Transcript #654

Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #654, Witchcraft and Rizzardry (GOF Chapter 22, The Unexpected Task)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

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

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: And this week, we’re trying to find dates for the Yule Ball, and feeling lots of secondhand embarrassment for Harry and Ron. “Wangoballwime?”

Eric: [laughs] You said that with such swagger.

Andrew: Really? Oh, I thought it was… [murmured gibberish]

Laura: That’s exactly how we all asked people to be our dates to a dance in high school, right?

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Eric: It’s true. We thought we were so hot.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Is that how you did it over the radio, Eric, as we learned last week?

Eric: Pretty much. I was like, “Breaking news: Wangoballwime?”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: But before we get to Chapter by Chapter this week, a couple of important reminders. First of all, don’t forget that we have this Etsy store at This is where you can buy many cool MuggleCast items, like the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, which is our beanies and socks together at one reduced price. We also have signed album art – really signed by the four of us – and we have wooden car sets that you can build; we made those for our 16th birthday. We also have MuggleCast T-shirts and some other things, too, so check it all out at These are all really great gifts that we created for patrons over the years, but we had some extras and we’re trying to sell them all off now, so please do check those out. And by purchasing these items, you will be supporting the show, so thank you very much for your help. Speaking of supporting the show, we have our Patreon and we have our paid Apple Podcasts subscription, and one of the benefits both of those groups get are our bonus MuggleCast installments. We do two of these a month, and we’re recording a new one today, right, Laura?

Laura: We are; we’re actually doing a fourth installment of wizarding world headcanons…

Eric: Yes!

Laura: … but for this one, we actually turned to our patrons to give us some of their favorite headcanons, so we’re going to be going over some of their inventions. They definitely run the gamut from really, really sad to really, really hilarious, sometimes wacky and outlandish, but it’s going to be super fun.

Eric: These segments are always a delight, and Laura, you curate so well, so they’re a lot of fun to go through.

Laura: Aw, thank you.

Andrew: So check that out at as well as through our paid Apple Podcasts subscription. And one other benefit that listeners get when they pledge to our Patreon – one of many benefits, I should say – is you get a video message recorded just for you from one of the four of us, and do you all look at the replies sometimes that listeners send back after we send a video message?

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Micah: They’re really nice.

Andrew: They are the nicest things ever. Micah, we got one the other day from Katie; would you like to read this one?

Micah: Sure. Katie says, “Thank you so much for taking time to send this! I’ve been listening to MuggleCast since the pandemic hit, and now look forward to episodes every week. I grew up with Harry Potter, and even remember doing a book report on Goblet of Fire at the beginning of sixth grade as my favorite read from the summer it was released. Harry Potter means so much to me and I’m grateful for everything that you all do! I’ve enjoyed the benefits of additional content so far in the DA and am just blown away with how much thought and effort is put into the show. I think you are all hilarious and smart; once again, thank you for everything. This is a great community to be a part of… to feel a part of.” Be a part of, too.

Andrew: Yeah, we do have a really nice community going on, through the Discord, through the Facebook group…

Micah: And this was in response to my Bonjoro, you said, right? [laughs]

Andrew: It was, it was. And to inflate your ego a little more, Carly just said in our Discord, “I watch my video from Micah whenever I need to smile.”

Everyone: Aww.

Laura: That’s so sweet.

Andrew: Send me this video, Carly. I want to smile too.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: You probably can watch it in our archive.

Eric: Yeah, our outbox.

Laura: What, you’re saying Micah doesn’t make you smile every week when we sign into Riverside?

Andrew: Well, he does, but there’s a certain magic that comes with those Bonjoro videos.

Micah: In fairness, Every Flavor Jules just said, “I’ve watched mine from Laura so many times.”

Laura: Aw, that’s so sweet.

Andrew: People love these! Yeah, we don’t talk about these enough.

Laura: We don’t.

Andrew: Well, thank you, everybody, for supporting us and for writing those nice messages back. Our community is the best. And Eric, you have an update, too, speaking of community.

Eric: Yeah, this one’s a P.O. box update. We have not had one of these in a hot minute, because we don’t usually actually talk about it that often. But to our P.O. box this week, we actually received – all four of us received – a signed copy of James Durbin’s Screaming Steel CDs.

[Laura gasps]

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Oh, yes!

Laura: No way! That’s awesome!

Eric: Oh, yeah. It is signed; he wrote “Believe in magic” on the CD.

Andrew: Aww.

Micah: That’s really nice.

Eric: We got a CD. It’s really cool. For those of you who may not have caught our Episode 646…

Micah: I didn’t. [laughs]

Eric: Micah did not.

Andrew: Oh yeah, Micah wasn’t on it.

Micah: I listened to it, but I wasn’t there.

Eric: Yeah, for those of you who have not yet listened, James was a fantastic guest, very, very, very generous with his time. We started interviewing him about his song “Hallows,” which came out, and he’s one of the most interesting people I think we’ve ever had on the show, just his long history is just absolutely insane. So he sent a CD and sticker as a thank you. Just wanted to say thanks again to James, and I will get your guy’s CDs out to you.

Laura: Oh, I’m so excited.

Andrew: Thank you.

Eric: So we do have a P.O. box, and here’s the address, because we don’t say it too often: It is 4044 North Lincoln Avenue, Number #144, Chicago, Illinois 60618. And if for some reason you have gifts for us, I will make sure that the rest of the MuggleCasters and myself enjoy them.

Andrew: That address is also available at, if you need to easily grab it later, on our contact page.

Eric: Indeed.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: All right, well, without further ado, let’s get into Chapter by Chapter, and this week we’re discussing Chapter 22 of Goblet of Fire, “The Unexpected Task.” And we begin, as always, with our Seven-Word Summary.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Andrew: Cho…

Eric: … regrets…

Micah: … not…

Laura: … saying…

Andrew: … yes…

Eric: … to…

Micah: … greatness.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Okay.

Eric: Okay, that was worth the wait.

Andrew: I was trying to send you vibes to say “Scar boy.”

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Laura: As we’ve mentioned here at the top, the name of this chapter is “The Unexpected Task,” and that unexpected task is asking a girl to the Yule Ball. So McGonagall drops this unwelcome news on her class towards the end of one of their final lessons of the term; of course, you have mixed reactions from the girls and the boys in the classroom. But she asks Harry to stay after for just a moment, and proceeds to let him know that not only does he need to get a date to the ball – which he wasn’t really intending on doing, it seems like – as a champion, he and his date are going to have to open the dancing at the ball. Professor McGonagall. Timing.

Eric: Girl.

Laura: I mean, I love her, I love Minerva, but she does not understand the gargantuan task that she just put in front of this 14-year-old.

Micah: No, she doesn’t, and I think she really seems to forget what it’s like to be a teenager. She’s demanding Harry show up for the good of Gryffindor and Hogwarts, but is really lacking the understanding of how much of an anxiety-inducing situation Harry is facing, and this is opposite of how we see her behaving in the first task. And she throws out words at Harry that I think are probably going to come up a lot in this chapter, “tradition,” “expectation,” “representing the school,” and I thought this was surprising for her character. Could we even consider it to be a flaw of McGonagall that sometimes her sternness gets in the way of her being able to really read the situation?

Eric: Doesn’t Dumbledore say that old men are at fault when they forget what it is to be young? There’s that line. I think there is some level of lack of being in touch. Harry himself is thinking to himself, “I doubt McGonagall ever let her hair down about anything” while she’s making the announcement, and right as she’s making the announcement, she’s telling off the students for having reactions to the announcement. So it is a bit of lack of in-touchness from McGonagall.

Laura: And I think that’s really common as people age; they do forget what it’s like to be a teenager. I even sometimes catch myself if I’m reading these books, or if I’m observing some kind of social media phenomenon that teenagers are taking part in, I’ll have to stop myself and be like, “Now, wait a second. You did stuff like this too.” And feelings feel really big when you’re at this age; you have a lot of big feelings, and society doesn’t do the best job of helping you figure out how to grapple with them or process them. So yeah, I think that’s what we see McGonagall doing here.

Andrew: And these are kids who are basically asking out a girl or partner for the very first time. We haven’t seen Harry do this before. Ron hasn’t either.

Eric: That’s right. As far as we know, Hogwarts doesn’t have social events like this.

Andrew: Yeah. Speaking of social events, isn’t it a little strange that this was announced during McGonagall’s class?

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: This should have been announced at the start of the year, right? This should have been a Dumbledore announcement.

Eric: Yeah, there’s the issue of notice, which I wanted to talk about, too, because I don’t know that we can necessarily fault McGonagall for mentioning… I guess the reason she’s giving the announcement is because it’s to her House, so Heads of House are probably the ones telling their own House in their lessons. But it’s way too late. It’s the week before Christmas right now.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: And yeah, absolutely to your point, Andrew – and to your point, Micah, about anxiety – they have next to no time to figure this out. If they had been given a few months, it would have been a much different sort of situation.

Laura: I can understand, though, why they may have held off on giving people this news, because you can see the excitement that it generates and the distraction that it generates too. Nobody’s focusing on their studies, and people are… I mean, it’s basically cuffing season at Hogwarts. [laughs] People are all of a sudden pairing up because they’re getting with their dates that they’re going to go to the Yule Ball with, and if you would announce this much sooner, there’s a lot of potential that it could have been a multi-week distraction for people.

Andrew: [worriedly] “Who am I gonna ask? Who am I gonna ask?”

Laura: Yeah, exactly. Although, I do think it’s weird that they didn’t announce it after the first task. Why not just get up and be like, “Okay, guys, coming up next, we’re actually going to have a dance.”

Andrew: [laughs] Coming up next.

Eric: Yeah, maybe not give him three months to change it, but maybe a month’s notice would have been great. I mean, the real loser here, the real person who loses out over all of this chaos, is somebody like Filch or Madam Pomfrey, because it’s actually said that pretty much everyone now chooses to stay over the Christmas break. Now that the Yule Ball has been announced, the school is packed. There was already going to be more people because of the foreign visitors, I guess, aren’t going home for Christmas, but now everyone who wants to be part of this dance – Hogwarts’s only dance that we’ve ever heard of – now has to stay over Christmas because the Yule Ball is on Christmas. So it really raises the question, why not do it the last day of term so that everybody can still…? Did everybody seven days before Christmas be like, “Sorry, parents, I can’t come home; there’s a ball I have to go to”?

Andrew: That’s the thing I don’t get either. The parents want their kids home for the holidays; I know my parents do. A lot of parents do in the Muggle world, too. They’d be devastated to find out that a week beforehand, “I’m not coming home for Christmas.”

Eric: Yeah, but compared to last year, there were 13 people at the castle over Christmas. Now it’s loaded. It’s pretty much everybody. There’s no mention of the Hogwarts Express even traveling this Christmas, so the conductor gets a day off. You know who doesn’t get a day off? Filch.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Again, he has to put up with… not only are they mega, mega, mega decorating, but now…

Andrew: 12 trees.

Eric: He was probably looking forward to a quiet ten days.

Micah: They would have been decorating anyway, though, in all fairness; maybe not to this level that’s called out specifically in this chapter. But in terms of a solution to get some of these students home from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, they could just Portkey them home, and we’ve seen Portkeys now introduced. Why not just fire up a few dusty items around the castle and send them home? But I do think that the Yule Ball is just part of the package, and I do think the adults knew about it. We see Ron’s dress robes being packed earlier on in this book, and I just don’t think the students were given a proper heads up. It’s just like the Triwizard Tournament; the adults all seem to be in the know of what’s happening, but the students are the ones ultimately that are getting surprised.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, the dress robes were on the school list, to your point. But why does it have to be held in a time when now people’s plans…? The notice – just for me – it’s very last minute, but it’s meant to be. Obviously, Harry is meant to be caught off guard, and it’s the new thing that he has to focus on.

Andrew: Yeah, because remember a chapter or two ago he was excited that “Oh, the first task is over; now I got three months or whatever it is until the next one. I’ve got plenty of time to relax.” Surprise, you actually don’t have time to relax, and it’s over the holidays, so you’ll be doing anything but relaxing. You’re stressing over a girl, or should I say a partner? Because I did find it interesting that McGonagall tells him to find a partner, and she doesn’t use the word “girl,” which I just thought was interesting because the series is absolutely void of… well, the core books are void of LGBTQ people or mentions or just support, and yet McGonagall is using “partner.” It’s almost like she doesn’t want to assume that Harry would want to go with a girl, which would be inclusive, so I don’t know. I could be grasping for straws, but it was an interesting choice of words.

Eric: My take on this is that she’s referring to the more antiquated term of like, dance partner. I think she means girl. The thing is, Harry takes it to mean girl immediately, because the rest of the chapter he’s always like, “How many girls should I…? I would rather face off a dragon than a girl.” It’s all very…

Andrew: And that makes sense, because he knows he’s straight, so I just… but McGonagall could have used “girl” and didn’t.

Micah: And what’s fascinating, though, is that his mind immediately goes to Aunt Petunia. Talk about trauma.

Eric: Well, and sheltered. He’s sheltered. His mental image, to your point, Micah, is whatever… he would be dancing with somebody that’s dressed like Petunia always dresses for Uncle Vernon’s work parties, and that’s just sad that that’s his reference for formal attire or romance. Hogwarts really should have more dances. I mean, you’ve got to get these kids social, interacting outside their House, their immediate core groups.

Laura: Yeah. Well, and speaking of the psychological impact that this has on Harry, not only does he have literally no frame of reference for how to navigate this situation, he’s also feeling a lot of pressure and feeling like, “The only people who would want to go to this thing with me are people who are impressed at how well I did in the first task, or people who just want to go with me because I’m famous.” And unbeknownst to Hermione, her saying the same thing about Krum is something that echoes in Harry’s head over and over again when he’s trying to think of who he can go to the ball with.

Eric: There is this over-importance being placed on the ball, because Harry wants true love. Harry wants somebody who likes him for him, which is nice, but this is just a dance. It’s one day. It’s not like if you’re dancing, “Oh my God, you’re going steady and you have to marry the person.” Although, in J.K. Rowling’s world it is. But I think that it just is… it shows us how it is to be young and to have these… yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. I was going to say, remember what we were just talking about? It’s easy to forget how it was when we were kids, but I can still remember how big a deal it was for the first dance or the senior prom. Those were massive deals.

Laura: So I’m going to ask y’all something. I want us to all think back to when we were going to school dances, and I’m asking this because I have a particular perception of Harry’s perception of the Yule Ball, which is that he doesn’t really understand it or care about it that much, but it stresses him out because he’s being forced to care about it. I always got the impression in my teenage years that boys cared far less about these things than girls did, simply by virtue of the amount of time and preparation that me and my girlfriends would put into getting ready for dances, and it seemed like all of our guy friends did not give it nearly half that amount of thought. So I wanted to put it out there and see if we can challenge the stereotype, perhaps?

Andrew: Well, I’d say that’s right. That’s my recollection.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It’s hard to remember, first of all, but also, I do think that had I been regularly dating somebody at the time in school, it would have been a nice thing to do with my partner. But I will say, this is very reminiscent of junior and senior prom emotions, things for me… it really does take me back to that part in high school, where just like with the Yule Ball, you have to be one of the upper grades in Hogwarts. 14 through 17 can go; the only time a younger person can go is if they’re asked by an older person, and that was very much junior/senior prom. You could not be a freshman and sophomore and go, so it’s exclusive and it’s skewed towards the older students, and there’s fancy dress, a lot of ceremony… I have to say… I mean, if you remember, my prom people would show up in limousines they would rent for the event, so there was a lot more pizzazz; there was a lot more flash spent on prom than probably anything else. I mean, even more than homecoming and any other big week for the school. Prom was a big deal.

Micah: Yeah, I agree with you. I think there’s a clear difference between going to a school dance – where you could probably just go with a bunch of your friends and have a good time – and then something like junior or senior prom, where there’s really an expectation that you’re going to be taking somebody with you, and I think that that adds a whole additional layer of stress and anxiety to the equation. And we’re going to get to it a little bit later, but I want to know why Harry couldn’t go stag. Forget the fact that it’s his Patronus, but he can’t go stag?

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: He would have had to dance by himself.

Micah: What’s wrong with that?

Eric: He’d be dancing by himself, which, hey, he could pull that off. He could learn to dance a solo dance.

Micah: There’s a whole song about that.

Andrew: Yeah, “Keep Dancing on My Own” by Robyn, I believe?

Eric: He should actually flip the script on McGonagall and say, “Well, I don’t dance,” and she says, “Oh, yes, you do,” and he says, “Well, I guess I’m taking you then, Professor.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Hubba-hubba.

Eric: Really, no, flip the script first, and not in a romantic way.

Andrew: No, I know.

Eric: But she cares so much about… Hogwarts already has a champion, okay? This boy has been through enough. Don’t make him try and find a partner five days before the event. Let the older kids do that, or have it be a really sweet dance between his de facto guardian, his mother figure and him.

Laura: He would be teased to the edge of the earth if that ever happened.

Eric: Oh, you’re right. Anytime you show the least bit of closeness with the teacher, the students kill you. I forgot about that aspect of childhood.

Laura: Yep. [laughs] Did you block that out, Eric?

Eric: Yeah, I did. Absolutely.

Andrew: He just kicked butt in the first task and he defeated the Dark Lord; I’d feel more confident if I were him. I think it’d be cool if he were with McGonagall for that first dance.

Micah: Going back to your question, Laura, though, I thought through it in terms of what was worse, the anxiety of asking someone out, or the anxiety of the expectations you had to live up to if they said yes?

Laura: Ohh.

Micah: Because I think there’s two different parts to look at here. Your heart starts to beat and race real fast when you finally get up the courage to ask the question, but then you have to actually follow through if they say yes.

Andrew: Yeah, you’ve got to make sure it’s a great night, because you asked them out so you want to live up to the expectations. There’s also the fear of rejection, so that stops people from asking too. There’s many factors at play, but yeah, it was scary as hell, and I don’t miss those feelings, I guess. They’re memories you cherish in that they’re special, I think; they’re memories you never forget, but you also don’t want to relive them. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, it’s just another thing that the teachers thought would be nice this year but end up causing a lot of issues, I think, for everyone involved, for the student body. All the teachers are out of touch, I think. Do you guys remember your prom themes, though, by the way? Because I remember mine. My senior prom was called “Wonderful Tonight,” and it was based on the Clapton song.

Andrew: I can’t say I do remember mine.

Laura: So my prom theme was the Yule Ball at Portus 2007 in Toronto because I was homeschooled 10th grade through 12th grade, so I actually did not go to prom, so the Harry Potter conference was my…

Micah: How dare you, Laura?

Laura: Honestly, I’m fine with it.

Micah: [laughs] I know.

Laura: I knew plenty of friends who went; it wasn’t that great. And I’m like, honestly, for my prom to be a Harry Potter prom? That’s pretty cool. I’ll take it.

Andrew: That is pretty cool.

Micah: You were a trendsetter, just like Dobby.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: We’re both visionaries, me and Dobby. Well, much to Harry’s surprise, despite all of his anxieties about this, he is asked to the ball by no less than three girls, but he actually turns them all down, and we’re going to chat about them in a couple of minutes and the person he would really like to go to the ball with.

Micah: Why not 7 or 12? Why 3?

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That’s a lot of pressure. Dang.

[Ad break]

Laura: Well, speaking of the girls who ask Harry to the Yule Ball, we start getting into a theme that I think is honestly really prevalent around the idea of a school dance in general, and I don’t even know that it’s necessarily specific to one group of people – I feel like I’ve seen lots of people do this – and it’s the idea of being concerned about how you’re going to look with a specific person as your date. So Harry brings this up because one of the girls who asks him is a fifth year who is apparently a foot taller than him, and he just says, “Oh my God, can you imagine what I would look like dancing with her?” And obviously, it’s not a great thing, but it’s also a very young thing, and I think we’ve all seen things like this during our own teen years, right?

Micah: Or we’ve done it or said it ourselves.

Laura: Yeah, that’s the other thing. I wasn’t going to call any of us out, but yes, 100%.

Eric: Yeah, we all fall victim to feeling as though we have to conform, and not only that, but match expectations that either probably aren’t upon us, or actually really are in real way. But the feeling of the need to conform causes us to do things like Harry does with his knee-jerk reaction to the first girl that asks him. Because he has his mind set on asking Cho, he immediately just says no before she basically finishes her sentence, and she is really hurt by that, and that breaks my heart to read. But all we have is our image when we’re that young and in school in this social setting, and so we obsess over it, and it’s everything. And to be fair, Harry has to worry about his image a slight bit more than most students, because there’s this journalist hawk coming around who’s writing bad stories about him. There’s evidence that she’s still trying to take him down a peg, so I think that definitely Harry is right to be worried, but it leads to unfortunate events and a little bit of toxicity, and certainly a lot of shallowness coming from the boys in this chapter.

Micah: Well, Hermione also does plant a bit of a seed – going back to the point, Laura, that you raised earlier – when she tells him that, “Oh, of course Krum has all these women lining up asking him, because he’s this big Triwizard champion,” and why wouldn’t Harry be any different? So I’m wondering if that’s playing a little bit inside of his head as well when he has these first three girls approach him; that is what makes him in part be dismissive. I think it’s a little bit tongue in cheek of Hermione, because we all know, really, why she’s going with Krum, in part to make Ron feel bad.

Andrew: And Harry just is always on a platform anyway. There’s always extra eyes on Harry, so I can see why he especially would be feeling this way. The champions, too, the other champions; I mean, there’s going to be extra attention on them at the dance because they are also dancing first. Harry has also been bullied over the years, so he knows that whoever he picks, he’s probably going to be hearing from Draco about his date; no matter who it is, he’ll find something to pick apart. So there’s a lot of pressure on him to choose the right person. I understand where he’s coming from, but it’s also a good problem to have, Harry. Some of us were really struggling.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Andrew: We would have been lucky to have anybody ask us.

Eric: Oh, God. Well, I do feel bad, though, again, because Harry is 14 and the other champions are 17. They’ve lived just a few short years; they have a lot more experience in this area. If you think about what happens during Harry’s sixth year, when he’s 16, romance left and right, everyone’s doing it – meaning romances – and he’d be a lot more comfortable, I think, handling this level of a challenge in his sixth year, or if he were a bit older the way that the other champions are, so it does affect him negatively.

Laura: Well, Harry isn’t the only person that we see being concerned about appearances when it comes to selecting a date. Ron is worried that he’s going to end up with a “troll,” as he puts it…

Eric: Wow.

Laura: … and Fred even warns them that they’d better get a move on or else “all the good ones will be gone,” and then this man just makes it look super easy by asking Angelina.

Micah: He’s a smooth operator, that one.

Eric: Good for him.

Andrew: I loved this scene, yeah. I mean, okay, he’s probably asked girls out before. I think this says a lot about Fred and George’s character; they’re very confident people in general, in that they’re just going to be able to ask somebody without… I mean, maybe Fred was thinking about asking her anyway, so he was somewhat mentally prepared to do it, but Fred made it look so easy, and it’s enviable to just ask and you get an easy yes from Angelina, or what did she say? “Oh, I guess,” or something like that?

Micah: And then she blushed.

Laura: I mean, it read to me like there was already something going on between the two of them, and that’s why it was so easy.

Andrew: I think that’s fair, Yeah.

Eric: I mean, yeah, they’ve been on the same Quidditch team for a few years. Let’s not forget, Angelina actually marries George, so she’s definitely close with the Weasley boys.

Micah: Well, options were limited. Let’s be real.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: No, I’m joking.

Eric: I’m just saying that it’s clear that they’re close. And Fred still uses terms that I don’t like, like “get one of the good ones,” but his demonstrating to Harry and Ron that sometimes all you’ve got to do is ask really kicks them in the butt, I think, which they need.

Andrew: It’s a good life lesson that could be applied to lots of things. Just ask. Just ask. just do it. Nike.

Eric: Absolutely. Have that level of confidence, or if you’re not confident, fake it, and it’s going to work.

Micah: I believe that so much of their “confidence” comes from the fact that they just don’t really care all that much at the end of the day. That’s just their attitude; that’s their persona in being these pranksters. I’m sure Fred would have been just as fine showing up and hanging out in the back of the Great Hall pulling pranks on people, and so if Angelina ended up turning him down, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. And maybe he would have just as easily gone off and asked another girl, but I just think it’s in their nature to not take things so seriously, and that’s what makes it so easy for them.

Laura: So I want to give a shout-out to Carly’s 14-year-old. Carly in our Discord is saying that her 14-year-old said, “Fred’s got rizz.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: He does indeed.

Eric: What’s rizz?

Laura: Charisma.

Eric: Ohh, man.

Andrew: It’s a Gen Z phrase.

Laura: It’s what the kids are saying. Well, obviously, all of these exchanges are incredibly frustrating to Hermione, who’s just looking at all these dumb boys like, “How could you be so shallow? The girls that you’re talking about not wanting to go with are actually really nice. Why do you think you’re such a prize?” And this opens up the beginning of a dramatic arc for Ron and Hermione, because Ron, all of a sudden, after four years, has the dawning realization that Hermione is a girl, and he’s like, “Why don’t you come with one of us? That would make it so much easier.” And of course, this is Ron trying to set himself up in a very casual way, so that he’s not putting himself out on a limb to ask Hermione to the ball because he wants to ask her to the ball. He may not even realize that he wants to go with her, but he’s doing something to try and orchestrate it so that she will go with him, because the other obvious answer is “Oh, Ginny can go with Harry, Hermione can go with me,” and it becomes clear that at least per Hermione at this point, she has already been asked by someone.

Eric: The thing is, even if she didn’t have somebody to go with, the way in which Ron asks her is wrong, and she’s right to turn him down. Because Ron sees it as a problem that she can fix, that “Hermione, you can help us out of this pickle!” No, absolutely not. That’s not why you should ask somebody to the prom.

Micah: This isn’t homework.

Andrew: Yeah, more homework for Hermione to complete. [laughs]

Eric: Right, exactly.

Micah: The word “shallow” has been brought up a number of times, and it reminded me of the movie Shallow Hal.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: I’m not sure if anybody has seen it. Sounds like everybody has. And I really think that Ron could use Tony Robbins. There’s this elevator scene between Tony Robbins and Jack Black, where he essentially hypnotizes him, and I came up with the line. I was trying to get it to rhyme, because in the movie, it’s “Shallow Hal wants a gal,” right? And that causes his mindset to really just see the natural beauty or not in all people, and I came up with “Shallow Ronnie needs a honey.”

Eric: Oh, okay.

Andrew: I like that.

Laura: I like it.

Micah: I think Ron could really use that. I don’t know. Maybe Trelawney could step in in place of Tony Robbins, but… anyway.

[Andrew and Laura laughs]

Eric: Oh, yeah. Well, again, there’s just no time. It’s wrong of them to spring this onto the public.

Micah: Oh, yeah. Andrew, can you do a Trelawney impersonation of that line?

Laura: Yeah, please do.

Andrew: [in a screechy, hoarse voice] “Shallow Ronnie…” No, that’s the Voldemort one.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: I need to think that through more. I don’t think I can do that one on the spot.

Eric: They’re so close. There’s a lot of similarity.

Micah: All right, I’m sorry.

Laura: Well, over the course of these interactions, we find out that Neville actually asked Hermione to the ball. She turned him down, of course, because she’s going with Krum, but Ron in particular is making a lot of fun of Neville, saying things like, “I mean, of course she turned him down; who would want to go to the ball with Neville?” which is so mean, because his sister, who is actually the one who’s going to the ball with Neville, is sitting right there. [laughs]

Andrew: And Neville has a glow-up later on, so joke’s on you, Ron.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: And I just wanted to re-raise this – I know I mentioned it earlier – but I’m curious, why must each of the champions have a partner? What’s wrong with going stag? This whole situation puts unnecessary pressure on the students to conform to certain traditions and norms. You have to go, you have to have a date, you have to dance, because if you don’t, then what? You’re a loser? That’s what it’s implying, or you somehow don’t fit into the social…

Andrew: I don’t see what’s wrong about continuing to uphold this tradition. It’s like, you think about certain traditions at weddings, or maybe you have your own tradition around a birthday. And it’s hard for Harry because it’s his first time and for all these other reasons we’ve discussed, but it’s not that hard for him to get somebody to go with him to the dance. He’s in his own way. Micah is trying to get us to… I think Micah hates the idea of finding a partner for a dance, so you’re just projecting here. [laughs]

Eric: No, I mean, it is the summation of what we said in this chapter, though, right? They sprung this on the teachers, possibly. They definitely sprung it on the students. It creates a lot of hard feelings. Hogwarts is an emotional nightmare.

Micah: Yeah, and we see how it causes these students to behave and the types of emotions and things that come up, the things that are said about other people. And, well, maybe they were lying below the surface and it just needed this situation to bring them to the forefront, but it’s some pretty nasty stuff that Ron throws out there that maybe otherwise never would have been said in other situations. But all I’m saying is I don’t disagree with you, Andrew; I do think the four champions, it is nice, but I don’t think everybody should feel the pressure of having to have a date. It just seems to be a little bit over the top.

Andrew: Wait a second, four? Maybe they should have just danced with each other. Cedric and Harry, Fleur and Krum.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Or mix them however you want.

Micah: Well, Fleur was trying to get some Diggory, so…

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: … maybe that would have been better.

Andrew: I’m just trying to ship Harry and Cedric while we still can.

Laura: It definitely feels very 1990s, right? So I think in that way, it’s pretty representative of the time. I think by 2024 standards we might see a dance that’s a little more inclusive of different kinds of people and the different ways that they can have fun and enjoy an environment like that.

Eric: Yeah, even by the early ’00s people were wearing duct tape suits and dresses and clutches. I always wanted to be that kid. That was really cool to me.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, if I were Harry, I would have just said to McGonagall, “Remember Hogsmeade and how you wouldn’t sign my permission slip? I’m not going to the ball. Deal with it.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah, “What’s the Goblet of Fire going to do? Is it going to smite me if I don’t take part in this task?”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “I didn’t want to be a part of this anyway!”

Laura: [laughs] “I am only contracted for three tasks. Three.”

Eric: That’s right.

Micah: No extras. No bonuses.

Eric: The Goblet is like, “Harry Potter, if you don’t dance with somebody, you will die.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: That’s basically what she said.

Laura: Harry is finally inspired to do the thing that he’s been knowing he needed to do but also dreading doing, and that was asking Cho to the ball. And you really feel for him in this moment, because he approaches her when she’s with a group of her friends, and he says, “Hey, Cho, can I have a word with you?” All of her friends immediately start giggling, and Harry thinks, “Oh my God, giggling should be illegal.”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: “This is horrible.”

Eric: Laura, can you offer insight? What are the girls giggling about here?

Laura: It’s just excitement, honestly. I remember being in situations like this in school where if a boy that you liked or that one of your friends liked came up to a girl in a group, and everybody knew that there was some kind of connection there, everybody would get excited about it. It wasn’t ever mean, at least in my experience; it was more just people being unable to contain their excitement. And it’s also a little bit of gossip, right? Like, “Ooh, Harry Potter asked Cho to the ball.”

Micah: Andrew still does that every time I walk up to him, so…

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: I think a lot of our listeners do when they get Bonjoros from you, according to our Discord.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: But of course, Cho has to turn Harry down when he asks her. Of course, this is after he asks her to the ball in one word; he manages to fit “Want to go to the ball with me?” into one very long word, which, good for you, Harry. But she admits that she’s already going with someone, and Harry asks her, “Who are you going with?” And she says probably the last name Harry needed to hear come out of her mouth, and that was Cedric Diggory.

Eric: Harry is so endearing, and it’s so endearing to read this, and there’s this line where it’s like, “and Harry thought that Cedric had been his friend, but now Cedric is a big old poopy…”

Andrew: “He was their friend!”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Not a good champion after all, and it’s just like, “Oh man, Harry, that’s your heart. That’s your heart telling you that Cedric is now your enemy again.”

Andrew: But this is one reason why Harry was probably delaying asking, just like Ron: this fear of rejection. And now he has to face it with the one person he actually wanted to ask. And Cho does look truly sorry, in Harry’s mind.

Eric: Yes, so you have to wonder, if Harry did ask her first, would she have gone with him? Or was she already dating Cedric? And I think the “truly sorry” remark implies she would have told Harry “Yes.” I mean, this would still be a big get for Cho; forget having feelings for Cedric. I mean, this is the Chosen One asking you.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: Well, I just think that Cho has a read on Harry that he’s a kind person, and we know that to actually be true, and that’s kind of what leads Cho to seek Harry out next year, is that she knows fundamentally he’s a good person, and who wouldn’t want to go to the ball with somebody who’s a good person, let alone being the Chosen One?

Andrew: And one of the champions! Cho gets asked by two of the four champions! Wow.

Micah: I mean, who knows? She may have been asked by all four.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: True.

Micah: We don’t have confirmation one way or the other.

Eric: That’s true. Well, I will say that the two Hogwarts champions know her. It’s interesting that they both know her through the same thing; they both know her through Quidditch. Cedric Diggory has faced off against Cho Chang in Quidditch, Cho being a really good Seeker.

Andrew: Then maybe this is more confirmation that Krum did know her and would’ve asked her out. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, I bet they’re all really impressed with Cho’s Quidditch skills, and so they all ask her.

Micah: I do think it’s interesting to compare Cho’s emotional maturity with Harry’s at this moment, because we just talked about how she does feel truly sorry; we can see it kind of come through in her expression and how she speaks to Harry. But Harry, on the other hand – and this goes to the age discrepancy a little bit – immediately turns to trash-talking Cedric. That is his response. And to look at the two in terms of where they are from a age perspective – not to say that just because you’re older, you’re more mature – but clearly, Cho is more mature in this situation.

Eric: Yeah. I’m still glad Harry keeps it to himself. It’s really only his internal monologue that talks on Diggory, and in fact, he doesn’t ask Cho right away, “Oh, who are you going with?” accusatorially, the way Ron might do in this situation. He waits, then they have a lovely moment and Cho walks away, and he says, “By the way, who?” He’s genuinely taking an interest in Cho’s pick.

Andrew: Yeah. And the fact that Harry does keep this inside him, I think, does say a lot. He just thinks these things to himself, it does say a lot, because we’ve all been there. We’re talking smack inside our own heads when somebody disappoints us. [laughs]

Laura: Oh God, yeah.

Micah: Or you talk smack back on the person you just asked. That’s the other thing, too, not just on the person they happen to be going to the dance with.

Andrew: Harry is jealous, he’s probably shocked, he’s probably mad at himself for not trying to figure out the situation sooner. There’s so many factors at play he has to deal with, being thrown into the tournament to begin with. You can see why he’s frustrated.

Laura: Yeah. And I do think, too, we see a really positive side of Cho in this book, and we’re going to talk about that a little more in a second, but I will observe that it is easier to take the high road when you’re not the person being rejected. So from that perspective, I can empathize with Harry, because I absolutely remember being that age, and if a boy I really liked all of a sudden got a new girlfriend, my head… I never verbalized any of it, but I would think really mean things about this girl for no reason, [laughs] just because I was jealous.

Eric: It’s a very realistic experience. I think reading this, we’ve all had a very similar internal and external monologue.

Laura: Oh, yeah. 100%. Well, I want us to compare the Cho that we get in this book against the version we get in Order of the Phoenix, and I wanted to ask first, are we surprised how Cho’s character turns out in the next book, based on how nice she seemed in Goblet of Fire and Prisoner of Azkaban?

Eric: I mean, I think the more shocking character shift is Harry’s. We just talked about how wonderful he is and how nice and delicate he is to this subject, and how nice and delicate she is, but when she’s sobbing and they’re at the tea shop for a date, Harry is just like, “Come on, what’s this all about? What the heck am I supposed to do with this?” And it’s like, wow, Harry isn’t able to be – through circumstances that are not his fault – that same kind, caring, sensitive individual. So I do agree that Cho is certainly done dirty by the book; I think that there really could have been a really nice relationship there, but because of everything else that’s going on in the plot, and it wasn’t meant to be, it does change significantly with what we… what the books seem to be setting up is not what we get. Cho is the girl that is that disappointment of the first girlfriend that you thought was going to be something that she wasn’t; it’s not her fault at all.

Laura: Yeah, I definitely feel like Cho’s character gets assassinated in the books, but even more so in the movies where they basically… they don’t have Marietta Edgecombe in the fifth movie, so Cho is the one who rats out Dumbledore’s Army in the film.

Eric: Oh.

Laura: Whereas in the book, Marietta is just her friend, and she tries to defend her for doing it, so it’s pretty different. But I think that a lot of times, Harry – and also as readers – we tend to forget that her boyfriend gets murdered, and she’s 15 years old. That is going to have an enormous impact on her and potentially the trajectory of her life, so the fact that she shows up the way she does in Order of the Phoenix is not shocking at all to me. But I will say when I was reading it for the first time, and I think I was in… I hadn’t matured, so I think reading it, it was really easy to be like, “Oh my God, this is the annoying girlfriend. Can he move on to the next one?” [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, it’s tough because when you’re that young and you’re reading the books and Harry and Ron both feel a certain way about somebody, you tend to feel that certain way about somebody. You get sort of lumped into the boys’ mentality, which is just not fair, especially in a world where there’s no grief counselors at Hogwarts, nobody for Cho to talk to, and she reaches out to Harry because he’s literally the person that was closest to Cedric and there when it happened. She just wants some fellow humanity, and Harry is not able to bring that, and it shouldn’t be anyone’s role to bring that.

Andrew: All right. Well, we will talk about Ron and Ginny in a moment, but first, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Laura: Not only does Harry strike out when he asks Cho, Ron also asks Fleur, and nobody’d be shocked to hear that she doesn’t even respond to him. She more looks at him like he’s something disgusting on the floor.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: It’s rough. But it sounds like – at least Harry’s suspicion is that – she was turning on the Veela charm to get Cedric to ask her to the ball, which is what prompts Harry to be like, “Well, she was wasting her time, because he’s already going with Cho Chang. I know because I asked her; she said no.” And with that in mind, I wanted to ask y’all are some people more susceptible to Veela magic than others? Or does already being partnered make the Veela magic not work?

Andrew: I could see some people being more susceptible than others. There might be hormones at play; there might be urges at play.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, if we think about the Veela moment, the full-on Veela moment at the Quidditch World Cup, I’m pretty sure some of the guys that were jumping out of the boxes trying to get to the Veela were probably married men, at least some of them, so I think that the effects maybe don’t discriminate. But the funny thing to me is that Ron afterwards, the “Why did I even do this?” I think Ron just set out in the hallway to be like, “I’m going to find a girl and I’m going to ask,” and unfortunately, Fleur was maybe the first person he came across. He didn’t necessarily, to my knowledge, have a plan to ask her specifically the way Harry did with Cho.

Laura: Right.

Eric: He was just trying to find somebody, and then the magic…

Andrew: He was a moth to a lamp.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It caught him off guard. I think that it caught him off guard, because he probably could have emotionally talked himself out of it, or at least waited a second to see what conversation she was involved in before blurting it out.

Micah: Yeah, and it often makes me wonder, was her reaction more because Ron interrupted the situation between her and Cedric, versus her looking at Ron as something non-desirable? Because let’s face it, she ends up with a Weasley at the end of the day, so I don’t think it would have been an impossibility for that pairing to happen.

Andrew: Aww, don’t let Ron hear that. “Nooo, missed opportunity!”

Micah: Yeah, the Veela effect, I agree. And some of those wizards at the Quidditch World Cup likely were inebriated as well, and that could have contributed to how effective the Veela powers were over them, though there’s probably a number of factors. Andrew mentioned hormones, age, maturity… I feel like a lot goes into play.

Andrew: Yeah, and Eric mentioned, well, some of them are married, but what if they’re unsatisfied married men?

Eric: That’s getting really into the weeds.

Andrew: Well, that’s pretty common, though, right? [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. I think that in our Discord, Lydia has solved it regarding Ron and Fleur and why it doesn’t work out: Lydia says, “He doesn’t have the rizz.”

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Ah, yes, the rizz.

Laura: Yeah, 100%.

Micah: If it was Fred, it would have been a done deal.

Andrew: This might be the first time rizz is being said on the show. We’ll have to check the transcripts to find out.

Micah: 100%, because I had no idea what it was either, Eric, so don’t feel bad.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: You’re going to have to get me a Gen Z to Millennial dictionary for my birthday.

Laura: None of us are under the age of 25, so I think we can say that that is confirmed.

Andrew: Barely under the age of 35.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: I was trying to give us a little wiggle room. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh, okay. Rizz is a year-old word at this point, if not older, so we need to check and see what the hottest Gen Z words are right now and start working those in to appeal to the young’uns. That is funny.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: In the Discord, are you looking at the same thing from LegalizeGillyweed?

Laura: Yep.

Andrew: Read it. It says “Witchcraft and Rizzardry.”

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: That could maybe be in the episode title. It doesn’t really tell you anything about the episode, but…

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: Well, it’s people asking each other out. They got in a School of Witchcraft and Rizzardry. I like it. It’s a contender.

Laura: Well, Micah, I know you have some feelings about this, so I want to make space for you to make your grievance known, because Ron is a tool in this chapter.

Micah: Yeah, he just… he’s constantly digging himself a deeper hole with every passing moment. Every word that comes out of his mouth does him no favors. But before we get to him, I did want to call out the fact that Ginny, she has some reactions which are important to note. She stops smiling when she learns that Harry asked Cho to the Yule Ball, and that Harry got turned down, and then she also turns scarlet when Ron suggests that Harry go to the ball with her, so these are little nuggets that are being thrown our way, little breadcrumbs as to how Ginny possibly feels towards Harry, and we’ve seen it come up in other books before this. Now Ron. The fact that Ron thinks that Hermione said she was going with someone else just to let Neville down softly… this really pissed me off more than anything else. I’m standing up for Neville. Neville is the only one – and he’s going to be my MVP of this chapter – that had the cojones to ask both Hermione and Ginny to the Yule Ball when Harry and Ron were just twiddling their thumbs.

Laura: Yep. I would totally go to the ball with Neville. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t.

Andrew: You know he’d be a gentleman, he’d dress well, he’d take the gig seriously.

Micah: And Ron is really poop-talking Neville in front of Ginny, only to find out that that’s her date to the Yule Ball, so he just comes across really, really bad in this chapter. And do you want to say maybe it’s the effects of the Veela? I don’t think so.

Andrew: Well, that and I think his back’s against the wall when it comes to finding a date. He really can’t find one still, the clock is ticking, so I think he’s really stressed about it and he’s acting out.

Laura: Yeah, and I think that we always see this from Ron when he’s going through periods of high stress; he does lash out at people in a kind of ugly way that is completely unjustified, so this is not the first or the last time that we’re going to see that in this series.

Eric: Right, he’s completely… he’s not in touch with his emotions, and the emotions he is in touch with he’s incapable of voicing, and that haunts him throughout almost the entire book series.

Micah: Are we surprised, though? I mean, it does seem a little bit out of character for him, but maybe based on what you’re saying, it’s not actually out of character.

Eric: Yeah, I don’t necessarily… the problem is, this usually works for Harry, right? Ron’s take allows him to ease up and feel better about it. And it’s really just the foot in mouth syndrome that Ron has in this chapter in particular, because he’s backed into a corner and it just doesn’t work. But usually Harry is able to gain a lot of comfort from what Ron is saying, and what Ron is saying is not as problematic. This reminds me of Ron – I’m forgetting if it’s a movie-ism or not – but where he says honestly, Hermione is a nightmare for crying, and she should run to the… he makes Hermione cry in year one; that’s the only other time I could think of that Ron eats it this badly.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, this is your traditional boys’ talk, but the problem for Ron is that he’s doing it right in front of the girls, so it’s just making him look even worse.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s hard to comprehend because it’s like, why doesn’t he think about what he’s doing right now and how others are going to be perceiving this?

Laura: Well, and I mean, it really is a case of sour grapes, right? Because at least from Harry and Ron’s vantage point, they’re some of the only people left who don’t have dates, and I would think that if I were in Harry’s position, if I was sitting there watching my best friend talk smack about other people who have successfully gotten dates, I would feel a little bit like “You gotta put up or shut up, man.” There’s another phrase that you can say for that, but I’m not going to say that here because this is a family program. But anyway, either get a date or stop talking about it, because you’re just making yourself look like a jerk.

Andrew: It reminds me of when somebody digs their own hole, and then they know they’ve dug this hole and they’re in deep ish, and they just decide to keep digging deeper because that’s the only way they know how to continue moving forward, and they just look worse and worse. I think that’s where Ron is. He dug this hole, he can’t find a date, he waited too long, he ignored Hermione, and now he’s digging a deeper hole with all these comments he’s making here.

Laura: Well, as we near the end of the chapter, the time has come for drastic action, and I guess what drastic action means is Harry is going to look around the common room and go up and ask the first two girls that he sees if they want to go to the ball with him and Ron, and that’s exactly what happens when Parvati and Lavender come through the portrait hole. He goes up and asks Parvati, who giggles, says yes, and he immediately turns to Lavender – trying to be a good wingman, I guess – and asks if Lavender will go with Ron. This is such a teenage thing; I definitely remember this happening with some of my friends and other people that I went to school with, where if they were too nervous to ask themselves, their friend would ask for them. But this is a pretty lame moment for Ron. It really is.

Andrew: Yeah. [laughs] This is rock bottom.

Micah: Well, who would he have gone with? I don’t think he would have ended up being able to ask anybody else…

Laura: No.

Micah: … or I’m not sure anybody else would have gone with him. I really think it’s because of Harry that he ends up with this date.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: Well, the date doesn’t actually end up being Lavender, but I think we can play a foreshadowing alert here because Lavender almost ends up being Ron’s date to the ball, and we know that in just a couple of years’ time, these two are going to be in a really, really obnoxious and annoying super PDA relationship.

[Foreshadowing sound effect plays]

Laura: Luckily for Ron, Parvati’s twin sister Padma does not yet have a date, so Padma becomes Ron’s default date. Poor Padma.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Yeah, well, there’s nothing wrong with how this unfolds yet, right? Because presumably, the girls want to go to the ball with somebody too, and they too don’t have currently a partner at the time they’re asked. The crime is how Harry and Ron both treat their dates, which is in a future chapter. But yeah, it’s desperate and it’s sad.

Andrew: I think Harry and Ron were enabling each other this whole chapter with how much they delayed moving, and I think this is also a lesson to readers. Don’t delay, whether it’s finding a date, whether it’s paying your bills, whether it’s, I don’t know, making a decision about college. The early bird gets the worm no matter the task at hand, so don’t dilly dally.

Micah: It’s actually a really great point because Hermione makes it, too, to Harry when she asks him about the egg.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: And clearly Harry is like, “Oh, I have until the 24th of February,” and it just shows you he’s just gone through this entire situation where he didn’t act in a timely manner, and look where it got him.

Eric: He learned nothing.

Micah: Yeah, he learned nothing.

Andrew: Procrastination is bad.

Eric: It’s perfectly reasonable for Hermione to say, “Well, if you have some free time, you should figure out the clue or try and figure out the clue,” because for all we know, the next challenge might force him to learn a new spell. How long does it take to learn a spell? Yeah, Harry fast-tracked the Summoning Charm…

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah, I was going to say, not long.

Eric: … but the next one might not be so easy. He might need that two months to actually study up on something. So Hermione is 100% in the right in this chapter.

Micah: Yeah. I mean, I was pretty tough on him for that task, and I gave him a bit of a mulligan. He’s not getting one in the second task.

Eric: Oh, man. Micah is fierce.

Laura: Well, while Harry and company are busy being distracted by the impending Yule Ball, the plot is actually still happening in the background of this chapter. So Harry does speak to Hagrid after he does his interview with Rita Skeeter, which was set up in the last chapter, and Hagrid confirms what we kind of already knew, which is that Rita only wanted to talk about Harry, and Harry’s take on this is that she’s trying to find a new angle on Harry because the narrative of him being a tragic hero isn’t going to be interesting to her readers forever. Why does Rita pivot her narrative on Harry now? Is it because he’s no longer an underdog in the tournament?

Eric: Yep. Maybe she was already interested in tearing him down, especially because the way that she’s introduced in this book is as a person who’s constantly critical and negative; she has these horrible things to say. And so she needed to start off with Harry kind of building him up, and now she’s going to really relish tearing him down. That seems to be the MO that she has.

Andrew: Well, and Harry does tell Hagrid that the narrative of him being a tragic hero won’t be interesting forever, and I think that’s a really astute point for a child to be making. I mean, that is how news cycles work, especially in today’s day and age. There’s a story of the day, about a billion things, and you see them all on Twitter, and everybody can’t stop talking about it, and then tomorrow, nobody will be saying a thing. Today, April 11, OJ Simpson died. That’s all I see on Twitter. Tomorrow, we’re not going to hear a peep about it. There’s news of the day and then everybody just moves on to the next thing. It’s a 24-hour news cycle.

Laura: Yeah. And do you think that the reason Harry picks up on this so quickly is because he’s familiar with the British tabloids? I know we’ve talked about how Rita Skeeter really is kind of a stand-in for the British tabloids in the Potter books, so is he just taking that outside life experience and applying it here?

Andrew: I think so. I think we also know that the Dursleys have been known to watch the news or read the news, so Harry might be learning about the news cycle that way as well.

Eric: Harry just is very intuitive as well. He has a read on people, and he knows because he was already misquoted in the first interview that Rita gave him that she’s the kind of person who doesn’t care about the truth, and so he’s not exactly catastrophizing by thinking that he knows where Rita is going with all of this.

Micah: I agree with that. And let’s not forget, he was also present during that exchange between Rita and Dumbledore, and the whole situation was not very flattering for Rita in terms of how she talked about Dumbledore. And we know Harry, at least at this point, he’s a fan, so I think that could also play into it. But I agree, Eric, I do think he’s got an intuition about him when it comes to certain people, and he can tell that she’s no good. He’s got bigger things to worry about, honestly.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: And finally, Fred and George are trying to borrow Pigwidgeon for undisclosed reasons. Obviously, we know they’re trying to write to Ludo Bagman, but Micah, you had an interesting question about this. [laughs]

Micah: Yeah, this made me think, though; I mean, we know that the Weasley family has Errol. I don’t even remember what happened to Errol; maybe he wanted into retirement. But do Fred and George not have pets at Hogwarts? I don’t think we ever hear about that, and I would hope that at least one of them has an owl.

Eric: Their parents are poor.

Andrew: Well, headcanon I just thought about, that just popped into my head: We know they like to experiment…

Eric: Don’t say this.

Andrew: … with their new pranks and jokes and whatnot…

Eric: Don’t say it.

Andrew: I’m going to say it. Maybe they practiced on their pet and accidentally killed the pet.

Eric: Oh my God.

Andrew: They were practicing something on their pet. They were using it as a test rat.

Eric: Errol is the family owl, the whole family has one bird, has one owl. It’s Errol, and that’s for mom and dad to use and the kids. It’s Errol. So the only other kid, the only other Weasley kid who had a pet, was Ron, because it used to be Percy’s or whatever, the rat that just showed up one day. They can’t afford pets, unfortunately.

Andrew: You’d think they could, like, make a pet, or make a delivery animal.

Eric: Well, Fred and George could make a pet, absolutely. I bet it would actually do the job too.

Micah: Yeah, because it was Sirius who gifted Ron Pig, right?

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Micah: I just love how on the other episode, Andrew was so up in arms about Cedric turning the rock into a Labrador, but he’s okay with Fred and George turning their pet into some Canary Cream.

Andrew: [laughs] I didn’t say I was okay with it! I’m saying this is my headcanon now. This is just a thought I had.

Micah: I mean, you’re probably right, honestly.

Odds & Ends

Laura: Well, let’s get into some odds and ends before we get into MVP of the Week. First one was one that I noticed. So Harry, in this chapter, he has to take a potions test; Snape is giving them one on antidotes on the last day of class before the Christmas holidays, before the Yule Ball. It’s just really cruel of a teacher to do something like that when clearly students’ heads are a million miles away from the classroom. But Harry forgets to add a bezoar to his antidote during that test, so that is time two out of three that Harry hasn’t been prepared to either speak to what a bezoar does or use it appropriately, but don’t worry, because there’s a third round coming up in another couple of books and he sticks the landing, so third time’s the charm. [laughs]

Eric: Amazing. He’ll be ready for a bezoar the next time.

Micah: Yeah, I wanted to call out in Transfiguration class, the class is turning guinea fowls into guinea pigs, and it’s mentioned that Neville, of course, doesn’t fully transfigure his project and it ends up being a guinea pig with feathers. Now, yes, you could say because of the mix between fowl and pig, that’s why it has feathers, but I was thinking back to the last chapter: Does he have some residual trauma from the Canary Creams, and is that why his guinea pig has feathers on it?

Andrew: Ohh.

Eric: It could be, but I just looked up guinea fowl to figure out what they are, and they’re birds.

Micah: Yeah, no, I know. That’s what I’m saying.

Eric: Well, see, I didn’t even know… it’s kind of just being punny.

Micah: How about it works on both levels?

Eric: Works for me.

Andrew: I just wanted to call out, I get so excited when I see the number 7 or 12 in the Harry Potter series.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: It’s two of the most popular numbers. So as we go through the books, just wanted to mention, here’s another 12. There’s 12 Christmas trees in the Great Hall at Christmas. And by the way, a couple of weeks ago, I brought up the seven locks on Moody’s trunk, and we got a couple of corrections about this. I think we didn’t really explain why there were seven locks, and I think people mistook that as not understanding what was happening. There’s seven locks on Moody’s trunk because each lock opens up a different trunk in the storage area, just to clarify that while we’re on the subject of 7 and 12.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: All right, now it’s time for MVP of the Week!

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: I’m going to give it to Fred for showing Harry and Ron how to be effortlessly courageous in front of a girl. [claps]

Micah: You mean frizz?

Andrew: Frizz?

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: He’s got frizz.

Laura: Frizz Weasley.

Andrew: Don’t combine George and rizz.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: My MVP of the Week is going to Ginny, because as Micah pointed out – thank you for pointing that out – Ginny really handled her emotions well.

Micah: Yep. And I mentioned it earlier, but I’m giving my MVP to Neville for being unapologetically himself and having the you-know-whats to ask both Hermione and Ginny to the ball.

Eric: The Canary Creams?

Micah: Yeah, having the Canary Creams. There you go. I like that. Thank you.

Laura: [laughs] I’m going to give mine to Krum because honestly, he played the long game on this. He was turning up to the library every day to, I guess, hope that Hermione would notice him?

Micah: [laughs] The stalking game?

Laura: And it worked out for him, so good on you, man.

Eric: Yeah, he knows how to woo a woman.

Laura: Yep. Also, a guy who will come sit in the library with you just because he likes you…

Andrew: Goals.

Laura: … and knows that you’re bookish and that’s what you’re into, that’s sexy. Good job, Krum.

Eric: Quality time is an underrated love language.

Andrew: All right, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can email or send a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Don’t forget, we prefer voice memos because they’re higher quality. And if you do call or send us a voice memo, please try to keep your message no longer than a minute so we can fit in as many as possible during Muggle Mail episodes. And next week we’ll discuss Goblet of Fire Chapter 23, “The Yule Ball.” Oh, yeah. It’s dancin’ time. And it’s also time for Quizzitch!


[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s Quizzitch question was: How many girls ask Harry Potter to the Yule Ball? The correct answer is three, three girls, and he turns them all down. Sad. But correct answers were submitted by “Wangoballwime?” Harry asked calmly…

Andrew: Oh.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … Dramadore Extreme; Expecto past trauma; First Task Dragon, Second Task Percy Showering; Heartbreaker Harry; Beky4lfy; Is this a marketplace for watermelons? I don’t… I missed that reference. Jeremiah Strick; McGonagall’s last shred of patience for giggling students; Only the surviving Hogwarts students go to breakfast… oh.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: … Reggie; Roonilwzlib; Siena; That 14-Year-Old English Muggle-born; That one girl with a straight nose that Harry and Ron forgot about; The little ferret inside of Draco…

Andrew: Aww.

Eric: … The nonexistent Hogwarts professional development budget that Hagrid so desperately needs; The tall queen that asked out the insecure short king Harry; and Tofu Tom. Good run of usernames there, everybody. And here is next week’s Quizzitch question: What does Harry get Ron for Christmas in 1994? This one’s a little harder than expected. I always run these by Meg beforehand to see if she just knows it offhand because her knowledge is that way, and she didn’t know it, so that’s kind of cool. And it is not, as she suggested, a letter saying, “If you ever unfriend me again, I will cut you.”

Andrew: This is also a good question to know the answer to for a future Harry Potter trivia night that you go to at a bar. This is the perfect Harry Potter trivia night question.

Eric: You know that they ask these types of questions at those trivia nights, yeah. I miss going to trivia nights with you, Andrew.

Andrew: Yeah, that was fun. We won one one time, and we won an open bar for two hours. It was the best trivia night prize ever.

Eric: That was really awesome, yeah. But submit your answers to this week’s Quizzitch question on the MuggleCast website,, or go to the MuggleCast web page, check out transcripts, other stuff, and click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Micah: Just a reminder that Eric and I will be at LeakyCon 2024, yaking place from July 5-7 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. You can head over to and check out all the information there, and you can use code “MUGGLE” when checking out to get a nice little discount on your tickets for the event. Of course, plenty more information to come in the next few weeks and months as we head up to the convention.

Eric: Love it. Can’t wait.

Andrew: Also, don’t forget, you can visit for our transcripts, our P.O. Box address, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And if you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would, too, tell your friends about the show. We’re like a Harry Potter book club every week. Also, help us spread the word by leaving a review in your favorite podcast app. And like we said at the top of the show, this show is brought to you by Muggles like you. We really appreciate your support at as well as through MuggleCast Gold, which is the subscription we have through Apple Podcasts. If you’re an Apple Podcasts user, just tap in to the show, and you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold. It’s a great deal, as Micah likes to remind us, and you’ll get two bonus MuggleCast installments every month, plus ad-free and early access to each episode of the show. So that does it for this week’s episode. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: We’ll see y’all and your rizz next time. Bye, everybody.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Bye, y’all.

Micah: Bye.