MuggleCast 632 Transcript
Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #632, The Benefits of Electric Fireplaces (GOF Chapter 4, Back to the Burrow)
[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: Unblock your fireplace; Chapter by Chapter is coming floo. Whoa, what word play, Eric.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Eric: Thanks, Andrew.
Micah: Can we make that the seven-word summary?
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: Somehow, someway?
Andrew: This week we’re discussing Chapter 4, “Back to the Burrow.” But first, a couple of quick reminders. Micah, Quizzitch Live is coming up.
Micah: Yeah, Quizzitch Live is coming later on this week, next Saturday, October 28, 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. I know we’re all very excited to be bringing this back. This is something we all enjoy, doing our best Alex Trebek, Ken Jennings, Mayim Bialik impressions. Impersonations, I should say. It’s something that during the pandemic was, I think, important for us and important for our listeners. We really enjoy doing it; we enjoy giving away prizes. So this edition, I know we’ve talked about it on previous episodes, it’s going to be a little bit Halloween-themed with the wizarding world candy and with James and Lily, but the main focus of it is on OWLs. Charms, Potions, Transfiguration, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Do not study anything other than those subjects. Don’t waste your time because there’s not going to be any questions on other subjects, just those. And shout-out to Nicole H. for coming up with the questions. She’s a longtime listener of the show going all the way back to 2005.
Andrew: And there’s also going to be the wizarding world candy in the James and Lily category, so maybe study up there, too, if you want. But yeah, this is always a lot of fun. We’ll have more info posted on social media so you can tune in live and participate.
Eric: Do you guys remember HQ? How everyone would tune in for that? It was so… this is that level of interactivity and fun, except you’re part of our group when you can go live. And when you’re listening at home later, you can still have all the fun that we’re having talking about Harry Potter. It’s just always a good time.
Andrew: And in our version of live trivia, you’ll win more than a nickel if you actually win the game.
Eric: I don’t think I ever won a nickel.
Andrew: So yeah, stay tuned for that. Also, just a reminder, visit MuggleCast.com for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And visit Patreon.com/MuggleCast if you want to support the show and receive early access to the show, ad-free episodes, bonus episodes, yearly physical gifts, and much more. Actually, speaking of bonus episodes, we’re doing two a month, and we’re recording two right after this episode. Eric first, what’s on tap from you?
Eric: Well, Andrew, we have each received a prestigious invitation for a Halloween ball at Malfoy Manor. It’s been 19 years since the events of Book 7, so don’t worry, the place is kind of chill.
Eric: And we’re going to be designing our own wizarding world Halloween costumes, but we’re using magic because we’re all witches and wizards. So the sky is the limit. We’re each going to pick a cool outfit. And we’ll be hearing from patrons, also, who had the same prompt.
Andrew: And then Laura, you’re bringing back a bonus MuggleCast that we did a few weeks ago. We had so much fun with it, so we’re doing another installment.
Laura: Yeah, we’re doing a second installment of Harry Potter headcanons where we propose some of our favorite interpretations of what might have been going on behind the scenes, maybe not on the page from Harry’s perspective, but ultimately, things that don’t break canon but that still add depth to the story. This ended up being a really popular installment of bonus MuggleCast when we did it, so we decided, let’s do a second edition. And who knows? Maybe this will be a recurring theme.
Andrew: It should be, because the sky’s the limit with this segment, I think. So those will both be available at Patreon.com/MuggleCast in the next couple of weeks. You can listen to all of our bonus audio content and ad-free MuggleCast and early access to MuggleCast through your favorite podcast apps, by the way. There’s just this one time setup after you pledge on Patreon.
Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary
Andrew: All right, with that, let’s get to Chapter by Chapter, and this week we’re discussing Chapter 4 of Goblet of Fire, “Back to the Burrow,” and we’ll start with our seven-word summary.
[Seven-Word Summary music plays]
Eric: … attempts…
Micah: … to…
Laura: … help…
Eric: … with…
Micah: … Dudley’s…
Andrew: … tongue.
Laura: Hey, we did it.
[Seven-Word Summary music ends]
Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion
Eric: Last week we did two chapters in a row because they were short and to the point. This one is also short and to the point, but I thought it was worth saving this episode for just this chapter, because I wanted to detail out all of the egregious offenses that the Weasleys visit upon the Dursleys. And there are so many things I think that we’re going to be discussing about how this whole situation need not have happened and was needlessly cruel to everyone’s favorite nicest Muggles in the world, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley.
Andrew: And Eric tends to be a pretty big Weasley fanboy, so for him to come out with this list of offenses, I think, is pretty shocking.
Micah: Just Ginny.
Andrew: Well, yeah.
Eric: Yes, Ginny is spared from this criticism. The first offense I want to talk about is not just sending a single delegate. So we’re trying to get Harry to the Burrow, and he’s going to have a great extra two weeks in the wizarding world from what he normally would because they have the Quidditch World Cup. So why is it that Arthur, Ron, Fred, and George all need to come? When it’s just a simple… somebody could come through, give him some Floo Powder, “Harry, come with us.” The Dursleys are just three people. They’re already apprehensive about magic; everyone knows it. Why would there be more than two Weasleys coming to get Harry? And we know in the next chapter Fred and George force their way in, but it shouldn’t even be the kids. Ron already knows what Harry looks like; there’s no point for Ron to be there. Arthur should have brought Molly. Sending the parents would have been the formal thing to do. Remember the chapter “The Invitation”?
Micah: The proper thing.
Eric: The proper thing! The proper thing, especially if they’re trying to make a good impression on these people who are predisposed to dislike wizards.
Andrew: Right, I mean, that’s the key factor there, that they are already very hesitant to be around wizards. They are repulsed by them, it stresses them out, they’re afraid they’re going to attack. So Arthur needs to get control of his kids – see Fred and George…
Andrew: … and not let them go, because he probably sensed this too. He shouldn’t bring a bigger group to pick up Harry.
Micah: It does make sense to me, though, that Ron is there, because he’s Harry’s friend. So naturally, Arthur would take Ron along with him. Fred and George, however, saw an opportunity to create a little bit of havoc, and I think they pounced on that opportunity and decided to come along with Arthur in this case.
Andrew: Or why not just…? Okay, so it’s Ron, Arthur, and Molly, and Arthur and Molly wait on the roof and Ron goes down the chimney by himself, or just knocks on the door, which will…
Laura: Like he’s Santa Claus or something?
Laura: That’s not how the Floo network works.
Andrew: Arthur and Molly are the reindeer. I’m just trying to think of a less intrusive way for them to get through while still using the chimney.
Micah: Oh, there’s some AI. I’ll work on that for you, Andrew.
Andrew: [sings] Molly, the red-haired reindeer…
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: Wow, that’s really good.
Micah: Well, we’re two months early for this, but okay.
Laura: I don’t know if this would have gone any better if Arthur had brought Molly. Certainly from the perspective of nobody dropping magic candy on the ground for Dudley to get, right? But I feel like Molly, if anything, is even less knowledgeable about Muggle culture, and could have potentially contributed to things getting more awkward between all of them. I don’t know. I mean, the fact that she even refers in her letter to Harry needing to send his response back the “normal” way… I just think about what her filter would have been in front of the Dursleys, and I don’t know that she would have had one. I think Arthur at least tries.
Eric: That’s true. When Arthur defends, kind of makes Vernon say goodbye to the boy, Molly wouldn’t have let that sit. She would have gone further than that with them.
Micah: It’s also important to remember, though, that Arthur has experience with Muggles, as opposed to Molly, going off what you’re saying, Laura. So Arthur may know how to read the room a little bit better – not totally because things get out of control – but it also raises a question that I had a little bit later on, but why would the Weasleys not let Harry know how they were going to show up?
Micah: That seems like a big miss that causes a lot of chaos when they decide to pop through the fireplace.
Eric: Yeah, you’re exactly right about that.
Laura: Yeah, they probably just, again, assumed that Harry would know how they were going to arrive. Because he’s been in the wizarding world; he’s familiar with their forms of travel. But what they’re not accounting for is that Harry spent the first 11 years of his life thinking he was a Muggle, right? So I imagine when he goes back to the Dursleys, there’s a different part of his brain that is on. It’s his Muggle brain because he knows he’s there, he can’t use magic, things are not going to be like they are in the other world where he spends 90% of his time. And because the Weasleys have no frame of reference for that, they don’t even think to bring it up to him.
Andrew: And I mean, a theory we go back to time and time again is that wizards just love chaos.
Andrew: Harry says it himself about Hogwarts a chapter or two ago.
Eric: “Wizards.” We mean Dumbledore, but yes, wizards.
Andrew: Well, just everybody doesn’t seem to mind. Nobody seems to mind the chaos if you’re a wizard.
Micah: Dumbledore is totally watching from outside the window. That’s my headcanon.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: He’s just had tea with Mrs. Figg. Yeah, we’ll put that in the bonus. Yeah, the second offense I want to talk about – and this leans a little bit more toward Fred and George – but I think in general, being insensitive to Dudley’s trauma. Dudley has trauma. Dudley in this chapter is shown multiple times to be grabbing his own backside, rubbing his backside. He remembers, as it turns out, this time when he had a pig’s tail when Hagrid tried to turn him into a whole pig and it failed. In fact, this book actually talks about how the Dursleys had to go to a private hospital to have that tail removed. Look, Dudley does not, and for good reason, have a liking for wizards. He doesn’t feel safe around them; look at what happened last time for no reason. So it’s just unfortunate that the Weasleys would show up and use so much magic. They’re capable of Muggle transit, they drove a car to the Burrow last time… they flew a car. But just using magic, arriving by magic… I know they can’t predict the fireplace will be boarded up, but I think that there was a better way to more calmly… I mean, again, everything everyone knows about the Dursleys is they don’t like magic. Try and arrive in a more normal way. That’s why the invitation was sent through the post and not by owl, because they already knew enough to know the Dursleys don’t like magic. So showing up using all this magic, not to mention what Fred and George do to Dudley on purpose, is very insensitive to Dudley’s trauma.
Micah: Can we just talk… you mentioned the fireplace. You mentioned trauma. Just wanted to bring up the fact that, as you alluded to, it is boarded up. So there’s an additional layer of some kind of trauma that exists here on the part of Vernon and Petunia because they have assumingly not let their fireplace operate as a normal fireplace since Sorcerer’s Stone. They have an electric one in front of it. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, you’re right. That’s a sign of trauma. They don’t feel safe in their own home while their fireplace remains un-boarded.
Andrew: There’s many good reasons to have an electric fireplace, though. No smoke, energy efficient, save money, low maintenance, anyone can enjoy an electric fireplace.
Micah: Are you reading that?
Eric: Andrew, who are our sponsors this week?
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Andrew: I googled benefits of electric fireplace. [laughs] Besides blocking wizards.
Eric: Oh, yeah. Well, that’s a bonus for the Dursleys if they were trying to…
Micah: Sorry, I didn’t mean to throw off your question.
Andrew: Well, to get back to it, I read this chapter and really thought Dudley is a victim in this chapter, and has been a victim before. He shouldn’t have gotten that tail; that was unfair. And his parents are the ones that are enabling his bad behavior. He didn’t need to be raised this way. So I just I feel bad for Dudley in this chapter.
Laura: Yeah, his parents definitely set him up for failure. An interesting interpretation I had of this, though – it’s not to say that Dudley isn’t traumatized or that this wasn’t horrible for him – but just zooming out and thinking about the total landscape, the Weasleys don’t know about the pig tail from three years ago. Again, that doesn’t justify anything, but it’s knowledge that they don’t have, I believe. And I do read this through the lens of culture shock, in a way, because I think we’ve all probably experienced this at one point or another, whether we were in another country or otherwise immersed in another culture. Things that may seem obvious to all of us based on our cultural understanding may be the complete opposite if you step into someone else’s home, and I think that’s what’s happening here. I didn’t have this interpretation originally reading the book, I think, because they’re all British, so to an extent, I wasn’t thinking about the idea of culture shock. But them being British is almost secondary to them being wizards versus them being Muggles, which I think is just a really interesting read on the situation. Because you can see the Dursleys, for all of their flaws, they are trying to put their best foot forward in the only way they know how. Arthur is trying to put his best foot forward in the only way he knows how, and it’s just not working.
Eric: I think it’s clear that Fred and George do tip the scale into disaster from slight discomfort.
Eric: So there is at least that, where you’re right, they’re putting their best feet forward. I’ll also say it’s a really great point of this didn’t necessarily come across when we were younger and reading this; it does just seem like culture… now I’m like, “Oh my God, the Weasleys are awful.” [laughs]
Andrew: I had this thought too. Well, especially when it comes to just how Fred and George treated Dudley. As a kid, you read this and you’re like, “Haha, prank.” And that’s the type of thing you see in school maybe, and you don’t think about how that would actually affect the person who the prank is being played on. But now you read it as an adult, and with hindsight and getting older, you’re like, “Whoa, that was actually really, really, really mean.” And as a kid, it’s entertaining. As an adult, it’s disturbing.
Micah: You could make the same point, too, about Sorcerer’s Stone and what Hagrid does. We look past it because Dudley is getting into Harry’s birthday cake, and so, oh, let’s punish Dudley for just wanting to do what he’s always done because his parents have enabled him in that way. But really, you could look at Dudley as being a victim in that chapter as well. Both Dudley and Harry are victims of the Dursleys in very different ways. And Dudley gets his fair share, whether it’s Book 1, it’s in this book, it’s in the next book with the Dementors… he does take quite a beating physically and emotionally in this series.
Eric: That’s a great point. And viewing this through the lens of culture shock, when I think of culture shock, I think of, like, you go to that friend’s house and you’re asked to take your shoes off, right? And you’re like, “Oh, but I wear shoes all around my house,” which is disgusting; you should never do it.
Eric: But you know how that was a big thing. I feel like it came in vogue, or it’s like, “Wait, what? Take my shoes off out front?” It’s like the difference between when they arrive and the fireplace is boarded up; Mr. Weasley is just like, “Wait a minute, why? Who would board up…? What? How does that…?” And you’re right, it’s not really necessarily even a normal response to what happened, because I love this note in the doc. Why didn’t they board up the windows? Why didn’t they…? The letters were coming in the eggs.
Andrew: Yeah, where does it end?
Micah: But because the fireplace is boarded up, that leads to that additional level of culture shock, to your point, Laura, because he has to essentially blow open the fireplace, get the living room completely dirty. He’s got to reset a fire in the hearth for them to be able to get back. So all these things happen as if the Dursleys had just not chosen to board up the fireplace because of their own biases initially. Arthur would have probably made a little bit of a different entrance. It still would have been culture shock, but I don’t know if it would have been as intense.
Laura: Yeah. Well, because to Arthur and to a wizard, they think about making a huge mess like that; it’s not a big deal, because you can just use magic to clean it up real quick. But that’s not a reality for a Muggle, right? Petunia is looking at that being like, “Oh my God, I have to clean all of this up.”
Eric: Yeah, she’s thinking of the physical labor that she’s going to… yeah. And it’s little white dust. If anyone’s ever damaged their wall, that dust goes everywhere. I don’t even think a Reparo can get it all. So this third offense – by the way, there are five – Andrew agrees with me. It’s showing up late af, okay? The Dursleys, try as they might to be as ready as they can, are ready to receive the Weasleys at 4:45 for a 5:00 appointment. They’re dressed nicely, the house is pristine, Harry’s stuff has been packed up since noon. And yet, it isn’t until 5:30, 45 minutes after they’re ready…
Eric: … 5:30 that the commotion behind the fireplace starts, so I think it is safe to say that the Weasleys were not on time. This is an egregious offense against everyone. And they really had one shot at this and they blew it.
Andrew: I hate when people are late. And I think we need to ask ourselves, are the Weasleys the type of people who are perpetually late to things? I don’t think there’s a ton to suggest this in the text. But maybe they are, and it wouldn’t surprise me with such a big family. There’s a lot of people to get ready, a lot of fires to be putting out throughout the day.
Eric: And yet, magic helps. A Portkey is timed, you have a timed window, so you can’t possibly be late or you’ll miss the Portkey. In fact, I think that’s the whole thing a few chapters from now. So they’re probably not always late. Look, I get it; when they arrive behind the fireplace, it wasn’t expected that it was blocked, but they didn’t spend 30 minutes stuck behind the fireplace or they would have heard them sooner. They were late. They just showed up. I don’t know what they were doing. I know their clock doesn’t really show time; their clock shows where they are. [laughs] Maybe that’s the problem.
Andrew: Yeah, but I mean, this is an important meeting. They know the Dursleys are going to be expecting them on time. And I know Molly and the Dursleys have seen each other – maybe Arthur, too – prior, on the platform, or outside of Platform 9 3/4. But this is effectively a first meeting. This is an important meeting, and they need to make a good first impression.
Laura: I’ll call that out as another culture shock moment, to be honest with you, because there are absolutely cultures where this is very normal, where you established, “Yeah, we’re going to meet at 5,” and that really means, “We’re meeting at 6.”
Laura: So again, not saying that nobody has a right to be annoyed by this because that’s just all of our cultural norms, right? I don’t like to be late for things and don’t like to feel like I’m keeping people waiting; it does make me feel weird. But I will confess, I’m pretty bad with time management.
Andrew: I hate being late.
Micah: Me too.
Eric: Thank you for being vulnerable.
Laura: I do hate being late. It gives me so much anxiety. And yet, I’m still late for things.
Andrew: Yeah, Laura, it’s been a sticking point over the years. [sighs]
Laura: Oh, no, I’m calling that out because it’s been well documented, I feel. [laughs]
Andrew: No, I don’t think… I mean, when it comes to our digital work, I don’t think so. We don’t see each other enough in person to know what you’re like. [laughs]
Laura: Oh, okay. Well, if we all ever move into the same neighborhood together, you’ll get to see it firsthand.
Andrew: Right. I’m going to start telling you, “Oh, come over at 4:30,” so you actually come at the time I want you to, which is 5:00 or 5:30 or something like that.
Laura: Yeah, that’s the move. [laughs]
Micah: Learning a lot here today. But I think it just compounds it, though, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s just adding to your list, Eric. Now, I will say I don’t think 30 minutes is late af. It’s late, but it’s not super late.
Andrew: For an important meeting like this and no heads up?
Eric: Well, usually you put af in capitals, and I put it in lowercase. I don’t know if that makes it better.
Micah: You just have to be able to read the room. And we were talking about this earlier, the Weasleys just don’t… at least Arthur doesn’t have enough information on the Dursleys and who they are, and how they function as people, and really how they treat Harry, what their worldviews are… Arthur is doing everything wrong here. Not intentionally, but he’s doing everything wrong.
Eric: Yeah, and you hate to see it because you like to imagine… I know later we’re going to be playing “What If?” [imitates “What If?” sound effect] But you’d like to imagine a world in which the Weasleys and Dursleys can at least exist in the same room without so much acrimony.
Micah: But it’s just so hoity-toity when you hear Petunia say, “Well, of course they’re late, they probably want to stay for dinner.”
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Laura: Oh man.
Eric: And that’s so funny because it’s projecting your own shit on other people. Well, it’s also what Petunia might do; she’s aware of that tactic because she’s the kind of person who… she thinks that way, is what I’m saying. So it’s really interesting, the idea that they would have to feed the Weasleys is a whole other thing. But here’s really the… well, actually, these escalate, these offenses I’ve written down, because number five is even worse. But here’s number four: baiting Dudley. Fred and George know exactly what they’re doing. They know that if they hand candy to a fat kid, he’s still going to be nervous about them and probably not take it, but if they, oopsie, drop candy, which is exactly what happens after Fred and George get from taking Harry’s trunk down from his bedroom, oops, they know that all of the defenses are going to come down and Dudley is going to go grab the toffee, which is what happens. This baiting of Dudley is singly malicious, let alone what it does to him, which is next, but just the baiting is the wrong attitude entirely. This goes beyond a prank.
Laura: Yeah, and they’re exploiting what they know about him being on a very restrictive diet too.
Eric: Ooh, that’s right. Harry told them that just to get food sent to him, and then Fred and George were like, “We can play with this.”
Micah: Yeah, it’s bit sinister.
Laura: It is.
Micah: And we know that Dudley has certain addictions, and one of them is definitely to sweets, and so I think this behavior by the twins is really feeding Dudley’s addiction. It’s tempting him in the moment to betray his diet and all the other things that he’s doing presumably to try and get into better physical shape.
Andrew: And of course, he’s happy to betray his diet.
Micah: Of course, how old is he?
Andrew: I mean, it’s being forced on him. He doesn’t want it at all. Exactly.
Eric: That’s why he’s targeted, he is so calorie restricted right now and then this food just drops on the carpet. And again, it’s done so innocently; if they’d given him the food, Vernon and Petunia would have been like, “No, Dudley, don’t touch that.”
Laura: Do we remember from reading the chapter which one of the twins dropped the toffees?
Eric: I’ll look it up real quick, but I bet it was Fred.
Andrew: Yeah, I bet it was Fred.
Laura: I was going to say, because that would match up with our previous conversations about the differences between Fred and George.
Eric: Yeah, that was… we did a great episode where it was like, “How are they different?” And Fred really is the instigator. Fred also always goes too far.
Andrew: It was Fred, by the way.
Eric: Well, there you go. So yeah, he’s the one that… if there is a hard edge to the Weasley twins, and they both do ridiculous things, but it’s Fred.
Micah: Yeah. And the behavior, though, is not inconsistent with what we see from these twins later on as they start to test their product on first year students.
Eric: That’s right.
Micah: And Dudley is the initial testing ground. And honestly, for Fred, it’s like leaving the scene of the crime because he doesn’t even try and help Dudley. Is it just presumed that his tongue is going to un-swell?
Eric: Well, and that actually puts Arthur in an impossible position, right? Arthur guesses that the toffee is an Engorgement Charm, a simple Engorgement Charm term. What if he’s wrong, right? What if there’s something a little special in there? Fred and George leave Arthur completely unprepared to have to rescue and save this Muggle’s life basically, so that’s bad on them for what they do to their dad too.
Laura: Yeah. Well, and I think this is the moment that teaches them they need to have antidotes on hand, if I recall correctly. When they’re testing on first years, they also go around and pass out the antidote candy to whatever it is they’re testing. But the fact that that wasn’t even a thought here, especially considering that they were testing on a Muggle, is definitely sinister.
Eric: Well, to that point of Fred and George not sticking around, also, they are trying this on a Muggle, and Muggles work a little differently with… it’s been said in the canon that Muggles and potions, they can be poisoned, actually, trying to take a… if you’re a non-magical person taking a magic potion, it’s not just that it won’t affect you: It could be a poison. They could have unusual effects. When they try it on fellow wizards and the students at school, that’s actually fully different than trying it on Dudley, so there was an element there of extra danger that Fred and George just completely overlooked. So moving into the fifth and final offense, the actual result of the toffee is extremely harsh. And I kept… we’re a lot older now than when we first read these books, but now I read this chapter and I go, “Oh, God, what a way to go.” Your tongue growing to the length of four feet long, it’s said, coming out of your mouth. You don’t have a lot of…
Micah: Like Lickitung. That’s kind of what I imagine.
Eric: Yeah, like Lickitung. It’s exactly like Lickitung.
Eric: Honestly, yeah.
Micah: One thing I did take a little bit of a look at is the symbolism of choking on one’s own tongue, and particularly in some Native American cultures, it represents the need to find one’s voice and be true to oneself. And I think that’s very appropriate for Dudley because I don’t think that he knows who he is, as any teenager wouldn’t at this time, but I think in particular, being true to himself, I don’t think he is. I think he’s very much influenced at this stage by his parents. And we see that change by Deathly Hallows, so just wanted to call that out.
Laura: That’s a great call-out.
Eric: I love that.
Andrew: Yeah, I was going to say, your Deathly Hallows connection there is very good. And maybe this is something that could be explored more in the TV show, more of Dudley’s hesitancy to just go with the flow with his parents, given what we know about his brief chat with Harry in Deathly Hallows.
Laura: Do we think that the Dursleys are making this worse than it needs to be?
Micah: Yes. [laughs]
Laura: I mean, it’s described as Petunia, like, throws herself on top of Dudley and she’s making him choke worse.
Eric: That’s her kid, though.
Andrew: She’s a Muggle and watching her son’s tongue explode 50 times in length.
Laura: Oh, I know. This is this is like her Joffrey death moment, right?
Eric: Oh, yes!
Laura: She’s freaking out, I understand. But the Dursleys do have a…
Laura: … tendency to overreact to things and make them worse. Again, not justifying it happening. I’m just saying they’re making it worse.
Eric: They’re in an impossible situation, though. The only person who can save Dudley is this person that they don’t trust and have been given no reason to trust because see offenses one through four.
Eric: This man’s child has just poisoned their child,
Eric: What does that say about this man, right? And he’s too bumbling to be able to… the twins’ greatest offense was actually against their dad, like I said, because he’s got to clean this all up. It reflects negatively on his job working with Muggles, to Micah’s point earlier, but I think also the characterization of this, why it goes over our heads as a kid, it’s a fun scene. “Don’t the Dursleys suck? Yeah.” But the wording from the narrator at this moment is “Harry didn’t want to miss the fun,” as Vernon is chucking ornaments at Mr. Weasleys head and they’re shattering behind his head on the fireplace. “Harry didn’t want to miss the fun”? [laughs] That’s completely not what’s going on here. Their son is dying. Come on, now.
Laura: Yeah. Well, and this is also a trauma response for Harry, I think, right? Because this is a family of people who have abused him his entire life, so he’s taking some pleasure in watching them suffer.
Micah: Yeah, he’s like, “Hell yeah, chaos in the Dursley living room.”
Micah: What can Harry ask for more than that, honestly? So from the perspective of a 14-year-old, I get it. But it’s also one of those situations where magic got Dudley into this situation, so magic is going to have to get him out of this situation. It’s not… and I was honestly surprised by the pig tail being removed at a regular hospital; I had always for some reason had in my head that he went to St. Mungo’s for that.
Eric: But again, the Dursleys don’t trust wizards, so even though wizards got him into this situation, they’re looking for any and all normal means…
Micah: What are they going to do?
Odds & Ends
Eric: All right, as we get into some little things and odds and ends, I’m reminded that I need to rescind my compliment to Goblet of Fire for not having any recap at the beginning of the book. We actually got a lot of recap. And there’s some more of it here; as Harry is packing his trunk to get ready for the Weasleys, we are reminded that some of his most prized possessions actually come from other people. His Invisibility Cloak he got from his dad, his latest broom he got from his godfather, and the Marauder’s Map he got from Fred and George. Wow, Fred and George, such nice blokes. So it’s just a good way of wrapping it all up and showing that Harry is better with the people that are around him, and I think it casts a light on this chapter of… he’s going to be with his people. We want to see Harry get to be with the kind of people that would give him these gifts because the Dursleys just ain’t that.
Micah: I will say, I do like the fact that James, Sirius, and then it’s Fred and George that are mentioned because the comparisons between them is often very similar in terms of their behavior.
Eric: Oh, that’s so good.
Micah: Although I’m not sure. Well, would James and Sirius have done what Fred and George…? Well, let’s call out Fred. I don’t know which one is more like Fred. James, probably.
Eric: James, yeah. Wow, I wasn’t expecting to draw that comparison, which specific James and Sirius… which Weasley? Yeah, I think it works. If it were Snape, they would. But if it were anyone else, they wouldn’t do the same thing.
Micah: Chloé is pointing out that Sirius almost killed Snape, so maybe he’s more like Fred. very similar in terms of their behavior.
Laura: Yeah, I was sitting here thinking the same thing, that it was maybe more of a Sirius comparison.
Eric: Yeah. I mean, the only thing holding James back would be that Lily would never talk to him again if he hurt Snape, so maybe it is Sirius. Well, it’s an interesting thought experiment. So the other big question I have about this chapter is the use of magic in Privet Drive, because it’s been determined before in these books that magic done in this Muggle home is Harry’s fault. That’s what happens with Dobby and the Hover Charm in Book 2. And so everything from blowing the fireplace out to having to fix Dudley’s tongue, the Ministry would be on them like flies on you-know-what about all of this underage magic all of a sudden happening. Because the trace is flawed, and you can’t really tell who does the magic. Anyway, the Ministry would be here in seconds, I think.
Laura: Doesn’t the Ministry have the ability to detect if someone of age is present at the time of the magic being used? Because I feel like we’ve seen other examples of magic being used at Number 4 that came from adult wizards. Dumbledore definitely uses magic at Number 4.
Eric: Well, it’s possible that’s a plot hole, too, when Dumbledore does it. Because in Book 7 during the Seven Potters, Moody tells Harry that’s why they have to take the Polyjuice Potion, because they will set off the trace and the Ministry will know where they are if they detect magic at Privet Drive.
Laura: Yeah. It is so interesting because we know that the Ministry doesn’t pick up on Dobby because they don’t consider non-human magical beings I think worth the while to have on their radar.
Andrew: Still seems like an oversight.
Eric: Well, when Harry does the Patronus Charm next book is when the whole trial and court date and all that other crap happens, so in that case it is Harry casting the spell.
Andrew: And by the way, with the context of Fantastic Beasts, the movie series, it seems all the more strange that they don’t track magic coming out of creatures. Now, I know Newt is a special case because he’s walking around with his suitcase and has a lot of creatures that he can take out, or he’s trying to meet creatures, beasts, but still. It’s like, you know they can cause trouble, so it’s good to track them just in case they do.
Micah: Yeah, and Privet Drive in and of itself is a special Muggle location. I feel like…
Andrew: Don’t tell Vernon that.
Micah: Well, I mean, it probably has its own room at the Ministry where people are constantly monitoring what’s going on there because Harry lives there.
Andrew: [laughs] Don’t tell Vernon that!
Micah: Well, you know what? Tough. But the other thing that came to mind for me in particular, number one, Arthur is a Ministry official. So I’m sure that if a Ministry official is performing magic in a Muggle residence, it’s somewhat permissible. But also layer on, too, the fact that he works for the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, so presumably he would be using magic in Muggle homes quite often. So I don’t think that it would necessarily raise too many flags.
Eric: That’s a good point. I wonder if it does have to do with that Arthur also got the Privet Drive fireplace hooked up to the Floo Network, which is not particularly legal, he says. Did that same person give a blanket “Magic may happen, we’re going to mute notifications for magic at this sector for the next hour or so”?
Andrew: Focus Mode on the iPhone.
Eric: Well, that explains why the court date and all that doesn’t happen for Harry this book; we’ll get it next year. The question that I have… so here’s also the sticking point as far as Arthur standing up to Vernon. Despite everything that’s happened already, Arthur still demands that Vernon say goodbye to the boy. He says, “You’re not going to see him until next year,” and this is a moment where we really actually fall in love with Arthur all over again, right? He’s clearly on the wrong foot so far, but Arthur doesn’t care. He knows that the right thing to do would be to say good boy – [laughs] good boy – goodbye to your nephew.
Andrew: Goodbye and good boy. Yeah, I thought this was a really powerful moment, how Arthur is standing up to Vernon, and it almost comes off like he’s speaking out of turn just because they don’t know each other. If you try to imagine your own father saying this to somebody else… I don’t know. This is… or your own… it’s a unique situation for Harry, but it’s very forward. It’s not something I think you would see coming. And I love Harry’s thought process during this moment, too, just being like, “You know what, it’s fine. I don’t care. Let’s just get out of here. This has already been enough of a moment.” Harry is not looking for that because he also doesn’t need that from Vernon.
Eric: Yeah, he’s selling himself short on that. He’s like, “I don’t expect them to ever do the right thing around me.” He’s like, “Let’s move on; you’re fighting a losing battle.” If the Dursleys were to say “None of your business,” they’d kind of be right, to Arthur, but they don’t know that he’s also the surrogate father that Harry never had. I think it’s a shame that Arthur does never get to actually learn about electricity. He’s excited about the plugs. [laughs] He never would have… he never got to learn how any of it works. So I want to ask…
Andrew: Well, Harry could tell him.
Eric: That’s true.
Andrew: I mean, he’s been living there. He could fill him in if he wanted to.
Eric: Yeah. But if things had gone a little better, which we’re going to talk about in a minute, what about the Dursleys’ appliances, electronics, do we think Arthur would have really liked the most?
Laura: I think he’d be super interested in how cable television works, right? So he would understand the apparatus and how it connects to an electrical outlet to get power, “But how are you getting all these programs on here? How is this transmitted?”
Andrew: “And pictures? Where’s it coming from?”
Eric: Arthur Weasley, couch potato in the making.
Andrew: It’s also an interesting question because you have to assume the Dursleys’ home isn’t particularly exciting. With peace and love I say to my grandparents, their house is boring.
Andrew: There’s a television. There’s a phone. There’s not much else going on. They have an electric fireplace, too, by the way. I don’t think it’s because somebody tried to come through the fireplace via the Floo Network, but…
Eric: [laughs] It is a perfect comparison. Your grandparents’ house growing up is the Dursleys’ house in these books. Yeah, there’s electric, but there’s nothing else.
Andrew: [laughs] Right? So I think of the television that my grandfather has up way too loud at his old age, but he can’t hear. And then I’m thinking maybe the phone. If Dudley hadn’t thrown the PlayStation out the window, then maybe he’d be interested in the PlayStation and Mega-Mutilation 3, anything else electronic. But again, I just don’t think they have much electronic in the house, or cool.
Laura: I’ll say, as a kid, I loved going to my grandparents’ house. [laughs] For me, it was always really fun.
Andrew: Oh yeah, don’t get me wrong…
Eric: I mean, it was a chill time, and it got good natural light. I’ll say that.
Eric: Sunlight was very much the highlight of my grandparents’ house visits, actually.
Andrew: I’m not saying I don’t like my grandparents’ house. I’m just saying it’s the Dursleys’ house.
Laura: Yeah, I understand what you’re saying.
Micah: I think if Arthur had shown up in the “right way,” I could see him being fascinated with the doorbell and just standing there pushing it constantly.
Eric and Laura: Aww.
Andrew: That could be cool, yeah.
Eric: All right, it’s time for “What if?”
[“What if?” sound effect plays]
Eric: I said at the start of our list of offenses segment that it should have been Molly and Arthur who show up, so I’m asking the question now, what if? What if only Molly and Arthur Weasley showed up To take Harry back to the Burrow? So you have his surrogate parents and his guardians meeting. Would it have improved relations between the two? Would they have been okay and maybe improved… been able to see each other in the future in an amicable way?
Andrew: Besties coming over for Poker Night. [laughs] Wouldn’t that have been nice?
Eric: Yeah, different, separate and different days?
Micah: I feel like, because we got Arthur to show up, there was a lot of interaction between him and Vernon. We don’t see really any interaction between Arthur and Petunia. She’s very much hiding behind Vernon, and then of course, once Dudley has his tongue enlarged, she’s focused totally on him. I think it’d be interesting to see what kind of dynamic would have existed between Molly and Petunia. I wonder if you would have got the “Not my Harry, you bitch” earlier on in the stories…
Micah: … that we get in Deathly Hallows, but I feel like she could have given it to Petunia for the way Harry has been treated.
Laura: She would’ve.
Eric: I love this idea of Molly as a more volatile Arthur. Just very worse, very, very much worse. The forcing Vernon to say goodbye to the boy, Molly would have made them hug or some bullshit. It just would have been awful.
Micah: I wonder if she would have brought knitted sweaters for them as a gift. [laughs]
Eric: Aww. Wait, wait, there’s an example where she could show up. Yeah, a gift. What a great idea that I think Molly might be capable of thinking about, of actually thinking of and bringing up. If they had showed up on time, if they didn’t have to blast the fireplace in to do it, I think there was a potential there for the two to get along. A little friction, sure, sure, but I think that they’re both adults. It’s not that Molly and Arthur are criminally unlikable by Muggles. Maybe these Muggles, but I think Molly and Arthur are generally good people. It’s their kids you’ve got to worry about, Marty. Their kids.
Andrew: [laughs] I would’ve just preferred Molly and Arthur knocking on the front door, ringing the doorbell once, maybe twice because that would have tickled Arthur…
Laura: I don’t think there’s any hope here, honestly. I think Vernon would have been ticked off if they showed up on the doorstep ringing the doorbell because of how they looked, right?
Eric: Oh, right.
Laura: There was no way that the Weasleys could have arrived here and met Vernon and Petunia’s standards because Vernon and Petunia are already predisposed to hate them on the basis of them being wizards, so I think there was nothing they could have done right.
Andrew: What if they went to Target ahead of time and bought some average Muggle clothes?
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Eric: Oh, Target!
Laura: Would they know how to wear them?
Andrew: [laughs] What?
Laura: I mean, think about some of the examples we hear about wizards trying to don Muggle attire for the first time. We see it at the Quidditch World Cup, a gentleman wearing the the long nightgown, which there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s very clear that he’s very enamored with this idea. And he talks about liking a “healthy breeze ’round his privates.” There’s just a degree to which I think the Weasleys do not know enough about Muggles to be able to meet the Dursleys’ standards.
Andrew: Laura, I just had an idea for you. So on our other podcast Millennial, you and Pam picked a wardrobe for me because I hate shopping. You can go wherever you want online, ASOS, H&M, whatever, and find outfits for Arthur and Molly! Muggle outfits.
Laura: That’s a good idea! Oh man. Maybe that’s a bonus we can do before the end of the year.
Eric: That’s a hell of a cool, fun idea.
Laura: Like, styling the Weasleys in Muggle clothes. [laughs]
Eric: Oh my God. Well, I will bring up that in this chapter – while we’re on the subject of fashion – Vernon tells Harry, “I’ve seen what you people wear.” He’s referring to the first chapter of the first book of Harry Potter, a throwback to Sorcerer’s Stone, when he’s just going to work the day after Voldemort’s fall, so November 1 of ’80, and he is clearly so scarred by this little man in a cloak that comes up to him and says, “Oh, Muggles like you should be happy, da-da-da…” that Vernon 13 years later is is still like, “That man, his fashion sucked,” to Harry. [laughs] “You people don’t dress properly.” So you’re right, I think, Laura. Although we don’t assign winners in “What if?”, I completely agree that it might just be an impossible situation and that they never could get along.
Laura: Yeah, the Dursleys just aren’t reachable.
Micah: And I think that’s it, right, Laura, to the point that you raised earlier. There’s nothing that Arthur can do that is going to please the Dursleys. It’s just a no-win situation. If things had gone differently, we would just be having a different conversation about how the Dursleys are just so prejudiced and biased against the wizarding world. So one odd and end I just wanted to bring up – because I know we talked about it in the previous chapter and we talked about it in this discussion with Dudley and his addiction to sweets – in particular, there’s some fat-shaming going on as it relates to Vernon, because he is referenced as being an enraged hippo at one point in this chapter. I think it’s when the ornaments are starting to fly. But I mean, that’s a pretty strong comparison on the part of the author to reference Vernon as a hippo.
Laura: Yeah, and we see this a lot with the Dursleys in this book. I mean, last episode, the chapters we were talking about referred to Dudley as being roughly the size and shape of the of a baby killer whale. There’s that. And then in this chapter, there’s lots of descriptions of Dudley clutching his fat bottom to try and shield it from a potential round two of the pig tail…
Micah: And the pig itself is a reference.
Laura: Yeah, right. 100%. There’s also this moment where Dudley tries to hide behind Vernon but even Vernon is not large enough to completely shield Dudley from view, so yeah, there’s a lot of this happening in the chapter. And again, thinking about it in the context of the time, I remember reading this and just feeling like the whole chapter was so comical. And it is really interesting to think about it in the context of current days and also through the lens of an adult, because this is never something that I think an adult would think was funny.
MVP of the Week
Andrew: And now it’s time for MVP of the week.
[MVP of the Week music plays]
Andrew: And you know what? I didn’t think I’d be saying this ever: I’m going to give it to Dudley because he’s taking a lot of crap unfairly. And you know what? He deserves a treat and a sweet.
Eric: [laughs] I’m going to give it to the implied Reparo charm that Arthur needs to use in overdrive to fix the mess he and his family have made and repair Muggle relations.
Laura: Well, speaking of that, I’m going to give mine to Arthur for sticking up for Harry and really observing how abnormal and childish and rude it is for his adult caretakers to not wish him a happy school year.
Micah: And I’m going to give it to the Dursleys’ living room because it just didn’t sign up for this.
[MVP of the Week music ends]
Andrew: That might be my favorite one ever. If you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can contact us by emailing or sending a voice memo recorded on your phone to MuggleCast@gmail.com, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. That said, we would prefer the voice memos because they are of higher clarity. And next week will be our Quizzitch Live episode. Wow, already. It’s going to be in place of a normal episode, and you can test your skills as they pertain to OWLs and Halloween. And then the following week, bring your pink cardigans and cozy up – [laughs] who wrote this? – to an all girls MuggleCast, and then regular Chapter by Chapter segments return November 14 at our new Thursday night time slot, November 9 on NBC! TGIT.
Eric: Wow. That’s 9, 8 Central.
Andrew: [sings] On NBC.
Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch.
[Quizzitch music plays]
Eric: Last week’s question, “What does Arthur Weasley ask Dudley Dursley?” And the correct answer is, “Are you having a nice holiday, Dudley? And how is your summer?” Correct answers were submitted – here we go – by Dumbledorky porky dorks; Hi to my Ravenclaw husband; Andrew’s frustration at increasingly unhinged names…
Eric: … Justice for Winky; I am actually a Gryffindor, roar; Some terrific radiant humble Dudley; Mega-Mutilation Parts 1 and 2…
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: … Eric, I am definitely not your father; Oh great master of the universe, bestow upon me Quizzitch answers; I think of parrots; A flimsy substandard cauldron bottom and a suspicious looking rug; Laura, the master of the universe has gone to the side of the trash pandas…
Eric: … Percy accidentally Floo Powdering to Number 4 Private Drive in Ohio; and – three more – Andrew the undercover Harry Potter Store worker hacker; Ravenkell; and Julia the 36-year-old. Shout-out to being 36. Okay.
Laura: Yeah, keep ’em coming, y’all. I love it. [laughs]
Micah: Love it, yeah.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. Here is next week’s question.
[Quizzitch music plays]
Eric: In honor of this past chapter, “Back to the Burrow,” how many times did Harry physically visit the Burrow during the seven-book Harry Potter series? Count them up.
[Quizzitch music ends]
Micah: You’ve got three weeks for this one.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: It’s true. If you want to do a reread of the seven Harry Potter books, go ahead. Submit your answer to us on the Quizzitch form on the MuggleCast website MuggleCast.com/Quizzitch, or click on “Quizzitch” from the top of the main nav.
Andrew: Do you enjoy MuggleCast? Do you think other Muggles would too? Tell a friend about the show. We would also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. Also, don’t forget we couldn’t do this show without your support on Patreon and through Apple Podcasts. Visit Patreon.com to support the show financially and you’ll receive early access to the show, ad-free episodes, bonus episodes, yearly physical gifts, and so much more. Whether you pledge through Patreon or Apple Podcasts, we do have free trials and annual subscriptions available. And one more reminder, Eric just mentioned it: Visit MuggleCast.com for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, the Quizzitch form, and to contact us. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.
Eric: I’m Eric.
Micah: I’m Micah.
Laura: And I’m Laura.
Andrew: Bye, everybody!
Eric, Laura, and Micah: Bye.