MuggleCast 644 Transcript
Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #644, Constant, Never-Ceasing Vigilance (GOF Chapter 14, The Unforgivable Curses)
[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: This week, [shouts] CONSTANT VIGILANCE is needed…
Andrew: … as we discuss Chapter 14 of Goblet of Fire, “The Unforgivable Curses.” But first of all, what is this, 2008? There’s two pretty significant news items to discuss in the world of Harry Potter. First of all, Universal Orlando shared a few new details about the third wizarding world land coming to their new park – which is opening in 2025 – Epic Universe. The name of the land, this new Harry Potter land, is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic!
Micah: Motorbike Adventure. Oh, sorry.
Andrew: And in this land, guests will discover a different era of the wizarding world in an all new land that blends 1920s wizarding world Paris, from Warner Bros. Pictures’ Fantastic Beasts films, with the iconic British Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter series. So this is basically what has been rumored, and now it’s official; they really are going to put two separate Ministries of Magic into one land somehow. Those are basically all the details they’ve announced. We did do a bonus MuggleCast on our Patreon back in May, in which we spoke about the major ride that we can expect in this new land. It’s rumored to star Umbridge in this British Ministry of Magic. What do you guys think of the name of that land? “Ministry of Magic”?
Eric: Well, they chose an indoor location for the first time, right? The first one was Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade, then Diagon Alley, and now Ministry of Magic. So it sounds like there’ll be a lot of air conditioning.
Micah: From a marketing standpoint, I don’t know that this really does it. You’re using a government name in the title of the land?
Andrew: [laughs] That’s what I was thinking.
Micah: Who wants to go to the Ministry of Magic? You’re taking your kids to the Ministry of Magic?
Andrew: I have a more positive take on this, actually.
Andrew: I think Harry Potter is the only franchise that can get away with theming a land around the government. [laughs] Because of course, everybody is going to want to go to this. But I agree with you; it’s a little surprising that they’re calling it Ministry of Magic. For the record – in case people don’t know – the first one is called Hogsmeade, the second one is called Diagon Alley, now this third one, Ministry of Magic. But yeah, only Harry Potter could get away with this.
Eric: Yeah, I agree. I wonder if that really limits the theming that they can do, and limits what else they can bring to the land. I know we saw aerial footage of a building, a pretty massive building being created, and I was expecting that to be the ride experience just like it is with Forbidden Journey hidden inside Hogwarts Castle. But I wasn’t expecting it to be… are there any outdoor areas? And if there are outdoor areas, then calling it Ministry of Magic seems limiting.
Laura: Something I wonder about in terms of the branding here: Is it actually called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Ministry of Magic? Is that the official name?
Andrew: Yeah. There’s a graphic.
Laura: I’m wondering if we’re going to start seeing more doubling down on the brand of continuing to remind us, “It’s Harry Potter, it’s Hogwarts,” because we’ve really seen how badly it’s hurt them to try and stray away from that.
Micah: Yeah. Well, that’s where my head was going. Was this initially named maybe something related to the Fantastic Beasts franchise, and given its lack of success, they had to rebrand it and rename it the Ministry of Magic?
Andrew: I think ultimately what happened – and I think it’s basically right in this description of the land – they were going to go all in on Fantastic Beasts for this third land, and then Fantastic Beasts sputtered out. But at that point, they were already far along with creating this land, so maybe they decided to redo just the main ride and that’s where the British side of this land is going to come in. I don’t know. This is just speculation, but it seems odd that they would do both France and Britain in the same land. The transition is going to be very interesting to see how they do that physically.
Eric: Yeah. Well, the other thing about it being named after a government building is it’s inside Universal’s Epic Worlds. Epic, Epic Worlds’ government building. Epic Worlds!
Andrew: Universe, but yeah. [laughs] Right, nothing’s more epic than a government building.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. Or Epic Universe; sorry. Thank you for the correction.
Micah: That said, though, I think we can all agree that it will be done extremely well.
Micah: We can nitpick at the name. The experience will be amazing.
Laura: Oh, 100%.
Andrew: For sure.
Eric: I would honestly love if it were like the Star Wars immersive experience where you go and you’re part of the galaxy. If you go and you’re just a desk file clerk at the Ministry of Magic, and so you get to eat in the officers’ mess – or not the officers, but the peasants’ mess – and go to work. I would love it if that were just your experience in that park.
Laura: Eric, haven’t you already gotten your casting call to be Eric?
Eric: To be the wand weigher?
Eric: Listen, I’m under a really big NDA, Laura.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: I can’t actually talk about how perfect that was, the day I got that phone call. But I might be moving to Florida.
Andrew: Epic Universe will also have Dark Universe, which is a Universal monster theme. There’s going to be Super Nintendo World, which will be excellent. There’s also going to be a land themed around How to Train Your Dragon, that series. The one final point I’ll make is the outdoor areas, the facade, it all seems to be set in France, so Eric, I don’t think you’ll be able to eat in a mess hall amongst government employees. I assume the food is going to be themed around Paris, let’s say. You’ll feel like you’re eating in Paris.
Eric: We’ll have some bouillabaisse? Is that what it was that Fleur was asking about?
Micah: Fish stew?
Micah: Well, they didn’t have much of a choice, right? I mean, there’s not anything that you can really do around the British Ministry of Magic, because all we’ve seen is the phone booth and the toilet entrance, so…
Andrew: They’d better have toilet entries.
Micah: Oh, maybe.
Andrew: Maybe that’s how you transition to the Britain ride. [laughs]
Eric: Get into the park? Oh, I would love if we flushed ourselves in, civil servants and all.
Micah: The experience we had in Paris was was much better in the Fantastic Beasts films in terms of the exterior environment than we did in London.
Andrew: Universal is still keeping under wraps exactly what we can expect in this land. Maybe it’ll be announced later this year; we’ll see. And when they do make those announcements, we will of course discuss them here on MuggleCast. So that other news item I shared – this was a shock, honestly – Hogwarts Legacy, the big latest Harry Potter video game that we have been raving about for the last year, they are about to hit their one-year anniversary and they’re teasing new features coming this year. They shared a tweet the other day; it reads, “As we near the one-year anniversary of Hogwarts Legacy, we wanted to let our community know that the Hogwarts Legacy PlayStation exclusive content will be available on other platforms later this summer, along with additional updates and features for the game. Stay tuned in the coming months for more details on what’s coming to Hogwarts Legacy this year.” There have not been any significant updates to this game since it was released. I think we’ve speculated that they were probably very focused on getting it out on the various consoles, including on Nintendo Switch. It just came out on Switch in November. Now that that’s done, maybe it’s time to focus finally on adding features. I’m pumped.
Laura: Yeah. I will say, “features” is a very broad term.
Andrew: [laughs] Uh-oh.
Laura: So I’m just curious to know what the features are. Are we talking about enhancements to game play? Are we talking about bug fixes? Are we talking about maybe introducing a better loot system? For all the things that we’ve talked about wanting that are a little more complicated, like a karma system, for example, or for there to be just general… this is the same thing, but general consequences for your actions.
Micah: Who wants those?
Laura: That would be too big of an update, right?
Andrew: That’s too big, yeah.
Andrew: But I think this is going to be bigger than bug fixes. I’m thinking like, a camera mode, which is what we’ve been asking for since our initial review.
Eric: Oh, camera mode seems like it would be low hanging fruit, yeah. Or the ability to sit down.
Micah: Kevin Steck wanted that. Didn’t he ask for that when he did the review episode with us?
Eric: I think so, because you’ve got it in Skyrim.
Micah: [laughs] We learned a lot about Skyrim in that episode.
Laura: We did. I don’t think we said “Skyrim” enough on that episode.
Micah: Well, actually, Justin brings up a really good point in the Discord: being able to change the seasons. That’s not something that you can do once you’ve completed the game.
Micah: And I think so many of us enjoyed wandering the Hogwarts crowds and Hogsmeade and all the villages in the different seasons.
Andrew: Yeah, that would be very cool.
Laura: Yeah, I want it to be Halloween all the time.
Andrew: So we’ll have to see what they have in store. I think it’s… of course, just like with the theme park news, we will discuss this more as we learn more information. But we also did a bonus MuggleCast last month in which we shared what we want to see Hogwarts Legacy add to the game, so check it out as we await official word on what they are going to add. Both of those can be found at Patreon.com/MuggleCast. All right, we’re going to take a quick break before we jump into Chapter by Chapter. And by the way, beginning with last week’s episode, you’ll now be hearing us take these quick ad breaks. In the short term, these ads will not be read by us, but in the months ahead, you’ll start sometimes hearing us as well. Just wanted to establish that as we get started with these new advertisers here on MuggleCast. So with that said, we’ll be right back.
Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary
Andrew: All right, it is time for Chapter by Chapter, and this week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 14, “The Unforgivable Curses.” And we’ll start with our Seven-Word Summary.
[Seven-Word Summary music plays]
Micah: … reacts…
Laura: … in…
Andrew: … a…
Laura: … panic…
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Micah: That’s it.
Andrew: That’s it! You know what? And that’s good. Neville reacts in a panic.
Laura: [laughs] No, Neville reacts in a panic, ahhhh! That can be the last two words.
Micah: I thought of a couple different words, and it just didn’t feel right to me, you know?
Andrew and Laura: Yeah.
Laura: It’s okay. I mean, that is a pretty good summary to come out of this chapter.
Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary
Laura: Of course, this chapter sets up quite a few things. Quite a lot happens in this chapter, and I think we could take it so many different ways, but where we’re going to start is with this discussion around Mad-Eye Fakey’s first day of school. So the chapter does pick up with the Gryffindor fourth years brimming with excitement for their first Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson of the year. And I wanted to ask the panel first, before we really dig in, do we ever remember feeling this way, feeling so excited for a class because the professor’s reputation preceded them?
Eric: Certainly not a year-long standard kind of class, but there have been electives I’ve been excited to take, like if I didn’t get it the first time I applied for it and then I knew the teacher to do it. So there was a class in visual arts and theater that I just loved; I took it twice. It was great.
Micah: That’s awesome. Yes, I did have that both in high school and in college. In high school, I was lucky enough to have the same French teacher for four years. I think, Eric, we actually talked about this on your podcast.
Eric: [laughs] That’s right.
Micah: But what was so cool about him was that he let us be adults, and he probably taught us some words and some phrases in French that other teachers wouldn’t allow. And we created just a really great relationship with him beyond – most of the class did – our high school years. And then in college, there was a really great political science professor that I looked forward to taking his classes, so I would always look to see if he was teaching. I minored in political science. So yeah, I know that feeling where the reputation precedes the professor. Hopefully they live up to those expectations. [laughs]
Laura: Yeah, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum of feeling really gratified by the professor really living up to the hype, and then feeling really disappointed because they didn’t. But the person I’m thinking of was actually my advisor. I was an English major in undergrad, and my advisor was one of those professors. He was just someone who all the students would talk about, universally liked, could still be a really challenging professor. His classes weren’t just easy A’s, but you always walked out of them feeling like you learned a lot and like you were really respected, so shout-out, Dr. Kocher. Yeah, it’s always a really good feeling, heading into a class like that and feeling that level of excitement. I don’t know that we get that for any other teacher in the series, do we?
Eric: Not that I can think of.
Micah: Not really.
Andrew: Certainly not in a positive way. I mean, I think there’s probably rumors about Trelawney, there’s rumors about Snape… but yeah, certainly nobody is like, “Oh, I’m excited to go” to anyone else besides Mad-Eye’s class.
Micah: I don’t think you have the same kind of collective excitement for a professor like you do for Moody. I think there are certain students that are excited to go to Trelawney’s class, right? Like Lavender and Parvati. You have Draco, who I’m sure is interested in going to Snape’s class, mostly because he picks on Harry. But there’s not… the collective excitement certainly is not there for any other teacher like it is for Moody.
Eric: Yeah. In our Discord, LegalizeGillyweed suggests maybe Lupin, and I do agree with that, depending on when in the week the various years got to have Lupin. I think definitely word would have spread last year about his fun lessons. And in general, maybe there is a little bit more excitement around the DADA professors, because everyone knows that every year, it’s a real ride.
Andrew: “Who are we getting this year?”
Eric and Laura: Yeah.
Andrew: “What’s in the grab bag?”
Laura: I think the thing that’s so interesting about Moody – or Fakey – is that he’s provocative, right? So there’s something really exciting about being a kid and having this teacher who’s kind of breaking the rules and stepping outside of the norm and treating you like an adult in a way that you wouldn’t normally expect a teacher to treat you. And I think it’s a little bit ironic when you think about who he really is.
Laura: And you layer that with these students being so excited to learn from him; they just don’t know who they’re learning from. And we get to see Fakey buck tradition early on in his teaching tenure. In direct contrast with what we’re going to see in Order of the Phoenix coming up, Moody tells the students to put their textbooks away and that they’re not going to need them for the lesson. And I can see as a student that feeling really cool, too, like, “Oh, my professor told me to put away this textbook.” And now, this is in American college terms, but, “Oh, they told me I’m not going to need this $200 textbook I had to buy for this class.”
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Andrew: Time to return it.
Eric: I was going to say, I paid a lot of money for this book; I hope we use it!
Andrew: Another equivalent is when you see the teacher wheeling in the television and VCR for that day’s class, so it’s like, “Oh yeah, I get to watch a video, but I’ll probably just zone out.”
Micah: We’re really dating ourselves if we’re talking about a TV and VCR.
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Eric: I was going to say, some of our listeners don’t know what a VCR is.
Laura: Right. When you saw the Bill Nye the Science Guy tape go in…
Eric: Oh, it was beautiful.
Laura: … and you were like, “Man, this is the best day ever.”
Andrew: Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!
Eric: [sings] “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”
Micah: I’m really glad that you brought this up, though, Laura, because when I was rereading this chapter… I never made the connection, initially, between the teaching styles of Moody and the teaching styles of Umbridge, but this is such a contrast to Order of the Phoenix because Moody wants nothing to do with textbooks and he believes in preparing these kids for what’s out there. Umbridge is all about these Ministry-approved texts, and is in serious denial about anything wanting to potentially harm Harry and his friends, right? So it’s cool to look at the two contrasting styles of teaching.
Eric: Yeah. I mean, we’ll have plenty in this chapter to talk about as far as his methods and his motives as well as we go on. But Barty Crouch, Jr. in taking this role this year didn’t quite have to go so hard. You get the impression he likes teaching or that he’s taken to it in such a cool way. He could have been the kind of teacher that just says, “Chapter 1, we’re going to read. We’re going to take turns assigned reading, etc, etc.” It seems like, to your point, Micah, he does want to prepare these kids for some form of practical attack, and that’s…
Micah: Well, who better to teach them Defense Against the Dark Arts?
Eric: What’s that?
Micah: Who better to teach them Defense Against the Dark Arts than a Death Eater?
Andrew: That’s what Dumbledore thought too. “Who better than Fakey?”
Eric: Dumbledore knew from day one. He’s like, “I’ll let this guy keep teaching, as long as they don’t make me teach,” because Dumbledore could do it. He used to teach that.
Andrew: Yeah. And we’re going to talk about if Dumbledore made this decision or not in a little bit, too, because there’s a big question mark on that as well, whether or not this lesson was sanctioned by Dumbledore himself. It sounds like it was, but why would Dumbledore sanction it? So we’ll talk about that in a little bit.
Laura: Well, early in the lesson, something else peculiar happens. Moody references having just one year to get them up to speed on curses, which immediately causes Ron to sort of blurt out, “You’re only staying one year?”
Laura: And I mean, these kids are primed to notice that kind of thing, right? They haven’t had the same DADA teacher so far for more than a year. And Moody says that he’s only staying for a year as a special favor to Dumbledore, and that after that he’s planning on returning to his quiet retirement. And I wanted to pose a question here about the Defense Against the Dark Arts curse: Do we think that the real Moody knows or suspects the curse that is on the post? And if so, do we think Barty Crouch, Jr. might have found out about it via taking over Moody’s whole persona?
Andrew: Barty Crouch, Jr. I’m a little less certain on, but I would think that Dumbledore is morally obligated to inform the real Mad-Eye that this role is cursed; he’s only going to be there for one year for some reason. He can’t say why. “It could be death. It could be a broken ankle. It could be a variety of issues that pop up, but something is going to happen and you will only be in this role for one year.” You have to tell him that.
Laura: I mean, you should tell them that, but do you think he tells every candidate that there’s a curse on this position?
Eric: I doubt it.
Laura: “You’re only going to last a year and you might die”?
Eric: No, it would make them really nervous about it even more than they already are. It would make Dumbledore’s job harder.
Andrew: I think it… so we all know Dumbledore likes to withhold information until the time is right, but I think it’s very important for him to tell a fellow adult who’s going to be teaching at his school about this. Dumbledore is a good man. I refuse to believe otherwise.
Eric: Oh my God.
Laura: Yeah, because he’s so forthcoming. That is definitely a characteristic I would assign to him.
Andrew: [laughs] When the time is right.
Eric: But maybe if Dumbledore and Moody are friends, are colleagues or have a… if Moody was in the Order of the Phoenix the first time, I feel like Dumbledore would tell him. But regardless, this whole plan that he has, this excuse of “I came out of retirement for this, I’m only giving it one year as a personal favor to Dumbledore…” That works so well. It works on multiple levels, because on the one hand, it’s Moody giving a reason why he’s there, but it’s also Barty Crouch, Jr. realizing that he only needs to be undercover for a year. He only needs one year to complete his mission from Voldemort, to deliver Harry Potter into Voldemort’s hands. And so Barty Crouch, Jr. is like, “You can only expect me to be here a year.” That’s all the time he needs, and so I think it just works on multiple levels.
Laura: Yeah, no, and it’s so interesting, too, because ultimately Barty Crouch, Jr. is impacted by the curse on the role, right? He goes back to Azkaban at the end of the year. You can argue that that is his demise, if you will, and if for some reason he knows about that, or suspects that might happen, he’s unhinged enough that I could see him thinking it’s all for a greater good, right? To help the Dark Lord rise again.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, that’s a really good point.
Laura: Well, when Moody is talking about only having one year to get these kids up to speed, he specifically brings up getting them up to speed on curses. And we know during today’s lesson they’re going to be focusing on the Unforgivable Curses, which feels premature, and that’s because it is.
Laura: Apparently, Dark curses aren’t supposed to be taught until the sixth year, but Moody alleges that Dumbledore is in agreement on this lesson plan and believes that these students have nerves of steel and that they can take it at the fourth year. And I thought this felt very targeted to Harry being in the room, and it makes me wonder if Fakey does this with all the other years and Houses’ lessons. Is he doing Dark curses across the board for this first lesson?
Micah: Well, not only is it targeted, it’s a lot for the first lesson of your whatever year you might be. To be learning the Unforgivable Curses? That seems like a heavy load.
Andrew: Do you think that Dumbledore may have given him an A-OK? Assuming he’s being truthful, Dumbledore gave him the A-OK, just for Harry’s class? Because I guess that would make sense to me, like, “Harry needs to be prepared for this, so I give you permission to teach them about the curses and show them what happens.”
Laura: I don’t see Dumbledore saying only for Harry’s class.
Laura: I feel like if it was just for Harry’s class, that would be targeted because of Barty Crouch, Jr. specifically targeting the class that Harry is in. I’m not even totally convinced that Fakey has permission to be doing this lesson, certainly not leading it in the way that he does, right? It’s one thing to talk about the theoretical application of these curses as a primer, especially for students who have literally never seen them happen before. It’s quite another to demonstrate them in gory detail, and it’s hard for me to believe that Dumbledore would have been okay with that.
Eric: Just looking ahead at all the other risks he puts students’ lives in this year makes me think it’s probably fine.
Micah: [laughs] Look who’s talking the Dumbledore smack now.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Micah: It’s not me. I’m taking the episode off.
Eric: No, I think we all have a healthy understanding that the Triwizard Tournament is very dangerous for people.
Micah: The other thing that came to mind here, too, was – and honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve reread Goblet of Fire – knowing that we’re getting the Triwizard Tournament, we don’t get as much class time. Was it important to front load this lesson so that Harry and company learn the Unforgivable Curses? Knowing what role they play throughout the rest of this book.
Laura: Oh, yeah.
Eric: I think, too, as a very important note here, multiple hosts have said we’re learning the curses. We’re learning about the curses, but the only one I think we’re going to really get face time with is the Imperius Curse. I don’t think there’s any point where any of them will be casting the Unforgivable Curses, and the only one they’re getting close to is the Imperius, but we did get this introduction. I just think it’s an important distinction that it’s not like they’re going to be casting it on the fellow students the way that happens in Hogwarts Legacy.
Laura: No, no, I mean, at least the guise that Fakey is leading with is that he wants to expose them to how brutal these are so that they know what they’re up against, right? It’s not so much about teaching them how to do it; it’s teaching them how dangerous they are.
Eric: Yeah. But then what really is the point in teaching them about the death curse if there’s no known counter-curse and no way to shield from it? Apart from whatever Harry did.
Eric: What is the goal? Is it to get a healthy respect of just how dangerous the world is? Because that’s a sobering moment that I can see being useful from an educational standpoint. But to me, I also have to ask the question – as somebody who really enjoys Barty Crouch, Jr. as a character – is he playing with his food in this moment? Is he teaching Harry throughout the year how to defend against things like the Imperius Curse, just with the knowledge that eventually he may need to fight Voldemort under it, and he’ll present a more interesting chase to the Dark Lord? Is there some element of playing with his food in arming Harry against these curses?
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, to also answer this question about why he may want to now, just looking at his own words in this book, “You’re behind – very behind – on dealing with curses… I’m here to bring you up to scratch on what wizards can do to each other,” I have to say in Moody’s defense, this is year four of Defense Against the Dark Arts and they still don’t have a sense of the worst curses you can toss at another wizard. That does seem a little surprising, actually, if I’ve gone through school for four years and I’m just learning about these now. That seems kind of late.
Eric: Not only that; it’s going to be another year at least before we learn about the Bat-Bogey Hex, and that sounds like the worst of them all.
Micah: The one thing that came to mind for me, too, was just if you’re teaching the worst case scenario, if you’re teaching the hardest curses first, then everything should be easy after that, and so I think that’s where my mind went a little bit with Mad-Eye in this situation. He’s laying out some of the most difficult curses that there are to cast, right? He talks about how you really have to mean it and that “if any of you fired the Avada Kedavra curse at me right now, I wouldn’t get as much as a bloody nose.” He’s laying the groundwork here so that anything that follows should be pretty easy.
Andrew: I’ll say one more thing to defend my boy Dumbledore in support of this idea that he actually approves of Mad-Eye teaching them the curses. Later in this chapter, Harry gets this letter back from Sirius finally, and Sirius is rushing back in light of Harry’s letter towards the beginning of this book. Sirius said that Dumbledore might be reading the signs and Harry wonders what signs he’s referring to; we’ll actually try to answer this question later in the discussion. If Dumbledore is reading the signs, he might also want to get these kids “up to speed,” in Mad-Eye’s words, when it comes to these curses. So I don’t know. I don’t have any reason not to believe Mad-Eye when he says Dumbledore agreed with this. Couldn’t one of the students go to Dumbledore or go to their Head of House, who would then report this to Dumbledore? It seems like a pretty big claim to make.
Micah: But who’s going to report it, though? I feel like these kids all think it’s so cool.
Andrew: Not necessarily reporting it in a “Oh my God, I can’t believe he just did this” type of way. I mean, Neville doesn’t find it cool. Neville could… maybe Mad-Eye was afraid Neville was going to report it and that’s why he tried to comfort him after.
Laura: Actually, I think that’s a really good thought.
Micah: I will say, I do think that Mad-Eye would have been better served to break these curses out into different lessons, as opposed to throwing them all together. It feels like a lot for this group of students to have to digest. But one question I did have for this group was, do we think that if this was the real Mad-Eye Moody, he would have been able to cast these curses so seamlessly? It actually makes sense that Barty Crouch, Jr. can so easily perform the Unforgivable Curses, because he’s a Death Eater.
Andrew: Yeah, I think that’s a pretty good point.
Micah: Could you see Mad-Eye actually standing up there and using Avada Kedavra on that spider?
Laura: I don’t think of it so much as a question of “Could he?”; it’s “Would he?” And I think Barty Crouch, Jr. is genuinely unhinged and that’s a big part of the reason that we get this massive trauma dump on these students on their first day of his class. Moody might have used the Unforgivable Curses as a starting point for his course to set the tone for what they were going to cover, but would he have demonstrated them on day one? I don’t know. And I have to think, by the way – I was having this thought earlier – Harry is able to learn Expecto Patronum and practice on it with a boggart, right? So he doesn’t have to interact with a real Dementor. And I’m just wondering, is there some way that the Unforgivable Curses can be demonstrated on something that is not actually sentient? Because what we see with these spiders in this lesson is just straight up cruelty. I mean, these are living beings, and they are being tortured.
Eric: Yeah, but that’s why the curses are unforgivable. You wouldn’t be able to practice the Imperius Curse on something that wasn’t really alive, because you’re not taking its agency away. It needs to have sentience for you to be able to control it, to be casting the Imperius Curse. And same with the Cruciatus; it needs to feel pain, and so the cruelty is the reason these are unforgivable. You couldn’t cast Crucio on something that can’t feel it.
Laura: Yeah, that’s true.
Eric: There’s no way to practice it without making something suffer, which is why they’re so heinous. And yeah, wild first lesson.
Andrew: Would he have been able to cast these, the real Moody, Micah? I think so. I mean, we’re talking about a fantastic Auror. We’re talking about a member of the Order of the Phoenix.
Eric: It might be that as an Auror, you’re given permission to cast one or more of these Unforgivables in the line of duty, and specifically and only then. I can see there being a real issue where if one side is going to be casting the death curse, Killing Curse at you, and you can’t retort back because you have to arrest them, that’s what should be done. But in practicality, what does that actually look like? So I can see Aurors being given the same leeway that we give police officers, where there’s certain instances where shooting to kill is “legal.”
Micah: Right, but let’s also keep in mind that killing rips the soul, right? And even though it’s a spider, it’s still a living creature. And so I think, Laura, the way you framed it was the right way, right? Not necessarily “Could he do it?”, but “Would he do it?” I think he certainly could. Would he is definitely up for debate.
Andrew: Fair enough. Laura, I’m sad because you said trauma dump a few minutes ago, and now I’m just thinking about poor Elmo being trauma dumped on last week.
Laura: [laughs] Oh, I know.
Andrew: I’m still feeling for that little three-year-old. All right, well, we will discuss the three curses individually in a moment, but first, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.
Laura: All right, well, we’re going to get a little bit deeper into each of the Unforgivable Curses here. So first Fakey uses the Imperius Curse on one of the spiders, and initially it inspires laughter because he has the spider doing cartwheels and somersaults and all kinds of gymnastics on the desk and everyone thinks it’s really funny. This is actually a scene that I thought was so well-adapted in the movie. Do y’all remember when we did our Goblet of Fire commentary and we were marveling about how well done that was? Because it really struck that sobering note that I think we get here in the book.
Eric: I do agree. There is one element of it I don’t like, though, which is specifically with Imperius when the spider is somersaulting. I think the movie makes it seem like Moody is also casting some kind of levitation charm, or he raises it up in front of the class before even casting the spell. That’s not the case. What’s actually happening… Imperius is he’s making the spider choose to do the somersault, and that’s a lot more sinister than just using your wand to lift it in the air. The spider is willing itself to propel itself, and that’s just a lot. I know it might sound like splitting hairs, but for me, the way it’s written is more terrifying, and I have a lot less love now for, I think, the movie scene, because it seems like it’s a lot more magical and whimsical when it is such dark subject matter.
Laura: Well, until it turns dark. And it’s a very stark moment when he says, “Do you want me to have him throw himself out the window? Should we have him drown himself?” I mean, I think that they capture at least that element of it, and Brendan Gleeson is just fantastic in the role.
Eric: He’s so good. He’s so, so, so good.
Laura: So we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I just wanted to close the loop on it. What are the limits of propriety for applied teaching of the Unforgivable Curses? I think we’re all in agreement that this type of practical demonstration isn’t the best way – at least for this age of students – to teach about the curses, but if not this, what other way could there be? I know I’ve seen a suggestion in the Discord, actually. Lisa says, “I think there could be a way to teach it with agency, like I could volunteer to assist the class and allow myself to be Imperiused or Crucioed but at a lower level, kind of like how you practice with a taser in the academy, in the police academy, so that you know what you’re subjecting someone to.”
Eric: I don’t think there’s a way to do a light Crucio. One of the reasons that Moody says a single casting of this on another person will give you a lifelong sentence in Azkaban prison… it goes so hard because it is so hard. Crucio isn’t just painful; it makes every nerve center, every nerve react in fire, basically. And so I don’t think there’s a light way to do it. Hogwarts Legacy gets away with a light way of doing some of these things, but it’s really… you should stay away from it. So I even have an issue with, one, the fact that he calls the Killing Curse throughout this chapter “Avada Kedavra.” He’s basically giving them the incantation for it, and he lets them hear the incantation of the other two. Now, I know Moody says, “You can cast it at me and all I’ll get is a nosebleed at best, if the entire class tries to cast it at me,” but that’s kind of not the point, right? Giving them the incantation is, I think, a step too far, even.
Andrew: When it comes to AK, I think Hermione says it first. Because he was asking what’s the third and she says it, and it actually makes me uncomfortable hearing Hermione say it. I’m like, [gasps] “She’s going to accidentally do it.”
Micah: But isn’t that…?
Eric: Yeah, why does anybody know the name? Why is the actual incantation even shared with anybody? It should be restricted knowledge.
Laura: I don’t know. To that I would argue you might be insulating people too much from the ugly realities of the world, because there are people who absolutely will use it.
Eric: You can just call it the Killing Curse, though. I’m just saying, why arm new people? You did the curse that causes pain, the curse that causes you to lose your agency, and the Killing Curse. It’s called the Killing Curse, like, twice, but most of the time, they’re just talking about Avada Kedavra, and that’s the worst one, arguably.
Micah: Isn’t that the point of magic, that there has to be intention behind it? You could just walk around saying “Avada Kedavra.” It’s not going to do anything. You have to really have deep-seated malice and evil inside of you to cast that curse and inflict death upon somebody else.
Eric: I’m just… Laura asked where the line is, and I think it’s way back last Tuesday, for as far as what Moody is teaching.
Laura: Yeah, and I think we all might draw that line in different places. But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree what we see in this chapter is a bridge too far. So moving on, Neville is actually the one who’s able to correctly identify the second Unforgivable Curse, the Cruciatus Curse, which he knows about because it’s the curse that his parents were tortured to insanity with by Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Rabastan Lestrange, and – drumroll, please – Barty Crouch, Jr. himself. The guy teaching the damn class.
Eric: You don’t say.
Andrew: “Who, me? Blame Dumbledore. I didn’t want to teach this.”
Laura: But it’s a major red flag right here. He knows that he has two students in the class whose parents were victims of Unforgivable Curses, and one whose parents were his own victims.
Andrew: And a major flag of what here?
Laura: It’s a red flag.
Andrew: A red flag of what?
Laura: I mean, a red flag of… I mean, I guess you could say a lot of things. Of how unhinged he is, how psychotic he is…
Andrew: That it’s an imposter?
Laura: I mean, I don’t know if it’s a red flag that he’s an imposter, but just a red flag for him as a person, because he knows who he’s talking to.
Eric: I do think that he can’t resist, right? Performing the Cruciatus Curse in front of Neville Longbottom probably gave him a sick rise of some sort. And there’s so much work that’s being done to show how much Moody cares about Neville or feels bad about his mental state, the way he comes after class and presumably comforts him and gives him the book. But all of it has multiple purposes because it allows Moody to get closer to Harry, and so it’s impossible to know if any bit of Barty Crouch, Jr. feels remorse for his involvement. And we’re going to get, throughout this whole book, more pieces to the puzzle there. I always pictured Barty Crouch, Jr. as being a teen who was carried away by the fury of it all and may himself might not have participated as much as somebody like Bellatrix, who even Dumbledore says likes to play with her food. He might not have participated that much, but once he was arrested or convicted for it, named by Karkaroff, and all this other stuff, Barty is the kind of guy who probably doubled down and was like, “No, I do support the Dark Lord; I would have done it again if you gave me the chance.” That kind of thing would mean maybe he didn’t sickeningly go after Neville’s parents, but if he did, it’s even worse.
Andrew: Yeah, the gift of the Herbology book got me thinking, what was going on here? Like you’re saying, Eric, did he feel remorse? Maybe after seeing how Neville was reacting, but that seems extremely out of character. So I’m just wondering if… and Harry even notes that this was a Lupin quality move to cheer up Neville. A Lupin quality move! So I’m wondering, was this an intentional misdirect by either the author for the reader, or is it a misdirect from the character themselves?
Andrew: Because if you’re suspecting this isn’t who we think it is, then you definitely won’t suspect it after seeing him give this book to Neville.
Micah: It’s the second consecutive big move by Crouch to endear himself to Harry, right? So you had the last chapter where he comes and he turns Draco into a ferret, and now you have this chapter where he’s being extremely kind to Neville in a very bad moment for him.
Andrew: It’s almost like that magical eye of his is telling him what to do to keep Harry convinced that he’s not a fakey.
Eric: Well, maybe he’s also dosing himself with Felix Felicis. “I feel like I should be on the west stair right now,” and he goes up. But I think his eye did see Neville leave and go and stare at a wall, and I think his eye did see down the hall Harry go to comfort him. And then he grabbed the book and quickly as he could ran to go help Neville, because the thing is, that book is what teaches Neville about Gillyweed, which is what makes Neville think about telling Harry about Gillyweed, which is his advantage in the second task, and so this whole time Moody is trying to get somebody in Harry’s dorm to know that that is an option, presuming he will confide in Neville or ask Neville what to do, and Neville will be able to help.
Laura: Yeah, and I think bare minimum, it’s like y’all are saying; it’s really all just to get close to Harry because he’s going to be guiding Harry throughout the year whether Harry knows it or not. So he’s trying to build trust with very strategic students, specific members of the student body, so that he can get closer to Harry.
Micah: Now, don’t call me crazy: In an alternative universe, it is possible that Barty Crouch, Jr. feels some level of guilt or remorse for what he did to Neville’s parents and he’s trying to make it up to their son.
Andrew: I’d call that a headcanon.
Laura: I think people are complicated, even psychopaths. I think you see this with real-life examples of these kinds of sadistic, violent criminals; there will be these odd moments where they do have these moments of clarity, you could call it these moments of remorse for what they’ve done. But it’s never anything significant enough to make them actually regret what they did. So I think it’s possible that Barty Crouch could feel bad for Neville in this moment because of what he’s been through as a result of losing his parents in this way, but it doesn’t mean that he wishes he could take it all back, right?
Laura: I don’t think he would do anything different.
Micah: I do think it’s much more likely that, as I was saying earlier with the Draco transformation, this is a currency-building moment with Harry, when he treats Neville this way.
Eric and Laura: Yeah.
Micah: So one other thing that just popped into my mind as we’re talking about Neville – and I know we’re going to talk about Harry in a second – is this is another Neville/Harry moment where they’re the only two in the room that we know of that have been impacted by the Unforgivable Curses, and either of them could have been the Chosen One. So this is another one of those examples that we can point to where they’ve had similar experiences growing up.
Andrew and Laura: Yeah.
Eric: And they’re the only two that are shown to lose sleep after this lesson, too, tonight.
Laura: And his big finale here in the class is to perform the Killing Curse. I won’t say the word.
Andrew: Thank you. Unless you do it in the Voldemort voice. [imitate’s Voldemort’s “Avada Kedavra“]
Laura: Andrew, you’re so good.
Andrew: It’s just too much fun.
Laura: I know.
Andrew: Which is sick, but…
Laura: Listen, every time I played Hogwarts Legacy and I AK’ed somebody, I 100% yelled that out. [laughs]
Andrew: Oh, I should have done that. Next time I play.
Laura: Oh, I can’t believe you didn’t.
Andrew: With the new features, I’ll start doing that. Yeah, no, I didn’t.
Laura: There you go. There you go. But he performs the Killing Curse on the final spider, and it fills Harry with this thrill of foreboding, like he knows what he’s about to see, because in a way, he recalls some level of that experience of his mother being killed right in front of him. And of course, Fakey has to observe in front of the whole class that the only known person to have ever survived the Killing Curse is sitting right in front of him. And I just thought it was really interesting that this particular sequence of events was used to remind us of the order in which the Potters died. It was very specific about first his father died, then his mother died trying to protect him, then he survived. And that, I would argue, is actually a foreshadowing alert for something we’re going to see much later in the book with Priori Incantatem.
[Foreshadowing sound effect plays]
Andrew: [says in tandem with sound effect] Coming up, coming up.
Eric: The editors could have taken another look at this chapter if they needed to know the backwards…
Micah: Yeah, yeah, I know.
Eric: There was that famous typo originally. Yeah, first editions.
Laura: The editors didn’t know that they needed to be connecting the threads within books as well.
Eric: Yeah, that’s going to be extra.
Andrew: That’s what we’re here for.
Laura: They just weren’t there. And then finally here, last point on this… I know we’ve already observed it, but I just had to call out the line very specifically saying the use of any one Unforgivable Curse on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban, to which the developers at Avalanche said, “Not in Hogwarts Legacy, it’s not.”
Micah: [laughs] Not yet.
Eric: If they followed through with this, the developers in Hogwarts Legacy could have actually made an Azkaban level for everybody because after you cast it, you’re sent there.
Micah: I’ve envisioning kind of a Grand Theft Auto type of scenario playing out where you start to do really bad things and then Aurors or Dark wizard catchers show up and take you off to Azkaban.
Andrew: That’d be great, yeah.
Laura: Yes. That is what should happen.
Andrew: Or you can run from them.
Micah: Yeah, or you could use some Unforgivable Curses on them and run away. [laughs]
Laura: That is literally what my headcanon was for what the game was going to be. It was like, “I’m going to be a baddie, I’m going to be killing people, and the Aurors are just going to descend on my 15-year-old self being like, ‘Why is this teenager killing people on the grounds of Hogwarts?'” [laughs] Never happened.
Eric: That may be a little bit too much for them to patch into the game, unfortunately.
Laura: Oh, 100%. They’re not going to patch that.
Micah: One thing I just wanted to call out is that it was worth noting that Harry himself will use two of these three Unforgivable Curses by the end of the series.
Laura: Doesn’t use Avada Kedavra, though. Coward.
Eric: Well, he only has eyes for Expelliarmus. We know this.
Eric: But does it count? Well, I guess it does count, Micah, that he… are we talking about when he casts Crucio at Bellatrix, and it doesn’t work but he still did cast it, or are you thinking of another?
Micah: Well, he doesn’t just use it on Bellatrix. He uses it on the Carrows, or one of the Carrows, in Deathly Hallows when they spit at McGonagall.
Eric: Oh, that’s right. There you go.
Laura: Well, after the lesson, everyone seems to be in awe of Moody, except for Harry, Neville, and Hermione. I will definitely give Hermione some kudos here because her emotional intelligence is just on point. She completely understands why Harry is in somewhat of a state of shock. And she doesn’t really know Neville’s history, but she can tell there’s something similar going through his head with having seen what he just saw. And they do find Neville staring wide-eyed at that wall, and as we mentioned, Moody does eventually come along and invite him for tea. I thought this actually read a little bit sinister because the trio are standing there, Neville kind of looks horrified when Moody suggests they go off for tea and he kind of puts an arm around him and just takes him, and Neville is looking desperately at the trio like, “Save me.”
Andrew: “Save me!” [laughs]
Laura: And they don’t do anything! [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. “Sorry, Neville, you’re on your own.”
Andrew: But I mean, he’s a professor. They can’t intervene. Their hands are tied here. That was my takeaway.
Laura: Oh, for sure. But they could have been like, “Can we come, too, Professor? You traumatized Harry too.” [laughs]
Andrew: I guess, sure, they could have tried, but I think Fakey would have said no. So maybe they assumed that they were just going to get a “no” no matter what happened, no matter what they said.
Laura: Probably. And of course, we know that all lays the groundwork for Neville getting the Herbology book, and so Moody is able to kill two birds with one stone here. I think he’s able to keep Neville from saying anything about what happened in the class by making Neville feel special, because professors never really recognize him for any level of academic prowess, so I think Neville is vulnerable to being flattered in that way here because he just never hears it. Well, after the fact, Harry and Ron go back up to the common room. Hermione goes to the library; we’ll get to that in a minute. But they are completing their Divination homework, and they have to make predictions for themselves in the coming week. And they’re having a really hard time interpreting all of these astrological patterns, and how the confluence between those and the runes will dictate the series of events that are going to come to pass for them the next week. And I thought that we could look at some of these predictions and just keep an eye out for them. I think a couple of them may end up being true, which is always a funny moment coming out of these BS predictions that we get, especially from Ron; when he’s joking, we know that he’s often right. So Ron says he’s likely to develop a cough. Next Monday, Harry says that he’s in danger of burns, which Ron points out is probably true because they’ve got Care of Magical Creatures on Monday, so they’re going to be hanging out with the Blast-Ended Skrewts again.
Laura: On Tuesday, Ron thinks he’s going to lose a treasured possession, so that’s interesting and I think you could argue that when it comes to the second task, Ron does temporarily lose a treasured possession. I hate the idea of Hermione as a possession of Ron’s, but he does treasure her. So I don’t know if that’s a loose interpretation of what this could be predicting.
Andrew: Can I make up the phrase backshadowing? When I think a treasured possession, I’m thinking of Scabbers.
Laura: Ah, yeah.
Andrew: So maybe it’s just still in his head about losing a treasured possession…
Eric: Aw, I love that.
Andrew: … and it’s coming out in this random prediction he’s making.
Eric: That’s really sweet.
Laura: And then this next one I think is funny. “Why don’t you get stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend?”
Laura: Because that’s definitely about to happen, at least from Harry’s perspective. Ron is not going to take Harry being a Triwizard champion very well, and they’re going to have a really big falling out. Ron says he’ll lose a fight on Wednesday. Harry says he’ll lose a bet. So I thought these were just things that we could keep an eye on, and I didn’t know if anyone had read ahead and noted any correlations between these predictions and things that come in the next couple of chapters?
Eric: A few of them seem true. And it’s just funny that they have to compare notes and it’s like, “No, you’ve got drowning.” “Okay, I’ve got to change mine so that we don’t both say this.” It’s crazy.
Laura: [laughs] Yeah.
Eric: Have you ever bullshitted homework before? [laughs]
Laura: Yes! Oh my God, yes.
Micah: Oh yeah. But no, Forrest. No.
Andrew: [laughs] The 12-year-old.
Laura: Yeah, don’t… Forrest, we are not endorsing that. You should not do that.
Micah: The funny thing about all this is that despite Hermione’s view on Divination, even she is not cool with the idea of Ron and Harry making this all up. Which, I mean, I found that kind of comical, but that’s who she is, right? That’s part of her character.
Andrew: Right, exactly. Her general stance on the world of education is you don’t make stuff up for homework, no matter the subject.
Eric: Well, I like that she still checks Ron’s work anyway, and tells him he’s got himself down for drowning twice, so she tells him to change it.
Andrew: So I thought it would be fun if we all take turns making a prediction about one of the other four panelists’ upcoming weeks right now…
Eric: Wow. Wow.
Andrew: … just like what Harry and Ron were doing. And yes, of course, I grabbed some music for this, and we can use this when we make other predictions on the show in the future. Okay, I even have my Trelawney glasses here to let me get in the full zone.
Eric: Oh my God.
Andrew: Okay, here we go. Oh, yeah.
[Ethereal music plays]
Andrew: Thank you, patrons. Thanks to you, we can buy music. All right, something’s coming to me. Laura, I’m feeling an energy in your direction.
Andrew: You will encounter a great fortune in the next week.
Andrew: The likes of which you have never seen. But, but, but, it will be just out of your grasp, due to an unspeakable wall of resistance.
Laura: Is the unspeakable wall of resistance the IRS?
Andrew: Yes, always.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Micah: Andrew, I’m starting to feel something in that box of yours over there, that little quadrant.
Micah: Andrew will get offended when someone doesn’t want to chit chat, but don’t worry, Andrew, it’s not an affront to you. They’re processing something that you wouldn’t want to talk about anyway.
Andrew: That is so specific. Do you have something to say to me?
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Micah: It’s actually Laura, but we’re not going to get into it right now.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Laura: Oh, snap.
Eric: Revealing more than he’s saying.
Eric: All right, I’ve got to try these Divination glasses.
Laura: Well, this is definitely really awkward because Andrew tried to fire me on Millennial the other night and I was going to have a conversation about it with him behind the scenes, but…
Eric: Every time I put on my real glasses and not my Divination ones, I’m remarkable how much I can see.
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Eric: But here we go. My prediction… let’s say I’m feeling something for Micah. Yes, yes, yes. Micah Tannenbaum will learn about a new – to him – restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana that is simply too good to pass up.
Micah: That’s so specific.
Laura: Have you ever been to Indianapolis, Micah?
Micah: I have been to Indianapolis once before.
Eric: I sense that you will return to Indianapolis.
Eric: That’s in the calendar. That’s in the show calendar.
Eric: But I sense you will be returning!
Micah: I will.
Laura: Eric, I’m getting a sense of something shiny coming into your future. I think you’re going to be getting a lead on something new, something exciting, and also unexpected. It’s not something that you’re going to see coming, but it is going to come in the next few weeks and it’s going to transform your day to day.
Andrew: Bro, you’d better play the lottery, because I think that’s what’s supposed to be happening.
Eric: All right. I’mma try.
Laura: Eric, I’m manifesting for you.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: Thank you.
Andrew: All right, well, we will revisit these next week.
[Ethereal music ends]
Laura: It’s so funny to me that we just got done bullshitting our own predictions for each other, Harry and Ron just got through BS-ing their way through Divination homework, but Hermione is finally going to reveal the results of her many, many hours of work in the library, which is for a cause that is decidedly not BS, but Ron definitely treats it like it is, and that is the formation of the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, also known as “Spew,” which is an unfortunate name.
Micah: Yeah, I’m with you on that one. J.K. Rowling did her no favors.
Andrew: Just call it S.P.E.W. Isn’t that how you’re supposed to say it?
Eric: That is how you’re supposed to say it.
Laura: Yeah, but everybody calls it “Spew.” It even starts here in this chapter.
Eric: I think Hermione in settling on this… I know that the joke is there was a much longer name that she couldn’t go with, but the fact that she even settled for this or thought herself not creative and just went with it and made all these badges… she invites all of the criticism, I think.
Laura: Yeah. Well, and I think it goes to show that Hermione is young. I remember… and I think we can all think back to a time when we were young, where we were first gaining an awareness of the world and the unfairness that can exist in the world, and we wanted to do something altruistic, and we thought we knew what the right thing to do was, we thought we knew how to be impactful, but we didn’t. And that’s where Hermione is right now. Her heart’s in the right place; she is absolutely right, but she doesn’t know how to tackle such a large societal issue as someone with relatively little life experience just being that she’s only 14 years old. But there is a big “Oof” moment from Ron here where he literally talks to Hermione like she’s stupid and says, “Hermione, they like it. They like being enslaved.” And I just found myself… and of course, I’m looking at this through a 2024 lens, and I cannot imagine anyone, even someone as young as Ron, trying to justify this take nowadays. We know that Ron grows up and he grows a conscience on this issue, so we’ll give him that acknowledgement, I guess, but I’m wondering if we ever remember being this young and having a bad take or being uninformed about something?
Eric: Oh, yeah. I’m sure 70% of me was probably bad takes as a kid.
Laura: [laughs] Yeah.
Eric: But I think the thing that Ron has is the lack of information or experience. House-elves… you don’t see a house-elf. He has literally only seen a house-elf within the last month, or week. And for Ron, he might be trying to do Hermione a favor and warn her off against something that is a time-consuming project that’s not worth her time. It turns out she does spend a lot of time on this, and it doesn’t really yield results except for her personal character growth. But the reasons why it doesn’t work aren’t her fault, really, necessarily. It’s just that for Ron, his understanding of the world is one way and it’s limited. But we don’t exactly have house-elves out there or the house-elves in the kitchen striking. We don’t have them advocating for themselves…
Micah: That we know of.
Eric: … and that, I think, is the difference. That’s the point where, yes, what Ron says, “They like to be enslaved,” is absolutely wrong, and you should never, ever try and make that argument. But there’s an absence of, I think, within the house-elf community an outspoken contingent that feels that they should be entitled to these other things.
Laura: Just Dobby.
Micah: I think part of it for Ron, too, is there’s something in the Ron/Hermione relationship here, right? Ron is very much trying to be like, “Come on, Hermione, are you really going to spend your time on this?” And that’s maybe more so the mindset of a 14-year-old looking at this and saying, “I’d rather focus my time on the Triwizard Tournament and Unforgivable Curses and playing Quidditch.” Hermione is spending her time focused on house-elf liberation. Like, “Hermione, you don’t get it; they like this.” That’s the mindset I see him being in. And also, yeah, this is very much informed by the way that he was brought up. There’s no question about it, right? Living in the wizarding world. It doesn’t make it right. It just means that how he was raised… or maybe he just wasn’t properly educated on house-elves. So I’m actually, in a way – because I’ve thought about this a lot – I’m bothered that J.K. Rowling wrote this line for Ron and his character. And we can certainly dissect it on multiple levels. I think Ron is trying to show Hermione he knows more about the wizarding world than she does, hence him saying they like being treated this way, but at the same time, he comes across as being extremely ignorant. And this is a line you would expect from Draco, but I think coming from Ron, it shows that we all carry unconscious bias and we regurgitate things maybe that our parents say or they taught us when we were younger, and we didn’t know any better. So I think there is a lesson in Ron saying it; I’m still just bothered that he was the one that was given this line, because I do think it’s kind of out of character for him.
Andrew: To your point about an unconscious bias, I think back to a comment I think I made on the show a few weeks ago, which is that they were raised thinking this is just how house-elves operated. They were never taught anything different. They never had the opportunity to even think anything different because this is just what they were raised to think.
Micah: The other part of this, too – and I’m sure we’ll discuss this more as we get into SPEW – is that Hermione is coming from the Muggle world where slavery is a real thing, and this is the wizarding world version of it. So I think she’s coming into it with a much different perspective than Ron is.
Andrew: Right, yeah.
Laura: Well, I think it’s such an interesting contrast that we get between these two characters, because while I agree that in her heart of hearts Hermione is right – she is right about everything that she says about the way house-elves are treated and all of it being wrong and there needs to be justice, right – but I think Hermione is also falling into that youthful, idealistic trap of thinking that she knows what exactly the house-elves want. Ron is doing the same thing by saying, “Well, they like being enslaved,” but Hermione is also assuming that every house-elf is going to want the same thing.
Eric: Right, because why wouldn’t you? But neither of them are talking to house-elves, crucially.
Laura: Exactly. Well, after this, Hedwig finally makes her return. Harry has been waiting for…
Eric: Well, it’s about time! I was starting to worry about her.
Laura: Yeah, Harry has been waiting a long time. So she has word from Sirius, who says that he is on his way north because of Harry’s scar hurting and “the signs.” What signs is he referring to? Is there anything maybe that we aren’t already aware of?
Andrew: All I could think of was the events of the Cup, somebody reportedly approaching Mad-Eye’s house… I’m sure there’s some other things that Dumbledore is aware of. Maybe he heard Trelawney murmuring something one afternoon.
Eric: [laughs] She’s always murmuring. I feel like that’s exactly it, Andrew, and I think there’s a line somewhere where they’re like, “This is how it started last time, strange disappearances, unconnected or seemingly…”
Andrew: Bertha went missing.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. So I think that those are the signs, but also, there’s probably a sixth sense that you get from living through this the first time, Voldemort’s reign the first time.
Andrew: Oh, yeah. [imitating Dumbledore] “I’ve seen this song and dance before.”
Eric: Exactly, exactly. And so I think even in a non-quantifiable way, there’s probably a feeling in the air, something in the breeze that tells Dumbledore to act or tells Sirius that he’s got to keep a closer eye on Harry. And apart from that, the Death Eater thing that you brought up, Andrew, is exactly right, because that’s the boldest demonstration of solidarity that they felt since Voldemort was defeated. So even if there’s not about to be a Voldemort uprising, that alone is the most concerning thing you can imagine following Voldemort’s demise.
Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “This isn’t my first rodeo.”
Eric: [laughs] Exactly! Exactly, he says that and he straps his boots on and his little cowboy hat, and he goes to town.
Laura: Oh no, we’re going to get more AI art.
Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “To quote the Ace of Base hit, I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes. I saw the sign.”
Eric: So perfect. I don’t know how you do it, Andrew.
Micah: I think there’s something to be said for… Sirius is Harry’s godfather. He’s the closest thing he has to a parent; he’s essentially his guardian now. Isn’t that the proper behavior of the person who’s responsible for a child? If your parents were to get a letter like that, wouldn’t they come running to Hogwarts?
Andrew and Laura: Yeah.
Laura: The only other thing I could think of in terms of signs was maybe Snape has some intel that he’s shared with Dumbledore.
Andrew: Yeah, well, and I wanted to get into this, but we’re running out of time. Snape is not happy with Mad-Eye being at the school, and Harry surmises it’s because, “Oh, Snape has always wanted the DADA post,” but maybe it’s actually Snape senses something is up with Mad-Eye, to your point about catching another sign from Snape.
Eric: It’s a clever misdirect. I think the only sign that Snape knows is that his Dark Mark is getting stronger, because I think that’s said to have started around the time of the World Cup.
Andrew: [imitating Snape] “Something’s tickling on my arm.”
Eric: [imitating Snape] “A mysterious tickling.”
Andrew: [imitating Snape] “I see the sign too.”
Laura: [laughs] He feels the sign.
Laura: But I feel like Snape would say something to Dumbledore if he started feeling his Dark Mark getting stronger again, even if it was really slight. I think Snape would know exactly what it means, especially when you put together the really broad public presence of the Death Eaters at the World Cup. I think he would have said something to Dumbledore.
Odds & Ends
Laura: Anywho, let’s get into some odds and ends for the chapter. While Harry and Ron are BS-ing their way through Divination homework, it is noted that Fred and George are being unusually quiet and studious in the common room. Of course, we know that they’re trying to think of ways to get Ludo Bagman to pay them their money after he paid them in leprechaun gold.
Andrew: They need that money because they’re putting together a new shop for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.
Andrew: And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Ministry of Magic, opening in 2025.
Laura: Yeah. I thought there was an interesting… there was a curious line here, though, where Fred wanted to say something that was a little more mean, honestly.
Eric: Well, more direct.
Laura: Yeah, more direct. And George cut him off and was like, “No, no, no, let’s not do that. He’s going to think we’re blackmailing him.” And I just thought that was another great example of the difference between the twins. We’ve definitely talked about Fred being the more, I guess you could say, aggressive of the two twins, so I like that we still see it in these small ways.
Eric: It’s beautiful.
Laura: And then just wanted to call out Harry is being a real jerk to Hedwig when she gets back. He’s so mean to her.
Eric: Well, if he wanted her to come back this whole time, he should have been stuffing his pockets with extra biscuits or something, instead of being like, “I don’t like the contents of my letter, so I don’t have anything for you. Just go away. Go to the owlery.”
Andrew: Yeah, poor girl’s hungry. She earned a little treat after that journey from somewhere down south.
Laura: Yeah. Right.
Andrew: And Hedwig was probably like, “Damn, Sirius has a nice vacation going on right now. I don’t want to leave this place and go back to rainy, cloudy Hogwarts.”
Eric: That’s why she took so long; she was hanging out and taking in some of the rays for a little bit.
Andrew: [laughs] Tanning.
Micah: I would.
Laura: Just wings splayed out.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Andrew: Yeah, cocktail in one wing. Mmm. Tropical butterbeer.
MVP of the Week
Andrew: All right, it’s time for MVP of the week.
[MVP of the Week music plays]
Andrew: On a related note, I’m going to give it to Sirius for breaking his southern vacation to come home. I’m sorry, buddy. You’ll be able to go back, maybe. You have some time…
Laura: [tearfully] No, you won’t.
Andrew: … I think.
Eric: Oh, too soon. I’m going to give my MVP to Professor Lupin, who wrote Moody a long letter explaining about all the various classes, and Harry’s class in particular. I just think that’s a really sweet extra thing that he didn’t have to do from wherever he is now.
Laura: I’m going to give mine to Neville, because I think, actually, in this chapter we see Neville being brave, and I don’t think that we often think of Neville as brave, apart from the ends of Books 1 and 7. But I think it was really brave of him in this chapter to volunteer information in a lesson that was clearly so traumatic for him to witness and talk about, but he still did it because he knew the answer. So I’m proud of him.
Micah: I second that as a fellow Ravenclaw, Laura. Just the bravery that Neville shows in this moment to talk about his parents – but not directly talk about his parents – in front of the entire classroom, I think shows why he is a Gryffindor, to your point.
[MVP of the Week music ends]
Andrew: If you have any feedback about today’s discussion, send us an owl by emailing MuggleCast@gmail.com, or you can send a voice memo to that same address, or you can use our phone number and you can give Hedwig a break. Just call 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. And next week we’ll discuss Chapter 15 of Goblet of Fire, “Beauxbatons and Durmstrang.” Time for our weekly trivia game, Quizzitch.
[Quizzitch music plays]
Eric: Last week’s question: What is Lavender showing Parvati in DADA that gets her scolded by Mad-Eye Fakey? Correct answer is her completed horoscope. Congratulations, for this first Quizzitch question in the month of February, to the winners who submitted the correct answer, including Isobel; Henry; Bev; LC; Elizabeth; Zach Brennan; Jenn Penn; Lizzie; Xaden; Ollie Tabooger; Eddie; Meaghan C.; and Katie from Hufflepuff. And, okay, you wore me down…
Eric: … also Daniel government ID 007-31-1980; Jiggly Jane Luff; Better than Potter’s Broomstick; Samwise Potterhobbit; Quizzitch scratches my quiz itch; The band member who kept playing because they didn’t realize Cedric was dead in Harry’s arms.
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Laura: Thank you.
Eric: Welcome back to all zany Quizzitch names. Here’s next week’s Quizzitch question: What are the first two words of Sirius’s second letter that he sends Harry in this school year? They’re really good words. Submit your answer to us on the Quizzitch form located on the MuggleCast website, MuggleCast.com/Quizzitch, or go to the MuggleCast website – maybe you’re checking out transcripts, something else – and click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.
Andrew: That’s right, there are transcripts on MuggleCast.com! And our social media links, and our full episode archive, and our favorite episodes, and the contact form. Also, tuition at Hogwarts might be free – and boy, are we jealous of that – but tuition here in the Muggle world wasn’t free, and we still have student loans to pay…
[Laura and Micah laugh]
Andrew: … so we’d appreciate your support at Patreon.com/MuggleCast. Your support goes to running the show so we can spend more time on the show and less time in the scary Muggle world. If you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free, early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month. We’ve got some great bonus MuggleCast installments up right now, including a recap of Micah’s trip to the UK, in which he had very American food at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I’m still chuckling about that.
Micah: Look, I read you the menu. The menu was actually very American, to be fair.
Andrew: [laughs] And you were like, “I’m home. Thank goodness.”
Eric: Listen, this is how you promo the bonus.
Micah: I had butterbeer.
Eric: “You won’t believe how American Micah’s food was at the Studio Tour!”
Andrew: Don’t say another word about it, Micah. Everybody has to listen on our Patreon or on Apple Podcasts.
Micah: Which is a great deal, by the way.
Andrew: It is a very good deal.
Micah: I don’t know if I’ve talked about this before…
Micah: But I will just do another pitch really quick here because I really feel strongly about this, and I do it myself with podcasts that I support. $4.99 a month. Most of our listeners, I’m going to assume, enjoy a nice cup of coffee, and you go to a Starbucks. What do you pay for that cup of coffee? It’s probably more than $4.99. So you get early access to the show, ad-free, and bonus MuggleCast for $5 a month. That’s why it’s a great deal.
Andrew: You’re right.
Eric: Also, cup of coffee lasts a couple hours, and these features last you all month long.
Andrew: And plus, you’re supporting indie podcasters and not a coffee conglomerate, so we really appreciate you putting…
Micah: [laughs] Starbucks will not be a sponsor of MuggleCast anytime in the future.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: It’d be great if there was a Starbucks ad in this.
Eric: It would be funny if by happenstance they are the sponsors this week.
Eric: But yeah, you’re supporting your friends in your earholes.
Andrew: Your Harry Potter friends, yeah. We really appreciate you. Another way to support us is through our store on Etsy; MuggleMillennial.etsy.com is where you can buy MuggleCast T-shirts, the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, which is our beanie and socks at one reduced price. We got our wooden cars that you can build. We’ve got signed album art, really signed by the four of us, and some other gifts that are from Patreon years past. Eric also warns us that only 30 wooden cars remain, so act fast if you want to grab one of those MuggleCast Sweet 16 cars.
Eric: Yeah, we got a couple orders this week. Man, we started with over 600 and we’re down to 30.
Andrew: If you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would too, tell a friend about the show. We want to be their Harry Potter friends as well. And we’d also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. So that does it for this week’s episode. Remember, CONSTANT VIGILANCE! I’m Andrew.
Eric: I’m Eric.
Micah: I’m Micah.
Laura: And I’m Laura.
Andrew: Constant, never-ceasing vigilance!