Transcript #641

Episode #641:


MuggleCast 641 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #641, Freshly Floo’d Toast (GOF Chapter 11, Aboard the Hogwarts Express)

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.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: And this week, grab your luggage and raincoat because we are choo-chooing back into the wizarding world with Chapter 11 of Goblet of Fire, “Aboard the Hogwarts Express.” Micah is not here this week. Sitting in for Micah, not just the following sound effect…

[Micah’s “Choo-choo” sound effect plays]

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: … but also one of our patrons, longtime Slug Club member Ning Xi! Ning Xi, welcome to the show.

Ning Xi: Hello, I’m so excited to be here!

Andrew: We’re very excited to have you. You are coming to us from Singapore today.

Ning Xi: Yes.

Andrew: Ning Xi even took off work for this! Wow.

Laura: That’s dedication.

Ning Xi: Yes.

Andrew: Instead of taking off work this week, Micah took off MuggleCast. The tables have turned.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Micah is working; you’re not working. It’s great.

Eric: Well, all we really needed was that audio clip for this week, right, Andrew?

Andrew: Yeah.

[Micah’s “Choo-choo” sound effect plays]

Andrew: We’re good.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Because if Micah were here, he would be contributing “Choo-choo.”

[Micah’s “Choo-choo” sound effect plays]

Andrew: Exactly.

Laura: Right. Only that. Nothing else.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: No, of course we miss Micah, but it is a chapter that he feels… this is a chapter he would love because the chapter is “Aboard the Hogwarts Express,” and he loves the…

[Micah’s “Choo-choo” sound effect plays]

[Eric laughs]

Ning Xi: We should try to squeeze that into the Seven-Word Summary.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric and Laura: Ooh.

Eric: What if two of the seven words are “choo” and “choo”?

Laura: Yeah, what if that’s the first two?

Eric: Or what if we have two at the end and we don’t know what to do?

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: “Hurray!”

Ning Xi: “Choo-choo.”

Andrew: So Ning Xi, let’s get your fandom ID before we go any further.

Ning Xi: Okay, so my favorite book is Prisoner of Azkaban. My favorite movie is Deathly Hallows – Part 1 because I love camping. What can I say?

[Eric laughs]

Ning Xi: My Hogwarts House is Gryffindor. My Ilvermorny House is Thunderbird. The Wizarding World tells me that my Patronus is a bay mare, which I reject, so it’s actually a rabbit.

[Everyone laughs]

Ning Xi: My wand is twelve and three quarter inches, laurel wood with a phoenix core, and solid flexibility.

Andrew: Fantastic. Well, thank you again for joining us today. We’re very excited to have you. You’ve been a longtime supporter, and we’re just so grateful for your support. Ning Xi will also join us for bonus MuggleCast today; bonus MuggleCast installments are coming to our paid Apple Podcasts subscription starting this week. For just $4.99 a month, you can sign up for MuggleCast Gold, in which you’ll receive ad-free early access to our main show plus two new bonus MuggleCast installments every month, in which we discuss all kinds of things like the latest wizarding world news. This week we’ll discuss recent news about Hogwarts Legacy; it’s the top-selling game of the year – meaning 2023…

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: … and Warner Bros. is teasing more projects in the wizarding world to come, so we’ll talk about that. And we’re also going to touch on what we would like to see added to Hogwarts Legacy if they ever add anything, because they haven’t yet, which is odd. Also a reminder – I’m wearing the beanie right now – the MuggleCast overstock store is open again. This is where you can buy MuggleCast merch and help support the show, and we have this new Comfy Cozy Combo Pack which consists of the MuggleCast beanie and socks. You can purchase this new combo set for $25, which is cheaper than buying the socks and beanie separate, and you’ll be warm on both ends of your Muggle body for winter, so check it out at

Laura: And finally, we just want to give thanks to anyone who leaves us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Featuring a review that we got this past week from Ultrawilde, who gave us a five-star review and said, “Spellbinding! These are the best group of Harry Potter-obsessed friends you’ll ever have. Truly the OG’s of the podcast game, don’t know where the fandom would be without them!”

Andrew: Thank you!

Laura: Thank you so much. That is so sweet.

Andrew: Yeah, and thank you to everybody who leaves a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: So let’s get into Chapter by Chapter. This week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 11, “Aboard the Hogwarts Express,” and we’ll start like we always do with our Seven-Word Summary. Ning Xi is going to kick things off for us. Will it be a “choo”? We’re about to find out.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: What if she sneezes and we’re like, “She did it; she did ‘choo’!” and then she’ll be like, “No, I was just sneezing.”

[Laura and Ning Xi laugh]

Andrew: All right, here we go.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Ning Xi: Traveling…

Laura: … by…

Andrew: … train… [laughs]

Eric: … proves…

Ning Xi: … informative…

Laura: … for…

Andrew: … Harry. For a second there, Laura, I really thought you were going to end this with “choo” and then I was going to come in with a “choo.”

[Everyone laughs]

[Seven-Word Summary music ends]

Andrew and Laura: “Traveling by train proves informative, choo-choo.”

Eric: “Choo-choo!”

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, we would have gotten the message across still. [laughs]

Eric: Ning Xi, you did great, especially because you did double duty filling in for Micah here.

Laura: Yes.

Ning Xi: Oh, it’s fine. I definitely did not stress over this. [laughs] “Why am I starting this?”

Laura: Good.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Andrew: So this chapter begins with the summer break about to end and an urgent call from the Ministry comes in, and Harry listens in as Amos Diggory via fireplace delivers some news to Arthur about Mad-Eye. Overnight, someone tried to break into Mad-Eye’s house, and in addition to this being our introduction to Mad-Eye, this is also the first time we’re seeing someone communicate via fire. So I actually wanted to start talking about communicating via fireplace via the Floo Network, because I’ve got a couple of questions concerning this. So first of all, why did Rowling choose fire as the method for communication and transportation? Transportation I can maybe understand, because fire could arguably represent, let’s say, you’re being cremated, you’re being transformed… that’s a bit of a dark example. Fire represents a lot of things, but communication is not one of them. And head-only transportation is another aspect of utilizing the Floo Network, seemingly only for a chat and maybe a piece of toast, which we will also get to. But was this the right branch of magic to put a glorified telephone call under? I would argue this method of communication should be unassociated with the Floo Network, because these two things don’t really tie together for me. Why is this under the Floo Network? And why does it have to be via fireplace? [laughs]

Laura: Yeah, it’s a good question, especially because in the next book, as we’ve established, we do get the wizarding version of DMs. [laughs] So it’s interesting that this was chosen. I was thinking, Andrew, when you were mentioning that fire can be representative of a rebirth or turning into something else, it can also be representative of cleansing things, too, and I wonder if there was some kind of intentional choice with those two themes in mind around the idea of travel and the idea of communication, that somehow fire plays a part in whatever transformation you go through, metaphorically if there is one, or if it incentivizes more truthfulness. It feels like a stretch, but also, I’m trying to figure out why exactly fireplaces specifically.

Eric: I think I have a take on that, which is the… and I like the Floo Network in general. I think that one of the reasons the Floo Network was chosen for travel is because even the oldest cottages back from the Dark Ages had chimneys.

Andrew: Ohh.

Laura: True.

Eric: So a chimney is something that everyone has, and so you could potentially easily connect to other wizards no matter where they are. No matter how remote they are, everyone’s got a fireplace. So that idea coupled with how the Floo Network, we’re told it works, where a grate has to be added to the network – and we find out in later books, too, you can take a grate off and things like that – that actually is very, very, very much akin to how telephones were. When telephones first started out, they had to manually be… I mean, there was a manual switchboard, wires run under the ground to everyone’s home. And so when we see Amos Diggory here FaceTiming, essentially, the Weasleys, I think it has to do with the convergent evolution of phones into video call devices.

Laura and Ning Xi: Yeah.

Eric: Because she took that… the Floo Network very much was a telephone-style network, so if that was to evolve into a face medium, like a video medium, then the equivalent would be you travel but only partially to… does that make sense?

Ning Xi: Kind of makes sense.

Laura: I like it.

Eric: I think it’s kind of based on how the Floo Network was set up to begin with. Okay, so Rowling was probably like, “Hey, if the telephone evolved into the video phone, then my equivalent of the telephone has to evolve into the video phone somehow.”

Andrew: Interesting.

Ning Xi: Actually, I just had a sudden thought when Eric was talking about the chimneys. Do you think very, very ancient wizards used smoke signals with the chimney?

Eric: I mean, possibly.

Ning Xi: Maybe that’s why they kept the fireplace system. And then they were like, “Look, we can improve this communication by actually going through it,” or something.

Laura: That is so cool.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, the Vatican still uses smoke signals.

[Laura laughs]

Ning Xi: Yes, they do.

Andrew: Yeah. Okay, yeah.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: I love that idea. It adds a layer, I think, because as Eric, you were talking, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this makes total sense,” that wizards would assume, or at least wizards in the UK would be like, “Well, everybody has a chimney,” when it’s like, well, in reality, not everybody has a chimney around the world. But I love, Ning Xi, how you added this layer of like, “No, no, it was the ancient cultures that did this, and the Europeans just took it and made it their own.”

Eric: And also, I mean, keep in mind how weird it is to Arthur Weasley at the beginning of this book that the Dursleys have boarded up their fireplace.

Andrew: [laughs] “How do you talk?”

Eric: Yeah, he views it like a major thoroughfare, like everyone’s chimney is actually their front door, because I think to wizards, it is in a way.

Andrew: This question got me thinking, what other common household item could have been a phone instead of the fireplace? I was thinking a portrait, of course; we know you can talk to portraits to some extent. But how about something a little more original? How about a house plant, and the head pops up as a new bulb on the top of the plant, and the leaves are like arms so they can be all animated? I thought that could be fun.

Eric: I only like this, Andrew, if it’s the old style telephone where you have the mouthpiece and the receiver…

[Andrew and Ning Xi laugh]

Eric: … and you’re putting the bulb of a flower to your ear and having to talk into the stem. That would be really lovely.

Laura: Honestly, that sounds like nightmare fuel to me.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: It kind of does, yeah. Just picturing one of y’all’s heads on top of a plant kind of scares me. No offense.

[Laura laughs]

Ning Xi: Yeah, especially at night.

Andrew: Yes. Or I was thinking a lamp, because it’s the light bulb, an idea, so it turns on… but anyway, thank you for your reasoning here, panel, because I just thought it was so interesting that the telephone call was an extension of the Floo Network, even though it’s already used for something pretty powerful. So it does two things.

Eric: It’s a good point.

Laura: What I’m thinking about now that we’ve made the FaceTime connection… I think we all know people who will unprompted FaceTime call you.

Andrew: Oh, I hate that.

Laura: Yeah, not my jam either. What happens if somebody tries to Floo call you and you don’t want to take the call? Can you decline it?

Andrew: Great question.

Laura: Or does their head just pop up in your fireplace?

Eric: Can they see into your living room?

Ning Xi: Just throw water on it.

Andrew: Yeah, at any moment that they want. See, Vernon is smart for boarding up his fireplace because he had this thought, Laura, many years ago.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Vernon was the original… privacy protected the webcam.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: I was like, “Where did Eric’s camera go?” [laughs] I missed him thumbing it…

Eric: No, I literally have one of those… I have those little…

Ning Xi: A slider?

Eric: I have a webcam slider thing. It came with my laptop case.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Eric: But yeah, it’s crazy to think about that. Maybe the fire needs to be started, like going. I think it’s probably a movie-ism that you can take an empty fireplace and just throw the powder down or whatever. But I think maybe if you start the fire, that opens the call, so you’re available. It’s like the equivalent of unplugging the cord from the… I mean, many people listening won’t know what I’m talking about…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: … but unplugging the telephone cable from the wall when you didn’t want to take a call, and you’d get a busy signal.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Ning Xi: Maybe they just throw water if like, “Oh, no, I do not want to talk to this person.” Get a bucket of water and…

Eric: Get a bucket. Throw it on the flames.

Andrew: We don’t have to get in the nitty gritty here, but they got this call from Amos in the morning, so was the fire lit in the morning? Maybe it could have been, but it was also summertime so they probably wouldn’t have it lit.

Eric: Well, and wizarding homes… that’s the other thing; I mean, Britain is cold even in the summer, and there’s not a lot of indoor climate control in a lot of places, so you probably always do have a fire going, to be honest. But maybe wizarding homes probably always have the fire going unless they don’t want to take a call.

Andrew: Or that’s how Molly was grilling her toast.

[Ning Xi laughs]

Andrew: She was keeping it over the fire and that’s why she offered Amos that piece of toast. Of course, we do have to address that the way the movies handled the fireplace phone call… it was really bad, particularly in Goblet of Fire. It just did not look good with Sirius’s head popping out of the embers.

Laura: No.

Andrew: Whereas in Order of the Phoenix it was a little bit better; you see him in the flame. They realized how they did it in Goblet was not good. So it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the television adaptation, if it’ll be any better.

Laura: Well, they listened to us trash the Goblet of Fire effect – because we definitely did here on the show – and they were like, “Ugh, okay.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Well, it’s even more… the way it’s described in the book – I was paying close attention to this during this reread – it’s just more canonical the way they have it in Movie 5. Nobody ever said the embers themselves were constructing the face.

Andrew: Okay.

Eric: And that’s why they did it this way in Movie 4. Somebody had an idea that they ran with in this movie, and it fell a little flat.

Laura: So despite the fact that Amos may have called super early in the morning, maybe much to the chagrin of Molly and Arthur, he actually is calling with important information, and it’s that Mad-Eye Moody – brand new character alert – has been attacked at his home. And it’s particularly concerning for some reason, because it’s the day before he’s starting his new job. Hmm, wonder where? And just wanted to call out here… I thought we could do this throughout this book, have something called “Keeping an Eye on Mad-Eye” to look at all of the clues that come up throughout the book about Barty Crouch, Jr. actually being imposter Moody. And this is the point where Mad-Eye Moody is attacked in his home; this is the point where Crouch Jr. kidnaps him and ultimately Polyjuice Potions himself into him and holds him hostage for the next 10 months.

Andrew and Ning Xi: Yeah.

Ning Xi: Poor Mad-Eye, though, honestly.

Andrew: Yeah, for real. And Mad-Eye had the dustbins as a security system, and it’s assumed during this chapter that he set up those dustbins and they went off like they should as he intended, but we later learn that it was Crouch Jr. who purposely set them off as a distraction.

Eric: It’s so smart. Barty Crouch, Jr. as a character… we’re just getting into going through the reread where he becomes a factor, and he’s pretty talented. And despite his leanings, which are very concerning – he is in fact a Death Eater and a very loyal supporter to Voldemort – but aside from that one little fact, I think this guy is great. I think he’s really cool.

Andrew: Yeah. Wow.

Eric: Certainly accomplished.

[Andrew laughs]

Ning Xi: He gets the job done.

Eric: Yeah. So I don’t want to eat my words, but I think I’ll be keeping track of other cool or accomplished… impressive moments for Barty Crouch.

Andrew: Okay.

Ning Xi: Also, for the TV series, I kind of hope they show this scene at the start of the episode. Somebody got attacked or something as the starting point before they have the opening credits; you know how they do that. So yeah, I think that would be cool.

Laura: I agree.

Andrew: I mean, Goblet of Fire didn’t open with this – the movie, I’m referring to – but it opened with…

Eric: Frank Bryce.

Andrew: Frank Bryce, right, yeah. Something like that, like a cold open, so to speak. Well, speaking of the toast, which we’ve mentioned a couple of times, let’s circle back to this just for a moment. I thought it was really funny that Molly does offer Amos some toast.

Eric: Yeah, it’s just a funny sight gag, how weird it is for somebody’s face to be in your fireplace, but then Molly is able to pass food to him. And it’s toast, which if she screws it up, still is going to taste good because the fire is going to toast it a little bit more.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: So this is just a very… for me, reading that… I know every time I read this chapter, I’m just like, “I love magic. That’s so fun.” The fact that you… it’s my “I love magic” moment in Goblet.

Andrew: [laughs] So we need a MuggleCast T-shirt that has a picture of toast being fed into a fireplace and it says “I love magic” underneath it.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: That’s what impresses us most about the wizarding world.

Ning Xi: Toast.

Eric: Being fed through…

Andrew: Toast. The transfer of toast through a fireplace.

Laura: Toast is pretty great.

Eric: Well, and if you think about how many hundreds of miles away Amos’s body is from his mouth, that’s where the magic is impressive.

Laura and Ning Xi: Yeah.

Laura: And see, this is another example of how the wizarding world defies physics. I wish that we had brought this one up when we did the physics of Harry Potter discussion because it would have been really interesting to try and explain how that works.

Eric: It’s a portal.

Ning Xi: Yeah, it’s a portal.

Eric: It’s different than splinching because you’re not cut off at any point. It’s just your head’s going through a portal.

Andrew: It could be a way – and sorry, this is another dark thought from me for this episode – could this magic be used to solve world hunger? Let’s say a food desert. People could walk up to a fireplace and be fed food from areas of the world where food is more easily accessible. I don’t know why this jumped to my mind, but it did.

Laura: And they can also apparently duplicate food…

Andrew: Right.

Ning Xi: Oh, yeah.

Laura: … and pass it through the Floo FaceTime network.

Eric: We solved world hunger.

Laura: Yeah, work smarter, not harder, man!

Eric: We solved wizarding world hunger just now.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: It would also be a really cute way to easily enjoy a home-cooked meal while you were, say, at Hogwarts for term. So Ron is like, “Oh, I’m hungry. I’m missing Mom’s delicious toast and eggs.” And then he walks up to the fireplace, unlocks his jaw…

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: … and Molly just tosses a bunch of breakfast into his mouth. “Thanks, Mom.”

Laura: But then he’d have to…

Andrew: But let’s get back to Mad-Eye. [laughs]

Laura: Oh yeah, go ahead. Let’s keep it moving.

[Laura and Ning Xi laugh]

Andrew: Okay, we start to learn about Mad-Eye; this is the first time for both Harry and the reader. He’s a former Auror admired by Arthur and Dumbledore. George, however, thinks he’s a bit of a nutter, and Bill counters that he was a great wizard in his time, and as we later learn, of course, he still is.

Eric: I think it’s really interesting watching everyone talk about Mad-Eye Moody. So we’re learning about this, and the Weasley kids are there talking about it, too, and Mad-Eye’s reputation is called into account. He’s called “Mad-Eye” for many reasons. But there’s this opinion that he’s kind of lost his touch, and “He’s so paranoid in his old age, oh my God.” And it’s funny to see him be so discredited because as we’ve established, he actually has been attacked; it was a credible attempt on his freedom, and in fact, they were successful. So it’s funny to see it being couched as “He’s paranoid” and “Probably a small cat or something set off the dustbins,” because it allows us to not be as suspicious. So it’s hiding in plain sight, what really happened, and that makes for clever writing.

Andrew: And the dustbins themselves feed that idea that he is nuts, because who would turn dustbins into a security system? Only a nutter like Mad-Eye.

Eric: Clearly he’s losing it.

[Andrew and Ning Xi laugh]

Eric: And listening to the kind of people that do respect Mad-Eye, it’s people like Dumbledore, and Dumbledore is also not fully credible. I think we… well, this is a conversation that happens in this chapter, too, that “Dad collects plugs,” and Arthur loves Mad-Eye, but there you have it. So again, it’s really smart to call into question the capability and the sanity of Mad-Eye, especially in advance of his year of teaching at Hogwarts, because it allows us to suspect nothing.

Andrew: Harry is about to find out in I guess the next chapter that Mad-Eye is going to be their DADA teacher, too, so it’s also setting up that. [laughs] Congrats, here’s teacher number four, and he’s a nutjob. Enjoy.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: What do you think, Ning Xi?

Ning Xi: I think whether there is also an element of Mad-Eye being the boy who cried wolf too many times. So everybody’s like, “Eh, it’s not really worth investigating because it’s clearly a false alarm,” so nobody ever bothers to put in even a modicum of effort to try and see if there’s an issue. And I think even in the real world this happens a lot, so it’s reflective of that as well.

Eric: That’s a good point.

Ning Xi: I mean, in an ideal world, of course, any complaints would get investigated or at least checked out, and I wonder how differently the story would have went if there was even a seed of suspicion or doubt that was planted from this initial incident with Mad-Eye.

Laura: Yeah, I agree with that. And I love that you brought this up, Ning Xi, because it really made me think about how this compares to Frank Bryce and what Frank Bryce goes through earlier in this book. So his community is so quick to accept the idea of him being a murderer because in their minds, the war turned him funny, right? The war did something to him; he’s never been the same since the war trauma he went through. And Mad-Eye is also someone who carries both literal and metaphorical war wounds that are used in this case to invalidate him as just being paranoid and to remove his credibility, which makes him the perfect target.

Eric: This also brings up, I think, a recurring theme now at this point in the book, which is the complacency that the wizarding world at large has fallen into. Another reason of the many that they don’t believe Mad-Eye is in any danger, that any Death Eater, anybody untoward would seek him out, is because they largely believe that Death Eaters aren’t around anymore, that all of them are in Azkaban, even though they’ve just been proven wrong within the last week or so by the emergence of a bunch of them at the Quidditch World Cup. Everyone still thinks that it’s safe, and who would ever go after Mad-Eye? He’s an Auror; you can get more than you’re bargaining for there. But it’s true.

Andrew: Is this another point for your “Barty Crouch, Jr. is pretty good, actually” count, Eric?

[Laura laughs]

Eric: It could be. I’m going to have to get a sound effect if we keep getting so many counts so quickly…

[Andrew and Ning Xi laugh]

Eric: … and it’d probably be that ridiculous line from the movie. [imitating Barty Crouch, Jr.] “Hello, Father,” or something.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Eric is a really good voice actor.

Laura: You have to do the weird tongue thing too.

[Eric makes a weird tongue noise]

[Laura and Ning Xi laugh]

Eric: I think that it’s testament to the environment that Barty Crouch, Jr. is able to navigate and traverse through. I mean, presumably, he threw off his father’s Imperius Curse like it ain’t no thing. He did it at the Quidditch World Cup, but there was never any ramifications afterwards. The spell didn’t come down harder. So Barty Crouch, Jr. learning to throw that off, and then said that he’d be able to go and abduct Moody on schedule. [laughs] Because if he misses it, if he’s late by a day, Moody is already at Hogwarts and you’re never going to be able to do this. So yes, Andrew, I would say that that actually is another point for Barty Crouch, Jr.

Andrew: [imitating Barty Crouch, Jr.] “Yes, Father,” or whatever.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: “Hello, Father.”

Laura: Eric, you’ve got to record it now.

Ning Xi: Man, David Tennant was so underused in the movies.

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Laura: I agree.

Eric: Yeah. Reduced to a plot point with a quiver.

Andrew: So I mentioned Mad-Eye becoming the DADA teacher. We don’t know that he’s going to be the DADA teacher yet. It’s hinted that he’s starting a new job; that’s the only clue. But reading this with the benefit of hindsight, the fact that the new DADA teacher is already in some trouble… if Harry thinks back to this after three years of changing DADA teachers, the writing was on the wall for Mad-Eye at the outset.

Eric and Ning Xi: Yeah.

Eric: And yet, I still appreciate that there’s a twist to it, right? So unlike prior DADA teachers, there’s something new in Mad-Eye. By the end of the book, we learn not only that it wasn’t in fact him, but we do get to see the real Mad-Eye eventually, and so the next couple years… he’s not dissolved into ashes the way Quirrell is and he’s not permanently memory-revoked the way that…

Andrew and Ning Xi: True.

Eric: It’s yet another way for a DADA teacher at Hogwarts to end up, to wind up. And actually, if we consider Barty Crouch, Jr. was actually the DADA teacher, then he got the Dementor’s Kiss at the end of the year, so it works both ways.

Andrew: One more thing regarding the Amos FaceTime call: He uses the phrase “please-men” instead of policemen. It got me thinking, what would please-men actually be? [laughs]

Eric: Well, they would please everybody. They would be very well-loved and a bastion of their community. They would deescalate heavy conflict, they would probably not carry guns, and they’d just be very pleasing maybe to look at. [laughs]

Ning Xi: Oh, like hot firemen calendars?

Andrew and Laura: Yes!

Eric: Like firemen calendars. Exactly, Ning Xi. You got it.

Andrew: When your cat gets stuck in a tree, when your Mrs. Norris gets stuck in a tree, you call up the please-men and “Please come save my cat, man.” And they’re happy to help grab that cat while looking attractive.

Eric: It’d be a simpler world.

Andrew: And then you give them some toast at the end as a thank you.

Eric: Oh, yeah.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: All right, so anyway, let’s move on to what happens aboard the Hogwarts Express, this chapter’s namesake. So they get on the train and the trio listen in on Draco discussing Durmstrang, and we learn the Malfoys have a fondness for the school because they do not accept Muggle-borns. Which, by the way, is an interesting tidbit because Hermione later goes to the Yule Ball with Krum, so maybe Krum has something to say about that. Or maybe this is actually a little bit of proof that this actually isn’t true?

Eric: I had forgotten this tidbit that Malfoy throws out, and I have to call him on it. This has to be inaccurate, right, that Durmstrang doesn’t take Muggle-borns? And the reason is, it’s one of three magical wizarding schools in Europe, and there’s simply no way that they’re allowing all of these Muggle-born wizards, who can fully wield a wand and use magic, to not be educated and learn how to use it safely. We never see anybody sent to Hogwarts that’s like, “Oh, I would be going to Durmstrang right now, but I’m Muggle-born, hey.” So I just think it can’t possibly be the case that Durmstrang says “Absolutely not” to Muggle-born.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Ning Xi: Could it…?

Laura: Oh, go ahead, Ning Xi.

Ning Xi: I was just thinking, could it be they have this reputation of not picking Muggle-borns, but somewhere along the line they realize, “Yeah, that’s not going to work; we’ll just quietly take them in”? And it’s not really advertised, so people who want to believe what they believe still think that only pure-bloods go to that school, I guess.

Laura: I like that.

Eric: Yeah, so 14-year-old Malfoy doesn’t understand the whole nuance of it. Man, that makes me feel bad that there’s these second class citizen status Muggle-borns at Durmstrang, where they don’t get to come on the ship to Hogwarts. They’re left behind.

Andrew: Aww.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, my thinking is there probably are. I would assume it’s not a large number of Muggle-born students there, but there are probably some, and to be honest, based on who their headmaster is, it’s probably not the most comfortable environment to be in, which got me thinking about this idea: Maybe there are some Muggle-born students at Durmstrang who “pass” as half-blood or pure-blood somehow. I’m drawing real world comparisons and thinking about the ways that white supremacy has dominated all kinds of spaces, but there have been people over time who have been able to successfully “pass” as white so that they can be in those spaces, which is still a dangerous position for them to be in, but it is a real thing that’s happened. So I’m wondering if that’s possible here with Durmstrang.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, all wizarding governments have to abide by the Statute of Secrecy, so to my mind, again, it doesn’t make sense for them to not educate their Muggle-borns, especially how to not allow your magic to explode out of you.

Andrew: I’m also picturing a wizarding world spinoff TV show… where maybe it’s not set at Durmstrang; maybe it is. I don’t think Durmstrang is a particularly appealing school for HBO to sell a premise around. But it would be cool to see a storyline where there’s a Muggle-born undercover going to a school that doesn’t accept Muggle-borns. I think that’d be fun to see them try to project this image of being from a pure-blood family, a half-blood family. I don’t know what the tension would be there, but to me that sounds like an interesting premise.

Laura: I agree.

Andrew: Being almost undercover at a wizarding school and trying to pull it off.

Ning Xi: “Undercover Muggle.”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: The Undercover Boss spinoff we’ve been waiting for. So more about Durmstrang: Draco also likes that the school lets students learn the Dark Arts, “not just the defense rubbish.” Now, I actually could maybe side with Draco here, and I’m speaking as somebody who has used the Dark Arts spells in Hogwarts Legacy, so maybe I’m very biased here. Eric has not, right? You say you haven’t.

Eric: There’s one of them that Eleanor Rigby has not used yet, and it’s the death curse.

Andrew: [gasps] Avada Kedavra!

Laura: Oh, this is news! I thought you originally didn’t want to use any Unforgivable Curses.

Eric: Oh, you have to use two of the others to beat the game, I’m pretty sure. [laughs]

Laura: Well, but I mean, you don’t have to accept it, right? You won’t beat the game, but you can choose not to learn them.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: No, Laura, I must beat the game.

[Everyone laughs]

Ning Xi: Completionist.

Andrew: He’ll do anything except Avada Kedavra to beat the game.

Eric: Yeah, this one seems more plausible, right? That Durmstrang does have a lean towards the Dark Arts. Grindelwald himself went there. This is book canon that it has not just a reputation, but seems to follow through with it. Again, Laura, your point: Their headmaster is a Death Eater – or former Death Eater, arguably. But so this I get, however, the only Dark Arts examples that we have are things like the killing curse, the torture curse, the “Take away your autonomy and make you do whatever I want you to” curse. We know that killing leaves a mark on your soul; Slughorn says so in Book 6, and that’s… can’t really easily get rid of that. So is it actually a good thing that they’re allowed to do Dark Arts? Because all this Dark stuff is leaving tarnish marks and comes at a cost.

Andrew and Ning Xi: Yeah.

Andrew: I just think it would be helpful to learn more other than the “defense rubbish,” just so you have a complete picture of how the Dark Arts work. Am I suggesting Avada Kedavra on another wizard? Of course not. [laughs] Even an animal, wouldn’t want that. Can you set up dummies maybe to give people a test, just like in Hogwarts Legacy, actually, you got some dummies to play with from time to time?

Eric: [laughs] Well, I was going to say, it’s like telling someone, “You can have a little torture, as a treat.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Where’s the line here? And maybe it is like they do in Hogwarts Legacy – I’m pretty sure that this is accurate – you’re trying to get into Salazar Slytherin’s… is it septorium or something? And your friend has to curse you because in order to get in, it needs to experience the curse, and so you both consent and agree to have the curse performed on you or on him or something like that. That’s something I can see being an example of what would happen in a school where they teach Dark Arts. But if you’re being instructed and it’s straightforward pedagogical lesson, I don’t think you can actually give consent. I don’t know how any of this would actually work in practice.

Laura: I wonder if there’s some wizarding world equivalent to the drunk goggles. Did y’all ever have to use those in high school when you were learning how to drive? And they wanted you to experience what it was like if you were driving drunk, so they would give you these goggles that impaired your vision. And they obviously would not put you behind the wheel of a car, but they would ask you to try to walk around and it was really weird. So they were trying to give you practical experience without actually giving you practical experience.

Andrew: For me, drunk goggles are any pair of prescription glasses.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Like Ning Xi, your glasses.

Ning Xi: Yeah, I’m basically blind without my glasses.

Andrew: There you go.

Ning Xi: I just need to take them off and that will be fine.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: You were going to say something; go ahead.

Ning Xi: Yeah, I mean, because I do research in my day job, I’m coming at it from this angle: In real life, we have labs that actually research on viruses like smallpox or actual dangerous chemicals, so I feel like this could possibly be the same case in the wizarding world. So you learn about the theory, or there’s some sort of controlled environment you can learn about that magic so you can develop a counter-curse, because that’s how we try to research and find cures to things. We have to get access to cancer cells, we have to get access to virus cells, things like that. But of course, everything is very controlled. There’s a lot of different laws and regulations you have to obey in order to do that. Example for a chemical lab in Singapore, if you need to buy chemicals that could potentially be used to make drugs or explosives, you actually need to get a license. Chemicals have to be kept under lock and key, you have to sign out every time you take the chemical out, and you have to record down how much you use it. So I guess you could put in regulations to ensure it happens, but you’ll probably be, I guess, mid level. I don’t really see 11-year-olds running around trying to learn that magic.

Eric: Right.

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Laura: That’s true.

Eric: And that’s the thing: After all those regulations, is it really worth learning Dark Arts, then? Andrew, do you still think it’s more valuable than just the “defense rubbish”? And if only seventh years are doing it, then you can’t really say the school as a whole teaches Dark Arts.

Andrew: Yeah, I guess what has me thinking along these ways is in the next book, they have to put together Dumbledore’s Army to actually get prepared for the fight ahead. That’s sort of what I’m thinking along the lines of.

Eric: Yeah, practical…

Andrew: Of course, the Dark Arts are a unique exception, though. And I’m just in a dark questioning mood tonight, it seems. But anyway…

Laura: Because Micah is not here.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Andrew is shook.

Andrew: I’m shook. I’m shooketh. Let’s talk about something else we learn about Hogwarts. It’s funny to read this for the first time now; it’s something it feels like we’ve known since before we were reading the first book. We learn that Hogwarts is hidden from Muggles; Hermione says all they see is a smoldering old ruin with a sign over the entrance saying, “Danger, do not enter, unsafe.” This is also news to Harry and Ron because unlike Hermione, they have not read Hogwarts: A History, I believe is what she said she reads this in. So it begs a lot of questions, though, about how this exactly works, and we really have never found out since then how this goes down if a Muggle tries to approach. So okay, they see that sign, “Danger, do not enter, unsafe.” But we all know Muggles love exploring abandoned ruins. There’s YouTube channels dedicated to this. I have loved going into empty houses nearby. As a child, behind my house there was another abandoned house; I would go into it from time to time. People love to explore. Naturally, Muggles are going to start exploring this smoldering old ruin. So what does happen if a Muggle walks in? Any guesses? Do the Dark Arts come down on them? Do they get Avada Kedavra‘d?

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Eric: I mean, there could be…

Ning Xi: Smited to death.

Andrew: That’s how Hogwarts students get to practice. Sorry, go ahead.

Eric: Yeah, there could be secondary charms and things in place; Hermione maybe is only listing the first one. Because if you look at the Quidditch World Cup, we were told that there was an anti-Muggle charm on it that would make you think that you forgot something at home. “Oh, I left the oven on, crap. I can’t ignore that.” Something like that, where initially, yes, it’s a ruin, but if you go closer, then you forget something or you become convinced that somebody that you genuinely love is in ill health and you need to visit them right away. Some kind of psychological deterrent, in addition to… because you’re right; making it a ruin wouldn’t really deter most people, especially now with all the YouTube traveler people that you’re talking about.

Andrew: And drones.

Ning Xi: Yeah. I wonder if maybe it’s like a mirage. You’re like, “Oh, I would still like to go there,” but you just keep walking towards it, but you never quite reach it.

Eric: I like that idea.

Andrew: That’s really cool.

Laura: I do like that.

Andrew: Imagine that YouTube video. “I see it right there, but I can’t get any closer. There’s like, an invisible treadmill moving the other direction, the opposite way.

[Andrew and Ning Xi laugh]

Laura: Honestly, and this is why technology ultimately breaks the Statute of Secrecy, because with smartphones and all the YouTubers and urban explorers that y’all are talking about that are out there… sorry, there’s no way that you’re keeping the genie in the bottle here. Muggles are going to find out. [laughs]

Eric: Hey, rich of you to think that video cameras would work at Hogwarts anyway or that close to the…

Andrew: Ohh.

Ning Xi: Oh, yeah.

Eric: It’s like going to haunted houses. It would cut out at the right moment and nothing would be picked up.

Laura: Yeah, but I feel like people would still create clickbait content about places like that. They already do. And I mean, think about if some major magical event goes down in a public Muggle space and somebody happens to video it and put it up on YouTube. You’re done. You gonna Obliviate the Internet?

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: I don’t think so.

Eric: Did you guys see that supposed alien at the mall in… was it Florida or something? There was a huge cop presence and…

Ning Xi: Oh, yeah.

Eric: There’s little click-baity type stuff like that all the time. I don’t know, Laura, you’ve convinced me we have to go to Scotland and try and find Hogwarts.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Didn’t somebody already do that?

Andrew: Wasn’t there a documentary about that?

Eric: We should videotape it too. Just some friends going and trying to find Hogwarts.

Ning Xi: Get Micah to do that. Isn’t he in Europe now?

Andrew and Laura: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: He’s pretty close.

Eric: That’s it.

Laura: He’s practically right there, right? [laughs]

Andrew: Compared to the rest of us, he’s right in the backyard. I do also like the idea – I can’t remember who said it a few minutes ago, that maybe there’s – maybe it was you, Laura – there’s another rule Hermione doesn’t know about. Maybe the wizarding public at large do not know about, because by revealing it, then you’re giving people more clues about how to bypass these security measures, potentially. Then again, as I say that, we’re also reminded Hogwarts is a security nightmare, so maybe there’s not much else going on.

Ning Xi: True.

Laura: That’s very true. And credit where credit’s due, that was Eric.

Andrew: Oh, sorry.

Eric: Well, and we hear about this deterrent, but we have no examples of Muggles getting deterred, actually, or seeing the ruin. In fact, Jacob Kowalski at the end of the second Fantastic Beasts film walks straight up to Hogwarts, is grinning ear to ear; he can clearly see it. Maybe that man just loves his old ruins.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But then in the next movie is able to walk around in Hogwarts, so whether that’s Dumbledore’s doing or whether this charm is bunco and is actually not a thing at all… what does Jacob see?

Andrew: I could see a special pass being granted when they do want a Muggle to be allowed in. But that should have been addressed, because I feel like this is a big plot point that fans have known about for a really long time, and to just pull that out from under us is surprising. We were owed a bit of an explanation, I think.

Eric: Oh, that’s that whole movie summarized.

[Andrew and Ning Xi laugh]

Laura: Yeah, I mean, let’s be real; that wasn’t the first time that the Fantastic Beasts franchise played fast and loose with canon.

Eric: The sequels.

Laura: My crackpot theory is that they left a loose end there in order to reveal ultimately that Jacob is actually somehow magical, in the event that they ever got greenlit for a fourth movie.

Eric:The Secrets of Kowalski.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: By falling in love with a witch or wizard…

Laura: Right.

Andrew: … I don’t know.

Eric: You retroactively backwards through time can see Hogwarts, a school that Queenie didn’t even go to.

Andrew: No, you become a wizard yourself, is where I was going with that.

Eric: Oh, okay.

Ning Xi: Ohh.

Andrew: You become a half-blood… a half-love-blood… a love-blood… [laughs]

Laura: Right, you make out with a witch and you become magical. [laughs]

Andrew: You’re swapping spit.

Eric: It was the magic of their eventual descendant Anthony Goldstein…

Andrew: Yes.

Eric: … that allowed the great-great-great-grandfather of him, Jacob Kowalski, to see Hogwarts.

[Laura and Ning Xi laugh]

Andrew: Being a wizard, becoming a wizard, is highly contagious. That’s how there’s so many witches and wizards out there. We also learn, just like Hogwarts, that Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are concealed so nobody can steal their secrets. It seems weird to me that even fellow wizards from outside schools don’t know where these schools are. And let’s also remember that students from these schools are coming to Hogwarts, and they’re probably figuring out where Hogwarts is, or they’re going to get some clues, at least, when they look around the castle grounds.

Eric: Ohh, security breach!

[Ning Xi laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, it’s so unfair. And also, that was a quote; they’re hidden so “nobody can steal their secrets.” What secrets are we even talking about here?

Eric: The secrets of Dumbledore, Andrew.

Andrew: [laughs] The secrets of Durmstrang.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: The secrets of Durmstrang-dore. I feel like it doesn’t make any sense in the way Hermione is like, “Well, of course they’re concealed, aren’t they? No one knows where they are.” This is all Hermione, so maybe we take it with a grain of salt. Maybe she’s on her soapbox and just making stuff up. But to your point, somebody has to know where it is, and certainly the kids going… or Harry and Ron, remember, they had to find their way to the school in their second year, and they had to be able to find it to do that.

Andrew and Ning Xi: Yeah.

Ning Xi: I find it very hard to believe that the general country or city that the school is set in is unknown, because no parent is going to send their 11-year-old just wherever.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: That’s true.

Ning Xi: They’ve got to know at least… I can see the exact location being a secret, but the general area should probably be known. Everybody sort of accepted that Hogwarts is somewhere in the Scottish Highlands or something like that, so that would make more sense to me, I feel.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: I feel like the parents deserve to know, to your point, but this also gets me thinking. This castle is in one place for hundreds of years. Nobody leaks this info ever, where the school is? Even the students who went? And actually, come to think of it, a lot of the parents would probably know where it is because they went to that school themselves.

Eric: Oh, okay, okay.

Andrew: So that’s how they would know, but how about Hermione’s parents? Hermione’s parents can’t ask around and find out?

Eric: Well, they can’t see the school, so even if they go, they’re not going to be able to… [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, they seem like a couple who would get an exception, similar to Jacob, where if you do have a witch or wizard there and you’re a Muggle, you deserve to visit.

Eric: The entire four or six months that Hermione was Petrified in year two, her parents didn’t visit because they couldn’t see Hogwarts?

Andrew: I guess that’s proof that they’re not allowed to visit.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Can you imagine if they got there and saw that and were like, “This is where you live, honey?”

[Everyone laughs]

Ning Xi: “You live like this?”

Eric: Amazing.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, “With all these security nightmares, no wonder we’re normally not allowed to visit.” That’s probably why they’re banned, too, because the school is a mess all the time.

Ning Xi: Yeah. Maybe they sign an NDA.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Ning Xi: Hermione has everybody sign, and if you leak the exact location, you get smited. Just, boom.

Laura: That’s so funny.

Andrew:Avada Kedavra!

Laura: I was going to say, automatic AK like a lightning bolt.

[Ning Xi laughs]

Andrew: That’s how they learn the spell.

Eric: An Unbreakable Vow. Well, Camille also points out in our Discord, “Wouldn’t everyone know where Hogwarts is because it’s walking distance of Hogsmeade?”

Andrew and Ning Xi: Oh.

Eric: And that’s actually another great point, because Hogsmeade is not a hidden village. It’s a very, very famous wizarding dwelling, and major city for the wizards. So yeah, you can pretty much easily figure out where Hogwarts is.

Laura: Yeah, it’s the only all-wizarding village in all of England, or all of the UK, right?

Eric: Yeah, and eventually, you’d know, too, because depending on where your kid is born or where you’re living, you get an invite to a certain school. And so eventually, over many decades, people would begin to pinpoint, “Oh, Durmstrang reached out to me, this must be within the scope or the range of where they pull from.” So it just doesn’t hold up very much.

Laura: Yeah, I agree.

Andrew: A common closing point here on MuggleCast: It doesn’t hold up very much.

[Ning Xi laughs]

Eric: Well, although, I like what Hermione does to deduce that it must be up north and it’s because their uniform contains furs. That’s smart. That’s classic deduction, but it’s really good.

Laura: Yeah. And it makes me think of real life prominent secret places, like Camp David here in the United States where the President will go for… I mean, it can sometimes be long weekend trips, but it’s also to entertain dignitaries from other countries. And it’s not technically public knowledge where exactly Camp David is located, but it’s also not hard to figure out the general area where it is, especially if you live in that part of the country. So I’m sure, very similar to Camp David, if you got too close to Durmstrang or Beauxbatons and they genuinely don’t want you there, there have to be security or alert systems in place to prevent you from ultimately finding it. So I don’t know if that means they’re modifying people’s memories if they get too close. I don’t think that’s what the Secret Service does with Camp David.

[Laura and Ning Xi laugh]

Eric: No, that’s the Men in Black.

Laura: Right. Flashy thing.

Eric: The other thing worth noting is that the reason for some of the secrecy presumably is also to have a safe space for wizards to get spells wrong. So you’re learning these spells; it’s a giant mess all the time… not to mention just the Quidditch aspect of it. I had to think really hard not to say Quizzitch. But yeah, so there’s a good reason why they’re secluded, but that doesn’t mean that their location shouldn’t be known.

Ning Xi: Yeah, I agree.

Andrew: Yes. Okay, so Draco comes into the trio’s compartment on the Hogwarts Express and kicks into bully mode. He’s making fun of Ron’s dress robes and hinting at what’s happening at Hogwarts this year, and the trio is a little humiliated that they don’t know what Draco is talking about. Of course, Draco takes advantage of them not knowing about the thing that is happening, so he starts making fun of them. He says that his dad told him what was happening a long while ago, and he can’t believe Ron doesn’t know what’s happening despite Arthur and Percy working at the Ministry. Draco surmises in front of Ron that Arthur isn’t high up enough at the Ministry to know what’s happening…

Eric: Ugh.

Andrew: … and this comment enrages Ron to the point where he slams the train compartment door shut and shatters the glass.

Eric: Girl.

Andrew: Oculus Reparo. [laughs]

Eric: Honestly, the trolley witch would be on you so fast if this were her job.

[Ning Xi laughs]

Andrew: Oh, those nails would…

Eric: Like, “Defacing school property! Raaahhh!”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Nobody comes out and looks…? I mean, I know it’s a quick Reparo job, but I was just like, “Man, Ron, you really asked for it. You’re going to get the claws now.”

Andrew: Yeah. Well, it made me wonder, should Arthur have told them what was happening at school? I think he could have foreseen this type of situation arising. He knows Draco is a bully, he knows Draco is probably going to come in contact with Ron ahead of the news, and maybe it would have been nice for Arthur to tell him. Does it really matter if he knows ahead of time? I don’t think it does. It seems like a little oversight to me by Arthur.

Laura: I feel like he’s trying to keep the mystery alive for the kids. It reminds me of why parents don’t tell their kids that Santa isn’t real, right?

Eric: Wait, what?

[Everyone laughs]

Ning Xi: What’s Santa?

Laura: But I mean… and I think you could find a number of examples, right, of things that parents like to keep alive for their kids, because it’s mystery. It’s imagination. And this is allowing Hogwarts students to theorize and speculate about what’s coming, so it’s fun, you know? They’re trying to keep the fun alive.

Eric: Yeah, and I think, too, in putting this in context with the previous books, they’ve had really… every student has had two horrific years at Hogwarts lately. So last year, the Dementors are everywhere. No one can get… there’s this escaped murderer; everyone is closely watched. The year before is the Chamber of Secrets being opened, and everyone is in fear and danger and everything. So the adults really seem to think that this year’s Triwizard Cup and the announcement and all the hubbub is going to make up for any recent trauma and recent horrors, and so that’s why it’s a secret, is because they really want to shock the kids into like, “Ah!” and “My God, this is going to be amazing!” and “Wow, I’m so excited.” So that’s why it’s a secret. So I think, keeping that in mind, even though… I mean, I know we’re going to talk about the Triwizard Tournament, whether the tasks are actually that exciting for anyone else to watch or not.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It’s designed to be this huge thing that makes up for the last couple of years of their lives, and so that’s, I think, why it’s a hidden thing. And also, Arthur can’t predict that Draco is going to be this douche, like, “I’m so important. My dad is important. Your dad mustn’t be important.” No one can predict that. That’s just bad behavior.

Ning Xi: Yeah, I feel like this part is more on Draco than whether the adults should have told them, because there’s always that one guy who’s like, “Oh, I know more than you.” Yeah, whatever.

Andrew: Draco does love being that person, doesn’t he?

Ning Xi: He does.

Odds & Ends

Andrew: All right. Well, let’s look at some Odds & Ends. Eric, you want to kick things off?

Eric: Yeah, we mentioned the dustbins and Mad-Eye Moody, but his paranoia reminds me actually of Horace Slughorn, who just two books from now, at the start of it, is on the run and actively trying to avoid Death Eaters as well, and so it’s a nice little parallel between the real Mad-Eye Moody and Slughorn. Both have made some enemies in Voldemort’s inner circle and are just trying to stay ahead of the game, so I definitely thought of Slughorn when I was hearing about Moody and his dustbins.

Andrew: Laura, we mentioned this at the top of this discussion.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Last week, you worked the word “pistons” into the show. You said we were “firing on all pistons,” and I was like, “Who says that anymore?” And then I’m reading this chapter and the word pistons comes up! Did you know it was coming?

Laura: Yeah, definitely.

[Andrew and Ning Xi laugh]

Andrew: Okay.

Eric: Good answer.

Andrew: The line was, “The pistons hissed loudly and the train began to move.” I was just impressed by the coincidence.

Eric: Why wasn’t an alternate title of Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Pistons Firing”? I don’t understand.

Laura: “And the Fire of Pistons.”

Andrew: What’d you notice, Laura?

Laura: Yeah, so just noticed a real quick mention of the horseless carriages.

Ning Xi: Not going to remain horseless for long.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Watch this space.

Ning Xi: Yeah, this time next year.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: Time for MVP of the Week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: I’m going to give it to the concept of the dustbin security system. It sounds cheaper than my $99 a year Amazon Ring security subscription, so maybe I’ll look into setting this up outside my home. Thanks, Mad-Eye.

[Eric and Ning Xi laugh]

Eric: I can just imagine visiting you and it’s not deactivated and all of a sudden… [laughs]

Andrew: Some call him mad? I call him fiscally savvy.

Eric: Frugal Moody, yes.

Andrew: Frugal Moody.

Eric: Here we go…

Andrew: Money-saving Moody. Sorry.

Eric: I like that. Good hyphenated; you worked the hyphen in there. I’m going to give my MVP to Draco only because he knows exactly what to say to get to Ron. How does he do it, I ask? Oh, yeah, that’s right, because he has no moral fiber at all.

Laura: I’m going to give mine to Mad-Eye. He’s the second character in a row that we have in this book whose introduction jumps off the page without him even being present.

Eric: Oooh.

Ning Xi: I’m giving mine to Barty Crouch, Jr…

Eric: Yes!

Ning Xi: … for basically pulling this off. It’s a good plan for real; it’s a sound plan, so credit where credit’s due.

Eric: Heck yeah.

Andrew: Okay, next week we will discuss Chapter 12, “The Triwizard Tournament.” The thing will finally be revealed; I can’t take this anticipation anymore! If you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can contact us by emailing or sending a voice memo that’s recorded on your phone to, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Coming up on bonus MuggleCast, available exclusively on Patreon and through Apple Podcasts, we’ll discuss recent news about Hogwarts Legacy. Like I said, it’s the top-selling game of 2023; Warner Bros. just announced that, and they used the opportunity to also tease what might be in store for Harry Potter fans in the year or years ahead, so we’ll talk about that. Listener support is the reason why we are a weekly podcast even 19 years later. Visit or tap into the show on Apple Podcasts and subscribe to receive ad-free and early access to episodes plus bonus MuggleCast. If you pledge on Patreon, you’ll also receive access to our livestreams, our planning docs, our Facebook group, our Discord, and so much more, like a new physical gift every year. So thank you, everybody who supports us, including you, Ning Xi!

Ning Xi: Yay!


Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: What spell does Hermione start learning on the Hogwarts Express? And that means in Harry’s fourth year. The correct answer was the Summoning Charm, or Accio, which she’s going to teach him later in the year, so that’s exciting. Little looking ahead bit. Correct answers were submitted, and we have a mix of regular names and fun names, so here we go: Micah’s new French accent…

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: … Mrs. Figg-smelling tent; Dumbledore’s beard crumb; Pig’s soggy owl pellet; Dobby and Winky’s child; It’s not just DADA, many teachers in the Muggle world now only last a year; Micah’s fiancĂ©e… oh, okay.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Quite the dark episode.

Eric: Learning French and getting engaged; hope he texts us about that. Insert smart pun here; Weaselby; Grindylow Hunter; Justice for Winky; BuffDaddy; Katie; Elizabeth K.; and “Nate, I challenge you to a duel. Sincerely, Luke.” Oh God.

Andrew: Oh, this is getting…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: This is out of hand. You know what somebody else submitted? Okay, somebody else’s name here is “To all of the kids word dueling in last week’s Quizzitch round, I will be the Hagrid and say break it up, gents, break it up.”

Laura: Aww.

Eric: So let’s deescalate here. Also, if I can, I’ll tell you what. These names are really fun, but they take up a lot of time to read, and I challenge our listeners to submit – say for the month, the rest of the month – your regular old given names to Quizzitch. I’m asking you with peace and love…

Andrew: [laughs] I was waiting for that.

[Ning Xi laughs]

Eric: … to just submit your regular names to Quizzitch, or they won’t be read. [imitating Ringo Starr] They won’t be read on Quizzitch.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Wow.

Eric: From this moment forward with peace and love, please. So we’ve had enough of the names for now. The nicknames.

Laura: Have we?

Ning Xi: Wow, so I got in under the wire because mine was read today.

Eric and Laura: Hey!

[Ning Xi laughs]

Eric: Ning Xi, what was yours? What was yours?

Ning Xi: “Insert smart pun here,” because I couldn’t think of a good one. [laughs]

Eric: Aww, you know what? That was neat.

Laura: That was a good one.

Andrew: Eric did say just for the rest of January, right? So a limited time challenge.

Eric: I guess I should have polled you guys first. But yes, let’s just say for the rest of the month, regular names only.

Laura: [laughs] I’m really curious to see if people adhere.

Eric: Well, if they don’t, it’s going to be a shorter Quizzitch segment of all time.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Here’s next week’s Quizzitch question: This one’s a bit interesting. Name two of the three items that Filch has added to the list of forbidden objects at the start of Harry’s year four. There are three items that Filch has added; we’re asking you to name two of them. Could be anybody’s game. Submit your Quizzitch answer with a regular name to us on the Quizzitch form,, or click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Andrew: Ning Xi, thanks for joining us today. It was great having you, and again, we really appreciate your support.

Ning Xi: Thanks for having me!

Andrew: You’re so welcome. Thanks for taking off work today for us. Enjoy the rest of your day off.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: I think now it’s not even 11:00 a.m. there, so you’ve got the full day ahead of you. Did you call out sick? Were you like, [coughs] “Too many dustbins last night”?

Ning Xi: I just took like my annual leave. We get 14 a year, so it’s fine.

Andrew: You get a lot more vacation time over there than we do in America.

Ning Xi: Yeah, I mean, I’m already on the low side.

Andrew: Ugh, jealous. 14 days sounds like the extreme high side here in America.

[Andrew and Ning Xi laugh]

Ning Xi: And that’s not inclusive of sick time. That’s a separate 14 days; by law you have to give.

Eric: All right, I’m getting depressed.

Laura: And holidays days, too, right?

Ning Xi: Yeah, public holidays, we get that.

Laura: We’re all coming to Singapore!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: We’re happy for you. We’re happy for you. And thank you, again, for your support. We really couldn’t do this show without support from listeners like you, and you’ve been such a longtime listener. And you fit right in on today’s episode. Thank you for sitting in the Micah seat. I’m sure if he were here, he would definitely give you a live “Choo-choo.”

[Micah’s “Choo-choo” sound effect plays]

[Ning Xi laughs]

Andrew: Visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. That does it for this week’s episode. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Laura: I’m Laura.

Ning Xi: And I’m Ning Xi.

Andrew: Bye, everyone!

Laura and Ning Xi: Bye.