MuggleCast 622 Transcript
Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #622, Sneaky Snack for the Dumbledrama (POA Chapter 18, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs)
[Show music plays]
Andrew: 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: This week, it’s going to feel like your worst Thanksgiving dinner because we’re discussing Chapter 18 of Prisoner of Azkaban, “Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs.” And to help us with today’s discussion, we’re joined by another Slug Club supporter on Patreon. His name is Jason, not to be confused with our last guest, also Jason. That’s a first, I think. Welcome, Jason, to the show.
Jason: Hello, I’m excited to be here.
Andrew: Good to have you. You’re coming to us from Salt Lake City. Let’s get your fandom ID.
Jason: Oh, sure. My favorite book is… I can’t decide. It’s 3, I think. Maybe 6? Could be 5. I don’t know.
Jason: I like all of those for very different reasons. I really can’t decide which one is my favorite. I like all of them. Favorite movie is the sixth one, probably. I also really like the fifth one. I don’t know. I’m very indecisive.
Jason: I am a Hufflepuff. I have also secondarily been Sorted into Ravenclaw, so I’m probably more of a Huffleclaw. My Patronus is a Tonkinese cat, which… I don’t know what a Tonkinese cat is. But I like cats, so that’s cool.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Jason: And then my Animagus form, I think I would be a falcon.
Andrew: Cool. And we asked that question because it’s relevant to today’s chapter. I appreciate your honesty with the indecisiveness around what your favorite book and movie is. [laughs]
Jason: I like all of them. I don’t know.
[Andrew and Jason laugh]
Eric: Too often people feel they have to give a definitive answer, so that we can scrutinize it. But this one, there’s nothing to pick at. It’s like, oh, he likes a bunch of them. Okay.
Andrew: But let’s put it to you this way: If you were stranded on a desert island…
Andrew: … and you could only bring one book with you, which would it be? 3, 6, or 5?
Jason: Uhh… [long pause] I don’t know. 5, probably. Maybe because it’s long.
Laura: Yeah, it’s the longest. That’s a good choice
Andrew: Well reasoned. Well reasoned.
Micah: It’s also your favorite book, isn’t it, Andrew?
Andrew: That is my favorite, yeah. Number 5. No doubt about it for me. So if we’re both on the same island, you know I’ll have 5 there, and then you can bring 3 or 6.
Eric: You’ll have to coordinate, planning to get stranded on an island.
Andrew: [laughs] Somebody bring 2! We need 2! We don’t have 2 yet! Well, welcome to the show, Jason, and thanks for your support on Patreon. We really appreciate your support. And you put in some great notes today that we’re excited to talk about. Micah, Eric, you have some updates for us. Micah, do you want to start?
Micah: Yeah, sure. So we were able to give away a couple of pairs of tickets to Harry Potter: The Exhibition back on Harry’s birthday. And appropriately, I thought, the question was: In the Hall of Prophecy, which row contains the prophecy about Harry and Voldemort? Does anybody here know the answer to that?
Eric: It’s 97, isn’t it?
Micah: It is 97. Eric, congratulations. You’ve won two tickets.
Micah: So congratulations to Laura. Not you, Laura. Another Laura.
Laura: Oh man.
Eric: Man, there’s too many Jasons, too many Lauras… like, what is going on?
Micah: Well, Laura, who is one of our long standing Slug Club members – so she is very excited to go – as well as Marlena, Matthew, Michael, and Laila. So we really hope you enjoy your time at Harry Potter: The Exhibition. And channeling my inner Chloé, be sure to tag us on social media when you do decide to go. It is a lot of fun. I’ve been and I know you’re going to really, really enjoy yourselves at the exhibition.
Eric: Well, jumping off of that, Micah and I would like to thank anyone who came out to see us while we were in Chicago, either at LeakyCon, which was another wonderful, amazing time, or at the public MuggleCast meet-up, which nevertheless had a limited amount of space. But we filled up the top floor of Fado Irish Pub downtown in Chicago, one of Micah and I’s favorite spots to go when we’re not hosting a MuggleCast Live. And we managed to finally have our party there. And it was really, really wonderful, seeing everybody, making time to chat with everyone that came… And it was really just a magical weekend.
Micah: Yeah. And we got to see, as you said, a number of listeners, but I did want to specially call out… We were doing our Spot the Liar panel on Sunday, and right after the panel, there were these two kids that came up to us. And they said, “We’re Bagels for Buckbeak.” And it took me a second to register exactly what they were saying, and then I realized, oh, Quizzitch!
Micah: But it was so cool to meet them in person, and they drove all the way from Virginia to come to LeakyCon.
Micah: And just for that day, specifically. So it was really great to see them. We got a picture with them, and I’m sure it will be posted up on social media at some point soon.
Eric: The kids are really loving Quizzitch, it turns out, because we got Forrest the 14-year-old… Bagels for Buckbeak, their parents confided, are 12 and 13, so definitely good for the young young kids. Yeah, this weekend for Quizzitch, we met Bagels for Buckbeak, and I discovered that I had actually shared a hotel room with “When the Shrieking Shack is rockin’, don’t come knocking.”
Micah: That would be me.
Eric: … which is one of Micah’s previous Quizzitch handles.
Andrew: Okay, I was just going to say, I thought we were going to have to get in touch with HR.
Eric: But anyway, it was really a wonderful time. And yeah, we definitely have a lot of recaps up on our socials. And yeah, I would just have to say, probably the panels were my favorite thing of the whole weekend, including one on the morality of magic, which had a lot of audience participation. It was great.
Micah: For me, it was definitely the MuggleCast meet-up, and then also the very first panel that we did, which was a podcaster mega panel – a number of fellow podcasters either that we’ve been on their shows or they’ve come on this one – Mike from Potterless, Fanatical Fics and Where to Find Them, as well as Swish and Flick Cast.
Eric: Oh, was that the one Gilderoy Lockhart came to? Or no, that was that the next day?
Micah: That was Friday. Gilderoy appeared on Saturday in full regalia. Plenty of arrogance.
Andrew: Eric was Lockhart and also Elvis Dumbledore. His classic Elvis Dumbledore.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Micah: And I think I said that Gilderoy appeared on Saturday. That’s not true. He was just resting in Friday morning. He couldn’t make the first panel, you know, the arrogance.
Eric: That’s right. He’s got many obligations.
Micah: But he showed up later on Friday afternoon. And we did do six panels in total, in addition to the meet-up, and I believe we’re planning to release our live show, on Labor Day weekend, which was a lot of fun as well.
Eric: A lot of fun.
Micah: They did wrap up by announcing that LeakyCon will be in Portland next year, returning to Portland. Eric, were you there last time?
Eric: Yeah, 2013, I want to say. It was really good. Get some Voodoo Doughnuts while you’re there.
Andrew: Well, we are glad you had a great time at LeakyCon, and hope all of our listeners who went also had a great time as well. Sounds like a lot of fun. One other quick little announcement, very exciting news for those of you who listen to MuggleCast on Spotify. If you are a patron, you can now listen to our bonus audio content, like Bonus MuggleCast and ad-free MuggleCast right within the Spotify app. Spotify and Patreon partnered to create an integration. It’s very nice, it’s very easy to set up. You just go into Spotify, you go to our show, you click the Patreon banner you see there – it says exclusive episodes for subscribers – and then you can connect your Patreon account to Spotify. And then you’ll get access to this feed, where you will see all of our bonus audio content. Again, ad-free MuggleCast and bonus MuggleCast installments, as well as any other bonus audio content that we do post on Patreon, which does happen from time to time. So definitely check that out. We’ll have a link in the show notes. If you use Spotify but aren’t a patron yet, this is a great way to support us and enjoy our twice monthly Bonus MuggleCast segments, as well as ad-free MuggleCast. No matter what podcast app you use, we would appreciate your support on Patreon as it’s what keeps the show running. We have tons of perks you can enjoy in exchange for supporting us, plus closer access to us. So check it out today and help us run the show. Thank you, everybody.
Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary
Andrew: And now with that, let’s get to Chapter by Chapter. This week we’re discussing Chapter 18 of Prisoner of Azkaban – Jason’s favorite book – “Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot…”
Eric: We’re just going to tell him what his favorite book is now.
Andrew: His favorite book so long as he’s not stranded on a desert island, then it’s Order of the Phoenix.
Eric: Or Half-Blood.
Andrew: Yeah. All right, so we will start as always with our Seven-Word Summary.
[Seven-Word Summary music plays]
Micah: … reveals…
Laura: … backstory…
Andrew: … to…
Jason: … many…
Eric: … children…
Micah: … ta-dah!
[Seven-Word Summary music ends]
Andrew: The dream scenario would have been “many scared children” or something like that.
Eric: Oh, yeah. Or “to many shocking… gasps,” or something. Yeah, I botched that. I’ll blame myself.
Andrew: It’s okay.
Laura: Honestly, I love it when we have to end our Seven-Word Summary in a “Ta-dah!” or “Hurray!”
[Jason and Laura laugh]
Eric: We love it. We’ll just have to see how the listeners feel about it, because we are ranking these, again, on OWL grading scales.
Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion
Eric: Something that kind of shocked me going into this chapter is, you know, we’re at the end of this book and all the chapters do tend to bleed together. They all are set, like, within minutes or immediately after each other. And they’re all roughly about 25 pages or so… maybe like 20-25 pages. Not this one. Chapter 18, “Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs” is only nine pages long. It’s a quick read; Jim Dale gets through it in like 18 minutes. It’s actually closer to 14 if you put him on 1.2 speed, which I do.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: So it’s a quick chapter. I’ve actually managed to listen to it like four times to prep for this because it’s so short.
Andrew: When you call this out, I was wondering, is it the shortest chapter in the series? So I did a quick Google, and the answer is no. However, it looks like the shortest chapter in the series is actually two chapters from now: Chapter 20, “The Dementor’s Kiss,” capped at 2,018 words.
Eric: So I know we’ll get into what does happen in this chapter, and we do have some fun food for thought and stuff from Potter-no-more to discuss as well to kind of flesh out discussion. But going into how short this chapter is, and asking myself why that might be, it does cover a very specific set of events, which is at the beginning of the chapter, they finish after the big reveal of last chapter that Scabbers is Peter Pettigrew. They stop talking about Peter Pettigrew so that Lupin can tell his whole werewolf backstory story, but that happens where they change topic right as Snape comes in. So we know that Severus Snape sneaks in under the Invisibility Cloak. That’s the big reveal at the end of this chapter. So all this stuff about Scabbers being Peter Pettigrew is actually very specifically out of his earshot. So later, when the children have to fight with Dumbledore and Fudge about “Oh, no, we really saw Peter, he’s really alive…” Snape, who’s being awful – not to get too ahead of ourselves – really actually didn’t hear anything about Peter. So maybe the reason that this is a separate chapter is just for the author to very specifically have this set of events be focused on as one specific thing. Does that make sense to you guys?
Andrew: I think so. And you see each chapter end on a cliffhanger quite a bit, and there was a cliffhanger at the end of the previous chapter, too, so I’m thinking maybe that’s why. But you also have to wonder, maybe this was an editor decision to, like, “Hey, this chapter is getting a little long,” (the previous chapter, I mean), “let’s maybe split it right here, where there could be a nice cliffhanger.” Because you also think about the chapter titles! They’re so similar, which we spoke about.
Eric: So getting into the events of the chapter: Lupin has just revealed that Scabbers the rat is an Animagus named Peter Pettigrew. Sirius is really kind of out of control. He leaps onto Ron, who’s injured already, and is only stopped by Lupin saying very loudly that the children have a right to know. I mean, it’s funny because Sirius has this great line at the beginning of the chapter, “I’d like to commit the murder I was imprisoned for.” Great line. But Sirius really has no concept, or seems to care at all, about what leaving Pettigrew alive would do, in a sense of clearing his own name. Sirius is not trying to reveal the fraud. He’s not trying to reveal Pettigrew so that he could get his life back. He actually just wants to kill him. So why so little regard for himself in this matter? And you all know my feelings on Sirius Black being my favorite character, but I dare to ask the question: Is it charming that Sirius just wants to commit the murder? Not save himself?
Andrew: I think it speaks to his mental state.
Laura: Yes, I was going to say I think it’s actually really sad. When I was thinking about this question, I was thinking about his first attempt, his failed attempt to kill Peter. He did it in front of a street of witnesses, so clearly after losing his best friend and Lily and presumably his godson, because they’re not going to let him live with Sirius, he probably feels like he’s a marked man, and that nothing he can do will ever erase the stigma of being believed to have been the person who betrayed the Potters. So he doesn’t think he has any life to live for at this point. And that is such a dark thought, I know, but if you think about the fact that Sirius spent the prime years of his life imprisoned when he was actually innocent, so much of his life has already been lost. And he’s had 12 years to stew on this betrayal. Ultimately it’s been, I think, probably one of the only things that he has thought about for that period of time. So what’s his motivation apart from getting revenge on Peter, at this point?
Eric: That is such an interesting point.
Micah: Right. He can’t know that Lupin is going to show up, so the motivation, as you said, Laura, is to kill Pettigrew. That’s been his mission ever since he saw him in the Daily Prophet back in Azkaban, was to escape and to pay back Peter for everything that he has put Sirius through over the course of the last 12 years. So certainly, things change once Lupin arrives, and you would think that Sirius would want to approach things a little bit differently now that you actually have somebody there who can validate your claim. But going back to the point that was mentioned about mental state, I think it’s just like, blinders are on and he’s got one clear objective, and nothing is going to stop him from doing that. And, nine pages long – they could have fit this in the damn movie.
Micah: Parts of it are in the movie, but the whole Marauders reveal isn’t, which is a joke, but that’s a conversation for another time.
Eric and Laura: Yeah.
Eric: We know the argument about making something Harry’s story, but they’re literally telling this story to Harry and it affects his parents, so… anyway.
Andrew: While we are on the subject of the movie, I will just add that I loved this scene in the movie, this broader scene. I still remember going to the movie and leaning forward in my seat when Snape appeared. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is a soap opera. This is good. This is juicy. This is twisty.” Because you’re seeing all these iconic actors working together as the kids sort of take a back seat. Ahh! I’ll never forget that feeling of just being so into it.
Micah: “Still bickering like an old married couple.” Right?
Laura: Yeah, I do love that. No, the scene is really good, but I will agree that the biggest miss of the third movie was not introducing the Marauders or explaining their backstory or connection to the overall plot.
Micah: 100%. Lupin, how do you know how the map works?
Laura: [sighs] I know.
Jason: That is the reason why I saw the third movie in theaters and then refused to watch it for many years after. I hated it. I was so mad because of that omission. I’ve since rewatched it and I actually really, really enjoy the movie, but that still really bothers me.
Eric: I feel it.
Laura: It’s a glaring issue, for sure.
Eric: When we talk about Sirius’s single mindedness, Laura, and what you said about “He has little to live for,” it occurred to me that it isn’t really until Harry offers to live with Sirius that Sirius thinks for the first time that there is a future really, at all, one worth living.
Andrew: Hey, really quickly, though: I think that Marauders scene? It needs to be in the TV show.
Eric: Should we Max that?
Andrew: Oh, it’s got to be Maxed. Max that!
[“Max That” sound effect plays]
Eric: Max that. They wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, would they?
Jason: I hope not.
Andrew: But you can also think about how, when we do learn about the Marauders, we could get flashback scenes there to them becoming Animagi, as we’ll talk about in a little bit.
Eric: Yeah, and for the love of God, cast the Marauders and give them actual lines. None of this three-second-flashback-everything-happening-at-once kind of crap. The whole way when we did get anything Marauders-related, even in “Snape’s Worst Memory” in 5, or “The Prince’s Tale” in 8… It’s just way glossed over, and nobody ever took the time for it. Here’s something else that’s happening at the beginning of this chapter: Scabbers is struggling to get free. Obviously, we know why. And Ron is doing his damnedest to hold him, but his hands are cut up, they’re bleeding… it’s actually really difficult to read. And they’re all having this conversation about Peter and Scabbers and all this stuff, it’s like… at one point, Sirius leaps on to Ron, Ron falls back on his broken leg, and the whole time, amid all that pain, is still holding onto Scabbers. My question is, isn’t there some kind of magical stasis? We can talk about this, but we’ve literally seen what Hermione does with the Cornish Pixies, “Arresto momentum” is the thing that Dumbledore does… there has to be some way where Ron doesn’t have to hold Scabbers, who’s scraping his hands to get out, while they have a human conversation. These adult wizards… let’s just say Lupin, as a teacher, should have some kind of solution for this.
Andrew: Oh yeah.
Laura: “Levioso.” [laughs]
Andrew: Create a cage out of thin air, a little tiny rat cage.
Eric: A teeny little rat cage! Yeah.
Andrew: Put him in a rat wheel that he can’t get out of. [laughs] A spinning wheel, a hamster wheel.
Laura: Yeah, that way he can run, he just won’t go anywhere.
Andrew: There you go. And generate a little energy in the process.
Eric: This is where this book is my favorite, I can say without any uncertainty. Not trying to show you up there, Jason; I appreciate your indecisiveness.
Eric: But I would say – well, 6 is another one. But yeah, I would say that there are these moments here – twice in this chapter, I think – where there’s magic that the teachers should know that they don’t use. We’ll get into that. But sort of the main point of this chapter is to have Lupin be able to tell the story of how Harry’s dad and his friends all became Animagi to be with Lupin during his werewolf transformation. It’s a great story we’ll get into, and essentially it comes down to… Lupin was bitten as a child, and he would not normally have been able to attend Hogwarts, if it weren’t for one Headmaster Albus – formerly Elvis – Dumbledore deciding that precautions can be taken to make it possible. And this speaks to a lot of prejudice that exists about werewolves.
Micah: Yeah, it definitely does. And one of the things that came to mind for me was that it demonstrates that throughout the course of wizarding history, as far as we know, there’s been no strong desire for the wizarding community to invest in ways to either cure lycanthropy or better integrate werewolves into wizarding society. This is not a 20th century issue. Presumably, werewolves have been around for hundreds or thousands of years prior to this, and Lupin can’t have been the first werewolf to attend Hogwarts, whether folks knew about it or not. And so I was wondering, should there be a school specifically for werewolves and other wizarding world beings or creatures? Or does that defeat the entire purpose of having an integrated magical society?
Andrew: I do think the latter.
Andrew: But they still need some sort of support group at the school, not just a type of place for them to go and hide. It should be like… you think about in high school, you see the LGBTQ ally groups. Maybe something like that, just so they feel less alone and they feel more supported?
Eric: How do you feel it defeats the purpose of the magical…? What does that mean?
Micah: Well, I was saying, would creating a school specifically for werewolves defeat the purpose of trying to have a more integrated society?
Andrew: Because then’d feel, like, othered.
Eric: But without providing resources for these very real people that have this… you know, they’ve been cursed. Then you’re really dooming them to a life of otherness, and it’s a lot worse than what Dumbledore does.
Micah: So I think you could look at what Dumbledore does through two separate lenses. I think you could look at it through the lens of him helping Lupin and providing a place for him to actually transform, but at the same time, he’s not doing anything to try and integrate him into the larger school community that’s there. And outing Lupin would be a terrible thing, obviously. But I just think that maybe Dumbledore could have taken other steps during normal school hours to try and make Lupin feel more welcome, and teach the students, essentially, that what Lupin is going through is normal, even though that’s not how kids would initially perceive it.
Andrew: And wasn’t his fault.
Laura: But also, I don’t think anyone in Lupin’s position wants to be an object lesson for other people. That would probably be pretty uncomfortable. Probably one of the best things that Dumbledore could do for Lupin is make his schooling experience as normal as possible. So y’all know that I’m not a Dumbledore apologist here, but I think that given the circumstances and the lack of resources, the lack of social understanding, and the lack of any kind of government support or medicinal remedy at this point, I think Dumbledore actually did the best he could here. This is a rare defense.
Micah: But he doesn’t make Lupin feel comfortable necessarily. It’s James, Sirius, and Peter that ultimately make Lupin feel comfortable because they go the extra mile to become Animagi and still be his friend in that form as much as they are when they’re in human form.
Eric: There is that question about what is the responsibility of the administrator, and the administrator answers to the safety of all the students, right? It’s said multiple times in this chapter that werewolves really are dangerous. If Snape had encountered Lupin when he was in his werewolf form, he says it would have been awful. And James, who at that time was able to transform, still put himself in great risk, according to Lupin, for pulling Snape back while he was human. So there’s apparently this huge danger, that again, is not really fleshed out. But it just shows that… I think Dumbledore’s responsibility ends at making Lupin’s transformations safe to the rest of the students. And then, as you point out, though, Micah, there was a vacuum of the emotional fulfillment that could only be, I think, filled by friends who would do this sort of thing that they ended up doing for Lupin.
Laura: Yeah. And I think in that… and I mean, this is just me trying to put myself in Lupin’s shoes. If I were in his position, I don’t know that I would want a school administrator facilitating my friendships for me to help me feel included. Because that just feels like it’s done out of pity, and I don’t want that. So it’s probably a lot more gratifying for Lupin in that he made these friends organically. And because of what good friends they ended up being, they did this objectively selfless thing for him. It was dangerous, but they did it.
Andrew: I think the other question is, what does Lupin want? Does he want other students to know that he’s a werewolf in a way that is safe and won’t scare people off from him? What does he want? I think that’s the main question we would need to be asking Lupin.
Eric: I think inevitably, you’d get those students that would go looking for the troll. They’d go looking for the werewolf, if Lupin had been outed, and that would have been a whole nightmare. I think, too, the thing is, Lupin just wanted to be normal. He wanted to be somewhere safe. And then when you’re a kid, you absolutely want to blend in, right? You want nobody to know. I think that maybe outing Lupin to a school body or saying “Werewolves are safe” or teaching tolerance may have been in the cards immediately after seven successful years of hiding it, right? If the first war hadn’t derailed everything, with Voldemort and everything, I can easily see the teachers then going, “For seven years, we have had a werewolf at our school, and it was safe, objectively, except for one run-in with Severus Snape, the whole time. Let this be an example to all other schools everywhere, and let this be an example to the student body that these people suffering from this affliction can be safely educated along with the rest of us.” And that would have led this whole werewolf rights kind of organization, but Voldemort happened.
Micah: Yeah, you bring up an interesting point, I almost wonder if you could bring in an adult or a group of adults who are werewolves and could teach this younger generation what to do when they transform. It seems to be that in this particular wizarding world, you lose all sense of yourself regardless of whether or not you’re a child or you’re an adult. But I think we’ve seen in other series there is some level of awareness when you transform into a werewolf and being able to control your abilities, so I wonder if that could be something down the line that they do explore at Hogwarts.
Eric: So Potter-no-more actually went into some of the backstory of Remus Lupin. It’s a good, pretty long article. But the key moment here is that Lupin’s father, Lyle Lupin, had a moment of prejudice. Essentially, Lyle was at the Ministry of Magic and made a negative comment about werewolves in front of Fenrir Greyback, who basically was shocked by the lack of Lyle’s humanity and compassion toward werewolves, and decided to retaliate. And nothing can forgive what Grayback does and the methods of going about it, but you do kind of understand in that moment the motivation of… essentially Lyle Lupin said an unkind thing. He said that werewolves were soulless and deserved death and could not be rehabilitated. And you can easily look at many examples of people who are in a minority group that are outcasts that receive or are on the receiving end of these horrible statements, and backed into a corner about this and viewed as less than just because of their afflictions.
Laura: And we learn later, of course, that Fenrir makes a name for himself, wanting to bite children as young as possible to turn them when they’re young, which adds a whole other messed-up layer to his character because he can’t play the victim card. At that point, when you take somebody’s horrible, reprehensible behavior toward you, and it fuels and motivates you to do something ten times more heinous than words could ever be… no sympathy.
Eric: Yeah, I mean, no sympathy, but it’s interesting how we all have those moments where a prejudice maybe we weren’t even aware of came out, or we say things that we really don’t mean. And this is a very real repercussion, especially in a world that existed before the Wolfsbane Potion, which is still, as Lupin says, pretty uncomfortable, but he’s able to bear it. He’s able to bear his transformation now. It’s just a really bad situation.
Andrew: And speaking of Fenrir making an example out of young Remus, I was thinking, this backstory is very interesting. Not sure I had read it before. And it just made me think about how this is another example of a character paying for the decisions of their dad or what happened to their dad.
Laura: Ooh. Yep.
Andrew: You’ll look Harry paying it away for what happened to James, and Draco paying for how evil his father is. And here’s another example of that: Remus is paying for what happened to his dad.
Micah: Not only how evil his father is, but how much of a screw-up his father is, because that’s what leads to Voldemort wanting to recruit Draco and use him as a pawn in his larger game.
Eric: Right. It is interesting to see how the threads all connect. Even though this Lyle Lupin stuff was revealed on Pottermore years after the books had ended, the thread and the connection is still there of like, this was definitely in the author’s mind when she was writing about Lupin being turned as a kid.
Laura: It is such an interesting point, because we talk a lot about mother figures in the Potter series, but I don’t feel like we have a lot of conversations about father figures.
Laura: And it would be interesting to keep an eye on this throughout the rest of our Chapter by Chapter, to note the theme of fathers in Harry Potter, that the sons are paying for the sins of their fathers. Is that what’s happening here? I mean, think about the kind of father that Lupin himself turns out to be. Obviously, he’s not around to watch his son grow up, and it’s admirable that he fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. But prior to that, we saw a very undesirable side of Lupin when he was contemplating leaving his wife and newborn baby to go camping with the trio because he was scared. So it’s interesting to think about how the repercussions of perhaps Lupin’s relationship with his own father reverberate throughout the generations here.
Eric: That’s interesting. When you ask about whether the fathers and what role they play in the series has to do with their sons, I think about Voldemort, probably one of the worst villains, but his dad is actually not guilty of much. His dad was coerced via love potion into this relationship with the village tramp, and really just, in a moment of clarity, rejected her, and that was what Voldemort blames as being the whole downfall of everything. But you almost really can’t blame Tom Riddle, Sr. for his reaction after what had occurred.
Laura: Voldemort definitely does. He blames him for being a Muggle. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, that too. The idea being that if Tom Riddle, Sr. were somehow a wizard, he would have been either okay with Merope, or somehow more tolerant, which, who knows?
Micah: You see it with Snape as well, right? With Tobias being very abusive towards Eileen Prince as well as towards Snape at times, it seems. So clearly, that would have an effect on Snape and how he matured and grew up in his outlook towards other people.
Andrew: A little plug for my Slytherin Spotify playlist, which is titled “Slyth’ Life: The Sins of Somebody Else’s Past,” so, go check that out on Spotify.
Eric: Everybody listen to that. Yeah.
Andrew: So we’re going to take a little break. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I did just see kids starting to go back to school in my own town, so I guess it’s true.
Jason: It’s crazy.
Andrew: I know. August 7, they went back. I’m like, “Whoa!” On the other hand, I’m like, “Yeah, get out of here. I don’t want to see you during the day,” so it’s fine.
[HelloFresh ad break]
Eric: Well, 50 Muggles is how many people turned up at our MuggleCast Live, our meet-up.
Andrew: [laughs] Sponsored by HelloFresh!
Laura: I was going to ask if that’s our rapper name. 50 Muggle.
Eric: Somebody get on that. The possibilities are endless.
Laura: AI art! Somebody do it.
Eric: Oh god.
Eric: It’s time now to talk about what I am calling the greatest hoax ever perpetrated in Hogsmeade village, or maybe against Hogsmeade village. We’re going to find out. Here’s a quote from this chapter in Prisoner of Azkaban:
“This house” – Lupin looked miserably around the room, – “the tunnel that leads to it – they were built for my use. Once a month, I was smuggled out of the castle, into this place, to transform. The tree was placed at the tunnel mouth to stop anyone coming across me while I was dangerous.”
So Jason, you’ve got some questions here.
Jason: Yes, I was wondering, why are they using a Whomping Willow as the guardian of the entrance to this tunnel? It seems like they could have used some kind of spell or repelling charm, some kind of portrait that recognizes only Lupin… I don’t know, something. Why a Whomping Willow? Is it just because Dumbledore loves the drama of a violent tree?
Laura: Yes. That is the answer.
Andrew: Absolutely. And I love the steam we have picked up on in Chapter by Chapter: Dumbledore loves the chaos. He loves some mess going on around the school. And I picture Pillsbury Dough Boy Dumbledore just being like, “Ooh, this is going to be fun!” like, when you poke the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Andrew: There’s got to be a little danger.
Eric: But what was the in character…? What’s the canon explanation? What’s the contemporaneous explanation for why this tree is there? What did the fifth, sixth, or seventh year Hogwarts students think about this? If you’re coming to Hogwarts the first time, and yeah, there’s a Whomping Willow on the grounds, like Harry and Ron discover in their second year quite directly. [laughs] It’s just there. It’s just Hogwarts. It’s just this security nightmare, normal, everyday thing. But if you’re first putting it there, doesn’t that draw attention, actually, to what you’re trying to do in concealing a secret pathway? Or what would Dumbledore have said to explain it at the start of term feast?
Andrew: Could he just say it magically came out of nowhere? Like it just grew really big really quick? I guess that’s believable in the wizarding world.
Eric: Maybe he would have said that it’s like an endangered species of plant, and “Don’t get near it.” Like, “We’ve agreed to bring Willows back to the forefront” kind of a thing. Tree nurseries are totally a thing.
Andrew: Yeah, like, “This is an endangered species. Sprout thought this would be a good idea. It’d be a good lesson for the students.” It’d be all one big lie and you all would get to gleefully up the Dumbledore lie count, but it’s a good lie.
Eric: We’re going to do that anyway.
Micah: He’s Headmaster, though. Nobody is going to question his decisions. If he wants to plant a tree, let him plant a tree, right?
Andrew: Let him play in a dangerous tree. It’s fine.
Eric: Well, there’s this thing here, but it hits back, is the thing.
Micah: Well, most things that Hogwarts hit back.
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Andrew: Damage you in some way.
Micah: My greater question is: Why was it never removed after Lupin left? Why is it on the Hogwarts grounds yours and years later? It’s a security nightmare.
Eric: I think it was because it was so successful, right, at actually achieving what it set out to do. So the idea is, although we don’t hear about any other werewolf students coming throughout the years, which would actually solve the big gaping plot hole here… it just is perfect. They already had it in place, so they kept it. Makes sense to me. Here’s another quote from Lupin:
“My transformations in those days were – were terrible. It is very painful to turn into a werewolf. I was separated from humans to bite, so I bit and scratched myself instead. The villagers heard the noise -“
Meaning the villages of Hogsmeade…
“… heard the noise and the screaming and thought they were hearing particularly violent spirits. Dumbledore encouraged the rumor… Even now, when the house has been silent for years, the villagers don’t dare approach it.”
So this is a lie that actually worked too well, in my mind. This is so good. If the shack was built the same year that Lupin came, which is what he says. He says, “This house and the tunnel were built for me.” A little bit more than just lying had to have occured here. I think this is Memory Charm territory. You have to convince… we’ve heard from earlier in the book that the Shrieking Shack is one of the oldest, most haunted dwellings in Britain. But if it’s from the ’70s, there’s probably, like, a conversation pit. It’s probably like very janky carpet…
Andrew: [laughs] Conversation pit.
Eric: Yeah, you know, all those ’70s features.
Andrew: Yeah, I saw Mad Men. I know what you’re talking about.
Eric: Well yeah, gross, but not haunted. An eyesore, sure, but not the most haunted dwelling in Britain. I’m thinking that you need to almost convince an entire village – which is a close-knit community, it’s the only all-wizarding community in Britain – that this house always was there or something, right? New houses don’t get haunted. So what exactly went into this whole hoax?
Laura: Yeah, it’s so interesting that you bring that up. Did they definitively say that the Shrieking Shack was built for Lupin?
Eric: He said the house and the tunnel were… I’ll get the exact quote. But yeah, he says, “It was built for me.”
Andrew: Yeah, at the top of this header here. “This house – the tunnel that leads to it – they were built for my use.”
Laura: Okay, wow.
Andrew: The Lupin Shack.
Laura: That is so interesting. I never picked up on that. But you’re right, there’s this whole subtextual question about, okay, well, then how were people convinced that this happened? It had to be some kind of Memory Charm or something. Some kind of manipulation. Did he go around and place false memories for people?
Eric: These are crimes!
Laura: Crimes of Dumbledore.
Eric: I mean, here’s the thing. I really just want to up the Dumbledore lie count, which we’ve failed to do this entire book. Probably most of Chamber, actually. The lie count – what is it at, eight? And it has been eight since like, Sorcerer’s Stone? We need to up it. And if there’s Memory Charms involved, I’m suggesting we up it by, like, ten.
Andrew: Oh, stop. I’ll go for one. Ten?
Eric: He lied to at least ten people. Well, it’s a big lie, but here’s the thing: Nearly Headless Nick also is running interference. Ron asks him earlier in the book about the Shrieking Shack, and Nick says to Ron, “I heard a really dangerous crowd hangs out there.” And I’m thinking, what’s the backstory here? Does Nick actually believe that there’s rough spirits… which, convincing ghosts that there’s rough ghosts somewhere is another feat in and of itself. Or since Lupin was a Gryffindor, did Dumbledore come to Nick and say, “As the Gryffindor ghost, can you protect the anonymity of this student by starting to tell people that the shack is haunted?” Etc, etc, etc. Is there a narrative there where it’s like, Dumbledore also recruits the ghosts to tell other ghosts that that shack is haunted? Because you just get the Shrieking Shack, which has been empty and only ever was in use for the first seven years that it existed, but it’s the most haunted dwelling in Britain.
Jason: Well, I’m wondering if it’s like… maybe the house is new, but maybe the site, the land, the area was haunted before. Have you seen the movie Poltergeist? I’m wondering if it’s some kind of situation like that that’s happening, or… I don’t know.
Andrew: Well, I like that because if you’re disturbing the sacred land or this haunted land with the house, of course, the spirits on the land that was there and undisturbed are going to be annoyed about the Shrieking Shack, and thus could inhabit it and cause a stir.
Laura: Yeah, and I think part of this could be chalked up to community superstition. We all had a “haunted house” that we were aware of as kids, right? There was always a rumor that some house in your neighborhood or in your community was haunted, and there’s not really any good reason for believing that apart from the fact that everybody else believed it. So when you’re expecting to see creepy things, you will see creepy things. You’re putting the thought in your head, and you’re thus sort of perceiving that which you expect to perceive. So that’s part of this, I think.
Eric: I mean, the screams were real for about seven years, and they can’t have sounded great, especially when Lupin talks about what he was doing to himself. Obviously, it’s a huge deterrent. But it somehow morphed in its storytelling to be the most haunted dwelling in Britain, which may itself be a commentary on how the author feels about haunted houses, right? They’re secretly absolutely nothing, which is actually funny to me. I still find that very funny that the most haunted dwelling in Britain has been disused.
Micah: I think it’s just also another statement on things aren’t always what they appear to be, right? That is a major theme that runs throughout the course of this particular book, and probably a lot throughout the series, that things aren’t always what they seem to be. But Eric, you’re talking about how Lupin is scratching, biting, doing all these terrible things to himself. Do no other students notice this? Presumably, when he comes back from the Shrieking Shack – and I know Madam Pomfrey is with him for a period of time – but one would assume that regardless of how good her work is, students would notice that Lupin is disappearing for periods of time and then coming back to school and looking like he’s been in some sort of terrible accident.
Andrew: Makeup covering it up, with long sleeves.
Eric: Well, minor cuts and bruises… what does Madame Pomfrey say? She can heal wounds in an instant, or even mend bones. If you can do that kind of magic, there’s a potion that’ll heal you pretty much instantly. They will have noticed Lupin… the same thing that Harry notices, his professor looking more ragged and paler than ever with shabbier clothing. But the cuts and bruises aspect I think will mostly have been taken care of by Madame Pomfrey, who was – last week’s Quizzitch question – taking him to and from the shack. But here’s what happens: After the first year – we’re going to get into this as the second half of our discussion – when the rest of Lupin’s friends notice what he is, there’s immediately that wall of protection around him. So I don’t think anybody would have been able to view Lupin coming off of his werewolf transformation with any degree of scrutiny or closeness because you have the Marauders doing a flying V and protecting him. I think that once they discovered Lupin’s secret, they would have taken effort to make sure nobody else did, which is why it took the only person who ever did discover it, Snape, to learn it was years later. They would have protected it. But yeah, just wrapping up this hoax. Here’s what I think went down. I think that Dumbledore convinced Madam Rosmerta to say that the kitchen is broken at the Three Broomsticks and the only place people could go to in Hogsmeade was the Hog’s Head, where Dumbledore’s brother is the chef, and Dumbledore’s brother fed them all a potion that made them forget that the building wasn’t always there. And then they woke up saying, “Oh yeah, that Shrieking Shack has always been there.” And that’s how they did it.
Andrew: Okay. [laughs]
Laura; Yeah, I actually like it. Again, it fits in with this theme of Dumble-drama.
Andrew: Dumble-drama. Has that been an episode title yet? I don’t think so.
Eric: Maybe. We’re going to cue the lightning because I’m glad you agree. I declare canon!
Andrew: Wait, do you want to declare canon, or Dumbledore lie count? Because we still have to formally do that as well.
Eric: Oh, he lied. Okay.
Andrew: Okay, all right.
[Dumbledore lie count sound effect plays]
Andrew: Okay. That needs a lightning bolt at the end of it, I think.
Laura: It does, yeah.
Eric: The Dumbledore lie count has officially been updated for the first time since, I don’t know, 2021? It is now at nine.
Micah: But here’s my question: Is the lie for the Shrieking Shack, or is the lie to the rest of the student body that Lupin is a werewolf?
Eric: Okay, there’s two lies.
Jason: D, all of the above.
Eric: I think technically, there’s two lies
[Dumbledore lie count sound effect plays]
Eric: Okay, but we’re done. I don’t think we’re going to get another opportunity for this book. Dumbledore like count is now at ten.
Laura: Yeah, don’t worry; when we get to Order of the Phoenix, we’re going to be racking them up.
Jason: It’s like, every other sentence in that book.
Andrew: All right, it’s up to the milestone ten. Congratulations, everybody. I just have no fight left in me. [sighs] I’m on the floor. You guys beat me up.
Laura: Dumbledore made us those cookies at Christmas and we still haven’t forgiven him.
Andrew: No cookies this year. It’s fine. It’s fine for my wallet.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: I want those cookies, though. I’m at least apologetic about it. Andrew, you’ve been a good sport. So we know what happens with the rest of this chapter, and again, it’s a short chapter. Not a lot happens. But Harry’s Dad… this is Harry’s investment. He finds out that his dad… he says, “My father too?” Harry is invested in the story because it offers him the slimmest of insights into what James was like as a person, so Harry is hooked. But this whole Animagus thing… we actually received the transformation process on how to become an Animagus from Wizarding World. It might have actually been Potter-no-more, but it might actually have been Wizarding World. When I look at the the web page, it says, “Written by the Wizarding World team,” so I also wonder if this was originally from J.K. Rowling or not,
Andrew: And published on March 10, 2020, which I think was after they got rid of Pottermore.
Eric: So there’s a slight question of how canonical this is, but I really don’t think Wizarding World which often did like those lowball listicle type things would have really written this if it weren’t from the author.
Andrew: It’s so specific. There’s no way they hired somebody to just pull this out of thin air.
Eric: It took the Marauders three years, from their second to their fifth year, to do all of this, and you’ll understand why when we…
Andrew: This thing is insane, and Jason did a great job of offering some extra analysis for each step, almost every step, so I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say, Jason.
Eric: Yeah, let’s do a rotating host thing of the steps. We’ll start with Andrew.
Andrew: Okay, so Step 1 is do your homework in Transfiguration and Potions, at least. Becoming an Animagus requires a witch or wizard to be skilled in both these areas in order to stand a chance of achieving such a complex transformation.
Eric: This reminds me of when Tonks is talking about how to be a Metamorphmagus and how she’s very clumsy and isn’t good at most magic, but the ones that make you more sneaky and things are definitely the ones like self-transfiguration. Okay, and here’s an interesting one, and probably my favorite step. Step 2: Carry a single Mandrake leaf in your mouth for an entire month. From full moon to full moon – shout-out to full moons. Yeah, we’re serious. If you swallow the leaf or remove it from your mouth at any point, you have to start the thing again. No one likes to see that happen. You then have to find a “small crystal phial” that receives the pure rays of the moon. Put your saliva-filled leaf inside and add one of your own hairs.
Eric: This is some straight-up werewolf/Polyjuice/whatever else is going on here process, and I love it.
Andrew: I’m out. I’m out, though. It’s Step 2 of 8. Because think about… I like chewing gum. Think about how you want to get rid of the gum after 30-45 minutes in your mouth. You’ve got to keep that Mandrake leaf in your mouth for a whole month? Think how tasteless that’s going to be. What about eating other food? You’ve got to store it like a chipmunk in the side of your mouth before you swallow the rest of your food. This is crazy.
Laura: Or what about brushing your teeth? Did James, Sirius, and Peter just have stank breath for an entire month?
Eric: There are charms for that. You can you can “Evanesco” the bad breath, can’t you?
Laura: Send it to poop mountain.
Andrew: And there’s a running joke – let’s call it that – that people in Britain have bad teeth, peace and love, peace and love. Maybe everybody’s trying to become an Animagus.
Laura: Please forward all complaints to andrew@firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew: [laughs] Yes, that’s totally a real email.
Micah: It is now.
Eric: So Jason, you had some thoughts on this Mandrake thing.
Jason: Yeah, so I was just curious about all these different ingredients that are happening here because I feel like the author is very specific when she chooses different ingredients for things. There’s always intention behind it. So I was just looking at, what are mandrakes? They come up in Book 2, and then they’re again in here. They were once considered the most important plant of the Mediterranean region. They were used in a variety of medicinal purposes, as well as witchcraft. It was believed that mandrakes could cure almost everything. They could foretell the future, and they could also shield a soldier in battle. I just thought that was really interesting.
Andrew: That is.
Eric: That’s a real palate cleanser.
Laura: And you definitely need one after a month.
Eric: Oh, god.
Jason: Right? And also, hair comes up in many potions in this series. And I was just wondering, yeah, what is that all about? So it’s traditionally been a pretty important part of a lot of different witchcraft, and is used in a lot of potions throughout history. It symbolizes physical strength and virility.
Eric: The other thing about knowing that James, Peter, and Sirius were doing this in order to help their friend who’s a werewolf, whose cycle is judged by the moon, there’s something really interesting in knowing that the crystal phial has to be filled at the full moon, they have to wear the Mandrake leaf – well, not wear it – put it in their mouth for a month from full moon to full moon. It’s really interesting. It’s almost as if they’re harnessing… it’s almost as if this whole process goes by the same magic that causes werewolves to transform, more or less. The moon cycles are viewed as this very transformative time. But of course, there’s more that we could talk about, about how that affects Mughal humans as well. I will say, too, how did the children get away with it? Wouldn’t the teachers have noticed that James doesn’t speak for a month? Or sounds a little funky? Did they do it the same month or did they alternate? Because one student being kind of quiet – even James, a huge troublemaker – kind of quiet, okay, but three of the four of them not speaking for a month? Did they convince the teachers they were on a speaking strike? Why didn’t that raise more alarm bells?
Laura: Maybe they stayed at Hogwarts over the winter holidays and did it then, when no one was there. Maybe they did it over the summer.
Eric: Hmm. All right, who’s going to read Step 3?
Micah: I’ll read it. Add a silver teaspoon of dew from a place that the sun don’t shine.
Micah: Oh, sorry, that neither sunlight nor human feet have touched for a full seven days. And if that wasn’t hard enough, you then have to add the chrysalis of a death.
Andrew: A Croissant.
Micah: Croissant. Excuse me.
Eric: Oh, croissant. Oh, we’re into baking now.
Micah: The chrysalis of a Death’s-head hawkmoth to the crystal phial as well. Then put this mixture in a quiet dark place and leave it alone until the next electrical storm, and really leave it alone. Don’t even look at it. Don’t even think about looking at it.
Andrew: Okay, and I want to amend what I said about Rowling writing this. I bet she gave them rough notes, like the facts, the bare bones facts, and then they punched it up with some color because clearly a lot of this was not written by Rowling.
Eric: Don’t even look at it. Don’t even think about looking at it!
Jason: Don’t even think about it!
Andrew: Or “Yes, we’re serious” in Step 2.
Eric: Right. But dew from a place that neither sunlight nor human feet have touched, I don’t even know how you’d find such a place.
Andrew: A cave.
Eric: And before television? How do you know when an electrical storm is going to occur? Specifically an electrical storm. Not all storms, presumably, are electrical storms, so I don’t even know. I’m lost. I would fail.
Jason: You have to keep your eye out on the sky.
Eric: A chrysalis is the insect pupa, so the transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis and an adult. It’s once they’re a caterpillar, before they become a butterfly.
Laura: What about the moths? Jason?
Jason: Yeah, Death’s-head hawkmoths. That sounds really intense to me. So I was like, what is that? They’re these huge, crazy moths that are very common in Britain, apparently. They have been used in literature throughout history, including Shakespeare, to symbolize death and the fear of death, which is why they’re called Death’s-head hawkmoths. If you look on their back, they have a patterning that kind of looks like a skull. I was wondering, could that symbolize the death of your being and your rebirth as your Animagus?
Andrew: I could definitely see that.
Eric and Laura: Yeah.
Eric: If you look at death, the tarot card, it means change. Transformation. A new beginning.
Micah: Can you get one of these in Animal Crossing?
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: They are Hufflepuff colors. That’s fun.
Laura: That’s a really good call-out. Thanks for looking that up, Jason. It says Step 4: While waiting for the transfiguration to begin, you must place your wand tip over your heart every sunrise and sundown and speak the following incantation: “Amato Animo Animato Animagus.” Oh man, I need to do that again.
Andrew: Oh, you failed! You’ve got to start all the way at the beginning again.
Jason: Start over at Step 1.
Laura: No. “Amato Animo Animato Animagus.” There you go. If you keep repeating your incantation, there will come a time when, with the touch of the wand tip to the chest, a second heartbeat may be sensed. Don’t change anything! Keep going. Keep waiting for that storm!
Andrew: Wow, inspiring. And Jason, you have another storm call-out here.
Jason: Yeah, so lightning storms also in literature and historically represent uncertainty, madness, or chaos.
Eric: 1.21 gigawatts!
Micah: I will say, I think this is a great thing to include in Hogwarts Legacy, to make this a mission.
Andrew: No, absolutely not. An eight-step quest? All of this?
Eric: A three-year mission?
Andrew: I was actually thinking that while reading through this list.
Micah: What else you gonna do on a DLC?
Andrew: If I saw this quest, I would be like, I’m never beating that. I’m never doing that one. It’s too much work.
Laura: Oh my god.
Micah: Come on.
Laura: No! I would love it. I’m a completionist, so I would love it.
Eric: You have to hold down L2 for a month.
Eric: To keep it under your tongue for a month. You can’t even sit down in this game, but you’ve got to hold the Mandrake root under your tongue.
Laura: And then at sunrise and sunset every day, you have to take your controller and hold it against your heart and repeat this incantation.
Eric: You shake the controller to the syllables “Amato Animo Animato Animagus.”
Andrew: All right, Jason, do you want to take Step 5?
Jason: As soon as lightning appears in the sky, go to the place where you’ve hidden your crystal phial. At last! If you’ve done everything right, then you will discover a mouthful of blood red potion inside it. Then move somewhere where you aren’t going to alarm anyone or place yourself in physical danger during your transformation. An Animagus transformation party is definitely a bad idea. And to that I say, an Animagus transformation party sounds so fun. I’m wondering if the Marauders did this?
Laura: They did. It’s like a reveal, right? Because you find out what you’re going to turn into.
Eric: An animal reveal party, with potential devastating consequences. A forest could burn down. Yeah, this whole thing… I knew where this was going once you put like the moth in the vial, or the chrysalis stage and then like it becomes a potion… yeah, sorry, you’re going to have to drink the potion, guys.
Andrew: We need to come up with a playlist for the party. I’m thinking “Roar” by Katy Perry.
Eric: Oh, this is such a thing that we need to do!
Micah: Maybe that’s what I’ll do instead of Ravenclaw Part 2. I’ll do a Spotify playlist for the Animagus transformation party.
Andrew: U2 has a song called “Electrical Storm.” Katy Perry also did a song for the Pokémon movie called “Electric.” We can find something about eating leaves or something.
Eric: There’s an “Electric Slide.”
Andrew: Step 6: Place your wand tip against your heart and speak the incantation, “Amato Animo Animato Animagus,” and drink the potion. You will then feel fiery pain – lucky you – and an intense double heartbeat. Oh no, I don’t need a heart palpitation going on. And Jason, again, a great breakdown here of what each of these words means.
Jason: Yeah, so it’s all Latin. As we know, we love Latin in this series. So “Amato” is “I love” or “I am obliged to.” “Animo” means “animal.” “Animato” means “I animate” or “I fill with breath or life.” And then “Animagus” is a portmanteau of “Animo” and “Magus,” which is “animal” and “wizard.” So altogether, this incantation makes a lot of sense. It’s saying, “I love the animal, I animate it, I fill it with the breath of life, and now I’m an animal wizard.”
Eric: Wow. Yeah, that’s really cool.
Laura: I love that this establishes the Animagus as like, a separate life and entity altogether.
Eric: Yeah. And this is where we get into the real dangers, which is why they warn against Animagus parties. Step 7 leads into it, but it’s Step 8 that’s truly terrifying. Step 7 is: The shape of the creature into which you will shortly transform will appear in your mind. The instructions then warn, you must show no fear. It is too late now to escape the change you have willed. Yikes! “Yikes” is part of the step, I think.
Laura: Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Micah: I feel like they should only have seven steps, if it isn’t.
Eric: Yeah, well, Step 7 is kind of a BS step.
Micah: We’ll combine the two together, how about that? So Step 8: When your transformation is complete, you are strongly advised to pick up your wand and hide it somewhere safe so you can find it post-transformation. To return to human form, visualize your human self as clearly as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t change back immediately. With practice, you’ll be able to slip in and out of your animal form at will, simply by visualizing the creature. Once you’re an advanced Animagus, you should be able to transform without your wand.
Jason: So I was thinking, depending on what animal you turn into… like what if you turn into a worm or a caterpillar? And they’re like, “Okay, and then hide your wand!” It’s like, how am I going to hide my wand as a worm?
[Jason and Laura laugh]
Eric: I think you hide it outside of yourself.
Andrew: Buried somewhere.
Jason: But am I doing that after my transformation as a worm? Or am I out there as a worm digging a hole and putting my wand in it?
Andrew: Worms do go into the ground themselves, right? I see what you’re saying.
Eric: Yeah, because your wand needs to be placed against your heart when you initiate the transformation, but then you need a quick place to stow it before…
Andrew: It’s another step, really. It’s hide your wand at the same time as you’re transforming.
Micah: I guess that part of it makes more sense, Andrew, versus once you’re fully transformed. Because think of Rita Skeeter. How would she hide her wand as something so small? She’d not have the strength to do that.
Andrew: I’m going to be something very large, so I’m not going to have this problem.
Micah: I see.
Eric: Yeah, we’re going to talk about Animagi.
Micah: I did want to mention, too, for connecting the threads a bit, we do get introduced to an Animagus in the very first chapter of the series in Professor McGonagall, but we’re not explicitly told what it is, and that’s something that J.K. Rowling is very good at doing. We were talking about hiding things in plain sight; it definitely happens with McGonagall in the first chapter of Sorcerer’s Stone.
Eric: That’s a great point. So I think canonically, we can all agree that the Marauders have each seen each other naked.
Eric: Just throwing that out there. No further point.
Laura: The Wolfstar shippers are all about it.
Andrew: That just caught me off-guard. I was like, okay, yeah.
Eric: And Jason, you have another point here, just about what if your animal form is a water-dwelling creature that can’t breathe above ground and you didn’t know it until this very moment when you’re transforming? And it’s like, “Wait, I’m a fish? I have to find a lake!”
Jason: Right? Or a dolphin and I’m like, “I need seawater. I can’t just go in the Great Lake at Hogwarts; that probably won’t work.” I don’t know. Maybe a dolphin would.
Andrew: You need to be safe. You need to be on a shoreline, so if you do transform into a sea creature, you can just toss yourself into the water when it happens.
Jason: If you transform into a whale, then you’re just a beached whale.
Andrew: [laughs] Oh, that explains all the beached whales we keep seeing. They’re Animagi.
Andrew: They actually didn’t come from the ocean; they were just on the coast when they transformed. Figured it out.
Eric: Honestly, after reading about this whole process, it does make sense why – a few weeks’ ago Quizzitch answer – seven people have done this in the last century. Really not that many. It probably doesn’t appeal to a lot of people. I’d be interested in picking McGonagall’s brain about why she did it. But it’s a lot of work and you may not like the reward.
Micah: Part of me wonders how much time you have between Step 7 and Step 8 because if you are able to visualize what you are, Jason, maybe then you can get yourself to the appropriate location before you fully transform. So if you are a fish or a dolphin or any other sea creature, you can find your way to the ocean or to a lake. But that’s just my headcanon.
Eric: So we have a few Animagus points, but first I do want to ask what Animagus would we all think that we would be?
Andrew: Well, I’m just going to say what I want to be, which is an orca whale because I loved them as a child and I want to be taking down yachts across the world.
Laura: Andrew wants to eat the rich.
Eric: With a righteous fury. Oh my god. Okay, that’s great. Well, this whole talk about dolphins and whales interests me because I think living in the water, or being able to survive underwater and go deep, would be probably the most exciting thing for me next to flying, which leads to my choice. So I figured I would want to fly, and in consulting Meg about like, “But is it really realistic for me to be a bird? I feel like an owl is too one certain way or an eagle is too, like, another certain way.” And Meg had the idea, and I agreed with it immediately: I would be a pigeon. Because they’re urbanites, they’re very social creatures, and you often catch them, especially in the colder months, cuddling.
Eric: So that’s the sweet explanation. But yeah, I think pigeon 100% would be my Animagus form.
Laura: I love that. Mine would be a raccoon. This is for a couple of different reasons. First of all, when I think about raccoons, the word that immediately comes to mind is “resourceful.” And that’s something that I value, so I could see myself doing that. The other side of this is I love Rocket Raccoon, so there’s that connection. But like you, Eric, I also consulted my significant other in asking, “Hey, what would my Animagus be?” And he was like, “You’d be a raccoon.” And I was like, “Are you saying I’m a trash panda?”
[Jason and Laura laugh]
Eric: That was my first… I was like, “Okay, Laura choose to be a trash panda. All right, here we do.”
Laura: Listen, they’re adorable, though, at the end of the day. They are trash pandas, but they make the best with what they have.
Jason: They’re so cute.
Laura: I know, and they’re very cute. So I could see myself being a raccoon. Plus, their little hands are so adorable.
Eric: They do have little hands.
Jason: I was going to mention their little hands. They’re so cute.
Andrew: [laughs] No, no, no, no, no, and no.
Laura: You wouldn’t hang out with me?
Andrew: No, I wouldn’t. [laughs] I’d swim out to sea, or I’d eat you.
Micah: I chose a lemur.
Laura: They’re very cute.
Micah: I mean, I like the ability to climb, get into tough places. And actually, when I was doing some research, it says that for some folks, lemurs are the symbol of good luck. And they connote kindness, respect, positivity, and the importance of remembering familial connections, while honoring one’s teachers and elders.
Eric: It’s perfect for you.
Micah: They’re also really nasty to humans.
Micah: So I thought that that kind of split dynamic worked.
Laura: I don’t blame them, honestly.
Eric: They get one island. They live on Madagascar.
Micah: That’s right.
Andrew: And then Jason, we got your answer earlier, but anything else you want to add about being a falcon?
Jason: Falcons are very strong, independent, they don’t really need other people around them, which is kind of me. I don’t know.
Andrew: Independent, okay.
Jason: And then, I just love the idea of being able to fly. That sounds amazing. And I thought about being some sort of fish or dolphin or something, but the ocean scares me, so that’s a no for me.
Eric: You’re right to be scared about the ocean.
Micah: I’m with you. We don’t know what’s down there, like, really down there.
Andrew: Well, I do, because I’m…
Jason: It’s a wild, crazy place.
Eric: Andrew knows, but there’s not a lot of natural predators for orca whales.
Andrew: Orca Andrew knows.
Eric: Yeah, orca Andrew. Maybe that’s the episode title. So yeah, getting back to the chapter. What’s interesting is that the presence of Lupin’s Animagi friends helped him keep his head a little bit, not physically, but mentally he felt more like himself, so much so that they began to roam the grounds of the castle and the village, even. Lupin ceased to… it’s almost as if somebody else was the alpha in Lupin’s transformation.
Micah: To me, it seems a bit convenient that werewolves don’t attack other animals; they only attack humans. Because I would imagine that a stag would seem a proper meal for a werewolf.
Eric: I mean, you’re right. You’re not wrong. The idea that werewolves are only a threat to humans in this world is very… I always forget that. And then it’s said, I think, at least twice in this chapter, so twice in nine pages. You know it’s important. But yeah, I don’t know why. It’s just convenience in the plot, I guess.
Micah: Yeah. And I know it’s mentioned, too, that there were a number of near misses when they were transformed, but it seemed very strange that nobody noticed a dog, a stag, a werewolf, and a rat running around together on the grounds of Hogwarts.
Eric: The only thing I’ll say to this is… bedtime, because it was always after dark in that moonlight hour, and we know how strict Hogwarts enforces its bed policy.
Andrew: And if anybody went to Dumbledore about it, he’d be like, “Ooh, I don’t know, oohoohoo.”
Eric: Yeah, well, the only time Harry sees Sirius on the grounds of Hogwarts – besides the Quidditch thing – is late at night. In the middle of the night, he and Crookshanks are working. I just assumed they operated nocturnally, basically.
Micah: But then Lupin is betraying Dumbledore’s trust by going out of the Shrieking Shack as a werewolf.
Eric: Yeah. And that’s a big character moment for Lupin. Lupin essentially is wracked with guilt over the fact that he went out, that he doesn’t tell Dumbledore the whole year that Sirius is an Animagus, so it’s lies upon lies upon lies.
Odds & Ends
Eric: I think we’re ready for the odds and ends of the chapter. Something to note: Snape reveals himself at the end of the chapter. He was able to come in wearing Harry’s Invisibility Cloak. But my question is… there’s this loud creak, the door opens, Lupin walks right up to it and is like, “Hmm, no one there.” Does he not know a spell or some way of checking? Because we later found out from the author that the way Dumbledore can “see through” Harry’s Cloak is that he’s silently casting the Homenum revelio charm, and it’s revealing to Dumbledore that there is someone there. That’s clearly not a trick Lupin picked up. And after all those years of experience with James’s cloak, they still aren’t able to, I don’t know, figure out that somebody really is there? Kind of questionable.
Micah: It’s a good point, but also, I’m curious: When Lupin discovers both Pettigrew and Sirius on the map, why does he not get Dumbledore? He’s just like, “I’m going to go run off to the tree by myself.”
Eric: It’s the same reason he forgets to take his potion, right? Contrivances of the plot.
Laura: Well, he’s also ashamed, right? I think he later goes on to say that the reason he never confided in Dumbledore about any of this is because he was ashamed of taking advantage of Dumbledore’s trust, and he didn’t want to reveal himself as someone who had done something like that to someone who did so much for him.
Eric: Yeah. And just as a note, there’s this line in the chapter about… Lupin says, “The map never lies.” I think that makes it into the movie because now I’m hearing it David Thewlis’s voice. But essentially, the map can see through the Invisibility Cloak, and that’s how this whole thing got started. But if the map can see through the Invisibility Cloak, and Moody’s eye can see through the Invisibility Cloak – we find that out next book – then I think we have to finally divorce ourselves from “The Tale of the Three Brothers” magical Cloakness of Death himself not being able to see through it and find the brother because it’s flawed. Everyone but Lupin can see through this Cloak.
Micah: I’m trying to I’m trying to remember. I think Gary Oldman actually says it, “The map never lies.”
Eric: He’s so committed to it, and it’s like, “Why? You haven’t explained any of this.” Just an interesting odd and end. And if we go to connecting the threads real quickly, we actually hear the Snape prank/werewolf trick be explained a little bit. This is the moment that Dumbledore chose to tell Harry at the end of Book 1, the question about why Snape isn’t a bad guy. Dumbledore says that Snape was protecting him because his father saved Snape’s life. So we hear it from a different angle in this chapter. It’s very satisfying, really pisses Snape off to the point where he reveals himself. But it’s just so interesting that, just like McGonagall showing up as an Animagus in Chapter 1, all these ties to Book 1 and the very beginning. The DNA has been in the series since the beginning.
Micah: One other thing I just wanted to call out is we spend a lot of time talking about everybody except Peter Pettigrew, but Peter is really the key for them to be able to get through the Whomping Willow to the Shrieking Shack because he is small enough to go and touch that knot that we see Crookshanks on earlier in this book. It’s very appropriate, though, as well, that he transforms into a rat because that is exactly what he is.
Eric: Yes, he is. Yes, he is a rat. Yeah, you could do it with a stick, but it’s much easier just to have Peter there. That concludes our discussion of the second shortest chapter in all the Harry Potter books.
MVP of the Week
Eric: It’s time for MVP of the week.
[MVP of the Week music plays]
Andrew: I’m going to give it to Dumbledore for creating the sneaky snack. The sneaky shack.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Eric: Okay, that’s the title.
Andrew: You know he’s had a sneaky snack or two as well. Maybe Dumbledore’s delights. But yeah, shout-out to Dumbledore. I’ve got to protect my boy since he was attacked twice this episode.
Jason: Sneaky snack for the Dumble-drama.
Eric: There we go.
Andrew: That could be the title.
Eric: I’m going to give mine to Snape for successfully getting into the shack despite all these people knowing what the cloak is.
Laura: I’m going to give it to the superstition. Honestly, if it weren’t for the superstition, whether it was a natural social phenomenon or whether Dumbledore planted false memories in people’s minds, the superstition is what kept the facade of the Shrieking Shack being haunted alive and kept Lupin safe.
Micah: Nice. I have to stick true to one of my Quizzitch names, “If the shack is a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’,” so I have to give it to the shack itself for doing its job and taking a beating at the hands of werewolf Lupin.
Jason: And then I am giving mine to the Marauders for becoming Animagi.
Andrew: Sneaky snack. Animagi.
Jason: They went through that whole crazy 27,000-step process, and that’s pretty impressive.
[MVP of the Week music ends]
Andrew: All right, well, if you the listener have any feedback about today’s episode or the chapters ahead, you can send an owl to MuggleCast@gmail.com, or you can use the contact form on MuggleCast.com. To send a voice message, just record it using the Voice Memo app on your phone and then email us that file, or use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE, that’s 1-920-368-4453. And next week, we’ll discuss Chapter 19 of Prisoner of Azkaban, “The Servant of Lord Voldemort.”
Andrew: And now it’s time for some Quizzitch.
[Quizzitch music plays]
Eric: Last week’s question, who did Snape see Lupin traveling with on the grounds of Hogwarts toward the Whomping Willow in the 1970s? Key part there: 1970s. And the correct answer was Madame Pomfrey, or Poppy Pomfrey. Correct answers were submitted to us by Loony, Mocktail, Crew cut, and Thongs; Laura Master of the Universe; Luke H. the 11-year-old; Raise the Dumby lie count; Snape’s one big chance for fame and glory beautiful glory all mine all mine; Snoopy 199; Spoo-getti; The only canon I remember is from All the Young Dudes; Wolfstar sitting in a Whomping Willow tree; Your local Irish leprechaun; Rubblier plank; Elizabeth K. Bob; and Definitely not Micah. Okay, I trust it. Next week’s Quizzitch question: Who casts Expelliarmus against Snape in the Shrieking Shack? Submit your answer to us over on the MuggleCast website, MuggleCast.com/Quizzitch, or click on Quizzitch from the main nav bar on MuggleCast.com.
[Quizzitch music ends]
Andrew: Don’t forget, we would love your support on Patreon. Now if you’re a Spotify user and you support us on Patreon, you can get our Patreon audio benefits right within Spotify, which is really nice. If you’re a Spotify user and you don’t support us on Patreon, tap that banner on the MuggleCast page within Spotify and you’ll be able to pledge and get these audio benefits. We do two bonus MuggleCast installments per month. We’ve got the MuggleCast Collector’s Club. I think maybe next week – if not next week, definitely the week after – we will reveal this year’s wave of stickers that everybody in the Collector’s Club will be getting. And of course, beanies will be going out, too, to our Slug Club patrons in another month or so, I think. Maybe a month or two? Definitely they’ll be ready for you for fall.
Jason: Yay, I can’t wait.
Andrew: Yeah! Being in Salt Lake, Jason. And Jason, thanks so much for coming on the show today.
Jason: Absolutely, this was super fun.
Andrew: It was great having you on. Thank you so much for all your contributions, and thanks for your support on Patreon. That’s another perk at the Slug Club level, you can get in the queue to co-host MuggleCast one day. A couple other reminders: If you’re an Apple Podcast user and you don’t support us on Patreon, for just $2.99 a month, you can receive ad-free and early access to MuggleCast right within the Apple Podcast app. Patreon does offer more benefits, but if you’d prefer to support us right within Apple Podcast, we totally get it. You can do it right there. There is a free trial available as well, just like there is on Patreon. And if you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would too, tell a friend about MuggleCast. We’d also appreciate if you left us a review on your favorite podcast app. And last but not least, don’t forget to follow us on social media. We are @MuggleCast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Threads, and there’s a lot of great coverage led by Chloé on on the social media channels from LeakyCon, so be sure to check that out.
Micah: I was going to say a special shout-out to Chloé for all the great coverage that she had at LeakyCon, as well as jumping on the MuggleCast Live that we did on Saturday, which we will be releasing over Labor Day weekend.
Eric: Can I tell how much she crushed us on Making the Connection when we did that? There were some crazy connections given to us.
Andrew: Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.
Eric: I’m Eric.
Micah: I’m Micah.
Laura: I’m Laura.
Jason: And I’m Jason.
Andrew: Thanks again, Jason. Bye, everybody.
[Show music plays]
Micah: Well, another thing that came to mind, though, too, with this being such a short chapter is just… I don’t know. I totally lost my train of thought, so you can scrap that.
Andrew: That is a very good point, Micah. I agree.
Laura: Well said.
Andrew: Let’s clip that for social.
Micah: Yeah, bloopers. We do bloopers, right?