Transcript #635


MuggleCast 635 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #635, Percy The Parrot (GOF Chapter 5, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Eric Scull: Hello, and welcome to MuggleCast, Episode 635. A very special episode, a [emphasizes] “some girls” episode of MuggleCast.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: This is your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Eric: Stay out of Molly’s kitchen because the sauce ain’t the only thing boiling over tonight.

Laura: Ooh.

Eric: I love whoever wrote that. Probably Micah, right?

Micah: It was me.

Eric: We’re getting back, after a few weeks off, into Goblet of Fire Chapter by Chapter. Very excited to be doing that. But first, Andrew could not make it, and we’re powering forward in his stead. But we do have with us a wonderful Slug Club guest. Hello, Katie.

Katie: Hi.

Eric: Welcome to the show.

Katie: Thank you for having me. I’m very excited.

Eric: Please, can we get your fandom ID?

Katie: Sure. So my favorite book is Order of the Phoenix. My favorite movie is I think Prisoner of Azkaban. I don’t know why.

Laura: Hell yeah. Hell yeah!

Eric: You don’t? You think so but you don’t know why.

Katie: I don’t know why. It’s not that good, but it’s good. My House is Gryffindor. My Patronus is a marsh harrier, I think; some kind of bird.

Laura: Oh!

Katie: My Ilvermorny House is Wampus, which I had to look up before this. And then my favorite Weasley is George.

Eric: Okay! I’m sure you’ll be singing all of George’s praises.

Katie: Of course.

Eric: Well, we have a few announcements before we get into our Chapter by Chapter this week. Micah, why don’t you tell us what’s coming up in bonus?

Micah: Yeah, so we have a really exciting bonus MuggleCast plan, the first for November. Thank you to Andrew, actually, for planning it.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Micah: So he did the work, but we get to have the discussion. And we’re going to be discussing the question, “What did a good character do in the Harry Potter series that really just rubbed us the wrong way?”

Eric: Ooh.

Micah: And this was pulled, I believe, from a Reddit thread. Subreddit. I’m not familiar with Reddit, not a big Reddit user. I want to try and get the terminology right.

Laura: Micah.

Micah: I know Laura is going to kick me off the show, but…

Laura: No, I’m not going to kick you off the show. I just feel bad for you. You’re depriving yourself of so much information. You should see… honestly, Micah, I’m surprised you’re not a Redditor. It feels very up your alley.

Micah: Okay.

Eric: Ooh.

Micah: Well, maybe this bonus MuggleCast will get me going on the Reddit train.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: But yeah, there are a lot of things that “good” characters did in the Harry Potter series that really irked people, and we’re going to discuss them coming up in bonus MuggleCast.

Eric: Well, yeah, I love the topic. I’m very excited to be getting to that, especially because something that was touched on on last week’s MuggleCast, the all girls episode, no character is black or white, and there’s things to love about our favorite characters and things to hate. So by the way, I want to shout out: Laura, great job last week and on that episode, and Chloé and Pam and Meg. Everyone did a really great job.

Laura: I loved doing the episode, and I loved listening back to it after it came out. It came out so well, and I was really happy to hear that the final product felt very much the way I felt when we were recording it. So really hoping that everyone enjoyed, and please, we want to hear your feedback. We want to hear what y’all’s thoughts are because we are always looking for feedback on what things we can do with the show as we move forward, as anyone who took our survey knows. So yeah, really appreciate it.

Micah: It was a really great episode. I listened to it on my commute this week. And I will say, I think there was a bit of inspiration for at least part of this discussion that’s coming up a little bit later on in this episode.

Laura: I know; I loved that. I’m so excited for us to get there.

Eric: Well, cool. Right before we dive in, there’s one more announcement, and this one is really exciting, actually. I’m very stoked about it. It feels like Christmas has come early, or I hope that it will feel that way to listeners of the show. Have you ever wanted one of our cool physical gifts that we send usually to patrons, but you couldn’t or came too late to subscribe to our Patreon? Well, if this is you, you’re in luck. For the first time ever, we are selling the additional copies, the physical gifts, the leftover gifts from years past, on – da-da-da-da – the MuggleCast and Millennial Overstock Store. It’s over on Etsy. The URL for this is, because we combined the two shows’ overstocked gifts, and the MuggleCast beanie is on here. You guys, honestly, by the time that this episode comes out, I’m not even sure we’re still going to have them, but Pickle Pack T-shirts are available, the original Pickle Pack shirts, the progenitor to MuggleCast on Patreon by like, nine years, the ancestor of MuggleCast Patreon. Those shirts are available all on the MuggleCast store. Laura, tell us more.

Laura: And just for anyone who may be listening and going, “Okay, what the heck is Millennial?” we have plugged it before. For anyone at home, Millennial is another podcast that I host with Andrew and with Pam, who was on the all girls episode last week. But since all of these are extra inventory that we’ve collected over the years, everything is only going to be available while supplies last, y’all. These are not going to be printed or sold again. We have several unique anniversary-oriented products, like our 15th anniversary T-shirts and our 16th anniversary wooden cars, so don’t miss out. Your purchase does go to supporting the show, so thank you so much in advance.

Eric: And congrats to our recent Quizzitch Live winners, who won their first pick at some of these presents from the overstock store as well, and they chose the Pickle Pack shirts. So again, I think those are going to go like hotcakes. But I think that may be it for the announcements, and it’s ready to dive in.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Eric: This week we’re discussing Chapter 5 of Goblet of Fire, titled “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.” I always forget that the name for their eventual joke shop comes quite early in the series.

Laura: I will say, I forgot about that too.

Katie: Me too.

Eric: And I don’t know if it’s an offhand joke or not, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. For seven-word summary, Katie, I hope you don’t mind; we have you in here twice and you’re leading us off.

Katie: Sure, why not? [laughs]

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Katie: Harry…

Micah: … visits…

Eric: … the…

Laura: … Burrow…

Katie: … and…

Laura: There’s so many different directions we could take this.

Eric: I know; what’s it going to be?

Laura: I know. Ah, ah! … and eats…

Micah: … satisfactorily.

[Seven-Word Summary music ends]

Laura: There we go.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: For the… you know what? Honestly, y’all, I love this one because it is Harry’s first satisfactory meal all summer.

Eric: Oh my God, it is. That’s right. I really feel like you pulled it all together there in the end, Micah, with that last word there.

Laura: You really did.

Katie: It’s great.

Micah: Yeah, I thought about “food,” [laughs] and I just said, “That’s not sufficient for this seven-word summary.”

[Katie laughs]

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Micah: But I do feel like that is a pretty good summary of this chapter because it’s one of those chapters where not a lot happens, but a lot happens at the same time. You’ve got to read between the lines a little bit. And it is great to be back doing Chapter by Chapter; it’s been a couple weeks. And I think it’s actually been three weeks since we’ve been with Harry. He ended up arriving at the Burrow, and really just broke this discussion into two different segments. I want to talk first about family dynamics and life after Hogwarts, because in this chapter, the wizarding world continues to expand, right? That’s one of the things that we talked a lot about with the fourth book in particular is that the world is really starting to open up for Harry; we’re given a look at what life is like for a wizarding family. Yes, we’ve been to the Burrow before, but we get a little bit more in-depth in this chapter. And we also learn a little bit more about what opportunities are available career-wise for witches and wizards, and it’s not all about the Ministry, which I think is important because it’s not just about governmental jobs. The other thing I wanted to raise, and I’m interested to get all of your thoughts, is this chapter really does a terrific job setting up what we can expect from the members of the Weasley family moving forward in the series. It’s kind of a snapshot of the expectation for how the Weasleys are going to behave in these next couple of books.

Eric: Great point.

Laura: Yeah, it also just reminds me of what it felt like to meet members of close friends’ family, who I’d only heard stories about, and then meeting them in person for the first time and either being surprised at the person I was meeting, or not surprised at all at the person I was meeting. It also tells you so much about that friend, right? When you meet your friend’s parents, I feel like oftentimes, you’re like, “Oh, I get it now.”

[Eric laughs]

Laura: But then I think you can say the same thing when you meet siblings that are maybe older and haven’t been around that much.

Eric: Yeah, it’s definitely like seeing another side of the person that you do know, is seeing who else their family members are. Katie, has this happened to you?

Katie: All the time. And actually, I just asked my students, “What would happen when expectations don’t meet your reality?”

Eric: Oh my God.

Katie: Yeah, I just asked that last week, and it was all “They’re going to be disappointed,” but I think in some cases, you’re pleasantly surprised. And I liked when Harry met all of the Weasleys.

Eric: It’s funny because going in, if you remove Bill and Charlie from the picture, Harry does have almost a 50/50 view of the Weasleys, where yeah, Ron is obviously his best friend. Ginny, Harry really does not know enough to form an opinion on; I think that’s clear. She still blushes when he says hello to her. There’s no relationship there. Then he knows Percy is even now a bit pretentious, a bit Ministry, and just doesn’t know what to make of him. So Bill or Charlie could have turned out either way, statistically. It’s like, maybe they aren’t the cool, say… turns out they’re awesome and Harry likes them both.

Katie: Yeah, I like how he’s like, “Oh, I thought Bill was going to be like Percy because he works for Gringotts, and that’s a high-ranking bank job.” And he’s like, no, complete opposite. The dragonhide boots and everything.

Eric: I will say, too, going back to the Burrow is always a magical experience, and I’m thrilled because I don’t believe we did this in the previous book very much.

Laura: No.

Eric: And so getting to… that’s actually this week’s Quizzitch question I’m failing to reference. But yeah, so having the experience of once again being in the kitchen where the dishes do themselves and magic is used for everything, and magic is holding this house up, and you go out to the garden for a nice outdoor meal and all of a sudden, the cat is chasing these gnomes. It just reminds us, I think, what we love about these books is that glimpse into casual wizard life, the life we all want for ourselves secretly when we’re reading these books.

Laura: For sure.

Katie: I was reading it and I was thinking, “This is so charming. I like this.”

Laura: I think that’s a perfect descriptor for this chapter. Even though there is so much going on, and even though you don’t know it as an initial reader, there are a lot of breadcrumbs being dropped in this chapter, right? On its face, it really just feels like a very charming chapter, which lends itself to what Micah was saying about feeling like not that much happens in this chapter. But a little more than we suspect, at least at the beginning, is.

Micah: Yeah, one thing I did want to bring up before we get to actually meeting the Weasleys, the connecting the threads piece of it, where very similar to Chamber of Secrets, the Weasleys arrive home from Privet Drive after having rescued Harry from the Dursleys. And once again, his children have put Arthur in a very precarious situation, and Molly is not very happy. So this is very reminiscent of how Book 2 started off.

Eric: Yeah, with Molly going at some of the children for their actions. It is Fred and George again, actually, that get yelled at, so it’s a heck of a connecting the threads to that moment two books ago. That’s very astute.

Laura: Yeah. On that point about Molly, she says, in retrospect, some hurtful things about her sons. She’s like, “I don’t know where we went wrong with them.” She’s basically being like, “Why can’t they just be normal?”

Eric: [laughs] Well, they just attacked a Muggle…

Laura: Fair.

Eric: … but really almost insidiously too. It’s not just…

Laura: Well, that was Fred. It was Fred. [laughs]

Eric: It was Fred, yeah. It wasn’t Katie’s favorite, George. I think George was largely spared this one. But the twins get in trouble together. I think what it is… honestly, Molly perfectly lays this out with their father’s job at the Ministry, which you know they don’t ever think about at all. Ron didn’t think about it when he took the flying car either. They can’t be doing this to Muggles. [laughs] It’s extra bad. It’s bad to begin with for wizard/Muggle relations, and then it’s extra bad for what it’s going to show up as to their dad.

Laura: 100%. I think Fred and George, I feel like with Molly sometimes, are already at a bit of a disadvantage, because there are so many other things that they do that aren’t necessarily wrong that ruffle her feathers. Let’s think about the fact that it’s mentioned that they didn’t get as many OWLs as she would have expected, so she was already mad at them. It’s clear to me that Fred and George don’t really fit the mold of what Molly wants her children to be. She doesn’t love them any less for it, but that has an impact. And if Fred and George are so hellbent on troublemaking and being the practical jokers and the class clowns, you have to wonder where that comes from, right? That kind of thing doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Eric: Are you suggesting it’s Molly’s fault that the twins are the way they are?

Laura: No, I mean, I don’t think it’s as simple as saying it’s entirely nature or entirely nurture. I think the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. But Molly has a part in it; I mean, parents shape their children, for better or worse.

Eric: Oh, sure. Sure they do.

Katie: I’m wondering if she had these high expectations because of how Bill, Charlie, and Percy turned out.

Laura: Right.

Katie: And then she gets Fred and George, who don’t meet those expectations.

Eric: That makes me ask, too, what are her expectations with Fred and George? Because I feel like you’ve won a lot with your first three kids, right? Like Bill, Harry takes one look at him, he’s like, “Oh, he’s cool,” and obviously being Head Boy and everything that Charlie and Bill have got going for them. They both have jobs that are fulfilling to them; they both carved their own path. And Percy is on track to be the next Minister for Magic; I mean, not yet, but 15 years from now you could really see that kid turning out great. So the idea that Fred and George aren’t what Molly is expecting, I think it’s the next natural progression to your point, Laura, like a response to almost the other brothers. But I think by the fourth or fifth kid, which is where Fred and George are, as a parent, you relax and you go, “You know what? I’m clearly okay enough at this parenting thing, however they’re turning out. Yeah, it’s different, I’m a little unused to it,” but to be able to relax a little bit more.

Laura: Yeah, you would think so. But maybe Molly is a character that we can chat about in bonus MuggleCast this week, because she is a good character and a character that I am extremely fond of, and a good mother, I would say, who does some things, particularly in Goblet of Fire, that feel incredibly immature for a mother, for someone her age, and for a role model and a mentor. So we’ll share some of those thoughts in bonus.

Micah: So one of the really cool things with this chapter is we’re obviously introduced to two new Weasleys in Bill and Charlie. We’ve talked a little bit about that already, but I wanted to go through the descriptions a little bit because this goes to the point of earlier when we were talking about meeting somebody for the first time and them defying expectations, right? I think both of these – even though it’s really called out more with Bill – both of these characters really just hit Harry in a totally different way than what he was expecting, right? We have Charlie; he’s built like the twins, but shorter and stockier than Percy and Ron. He’s got a broad, good-natured face, which is weatherbeaten and so freckly that he looked tan. He’s got calluses and blisters on his hands from his work with dragons. He’s got these nice biceps, these muscular arms, one with a very clear burn on it, right? So we’ve got Charlie.

Eric: It’s funny because Bill is the one that Harry is like, “This guy is cool,” but Charlie is cool! The burn on his arm is very cool. It’s very, very fetching.

Micah: Yeah, exactly. So you mentioned Bill, and Harry had imagined him, actually, as an older version of Percy. And it just goes to show you don’t judge a book by its cover, from the standpoint of all Harry knows about Bill is what he knows about Bill. He hasn’t actually seen him. When he sees him, he’s like, “Wait, this guy was Head Boy? He works at Gringotts? Wait, hold on a second. This guy is cool.”

Eric: [laughs] It turns out people people who work at banks are cool, apparently. I’m sure that that’s true in real life.

Laura: You can be an academic overachiever and still be cool.

Micah: Totally.

Eric: I think being an academic overachiever is what makes you cool, actually.

Laura: Oh, I agree with that. But this is the ’90s. [laughs]

Eric: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Micah: So for Bill, though, he’s got long hair tied back in a ponytail. He’s got a fang earring, clothes that look like he belonged at a rock concert, and a pair of dragonhide boots. Don’t tell Charlie; he might be a little offended by that.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Eric: That’s right, he’s wearing these boots right… maybe Charlie gifted him them for Christmas.

Micah: Perhaps. That’s kind of cool. But you also brought up, Eric, that he’s got a little bit of a potty mouth too.

Eric: The coolest thing about Bill, yes, it’s true – and I was first reading this book when I was 12 – was that Bill swears in front of his mom. This was clearly a huge influence on my preteen self. [laughs] But he just says… I think at one point Molly asks him about his clothing and he’s like, “Mom, they don’t give a damn what I wear at the bank. They just care about me bringing in treasure.” And it’s just like…

Micah: They probably prefer he doesn’t wear anything. The less Bill wears, the better, at the bank. That’s what I’m thinking.

Laura: He had a little bit of a cowboy lilt to the impression you were doing there, Eric.

Eric: I don’t know what I was doing.

[Katie and Laura laugh]

Eric: It’s time to reveal that I’ve actually just secretly been cosplaying Bill – I got my hair back in a pony right now – this whole time.

Laura: Ooh, look at that.

Eric: But I don’t have the earring or the boots yet. I’m working on it.

[Katie laughs]

Eric: But yeah, just swearing in front of mom. This is something we haven’t yet seen any of the Weasleys do. Ron says “Bloody hell,” and I know it’s a British thing where some people are like, “That’s swearing,” but saying “They don’t give a damn, Mom, and your concerns are not valid” is about the coolest thing we see Bill do.

Laura: I was going to say, and then Molly follows his lead in Deathly Hallows.

Katie: Oh, yeah.

Eric: [laughs] This was a complete lead-in. Molly is like, “Well, my oldest son swears, so I can swear.”

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Katie: She’s not a regular mom; she’s a cool mom.

Laura: Yes, oh my God. Mean Girls reference.

[Katie laughs]

Micah: One of the questions that Andrew put in here was, “Who’s cooler? Is it Bill? Is it Charlie?” And then naturally, it goes to “Who’d you rather?” And then… [laughs]

Laura: Bill.

Micah: Bill? Okay.

Katie: Charlie.

Laura: Because, I mean, you’re going to take my MVP of the week title, but I feel like I have to justify this now. He’s a punk rock king, man.

Eric: He is.

Laura: So yeah, that’s my type.

Micah: Katie disagrees.

Katie: Charlie. I like Charlie. The short stocky guys. Why not?

Eric: Charlie, honestly, in how relaxed he is, shows a lot about how comfortable he is with his life. And that is something when you grow older, you start to appreciate more. It’s like, “Oh, the quieter, more shy, reserved people are the ones that don’t have to fight for everything because they’re happy.” And those end up being the more well-adjusted better partners anyway, I think.

Katie: Yeah.

Micah: You were talking about cowboy earlier. It’s kind of like, you have the farmer and the cowboy going head to head with each other here a bit.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: The farmer and the cowboy. [laughs] I’d love to ascribe different occupations for each of the Weasleys and just continue going down the line. What does that make Percy?

Laura: Ooh. We could say some not nice things about what that makes Percy.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: Yeah, we’re going to talk about Percy.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: Okay, we’ll get to him.

Laura: But wait, wait, wait.

Micah: Go ahead.

Laura: Micah, Eric, we need to hear your answers.

Eric: Yeah, probably Bill.

Micah: Charlie.

Eric: I think that Charlie would be the better partner, but it’s Bill. Yeah.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: I’m with Katie on this one.

Laura: Team Bill.

Eric: Well, Micah, do you want Charlie to take you on a magic dragonback ride? Because I would actually switch teams if he could let me ride a dragon.

[Micah laughs]

Katie: Yes.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, you could go make out in the corner of Gringotts, deep in the cave somewhere. So I mean, there’s that.

Eric: That’s kind of fun. Yeah, might get locked in your vault…

Micah: He can take you on a magic… what was that thing they ride down into…?

Eric: Train cart?

Micah: Yeah. It’s not as cool as a dragon, though. I’m sorry.

Laura: But they have dragons in Gringotts.

Eric: Yeah, I feel like both of them are very, pretty cool, and they set the bar really high. It’s amazing that none of the other Weasleys seem to really struggle under the pressure of Bill and Charlie being so dang cool. And I think with Fred and George, they took one look at their older brothers and were just like, “We’re not even going to try.”

[Eric and Katie laugh]

Laura: Probably.

Eric: Like, “We can’t touch that. But they’re not funny like we are.”

Laura: I think that was probably also part of Fred and George finding their identity and finding something that made them stand out, because they had so many siblings. We see Ron go through the same thing, to a more extreme extent, I would argue.

Micah: Let’s talk about Fred and George a little bit. I did want to just call out, though, that on the return to Privet Drive, we see a classic parenting situation where a child is getting reprimanded by one parent, and that parent – in this case, it’s Arthur – is using the other parent as a threat. The ol’ “Wait until your mother hears about this.” And we’ve all been there, right? Whether it was coming from Mom or coming from Dad, using whichever was the stricter parent that we didn’t want to get in trouble with.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: I feel like we’ve all been in that situation.

Laura: 1,000%.

Eric: It’s interesting to me because Arthur knows, just like Molly does, that what the twins did put his job at stake, but he still considers not telling Molly. Telling Molly, he seems to decide in the moment, would actually be slightly too far for their offense, even though he’s actually angry. We’ve never seen Arthur this upset at the kids, but he still doesn’t want to go quite so far as to actually telling Molly. He’ll only threaten to tell her. And it’s only because he fails to come up with an alternative thing when she overhears “Wait till I tell your mother” that he actually does end up telling her, and the twins actually get in trouble. But why does he back off? Because he just seems to not advocate enough for himself or the jeopardy that they put his job in just then.

Micah: That’s, to me, what the larger issue is, is that we know that this is… go back to connecting the threads, right, to what happened in Harry’s second year. He got into a lot of trouble. Maybe not initially because of what was done; it really was because of what Ron did, right? Not necessarily Fred and George, but Fred and George were part of that initial test run that they did to Privet Drive. And so I just feel like the twins should be a little bit more aware here. They’re putting their dad in a really tough situation, and they don’t seem to have that awareness.

Eric: Yeah. I think, too, it’s possibly just that whatever qualms we see Mrs. Weasley voice about them having no ambition and all this stuff we’ll get into talking even more about, Arthur doesn’t quite have that same problem with them. I think that’s just clear, because as much as they’ve just threatened his job, he really isn’t… I think it’s not that he’s amused by their antics that it is in Book 2, where he’s like, “How did it go?” which was more of a movie-ism, I think, too. But it’s not that. It really isn’t that. But I think that he understands them. There might in fact be… this is something that just occurred to me: What if Fred and George are in their very personalities channeling more of Arthur than any of the other kids that were born? Like, that whimsical nature. We never hear of Arthur Weasley really cracking a joke, but maybe that bit of him that’s a bit quirky, that likes plugs and Muggle things, maybe Arthur really does actually see a lot of himself or his young self in the twins specifically, so he goes easier on them.

Laura: I think so. I think he also knows that they’re already in deep crap with their mother…

[Eric laughs]

Laura: … so he’s using it as a threat to get them to straighten up and maybe take this a little more seriously. But does he have any real intention of doing that to them? Because they are already on her bad side, and God knows what the rest of the summer has been like. But I think, too, you have a good point, Eric, because… I don’t know. When I think about someone like Arthur Weasley, he is the personification of a dad, the person that you imagine telling a dad joke. And how did that person start out as a younger wizard?

Eric: Probably with an appreciation for the sillier things in life.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Katie: And we already know that he likes to tinker with things, like the flying Ford Anglia or whatever it’s called. And then I think Ron even mentions, “Oh, we hear explosions coming from Fred and George’s room all the time.” It’s definitely where they get it from.

Eric: That’s such a good point as well. Now I’m remembering how in LEGO Harry Potter, Arthur Weasley’s skill is that he fixes things.

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Oh yeah, that’s right.

Eric: Yeah, and Fred and George can pick a lock, and they have that Muggle… yeah, I think I’ve just found really what I think it is that lets Arthur let Fred and George off in this chapter and in general, is that he sees too much of himself in them to really go hard, at great personal risk.

Micah: Yeah, because it’s also about how the family is being represented in the outside world, particularly in the non-wizarding community. And we already know what kind of reaction the Dursleys have to wizarding kind, so this does not help Harry’s case either, quite frankly. It’s not just about Arthur and his job, but it’s also about now the fact that Harry has to go back to Privet Drive next summer, and Dudley has gone through this horrific experience. It’s probably going to get him treated even worse than he’s been treated before.

Eric: The interesting thing about this specifically is that Harry still is all laughs. He was all laughs at first when he was leaving Privet Drive, but this chapter, he does not actually ever calm down and say, “Actually, that was horrible.” He is still super, super, super laughing about it. When Fred and George are talking about it, when they’re being reprimanded by Arthur, Harry does not turn that corner ever yet, saying that anything has made his life worse. So it is being played up for laughs. And I think this is one of those things where being much older and you read the books, you’re like, “Oh, they jeopardized wizard/Muggle relations.” As a kid, you’re like, “Eh, Dudley had it coming.”

Micah: Not only that, they almost killed him. [laughs] Let’s be real.

Eric: Yeah, choking on your tongue is a horrible way to die. We’ve said that.

[Katie laughs]

Laura: Does it qualify as almost killing him if they knew their dad would be able to save him very easily?

Micah: It was Fred, right? He was really the perpetrator. I don’t think Fred would have let it get to that point. But the fact that he was willing to let it happen in the first place… and again, we talked about this I think a couple episodes back, but they’re not above testing a lot of the stuff on first years either, and we see that come into play.

Laura: Right.

Eric: Yeah, they have a really big blind spot. By the way, if anyone’s curious, we keep mentioning Fred being the one behind things. I will say, one of the new transcripts that’s up on the MuggleCast website is number 508, the episode where we do the deep dive into Fred and George Weasley, specifically how to tell them apart from one another. So just a shout-out because this book is so Fred and George Weasley centric. They’re in a lot more than I think in any other book, even Book 6, because Book 6 is about a lot of other stuff. So it’s very exciting to get this Weasley deep dive in this chapter.

Micah: Yeah, no. And shout-out to Meg for all her great work on the transcripts. But speaking about all of this, and just mentioned the testing on first years, Ron fills Harry in on what the twins have been up to, right? The forms that Molly found in their bedroom. And he actually sees their work for what it is, which is actually kind of cool, right? It’s a different kind of intellect that I don’t think that Molly, at least at this point, can appreciate. These two are very talented, and Molly is just blinded by your average governmental daily 9 to 5 type of job, unfortunately.

Eric: I’m trying to think about how our parents were, and Laura and Micah, please tell me, but when you first told them that you work for a Harry Potter website? “Work for.”

[Micah laughs]

Eric: “Oh, do you get paid?” was the first question, because they had trouble conceiving of what it was like to do something you’re more passionate about that didn’t, again, no, we weren’t paid. For more information, see After Darks…

[Katie laughs]

Eric: … and many history of, behind-the-scenes stories, among other… we were not paid. But what it gave us was in a different way rewarding, in the way that Fred and George’s joke shop right now is not netting them any money, but it’s giving them so much more than standardized tests or doing well on said tests could ever. And so it’s like trying to explain, again, working at MuggleNet to your parent. Molly doesn’t get it. It’s only when she’s literally in the premises of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley that she gets it that this is something that is mainstream successful, that is going to allow them the ability to have a life for themselves, but it’s just not the traditional path.

Micah: Right, and I think that there’s this unrealistic expectation about them following in Arthur’s footsteps. The twins are clearly not future Ministry officials; that is just not in their DNA. Sorry, Molly. [laughs] It’s just not. And I think we all know people like that too. Growing up, there was this expectation like maybe you would follow in the family footsteps, or you’d take over a certain business, or you become a lawyer, you become a doctor, the traditional tropes, so to speak. And having friends when you look at them and you know them personally, you’re just like, “There’s no way that that’s going to happen, right? They’re going to follow their passion.” And that’s what Fred and George are doing. And that’s also what I think is so disconcerting about Molly in this situation, is that Fred and George are passionate about this, and she can’t even lean in a bit.

Eric: I think as the sterner parent, she has the harder job, especially because I think what she internalizes her role as being in the parenting of these Weasley children, is to set them on a path for success. And you can only know how to do that in the one way that you know how to do that. So by criticizing, or by coming down on them for not having any real aspirations, she’s really just hoping, I think, to spark them asking that same question in themselves. Turns out they’re right, that their side project has some value. They’re very lucky that it is because they should equally be thrown into Azkaban for experimenting on first years, I think – Micah, I really feel that way – so it’s kind of 50/50. But if you look at it, all the Weasley kids – we’re talking about Bill and Charlie – they all follow their own path too. So actually, what bothers me about Molly in this chapter specifically, is how freaked out she is about them. Because you have Bill and Charlie, who are home for the holidays, and they are the perfect example of how, again, your parenting works. These people have different jobs. They’re both totally different people, but they both are successful, and Percy looks great, so don’t necessarily be freaking out about Fred and George. But I think the reason it’s so heavy in this chapter is because it is, again, reintroducing us to this family, and working on setting up everything that’s going to come from not just the rest of this book, but the rest of the whole series.

Micah: Definitely. Katie, what do you make of Molly in this chapter?

Katie: I mean, I feel like she’s kind of hard on Fred and George, definitely. But then I was thinking about… with her, and she’s expecting them to go into the Ministry, but we don’t see that many jobs outside of the Ministry. So I feel like going into the Ministry, for any wizard, just seems more common. We see Charlie with dragons in Romania, and then we see Bill at Gringotts, but outside of those things, what other jobs are there for wizards?

Eric: Teacher.

Katie: Yeah, teacher.

Eric: That’s about it.

Laura: Yeah, or a shop owner.

Micah: Shop owner, yeah. [laughs]

Katie: And that’s what they become.

Laura: Yeah, there aren’t that many options, come to think of it.

Katie: You think of shop owner, like the ice cream, and then you’ve got the Quidditch ones, but it’s like, “Oh, just shop owner?”

Eric: Well, and Fred and George become those shop owners.

Katie: And they become that. So it’s like, oh, maybe it’s looked down upon to become a shop owner and it’s just more a lead to join the Ministry.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, unfortunately, in reality, there are people who would look down on a shop owner, which is obviously ridiculous. But I think this is another way that Harry Potter does a really good job of holding the mirror up to the reality that is the world we live in.

Micah: Oh, 100%. And we’re going to get to that [laughs] once we hit the dinner conversation. And even speaking of that, too, Laura, with Molly, I mean, she’s just so flustered. This chapter, for her, it’s classic parent being stressed out by everything happening inside of her home. And we don’t have to go into all the examples of things that are happening, but we opened the episode talking about the sauce boiling over. And it’s just her lack of attentiveness to the things that she would normally be focused on because she’s so focused on her kids. She’s so frustrated by what Fred and George have done, and you can just see how stress manifests. It’s actually interesting. I mean, I guess there are comparisons in our society, but just how her stress can manifest into her magic, and that’s causing all these weird things to go on around the kitchen. But again, we’ve all been there, where either we’ve been so stressed out that just things are happening scattered and all over the place, or we’ve pissed off our parents enough that we know, stay out of the room to let them cool down for however long it takes.

Eric: I will say, I do wonder how the twins are reprimanded. We don’t get an image of this because Harry is taken upstairs. There might be a loud noise they hear from down below, they know Fred and George are getting it, but there’s no real aftermath. Fred and George seem perfectly normal at dinner, and dinner is very soon after. So I feel like whatever happened, as mad as Mrs. Weasley might have been, I really doubt that it was the talking-to that maybe they deserved even. [laughs]

Laura: Right.

Micah: Just to wrap up Molly, I do think the harshest thing that she says… and it’s almost like you wonder, “Is she talking to Ron and Harry in the moment? Or is she just thinking out loud to herself?” because she’s like, “Oh, they have no ambition. They’re wasting their brains.” But it’s actually quite the opposite. They do have ambition, and they’re not wasting their brains. They’re super creative, super talented. She just can’t see it in this moment.

Laura: And the irony is Percy is upstairs toiling away in his room to basically be a drone for Barty Crouch. He’s being asked to write a synopsis of a larger report, I mean…

Eric: Okay, that’s pretty on the… yeah, all right.

Micah: It’s bad.

Laura: And so it’s the exact opposite of being creative and using your brain; not to say that doesn’t require brain power. But I would argue that what Fred and George are doing is a hell of a lot more intellectually demanding. I don’t know. Maybe someone is not going to agree with me on that.

Eric: No. The only other thing I’d add, because we’ve talked quite a bit about Fred and George, we’ve talked quite a bit about Molly, is that I have this idea that maybe she expects from them specifically some character traits reminiscent in her brothers, the reason being that her brothers Gideon and Fabian Prewett, who died during the first wizarding world war, are the inspiration or presumably inspiration for the first initial for Fred and George of their names. So their so-called namesake, for instance, if Molly… no matter how she felt about her brothers, if they were a certain way, I feel like Molly would focus specifically on Fred and George’s failings because of comparison to whoever her brothers were.

Laura: And that’s always such a dangerous thing that can happen if you place expectations on a child to live up to the legacy of a dead person that they never even met. I mean, if you want to talk about things that may have influenced Fred and George and molded them into the people they are, that would be one of them.

Micah: That’s a super interesting comparison, though. And I do wonder, to your point, Eric, did they have a recklessness about them, Gideon and Fabian, that ultimately got them killed in that first war?

Eric: Wow.

Micah: Because we see that very same recklessness in Fred and George. And maybe that’s her concern, especially knowing that there’s a war. I mean, Voldemort is not back yet, but he’s going to be pretty soon.

Laura: Right.

Eric: That would be a perfect way of explaining Molly’s apprehension toward their behavior.

Laura: Right, not that they don’t live up to Gideon and Fabian, but that they’re just like them.

Eric: Oh, God. [laughs]

Laura: Go ahead, Katie.

Katie: We know that Gideon and Fabian join the Order of the Phoenix and Molly didn’t, but I mean, that sounds very reckless.

Micah: Yeah.

Eric: Knowing that all the Weasleys are Gryffindors anyway paints them all as reckless a little bit, I think. It’s also a Wampus trait.

Micah: Ooh.

[Katie laughs]

Micah: So let’s talk about Percy. And Happy Birthday, Chris Rankin.

Eric: Yes!

Laura: Happy Birthday.

Micah: Now a member of the 40 club, so welcome. It’s a great group to be a part of.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: But anyway, yeah, so we talked about how Percy is interrupted several times in this chapter when he’s trying to do his Ministry work. First time it’s by Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny going upstairs, then a little bit later on, it’s actually kind of a Fred and George moment from Bill and Charlie during their table wars, as I’d call it. They’re trying to annoy Percy; let’s be honest. There’s no reason to have dueling tables in the backyard. But what I really wanted to focus on with Percy is there’s a lot of these what I would consider to be corporate culture references that are worth paying attention to, and I’ll just run through them real fast and we can react to them in totality. So Percy is trying to make himself and his work seem more important than they actually are, right? In truth, most people don’t care about cauldron thickness. Laura, you touched on this earlier, unnecessary reporting and paperwork. Percy is obsessed with work, and it’s noted that he would not come home if Arthur didn’t make him. And he’s in love, head over heels, with Barty Crouch, Sr. So there’s a lot to digest here. But this is the nature of corporate culture – at least that’s been my experience – in Western society. When you talk about the unnecessary reporting, trying to make yourself seem more important than you are in terms of the work that you do… not necessarily that we do that, but you may know people who do that. And then being obsessed with work, not coming home, or just not focusing on work/life balance, your family, things like that. And I get it, he’s young, but I think it’s a little bit of a statement on corporate culture.

Eric: I think that’s very apt, and it’s definitely a statement on corporate… the things you point out are very… that feels like it would be an office sitcom plot to have. “Oh, I have to have this report on cauldron bottoms due,” and it’s like, nobody is going to read that. But for me, I think work is stability. Percy is happy to be stable. When he comes home, his older brothers who are home for the holiday or whatever are banging tables together, as loudly as possible, making them race each other and hit each other and crash and crack. There’s none of that at the Ministry. The Ministry is quiet. The Ministry is solitude. The Ministry is Percy’s happy place, not because he’s a kiss-ass who has no real imagination, but because it’s not the chaos of everywhere else. And so I sympathize with Percy, as somebody who always said they would have loved a job where they could wear a suit every day to work. That’s the kind of job Percy has. I never got that kind of a job; I’m the work with my hands kind of guy. But it just is a different lifestyle. It’s just a different mentality, and none of the other Weasleys have. Arthur does it, but I think that it’s really Percy that we see that really just likes the feeling of working for the government and helping in a way.

Laura: I think that’s true, but I think it’s also true that he’s a kiss-ass. [laughs] Multiple truths, y’all. Multiple truths exist.

Eric: Multiple truths! There we go. We’re going to ring a bell every time that comes up now.

Laura: I know.

Micah: I wanted to riff off of something that you said, Eric, though, because I do think Percy behaves this way because of how his family treats him. I think there’s a part of that that we need to take into consideration here, especially when you’re thinking about something like he doesn’t want to come home. It may not necessarily be because he loves his work at the Ministry, although that can be true too. I think a lot of it has to do with how he’s treated by his family, particularly by his brothers. Not as much so… we don’t see as much, at least right now, with Molly and with Arthur, but he’s really not treated well by Fred and George. Ron and him seem to have a okay type of relationship. But it’s also clear, at least from the very little we see with Bill and Charlie, they like to make fun of him a little bit too.

Eric: He’s their little brother. None of the other Weasleys have that on Percy.

Micah: Right.

Eric: So there’s that angle to it. Yeah, I agree. And the thing about Ron and Percy’s relationship – I would usually agree with you, Micah, that they get along – this chapter Ron bullies Percy. That’s how I would characterize their interaction when they’re going up the stairs. Ron is the one that says to his face, “Oh, that’ll change the world, that report will.” And he says that directly to Percy’s face, and I’m like, “What’s your angle, Ron, here?” Because that’s hurtful. That’s telling his older brother that his older brother’s work doesn’t matter or won’t make a lick of difference in the grand scheme of things. Is that regular negging? I don’t have a brother, so is it really?

Laura: I have a brother. I think that is very normal.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Laura: A younger brother, too, I will add.

Eric: To the older brother, just being insolent? I don’t know. Ron goes pretty hard.

Laura: Yeah, he does, but Percy is also being so annoying this summer. I feel like it’s one of these things where it’s this vicious cycle, right? Percy has, and has always had, a very serious personality. Because of that, he takes it too far sometimes. And because of that, no one in his family takes him seriously except for his mother, and so he seeks out environments where he feels like he is receiving more respect and being taken more seriously, which feeds his addiction to being so serious, and then he comes home and he brings that with him. Kind of to Micah’s point about somebody being too into their corporate culture and not being able to turn it off when they leave the building.

Micah: Right, yeah.

Laura: He comes home and does that, and his family is like, “Wow, you’re extra annoying today.”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: Yeah, it’s the inability to be able to separate the two, so much so that… and I’ve been guilty of it, too, where I come home and it’s like, “Oh, I’m on my work computer, I’m looking at my work phone,” and it’s eight or nine o’clock at night. And family is like, “Well, what are you doing? Can’t you separate that out?” And I think there is some of that with Percy. The other thing I just looked up, too, is it’s really only Harry that is kind to Percy, because he asks him straight up, “What are you working on?” And that’s probably the nicest thing that anybody has said to Percy these last couple of weeks that he’s been there.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Eric: The bar is so low, it’s beneath Gringotts right now.

Katie: I thought the same thing; I was like, “Harry is being so nice.” I think it’s just because he’s a guest, but he’s also curious about the wizarding world, too, like, “Oh, cauldron bottom thickness, that must be important.” It’s not, according to Ron.

Eric: That is such a good point, Katie, too, is that as the reader, we are the interested party. Harry is the conduit for us to figure out more about the wizarding world in this moment. So it’s funny because we get this information, but it’s characterized as being unimportant,

Katie: Yeah.

Micah: Right. I think even Ginny gets a couple shots in there, too, if I’m not mistaken. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, it’s real bad.

Micah: All right, so wrapping up our conversation about family dynamics, the last thing to touch on here – and this actually comes up at the very tail end of the chapter – it’s noted that Fred and George sent Percy some Norwegian dragon dung in his office inbox. And I’ve got to say, this is a little bit too far. This is crossing that line, because it’s his work; it’s his place of employment. To me, that’s just… you don’t go there.

Laura: I bet Fred did it. It was Fred’s idea.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: There has to be one time when George had the idea, but…

Katie: But I mean, Charlie is home for the summer. So where did he get the dragon dung?

Eric: Yeah, that’s a good question. I just don’t do well with any kind of that flaming dog poo kind of pranks and stuff. Just really leave a bad smell in my nose.

[Eric and Katie laugh]

Eric: You just think about how awful it would have…

Micah: Yeah, it is Fred who says, “We sent it.”

Laura: Mhmm!

Eric: Oh, yeah. Well, there you go.

Katie: He’s like, “It was personal. It was us.”

Micah: But see, that’s trying to embarrass Percy on a whole different level.

Eric and Katie: Yeah.

Eric: That goes too far. Well, I’ve just got to say, I appreciate Percy explaining it away. “A sample of fertilizer from Norway.” [laughs] He’s clever. He thinks on his feet.

Micah: All right, so the second part of this discussion is actually about Percy. It’s continuing our Percy conversation because I think it’s important that we really listen carefully to what Percy has to say, because there’s a lot of things he tells us in this dinner conversation. Not to dismiss what else is going on at the other end of the table, but we get a little bit more insight into a number of characters, some of who we’ve never heard anything about before, some of whom are named dropped in the very first chapter. So we will get to that in just a minute. But Barty Crouch, Sr., we talked a little bit about him in this discussion. He’s Percy’s boss, he’s the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and we’ve been told that he’s working on the Quidditch World Cup. Outside of that, not a whole lot more, despite the amount of ass kissing that Percy does and just the amount of praise that he gives him. Anything else we want to say about Barty, Sr.?

Eric: For me, what interests me is that Barty Crouch, Sr. is interested in Bertha Jorkins’s disappearance, this little factoid that is snuck so cleverly in and immediately explained. So Bertha Jorkins worked for the department at one time. She has been all around; she worked for so many departments. You don’t think it’s significant. The fact that she once worked for Barty Crouch, Sr. is exactly how she wound up at Barty Crouch, Sr.’s house that one time when she happened to see Barty Crouch, Jr. That one bit of information that is exactly the same bit of information that Voldemort takes that formulated this whole plan and this whole book, and it’s something Percy says. “Crouch is distracted, he’s such a great man, he cares about this former employee he once had,” and you’re just like, “I buy it.” This is the most important bit of information hidden in the least likely place.

Micah: That’s a really good call-out.

Laura: It is.

Micah: There’s also Ludo Bagman, who we will meet pretty shortly in the next couple of chapters. He is the Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports, and he’s the one who has lost one of his employees, Bertha Jorkins. She went to Albania and she never came back. And given what we witnessed in the first chapter, should we as readers expect that Voldemort maybe has something planned for the Quidditch World Cup?

Eric: Yeah, probably, especially because it’s been named dropped in now two chapters, and these are the early chapters where no names are spared. They’re all very important.

Micah: All right. Now, let’s get to Bertha, because she gets a whole lot of shade thrown her way in this chapter. [laughs]

Laura: For real.

Micah: I really think Percy just goes hard on her. And I wonder, given everything that you all talked about in the last episode, Laura, with Chloé and Meg and Pam, could this be a bit of a larger commentary by J.K. Rowling on how women are perceived in certain work environments? I think it’s important to remember that this was written in the early 2000s. And there’s a heavy influence for J.K. Rowling, given her experiences in workplace environments in the ’80s and ’90s, so not necessarily… even though it’s written in the early 2000s, she’s not drawing on her experiences in the early 2000s; she’s likely drawing on her experiences in her prior careers. So, curious to get your thoughts there.

Laura: Yeah, well, I will say those experiences are a tale as old as time, because this very much still exists with certain people in certain workplaces. I don’t know, though, if I think Percy is actually participating in this right here. He could be, right? I think it totally depends on your interpretation. I really get the sense that Percy is kind of an equal opportunity pick-me, right? He is the definition of a pick-me. And I think that he is someone who will put anyone else down to make himself seem better, seem superior. We have to remember 30 seconds before he said all of this about Bertha Jorkins, he was talking smack about Ludo Bagman too.

Eric: Well, I don’t even think it’s about being a pick-me, which is a fun word I’m just learning.

Laura: Oh, really? Eric, get on TikTok. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, I never… oh, really? That explains it.

Laura: TikTok explains so many things. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. But I think what it is is he’s simply regurgitating the company line, the company line about Bertha that she was forgetful, that she’s department to department… Percy doesn’t have the maturity to think for himself at this point. He is only saying… it’s like the kids who – we’re all guilty of this – your first political views are your parents’ political views. You get in trouble for saying something ignorant, because it’s what you heard at home. This is Percy at work. He’s just saying whatever he was told, or he’s repeating what grownups are saying in the office about Bertha, and so I don’t think it’s him specifically commenting at all on his opinion of her. I doubt he knew her.

Katie: Yeah, I was going to say that he’s only been working at the Ministry for a couple of months. Did he actually even know her?

Eric: No.

Micah: That’s a great question.

Laura: Probably not. And to that point, Eric, this got me thinking again about a real world work comparison, something that I think, unfortunately, can happen in most workplaces. I think Percy has been adopted by a toxic colleague who lives for office drama…

[Eric laughs]

Laura: … and has looped him in on all the hot goss, all the hot office goss, so Percy is basically parroting the limited information that he has to make himself sound more important and knowledgeable. I feel like Percy is on the toxic co-worker pipeline right now. He is setting himself up to become that person who is way too involved in the personal affairs of people at work and knows way too much about their personal lives, or so he thinks, and perpetuates office gossip. It’s not looking good for Percy at this point. [laughs]

Eric: No, it’s because his own family doesn’t accept him that he’s found this new family at work, but the new family at work is slated for demolition because the government is going down and Voldemort is coming up. And so I really feel for Percy because of the trajectory that he’s on. He’s not going to come out looking good. It’s this trajectory that puts him against his family in the next book and the next one.

Micah: Yeah, and it’s the way that he delivers all of this, is with an air of superiority. Because he works for the Ministry, he’s able to speak so eloquently and from a position of what he perceives to be power. And we actually see that a little bit later on when he teases the Triwizard Tournament, but doesn’t give any information about it.

Eric: Oh, yeah.

Micah: But I actually like that as a potential title, Laura, for this episode. “Percy the Parrot.”

Laura: Oh my God, I love that. Andrew, do it.

[Katie and Laura laugh]

Micah: We’ve got a little alliteration going on. Yeah, let’s just talk a little bit about some of the things that Percy says. He says Bertha has gotten lost plenty of times before, that she’s “hopeless,” she’s been shunted from department to department for years, and that she’s more trouble than she’s worth. And he also repeats something that Ludo says, that she probably misread the map and ended up in Australia instead of Albania. Wow.

Laura: I cannot.

Eric: [laughs] That’s actually funny, though. That’s actually… can I say, a lot of this is really bad hating on women. That one’s funny. I just laugh at that.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Laura: Okay, okay. But I have to bring this up. Because when I read this, I pulled up a world map.

Eric: Augh.

Laura: And I just have to say, if Bertha Jorkins is trying to go to Albania and she accidentally ends up in a country whose name the first three letters is AUS, I just want to point out Austria is right there.

Eric: That’s a lot closer. You’re right.

Laura: That’s a lot closer.

Eric: Yeah, well, if the Portkeys are alphabetized to each of these places, Australia isn’t as far away as it is geographically.

Laura: Yeah, I guess that’s true. But why stay there? [laughs] Come back.

Eric: Right. Well, these things don’t actually hold up against a lick of… and that’s actually the dangerous part that I have in here, is all of this that we see Percy saying about Bertha, whether it’s his opinion or not – and I think it is his opinion, as well, that she’s more trouble than she’s worth – that’s a really dangerous thing because this behavior that we see from the Ministry in not searching for one of their own employees is exactly the same behavior that denies Voldemort’s return and endangers the wizarding world and allows the government to fall later. It’s the same exact mechanism, this complete failure to conceive that something deeper and dire has really occurred, and playing it down because it’s convenient, because it means that the public won’t be in an uproar over it. And it buys you some time to go on being as mediocre and status quo as you always are. They are choosing what’s easy over what’s right.

Micah: And for Bagman, we don’t know him yet. That is a classic representation of his personality to say something like that. But when it’s coming through Percy, it just doesn’t land the same way, because we haven’t had the opportunity to meet Ludo yet. And I also think – this is going off of what you said, Eric – Ludo just doesn’t really seem like he takes much responsibility at all here either. He’s willing to jokingly suggest that Bertha is inept in the sense that she can’t figure out where she really wanted to go, but he’s also inept for not doing more to go and find her. He’s bad at his job. That’s his employee that he should….

Eric: Absolutely. Oh, he’s horrible at his job.

Laura: 100%.

Eric: Yeah. He’s a games and sports man, an ex-Quidditch player that just needs to get back to the games and sports.

Micah: And clearly she’s not challenged in any way. She works for the Ministry, so she must be of some level of intellect to get that job in the first place. And maybe she’s department hopping because she’s qualified in multiple areas and she has multiple skill sets. Why does it have to be because she’s bad at her job?

Eric: There you go! She’s damned if she does, she’s damned if she doesn’t. This is complete cultural commentary from this era. Justice for Bertha.

Laura: Yeah, not even just from this era. I’m telling you.

Eric: Oh, God.

Laura: That kind of thing is alive and well, unfortunately.

Micah: Well, the interesting thing about all this is that it’s so seemingly easy as a reader to just glance over this conversation and not pay it much attention, but there is so much happening between the lines in what is being said here. And I figured we could just wrap up the discussion – we teased this a little bit earlier – Percy alludes to the Triwizard Tournament. He’s being a little bit of a prick about it.

[Eric, Katie, and Laura laugh]

Micah: He’s clearly been going on about this with Ron and Fred and George for a while now. And I think that this was his opportunity, and he missed it, to be the cool brother who knew about this event and chose not to share the information with them.

Eric and Katie: Yeah.

Katie: He’s just out of Hogwarts; he knows how cool this would have been if he was at Hogwarts. He could have shared.

Eric: That’s a good point, Katie.

Laura: Honestly, I feel like a cool brother in this moment would have still kept it under wraps. You don’t want to give away too much; you want there to be an air of mystery. But you could literally say something like, or give a fun hint like, “Hey, you might want to learn some French. Wink.”

[Katie and Laura laugh]

Eric: Oh, that’s awesome.

Laura: Something like that, to be like, “Wait, something international is happening.”

Eric: Or “Charlie, we’ll be seeing you soon again, won’t we? Eh? Eh?”

[Katie laughs]

Eric: And then have multiple brothers talking about it or teasing it up. I just love that it’s fallen flat on Percy’s face the way that Harry is genuinely interested. And he looks to Ron and Ron is just like, “No, don’t, we’ve all… he wants us to ask. We’re not asking. None of us have ever asked, because he wants it more every time we don’t ask.” [laughs]

Laura: Don’t we all know someone like that, who drops heavy-handed hints clearly wanting you to ask about something? And you’re like, “I am not going to ask.” [laughs]

Eric: Give Percy a break. Everybody just give Percy a break. He’s literally running from home because the Ministry is quieter than his house. This kid needs some love and some support from his family.

Katie: I do have a soft spot for Percy, though. He’s not that bad.

Laura: He’s not. He’s misguided.

Katie: Yeah.

Odds & Ends

Micah: All right, well, I think that wraps up the discussion. We’ll do a couple of odds and ends here from the chapter. And what I liked about this discussion is we really didn’t spend any time with Harry, Ron, or Hermione, [laughs] even though they’re the lens through which we see all of this transpire. So we touched on this earlier, that Ginny turns red upon seeing Harry for the first time. This is just in case that, as a reader, you forgot that she has a crush On Harry. We also get the information that she is responsible for naming Pigwidgeon, which was a trivia question. Quizzitch question right, Eric? A couple weeks ago.

Eric: I believe so. That’s correct.

Laura: Yes, it was. And just for anyone who needs a reminder or might be curious, “Pigwidgeon” is a noun that means an insignificant or simple person. [laughs]

Micah: Oh, well.

Eric: Aww.

Laura: And Ginny thinks this is sweet.

Eric: That says more about Ginny, yeah.

Laura: I know, and Ron was like, “Ginny says it’s sweet.” And I was like, “What?”

Micah: No.

Laura: [laughs] “It’s sweet. He’s so simple.”

Micah: Well, remember her kids’ names. That’s all I’ll say.

Laura: True.

[Katie laughs]

Eric: Yeah, you got me there.

Laura: We should have seen it coming, honestly.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: Also thought it was important that only 11 were dining in the garden, so we don’t have to worry about the first to rise.

Eric: So there aren’t any pets in somebody’s pockets that are secretly grown men that we could count towards this total?

Micah: No.

Eric: Ugh.

Micah: Unless you want to count the garden gnomes and Crookshanks.

Eric: Oh, yeah.

Micah: Unfortunately, Andrew is not here; I was going to have fun with him on this. But sports, bro; we get Viktor Krum name dropped towards the end of this chapter. We also get just a little bit more insight into the Quidditch World Cup with some of the other countries that are mentioned and how everything played out for us to get to this final between Ireland and Bulgaria. And then lastly, Harry updates Ron and Hermione on his correspondence with Sirius, but doesn’t tell them about his scar or his dream. So this is one of those situations where Harry is just so happy, he doesn’t want to ruin the moment. And that could be looked back maybe in a couple chapters, maybe at the end of this book, as being a little bit of a misstep.

Eric: I agree.

Laura: Yeah.

Micah: But that wraps up Chapter 5.

MVP of the Week

Eric: Well, now it’s time, I believe, for MVP of the week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Eric: And I will give it to the garden gnomes for surviving Crookshanks as well as keeping the cat occupied. The reason Crookshanks isn’t bothering anyone right now is because the gnomes have his undivided attention. I think that’s cool that they are still alive. Good for them.

Laura: [laughs] I love how nobody has any objections to this.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: It’s like, the gnomes are taken care of, the cat’s busy, this is great. Hermione, you want to just leave him here?

Katie: It makes sense. [laughs]

Eric: Cats need exercise. It’s good for them.

Laura: I’m going to give mine, as I said earlier on in the show, to Bill, my punk rock king.

Micah: And I’m going to give it to Hermione because she was able to read the room a couple times in this chapter and just usher Harry and Ron to different locations, so I thought she had pretty good awareness in this one.

Katie: I’m giving mine to Charlie for explaining the Quidditch World Cup and how Ireland got to where it’s supposed to be.

Eric: I love it.

Micah: Not for the muscles?

Katie: And the muscles. [laughs]

Micah: And the burn? I guess we can mention Andrew gave his to the Burrow for being a cool place to hang and a wonderful wizarding world space.

Eric: Any time we’re at the Burrow it should get the MVP.

[MVP of the Week music ends]

Eric: If you have feedback about today’s discussion, you can of course contact us by emailing or sending a voice memo recorded on your phone and attached to an email to us at, or by using our phone number 1-920-3-MUGGLE; that’s 1-920-368-4453.

Micah: Next week Goblet of Fire Chapter 6, “The Portkey.”

Eric and Micah: Ooh.


Eric: It’s time now for Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s Quizzitch question was, of course, how many times did Harry physically visit the Burrow during the seven-book series? And this was a pretty hard one. I was pleased because it divided everyone; we don’t have as many winners as usual. A lot of people thought it was various numbers here. The correct answer was five, five times Harry actually physically visits the Burrow. And as Elizabeth K. put it, the answer breakdown is like this: Before the second year with the flying car, before the fourth year for the World Cup, before the sixth year Harry visits after getting Slughorn, the sixth year Harry visits for Christmas, and before the seventh year of Hogwarts for Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Elizabeth also said, “I thought it was more,” so there’s that. I will say also, Laura, there was a request from somebody named “I am Molly Weasley, she’s a girl boss.”

Laura: Oh.

Eric: The request was for you to read, and not me, the additional winners of this week’s Quizzitch. Are you interested?

Laura: Oh my god, yes. I’m so excited.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Eric: I feel like this is… okay.

Micah: What an honor this is.

Eric: I know you can do it justice. I know. You’ve got to have all the fun.

Laura: I mean, we’re going to see. I don’t know if I can live up to Eric, but we’re going to see if I can fill these shoes. All right, last week’s…

Eric: So these were the other correct winners, yes.

Laura: Yes, the other correct winners for last week’s question: Callie Loves Quizzitch; Cate; Dalia the 13-year-old; Dobby will you marry me I really wanna be mentioned here please let you guys get this dear God…

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Laura: … Does anyone else play try to guess which is Micah’s name?; Elizabeth K.; Give Us More Chloé; Grant Chapman; Hagrid’s Hog; Hagrid’s hippogriff eats ferret Draco; Hallow the uncreative Wolf; I am Molly Weasley (she a girlboss); – shout out – I wish we could go back to regular times; I’m Pringles that don’t come in the hard to grab can; IvyBug2013; Justice for Winky; LC; Light the fire tell your stories; Load of Quaffles; Maty B.; My son thought Micah was Tom Segura…

[Micah laughs]

Laura: … One Elder Wand to Rule Them All; The mirror over the mantle piece that cannot abide untucked shirts, hashtag unsung hero…

[Eric laughs]

Laura: … They see me Rowling; Visit the Burrow at Hogwarts on an Island in Daybreak Utah (search Instagram); okay. Voldemort Said “It’s Horcruxing Time” and started Horcruxing all over the place. Wow.

Eric: Yay.

Laura: So y’all, I just have to say, Eric makes that look so much easier than it is.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: No, to be fair you had three seconds’ notice, so I think you did excellent on that.

Laura: That’s fair. Thank you very much. Any time you want me to read those, I’d be happy to. They delight me.

Eric: Honestly, yeah.

Laura: They delight me. I don’t know why, they just do. It’s the simple things in life.

Micah: I did not submit this week, by the way.

Eric: You didn’t submit this week? Okay.

Micah: No.

Laura: Oh, I was going to guess…

Micah: Which one?

Laura: There was a dirty one. Hang on…

Micah: Hagrid’s Hog?

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: I was like, “Where’s the dirty one? That’s the one.” [laughs]

Micah: It wasn’t me. So clearly, I’m having an effect, which is fantastic.

Eric: Amazing, amazing. Micah is like, “My work here is done.” So here is… you know what, since I’m on a kick, on a generous kick of having the rest of you do Quizzitch for me, Katie or Micah, would you like to read next week’s Quizzitch question?

Katie: Sure. Next week’s Quizzitch question is: According to Amos Diggory, what family couldn’t get tickets to the Quidditch World Cup?

Eric: Submit your correct answers to us on the Quizzitch form located on the MuggleCast website by going to and clicking “Quizzitch” at the top of the main nav, or typing in your URL or search bar And as some closing reminders here, don’t forget the MuggleCast and #Millennial overstock store is now open. Visit to get one-of-a-kind MuggleCast gifts, while supplies last. Also, Millennial gifts. These are great holiday gifts to add to your wish list or for the MuggleCast and Millennial fans in your life.

Micah: And if you’re enjoying MuggleCast and think other Muggles would, too, tell a friend about the show. We’d also appreciate it if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app.

Laura: And you can visit 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. If you’re an Apple Podcasts subscriber, you can tap into the show and receive early and ad-free access to each episode for $5.99 a month. Whether pledging through Patreon or Apple Podcasts, free trials and annual subscriptions are available. And that Patreon link is

Micah: And of course, you can visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and, of course, to contact us.

Eric: That’s right. And we would like to thank Katie for joining us on this episode of MuggleCast.

Katie: Thank you for having me. This was great.

Micah: Great job.

Laura: You’re fabulous.

Katie: This was a lot of fun.

Eric: So that will be it for MuggleCast Episode 635. I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: I’m Laura.

Katie: And I’m Katie.

Laura: Bye, y’all.

Eric: Bye.