MuggleCast 627 Transcript
Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #627, A Normal Friday Night at Hogwarts (POA Chapter 22, Owl Post Again)
[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: And this week, be sure to check with the cat that your new pet is really what they seem, because we are going to read and analyze the final chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban, “Owl Post Again.” And to help us with today’s discussion, we’re joined by one of our Slug Club supporters and listeners, Melissa. Welcome to the show, Melissa!
Melissa: Hi. Thanks for having me, guys.
Andrew: Yeah, and when we reached out, I think you told me Prisoner of Azkaban is your favorite book. Is that right?
Melissa: It is. It really is.
Laura: Oh, how fitting.
Andrew: So we got you in right under the wire, yes!
Melissa: Literally perfect.
Andrew: We planned it this way. [laughs] So before we get any further, let’s get your fandom ID, Melissa.
Melissa: Okay, so my favorite book… also, I will say that every single time I read “favorite,” it’s messing with my head because it’s the American spelling and not the Canadian spelling.
Eric: Ah, that’s right. Canadians are very persnickety.
Melissa: We like our extra letters a lot.
Eric: All right, well, I’m going to update the document right now.
Melissa: [laughs] So favorite book is Prisoner of Azkaban, favorite film is… this is always really hard for me because Prisoner of Azkaban, but also Half-Blood Prince for very different reasons. Hogwarts House is Ravenclaw. Ilvermorny is Thunderbird? Favorite Marauder is Remus, and favorite owl is Hedwig and a snowy owl, because they’re gorgeous.
Eric: Tell me, is Prisoner of Azkaban spelled any differently? Are there extra O’s or U’s or anything in the title?
Melissa: [laughs] You can add them wherever your heart desires, and I will appreciate it. How about that?
Andrew: I will say, I do enjoy getting close to the Canadian border from the American side because when you go to used bookstores, let’s say in Seattle, you start seeing those UK covers because they hop over the border. Canadians get UK covers.
Eric: Life hack.
Andrew: Yeah, I think I sent y’all a picture when I was up in Portland earlier this year. I saw some UK covers. I was like, “Ooh, this is exciting, a whole different world.”
Eric: That’s cool.
Andrew: Anyway, great to have you, Melissa, and thank you so much for your support on Patreon. We really appreciate it.
Melissa: My pleasure.
Andrew: Speaking of Patreon, there have been a couple of Fantastic Beasts movie and HP reboot news stories recently. David Yates, the director of many wizarding world movies at this point, suggested he’s done with doing those movies, and David Heyman, the longtime producer of all the wizarding world projects, says the HP reboot will go deeper into the series than the movies did, which is exactly what we were hoping for. We’re going to talk about these stories on a deeper level level on our Patreon this week. Patreon.com/MuggleCast is where you can get bonus MuggleCast installments twice a month. And Laura, you have some big news for us.
Laura: Yeah, I do. I wanted to plug something that we’ve been working on for the last few weeks here, and it is the MuggleCast 2023 listener survey, going live as of the recording of this episode. So the survey will be open to all listeners through October 6, so we will be plugging it over the next couple of weeks. We want to know what you love about the show, what you think could improve it, and what other content you’d be interested in us making. We’re also asking anyone who supports us on our Patreon about their experience so we can learn what kinds of bonus content y’all would be interested in seeing in the future. The survey is open to all, whether you are a Patreon supporter or not, and will be available through our website, in our show notes, and across our various social channels. Thanks so much in advance for taking the time to help us improve the show, whether you’ve been with us for 18 years, are new to the show, or anywhere in between. We truly could not do this show without y’all.
Eric: Laura, I’m filling this out right now; it asked me how I have heard about the show. There’s not an option for “Is a host,” so how do I…?
Laura: [laughs] “Am host.”
Eric: I’ll put “Other” and in the write-in, “Am host.” Okay.
Andrew: You heard about the show through the MuggleNet.com staff forum in 2005.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: OG, baby, I bet nobody else filling this out will be able to say that.
Micah: Just do what I do on the Quizzitch form and just make up a really creative username.
Laura: Oh, that’s so brilliant.
Micah: I’m not saying I do that.
Andrew: Except then that’s bad data. We want listeners. We don’t want the hosts.
Eric: Yeah, we don’t want to pollute… this negatively affects us if I mess this up. [laughs]
Laura: Well, I will say that I will be screening the responses, and if there are any clearly bogus host responses to this, I will be removing those results.
Andrew: Thank you.
Laura: Sorry about that.
Eric: Laura is policing this. She’s taking this really seriously, y’all.
Laura: I am.
Eric: But really, thank you for filling it out. We really want to hear from you. And this will affect the future of the show.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, we have ideas, so we really appreciate getting your feedback on some ideas we’re kicking around.
Eric: So another update, actually, this coming week, you’ll be able to hear me talking about the history of the Harry Potter fandom for two and a half hours. Or actually, part one of this long retrospect. I was a guest host on the Belated Binge podcast, which is the binge podcast that does not take the series or itself too seriously. It was a lot of fun. The podcast, again, called Belated Binge, is going to be available wherever podcasts are found, but especially on YouTube. There’s actually going to be a video version of it. And I just sat down… Zac is a longtime listener of MuggleCast; he actually reached out. I went back and found a very old email that he sent back in the before times, and read it back to him on the show. But mostly, it was a question about the origins of the fandom and how the different eras of Potter, based on what was happening, affected both MuggleCast and just being a Harry Potter fan. So it was actually a really engaging discussion. It was fun to go through and test my own knowledge as far as what happened, but it’s worth checking out. Part one will be this coming week, and part two will be the following week. We’ll put the link in the show notes. Definitely check out Belated Binge podcast.
Andrew: And last but not least, a reminder: Year two of the MuggleCast Collector’s Club is open now. This is the last chance for everyone to get the stickers whether or not you are currently a patron, so make sure you fill out that form that’s available on our Patreon. We introduced the Collector’s Club last year, in which each year between now and 2026 we’re sending four to five exclusive new stickers that celebrate the show’s past and present. And we’re also giving you the Collector’s Club card on which you can place the stickers; it’s a beautiful backing card. We absolutely love it. Year two stickers celebrate the old Chicken Soup segment; we did one with the classic iPod with MuggleCast playing; we’ve got Hogwarts on fire, hashtag security nightmare; we’ve got Jamie’s old British Joke segment, a sticker dedicated to that; and then a tier-based exclusive, either a Dumbledore’s Army or Slug Club sticker. These are the only chance you can get these stickers. Available now and then never again, and then the next three years, wee’re going to have exclusive stickers as well.
Eric: Melissa, are you excited about the Slug Club sticker? The slugs clinking little glasses?
Melissa: I’m so excited, it’s actually unreal.
[Andrew, Eric, and Melissa laugh]
Andrew: Yeah, the designs are awesome. So pledge at the $5 or $10 level by September 22 and then fill out the form by September 23 to receive this year’s stickers! Thank you in advance, everybody.
Micah: And Andrew, I’ve been working very hard on my Spotify playlist. I know you all did House themes, and I was the odd person out. I didn’t want to do another Ravenclaw because Laura’s was so good. I did a Quidditch-themed playlist and it’s coming to a theater near you sometime soon.
Andrew: A theater?
Micah: Oh, sorry, an iPhone…
Eric: A home theater.
Micah: Whatever you listen to. Yeah, home theater.
Eric: I’ll play it through my surround sound when it comes out.
Micah: There you go. It just sounded better to say coming to a theater near you.
Eric: Coming soon to theaters.
Andrew: Sounds good. Well, without further ado, it’s time for Chapter by Chapter, and like I said, we’re discussing the final chapter in Prisoner of Azkaban, “Owl Post Again.” Once more for this book, it’s time for our Seven-Word Summary.
Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary
[Seven-Word Summary music plays]
Eric: … is…
Melissa: … served…
Laura: … by…
Andrew: … Hermione…
Micah: … and…
Laura: Beautiful. Well done, y’all.
[Seven-Word Summary music ends]
Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion
Eric: Well, welcome, everybody, to the final chapter of most of our favorite books. It’s really interesting coming off of the long high that was the time travel shenanigans and the whole back half of this book with all of its ups and downs. There’s a lot of summary and closing the book out and events that happen in this book. Harry goes back on the train, we see Uncle Vernon at the end of it. But I wanted to do more of an overview of this chapter because there are a few events that happen where there’s positive news and then there’s negative news, or there’s negative news but there’s a silver lining. I’ve broken up different moments, and we’re going to go through them and have a discussion about what some of these are. And I do think that in these moments, the consolations that we get are useful. Of course, we know Voldemort wasn’t going to be destroyed at the end of the third book out of seven. Harry doesn’t get to live with Sirius yet. That can’t be, as much as we would love that. So we’re going to go through and talk about this stuff. Number one thing is that Snape was really, really, really, really horrible. We’ve been talking about this the last couple of chapters, but now he ultimately did not get what he wanted and Sirius gets to keep his soul in his mouth or his body. [laughs] But Snape is just really, really, really angry about it. He also knows that it was Harry and Hermione who did this. He thinks he knows. Does he really know? That’s my first question.
Micah: Who knows? He just seems completely unhinged in this moment, and I think there’s a lot of emotion that is processing through Snape here. It’s a combination of what we’ve talked about in the previous chapters, that he believes Sirius responsible for the death of Lily Potter, but then there’s probably something deep down inside of him that just thinks that nothing goes right for Snape, right? And when nothing goes right for Snape, or something is up at Hogwarts, Harry usually has something to do with it.
Laura: Yeah, and he’s really projecting his insecurities about James onto Harry as well. We see throughout the series, when Snape says again and again how very much like his arrogant father Harry is, so it feels very much like he’s taking that high school insecurity and projecting it onto the literal embodiment of James Potter in this moment.
Eric: It’s funny because he doesn’t need evidence, really. And in fact, he gets none. We’re going to talk about Dumbledore in a minute and what Dumbledore says to Snape, but Snape doesn’t need concrete proof that it was Harry and Hermione because he is going to resolve to make their lives more miserable than ever. And in fact, that happens. It’s glossed over blissfully, thank God, but Snape manages to even be worse of a teacher to the two of them throughout the remaining part of this school year. In fact, Harry suspects he nearly failed him from the class, and that could affect his future!
Andrew: I also think that Snape definitely knows it was them because they helped save the day at the end of the other two books, so it just stands to reason that they’re going to help save the day again.
Eric: It’s interesting that phrase, “Save the day,” because if viewed from Snape’s perspective, it means that he knows he’s on the wrong side of it. If he’s like, “Oh, these two save the day.” I think that he really does feel outwitted by them, and the culture, the environment is very permissive of them to be better than him in this moment. I think he does have an inkling that he’s on the wrong side of the argument here. He still thinks that he should have his way. So enter Dumbledore, who I see in this chapter as really stoking the flames, particularly for Snape’s anger. He says, “Well, there you have it, Severus. Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I’m afraid I don’t see any point in troubling them further.” And it’s like, okay, hang on now, because Dumbledore literally is upping the ante and saying that if Snape can prove that Harry and Hermione, or has any idea how Harry and Hermione might be in two places at once, then there would be some kind of foundation to his argument. But because Snape apparently doesn’t know about the Time-Turner, he can’t do that. Still, this is very interesting baiting from Dumbledore, isn’t it? Because how secret is Hermione Time-Turner from the rest of the staff?
Andrew: It’s such strong baiting. It’s shockingly risky.
Andrew: “Unless there was a way… I mean, there’s no way right way, right? You wouldn’t know any way, but unless there’s a way, which, come on, there can’t be a way, right?” I was shocked.
Eric: I mean, at any point in the future, this could come up. A throwaway line from another teacher, whether Professor Vector or somebody that Hermione had to like rush and was late to their class… it could easily be spilled that Hermione had a Time-Turner in year three, and if it does, Dumbledore is going to have a severe Snape problem. But he couldn’t resist having the fun.
Laura: He really couldn’t. And it just stands to reason that the other professors, at least some of them, would have to know, right? To your point, Eric. And given how much work we knew went into getting Hermione this Time-Turner from the Ministry in the first place, it feels risky to be doing this in front of Fudge too.
Eric: Yeah, because presumably, somebody at the Ministry signed off on this 13-year-old being the only person ever to have a Time-Turner for classwork and getting this Time-Turner, and now Fudge is there, and Dumbledore is saying that “the reason that you’re wrong is because we can’t prove somebody was in two places at once.”
Andrew: It’s almost like Dumbledore is trying to have a fun inside joke moment with Fudge, like “Unless you’re suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once,” and he turns to Fudge and winks, “I don’t see how it could have happened!”
Eric: “I don’t know!” You also had a point about Fudge, Andrew.
Andrew: Yes, so when Snape storms out, you read this dialogue back, and it’s interesting once you get to Snape’s backstory later in the series. So the quote I’m referencing is,
“Fellow seems quite unbalanced,” said Fudge. “I’d watch out for him if I were you, Dumbledore.”
And then Dumbledore says,
“Oh, he’s not unbalanced. He’s just suffered a severe disappointment.”
And of course, he’s suffered a severe disappointment in this moment, but once you get through the series and read this back, it almost reads like Dumbledore is dropping another little Easter egg by hand here when it comes to losing Lily. Just a thought that crossed my mind, and maybe crossed Dumbledore’s mind in that moment too.
Laura: It is interesting, because it reads as funny in this moment, right? Like, “Oh, he’s just having a little temper tantrum. He’ll be okay.” But actually, it’s a lot deeper than that.
Eric: He’s minimizing.
Melissa: I think I look at it a little bit differently, but I feel like this is one of those times where Dumbledore puts Snape in his place. He’s basically like, “Trust me. You have to trust me, I’m telling you that I’m involved in this, so back off,” and it’s like Snape knows that he has to listen to Dumbledore, and I think that this is one of those moments that that shines through early on in the series, if that makes sense.
Laura: It does.
Eric: I think you’re right because Snape’s actions immediately following this undermine Dumbledore and make life difficult for Dumbledore as much as they do for Lupin or anybody else. Dumbledore doesn’t want to have to again look for a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, so Snape’s retaliation against Lupin could also be seen as him bucking the system and causing havoc wherever he can, since Dumbledore did put him in his place. So that makes sense to me. Is there any other thoughts before we move on regarding the Time-Turner and Hermione’s acquisition of it? Also, she gives it back. Nobody tells her she has to give it back. She decides that she has had enough, and she says to Harry, “I’ve given it back to McGonagall.”
Andrew: “I can’t take this anymore, I’m tired, I’m stressed…”
Eric: [laughs] Would she have been allowed to keep it?
Andrew: That is a good question.
Micah: It’s another example, though, of Hogwarts being a security nightmare, right? Well, in fairness, there’s so much going on in this particular sequence of events that the Time-Turner is probably the last thing that is on their mind in terms of, “Oh yeah, we need to go and make sure that Hermione returns her Time-Turner to the Ministry at the end of the school year.” But in terms of anything else about this particular scene, I tended to think that even if Fudge were aware of the Time-Turner… which you’d think as the Minister for Magic, he would have to be, right? This is something that would rise to his level, a little memo on his desk, so to speak, at the beginning of the Hogwarts term. I just think it’s highly unlikely he would think it possible that Harry and Hermione could go back in time and do all of this, right? He’s very ignorant towards… well, we see it just a chapter prior, right? He’s he’s got a sweet spot for Harry right now.
Eric: Yeah, and it does help that Fudge himself was a witness to Buckbeak’s escape, right? He just saw him out the window, or he knows that it was a close call that… because potentially, what the kids did while traveling back in time could have had repercussions for Hagrid. I think it was maybe McNair that had said, “Oh, I just saw him out the window a moment ago.” They could have really started to suspect Hagrid let him go, and so the intricate level to which Fudge was directly involved means that he’ll put the rubber stamp on “There was nothing untoward; it’s unexplainable that the Buckbeak got away,” or “It’s unexplainable that these children… the matron says that they were in the hospital wing the whole time, they must have been in the hospital wing the whole time.” Really deliberately not thinking outside the box here because he’s more of a “You believe what you see kind of a thing” kind of guy.
Andrew: Real quickly, Micah’s point about a memo coming across Fudge’s desk, I’m just imagining him reading a memo that says, “Third year at Hogwarts gets Time-Turner.” Okay, great, next.
Micah: I could see him just rolling his eyes and being like, “Dumbledore again.”
Andrew: [laughs] He sits there with his own little security nightmare button.
Laura: Is this another sign of Fudge’s incompetence? Either he was very blasé about this request, or he just didn’t know about it. It wasn’t surfaced to him.
Eric: It’s possible. This whole thing, it’s funny because as we’ve gone through this book, we’ve totally destroyed any credibility of Hermione getting this, but I love that she has it. It’s my favorite book for a reason, and a lot of that has to do with the time travel aspect. [laughs] So it doesn’t really make any sense, but it works so well for the plot, I just have to be like, “Okay, I don’t know.” I don’t think less of Fudge. I’m glad she got it. But it is funny that she is the person that hands it back. She says to Harry, “I’ve gone and given it back.” Unbelievable. So the next setback, or bad news – we talked about this a moment ago – Lupin is not going to be able to teach next year. This is because Snape storms off out of the hospital wing, and the very next morning at breakfast let slip that Lupin was a werewolf. And it’s a sad moment; Harry immediately has to go and talk with Lupin and really catch up and say his goodbyes. But as sort of a silver lining, Lupin says, “Because I’m no longer your teacher, I no longer need to confiscate this highly dangerous Marauder’s Map, so here you go, kid.” And that just feels right.
Andrew: It feels right. It’s a passing of the torch, so to speak.
Micah: Yeah, and I think not only is it a way for Lupin and Harry to maintain that connection, it’s a way for him to stay, in a way connected, to his father, right? Prongs is always with him, and I think that is a nice moment for Harry here with Lupin in his office.
Laura: And that’s a huge theme in this chapter, Prongs always being alive in Harry. We see examples of that come a little bit later. But it is one of the bittersweet, I think, parts of this chapter, like you were saying at the lead, Eric. There’s a lot of happiness and good news that we get, but there’s also this bitter twist to it because we ultimately know what it all means for Harry’s future, which is more of the same: having to go back to the Dursleys every summer, having infrequent contact with his newly found godfather… so it’s a little rough still.
Eric: Yeah, and now interestingly, although Lupin is banished because of this anticipated controversy that the parents of Hogwarts will be writing in in droves and saying, “My kids can’t be around a werewolf,” Dumbledore apparently managed to convince Fudge that Lupin was not helping Sirius Black to escape the night before. And I’ve really got to ask because we don’t… this is easy to miss, as I mentioned, but Dumbledore probably had to do some fancy footwork, given the extensive prejudice against werewolves in general that people have, coupled with the fact that Lupin last night really was extremely dangerous. Lupin himself says, “I could have eaten somebody.” It’s a real big deal. So how did Dumbledore finagle it so that Lupin is essentially allowed to leave also, without any suspicion of having had any hand in the previous night’s events?
Melissa: I think that at this point in the series, Fudge trusts Dumbledore, but he’s also completely incompetent. Fudge is always incompetent, always will be. But I really wonder if at this point, it would have been as simple as modifying a memory, putting it in the Pensieve, and showing it to Fudge to be like, “Look, he’s innocent, we trust him.” And then what really, this made me think about, was whether or not Dumbledore would be more adept at modifying memories than someone like Slughorn, where you can obviously really tell that those memories are modified. Could he have used modified memories against Fudge at this point? Would Fudge have fallen for that?
Laura: Probably, to be honest. Even if Dumbledore didn’t do a great job of modifying the memories – which I agree with you, Melissa, I think he would probably be very skilled at it – I don’t think Fudge would be able to tell. He’s not competent enough to be able to tell, so it would be pretty easy to pass something like that by him.
Andrew: And as the Minister of Magic for the entire country, you’ve got a lot of stuff on your plate. You don’t need to focus too hard on any one thing. You’re operating at a higher level, at more of a bird’s eye view, telling people what to do. So even just a little bit of evidence, he’s like, “Okay, thank you very much. I’m moving on with my day.”
Eric: But still, this is the years long search for Sirius Black, so I would think he’d be more personally invested in who might have been a co-conspirator. I realize we only have one chapter to wrap this book up, and maybe that’s why these pieces fall into place so nicely, because you could see this being more of an issue of contention, especially Lupin himself. If this were Book 5, Lupin would be at a trial right now for maybe helping Sirius because it’s well known enough that they were friends in school, by the teachers, at least.
Laura: Right. Melissa brought this up; I think part of it is at this point in the series, Fudge is really still very dependent on Dumbledore and really trusts him and his judgment. We always knew that Fudge has a little bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to Dumbledore because he knows that others wanted Dumbledore to be the Minister for Magic more than they wanted him, so he’s constantly writing to Dumbledore asking for advice proactively throughout this point in the series. We see that take a shift towards the end of the next book. But honestly, I could see Dumbledore using the timing to explain this away, similar to how he does for Harry and Hermione, in saying, “Listen, Lupin was transformed and running around somewhere in the Forbidden Forest when Sirius escaped, so he couldn’t have been part of an escape plan.” And I think that something else – and this is just alternate headcanon here – I could also see him telling Fudge that Lupin came to Hogwarts to serve as an informant because of how close he and Sirius were when they were in school, because they knew Sirius to be a threat to Harry, that Dumbledore specifically sought Lupin out to take this post in protection of Harry.
Eric: I could see that.
Micah: Yeah, I mean, he’s not above placing people at Hogwarts to either protect them or use them for his own purposes, see Trelawney, see Slughorn, and I’m sure there’s examples of others as well.
Laura: Oh yeah.
Micah: But I mean, look, can you prove that Lupin cannot scale the walls of Hogwarts and climb all the way up to – what was it, the seventh floor? 13th window? – and release Sirius. That’s actually my point, and this goes to the lack of just investigative work the Ministry does. There’s no evidence, even if Fudge was to look to charge Lupin. There is no evidence anywhere throughout the entire school year that Lupin aided Sirius Black in any way, shape, or form.
Laura: Yeah. Also, we have to remember that Fudge is extremely driven by optics, and he has an optics problem here with the Dementors because if you start digging into who was part of the grand Sirius Black escape plan, it also bubbles to the surface that the Dementors literally tried to attack students and suck their souls out. He’s not going to want to have to deal with a Ministry inquiry about that, and we never see that happen. So I think, to protect himself and his position and perception of his integrity as Minister, I think this all gets swept under the rug for the most part. You can’t, obviously, sweep the whole Sirius Black escaping under the rug bit, but when it comes to the other events of the night, a werewolf getting loose on the grounds, the Dementors attacking students… that’s not something that Fudge is going to want to get out there.
Eric: Sounds like a normal Friday night at Hogwarts, honestly.
Laura: It really does.
Micah: There’s your title, “Normal Friday night at Hogwarts.”
Eric: But honestly, yeah, what you’re saying, Laura, makes a lot of sense. And at least nobody died. By the grace of God, nobody was eaten by Lupin or attacked by Sirius Black. It’s got to be weird that Sirius, whatever his mission is presumed to have been by Fudge, he abandons it and just goes on the run the next two years. What does Fudge make of…? Because I don’t think he’s heard about the Peter Pettigrew theory, so it just is weird because all of a sudden Sirius Black is no longer coming towards Hogwarts. They have to do some kind of explanation as far as that goes.
Micah: I think that’s really an interesting point, that that whole storyline just falls by the wayside after being such a focal point of the third book. It’s almost like… we hear mentions in passing, sightings of Sirius Black, but the Ministry really just, their focus turns elsewhere. Kind of to Andrew’s point earlier, the minister has much more to worry about than just one mass murderer being on the loose.
Eric: Well, and we’re privy to, not to say they start next year or start around this time, but we’re privy to, in Book 4, the world really opens up a lot more, and not even just talking about the other schools of magic, but the Bertha Jorkins disappearance is a hot topic of conversation for obvious reasons. We know it directly relates to Voldemort’s return. But the idea that the Ministry has a lot going on and is failing to not just catch a murderer, but their staff is going rogue, MIA, completely unexplainable… all of these little teeny cracks in the surface of the Ministry’s perception, it is an optics problem, and we’re starting to see the glass shatter of the Ministry being able to handle it.
Micah: One other thing that came to mind, and Laura, I’m wondering if you can help me out here kind of connecting the threads a little bit, is at the end of this book, we see somebody who is part of the wizarding community but considered basically to be non-human, and as a result of his condition is no longer able to be a professor at Hogwarts. It’s almost like there’s justice in Order of the Phoenix when we see non-human creatures take out the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor when the centaurs do what they do with Umbridge.
Micah: I’m trying to connect the thread, but… something that just popped into my mind, reading this chapter.
Laura: I think you just connected the thread, Micah. I don’t think you needed my help. Especially given how much of a bigot that new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor was and the horrible things she said about Lupin.
Eric: So do we think that maybe Fudge also already knew about Lupin? I mean, we know he didn’t know anything about the Time-Turner, apparently, but certainly having a werewolf student at Hogwarts. It’s old news by now that Lupin was a werewolf, potentially, to the Minister for Magic, because he isn’t seen to react to it at all, the idea that Lupin specifically… Fudge is not calling for any kind of adverse action against Lupin. And in this moment, I do blame… I think having reread this book, most recently now along with us, I do think Lupin should resign not because of the prejudice, but because he did forget to take his potion. I mean, it’s weird how it works, that it’s only one night and done, but it’s huge! It’s absolutely huge. And I’m sorry, but you really did put people in danger. Even Lupin is like, “I really did put people in danger.” You have to leave. You can’t do that at a school and expect to still be a teacher.
Andrew: Yeah, and just thinking about it from the parent angle, of course they’re not going to want this either. It’s just so risky that you can’t risk that again. And we were speaking about this a few weeks ago, he knew it was coming. He knew the full moon was coming. This wasn’t a surprise. But hey, that’s just the DADA curse, right? It was inevitable, I suppose.
Eric: That’s its own silver lining. Yes, Lupin has to leave, boo. But he’s alive.
Andrew: But that was going to happen anyway! Yeah, if it wasn’t this, it was going to be someone else that got him kicked out. So might as well be this.
Eric: Yeah. Aren’t we glad that that Lupin gets to live another day? [laughs] He didn’t get disintegrated when Harry touched him to shake his hand goodbye.
Laura: Right. No, he makes it to the Battle of Hogwarts, so… [laughs]
Eric: Oh, wow. I want a T-shirt that says that: “Made it to…”
Andrew: At least he made it to the Battle of Hogwarts.
Eric: Yeah, to say nothing of walking away.
Andrew: [laughs] I guess he got to fight in a war.
Laura: No, I mean, this is maybe a dark take, but I guess you could say that was the DADA curse finally closing the loop on Lupin.
Andrew: Wow. Laura, please leave.
Eric: Oh my God. My mind is blown. That’s amazing.
Laura: I’m turning this into group therapy today.
Eric: The next time he sets foot at Hogwarts, the curse has its way.
Laura: I know. It’s been waiting. It’s been sitting there tapping its watch. “Where are you?”
Eric: Oh my God.
Micah: What is that movie series? Final Destination?
Eric: Yeah, no, that’s exactly how it all works. Also, real quick question about Lupin. So he packs all his stuff into a tiny little bag and a grindylow tank, and he carries out the grindylow tank kind of awkwardly. I’m picturing almost like an aquarium. What’s the importance of this thing? Why can’t he vanish it or shrink it or something? It’s just such a classic… I guess because it’s visually interesting to picture Lupin carrying out a grindylow tank with his suitcase.
Melissa: I feel like it just comes down to like, man’s gotta eat. Maybe he’s re-selling the tank when he leaves.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Eric: “This is a good tank. This holds all the grindylows.”
Micah: It could be a little bit of a head nod to Goblet of Fire. I feel like we get a couple of different nuggets in this chapter that resurface in Goblet of Fire. There’s the mention of the Quidditch World Cup, there is the mention of dragons guarding the entrance to Hogwarts, and then there’s also the mention here of the grindylow. Might’ve been the author’s way of just dropping a few clues in the last chapter here.
Eric: I like that.
Andrew: Yeah, and I would also just say we know Rowling has very colorful writing, and this is just more of that. That’s all. The attention to detail is strong.
Eric: Here’s an interesting one: So Harry is really upset that Pettigrew got away. And Dumbledore, who showed up to say goodbye to Lupin after Harry did, tells Harry, “Hey, you know what? Yeah, that’s bad. But your choices, they made all the difference.” [laughs] Like, what? Does this feel like Dumbledore is just giving an empty promise? Or is this classic Dumbledore in that he is comforting and kind of fatherly toward Harry in this moment? How do we read this consolation of “Yeah, he got away, yeah, you told Sirius and Lupin not to kill him, but that matters, buddy”?
Andrew: Well, you think about the fatherly angle. He’s talking to a child; he needs to be supportive here.
Melissa: I really think that it’s classic Dumbledore, where I think we can all agree, terrible person, fantastic character.
Melissa: So I think he cares about Harry, but I also think that he is always calculating. He’s always planning ahead. So I think that this is actually part of Dumbledore preparing Harry as a lamb for slaughter. I think he’s trying to… as a young man, he is realizing that he has to help build that confidence and character that Harry will eventually need in order to sacrifice himself as the last Horcrux.
Eric: Wow, that’s pretty deep.
Laura: I think also, this is an important contrast between Harry and Voldemort. Dumbledore has this conversation with Harry later in the series, but Harry is doing the exact opposite of what Voldemort would do in this moment, and that is what matters. That is the power that Harry has over Voldemort. It ties back into what Dumbledore says, the famous quote, “It is our choices that determine who we are, not how we were born,” or something to that effect. I think this is an early distinction being made between Harry and Voldemort as characters, which we know matters because the two of them end up having so much in common.
Eric: That’s a really good point.
Micah: Agreed. I will say, the one thing that I actually like about the Prisoner of Azkaban movie… and the movie has grown on me over the years, so I’m not completely crapping on it in this particular moment. What I did really enjoy about the movie was that it’s actually Lupin that delivers many of these lines to Harry, and I think to your question, Eric, they feel more authentic coming from Lupin than from Dumbledore, right? Because we know the relationship that Lupin and Sirius have. So when he says, “You helped uncover the truth, you saved an innocent man from a terrible fate,” he’s talking about one of his best friends in this moment. For Dumbledore to say it, it just seems a little bit out of place and out of character for him. In this moment. I’m not saying that Dumbledore doesn’t care about Harry – I think he does on some level – but he cares more about the greater good and his own objectives, as we see play out later on in the series. I’m just curious what you all think about that.
Eric: Yeah, well, I know that we have… so at the end of the next book, there’s this classic moment, this gleam of triumph that Dumbledore has, and it’s when he finds out that Voldemort used Harry’s blood to build his new body. But there’s not not that same kind of moment here when Dumbledore goes into it a little bit more, and you’re like, “Well, what do you mean that this was a good thing, Dumbledore?” And he tells Harry that “Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt… When one wizard saves another wizard’s life, it creates a certain bond between them… and I’m much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter… This is magic at its deepest, most impenetrable, Harry. But trust me… the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew’s life.” Dumbledore is spot on regarding this.
Micah: Because he’s God.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: He’s already seen this all play out.
Eric: Maybe, yeah. I think that the payoff to this line is botched a little; Pettigrew’s hand is weird enough, and then it’s a question whether or not there’s actually a calling in of the debt versus Pettigrew hesitating, or maybe because he hesitates and the hand kills him… Pettigrew’s death scene is when this pays off, and it’s all very weird to me; I’ll need to reread it. But as far as advice for the future, this is Dumbledore at his finest, in a way, because he is claiming to know stuff about magic that is deeper than pretty much anybody will ever know about magic. Dumbledore has gone further and is able to speak to magic, like the magic that involves love, but when we think about the protection on Privet Drive, that’s actually really the level of magic that Dumbledore is talking about here. The fact that there’s somebody in Harry’s family that’s able to… and that ends up concealing Harry for so, so long. So I guess nobody else is qualified to speak to how big a moment or how big a deal Harry’s sparing Peter was than Dumbledore. So it does make sense, I guess, that this comes from Dumbledore.
Micah: It does. I see it as a Pillsbury Doughboy moment where he’s like, “Oohoo, this is even better than I expected.”
Andrew: “Ooh, this is even better than I thought! This is all going according to plan.”
Micah: Yeah, Andrew does it better than I do.
Laura: That raises the question for me, and I know we bring this up every so often, but how much does Dumbledore know at this point about the connection between Harry and Voldemort? How much does he suspect? Is he already investigating Horcruxes? Does he already have an inkling of how this is going to play out?
Eric: Horcrux-wise, yes, because he tells Harry later that the diary was the first real proof that he had that Horcruxes had been made, so I think he’s onto the Horcrux thing. For me, this also speaks to… going back to the prophecy, which we’re going to talk about the prophecy later in the chapter, the other prophecy that Trelawney made, but the first one, knowing that Voldemort had a choice between two people and physically acted to mark Harry over Neville, and then watching the pieces fall into play… nobody else had ever survived the Killing Curse, but Harry does. This speaks to me to be that same level of… Dumbledore is just spotting the moments where something is going to be set up that’s paid off later. Because this life debt thing, Dumbledore is like, “You’ve sent Voldemort a servant that’s in your debt. That’s going to fail catastrophically.” I feel like that’s actually a really good educated guess that is reasonable if you’re familiar with how prophecies work. And knowing that eventually, Harry… we want him to triumph, and he’s going to get special skills that will allow him to triumph. This sounds like a very obvious way by which Harry will have an advantage over Voldemort. So thinking of it in terms of “We know there’s a prophecy here,” it also makes sense that Dumbledore would connect the dots and be like, “That’s a problem. Harry can’t go live with Sirius, and he’s not looking forward to going back to the Dursleys.” But Ron brings up the prospect of the Quidditch World Cup.
Andrew: I do like that little look ahead to Book 4.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, it’s a look ahead, and it also shows that even though Harry is feeling down in this chapter, the future is not all dread. That’s what I’m getting at with this whole overview, it’s like, every bad news, there’s still some good news here..
Andrew: It’s still the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
Eric: [laughs] Specifically down in Orlando, Florida. I think the needle really is threaded by the author of setting our mood because we’ve had such a profound disappointment. And because I fell so in love with Sirius Black when I first met him in reading this book the first time, I ultimately didn’t come away feeling so disappointed because there was this massaging of the bad moments with the good throughout this entire chapter. That feels like what’s happening is this massaging of the bad facts with some good facts.
Micah: Yeah, it’s like for every down moment, you’re uplifted very soon thereafter.
Eric: Yeah. So we’re looking forward to the Quidditch World Cup. Here’s another example: Ron doesn’t have a rat anymore, which could be lonely. It could be lonely for for Ron.
Andrew: Oh, yeah. Ron needs a pet.
Eric: For many, many years, Ron has had a pet. Well, guess what? This chapter solves that problem because Sirius Black sends a letter to the Hogwarts Express that reaches Harry and Ron, and at the end of it, he says, “Ron should have this owl seeing as how it’s my fault he doesn’t have a pet anymore.”
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: Which I thought was also an interesting move from the perspective of building a relationship with Harry, between Sirius and Harry.
Andrew: Because Sirius is gifting his BFF a meaningful animal. It’s just a very thoughtful gift.
Andrew: And you think about building relationships here in the horrible Muggle world, that means a lot. That means a lot if you’re thinking about somebody’s friends as well and trying to win them over. So this is actually winning Ron over in terms of that angle, too, Harry and Sirius being friends now.
Eric: That’s a great point.
Laura: And he also sent Harry a signed permission form for visiting Hogsmeade, so he’s just knocking it out of the park here as godfather.
Eric: Well, you know Ron isn’t expecting the gift. I think that’s what makes it especially… Ron doesn’t yet have that persecution process where it’s like, nobody ever thinks about Ron, “I’m just the sidekick,” whatever. That all happens next year. But he ultimately, nevertheless, is not expecting correspondence between Sirius and Harry to relate to him at all. And he’s given this wonderful gift; it’s genuinely thoughtful. Yes, it strategically serves him to give it, but I think it matters. I think it really does. Ron has already, I think, over the last chapter been coming to the realization that Sirius is a good person. I think he’s thankful that Scabbers has been exposed, because even though he resisted it, he’s glad to know and is repulsed by his own not having known for so long. But when he comes to in the hospital wing at the beginning of the chapter, the first thing he asks is, “Where’s Sirius? Where’s Lupin?” Sirius first? I think he’s already started to kind of… just in the way, Andrew, that you were saying that Sirius is thinking about how to get in with Harry and part of that is wooing his friend, I think Ron wants to get closer to Harry by feeling closer to Harry’s relations, if that makes sense. Doing that friend thing where you want to get to know your friend’s parents, so to speak, to get you in with them. I think Ron is already beginning to feel some of that almost semi-friend/family connection to Sirius. And the gift helps.
Micah: Let’s not forget, too… yeah, the gift in part because of what happened to Pettigrew, but he also broke his leg. Like, in fairness, “Sorry I broke your leg, dude. Have this owl,” as a thank you for it. Also, if I was Hermione I’d be kind of pissed. Like, without my Time-Turner. “You didn’t get me anything?”
Laura: [laughs] That’s right. “You wouldn’t have a soul right now if it weren’t for me.”
Eric: Maybe she thinks it’s even, because the Firebolt situation… because that also happens in this chapter. Sirius is like, in the letter, “By the way, it was me who got you the Firebolt,” and Hermione says, “Ha!” and she feels vindicated. Maybe that’s a gift. That’s the gift he gives. That’s the gift he gives Hermione, the peace of mind that she was right. And you know what, there’s no greater gift.
Melissa: I do also think, though, here you also get a full circle kind of healing moment for Ron and Hermione, in that Ron asks Crookshanks to basically verify that the owl is an owl. So I also think Hermione gets that in a form of a gift, just that her and Ron have come full circle, and they’re done with their little healing journey for this book.
Eric: I just got chills in that analysis. That’s awesome. So Hermione does get some good things.
Laura: Yeah. I did want to point out, just speaking of things coming full circle, doesn’t Ron pretty quickly start talking smack about Pig, his new owl, in the next book? So he’s back on his old you-know-what?
[Melissa and Micah laugh]
Eric: Complain about your pet? Yeah. It’s funny because everyone loves Pig, and I think Ron is feeling immediately almost quasi-threatened about it. The fact that he didn’t even get to name it himself, that other people are taking an interest, and it’s a little bit more enthusiastic than Scabbers was, so there’s this adjustment phase where Ron doesn’t know how to pet-parent him.
Laura: And he’s like, “Hey, this is my excitable owl that was gifted to me by an escaped madman.” [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, not anyone else’s pet. So there’s that. And we mentioned this, but the the last thing I have here is even though Harry is hurtling on a train back towards the Dursleys for a shitty partial summer, at least, his Hogsmeade permission slip has been signed. And not only do I think that this is the most heartwarming moment in the book, or the series… and it involves Sirius reading Dumbledore’s reaction, like, “Yeah, Dumbledore will go for this.” Because the official stance of the Ministry is still that Sirius is an escaped convict and no other person besides Dumbledore would actually accept this permission slip. But for me, it really shows Sirius’s emotional wholeness, to know how Harry feels about having been left out in that moment, and Harry’s own struggle with authorization from the Dursleys. I just think that this moment of including the permission slip in the letter is really good insight and proof that emotional intelligence does exist in Sirius Black. Those phrases are not always put next to each other. But I think that Sirius really understands Harry in a deep way, and this shows it.
Andrew: You mentioned it being very heartwarming, one of the most in the series, if not the most. I think we spoke earlier in the series about how as readers, we really wanted to see Harry get to go to Hogsmeade. We wanted him to have that experience because we wanted that type of experience, and he’s being left out. He’s being excluded, and everybody else gets to have all the fun. So for him, finally, to receive a permission slip that to the reader just makes a lot of sense… that is family giving him permission to go. It’s just so vindicating as a reader to because in a way you get to go to Hogsmeade as well.
Micah: It’s about us, at the end of the day. Not about Harry. [laughs]
Andrew: Sorry to be selfish…
Micah: No, it’s fair.
Andrew: I don’t know. As a reader, you put yourself in Harry’s shoes, right? That definitely… I agree with you, Eric, it is one of the most heartwarming moments and it’s one of those moments that sticks with you, I think. The first time I read it… I still remember that first time reading this part and being like, “Ooh!”
Micah: Yeah, it’s that uplift, right? We were talking about the different parts of this chapter. You get let down one moment, but then not long thereafter, you’re uplifted again. And I think this is really a full book moment, too, especially once we get to the end of the chapter and Harry gets off the train and he he throws Sirius into Vernon’s face. Let’s not forget, Vernon knows the name “Sirius Black.” He’s heard it on TV. He knows he’s an escaped convict; goes all the way back to the beginning of this book. And in the beginning of the book, it was the Dursleys who had the upper hand, right? Vernon, Petunia, Marge in particular. Now chapter 22, here we are. Harry has the upper hand going back home to Privet Drive because he can dangle Sirius above the Dursleys’ head.
Laura: And it’s bookended with those chapter titles, right? Chapter 1, it’s “Owl Post.” This chapter, it’s “Owl Post Again.”
Eric: Okay, so just getting into a much smaller portion of discussion for this chapter. There’s two things that come up that apparently Dumbledore did not know anything about, and would not have known anything about if it weren’t for the events of the last chapter and this one. And this is stunning to me. We always talk about Dumbledore being this master manipulator with hands in every pie, but Harry is the one that tells Dumbledore that Trelawney has made another prediction. And immediately by Harry’s description, he knows that it’s authentic because Dumbledore knows. But the only one that can tell Dumbledore that this happened is Harry because they were alone together, so that’s why Dumbledore didn’t know. However, it’s just really interesting that this bit of information catches Dumbledore like… it is the Pillsbury moment. He’s like, “Oh, another! Oohoo!”
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: Another prediction to deal with? What? And I wonder if he then is going to go interview Trelawney or try and figure out more detail about what it was.
Melissa: I was actually just thinking about this, that something that would be interesting is like, does Dumbledore secretly extract this memory out of Harry so that it can then go to the Hall of prophecies? Or does he just rely on Harry’s memory of it?
Eric: Yeah, because he doesn’t ask for it word for word. He actually plays it really chill. Dumbledore is just like, “Oh, I do believe that was the second real prophecy she’s ever made. Haha, perhaps I should give her a raise. Haha.”
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: But you know he’s doing further investigation. You know he’s gotta… I mean, I thought it was one of the Unspeakables that’s recording the prophecy, like somebody is standing by at the Hall of Prophecy with a radio transmitter and it’s just transcribing all the… that’s what I always imagined it was, because you can’t get it from Sybill. She doesn’t remember doing it. So how is that prophecy then officially recorded? I don’t know.
Andrew: Does Dumbledore have the school mic’d up? That wouldn’t surprise me.
Laura: Well, I don’t think this prophecy does get recorded. I don’t think we ever get any information one way or the other.
Melissa: No, we definitely don’t.
Micah: Right. You would think Fudge would act on it. Or you would think Fudge would be more likely to side with Dumbledore if this prophecy was actually recorded, right?
Eric: Well, there’s no option that it wasn’t recorded, right? It’s just deep in the bowels of the Hall of Prophecy? My understanding of how that works, again, is like a transcript. But an Unspeakable by definition is not going to be taking that to the Minister of Magic going, “This prophecy was received today.”
Micah: But it’s curious then why Dumbledore didn’t use it to try and influence Fudge.
Melissa: Well, couldn’t you argue that Fudge could think that the servant returning to Voldemort is Sirius?
Micah: That’s fair.
Eric: Yeah, because it’s deliberately written to be either of them. Because back when we first hear it, we think it means Sirius.
Micah: But even then, though, it’s still implying that Voldemort will return. So you have Fudge who is ignorant and not believing that… so I guess the piece of it that Fudge would ignore is that Voldemort is going to come back.
Laura: Now I’m just wondering how the heck do prophecies get recorded at all?
Laura: How does that happen? Does that get explained in Order of the Phoenix?
Andrew: Well, Eric said they just kind of go to the Hall of Prophecies, right? And that’s my recollection of how it works.
Eric: It’s weird because there’s… that’s a future plot hole for Book 5 discussion.
[Laura and Melissa laugh]
Eric: But really, the really authentic ones get a prophecy container put to them, but how do you know if it’s authentic? Because there’s thousands and hundreds of thousands, so they don’t all come true. So they have to be real enough to warrant an orb, but they still might not then all come true, I guess is the difference.
Laura: Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t like this idea that there’s some nebulous force that records and extracts prophecies in the moment that they’re made, because to your point, Eric, then there’s no vetting system.
Eric: Well, the alternative is that somebody has to report it.
Melissa: I was just going to say, I wonder if it’s the same magic that makes Remembralls work. It’s a little orb, it has a memory or something stored in it, and I wonder if we knew more about how that worked if we’d be able to decipher how prophecies are stored.
Eric: If a single human is involved in the process of recording the prophecy, there will be human error, and it wouldn’t work, so it has to be this ethereal thing. Regardless, Dumbledore would not know about this second prophecy if Harry didn’t directly tell him in this chapter, so that to me is really interesting. And I think that although Dumbledore jokes about giving Trelawney a raise, if I were Dumbledore, I would actually be really excited to know, first of all, that Trelawney can still do it, that she still… there’s a reason… this for anything is the payoff.
Micah: She’s still got it.
Eric: She’s still got it, baby!
Micah: After all these years.
Andrew: [imitates Trelaney] “I still got it! Ahh!”
Eric: This justifies him keeping her on for the last 13…
Andrew: [laughs] “You earned your keep, girl. Good work.”
Micah: Well, along those lines, I was wondering, do we think that as a seer, Trelawney is – and this may not be the right term – deep linked to Harry and Voldemort? Because she often gets made fun of for being a fraud, but she clearly has the gift of prophecy. So perhaps through magic or some other means, Harry and Voldemort are the only ones that can trigger her.
Eric: That’s an interesting thought.
Melissa: Ooh, I love that.
Eric: So she’s gifted in the art of prophecy, but only as it pertains to one very narrow subject.
Melissa: Is that just some level of proximity where she’s nearby them?
Eric: She’s the closest seer.
Melissa: Dumbledore is very invested in this.
Eric: Yeah, 100%. The other thing that Dumbledore has learned, that apparently he really actually didn’t know, was that the Marauders were Animagi. And that is something that he finds out from talking with Sirius and later, I assume, Lupin to some degree. Because we talked about how permissive Dumbledore is to Harry exploring the castle, I would have thought he would have actually been fine with the Marauders galavanting around, even putting people in human danger from Lupin, if he had known about it. But the line in the book really is that he didn’t, and he tells Harry that he really didn’t, and I believe him when he says it. So that’s something… I mean, the way he says it to Harry is “The most impressive part about all of this is that they kept it from me.” And I find that to be like, good on you, Marauders.
Laura: Yeah, I find it curious, given the fact that the Marauders were not exactly discreet about any of this when they were in school. I mean, they literally assigned themselves nicknames that were reflective of their animal forms. And I think it’s just such an interesting observation about Dumbledore that he is so good at seeing through people and picking up on these, I think to Dumbledore, otherwise very obvious red flags that other people don’t see. Tom Riddle is a perfect prime example of this. But it seems like he just may not be paying as close attention if the key players aren’t “baddies.”
Eric: Well, and even Voldemort, he allows Tom Riddle to rise to the occasion of being awful and evil, and that demonstrates some level of failure somewhere down further along the line. But yeah, when you were saying that, Laura, I thought, “Dumbledore is a human Mirror of Erised.” He knows what the desires are of pretty much everybody near him and is constantly using that info to manipulate them. But yeah, he still has blind spots.
Laura: Yeah. I love that comparison of Dumbledore being a human Mirror of Erised.
Micah: I don’t think Dumbledore could have known, if we’re following the story, because let’s not forget, he would have then been fully responsible for Lupin being out on the grounds as a werewolf. And he was taking every measure to protect the other students by creating the Shrieking Shack, by putting the Whomping Willow in place, right? So if he was aware of the Marauders doing what they were doing, and that they were all Animagi, that would call into question his ability as headmaster, right?
Laura: We call those to question every episode.
Micah: But Andrew shared that note we got on Slack, and now I’m trying to be a little bit nicer to Dumbledore.
Andrew: You know, I appreciate that. I received a text message from somebody who listens to the show, his name is Lucas, and he’s been concerned about this before. Should I read it real quick?
Andrew: He said to me, “I would love for the rest of the panel to be challenged at some point to actually like Dumbledore again. I can’t take all the Dumble-hate, he’s my favorite and they take all the fun and whimsy out of him. I know everyone is analyzing this Chapter by Chapter with a more adult perspective this time around, but sometimes it seems like they hate Dumbledore more than Voldemort at this point!”
Micah: Well, Voldemort hasn’t been here enough.
Eric: Yeah, that’s a good point. You know what we’re going to do? At the beginning of next book, starting Chapter 1 of Book 4, we’re going to start a Voldemort sucks count.
Eric: Every time Voldemort sucks, we’re going to count it, and every time Voldemort lies, we’re going to count it. And I bet by the end of the next book, Voldemort will have lied more than Dumbledore did the whole series, and if we implement that count, it will prove to listeners once and for all we like Dumbledore.
Eric: Just like Melissa said, sucky person, fantastic character. We all love Dumbledore! I don’t know what this person is talking about.
Andrew: Well, I think you guys have kind of snowballed into…
Eric: “You guys.” Not Andrew.
Andrew: You people… no, I think… so Dumbledore is not perfect, obviously. But I think you guys have maybe turned it into sort of a running joke, but I’m not sure it’s a joke.
Micah: None of the characters are perfect, right? That’s the beauty of this.
Andrew: Right, I mean, how many times do I need to quote Hannah Montana? Nobody’s perfect. This is one of the greatest lessons I learned from her.
Micah: Except you. You’re perfect.
Eric: We don’t have a Seamus lie count or a Nearly Headless Nick sucks count.
Laura: Well, yeah, they’re not they’re not on screen enough.
Eric: That’s what I’m saying about restitution. We really will do a Voldemort sucks count, and I think it’ll prevent some of these emails from being sent of like, we’re all hating on Dumbledore and nobody else.
Melissa: We know Dumbledore on a more personal level. All things considered, we don’t get a lot of face time with Voldemort and his actual thoughts. We always get perceptions of his thoughts and perceptions of his actions. So I think we also have the ability to be more scrutinies with Dumbledore because we see him more, and we see him as more of a person and not a villain, if that makes sense.
Laura: Yeah, and I think part of it, too… and I accept the feedback. I think it’s really valid. At the end of the day, Dumbledore is a very complicated character, and that’s one of the things that I actually love the most about him. I feel the same way about Snape, right? Snape is one of my favorite characters, not because I think he’s a great guy, but he’s extremely well written and very complicated, and I would say the same for Dumbledore. I think when we’re doing these Chapter by Chapter rereads, we’re also doing it through the lens that we know what’s coming later in the series. And as a first-time reader of these books, you are under the impression that Dumbledore is this kind of perfect, godlike, all-knowing character. And then the facade starts to be dismantled the further you get into the series, and you learn that Dumbledore is just human, just like anyone else. I think a well-intentioned human, someone who at the end of the day got things right, largely, but there are a lot of imperfections. And I think it’s a really interesting point of conversation to look at those, given the stature that Dumbledore has in the wizarding world, especially if we’re comparing and contrasting him with figures like Grindelwald like Voldemort, who are equally matched in terms of magical ability, but on completely different moral pages.
Laura: It goes back to our choices.
Eric: It would be wrong for us to wait until Book 7 when Book 7 actively questions Dumbledore and his whole ability and his meaning and all that, for us to be doing that. That would be way too late in the game because I think these moments exist in the earlier books for us to pick up on and question and get into detail with, because this story… Dumbledore has been Dumbledore and the author has been writing Dumbledore the same exact way since Book 1 with his sort of “Will I tell him, will I not tell him” kind of attitude, and so it’s perfectly ripe for our discussion to be doing this.
Laura: Yeah, but I will say I think Lucas does raise a good point. There are a lot of really fun Dumbledore moments and maybe it’s time for us to start… Andrew is like, squinting right now. Andrew, you’re the Dumbledore apologist.
Andrew: No, keep going, keep going, keep going.
Micah: He’s noting all of the nice things.
Laura: I think that there probably are more opportunities to observe those fun, whimsical moments.
Micah: We just did, in this chapter.
Eric: Okay, we’re starting a “Dumbledore is fun” count.
Micah: I mean, let’s not forget, I know we’re going to get to Odds & Ends, but one of the Odds & Ends that comes out of this conversation is we learn about Harry’s Patronus actually taking the form of Prongs before we even see it in the last chapter, because it happens during the Quidditch match and we’re not told in the moment that it took the form of a stag. And Dumbledore has this really powerful quote where he says, “Prongs rode again last night.” That’s the Dumbledore that we all love, right? There’s a Dumbledore that we grow not to love.
Andrew: Right, that we all love.
Micah: Yes, there you go.
Andrew: Well, thank you.
Micah: No problem.
Andrew: Thank you, panel, for indulging me and Lucas and I’m sure many others.
Odds & Ends
Eric: All right, it’s time for Odds & Ends. Real fun moment here is once the news about Lupin comes out, there’s kind of a pool going as far as who their next DADA professor will be. I think it’s Seamus Finnigan who jokes, “What if it’s a vampire?” The idea that the kids are picking up on Hogwarts being a security nightmare is always very funny and entertaining. They’re like, “What dangerous person could they possibly ascribe to us next?” It’s just a very fun moment. But they’re not wrong, in a way. I mean, I think an ex-Auror is pretty much as badass as you can get, to be honest, about the stakes getting higher every book.
Micah: There’s also a brief moment where Percy gives Ministry vibes and he talks about what he would do once he works for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and I just think that that’s comical given where he ends up in the not too distant future.
Eric: That’s a good point. And this one is from Meg: Harry sitting down by the water and lamenting that he doesn’t get to go and live with Sirius apparently is reflective of a moment at Order of the Phoenix where Harry sits by the lake after Sirius has died and reflects on the fact that he doesn’t have Sirius anymore.
Laura: Oh, what a great catch.
Eric: So very, very sad but incredible connection.
Laura: Great catch, Meg.
Melissa: I know something that stands out to me is, this is one of those times where we got a moment that doesn’t necessarily make sense until Book 7 – similar to the gleam of triumph that Dumbledore gets – is that we’re watching Dumbledore through Harry learning about this prophecy, and that Dumbledore is starting to realize that we’re getting closer and closer and closer to Voldemort coming back.
Eric: That is interesting.
MVP of the Week
Andrew: All right, well, this has been a great discussion and it’s time for MVP of the week.
[MVP of the Week music plays]
Andrew: I’m going to give it to Harry, specifically for telling Vernon he has a godfather who is a convicted murderer who escaped from prison just to troll him. Very good.
Eric: I’m going to give it to Snape, who tells people that you cannot Apparate or Disapparate in Hogwarts. He sounds a little bit like Hermione when he does it. But that means that Snape has read Hogwarts: A History.
Micah: It also shows you how much Fudge doesn’t know.
Micah: I’m going to give it to Santa Sirius, just throwing gifts all around this chapter from the Hogsmeade permission slip to Pigwidgeon to, as you said, Andrew, giving Harry something to hang over Uncle Vernon’s head for the entire summer. And also mentioning the fact that he sent Harry the Firebolt back in the earlier part of the year. So Santa Sirius gets my MVP.
Laura: I’m going to give mine to Hermione because punctuality has its perks, including not messing up the timeline.
Melissa: And I’m giving it to Remus because he managed to wander the Hogwarts grounds as a werewolf without eating anything or anyone.
[MVP of the Week music ends]
Andrew: I was also thinking earlier, to Laura’s MVP choice, that maybe Hermione was just so satisfied that the year worked out with the Time-Turner that she didn’t need any other gifts. She was personally fulfilled just pulling off the Time-Turner stuff so well.
Micah: Okay, Andrew.
Micah: If you were sitting in the train car, right, and you see Harry get the letter, the truth about the Firebolt, you see Ron get a new pet, aren’t you going to feel a little left out?
Andrew: Okay, but I just pulled off a sweet Time-Turner…
Micah: Or is it just the satisfaction of knowing that you gave Sirius his freedom?
Andrew: Oh, well, no, there’s that, but I’m also just so relieved that the whole Time-Turner situation worked out. Like, “Phew, thank God that’s all over!” I don’t know, that feels like a good gift to me.
Micah: I don’t know, I feel like if we were talking after this happened and you had experienced that, you would feel a little left out. Like if I gave presents to everyone on the panel here for the holidays, and I didn’t give you a present, you would feel left out.
Andrew: Yes, but if I also just felt like I pulled off a sweet holiday season, I was personally fulfilled in other ways…
Micah: Or that our friendship is enough? Is that it?
Andrew: Maybe that gift… If you have any feedback about this debate or anything else in today’s episode…
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Andrew: … send an owl to MuggleCast@gmail.com or you can use the contact form on MuggleCast.com. To send a voice message, record it using the Voice Memo app on your phone and then email us that file, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. So next week we’ll have a Muggle Mail episode, and any other POA wrap-up we want to do if we’re going to continue this heated debate that Micah and I were just having. And then the week after will be the previously announced Goblet of Fire movie commentary, and then the week after, Goblet of Fire Chapter by Chapter will begin.
Eric: With our Voldemort Sucks count.
Andrew: [laughs] With our Voldemort Sucks count.
Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch.
[Quizzitch music plays]
Eric: Last week’s question: At the end of term, who arrives to see Lupin after Harry does? The correct answer is Professor Dumbledore, or as one person put it, that well-known liar Dumbledore. Correct answers… we actually got Rick-rolled this week. Somebody sent a YouTube link in their name form to “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Eric: This is getting really out of hand now, if I’m having to click from an Excel doc to go into a YouTube link, so toned it down, y’all.
Laura: No, don’t.
Andrew: Peace and love, peace and love.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Laura: I love it. Keep it coming.
[Quizzitch music ends]
Eric: Correct answers were submitted by Buff Daddy; Bagels for Buckbeak; Crookshanks supremacy; Drunk Hagrid; Dan the 33-almost-34-year-old – love people are putting their names in here – Luke the 12-year-old, yes, it’s my birthday – happy birthday, Luke!
Laura: Aww, happy birthday!
Eric: That’s crazy, when your your Quizzitch submission people turn a year older in their names. Jenny Penny Landon, age 37; Mrs. Snape; The software update you have to install before you play Hogwarts Legacy; The Fat Lady deserves an MVP for taking Sirius’s abuse; Will.i.am; Your favorite Slytherin Grace; and Snape’s chance at beautiful glory crushed, ground into dust, the bitter taste still in his mouth. Wow.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Eric: Congratulations to all of you who’ve done that and more. And here is next week’s Quizzitch question.
[Quizzitch music plays]
Eric: Who gives Pigwigeon his name? Submit your answer to us on the Quizzitch form, MuggleCast.com/Quizzitch, or click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.
[Quizzitch music ends]
Eric: Also, fun fact about Pigwidgeon: did not appear in the Goblet of Fire movie, but was cast and a promotional photo does exist, I found, of Rupert Grint holding this tiny little owl. And I put it in our show document for those who are able to view that live, but it’s really adorable.
Andrew: Melissa, it was great having you on the show today. Thanks so much.
Melissa: Thank you guys for having me so much.
Andrew: You’re so welcome. Your contributions were awesome, and we really appreciate your support on Patreon. And we’ll keep an eye out for more UK editions and we’ll continue putting U’s in words that we normally don’t in your honor.
[Andrew and Melissa laugh]
Melissa: I appreciate that very much.
Andrew: If you want the opportunity to be a co-host on MuggleCast like Melissa was today, you can join our Patreon, Patreon.com/MuggleCast, and become a Slug Club level patron. And you get lots of other benefits, too, including access to our live streams, ad-free MuggleCast, the monthly Slug Club hangouts that we do, a new physical gift every year – beanies will be going out soon, BTW – and so much more. Oh, well Melissa, you’re up in Canada so you’re probably going to appreciate the beanie, right?
Melissa: Absolutely, never have enough. But it’s called a toque.
Andrew: A togue?!
Eric: Like, “Fool of a Took”?
Melissa: Toque, spelled T-O-Q-U-E.
Eric: Spelling is weird in Canada, y’all.
Melissa: We borrow from the French and the British.
Laura: We don’t get to make those statements, Eric, because we’re the ones who made changes to the way we spell when we separated from the British. We were like, “We’re going to take all the U’s out, we’re going to drive on the other side of the road, we’re just going to do it completely differently.”
Eric: You’re right, Laura, I retract my earlier statement. We have no jambe to stand on, which is French for leg.
[Laura and Melissa laugh]
Andrew: Well, Melissa, look forward to your MuggleCast toque coming in another month-ish, let’s say, just in time for fall and winter. If you don’t want to support us on Patreon, we do have a couple other options. You can support us on Apple Podcast financially. For $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 there, we do really appreciate that. You can also tap into the Patreon banner from Spotify if you’re a Spotify user instead. Don’t forget to fill out the survey, check out our show notes and our social media channels for a link to that. We really appreciate your feedback. Don’t forget to fill out the form for the MuggleCast Collector’s Club. There’s always stuff happening here at MuggleCast. It’s like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And last but not least, do follow us on social media. We’re @MuggleCast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Threads, where we cover occasionally connecting the threads. We will be recording a bonus MuggleCast as well for Patreon supporters this week, so be sure to enjoy that once it comes out. And I think that about does it, so thanks everybody for listening. I’m Andrew.
Eric: I’m Eric.
Micah: I’m Micah.
Laura: I’m Laura.
Melissa: And I’m Melissa.
Andrew: Bye, everybody.
Laura: Bye, y’all.