco Malfoy. I’ll re-say that: Neville is just so busy being taunted by Draco Malfoy most of the time, and Harry, actually, to his credit, steps in a lot of the time. So I always felt more of like, there’s just a good friendship, versus… there’s not really any rivalry between Harry and Neville, and a lot of that, I think, has to do with the fact that I don’t think Neville was ever told why his parents were targeted. I don’t think that he knows about the prophecy, and that’s on Dumbledore. I think Dumbledore didn’t tell anyone else.

Laura: Does he ever find out? Do we ever get any confirmation one way or the other on that?

Eric: I doubt it.

Andrew: Does he listen to this podcast? Because if so, he just heard the prophecy a half hour ago.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: I’m googling it right now.

Micah: Andrew, can to do a retake of that?

Andrew: [laughs] No, nope.

Micah: Just in case he’s listening right now?

Andrew: Once a month.

Eric: But that actually raises an interesting question to me, because we know that the Potters were well protected behind a Fidelius Charm, and Dumbledore himself offered to be the Secret Keeper. Were the Longbottoms so heavily shielded? Because just a punk teenager and two more Death Eaters can find them and get to them. And even though Frank and Alice were, like I said, official Aurors, they I don’t think were nearly half as protected, and Dumbledore had no way of knowing which kid Voldemort would go for.

Laura: Yeah, the only thing I can think is that Dumbledore diverted resources to the Potters because he had confirmation from Snape that Voldemort was going to go after the Potters. But again, I’m still wrestling with this idea of people being like, “Yep, okay, there’s two choices, and I think it’s this one, so we’re going to focus all resources on this one and not to the other.” It strikes me as very odd that Dumbledore wouldn’t do something for the Longbottoms.

Eric: Especially because both teams thrice defied Voldemort; that’s not an easy thing to do. So many people… Voldemort personally has to kill certain people, we find out about in the later books, and they end up taking a lot of other people with them. So to have these Aurors in Frank and Alice that also thrice defied Voldemort, as Dumbledore, the head of the Order of the Phoenix, you’re going to want to protect Frank and Alice. Even if they’re not chosen, you want them in your circle, because they’re helping you defeat evil.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, they’re members of Order of the Phoenix.

Eric: Yeah, so he kind of hung them out to dry, I think. Weird kind of Dumbledore discussion, but yeah, I think he didn’t do enough.

Micah: Shocker.

Laura: Yeah, it just still strikes me as odd. [laughs] Yeah. “Old age.”

[Eric laughs]

Laura: But I mean, we know – and some folks have brought this up in the Discord – we know that ultimately, Bellatrix and the Death Eaters went and tortured Frank and Alice to try and find out if they knew anything about Voldemort’s whereabouts after he vanished post his infant baby ass-whooping that he got, which goes to show that I think the Death Eaters were under the illusion that the Potters and the Longbottoms – or the Order of the Phoenix more largely – were all interconnected in such a way that they would have that information. So it’s just strange to me. They kind of got treated like collateral damage, in a way, and it had such an impact.

Micah: But can you imagine the…? [laughs] Well, we already know how crazy Bellatrix is. But can you imagine the state of mind of somebody like Bellatrix after Voldemort has fallen? She’s probably just completely insane, and is willing to do anything to get information and is probably not even listening to what Frank and Alice are saying; she’s just completely off her rocker. So yeah, it’s unfortunate.

Laura: Yeah. And with regard to Voldemort, we actually have another quote here that I pulled from the book. This is post Voldemort altercation, and I thought, Micah, you could read this for us. It’s a Neville quote.

Micah: “We didn’t face him, though. You did. You should hear my gran talk about you. ‘That Harry Potter’s got more backbone than the whole Ministry of Magic put together!’ She’d give anything to have you as a grandson…”

Laura: That hurts to read.

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: How affected is Neville by that? I guess I would need to read the whole passage, or just refresh myself on this area of the story. But if Neville is willing to say that to Harry, how affected is he by it? Because sometimes if something really bothers you, you don’t want to mention it, because then you’re acknowledging it. You’re validating it.

Laura: I feel like at this point, he’s what, 15? 16? And he’s spent his whole life being made to feel like he’s not enough, so he’s probably numb to it.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Micah: I always saw that, though, as a moment… I think, Andrew, this might have been what you were alluding to. Neville is just giving props to Harry and almost showing that there’s other people out there that would love to have Harry as part of their family, knowing probably what he’s been through; the fact that he’s lost his parents, the fact that he lives with the Dursleys. So I always saw that as a nice moment between the two of them.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: I think you can look at it both ways.

Laura: And I think that it could be a case of multiple truths, right? He has this acknowledgment that he’s not quite living up to expectations in his grandmother’s view, but at the same time, he recognizes that this might be a heartwarming thing for Harry to hear that somebody else would consider him family.

Eric: Yeah, for sure.

Laura: Well, Augusta definitely gets hers a little bit later. So we find out in Book 6 when Professor McGonagall is handing out class schedules, based on whether or not people passed OWLs in various subjects the previous year, that Neville was not going to be able to take Transfiguration because he only achieved an Acceptable on his Transfiguration OWL. And Professor McGonagall says, “No, you wouldn’t be able to handle the course load. Why are you trying to take Transfiguration, anyway? You don’t like it.” And Neville muttered something about “Well, my grandmother wants me to,” and Professor McGonagall says, “It’s high time your grandmother learned to be proud of the grandson she’s got, rather than the one she thinks she ought to have – particularly after what happened at the Ministry.”

Andrew: Yeah, I love that.

Laura: I love it, because not only does she say it to Neville, mind, she’s saying it in front of the whole table of Gryffindors, because [laughs] – this is a weird thing, too – she’s going around and assigning them schedules based on what their OWL exam grades were, so she’s openly talking about what OWLs people passed and failed in front of everyone.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Euhh, yeah. Is it made up for by the fact that Minerva is being maternal right now? [laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I think that she has the best intentions, but this also just strikes me as a very old school educational approach that does not create a psychologically safe environment for the students. [laughs]

Eric: That’s fair. That’s fair. Keep in mind, though, they do all attend the same classes, and a lot of the classes are like, “Make this potion,” and so everyone knows that Neville is not going to be doing great at Potions. They all kind of guess each other’s grades.

Micah: This reminds me, though, was there never a time when you were back in school where teachers used to post your grades up on a board and you would go…? Maybe they did it by student ID as opposed to your actual name.

Eric: It had a number, yeah.

Andrew: This line, though, was a great line that a lot of parents can probably remember. They’re very hard on their kids, and they need to learn to love them just as they are and not worry about the things that they don’t like about them.

Eric: Absolutely.

Laura: And later in the same passage, McGonagall notes that Neville achieved an Exceeds Expectations in Charms, which would allow him to continue on to NEWT level Charms in years six and seven. And I’m wondering, Andrew, if you could read this passage from McGonagall. It’s so good.

Andrew: I’m laughing reading it.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: “‘Take Charms,’ said Professor McGonagall, ‘and I shall drop Augusta a line reminding her that just because she failed her Charms OWL, the subject is not necessarily worthless.’ Smiling slightly at the look of delighted incredulity on Neville’s face, Professor McGonagall tapped a blank schedule with the tip of her wand and handed it, now carrying details of his new classes, to Neville.”

Laura: So did Minerva and Augusta attend Hogwarts together?

Eric: Yeah, they were probably roommates and they cannot stand one another.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: That fanfiction.

Laura: Well, we know that Minerva and Professor Sprout were there at the same time.

Eric: Oh, right.

Laura: We’ve had that confirmed. And I was looking at Augusta’s wiki page; it said she was born in 1947. Does that add up with the canon timeline? Not the Fantastic Beasts timeline.

[Andrew and Micah groan]

Eric: I was going to say, because Minerva was already a teacher for 20 years then.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Laura: Book timeline. Book timeline.

Eric: I just believe it because she’s a generation removed from all of the other Gryffindors’ parents, right? So at the time when Frank and Alice would have been at school is the same time that the Marauders and Harry’s parents and Snape and all that, but Minerva is one more generation above, so that’s when Augusta, Neville’s gran, would have been there, and Hagrid and Voldemort and Lucius and all that.

Micah: Right. Yeah, I mean, I’ve always looked at that quote as thinking that she’s saying that as one of the professors to have been at the school when Augusta was taking the exams, but she just as easily could have been her classmate and learned about what she got on her OWL. And plus, the fanfiction that I read going episodes back.

Laura: There you go.

Micah: They were roommates.

Laura: That’s right. That’s right.

Eric: I didn’t pull that from thin air. Darn.

Andrew: It’s fanfic canon.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Love it.

Laura: But it makes sense.

Micah: Same as Cursed Child.

Laura: Hey, at least the fanfic hasn’t been cut down by two hours, so it’s got that going for it.

Andrew: Ooooh. Talking about that next week.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Was it too soon? Too soon? I’m sorry. But I like this idea that Minerva is very aware of her students’ home situations. I mean, this quote does not come provoked based on Neville saying one thing; I have to think that she’s been aware of Augusta’s treatment of Neville for quite some time to say something like this.

Eric: Yeah, and Minerva has reason to not like Neville; I mean, he’s the one who left the list of passwords hanging around so that Sirius Black could get into Gryffindor dormitory and kill students. So she’s had her moments with Neville, but this rare showing of a maternal support goes to show that McGonagall does get it, and she knows that at least half of what’s going on with Neville is because of the unrealistic expectations put on by a very domineering gran.

Laura: Well, this takes us into a short discussion about Neville and the theme of belonging. It really seems as long as we’ve known Neville in the series that he really just longs to fit somewhere. We know that he had a silent argument with the Sorting Hat to put him in Hufflepuff, even though presumably, he comes from a long line of Gryffindor. So maybe he didn’t think that he could live up to the mantle of being a Gryffindor; maybe it felt like too much pressure. But do we think that Neville felt like he would be a better fit in Hufflepuff due to low self-esteem, for example? We know how Hufflepuff is portrayed early on in the books.

Eric: Bunch o’ duffers.

Laura: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: Yeah, I think so. Because he thought he was nonmagical for a very long time, probably learned about Hogwarts from the lens of “You’ll never attend because you’re a Squib,” and then finds out he has magic. But I bet by then his confidence and self-esteem is so low that he knows already he’s not going to be the warrior his parents both were, and so “They were Gryffindors? Great. I’m going to try for a House that has more of an accepting kind of reputation, and that’s Hufflepuff.” It’s like, “I’ll just go to school, but I just want to be in a House that’ll have me. I’m not trying to be bold, daring, dashing, none of that.” And so I can see why Hufflepuff would appeal to Neville more than Gryffindor. Because Gryffindor comes with sort of a sentence of “You’ve got to live up to this,” whereas Hufflepuff surely wouldn’t have.

Micah: He just wants to be with Hannah.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Well, I was going to say, actually… I mean, I really like this theory that Laura and Eric presented, but you could also maybe take it as a bit of foreshadowing, replacing the Herbology teacher eventually, the Head of Hufflepuff. I think you could make an argument like that.

Eric: That’s true.

Laura: Yeah. Well, and we have to remember, Dumbledore says in Book 7, “Sometimes I think we Sort too young.” So maybe if given the opportunity to be Sorted as an adult, Neville would end up in Hufflepuff.

Micah: It is interesting, though, how early the tone is set on Hufflepuff: It’s the House that you don’t want to be Sorted into, even though Neville wants to be there. And it’s like you were saying, Laura; it’s like a safety net for him, essentially, to go there, because then there’s really no expectation level, right? If he goes into Hufflepuff.

Andrew: People like to blame the fans for that negative Hufflepuff image because it is kind of running joke…

Laura: And it’s not.

Andrew: Right, exactly. It’s not after all, when you’re reminded of moments like this.

Eric: No, in Madam Malkin’s when Harry first meets Draco, Draco says, “I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?” [laughs] If he’s Sorted into Hufflepuff. Unbelievable.

Andrew: We need a whole discussion on this. “In Defense of Hufflepuff.” Just a whole episode dedicated to it.

Eric: I’m on it, Andrew.

Laura: I know. Well, thankfully, I think the fandom has evolved the conversation about Hufflepuffs to the point where there’s a lot more prominence.

Andrew: Yes.

Laura: There’s a lot more regard for them. But it would be really hard to argue that the books did not set a tone for Hufflepuff being treated like the safety school option.

Eric: Absolutely. But I think a Hufflepuff perspective would take pride in that, too; they’re not so elitist.

Laura: Well, it’s ultimately, I think… if we read over the original Sorting song, Hufflepuff said that she would take the rest and teach them all the same. I think that’s the best quality of…

Eric: Yeah, no gatekeeping.

Laura: Yeah, exactly. Definitely fits in in the 2021 world. [laughs]

Andrew: Yes.

Laura: And just for some evidence about Neville’s self-worth, his self-confidence, we knew that he was worried about being a Squib. Even after he exhibited magical abilities at the age of eight, his family was still afraid that he wasn’t magical enough to get into Hogwarts. And he also expressed concern in Chamber of Secrets that the Basilisk might attack him because of his own perceived low magical abilities.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Can you imagine that? Being like, “I suck so much, this thing that’s not even after me based on blood status is going to kill me because I suck.”

Andrew: [laughs] “He just eats people who suck.” That sounds like a good rumor that would go around school.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: It does. It’s terrible. Awful. Well, I thought to relate to this theme of belonging, I’m wondering if any of us have ever had the experience of feeling like we don’t belong somewhere, or that others belong more than us.

Andrew: Yeah, definitely. And actually, this ties into earlier when we were talking about Neville feeling like he’s second best. I think we all go through that where we’re in situations, be it professional or personal. Maybe it’s a party, maybe it’s a particular meeting at the office, and we feel like we don’t belong, because maybe these people are more experienced than we are, or they’re just perceived in social circles as cooler than we are. So yeah, I’ve definitely… I don’t have a specific… I mean, the classic example is the lunch table, right? You don’t feel like you belong in one lunch table. Everybody else is cool. I felt that, though, very much.

Eric: For sure. I think in third grade, I joined the Chess Club, and I was very enthusiastic about playing chess, but I knew that I was not at all… I wasn’t strategic at it. And still to this day, I love playing it, but I’m constantly surprised when a piece is taken, because I don’t think enough moves ahead. And I was very happy to draw… I think we did a chess fair or something and I drew the border, the banner for it, on paper. I had a lot of fun time being in the Chess Club, and fortunately, my skills didn’t really have to be tested because it was really just… I don’t know if it was after school, but it was just a way for kids to have fun. But I very much felt kind of like an imposter even there. I felt like everyone around me was better at chess than I was, but I did just want to belong.

Laura: Yeah, I remember I always struggled with math as a child; it was not my preferred subject. And when I was in fifth grade, we took a standardized test. We took a practice test and then we took the actual real thing, and I failed both of them. And not only did I fail both of them, I failed them both with the exact same score. And I remember my teacher… he was great. He showed me the scores and he was like, “Do you see a difference between these?” And I was like, “Nope.” And he ran an advanced math class after school club, and his answer to that was to encourage me to join this club. And I was like, “No way, I suck at this; why would I join an advanced club?” And his thought was that it would push me because I would want to rise to the occasion to perform alongside the other kids in there, and it actually worked.

Eric: Whoa.

Laura: I don’t think it would work for everyone, but I think he felt pretty confident that it would work for me and my particular learning style. But yeah, the imposter syndrome I felt when I walked into that classroom the first day. [laughs] I was like, “I shouldn’t be here. I don’t belong here. These kids are way better than me. They’re way smarter.” But in the end, I’m really glad that it worked out the way it did.

Micah: Nice. Yeah, I remember at my current job when I had first started out… this goes with what Andrew was saying earlier about maybe you’re in meetings that you don’t really feel like you should be in because the other people in the room are just more senior to you. I remember going into the meeting and it was a small group of people – it wasn’t big or anything like that – and I happened to look over at the person sitting next to me, and they were holding their phone and somebody from across the table had actually texted or messaged that person – I think back at the time we were using Blackberries – and they said, “Why is Micah in this meeting?”

Andrew: [gasps] Oh!

Laura: Oh my God!

Micah: So it completely justified everything that I was thinking. And I remember going back later to talk to the person who I reported into and I relayed the story – it was probably weeks or months after the fact – and similar to what you said earlier, Laura, they were just like, “Who cares whether or not they think you should be in the meeting? It shouldn’t stop you from saying anything or speaking up. I wanted you in the meeting as the person who reports into me, and that should be enough.”

Andrew: Damn.

Laura: Holy cow, that person sucks. Those people suck, whoever did that.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: It’s amazing, though. People think they’re so slick. It’s so much easier to get away with now, being in this virtual environment where you can message people on the side when you’re in meetings. But when you’re physically in a meeting with somebody, you can’t get away with that stuff. I’m sorry.

Andrew: [laughs] Right.

Eric: I’m always asking why Micah is on the meeting.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: “Why are you here recording today?”

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Ugh, professional gatekeeping is just the worst. I won’t have it.

Andrew: I always think of this quote – and I think this relates – from Michelle Obama. I think about it all the time. “I’ve been at every powerful table you can think of; they are not that smart.” That’s a short sample of the quote. I took that to mean nobody is any better than you are. People may seem intimidating at first, but everyone has their flaws, and that makes you just as good as anyone else, so just remember that when you’re feeling intimidated. We’re all human, and you may be surprised by what even the most successful people in life actually lack. It’s probably a lot.

Laura: Well, it sounds like we’re moving into a speech about propping Neville up, trying to motivate him, trying to give him confidence, and that’s perfectly timed because we do have some notable moments of development that Neville saw throughout the books.

Andrew: Yeah, I always think back to standing up to the trio when they wanted to sneak out in Sorcerer’s Stone. And of course, this wasn’t the first time that Neville had stood up to fellow students, but as Dumbledore says, he stood up to his friends and that takes a lot of courage, and you deserve House points for that. So I really admire that moment. Because we all know that it can be hard to stand up to friends, absolutely. You’re close to somebody; you don’t want to tell them certain things. Sometimes you have to, and Neville did that time. He did more than I would at 11/12 years old.

Laura: And he got petrified and was laying there stiff as a board for God knows how many hours.

Andrew: Yeah, Miss Angel Hermione did it too.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: And he still asked her out later on.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: See, he doesn’t hold grudges. Just another thing to like about him.

Micah: There you go.

Eric: Hufflepuff trait.

Micah: She was preparing him for Chamber of Secrets in case the Basilisk got him.

Laura: [laughs] Oh no.

Andrew: In case the Basilisk did attack stupid people.

Laura: That is ironic that the following year she’s the one who gets Petrified.

Andrew: Karma is a “bleep.”

Micah: Another really big moment of development for Neville was definitely in Order of the Phoenix. We talked about this during our Chapter by Chapter discussion of “Beyond the Veil,” but just what did we refer to it as? A glow-up for Neville?

Eric and Laura: Yep.

Laura: It really was.

Micah: He just comes through as such a fierce ally. He’s possibly the most Gryffindor of the bunch during this particular series of events in the Ministry. He just has these really great moments where you don’t always have to use magic, right? He took his wand and he jammed it in a Death Eater’s eye to save Harry. I mean, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Sorry, Macnair.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: “That was for Buckbeak.”

Eric: Not sorry, Macnair.

Laura: Yeah, who cares about the method as long as you achieve the desired outcome?

Micah: And we talked a little bit about this during that episode, but do we feel like J.K. Rowling intentionally took out the rest of the crew that was there in the Ministry? At least for a period of time, right? We talked about how Hermione, Ginny, Luna, all kind of get sidelined – Ron, obviously – to kind of push Neville to the forefront? Because for a while there, it is Neville and Harry who are doing most of the battling.

Laura: I think so. I think from a writing perspective, she knew that very shortly, it was going to be revealed to Harry and to the reader that Neville could have potentially been the Chosen One.

Eric: Oh, right.

Laura: So it gave readers an opportunity to see them both at the forefront.

Eric: I just wish it wasn’t all comic relief, the way he’s got a bloody nose but is still talking through it. “Dubble-dore, Dubble-dore!”

Laura: Yeah, that got kind of annoying. [laughs]

Eric: That was really annoying to read, actually. It was like, “Neville? Ew, he sucks.”

Micah: But probably one of the most important things that he does in this chapter is he faces the individual who was responsible for the torture of his parents, in Bellatrix. I mean, he does get the Cruciatus Curse for his efforts, so he experiences the same curse that his parents did, but he still perseveres through it. He gets hit with a number of different spells. He finally loses his father’s wand, which is probably a good thing, one good thing that comes out of this chapter. But yeah, I mean, he’s really just at the forefront defending everybody and not backing down, and I don’t think that’s something that we’ve seen from him previously.

Laura: Yeah, and I really think that moment where he loses his father’s wand is a literary device to sort of represent him becoming his own person. It’s the first time he gets to, whether willingly or unwillingly, kind of thrust the expectations that are placed upon him away.

Micah: Yeah, that’s a really great point. And then one of the other moments was in Deathly Hallows, confronting Voldemort after Harry has been supposedly killed, and he’s staring down the Dark Lord. And if we’re going back to our conversation earlier, it could have just as easily been him in Hagrid’s arms. But in that moment, he chooses to stand up to scream “Dumbledore’s Army,” and again, he pays the price, right? Just like with Bellatrix, Voldemort makes an example of him. He calls the Sorting Hat out, puts it on top of his head, and lights it on fire. And it’s another defining moment for Neville, before he finally destroys the last Horcrux, and again, that’s also something that I think is worth mentioning, because he ultimately opens the door for Harry to defeat Voldemort.

Laura: Yep, he sets Harry up for the win.

Micah: Exactly.

Laura: I like the imagery, too, of Neville’s – we can assume – final interaction with the Sorting Hat being this, because in Book 1, when he gets Sorted, he’s so nervous that he literally runs away with the Sorting Hat still on, and then has to run back up to deliver the Sorting Hat to the stool in front of everyone laughing at him. So the fact that he’s… it really, I think, is reminiscent of his development arc that he went from being highly nervous, not having very much confidence, to literally having this thing put on his head and burned because he stood up to the Darkest wizard of their age.

Andrew: That’s a beautiful bookend, yeah. All right, we’ll talk about his movie portrayal in a moment, but first, it’s time for a word from this week’s sponsor.

[Ad break]

Laura: All right, we’re going to dig into Neville’s movie portrayal now. He’s portrayed in the films by Matthew Lewis all the way through, so I feel like this is…

Andrew: Speaking of glow-up.

Laura: Yeah, he did. [laughs] I feel like this is another achievement for the films, that they were able to largely keep the child cast from Movie 1 all the way through Movie 8.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Laura: And I thought, though… we don’t need to… we’re not here to critique Matthew Lewis; I think that he did a fine job as Neville. But there are some notable changes in Neville’s film portrayal; we talked about one a little bit earlier with the film showing him having a romantic interest in Luna, but there are also some things that had a pretty significant impact on the plot points in the books. So we know in Book 1, Neville snuck out to try and warn Harry and Hermione that Draco was trying to get them caught while they smuggled Norbert out, and he actually is the one who got in trouble, something we don’t get to see. We also see that Neville was in the train compartment during the Dementor introduction in Prisoner of Azkaban. The film makes it out as though it’s just the trio and Lupin; it is not. Unfortunately, Neville in talking about his experience in that compartment is the reason that Draco finds out that Harry collapsed and thus starts teasing Harry, but it’s completely unintentional. Again, we also know he asked Hermione to the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire. In the movies, though, I think there were some notable things that were absent, including those prior book items. So no Frank and Alice, or St. Mungo’s shown in the films, and it feels like this was such a missed opportunity.

Micah: It was, I totally agree. And I think there’s actually an article out there where Matt Lewis talks about really wanting to have filmed this scene. And both him and – it was either Yates or Heyman; I’m forgetting which David – they had talked about it and they agreed after the fact that it was a huge miss, and obviously, would have been a great scene for Matt to film as Neville with his parents. And it also would have just, I think… not that people didn’t like Neville to begin with, right? I think they’re all… most people are drawn to Neville’s character. But I think it would have really just been a great onscreen moment for him.

Andrew: I do wonder – because the fifth movie came out the same year, the same month, as Book 7 – if they knew what was going to happen in Book 7, would that have changed this? Would they have put a scene like this in? Because I think it would have added a lot to Neville’s character leading up to defeating Nagini.

Laura: I feel like the movies made the very conscious choice to omit a lot of Neville’s storyline. I mean, in the movies we don’t learn that Neville could have been the Chosen One, right? I don’t think that’s a nuance that ever got discussed.

Andrew: Yeah, I guess not.

Micah: I don’t think so, actually. You’re right.

Laura: So I wonder if with that decision, a lot of Neville’s character development got scrapped.

Andrew: Yeah. Again, I think maybe if they knew where it was going, maybe they would have included a lot of that character development. Because they couldn’t change who killed Nagini; it had to be Neville in the movie.

Eric and Laura: Right.

Laura: But the significance of him killing Nagini is completely lost if you don’t have that context.

Andrew and Micah: Right.

Andrew: And that’s what I’m saying; if they knew what was going to happen in Book 7, maybe they would have added more of Neville’s story in.

Laura: Yeah, I feel like they had also set him up to just be comic relief in the films, unfortunately.

Andrew: Definitely.

Laura: And we can get into that by remembering when Neville worked as a butler to get into Slughorn’s Christmas party in the Half-Blood Prince film.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh, right! Yeah.

Laura: Hated this. [laughs] I hated it so much.

Andrew: The TV show will fix these problems.

Laura: I hope so.

Andrew: We’ll get Neville’s story and no butler Neville.

Micah: And just to go back for a second to the whole Frank and Alice, how it plays out in the movies… I’m even remembering how Bellatrix first meets Neville. She’s like, “How’s Mum and Dad?” It’s almost played off like it’s a joke. And I feel like if they would have set it up better earlier on in the movie, you would have realized just how painful of a moment that was for Neville. I mean, I know he’s got the moment with Harry in the Room of Requirement with the photo of the Order and that’s how he explains it – I think it’s not long after Bellatrix breaks out of Azkaban – and it works for the movie, but I feel like it would have been a much better scene inside of St. Mungo’s. We never go to St. Mungo’s, do we?

Andrew and Laura: No.

Micah: Budget? Pacing? Yates?

Laura: [laughs] Yeah. Well, we could definitely dig through all kinds of examples of Neville’s portrayal in the book versus the movies, but I wanted to just get a quick take from the panel. Do we think that the films position Neville’s character to be the same character that we know and love from the books?

Andrew: That’s complicated.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: They captured some elements of Neville for sure, just not the best ones. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. I don’t know; I’m of two minds, because I think coming to the movies first, I found that having him be acted – and by Matt Lewis – really softened some of the Neville moments I would normally feel annoyed by, because I’m like, “Oh, Neville. This guy. Come on.” So there’s that. But I do think that all of the characters by the end of the movie series are worse for the fact that it’s been adapted into the movies that they were making. If you’re not the trio, your arc – and maybe various fundamental character moments or character bits about you – were sacrificed for pacing or time.

Micah: I mean, Neville gets a fair amount of screen time in most of the films, right? If you’re thinking outside of the trio, he’s probably one that gets a fair amount. But I often just feel like he was played off as being a bit of a doofus, even more comic relief at times than Ron is. I’m thinking of the Goblet of Fire scene in the second task, like, “Oh my God, I killed Harry Potter!”

Eric: [laughs] Well, in that same film, though…

Micah: When in the book, he’s not even the one who gives him the Gillyweed in the book.

Eric: In that film, he does inspire my favorite piece of musical score, though: “Neville’s Waltz.”

Andrew: Ah, yeah.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Laura: And of course they give him a waltz.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: They’re like, “Here’s the lame character; we’re giving him a waltz.”

Eric: What? Waltzes are hard to learn.

Laura: Yeah, but he’s also a teenager.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s not sexy.

Laura: Can you imagine being a teenager? Would you want…? Yeah, exactly. Would you want someone to tell you, “I’ve composed a waltz for you”?

Andrew: “Wanna waltz with me?”

Laura: To bring us home today, I thought we could revisit this “What if?” point that we surfaced briefly at the beginning of the show: What if Neville was the Chosen One? Let’s assume all the circumstances are the same. He’s at home with Frank and Alice, Voldemort breaks into their home, kills his parents, Alice sacrifices herself to save Neville, spell rebounds. Neville’s got the scar – or something – on his forehead. What would that mean for Neville’s upbringing? And how would it impact the series?

Eric: I know we talked a lot about how the Longbottoms kind of all suck to Neville…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … and suck at him and suck to him. But I really think that if he had been the Chosen One, and it’s due to Neville as an infant that Voldemort’s power was broken, and the house was destroyed, his family that we know as being very hard on him would have immediately… or would have been different people. Because although he would have presumably been delayed in showing his magical talent to roughly the same period of time either way, the difference is he would have done something, right? The difference is Voldemort would have been defeated because of this boy. And so I think his family would have immediately gone into the more almost covering-up-for-him mode, if it turned… because the expectations are high. He’s in a wizarding family; everybody’s going to want to see him age six do some remarkable feat of magic around the reunion table or something. I feel like his family would have immediately gone in to protect him, because their honor is on the line, right? And so instead, he would have been encouraged much sooner to follow the path that made the most sense for him. And I think somebody like Augusta would have actually learned what kind of a person he was first, instead of forcing him to be somebody else, because they’d have that victory, that initial victory against Voldemort.

Andrew: I like that.

Micah: But can somebody like Augusta even exist? If we’re saying all things equal, I don’t think Augusta or Great Uncle Algie or any of them can exist. Neville has to be raised in some other fashion, no?

Eric: Well, why?

Andrew: Yeah, I don’t think so.

Eric: Because it’s really just that… the question is if Voldemort chose…

Micah: Well, Harry doesn’t have anybody but his aunt.

Eric: Right, but let’s just say if Voldemort chose to go after the Longbottom boy instead of the Potter boy, Augusta, Algie, are all still there.

Andrew: Yeah, it doesn’t matter who the family is around him.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, they would have been his closest living kin.

Andrew: I think also, Eric, to your point, Augusta would have a newfound appreciation for Neville, too, having almost lost him.

Eric: Mm, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Andrew: Right. Or almost killed by the Dark Lord.

Laura: Do you feel like it could have almost been a different kind of pressure, though? I mean…

Andrew: [laughs] “Now you have to defeat Voldemort, kid.”

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Yeah, like, “You defeated Voldemort as an infant, so now we really are expecting great things from you.”

Andrew: Right. “You have to do it twice in one lifetime.” [laughs] Maybe. But then also, just this whole scenario raises so many questions, like who would Neville’s friends have been? Would he have had two very close friends with him throughout the series? Can we jump to my point? What would Dumbledore’s relationship be like with him? That’s a huge question.

Eric: Well, I want to know what Dumbledore’s relationship with Harry would be like.

Andrew: Nothing.

Eric: If he treats him just like he treats Neville, like, non-existent relationship. Can you imagine?

Andrew: Yeah, just like any other… he’d be any other student.

Eric: He’d be any other student, yeah.

Laura: Actually, Stephanie in the Discord is raising a point that I think supports what you were alluding to earlier, Micah, which is that if all things are equal, and it’s a mother’s love that saved Neville, he would need the blood magic from the maternal side of his family. Augusta is his paternal side of the family, so Dumbledore would have had to ensure that he go to one of Alice’s relatives, I think. Is that what you were saying, Micah?

Micah: Sure, yes.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: No, in part. In a way, yes, but I think Stephanie makes the point a lot clearer.

Eric: Yeah. I wonder what Alice’s family is like. I wonder who they are; how they feel about Neville… but I think Dumbledore just would have had to do a different kind of protection. Bits and bobs here and there.

Andrew: Who’s the Aunt Marge on Neville side?

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Probably Uncle Algie. That dude sucks.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Yeah, that guy really sucks.

Andrew: Yeah, actually. There you go.

Laura: Imagine Snape teaching Neville Occlumency.

Eric: I can’t.

Andrew: Well, and you also wonder – because I was wondering that, too – would Neville be stubborn in terms of his lessons? Or would he actually go with it and really work to close his mind out to Voldemort? I think he would.

Eric: Well, we don’t hear about Frank Longbottom and Snape having beef, so maybe he would have gotten a quality education from Snape, Neville would.

Andrew: Oh, that’s a very important factor as well. Everything changes.

Micah: Or is Snape even a factor here anymore?

Andrew: Oh.

Eric: That’s true.

Andrew: Everything changes!

Laura: I mean, imagine if it was James and Lily in St. Mungo’s and Snape was pining after Lily still while she’s in a mental hospital.

Eric: Snape would have been working for Mungo’s as a Healer of some sort instead.

Micah: There you go.

Andrew: It’s Sprout who’s in love with Frank. [laughs] “You have his eyes.”

Eric: Sprout is the Snape allegory. I love that. That’s crazy.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: I think what this tells us is we need a Longbottom family tree. Do we have that? [laughs]

Micah: Somewhere, probably.

Andrew: I don’t know. There has to be fanfiction with this idea, right? If Neville is the Chosen One?

Micah: Oh, I’m sure there is.

Eric: Definitely.

Andrew: Because now I want to read all of that. We spoke about what Harry Potter spinoffs could be, and we spoke about Stephenie Meyer Life and Death. This should be the alternate universe Harry Potter series that is written: What if Neville was the Chosen One?

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: I agree. I’m still just trying to wrap my head around what it does to the perception of the Longbottom family in the wizarding world, right? They’re a pure-blood family that would have taken down Voldemort. How does that all play itself out?

Eric: Oh. That can make it worse for race relations, or pure-blood, half-blood, all that other stuff.

Laura: Either that or it’s a signal that a very prominent pure-blood family has taken a strong stance against Voldemort and his terror of blood purity that he’s reigning down upon the world.

Eric: Oh, wait, yeah. Neville is pure-blood, which means Alice’s parents are witches and wizards, so they’re a wizarding family. How do we never hear about Alice’s side? That’s crazy.

Laura: It is so odd. And then Andrew, I think you have a note here about Neville’s scar. [laughs]

Andrew: What would Neville’s scar have been? [laughs] Would it have been a lightning bolt? Would it have been a leaf?

Laura: It would have been a Mimbus mimbletonia.

Andrew: There you go.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: A leaf. Definitely a leaf.

Andrew: A burning Sorting Hat. The sword of Gryffindor. A snake.

Micah: A toad.

Eric: A pipe.

Andrew: So many options.

Laura: I would really love this. And honestly, this is why… again, I know I harp on this point, but I love the idea of other creators being able to get into this space and produce other kinds of content. I mean, I’m a big MCU fan; I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, but I’m so looking forward to the Disney+ “What If?” show that’s coming out here in August showing all of these alternate realities. Like, what if T’Challa had been abducted and he became Star Lord instead of the King of Wakanda? I love all of these different alternate takes. And I feel like if the executives at WB would allow it to be so, there could just be endless storytelling for the wizarding world. It really lends itself to that. I would watch this show. I would read this book. [laughs]

Andrew: Definitely. And listeners, if you have any feedback about any of this, do let us know. @MuggleCast on social media,, the contact form on… all the ways. I guess we’re going to wrap it up, then?

Laura: Yep, we can raise a glass to Neville Longbottom, the Boy Who Lived.

Andrew: The Boy Who Lived!

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: The Other Boy Who Lived. The Second Best Boy Who Lived. No, I can’t say that. All right, that was a lot of fun. Great discussion. Like I said, numerous ways to contact us, so please do if you have any feedback about today’s episode. And next week’s episode will be a Muggle Mail episode, so get your feedback in now. It’s time for Quizzitch!


[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: Five years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the franchise was continued with the first Fantastic Beasts film. What is the first spoken sentence of Fantastic Beasts? The correct answer – and I have my copy of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them script book here – is “Dougal, you settle down now, please,” and some people added, “It won’t be long.” Correct answers were submitted to us by – oh boy, here we go – Aslaniarmus; HufflePuffle; Lord Lasagna; Bubotuber Pus; Tuesday Addams; Just Amanda; Hulami Bayzoo; Peace and Love; I am the carrot you grew in sixth grade and I am coming to avenge my eaten friends; Dumbledore’s sock knitter; Must Be a Weasley; and one very long one I’ll trouble us all by reading: Humanity has only one option. Start a potato war. Both sides rally, collecting potato guns. Starch destroyers. Tune in next week for the winner.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: I’m scared of potatoes now. Jury’s out on whether we’ll put a stop to all those long names, right? We ask that every week.

Andrew: I’m going to stop acknowledging these names because to acknowledge them is to encourage them.

Eric: Ahh, yeah.

Andrew: With peace and love, peace and love.

Laura: I encourage them. I feel like half the fun of this segment are the names.

Micah: Yeah. Lord Lasagna.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: I just hope these are unique people and not one person submitting ten different names with the same answer.

Eric: Oh, you know what? Maybe I should make the form be that you have to sign in, so we can prevent that.

Andrew: Maybe.

Laura: Eh, is it that serious?

Micah: No, no, no.

Andrew: “No, no, no”? We’re sitting here reading the same person ten times, potentially! [laughs]

Micah: Tuesday Addams.

Laura: Yeah, but what we don’t know doesn’t hurt us.

Andrew: It takes up time, though.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: It does take up precious, precious time.

Andrew: Precious time!

Eric: Are we ready for next week’s question?

Andrew: Yes.

Eric: Right after impersonating Neville Longbottom during his ride on the Knight Bus, Harry bumps into the real Neville outside Flourish and Blotts. What is Neville looking for in this moment? And that’s from Prisoner of Azkaban.

Micah: His confidence.

Andrew: I mentioned written ways you can get in touch with us, but if you call 1-920-3-MUGGLE, that’s 1-920-368-4453, you can call us. You can also record a voice memo on your phone and send that to No matter how you call us, just try to keep your message about a minute long and record in a quieter environment, please. And like I said, next week’s episode, Muggle Mail episode, so get that feedback in now, please. Also, couple other reminders: We would love your support at You get bonus MuggleCast, you get a new physical gift every year, you get our planning docs, you get our livestreams, you get ad-free MuggleCast, you get all kinds of things, personalized video thank you message… that benefit should really lead, because it’s one of our favorite benefits. It’s just such a cool benefit, we think. So again, that’s We would also appreciate if you followed MuggleCast for free in whatever app you use to listen to the show, so you never miss an episode. Speaking of your podcasting app, if they have a review system, we would appreciate if you left a little review to help new listeners learn about us. And again, @MuggleCast on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. By the way, Facebook is adding a podcast feature. If you want to spend more time in Facebook, you can now listen to MuggleCast within the Facebook app, and you hit play and it’ll still play as you browse Facebook and as you switch apps, too, so something to let people know about. I don’t know. We’ll see if it takes off.

Micah: They’re a little late to the party, aren’t they?

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Little late to the party. Better late than never. I would like to see people be able to share clips and stuff; hopefully they add something like that. Thanks, everybody, for listening to today’s episode. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.

Laura: Bye, y’all.