Transcript #639


MuggleCast 639 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #639, Christmas Lights or Chaos? (GOF Chapter 9: The Dark Mark)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Grab your wand and your best pair of running shoes as we try to avoid Death Eaters, Veela, and annoying Ministry officials, because this week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 9, “The Dark Mark.” There’s no better chapter to discuss during the holidays, as I wear a Santa Claus hat for our final episode of the year.

Eric: This is about as cheery a chapter as Batman Returns is for Christmas movies. [laughs] It’s got a lot of darkness.

Andrew: Yes. And we will be off for the next two weeks, but don’t fret, because we’d love to see you on Patreon, where there’s tons of bonus episodes available, including a brand new favorite headcanons installment, which is holiday-themed. So definitely check that out at Speaking of bonus MuggleCast, we also have another bonus up right now; we look back on 2023 and look ahead to 2024. And by the way, speaking of 2024: Beginning in 2024, those who financially support us via Apple Podcasts will be getting access to each installment of bonus MuggleCast. This is a new feature for Apple Podcasts subscribers. We’re also going to be raising the price of this subscription to $4.99 a month to accommodate for the additional content, and because Micah always says, “It’s such a great deal.” So it’s time for us…

Micah: Don’t blame me.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: To be fair, you do always say, “It’s such a great deal.”

Andrew: Yeah. And it is such a great deal that we need to bring the price up along with new benefits.

Micah: Well, look, the way that I think about this is you’re getting four episodes every month, and then you’re getting two bonus MuggleCast segments, so that’s less than $1 per piece of content. And isn’t it ad-free?

Andrew: It’s ad-free and you get it early, yeah. So that’s how you can support us.

Micah: Oh my gosh, it’s less than a Starbucks.

Andrew: [laughs] It’s less than a Starbucks.

Eric: “A Starbucks”?

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: You can give up one Starbucks a month to get ad-free, early access, six pieces of content.

Andrew: I agree.

Eric: You can take that to the bank.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: With your “a Starbucks.”

Eric: Micah needs a fun catchphrase, yeah.

Andrew: [laughs] Anyway, there’s many more benefits at for even more value, so definitely check either of those out. We really appreciate your support. We’re only doing the show because we have listener support; it really is as simple as that. And we have some big plans for 2024 as well. And again, we could only continue in this world of podcasting with your support at our backs. So thank you very much, everybody.

Game: Harry Potter Christmas quotes

Andrew: Like I joked – but also, I wasn’t really joking – today’s Chapter by Chapter is pretty dark, so first, we’re going to have a little holiday fun. We’re going to take a quiz together in which we have to identify what Harry Potter book a variety of Christmas-related passages are from. This is from Sporcle, and it’s a seven minute timer, but we’re definitely going to be able to knock this out in faster than seven minutes, I think. All right, and listeners, obviously please play along with us. So here we go. We’ve got 16 questions; here’s the first Christmas-related quote:

“His heart swelled with happiness and relief, and he felt like joining in as they heard Sirius tramping past their door towards Buckbeak’s room, singing ‘God Rest Ye, Merry Hippogriffs’ at the top of his voice.”

Laura and Micah: Order of the Phoenix.

Eric: Yeah, Sirius Black is only alive in two of those books.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Right.

“‘Go back to sleep’

Nah… presents!'”

Harry and Seamus.

Eric and Laura: Ooh.

Andrew: So the options are Goblet of Fire, Prisoner, Order, or Chamber.

Laura: I feel like it’s Chamber

Andrew: This sounds like an early one to me too.

Eric: I’m going to guess Goblet, maybe?

Micah: I was thinking Goblet because they’re not very nice to each other. Maybe it was just the way that it was being read.

Eric: Let’s go Goblet just because we’ve seen Chamber more recently, or we’ve read it, and it seems like…

Andrew: Okay. Oh, and you were right.

Eric: Hey!

Micah: Yay.

Laura: Good job. Good call.

Andrew: Next one:

“The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around.”

Well, obviously…

Laura: There’s only one option.

Eric: Deathly Hallows!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Number four:

“Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Also Philosopher’s Stone.

Laura: Also, yeah.

Eric: Click on that sexy Thomas Taylor cover.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: “On Christmas morning, Harry was woken by Ron throwing his pillow at him.”

Laura: Ooh.

Andrew: That’s generic.

Eric: That might be the line that directly precedes the next line of “We’ve got presents!”

Micah: So you’re saying Sorcerer’s Stone?

Eric: It’s either Sorcerer or Chamber.

Andrew: We already had two Sorcerer’s, so I vote Chamber.

Eric: I think it might be…

Laura: It’s going to suck if it’s Philosopher’s again. [laughs] It’s one of those two, I agree.

Andrew: Okay, I’m going to say…

Laura: Just executive decision.

Eric: Click on Chamber; it’s fine. Oh!

Andrew: No! Oh, it was Prisoner!

Laura: Oh, we were all wrong!

Andrew: Next one:

“I’d rather have them than that necklace.”

Half-Blood Prince?

Laura: Yeah.

Micah: Half-Blood Prince.

Eric: It’s the only one I can think of that mentions a necklace.

Andrew: Yes. Next one:

“It’s Christmas, and it’s not a crime to want to come to a party.”

Laura: Well, that’s obvious.

Andrew: Oh, and Slughorn said that, so obviously Half-Blood Prince. Okay,

“The more the merrier!”

Eric: … said Sirius. [laughs]

Andrew: So, Order.

Laura: Order of the Phoenix.

Eric: 5, yeah.

Andrew: “Oy! Presents!” [laughs] Ron.

Laura: Okay, Sporcle, how the…?

Eric: All right.

Andrew: We’re on the clock. Just answer. [laughs]

Eric: This has to be Chamber. It’s probably Chamber.

Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: Oh, it’s Prisoner again!

Eric: Oh, it’s also Prisoner!

Andrew: That’s the book we just reread!

Eric: Wait a minute – in POA, Ron hits him with a pillow, and says, “Oy, presents”? Ugh.

Laura: Actually, that tracks.

Andrew: All right, next one, from Hagrid:

“Come on, cheer up, it’s nearly Christmas.”

Eric: And Chamber is not an option.

Micah: Oh, it’s not an option.

Laura: No. Is it Philosopher?

Micah: Gobbler? [laughs] Gobbler. Goblet?

Eric: Gobbler. [laughs]

Andrew: I have no clue.

Eric: Let’s guess… hmm, 1?

Andrew: I don’t think it’s number 1. Really?

Eric: Well, I’m only thinking that Harry has got something to be sad about around Christmastime in the first book.

Laura: Yeah, and they’re spending so much time in the library trying to figure… because they’re at that point in the story, right? They’re trying to figure things out.

Andrew: Ohh.

Eric: Or wait, no, they only figure out Nicolas Flamel after the break, but they could be looking him up and then Hagrid gets upset with them. He’s like, “You lot, keep…” It could be Goblet.

Laura: I don’t know. I’m not confident in this one. Andrew, be the fearless leader and make an executive decision. [laughs]

Andrew: [sighs] I liked your reasoning about their research in the library.

Laura: Oh, but what if it’s wrong?

Andrew: Actually, wait, what if Harry is stressed around the Triwizard Tournament? I’m going to say Goblet. DAMN IT!

Eric: Ohh, it was 1!

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: Oh my gosh. See, ladies, ladies, let this be a lesson to you.

Andrew: [laughs] When in doubt…

Laura: We doubt ourselves too much. Don’t get in your head.

Micah: That’s Goblet of Fire.

Andrew: This one is obviously Goblet. Beauxbatons.

Micah: We’ve got to go; we’ve got three minutes.

Andrew: “Harry, I think it’s Christmas Eve!”

Laura and Micah: Deathly Hallows.

Andrew: This is from George:

“And you’re not sitting with the Prefects today, either… Christmas is a time for family.”

Eric: Wait, think about it…

Micah: Prisoner?

Eric: When does Percy have to stay over the holidays? And why?

Laura: When they go to visit Egypt?

Eric: They’re in Egypt? So that’s the end of 2.

Andrew: Oh, it was number 1!

Laura: No, because they went to Egypt in the summer.

Andrew: Oh. Okay, next one from Ron:

“Cheer up, it’s the Christmas holidays, Luna’ll be home!”

Got to be Order.

Eric: No, it’ll be…

Laura: Deathly.

Eric: Because he doesn’t even like her then. It’s Deathly Hallows.

Andrew: Ohh. From Dobby:

“Dobby is only wanting to wish Harry Potter ‘Merry Christmas’ and bring him a present, sir!”

2, 4, 6, or 5?

Laura: That’s Chamber, I think.

Eric: Is it Chamber? I thought it was Goblet, because what’s the one with the socks?

Laura: Oh, maybe it is Goblet, where he gives him Uncle Vernon’s socks?

Andrew: Oh.

Laura: Yeah, it’s Goblet.

Andrew: Yes! We were right. Final one:

“Dumbledore led them in a few of his favorite carols, Hagrid booming more and more loudly with every goblet of eggnog he consumed.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: This is when they’re all eating together, right? Maybe?

Eric: 3?

Micah: When Trelawney is there?

Laura: Is that Prisoner?

Micah: I think it’s Prisoner.

Andrew: Oh, that does sound… yeah. All right, here we go. Damn it, it was 2!

[Laura gasps]

Eric: Did we get 50%?

Laura: Oh my God. I am shook.

Andrew: We got 69%. Nice. All right, well, that tripped us up a decent amount, actually. So that was just the right challenge level, I think. Well, thank you, everybody, again, for another great year here at MuggleCast. We’re very grateful for you. This next year will be 19 years of MuggleCast. 19 years later.

Eric: I feel like the year went fast, but on a recent bonus when we went over what happened and also what to look forward to, I feel like this actually was a good year in retrospect, among other years, as far as official material. It was certainly a fun year to live and do this show during, so I think that was all right.

Micah: Yeah. I think it was great to get back in person, too, and Eric, you and I were in Chicago for LeakyCon, and being able to connect again with our listeners was great. It had been several years since we had done that in Boston, so I was appreciative for that. And also, getting to see you, getting to see Andrew… Laura, we’ve got to work on this. [laughs]

Laura: Yeah, well, we’ll make it happen in 2024. There’s Podcast Movement, right? [laughs]

Micah: There is.

Andrew: That is an option. That is an option.

Laura: I’m down for that.

Andrew: We will jump into Chapter by Chapter in a moment. But first, this week’s episode of MuggleCast is brought to you by Masterclass.

[Ad break]

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: It’s time for Goblet of Fire Chapter 9, “The Dark Mark,” and we’ll start, like we always do, with our seven-word summary.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Laura: Winky…

Micah: … struggles…

Andrew: … to…

Eric: … explain…

Micah: … herself…

Laura: … to…

Eric: … Crouch.

Andrew: Perfect!

Laura: Good job, y’all.

[Seven-Word Summary music ends]

Laura: Second week in a row that I feel like we were aligned. We were in sync.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Micah: So the way that we broke up this discussion, we’re going to talk about the Death Eaters and the Dark Mark, and then we’re going to get into Winky and her situation at the very end of the chapter. I did just want to say that we do discuss some heavy topics in this main discussion, and while we certainly pride ourselves on being a family friendly podcast, the content can get heavy at times and may not be suitable for all ages. I want to do a quick foreshadow alert; it was something that I caught in the early part of the chapter and it’s actually when Harry first falls asleep. It says,

“Harry saw himself in robes that had his name on the back, and imagined the sensation of hearing a hundred-thousand-strong crowd roar as Ludo Bagman’s voice echoed throughout the stadium, ‘I give you, Potter!'”

[Foreshadowing sound effect plays]

Micah: I forgot we had a…

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: There it is!

Andrew: I forgot too. I had to look for it. [laughs]

Eric: I was like, “We have a sound effect for that.”

Andrew: So this is foreshadowing the Triwizard Tournament, you’re saying?

Micah: Yeah, particularly the first task, right? When Harry enters the stadium to face the dragon, he’s got his robe with his name on the back of it. And I’m trying to remember… does Ludo officiate the commentary?

Eric: I think so.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: So it is a really nice foreshadow. And of course, it happens in Harry’s dreams, where many of the future events tend to pop up from time to time.

Eric: Good catch.

Laura: That is a good catch, because I think what Harry is imagining, and also what we’re led to believe as readers, is that if anything, it’s foreshadowing about Quidditch.

Eric: Right.

Laura: But we know that this actually could have a double meaning.

Micah: Yeah, absolutely. So the sweet dreams don’t last very long, and mass chaos ensues. And the Death Eaters use the post-Quidditch World Cup celebration to cause mass hysteria. It’s a mix of witches and wizards, some who are terrified, and some who are just drunk and enjoying the fun, and this makes it very hard for the Ministry to actually get to the Death Eaters that are causing all this commotion. And there’s also a lot of explosions, a lot of curses being fired in different directions, and I thought that this is comparable to how terrorists often use the situation that they create to hide amongst the chaos.

Andrew: Yeah, what jumped to mind, for me, was the Boston Marathon bombing, because that was set off in a very busy environment. And of course, when something like that happens in such a busy environment, it’s presumably easy to hide in plain sight because there’s so many people scrambling not knowing what’s going on.

Eric: It’s really wild, too, looking at the different… well, this is basically the culmination of the anti-Muggle sentiment, which will become even clearer throughout the chapter. But what began as harmless fun – or might even be presented as harmless fun or seem like it to some of these people who are drunk, not paying attention, chiming in – leads to real harm, and real harm is being done. And so the comparisons to terrorism or another comparison we’re about to make is exactly very true and apt, I think, because this is all stemming from people who ultimately have these biases and don’t any longer have any inhibitions.

Micah: Right, and it’s also an event that is supposed to be a celebration, and it’s taking advantage of something that would normally be very positive and leveraging that for their own nefarious purposes in this case. And the Death Eaters are doing a very good job of concealing themselves; they’re dressed in these hooded cloaks with masks. And they’re marching in a Klan-like formation, and I thought to myself that this is very similar to the attire of the KKK here in the United States and the rallies that they often hold, and unfortunately, they still do it to this day. And I’m thinking back to… Charlottesville is probably the most recent one that, for us here in the United States, we can recall where it’s been so prominently displayed on television and other forms of media.

Laura: Yeah, for sure. And I think it’s such a great comparison for this chapter, because I think there’s probably a tendency in the wizarding world – as there is in the Muggle world – when something bad happened a perceived long time ago, people think that because it’s not happening anymore, because it’s no longer overtly active, that it’s done and that we’ve weeded out that particular cultural rot and we’re beyond it. But we’re not, because you never fully weed that kind of thing out, and that’s why the KKK example is so relevant here, because although the KKK are still alive and well in this country – we know that for a fact, to your point, Micah – they are generally seen as being less influential and less powerful than they once were. I think in some ways they’re seen as being more underground than they used to be. The fact that it still exists at all is obviously a problem, but that just goes to speak to how insidious this kind of discrimination and bigotry can be, that even if you think it’s gone, there’s still that undercurrent, right? And I was actually thinking about a historical point of reference that I can personally speak to on this topic, because I can see how somebody reading this chapter could look at Ron and be like, “How does Ron not know what the Dark Mark is? How does he not know what it means? It’s crazy to me that he’s raised in this world, and it seems like of the three of them of the trio, Ron should be the person who understands what’s going on.” But this actually isn’t super atypical. Y’all know that I’m from Georgia; I grew up here. The county in Georgia that I grew up in, Forsyth County, up until very recently in history – I’m talking late 1980s – had declared itself an all-white county. It was a sundown county, where essentially it just wasn’t safe to be there as a person of color, and it certainly wasn’t safe to be there after sunset. And there is a lot of history that you can read about Forsyth County, in particular in a book called Blood at the Root that talks about the really violent history in Forsyth County around being a sundown county. So just to put it in perspective, this was happening into the late 1980s. I was born in 1988. So this was happening all around the time that all of us were either just being born or were very, very young. I grew up in Forsyth County, and I did not learn about any of this sundown county or any of the violent history. Sundown policies are enforced through intimidation and violence, and it is well documented that it happened, but again, it wasn’t something that was ever discussed or taught to us in school. And even outside of an educational context, nobody ever talked about it. As a matter of fact, my eighth grade year of school, my social studies class was called Georgia Studies. [laughs]

Eric: Wow.

Laura: And we didn’t talk about it there, even though we lived in the probably most nationally prominent sundown county in the country, because Oprah actually went and filmed a special there in like, 1986, at great personal risk, because of these policies and these ideologies and how dangerous it was to be Black in Forsyth County.

Eric: Oh my God.

Laura: So yeah, it is highly documented. But if you’re a kid and you don’t know that that happened, and none of the adults who were there and remember what it was like talk about it, then you’re not going to know about it. So it actually makes total sense that Ron has no idea what’s going on here. And I know that’s a little bit of a tangent, but it felt like a really relevant real-life touch point to what we’re seeing happen in this chapter.

Andrew: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that.

Micah: It is, because both are hiding in plain sight, right?

Laura: Right.

Micah: To your point, the experiences that you’ve had in growing up in Forsyth County with the KKK, they’re right there, right? And nobody necessarily knows, or nobody really talks about it. And I feel like that’s the case, too, with the Death Eaters. Yes, they’re walking around, and they’re cloaked and they’re masked, but for so long of a period of time after Voldemort’s downfall, they were also hiding in plain sight. And they’re using this moment… it’s not really clear, and we can talk about this later. Are they doing it to have fun? Are they doing it to inspire fear? Is it a little bit of both? And then bleep gets real once the Dark Mark is actually cast. And I think they actually were scared by that, because they didn’t realize that the situation was going to actually escalate to that level. They weren’t expecting Barty Crouch, Jr. to be there and cast the Dark Mark.

Eric: Yeah, but they unleashed real horrors this evening.

Micah: Oh, yeah, of course.

Eric: And they were given that opportunity, because everybody just ignores their existence and allows them… basically creates an environment where something like this can happen. And Laura, to your extremely personal and relevant point, I just think that the failure to teach new generations about racism, especially in counties where it’s practiced, leads kids to just believing that it’s a fairy tale, to not understanding the real harm that it does. And it really – I’m just going to say it – is tantamount to complacency. Ultimately, it makes it okay, because you’re treating it like it didn’t happen. And it did happen. And people were very deeply harmed, and continue to be so. So kids grow up; they believe it’s harmless. It just is not a great thing for anybody. And the Ministry, we know it’s uncomfortable for them to talk about Voldemort. In the 13 years, though, since he fell, it’s time to actually start preventing that kind of thing from happening again by talking about it. So yeah, Ron not knowing about the Dark Mark is very interesting, but it makes sense. Nobody’s talking about it.

Andrew: Which is frustrating, because to Laura’s story and to your point, it’s so recent. 13 years really is nothing, and they’re moving on like nothing ever happened. And by the way, Voldemort is still somewhere lurking.

Eric: Yeah, and this is a very obvious sign that the Ministry didn’t get everybody. And this is a big FU to the Ministry; this is one of the most Ministry events of all… somebody in this chapter says that, too, “I can’t believe they did this with… everyone from the Ministry is here.” And there’s a group of people… we’re going to get to what they’re doing, but you know, with the Muggles, and that is, “Hello, we’re free. You didn’t get us, otherwise, we’d still be an Azkaban.”

Laura: I feel like there’s a point to be made there about why you never see certain Ministry employees and Death Eaters in the same place.

Eric: Wow. The call is coming from inside the house.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And that’s not to say that everyone at the Ministry is on board with this, but to your point, Eric, leaning into the complacency because it’s comfortable, because you don’t want to talk about it, because it was an ugly time. And best case scenario, you hated it and you hope it never happens again. We all know what happens to people who don’t study their history and aren’t aware of their history – they’re just doomed to repeat it, which is exactly what happens.

Eric: And you want to say, “Oh, it’s harmless,” or “Oh, it’s not going to…” or “We’re better than that.” You’re not. We’re not. As people, we are not better than that. And talking about it is the only way you can prevent for it.

Micah: Well, this was alluded to a bit already, but the Roberts family are the main victims of the Death Eaters that are marching through the camp site. And they’re described as being handled like puppets. They’re completely vulnerable; they’re unable to defend themselves. It’s really a nasty scene.

Andrew: And Ron says at least twice, like, “Wow, that’s really messed up. That is really messed up.” This also explains to us why there was such a focus on Mr. Roberts a couple chapters ago; we were wondering about that, like, “Why are we even dealing with this guy? The wizards could have just like, sent him out; confused him and sent him far away.” But Rowling involved Mr. Roberts and the whole family just to illustrate how terrible Death Eaters are, that they will mess with Muggles in a crowded space for fun.

Eric: Yeah, and we might want to issue another content warning because of, specifically, what’s being done to Mrs. Roberts, and also what happens with Draco and Hermione later. There’s some very ugly stuff here, and it just shows how this cannot be tolerated.

Micah: Yeah. And I think that certainly when we went through this chapter the first time for Chapter by Chapter, I’m not sure that we were all reading as deep into the text as as we’re doing now.

Andrew: Oh, no.

Micah: And there’s a lot of things that we’re talking about that we’ve probably gone through our own life experiences in the last 13 years since we’ve talked Goblet of Fire, and we’ve seen things happen around the world that are influencing a lot of this conversation, but in particular with Mrs. Roberts – and I apologize, because I actually read this somewhere and I can’t remember where I came across it – but she’s flipped upside down to reveal her undergarments. And as if that situation is not bad enough, Draco Malfoy, when the trio run into him a little bit later on as they’re trying to escape what’s happening, he threatens Hermione with the same kind of treatment. And now, you could say, “Well, Mrs. Roberts is a Muggle; Hermione is Muggle-born, so he’s just making an association.” But whether or not this registers in his head, he is essentially threatening her with sexual assault. And he’s 13/14 at this time; I’m not sure that that’s necessarily processing. He’s just looking to inflict some sort of harm, and we know Draco; he’s not going to deliver on it. He’s more of a verbal abuser than anything else. But this is pretty nasty; it’s about as nasty as it gets and about as bad as we see him in the entire series. Somebody asked the question – I think it was you, Eric – is this his worst moment? I don’t know that there is a worst one, honestly.

Eric: Nope.

Andrew: Yeah. Whether or not he would actually follow through with it, it’s definitely a really bad moment. And not that this excuses it, but kids say terrible things sometimes without realizing what they’re actually saying and what they’re actually talking about. And again, I’m not defending Draco in this moment, but suspect that that’s what’s happening here. I have memories of kids talking a lot of smack. He’s doing it because he gets a kick out of it, which is gross, but…

Eric: Yeah. And it’s funny because he’s asked about where his parents are, and it’s very clear that they actually are with that group of people, that he’s been left on his own to just be smarmy with people. But by the end of this chapter, it’s said, I think two or three more times, “Yeah, Malfoy’s parents were probably definitely with that group.” Children of these horrible people are doing horrible things.

Laura: For sure. I think in this case, and like most of the time we see Draco, I think that he is a bully and a coward who feels invincible when his parents are on the up and up in terms of their social standing right now. So in this circumstance, his parents are on the side that holds all the social power in this particular circumstance, so he feels emboldened to bully and terrorize verbally Hermione, and by association, Harry and Ron. But I think, just like we see later on in the series when he, despite holding these ideologies and being on the Dark Lord’s side, can’t bring himself to kill Dumbledore even though it was his mission. He’s been setting up all year to be able to do this. I don’t know that Malfoy would actually be brave enough in this moment to alert Hermione to the Death Eaters’ attention.

Eric: It’s just such a ridiculous threat, too, because she’s a witch. That’s what Ron says, too: “She’s a witch.” She’s not a Muggle, and Muggle-born people are not equatable to Muggles, and there’s nothing wrong with Muggles. He’s wrong on so many levels. And the fact that his parents in upbringing told him that it’s okay to say this kind of thing, to joke about this kind of thing, is the entire point. It shows you everything you need to know about Lucius and Narcissa.

Andrew: Well, and think how much worse this situation would have gotten, for the kids in particular, if Draco did alert the Death Eaters to Hermione, and let’s say the Death Eaters go after Hermione. Then what are Ron and Harry going to do? Of course, they’re going to come to Hermione’s defense, and other people are going to as well, and then they’re probably going to lose to the Death Eaters. So this could have gotten a lot worse too.

Eric: So getting back to the Roberts family – and it is the mother and the father and the two children – I’m of the mind that there is some trauma that isn’t fixable by a Memory Charm. I think that they’ve been doing Memory Charms on Mr. Roberts, at least, for weeks now, and his brain is already probably pretty frazzled from it. But trying to make you forget something as prolonged and awful as this probably, I would say, can’t be done. So do we agree on that point? And then my second question is, what kind of reparations could the Ministry do, or do we expect that they do, for this family in the wake of this?

Laura: They don’t do anything.

Andrew: [laughs] I was going to say put them in a nice cottage or something, by a lake.

Eric: They need to set these people up for life, absolutely. Give them an armed guard forever, all the gold in a Gringotts vault…

Andrew: But they’re Muggles; what are they going to do with all that? [laughs]

Eric: The equivalent of all that gold.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Eric: No, but really, put them somewhere, give them their wildest dreams, and cast all the best charms to keep them comfortable for at least a generation. That’s what they need to do.

Andrew: Yeah, something to keep them comfortable. I agree with that.

Laura: But they definitely didn’t, and wouldn’t.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: This is the Ministry’s responsibility.

Laura: I agree.

Eric: There’s nobody to fight for the Muggles and how they’ve been violated in this way.

Andrew: But this is all the more reason to just keep all Muggles far away from the Quidditch World Cup and future ones.

Laura: Right.

Andrew: Yeah, because if something like this didn’t happen, something else would happen. Of course, you said they had to keep having their memories wiped, and as we said a couple of weeks ago, that probably grinds down your brain into mush. So yeah, just keep the Muggles away, period.

Micah: And this child is spinning 60 feet up in the air; his head is lolling from one side to the other. Andrew, when you were talking earlier about Ron, this is specifically what he referred to as being so sickening. And part of it, too, is – and Eric, I know you touched on this – is a child’s brain development affected by these types of Memory Charms, right? They’re not old enough to the point where their brain would even be fully developed, and they’re having an event as traumatic as this happen to them, and then their memory is supposed to be erased like it never happened?

Eric: Even if they don’t have the memory, their body has the memory. The body keeps…

Micah: Exactly.

Eric: They’re going to have PTSD. They’re going to be…

Micah: The body keeps score? Is that what you were going to say?

Eric: Yeah, yeah. In the quiet moments and things, they’re going to be on edge and not know why. And it’s because they’ve been attacked in this way when they were probably sleeping in their beds, completely unaware, and roused from their home and paraded through the streets. I said a couple of weeks ago that they were subdued a little bit magically or something. They’re not. They’re all conscious, and Mrs. Roberts in particular is entirely conscious this whole time, and that is so much worse than what I remembered. And you’re right, Andrew, too, there is a component here where it hits harder these days. We’re all talking about this, how today’s current climate, when Charlottesville and other events are so recent, really makes it feel and hit harder and feel more possible, like it could happen any day, that this kind of hate is still in this world.

Micah: Yeah. There’s a great line that trauma isn’t what happens to you; it’s what happens inside of you as a result of what happens to you.

Eric: Wow.

Micah: So the event itself is not the trauma. So these individuals, despite the event being wiped from their memory, are still going to have to deal with the after effects of this happening to them.

Laura: And not know why, right?

Micah: And not know why, yeah, exactly.

Andrew: This is our best Christmas episode ever!

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: On that note, let’s move on to some green lights in the sky!

Eric: Yay!

Andrew: Oh, Christmas lights!

Laura: Santa!

Eric: Do they twinkle? Are they leprechauns? Are the leprechauns back?

Micah: No, they went to sleep; they were drunk.

Eric: Oh.

Micah: So we move along in the chapter, and we’re now in a forest clearing type of area. And we hear the incantation “Morsmordre,” which is a mix of French words: “mort,” which means death, which we obviously know from Voldemort’s name, and “mordre,” which means to bite or sting. This is a very scary thing to see in the sky. It’s not something that has been seen for many years. And it scares not just the average witch or wizard that’s there; it also scares the Death Eaters, because they weren’t expecting that.

Eric: It shows the inner hypocrisy among all types of people as well, because none of them are really bold enough to send up the Dark Mark themselves. That’s a step too far. They’ll torture Muggles in front of large groups of people, but when the Mark is cast, that’s like saying his name, right? Death Eaters are terrified to say his name, and sending up the Dark Mark is the exact same thing. And it is a repudiation of the Death Eaters by Barty Crouch, Jr., who we know is the one that sends up the Dark Mark to tell them that they’re cowards and that they aren’t really his loyal followers.

Micah: Yeah, and I think it’s most comparable to the swastika. I think we all know that Hitler adopted it as the primary symbol for the Nazi Party in the 1920s. The murderous legacy of the Nazi regime, especially the Holocaust, permanently converted the swastika into a symbol of hate and anti-Semitism. And similar to how Nazis would wear a swastika band on their arm – this is something that we’re going to learn a little bit later on in this book – Death Eaters had the Dark Mark etched into their forearms.

Laura: And I’m glad that you made the comparison to the swastika for the Dark Mark, Micah, because obviously even today, as we’re seeing rates of anti-Semitism on the rise, we are seeing more and more cases of the swastika being used to inspire terror, even if people are just painting it somewhere.

Micah: Yeah, and both of these marks are meant to inspire fear, to convey hatred. And to your point, Laura, Arthur mentions, during the first wizarding war, how the Dark Mark would be cast above people’s homes where Death Eaters had murdered their families. And this is unsettlingly similar to homes or places of worship being marked with swastikas.

Eric: Yep, and just this idea… Arthur Weasley also says that half the Muggle killings during the first war, during Voldemort’s reign, were by people having fun, and that shows you just what a culture acceptance of tolerance to killing Muggles existed, especially among Voldemort’s followers. Like, “Hey, go out and do this. The Muggles deserve it. They’re not like you. They’re lesser than.” Voldemort is a lot more bigoted and a lot more dark in the pages of this book than he has ever been before for these kinds of reality checks.

Andrew: And it was disturbing to see Arthur recount like, “You had to have been there; you don’t understand how terrifying it was.” That was another really dark moment in this chapter. This is new to Ron and Harry; Hermione is the only one of the trio who understands how serious the Dark Mark is. But what I also found interesting about this is like, what is the right age to teach kids at Hogwarts about the Dark Mark? It seems they should definitely be educated on it, but then what is the right age? I feel like sooner rather than later, considering that only last happened a little over a decade ago.

Laura: I mean, look at our own educations. And there’s always an age appropriate way to teach these things, right? But I remember learning about the Holocaust in like, fifth grade for the first time.

Andrew: Yeah, pretty young.

Laura: And again, there is an age appropriate way to teach these things. I mean, I think we all read The Diary of Anne Frank, probably multiple times in school.

Eric: And Night.

Laura: And Night; that was another one. So yeah, it seems like there is a way to normalize talking about this horrible thing that happened in their society instead of trying to hide it.

Eric: In terms of what’s the right age to teach this, Harry just spent the entire last year of Hogwarts with a suspected Death Eater on the loose. That would have been the time for the whole government to start a curriculum on Death Eaters, what they were about, what they did, as a way of teaching and arming the students to suspect and locate him.

Andrew: Very good point.

Eric: What a great year to talk about Death Eaters, honestly, was last year.

Micah: Right. This goes to the whole complacency/complicity conversation we were having earlier. They look at Sirius as just being the one rogue agent, right? They don’t think broader, the fact that there could be more Death Eaters out there somewhere lurking around.

Laura: It’s scapegoating out of convenience, which we see from this Ministry all the time, and we’re going to see it later in this chapter.

Micah: It made me wonder – and we talked a little bit about this with Arthur – what it was like to have lived through Voldemort’s reign, what it must have been like to come back home. It had to be a constant thought in the mind of the wizarding world community when they would go out to work, or they would go out to the grocery store or anything, right? Just leave their house. When they came back, they didn’t know whether or not they were coming home to something awful. And it also reminded me of Slughorn. Remember how he behaves in the very early onset of Half-Blood Prince when Dumbledore and Harry come for him? He’s in hideout mode, and I’m wondering if that’s what a lot of witches and wizards had to do to stay safe from Voldemort.

Andrew: Yeah, hiding out, dealing with constant uncertainty, probably not able to sleep at night…

Eric: Arthur specifically calls it “everyone’s worst fear, the very worst.”

Micah: And we also talked briefly about this last point here, whether the Dark Mark was cast to inspire fear in those that were at the Quidditch World Cup, or to inspire fear in the Death Eaters themselves, and I think it’s probably a bit of both. Right, Andrew?

Andrew: Yeah. But also, I’m wondering, is it inspired by Voldemort’s recent progress? Are there rumors that Voldemort is making some moves, so it’s time to get the band back together and start instilling some fear again? Because I thought we were led to believe that the Death Eaters are excited about what’s been going on with Voldemort, because we also hear Harry thinks to himself, “I just had this dream a couple days ago and now this is happening?” These things are related, he suspects.

Eric: Yeah, I can see how from an outside perspective, it seems like the Death Eaters are aware of and in direct planning with Voldemort. We know that they’re not; Voldemort is not directly interacting with any Death Eater besides Wormtail and Barty Crouch, Jr. until the end when he calls them to the graveyard. So it’s interesting, because in the end, Barty Crouch, Jr.’s casting of the Dark Mark begins a year-long terror campaign against his fellow Death Eaters. Between this Dark Mark that sends them scuttling – everyone else in the group sees all the people in hoods start running when they see it, Disapparating immediately. Then the Dark Marks on their arm start growing less faint, right, throughout the year. This is what Karkaroff eventually tells… I think it’s Snape. And so to be a Death Eater who is causing this issue with the Muggles at the Quidditch World Cup, to see the Dark Mark, to be scared by somebody who’s either Voldemort himself or somebody who’s more faithful cast that to scare you out of your wits, and then to see the Mark on your arm… you’re going to have to atone for your deceptions and your departure from Voldemort’s inner circle. And that’s pretty much what I think is said in this chapter, even, is that the people who got away, the people who claimed that they were under a guise or something, they all abandoned the cause. And so Barty Crouch, Jr. sees them as hypocrites.

Laura: Exactly.

Micah: And Barty was a fall guy, to some extent, right? He took the fall. So moving along here, switching gears a little bit. So we do get Winky found at the scene of the crime. She is Stupefied. And of course, she is being unjustly accused of casting the Dark Mark, and basically convicted in the court of public opinion by several of the folks who are onsite. And I wanted to start, though, going back, because we do see Winky earlier in the chapter trying to get away from the chaos. This is when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are running throughout the campsite. They run into Veela. They run into Stan Shunpike. There’s a lot of fun little moments. But Winky in particular, it’s noted several times that it appeared as if she was being held back by something invisible, and I wanted to start there. And I know, Laura, you had some comments on this.

Laura: I thought this was really brilliant, because we know what’s actually happening here is it’s Crouch Jr. under an Invisibility Cloak pulling her, right? But Harry remembers that Dobby physically could not disobey orders, so he makes the assumption that Winky is so terrified and trying to run away, but that because she can’t physically disobey orders and Barty Crouch, Sr. told her to stay put, presumably, she is fighting against herself to be able to run away. That’s actually not what’s happening.

Eric: Two different kinds of invisible forces. [laughs]

Laura: Right.

Andrew: It’s a very fun misdirect, and you could potentially fool readers who really know their stuff as they’re reading for the first time, and yet there’s something else afoot.

Micah: Absolutely.

Eric: Yeah, it’s a perfect trick to have Harry see something he recognizes, and assume and be like, “Oh, we’ve seen this before.” We haven’t, but thank you for playing. [laughs]

Micah: Right. Yeah, it’s just great writing by J.K. Rowling. We see it, as you say, many times throughout the series. But wanted to talk a little bit about Barty Crouch, Sr. in this moment. So I guess to take a step back, as soon as the Dark Mark is cast, Ministry officials appear right away and they’re looking for the culprit. They blame Harry; at one point, they blame all three of them for having been responsible for this. They say, “The noise came from over there,” the Stupefy spell is fired, and we end up with Winky. But his treatment of Winky is really disgusting on so many levels. And Winky becomes, as this situation unfolds, his convenient culprit. And she is very much torn between protecting Barty Crouch, Jr., telling the truth – she gets very edgy and very nervous, almost to the point of revealing what was going on, but she doesn’t. And she also wants to keep her job. I mean, she’s essentially at times groveling at the feet of her master, as it’s actually said in the pages. And it’s just… this is a very sad situation to watch. This is really how house-elves are treated.

Andrew: Yeah, and it’s partly sad because these house-elves serve their masters, and you would expect that they would be getting some respect back after earning so much trust and putting in so much time over the years. And yet, they’re still treated like garbage.

Eric: Crouch is, in these moments, punishing Winky for getting caught, and punishing Winky for failing to keep his son in check. And he’s also in this incredibly impossible situation with the rest of the Ministry officials here, too, that he has to constantly defend his own record, when it’s suggested that he teaches his elf how to conjure the Dark Mark and all this other stuff. He says, “My record shows that…” He’s basically using the existence of his son, which nobody is talking about in this moment, the fact that he sent his own son to Azkaban prison where his son died, presumably, as a way to get out of suspicion for any wrongdoing on his part. And it’s cruel, because Winky is still the fall person for this, and so it’s just ugly.

Micah: It’s a flex, right? It’s a flex by Crouch, specifically in the direction of Amos Diggory. And yeah, it’s almost, Eric, it’s the indignation, “The gall you have to question my house-elf and my teachings of my house-elf that she would ever be able to do something like this.”

Eric: But he doesn’t let her off the hook because he’s still angry that she failed to keep his own son…

Micah: Well, there has to be some kind of justice here, right? It can’t just be that Winky gets away, even though the evidence suggests otherwise, and we’re going to talk about that, right? Harry, Ron, and Hermione heard a deep voice, presumably a male voice, casting Morsmordre, and only Voldemort’s followers know this spell and very few know how to cast it. And Winky is not in her right state of mind either; that’s clear. She is frazzled, she is stressed, she’s anxious. She’s had a full week of work. A full year of work.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: And not been given much time off.

Eric: A full life of work. Time off?

Micah: This reminds me of the conversations we’ve had about the Ministry and how they don’t look at the evidence. They go for the convenient culprit, like they did with Hagrid in Chamber of Secrets, like they did with Buckbeak in Prisoner of Azkaban; they go at Winky here in Goblet of Fire.

Andrew: With the kids, like, why believe kids?

Eric: Well, and you know who’s doing that bullying? Amos Diggory is the one who’s really doing a majority of the questioning. I want to ask, what the hell is his deal? [laughs]

Micah: He’ll get his; don’t worry.

Andrew: Ooh. Merry Christmas, Amos.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Oh my God. No, but it’s fascinating because I totally forgot he was even in this scene, but he’s actually the one doing the majority of the questioning of everyone. And he’s questioning Harry, and he actually annoys Arthur, and that is a treat to see Arthur even be like, “What are you on about? No, of course not.” It’s wild, but yeah, Amos Diggory, in whatever capacity, I think it’s… whether he’s the one that says he works in the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures or not?

Micah: Yeah.

Eric: Like, okay, so that’s his edge? But yeah, the house-elf holding a wand is why he thinks he can prosecute her, I guess, in this moment.

Micah: And of all wands, it’s, of course, Harry’s wand.

Laura: Right.

Micah: And it’s funny; I was looking back at some of the notes from the first time we did this chapter, and there’s a great line in the show notes that said, “How does Harry forget his wand? It’s like your cell phone. You don’t leave home without it. You always know where it is.”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: Well, he loses it.

Micah: In the box, right?

Laura: He doesn’t actually lose it in the woods, right?

Eric: Right, he says he lost it in the woods, but he actually lost it long before that, because I think Barty Crouch snuck past Winky and took it out of his back pocket or something when they were…

Laura: Yeah.

Micah: Right. But think about how long that is; I mean, several hours. And it’s from the time he leaves the box to the time this all happens. He doesn’t notice it’s missing?

Laura: Harry is not the most observant guy; I don’t know if y’all haven’t noticed this.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Harry needs an AirTag. Christmas gift for Harry. A stocking stuffer.

Eric: Needs an AirTag, aww.

Micah: And I was wondering, too, was the wand proficient in casting the spell because it’s the brother wand of Voldemort’s?

Eric: Ohh.

Laura: That’s why it came so easy.

Eric: I think it would run on the strength of Barty Crouch, Jr.’s conviction alone. I think he could get a toy wand to cast the real thing.

Andrew: Whoa.

Laura: The Fisher-Price wand?

Andrew: Now that’s a security nightmare.

Micah: All right, so a couple quick points here before we wrap up this chapter discussion, because it’s been a heavy one. I was curious, do we think Hermione growing up in the Muggle world informed her views on house-elves? And of course, we’re going to have a lot of time to talk about this in Goblet of Fire with SPEW. And as a contrast to that, do we attribute Ron’s views to his immaturity and his own upbringing within the wizarding world? Because we’ve talked a lot about how house-elves are the norm.

Andrew: Right.

Micah: There’s no reason for Ron to think otherwise, based on how he was raised. Now, certainly, his viewpoints can change as he grows older, and they do. But Hermione seems to have a very clear position on this, and I’m wondering if it’s because of what she learned growing up in the Muggle world, particularly with slavery.

Andrew: Exactly, partly that. You think the phrase “Hate is taught,” whether it’s racism, homophobia, etc. Ron has never known another way with house-elves. House-elves exists to serve, period. He’s never seen, evidently, resistance to house-elves in how they serve their masters. So then suddenly, Hermione comes and is like, “Whoa, wait a second,” then he evolves over time. But I don’t think it’s Ron being immature. I think that’s just how it’s always been in the wizarding world, so why think any different? We also have to keep in mind his age here.

Laura: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s just normal for Ron, like you were saying. And there are arguments to be made about what modern-day slavery looks like here in the real world, and you can maybe make the argument that because Hermione grew up in this Muggle world, some of those modern-day examples might not be things that would immediately stick out to her the way that house-elves do, because they’re very clearly reminiscent of a type of slavery that I think is oftentimes believed to be very old, a long time ago, so far back that it seems unimaginable that anyone would do it. And one, it’s really not that long ago, but two, it just doesn’t exist in this way in Hermione’s world. She’s never been exposed to it, so she knows it’s not normal.

Micah: Yeah, it’s a raw reaction. She’s experiencing it firsthand, and she calls it for what it is. And Arthur actually agrees with her; there’s a conversation between the two of them where he does agree with how Winky was treated by Barty Crouch, Sr., but he says to her, “This is not the time for that.” And just to end, this starts Hermione being very outspoken and critical, particularly of the Ministry. We saw a little bit of it, I think, in Prisoner of Azkaban with everything that went down with Buckbeak. We see more of it in this book. We definitely see it come through in Order of the Phoenix once Umbridge takes over. But this is laying the groundwork; she is not afraid to voice her opinion in front of Barty Crouch, Sr., Amos Diggory, Ludo Bagman, and Arthur – right, those are the main Ministry officials that are there – because she believes what she’s saying is right, and good for her.

Andrew: Gotta love her.

Laura: Yeah, and she breaks her usual alliance with Percy, too, we see. Percy tries to defend Barty Crouch, Sr.’s treatment of Winky and Hermione surprises him when she’s like, “Actually, no, that was not the move. That is not it.” And Percy is kind of taken aback; he’s not used to Hermione disagreeing with him, because they’re both such rule followers.

Eric: It’s such a crappy thing for Percy to do, because after all that’s happened, too, with his family, he’s lost any and all respect. And after Crouch himself got his name wrong recently, earlier today, he’s still obligated to defend Crouch and his honor, and it’s just so pathetic. I’m usually a Percy apologist, but I can’t get behind this. This is just extra pathetic, and it’s awful, and it’s only going to alienate him from his family.

Odds & Ends

Andrew: So I’ll kick off some odds and ends. We have a segment, if you will. A game. I don’t know what we call these little things besides sound effects. We have this one that we rarely use called “Evanesco that,” and I want to use “Evanesco that” on half of this chapter because there is way too much back and forth, going in circles, he-said-she-said-elf-said in this chapter, and I feel like it’s way overdone. It feels so redundant.

Eric: Yes, it does, but that’s how chaos happens in the real world, right? I think what’s being illustrated is even in a magical world, when you have so many talented wizards here, nobody can really actually know what happened in the sheer chaos of it.

Andrew: And don’t get me wrong, there’s critical moments in this chapter: learning about the Death Eaters, the Dark Mark, learning about Priori Incantatem, Hermione’s disgust over the treatment of house-elves… there’s plenty there, plenty big plot developments and all that, but I don’t know. Just reading this chapter a couple of times, it’s like, “All right, come on, we got it. Let’s keep moving here.” So anyway, Evanesco half of this chapter.

[“Evanesco that” sound effect plays]

Andrew: There’s no toilet effect in there.

Laura: I was like, is that a flushing toilet sound?

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: No.

Eric: I refused to put that in there.

Micah: I like the paper rustling. I do agree with you, Andrew, but I will say, I think a lot of groundwork was laid.

Andrew: Okay.

Micah: But yeah, enough of the back and forth. We don’t need that.

Andrew: Thank you. Look, there’s going to be enough back and forth at holiday parties this holiday season, am I right? This is a holiday episode.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Oh, God, the back and forth. Yeah, you’re right; it’s not Christmas without a back and forth. I think it’s just meant to illustrate the specifics, because it’s actually masterfully done, the way Winky has to lie to save Crouch Jr., but she has to lie to Crouch Sr. to do it, and all the while asserting that she did not cast the Dark Mark, which she didn’t. It’s really masterful, how she’s able to… and it does her no favors, but the writing, the dialogue there that happens is actually clever.

Micah: So a few other odds and ends. It’s noted at the beginning of the chapter that Fred and George have big plans for their winnings.

Andrew: Love it.

Micah: I don’t know if that’s really foreshadowing.

Andrew: It’s nice to see it teased in advance.

Micah: It’s a tease.

Eric: We’ve already had a chapter named “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes,” actually, so there you go.

Micah: We did.

Andrew: And they were big plans.

Micah: Do we have a sound effect for a tease?

Andrew: No.

Micah: We do get a mention of Beauxbatons and Madame Maxime. They are named dropped by a couple of students who seemingly have lost Madame Maxime.

Eric: It sounds like there was a field trip and Madame Maxime took a bunch of her students to the Quidditch World Cup, which is really cool.

Micah: She’s cool.

Laura: That is cool.

Micah: Stan Shunpike, trying to court some Veela with his friends. Harry comes across that in the forest.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: And then we mentioned this: Amos uses Priori Incantato, which is the actual spell. I think the action is Priori Incantatem. [laughs] So another Diggory will be a part of that a little bit later on in the book.

Eric: Yeah, well, the other thing is when the Dark Mark comes out and diminishes, it’s said it’s a ghost of a spell, and that specifically is very foreshadowing to the other ghosts that come out at the end.

Micah: That’s very true.

Laura: Ooh, I love that.

Micah: Yeah, I like that.

Eric: Let’s play the foreshadow sound effect again, because we have had a couple there.

[Foreshadowing sound effect plays]

Eric: There we go. I get cheered up every time I hear that.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: That was a loaded chapter, so I appreciate everybody going through it with me. And hopefully the next chapter is a little bit more cheery as we start off 2024.

Andrew: Yes, better we got this done at the end of 2023, I suppose. Now it’s out of the way.

Eric: The next chapter is called “Mayhem at the Ministry,” so I don’t know how much cheerier it’s going to be.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Eric: But at least we’re not at the Ministry to witness it.

Andrew: There’s probably going to be a lot of mayhem in 2024 as well, so in a way, it’s fitting.

Laura: And we have to remember what book we’re reading right now. There’s not a whole lot of cheer in this book.

Eric: Well, it’s not Book 5.

Laura: Oh, I mean, that one gets bad too. But this one, you’re dealing with… well, I won’t take up much more of our airtime, but you’re dealing with some pretty heavy themes for the first time in the series.

Eric: Like dragons?

Laura: Voldemort coming back, that’s a big one.

Eric: Oh, yeah. Right.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: All right, let’s move on to MVP of the week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: I’m going to give my MVP to the phrase “hither and thither,” used in the line, “Harry felt himself being pushed hither and thither by people whose faces he could not see.” It was a dark scene, but I was like, “Haha, hither and thither.” I just thought it was a really funny phrase.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: Can I also just say, though, I don’t understand the decision to split up. Like, “Okay, Harry, Ron, Hermione, you go by yourselves.” What? I know they…

Andrew: Yeah, this is a Christmas episode. We’re all about being together for the holidays.

Eric: So who suggests that? Who’s our least valuable person this week?

Micah: It was Arthur, who’s also my MVP… [laughs]

Eric: Ah, okay.

Micah: … but we can give him a pass on that.

Eric: [laughs] So why does Arthur get your MVP?

Micah: Because of his negotiation skills amongst Ministry officials, putting Amos in his place… he kind of wrapped up that situation; it was getting… to Andrew’s point earlier, there’s too much talking going on. Arthur was…

Andrew: It’s too much hithering and thithering!

Micah: Exactly.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: And you know what? Dad kept everybody safe, okay? He kept everybody safe at the end of the day. There were a few cuts and bruises. I think Charlie or Bill’s shirt was ripped. That’s probably a fanfic.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: He did that to himself.

Micah: [laughs] He did it to himself.

Eric: Arthur’s son Ron had a great line when they came across the Veela and Ron said, “Did you know that I’ve built a broomstick that’ll fly to Jupiter?” And I don’t know; I know Ron is a little under the spell of the Veela, but that’s a brilliant line. I think that’s a great brag.

Laura: I wanted to give mine to Hermione’s early justice arc. I’m really excited to see this develop over the next couple of books.

[MVP of the Week music ends]

Andrew: 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 or by using our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Next week, [gasps] well, no new episode next week, but we’ll see you in 2024, and we’ll be releasing two bonus MuggleCasts over the break to keep you entertained. And hopefully you enjoy those and then you pledge at, or you tap into the show on Apple Podcasts and subscribe there, because both platforms will be offering bonus MuggleCast in the new year. By the way, there’s a Patreon banner within Spotify as well; you can tap in and then get our audio benefits right in Spotify after you pledge.


Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: The final Quizzitch question of 2023 was: From which book does Hermione learn about Beauxbatons Academy of Magic? And the correct answer was An Appraisal of Magical Education in Europe. I don’t know why she didn’t find out about it from Hogwarts, A History; you would think that there would be a section for all the other schools, right? Anyway, I’m feeling generous, so for Christmas, which one of you would like to get to read the Quizzitch winners?

Laura: Micah, I think you should read it because one of these here is for you. [laughs]

Micah: All right. Correct answers were submitted by Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle; Justice for Winky; Professor Stumblemore; Fleur’s Hot Veela Grandmuzzer; Severus Snape’s grease-clogged drain; Did you know in French Hufflepuff is Poufsouffle?!; George Weasley’s Surviving Ear; Coriolanus Snow… is that a reference to The Hunger Games?

Laura: It’s a Hunger Games thing.

Andrew: Stop delaying; get to the next one. [laughs]

Micah: All right. Micah, will you marry me?

Andrew: Aww.

Eric: You’ve got to answer them. [laughs] No.

Micah: Sure.

Eric: Oh.

Laura: That was easy.

Andrew: It’s a Christmas miracle!

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Hot Dark Mark Pick-up lines; I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours…

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Nice reference to…

Eric: The movie.

Micah: … Karkaroff And Snape, yeah. Elizabeth K; MuggleCast is the only… or no, wasn’t…? Sorry, I’ll go back to that.

Eric: It was Barty Crouch, Jr. at the end.

Micah: It’s Barty Crouch, Jr. at the end, sorry. Elizabeth K; MuggleCast is the only thing keeping me sane in this Muggleworld; Buff Daddy; Melissa; and my submission, which didn’t make it: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s the Robertses.

Laura: Ooh.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Wow.

Andrew: That’s just mean.

Eric: Okay, you never get… I thought that was a little extra traumatic to read, so I didn’t include it.

Micah: Oh.

Laura: Well, Micah was the one reading the correct answers this week, so… [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, he did get it correct, though.

Micah: Next week’s Quizzitch question… [laughs] next year’s…

Eric: First Quizzitch question of the new year: What did Rita Skeeter once call Bill Weasley in an interview with Gringotts curse-breakers? This is a very specific one, but I like it. Thank you, Meg, for submitting that one.

Andrew: Visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. If you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would too, please tell a friend about the show, when you see them over the holidays. We would also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app; that would be a great gift for us. Thank you very much. We love reading those reviews. All right, that does it for this week’s episode and this year of MuggleCast. Thank you, everybody, for listening. Safe travels over the holiday season. Safe consumption of holiday delights. You all will be receiving cookies from me if you haven’t already.

Micah: Aww.

[Eric gasps]

Laura: I got mine today.

Andrew: Wonderful, wonderful.

Micah: You mean from Pat.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Um, okay, well, somebody put them in boxes and mailed them, and that person was me, so… [laughs]

Eric: Thanks, Pat.

Laura: Yeah, I wanted to call out I got the cookies, and then a couple of days ago, I also got a really sweet package from Eric.

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: I did too. Thank you, Eric. I’d say what Eric got me, but I’m not sure I should say it on this family friendly program, but thank you.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: It’s not safe for MuggleCast, yeah, yeah.

Laura: Mine is very wholesome. I got a Christmas card from Ron Weasley and a camping book and a wilderness survival book, because I talked about loving camping.

Eric: Since you like camping.

Laura: It was great.

Eric: Yeah, I actually consulted Andrew on that and he said it would be a great gift, so we all helped. We all came together. Don’t we love each other so much?

Laura and Micah: We do.

Andrew: Well, I’m still waiting for my gift from Laura and Micah, but I think we all do.

Micah: Oh.

Laura: Well…

Eric: [laughs] Okay, I love you all very much.

Andrew: I’m just kidding.

Laura: We are doing a Secret Santa gift exchange on our other show Millennial this weekend, so I’m not saying your gift is coming from me, but you will be getting a gift in the Secret Santa exchange. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh, perfect. That’s perfect.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Laura got Andrew, everybody. [laughs]

Laura: Maybe.

Micah: And speaking of Secret Santas, I did just want to give a big thank you to Shannon for this really awesome Three Broomsticks beer glass that I will certainly be utilizing this holiday season. And this was all part of the annual Secret Santa we do over on Facebook with our patrons.

Eric: That’s one of my favorite logos of all time, the Three Broomsticks logo with the three brooms that are in a triangle. I think that’s just…

Micah: And it says established 1621.

Andrew: Feels authentic. That’s cool. Thank you, everybody, for listening; thank you again for another great year. We’ll be back in the new year with many more episodes of MuggleCast to come and hopefully many exciting developments with the TV show and theme park and everything else. Check out that 2024 preview again at I think that’s it. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew, hithering and thithering one last time in 2023.

Eric: I’m Eric, riding on that broomstick that goes to Jupiter.

Micah: I’m Micah, just excited that I survived the Quidditch World Cup.

Laura: And I’m Laura, and I love you all.

Andrew and Micah: Aww.

Andrew: Bye, everybody.

Eric: Aw, Laura had the best one.

Eric, Laura, and Micah: Bye.