Transcript #657

Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #657, Does Goblet of Fire Feel Like a Rushed Book? And more MuggleMail

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 we’ve got a Muggle Mail episode for everybody this week. We’re looking forward to reading and talking about all your feedback. It always warms my heart reading this feedback and hearing from the listeners.

Laura: Same.

Andrew: Like, [emotionally] “Oh man, people do listen to us.”

Laura: They like us! They really like us!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: But first we must acknowledge that we are recording on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, so today we also pour one out for the many who fought for the greater good that day.

Micah: Cheers.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Moment of silence. Is Lavender Brown alive or dead?

Andrew: Still wondering.

Laura: Let’s have the annual debate.

Eric: I need to know if this is for her or not that we’re doing this.

Andrew: I have also seen some talk of this being called Harry Potter Day this year? I don’t remember this on May 2nds past.

Eric: November 1 should be Harry Potter Day because that’s the day McGonagall tells Dumbledore, “I could see this day being Harry Potter Day in the future.”

Andrew: Ohh.

Eric: The day everyone woke to find out that Voldemort had been defeated.

Andrew: I guess, but September 1 should just be… that should be Harry Potter Day. Back to Hogwarts Day.

Eric: It’s Back to Hogwarts Day.

Micah: Or his birthday. [laughs]

Andrew: Well, anyway, before we get into some voicemails, just wanted to remind everybody that if you want to support us but don’t want to commit to a subscription – and maybe you want to look as cool as I do in this MuggleCast 15th anniversary T-shirt – visit our Etsy store, where you can buy many cool MuggleCast items, like this shirt. We’ve got MuggleCast beanies, MuggleCast socks, signed album art, wooden cars, and some more items. By the way, not many of these shirts remaining; they’re primarily women’s cut shirts that we have still available, so snap them up. Check out and grab a shirt or anything else that we’ve got for you.

Muggle Mail: Voicemails

Andrew: Okay, so let’s get into Muggle Mail, and we’re going to start by turning the mic around to you, the listener, and we’ll start with this voicemail from Robert.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hey, MuggleCast, it’s Robert. I just wanted to share some thoughts I had about the whole house-elf situation; I know it’s a big topic for this book, and I wanted to share a headcanon that I have had for a little bit. Kind of eases my mind when reading the books and especially playing Hogwarts Legacy. So my thought on house-elves is many eons ago, however long ago you want to say in the past when house-elves first began to interact with wizard culture, my headcanon is that their need and love of serving and helping was just something that they offered out of the kindness of their hearts, because they genuinely like to help. The reason that modern day wizards have treated them essentially like slaves is because all of the Lucius Malfoys of the world throughout history greatly exploited that helping nature of the house-elves until it got to a point where they were basically enslaved. And unfortunately, because the modern day wizards are so far removed from the initial first interaction between house-elves and wizards, it’s become so normalized in their brain that house-elves are servants versus just liking to serve. So I just wanted to run that by you and just kind of ask, does this extra bit of headcanon help? Or am I just trying to make myself feel better about enjoying a book series about, kind of, slavery? Love the podcast, love everything that you do. Thank you for just being the best you you can be. Bye.”

[Voicemail ends]

Eric: So it’s their fault, Robert, is it?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: That they offered to humanity centuries ago, that just to help out with the washing, and all this… jokes aside, I can easily see this idea that they offered this to wizards, and wizards just immediately started taking it for granted, and that it boiled out of control to now where it’s like, “Wait a minute, you offered to help us 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago. Don’t you still want to help us?” and then that kind of led its way through politeness and house-elf society, because they weren’t the kind of beings that would stand up for themselves, into what we see, which is full-fledged just expectations.

Andrew: You shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying a series where the house-elves are involved because they have been slaves. This is just an element of the story. And yes, maybe they were offering the help many moons ago.

Eric: Well, modern day treatment of them is brought into question, is brought attention to and held up as, “Ooh, should we really be doing this?” within the narrative, so that’s what makes it okay to have that element of these books, is that it gets a thorough question mark, and we love…

Andrew: It’s a learning lesson for the reader.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: I think we talk about this a lot on the show, but a lot of what we see in the wizarding world can just as easily be seen as a reflection of our own world being called into question. So I don’t think there’s a need to feel bad about enjoying the series, because it’s certainly not painting servitude as a good thing.

Micah: No. The one thing I do find, still to this day, somewhat surprising is that there wasn’t more advocating done by the house-elves themselves, that they weren’t more rebellious. And maybe it’s just we don’t have the time to be able to go into that in this particular story, but again, knowing the broader themes that are in Harry Potter, the fact that you don’t even really get that kind of resolution at the end of the story… there’s no broader freeing of the house-elves that we’re made aware of, until of course later when Hermione becomes Minister for Magic; that’s one of the things I believe we’re told that she worked extremely hard on. So I know you said what you said in jest, Eric, at the top in your response, but I do agree with Robert’s take that I think he’s just trying to make himself feel a little bit better about the situation. [laughs]

Eric: No, it’s absolutely admirable. And I think going just to the chapter that you guys discussed last week… expertly, by the way. I will say I loved that episode. It’s a really, really good one, and Liza did a great job. In that chapter, “Rita Skeeter’s Scoop,” Hermione specifically references that house-elves don’t stand up for themselves the way that other creatures like goblins do. That’s specifically called out because Ron jokes about her starting a goblin society something something, and she’s like, “No, they can actually handle themselves.” So house-elves again, through whatever means, for whatever reason, to Robert’s voicemail, they’re not pushing back in an organized manner the way that other races are, which is how things unfortunately have developed to where they are.

Andrew: All right, let’s hear this next voicemail from Judy about Triwizard Tournament judges.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hey, MuggleCast. This is Judy from Santa Monica about your recent show, ‘Accio Golden Egg.’ My boys do marching band, and they have judges that judge for different things, specifically the flag, the drums, how they’re marching, what the song is… so I agree there should have been a little bit more of a mixture. But I did love the podcast; well done. And poor puppy dog.”

[Voicemail ends]

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Rock dog.

Andrew: Still not happy about that. So I guess Judy’s point was there’s just a bunch of different judges to judge different aspects, and thus you could have found more judges? What was her point, exactly?

Eric: Yeah, that it could have been more… you could have had a judge do a specific category instead of an overall rating, which then would have, I think, made it fairer than what we got, which seemed to be like, “What’s this head of school’s personal opinion on each champion?”, have it be so biased. That said, if your boys are in marching band and the judges are grading on song choice, the band director actually chooses the song, so maybe you should actually consult with the PTA about what your boys are getting graded on, because I was in band – not marching band, but I was in band – I couldn’t choose what songs we played, so I would not have liked getting judged on it.

Micah: If I’m remembering correctly, what we talked about was, in fact, the validity of some of these judges, right? The fact that we shouldn’t really have the headmasters or headmistresses of the different schools sitting up there to judge students from their own respective schools. It should have been a little bit more fair, and one of the ways to do that, I think, that was brought up, was to do it based on criteria, right? I can’t remember who brought that up on that episode, or if it was you, Eric, or if it was somebody else, but it definitely got brought up.

Andrew: All right, next voicemail is from Karin about the prefects’ bathroom.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hi, MuggleCast. My name is Karin, and I just had a quick thought to share with you on the most recent couple of episodes about Goblet of Fire and this clue that Cedric gives to Harry about taking his egg into the prefects’ bathroom. And I was just wondering – it’s hard to know, because we never really find out – but what are the bathrooms in the regular dormitories like in Gryffindor common room or whatever common room? Do they have bathtubs that students can use, or do they only have showers? Because when I think back to my college days when I lived in a dormitory, there were only showers, and I think I would have been hard pressed to find something big enough to put the egg underwater in in the bathroom unless I brought a bucket or something and filled that with water. So I’m just wondering if the prefects’ bathroom is one of the only places in the school that actually has a bathtub and not just a shower? Maybe that clue from Cedric has more meaning than we might think that it does. Anyway, would love to hear what you think about this. I love the show so much and it gives me so much joy, and thank you so much for what you do.”

[Voicemail ends]

Andrew: Aww.

Laura: Thank you.

Andrew: First of all, no podcast has ever discussed the Cedric hint more than MuggleCast. [laughs]

Laura: I know, right?

Eric: It’s true.

Andrew: Because we’re now in the third week and we still have an email to talk about regarding this. [laughs] But this is a good point.

Micah: I do like the way that Karin positions this because it shows just a deeper level of caring on the part of Cedric, because – and I said this on the last episode – he is giving Harry access to the place in order to be able to listen to the egg. And as Karin says, perhaps there’s not all that many places in Hogwarts where Harry can go where he’s going to be alone and he’s going to have the ability to put the egg underwater. So this just strengthens that argument, in my opinion.

Andrew: It does, and it makes sense that the prefects’ bathroom would be more luxurious; it would have a tub where you could relax in. Whereas just thinking about my college dorm, it was just this awful stand-up shower that I probably still have diseases on my feet from.

Micah: Foot fungus. [laughs]

Laura: Well, did you wear shower shoes?

Andrew: Yeah, I think I did.

Laura: You think?!

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: I don’t know; this was back in 2007! I probably did. I probably did.

Micah: And I think Cedric is doing Harry an even bigger service because Harry never becomes prefect, so he’s never going to have another reason to go into the prefects’ bathroom.

Andrew: True.

Eric: The boy just wanted the other boy to have a nice bath. A nice, cleanly experience.

Micah: [laughs] Yep.

Andrew: You know, I went home every weekend as a college student to record MuggleCast. I never lived in my dorm.

Micah: I thought you were going to say to shower.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Once a week I’d go home to shower. [laughs] And I didn’t like my roommate much. Okay, so this next voicemail is from Quinn about Barty Crouch, Jr.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hey, MuggleCast, just want to say I’m having a ton of fun going through Goblet of Fire again. I think this is definitely becoming my favorite book only in the sense… and I know a constant message in your guys’s stuff is like, ‘Oh, this book was rushed,’ but I think the one big thing that is making it really fun to read again is seeing all the interactions of Barty Crouch, Jr., of Fakey as Moody, and seeing how he plays with that and then how much he’s becoming Moody/him underneath the persona, the mask, and how he influences Harry, and how he plays with the former Death Eaters at the school. And I think a super fun interaction on [page] 258 is when he sees him for the first time – I just got done reading Chapter 16 and listening to your guys’s episode on Chapter 16 – I think it’s really fun when Karkaroff sees Moody for the first time at Hogwarts, and it says there’s a terrible look of fury and fear that comes over him, and he goes, ‘You!’ And obviously it’s because he saw Moody, who was a powerful Auror and probably was a pain in his ass when everything was coming through when Karkaroff was accused of being a Death Eater, all that kind of stuff. But I can imagine the joy that Barty Crouch, Jr. also feels of seeing the fury and fear come over him, and I mean, especially the fear of have him seeing himself and then being Barty Crouch, Jr. and realizing just how upset he is at Karkaroff for defecting and seeing the fear of seeing him. I’m sure that gave him a little bit of joy underneath it all. That whole underlying bits of writing and tidbits to the Goblet of Fire through a secondary reading, I think that’s what’s making it super fun for me, and I think it’s turning it into my favorite book of the series.”

[Voicemail ends]

Andrew: Yeah, I think one of the benefits of doing this deep dive reread is that we do get to experience those moments together and pick up on the little things that we did miss the first time, the second time, but I think another element here is… I think, Micah, you said it’s been a really long time since you’ve read Goblet of Fire; I know that’s the same case for me as well. We’re discovering a lot of things that I think we may have completely forgotten.

Micah: Oh, absolutely. I don’t think I’ve read Goblet of Fire since 2010? Is that the last time that we did Chapter by Chapter?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Wow.

Micah: No, I’m being serious.

Andrew: No, no, I know. I think you’re right; whenever the last Chapter by Chapter reread was, that’s the last time I read it too.

Eric: The other element is that the mystery is big enough, and this book has twice the page count of previous books, but so much of the mystery is actually directly in conversation in front of Harry. Harry is witnessing it, but he’s distracted. It’s a new way of giving the clues, I think, than had previously been done before by the author. There are always hidden breadcrumbs in sentences here and there, like Bertha Jorkins missing, but then other times…

Micah: Or Crouch. Wasn’t there a reference to Crouch, like, “The first task was crouching forward”? Or something along those lines.

Andrew: Something like that.

Micah: We referenced in a previous episode.

Eric: Yeah, but I’m saying even in “Rita Skeeter’s Scoop” to be like, “Oh, Rita Skeeter is buzzing about,” that phrase and all of that, and then moments later, Rita Skeeter does come in. And it’s like, okay, it just… it’s all in your face, the mystery and… yeah.

Micah: It is. We actually have a really great email a little bit later on, which asks us about our favorite mysteries in Harry Potter, and I think this could easily be one of those. And the writing is so good; there are so many little detective stories for you to figure out within the Harry Potter series. And the fact that you can read Goblet of Fire through the lens of both Barty Crouch, Jr. and Mad-Eye Moody as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and it works on both levels, is really cool.

Laura: I’ll also say you have great taste, because Goblet of Fire is my favorite book.

Andrew: Yeah, I think we’re too hard on it sometimes by calling it rushed.

Laura: I agree.

Andrew: I don’t read it and get the feeling that it was rushed. I don’t. I know Rowling said that she was rushed, but I don’t think it comes off that way.

Eric: The movie does, but that’s another story.

Andrew: Yes, true.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: All right. Well, those are our voicemails. We have lots of emails to get to. If you want to call in, you can record a voice memo on your phone and send that to Just keep your message about a minute long, please, and try to record in a quiet spot. We prefer you record using the Voice Memo app on your phone because it’s going to be higher quality than our phone number. If you want to use that, it’s 1-920-3-MUGGLE. 1-920-368-4453.

Muggle Mail: Emails

Andrew: Okay, time for some emails. This first one is from Liz on Cedric’s help with the second task. Oh no, we’re doing it again! Oh no, oh no. [laughs]

Micah: Just get it out of the way, Andrew. Come on.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: It’ll be gone for the rest of the episode once you do it.

Andrew: Woo! It’s a good topic. Don’t get me wrong.

Micah: Clearly. [laughs]

Andrew: It’s just that we’ve spent three weeks on it.

“Hey,” says Liz, “Here are my unsolicited thoughts on Cedric’s clue: I think Cedric’s clue was vague because 1) he wants to win the tournament, and 2) solving the riddle of the egg was part of the task. Harry told Cedric about the dragons because he doesn’t care about winning the tournament and because he has a savior complex, but the action of discovering the dragons wasn’t a part of the first task in the way that discovering the egg riddle is actually a portion of the second task. If Cedric just came out and told Harry how to discover the egg riddle, he would’ve been doing the work for Harry. Cedric’s a nice guy and is definitely sympathetic toward Harry, which is why he gives Harry a clue in the first place, but he entered the tournament to win it. That’s my two cents. Love y’all, Liz (your fellow Scorpio Slytherin).”

Micah: As Laura likes to say, multiple things can be true, and both what Karin said and what’s being said in this email by Liz, it makes sense.

Laura: Definitely.

Eric: Yeah, and let’s not forget Cedric Diggory is the Hufflepuff champion of Hogwarts. Hufflepuffs value hard work, so it fits with Cedric’s own value to give Harry… I mean, I think a trap of that is you think all people are like you, especially because the people he’s mostly around are probably also Hufflepuffs. It might be his second nature to give Harry a clue that has an extra component to it, because maybe he thinks Harry finds puzzles as satisfying as he does. Something like that.

Micah: And I think Liz brings up a really great point that we forget: Cedric probably wants to win this thing, and as much as he feels maybe a bit obligated to help Harry, at the end of the day, he wants to be the champion. That’s why he put his name in in the first place. This guy’s a competitor. Come on. No participation trophies.

Eric: Yeah. Well, it’s hard to imagine Harry going to the bathroom and coming out empty handed with the egg after Cedric’s clue, but I look forward to actually…

Laura: True.

Micah: Well, that’s why Moaning Myrtle is there, right?

Eric: Yeah, yeah, that’s true.

Micah: Well, that was the second task. We got a couple of emails on the first task. And actually, Eric, I’m going to ask you to read yours after I’m done reading mine, because they both have to do with the dragon being imported. And this first one is from Rufus, who says:

“Hiya, MuggleCast! I’m here to talk about the dragon selections for the first task. Now, y’all have seemed to assume that the Hungarian Horntail…”

I think it was only really me.

“… was the new dragon brought in because of a fourth competitor being involved. Now, I think this isn’t the case, because why in Merlin’s name would you bring in a dangerous dragon, which is inherently harder to take care of, as a spare or extra? I personally believe that one of the other dragons could have been brought in, most likely the Welsh Green as it would be closer to the host location than Sweden, China, or Hungary (the native locations of the other three dragons). It just makes more logical sense as a spare dragon, honestly. Love to hear your thoughts on this! Rufus the 14-year-old, a.k.a. ‘Voldemort Said ‘Its Horcruxing Time’ and started Horcruxing all over the place.'”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: That’s a new way to get your Quizzitch names in, is to sign off as them.

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Man, identity revealed.

Eric: Yeah, yeah.

Micah: But we also heard from Jerri on this.

Eric: Jerri, yes. So very similar topic.

“Ahoy, y’all! In response to the Chapter by Chapter about the first task, there was speculation about which dragon was the ‘extra’ added when Harry became the 4th champion. In the chapter ‘The Other Minister’ at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince, the Muggle Prime Minister remembers his previous encounters with Fudge, the Minister for Magic. In one of these, Fudge had popped in to mention that the wizards would be ‘importing three dragons and one sphinx’ for the Triwizard event, since the rules required notification of the Muggle Prime Minister before the importation of dangerous creatures/beasts. Therefore, I have always assumed that the Common Welsh Green was the extra dragon, since it is a British dragon and thus wouldn’t have needed to be ‘imported,’ already living in the most remote portion of the mountains of Wales.”

Eric: You guys, they solved it! Our listeners have solved this.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: We’ve got to do it. We’ve got to declare canon. I think this has been cracked.

[“I declare canon!” sound effect plays with thunder]

Laura: It’s been a long time since we got to use that.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: It’s almost a re-declaration of canon because Jerri found it right in Half-Blood Prince. If only we had been in Book 6.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Well, and again, this idea of tracking the countries that they came from; it definitely… Rufus also right on the ball with that. That’s just really cool.

Micah: Yeah, Rufus lobbed it up and Jerri just hit it right out of the park.

Andrew: Teamwork. Dream work.

Laura: Please never say that again.

Andrew: Why?

Eric: Teamwork, dream work?

Laura: Teamwork, dream work.

Micah: [laughs] It’s such corporate lingo.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Yeah, Micah knows what I’m talking about. [laughs]

Andrew: And sorry to the Welsh Green for being called the spare today. We still love you all the same.

Eric: Aww.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: “Kill the spare.” That’s coming later.

Andrew: “Kill the green spare.”

Eric: Yeah, now the question is why at all is the Hungarian Horntail the third dragon that they bring in? [laughs] It’s so much more overpowered. All of our questions about how absurd that is stand.

Laura: So this is from Bev about poor Winky. Bev says,

“Hi, y’all. Just listened to the latest episode and a thought occurred to me. Given Winky’s reaction in the chapter, I wondered if she has PTSD? You suggested that she had everything taken away from her when Barty Crouch sacked her. For her, that could have felt like abuse. I’m guessing elves feel things pretty intensely (see also her reaction to butterbeer), so the shock and trauma of no longer having what to her would have been a wholly respectable job and the trauma of what all her elf relatives would say must have been awful.”

I think that’s well said.

Andrew: I think so too.

Micah: Definitely. Yeah, we talked about that when we saw her in the kitchens, how just completely distraught she is. And that has so much to do with her relationship to Barty Crouch, Sr. and that family, and she’s kind of going through the motions, unfortunately, and I think it is a form of PTSD.

Eric: Yeah, and she can’t even properly grieve because there’s still things that she can’t reveal that happened. She’s still honor bound to not talk about Barty Crouch, Jr. even existing, and so I think what’s really making the trauma worse is her inability to really call it out and process it because right now it’s still being suppressed and ignored.

Andrew: And I think most people can relate to being evicted from your home. She spent all this time living there, and then to be kicked out, that alone is tough to move on from. And then there’s just the other issue of the family, no longer being with the family. It’s a lot.

Eric: I was going to say, I’m hoping most of us can’t relate to being evicted from our homes, but I totally understand.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Sorry, I have not been evicted; I misspoke. I was trying to say that most people can relate to that moment when you leave your home after growing up there, after spending so much time there.

Laura: I think certainly everyone can relate to how we would feel if we found ourselves in that circumstance. And I mean, God, I’ve definitely been at points in my life where my income was a little more scarce and I was kind of operating month to month, sometimes week to week, and having that question in your mind about like, “Am I going to be able to afford rent this month?” is scary enough. So I think in that regard, I can understand what Bev is saying and what Andrew is saying.

Micah: And the sheer shame that she has to feel, not just from her own relatives, as Bev mentions, but from the larger house-elf community, I think she feels judged. You have Dobby who seemingly could care less what anybody thinks of him, and at the other end of the spectrum you have Winky, who just… it’s a lot for her right now.

Andrew: Yeah. Well, you know what else sucks at Hogwarts? No Quidditch.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: And Ty wrote in about that…

Micah: Dumbledore? I’m sorry.

Andrew: No. Ty said,

“Hello, MuggleCast. Every time I read the Goblet of Fire, I have the same thought that if I was a student at Hogwarts this year, I would be pretty disappointed that Quidditch was canceled. What about all those students that missed out on playing, especially if it was their last year there? The tournament was so spread out that it seemed silly to cancel. I can see that the first challenge would have been exciting to watch, but the other two would have been such a bore. You see the champions enter the water and an hour later they emerge, and the same with the maze. It would have been such a let down to be a spectator. It’s not like they had a Jumbotron to see the action in the water or maze. This was not a year to be a sports fan at Hogwarts!”

I agree with that, Ty.

Micah: Tell it like it is, Ty.

Laura: Agreed.

Andrew: Well, and he mentioned that the space between the challenges… it’s what, four months between challenge one and two? It’s a ton of time. That’s probably a whole season of Quidditch.

Micah: Unfortunately, I think we know the real reason why it wasn’t included; it just would have been too much.

Eric: The author hates it.

Andrew: And this book was rushed. I hate that about this book.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: If it wasn’t rushed, she would have remembered Quidditch.

Eric: I love the idea that the Triwizard Tournament, though, as is pointed out, is spread out across the entire year, so there’s really no excuse. That’s hilarious. Unless they’re growing the maze.

Andrew: Ohh.

Laura: I think they are.

Micah: And these are actually really great points. They are, you’re right.

Eric: Well, if they’re growing… yeah, but then again, Quidditch can be played above the hedge maze. Harry is not going to be up there on his broom memorizing which way to turn in the maze down below. Or if he is, at least Cedric could too.

Andrew: If you fell off your broom on the Quidditch pitch, the maze plants would catch you.

Eric: Yeah, and they would not let go.

Micah: I really, though, like the points that were brought up about the fact that the second and third tasks really have no… you can’t really have visibility into what’s going on like you could with the first task, and how boring that must be for anybody who is just hanging around, trying to get excited.

Laura: I mean, they have the Hogwarts band, at least in the movie lore. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, true. I guess the excitement just stems from seeing who’s going to pop out first. The anticipation around that is worth it, if I’m really looking for an answer.

Micah: The next email comes from Mary, who wants to talk about Ron’s behavior, and she says,

“Ahoy, y’all. I’m here to partly defend 14-year-old Ron Weasley. I think as an adult rereading the books, you become more separated from the teen feelings and hormones. Ron is an insecure boy going through puberty, and yes, he does mess up, but I wonder if he even recognizes if he likes Hermione at this point in the series? He just realized she is a girl! Does he know these feelings he’s feeling are jealousy? Plus, even if he does realize that, it must be incredibly confusing on so many levels. To tell her and her not return the feelings? Which, with his insecurity I’m sure he would assume that. Or to give it a try and it not work out and the trio be forever changed? I don’t know any 14-year-old who would handle this gracefully. Love ya, bye.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Agree.

Andrew: Yeah, this is all very well said.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, we especially see that Ron does have that insecurity in Book 7 when we get to see his greatest fears, and one of them is that Hermione would choose Harry over him. So that might have been manifesting as early as this book, and he might not have been fully conscious of it.

Eric: Yeah, and I do agree that as rotten as Ron’s actions are in this book, he is more responsible for his actions in Book 7 when he’s a lot older. Our next message comes from Jeremy about fourth year lessons at Hogwarts:

“G’day, MuggleCast! My name is Jeremy and I’m 13 years old.”

A lot of young’uns on this one, Micah.

“I’ve just had a question about Goblet of Fire. Do the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons do lessons with the Hogwarts students, and if they do, could they have different learning styles? Because Draco says they heavily work on the Dark Arts at Durmstrang. Did Dumbledore bring Mad-Eye Moody in for this reason as well? And if they don’t do lessons, then the Hogwarts professors could help Harry and Cedric with the tasks. Love to hear what you say. Love the show, Jeremy.”

Interesting question.

Andrew: So I don’t think they do go through classes at Hogwarts, right?

Laura: No, I don’t think so.

Andrew: We know that they stay in their respective quarters outside of the castle, which I found strange too. These poor kids have to spend their time at Hogwarts back in the Durmstrang ship, or the Beauxbatons carriages?

Eric: Yeah, except for mealtimes. Yeah, only coming out at mealtimes.

Andrew: And what are they doing the rest of the time?

Eric: Maybe they’re getting direct tutelage from the heads of school. But even then, I think the reason that this is less of a problem than it could be is that isn’t Hogwarts’s seventh year sort of seen as optional? So by that logic, these are all 17-year-olds that are competing; it’s only 20 of them, so the majority of the student body is doing normal lessons and then these representatives have elected to kind of have one of those gap year or a year abroad that’s not going to be as informative educationally, but be informative culturally.

Laura: That’s kind of what I was wondering. I agree with that, Eric.

Micah: You also don’t know what classes they take back at their respective schools that may have nothing to do with what Hogwarts teaches its students. I mean, presumably there’s some level of overlap, but there are probably other courses that Durmstrang and Beauxbatons take that Hogwarts doesn’t.

Andrew: And by this logic, they might not even have seven years at their respective schools.

Micah: That’s true too.

Andrew: It could be five. It could be eight.

Laura: Folks in the Discord are wondering if Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students would take NEWTs, or if NEWTs are a UK/Hogwarts only thing.

Eric: Ohh.

Laura: I don’t know if stuff like that would be international. You know what I mean? Graduation exams, that kind of seems like it would be… they of course obviously have their own, and I wonder if Fleur, for her if this is her graduation exam; she doesn’t have to take one.

Micah: Win the damn tournament.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Laura: And then she doesn’t and they’re like, “Sorry, you have to repeat the year.” But yeah, I would imagine that each school would have their own.

Andrew: Their own version of it, like America has the SATs.

Eric: Right, they take the ACT over at Beauxbatons, the [in a French accent] Academique Certification Training.

Micah: And just the part about bringing in Mad-Eye Moody, I think it just has more to do with the fact that you have somebody like Karkaroff who’s going to be at Hogwarts, and the fact that they need somebody to fill the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor role.

Eric: Yeah, but I do like that train of thought of you get an edgier DADA teacher than it turns out you’ll ever have for a year where we’re intermixing with some hardcore students.

Laura: Moving on to our next email, this one is from Pamela on Goblet of Fire‘s giant plot hole. Uh-oh. I’m about to be put to the test here since I just said Goblet of Fire is my favorite book. Pamela says,

“Ahoy, y’all! As much as I love Goblet of Fire, I always have trouble with its gigantic plot hole. The entire book is an extremely elaborate lead up to just getting Harry to grasp a Portkey. Impersonation and abduction of an Auror, setting Harry up to win, but making it look natural, all this going on for months under Dumbledore’s nose is so much more risky than having a person just hand Harry the disguised Portkey in his first week of school. It all just seems poorly thought out. Am I missing something here?”

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the book was rushed.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: It’s about the journey, Pamela, not about the destination. Think about the friends we made and lost along the way. Think of the stories within.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: I mean, it’s a fair observation, I guess. One thing you could argue is that Voldemort needed the timing to be right; we know that he had to be strengthened to a point where he could actually receive Harry’s blood, and they had to at some point go dig his dad up to get one of those bones, so it took them a while. And I think part of it, too, was needing to get Harry away from the school and away from Dumbledore long enough to carry out the mission without necessarily arising suspicion, and I think the maze is the perfect way to do that because if nobody is seeing Harry, they’re just assuming he’s in the maze and it’s taking him a long time to get through.

Eric: Oh, wow. So the glaring flaw of “Audiences can’t see the champions compete…”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … is utilized, is so widely known that that’s what the bad guy plans for.

Micah: Yeah, it’s amazing.

Eric: Literally there’s going to be this two-hour section where no one’s going to be able to see Harry Potter, even who are looking for him, so this is a perfect time.

Micah: Yeah. And Laura, you made me recall also that Voldemort needed his milk. I would also just add that I think what was important too was that Voldemort be able to have somebody like Barty Crouch, Jr. at Hogwarts to get a better picture of the overall landscape and to maybe even do some detective work himself to figure out who is loyal, who is not loyal, right? You have Snape at Hogwarts, you have Karkaroff at Hogwarts, and there’s probably some other players that he wants information on. And you’re talking about somebody in disguise who has direct access to Dumbledore; I mean, what better informant could you have in this situation than Barty Crouch, Jr.? So I think it works on multiple levels. So yeah, the book could have been over in half a page if we just gave Harry the Portkey, but… sorry.

Andrew: [laughs] And we’d have way less Chapter by Chapter episodes to do for this book as well.

Micah: That’s true too.

Eric: It’d be a true loss. I love sort of reverse engineering book plots, in any book…

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: … and just seeing if it were… especially mysteries, seeing if it really holds up, and this one less so than others.

Micah: Like if Snape just revealed his Half-Blood Prince tattoo on page 1.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Next email is from Jessica on [imitating Voldemort] splitting the soul:

“Hey guys, super long time fan! I feel like I’ve grown up with you guys, even though I’ve never met you.”


“I was addicted to MuggleNet as a teenager (I’m now 35) and now I absolutely love your podcast! I had some thoughts based on your discussion about Horcruxes and murder ripping your soul.”

[laughs] Murder ripping your soul, okay.

“I do not think your soul is split every single time you murder. When Snape and Dumbledore are discussing who will kill him, Dumbledore tells Snape that only he can decide if helping an old man will harm his soul. This leads me to believe that the intention behind a murder is what splits the soul. Also, the spell says it has to be a supreme act of evil. I don’t think all murder should be considered a ‘supreme’ act of evil. Not that murder is ever good, obviously, but I think there are different levels. For example, plotting to kill an innocent baby, versus a blackout crime of passion or an accident due to neglect or self-defense. I think one is significantly more evil than the others. Just food for thought. You guys are amazing and I hope you realize how much joy you bring to people’s lives. Thanks, Jessica.”

Well, thank you, Jessica. That’s really sweet.

Eric: Aw. Yeah, I do think there’s a difference between killing and murder, and one splits the soul and one doesn’t necessarily, but I think it’s risky in how it’s presented, because you’re talking about human killing human, and we don’t know what that effect is on lesser sentient beings, but presumably… yeah, so I think there would be fluctuations and stuff. But I will say, Voldemort still would be the record holder on how many times his soul was split, even if it’s not every time he kills.

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Micah: As far as we know, yeah. I think this was possibly a Muggle Mail in response to our last Goblet of Fire Muggle Mail episode…

Eric: Oh, nice.

Micah: … but was also a response to our discussion around Mad-Eye Moody and him teaching the Unforgivable Curses to the students, and whether or not him killing that spider is actually a act of evil or if it in any way impacts his soul.

Laura: Justin in our Discord wants to know, “What about the Order killing Death Eaters?”

Andrew: Well, I think the intention there is good. It’s in a way self-defense.

Eric: Yeah, but I do think some of their souls will be maimed from it, because even if it’s pure, there can’t be an impartial judge to judge that. It has to be a…

Micah: Do we…? I mean, I’m assuming it’s happened, but do we ever get an example where a member of the Order or an Auror kills a Death Eater?

Eric and Laura: Molly.

Micah: Oh, yeah.

Eric: And I think that even in defense, I think that would split or cause a crack in her soul’s foundation.

Andrew: I guess that could be an interesting thing to explore in the TV series, the impact that killing somebody, conducting an Unforgivable Curse, the impact that would have on you if you’re a good person, on the good side.

Eric: Yeah. And I think it’s worth noting, too, that so many people on earth could walk around with these fractured or split souls and just never really notice it; it’s when you’re going to create a Horcrux that you’re harnessing essentially one of those fragments that it makes a difference at all. I’m sure plenty of people with split souls, fractured souls – whatever, for whatever reason – don’t know it, or will never notice any difference in how they live their life. But when you’re somebody like Voldemort, you very much are counting on it, and exploiting how unnatural you’ve been.

Micah: It makes me wonder – and I don’t know if we’ve ever asked this question on the show – could Harry have created a Horcrux when killing Voldemort? Or is that more self-defense?

Eric: That boy can’t even do a Cruciatus Curse.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: That’s true.

Micah: Yeah, he killed him with Expelliarmus, so I guess that really doesn’t count. [laughs] All right, well, our next couple of emails are somewhat non-Goblet of Fire-related, but still good nonetheless, and the next one comes from Kayce talking about the depiction of female characters, and she says,

“Hey, y’all! I just finished listening to the latest Girls Takeover episode, and while the Chapter by Chapter episodes are what brought me to MuggleCast last year and made me fall in love with the podcast, I have to say that the type of discussion the Girls Takeover episodes bring to the show are so impactful and great to listen to. One thing I thought of while listening that might shed some light on how the female characters are written in the Harry Potter series is the choice the author makes to write under the name of J.K. Rowling instead of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. I know I’ve read in the past that this choice was made and encouraged by her publishers to make it less obvious that the author was a woman; at the time, the fantasy genre was so male-dominated that they felt the books would sell better if people didn’t immediately know the author was female. Rowling also chose a male name in Robert Galbraith as her pen name for writing some of her non-Harry Potter-related books. I think it says a lot that she continues to use male-leaning names in what seems to be an effort to give her writing more clout, and when looking at the books, I think that feeling that men are more capable can be seen in the way many of the characters are written. Would love to hear your thoughts, Kayce.”

Laura: Thank you so much for your kind words about the Girls Takeover episodes, by the way. We’ve really loved doing them, and we’re planning to do more of them. Actually, the next one we do, we’re hoping to do a Girls Takeover Chapter by Chapter episode, so we’ll get to take a crack at going through a chapter. But yeah, I think you definitely raise a really relevant example just with the author’s pen name. I remember – and we talked about this a little bit on the girls ep, so I won’t go into it too much – but I remember as a girl reading these books, assuming that the author was male, and also assuming that only boys were into Harry Potter. I felt really weird because I didn’t see other girls my age who were super into Harry Potter; it only seemed like it was boys, and you look at the fandom now and it’s not that at all, especially people who are as rabid about the wizarding world as we are. You get into a lot of these spaces and they’re mostly women and gender nonbinary people and so on, so it’s just funny the way that our perception at the outset was one thing, and the reality has turned out to be something quite different. And yeah, I mean, we go into it a lot on the Girls Takeover eps, but there are a lot of ways in which the depictions of female characters in Harry Potter leave something to be desired. On the other hand, though, I think there are some really positive and powerful representations, too, but you could read some self-loathing into the way that…

Eric: Or internal misogyny too?

Laura: Yeah, into the way that women are written in these books. Absolutely. But it’s unfortunately common to internalize misogyny in that way; this author wouldn’t be the first to have done it, that’s for sure.

Micah: And it’s important to remember when the series was first written – and Kayce references it – but yeah, J.K. Rowling was told by her publishers to use her first two initials so that her name would be essentially… I don’t know what the right word is, but…

Andrew: It wouldn’t be a woman’s name.

Micah: Well, yeah, I mean…

Eric: In case of bias people would give it?

Micah: Yeah, the publishers wanted it such that the book would also appeal to boys, and the feeling was that if it was a woman’s name on the cover of the book, that the likelihood that the story would appeal to young boys to be interested in picking up the book would be less.

Andrew: And isn’t that interesting when it’s called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?

Micah: Right. [laughs]

Eric: Yep. The other thing about this, thinking about when it was written, is there was no Internet and nobody like J.K. Rowling had been that much of a high prolific author the way that she became quickly. So as soon as people knew J.K. Rowling through Harry Potter, it became… this was the woman that was on food stamps and on welfare that became the single mom; you couldn’t escape the fact that J.K. Rowling was actually a woman a few years later because of the Internet. But it’s funny because it started out as this secret, or “Let’s not tell everybody,” but that’s one of the best things that she’s known for, even under J.K. Rowling just a few books later.

Micah: And one of the things that I find to be most fascinating is the fact that she chose to write under the pen name Robert Galbraith when doing some other series. And there’s a whole lot to dive into there – we won’t do it here – but I just feel like the fact that she almost went back to the way that… she could’ve course corrected; she could have written under a female pen name. She chose not to do that. I don’t even know why she would feel the need to write under a pen name. But anyway, this is a conversation for another time.

Andrew: [laughs] Well, that… you’re talking about Robert Galbraith?

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: Well, that I understand, because she wanted to have the experience of publishing a book without the attention of being the J.K. Rowling, because even just think about how big a deal… now, this was her first post-Potter novel, but it was a big deal when she published The Casual Vacancy, because it was that first one and there was a lot of extra attention on her. So I get that. I mean, for all we know, there could be another book out there that’s been published, and she secretly wrote it, but it just hasn’t leaked like Cormoran Strike did.

Micah: It could have also been The Casual Vacancy hit so hard with some people that she was like, “Oh, boy.” [laughs]

Eric: She could never write under that name in this town again!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: All right, well, we have some more emails to wrap up today’s episode, but first we’re going to take one more break. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Micah: Eric, this next one was made for you.

Eric: I think you’re right, Micah. This one comes from Kinsey on Sirius Black’s family reaction to his imprisonment:

“Ahoy, humans! I’m a Slytherin, by the way. I was just wondering about something. When or if the Black family heard of Sirius being sent to Azkaban, how do you think they would have reacted? They know Sirius would not actually have been truly loyal to Voldemort, so were they proud, or like, ‘Well, that’s karma for ya!'”

[Andrew laughs]

“Love to hear your thoughts about that. I love this show because it helps make homework and chores actually possible.”

Eric: Thanks, Kinsey. You know, what’s funny about thinking about Sirius Black’s family at the time he went to Azkaban is that Bellatrix, his cousin, his first cousin, was more than likely on the same prison transport bus with him…

[Micah laughs]

Eric: … because she was arrested for the Frank and Alice Longbottom tortures that happened the same night that the Potters were killed, so… I don’t think Sirius had any family members that were alive; his brother Regulus had been killed by Voldemort probably months before, and it’s unknown about his parents. But it’s a fascinating thought. Narcissa definitely was still around and was free, and it’s interesting to think what she would think about Sirius Black, but the Dark Lord kept all his cards pretty close to his vest, only telling certain Death Eaters about certain things, so maybe she did assume as everyone else did that Sirius Black really was guilty.

Micah: That’s so interesting. I could literally see Mrs. Black – if she were still around, to your point, Eric – just if she was ever interviewed by reporters being like, “Pfft, they definitely have the wrong guy.”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: All right, our next email comes from Jessie, and this is going to demand a little bit of creativity on our part, so I hope y’all are ready.

Eric: Uh-oh.

Laura: Jessie is writing about wizarding world careers. Jessie says,

“Ahoy, y’all! I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but recently catching up Chapter by Chapter and hearing a conversation about jobs in the wizarding world made me take the leap. I want to know, if you could have any job in the wizarding world, what would it be? Since we only know of like, five of them that exist, let’s assume you get to/have to make one up. Mine would be a Muggle Liaison for Hogwarts. Job duties would include:

– Be a point of contact between Muggle families and Hogwarts for things like getting to and from school when term starts and ends, communicating to their students without magic, and answering questions.

– Running a seminar for first year Muggle-born students to help them acclimate to Hogwarts and the wizarding world (since not everyone gets Hagrid as a tour guide).

– Help sixth and seventh year students who want to work in or in tandem with the Muggle world. Help them learn Muggle money, find a place to live, use public transportation, use Muggle communication devices, etc.”

Laura: I think Arthur Weasley could use this kind of tutoring, it sounds like.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

“- Overall, be a resource where students can come learn, hang out, or ask questions outside of their Muggle Studies classes. I picture my office having bean bags, a TV with Netflix, and some Oreos for kids to come hang out when they need a little taste of home.

What would your wizarding world job be? I’m dying to know. Thank you for continuing this amazing show. I was afraid Chapter by Chapter wouldn’t be for me because I really struggle to find time to actually read lately, but this makes me feel like I can still relive all the books again and make good use of my 20 or so hours per week in the car. Peace and love.”

Andrew: Wow.

Micah: Peace and love.

Andrew: Well, we’re happy to help you pass the time. And I think with Chapter by Chapter, you don’t have to read the chapters while listening to MuggleCast because I feel like we give enough context in these Chapter by Chapter discussions, but if you want to, that’s great. It certainly can add a lot, I’m sure. Okay, so I have a job that I would like.

Micah: Oh, good for you.

Andrew: Yes. Now, it is one that we already know about. [laughs] “Good for you.” I would like to be a bartender at the Hog’s Head.

Eric: Oh, that’s so good!

Andrew: I know it can be a lot of work to bartend, but just imagine the types of people you would see coming into the bar, looking to blow off some steam after their long day of traveling, and they’re recalling the bizarre, fantastic beasts that they encountered or the wizards that they tussled with. I think you’d hear a lot of great stories and meet a lot of interesting characters. Plus, you’d get to come up with fun drink ideas for the bar’s menu. You just think there’s got to be endless possibilities, especially what if you started putting magic into the drink somehow?

Eric: I’ve got to say, Aberforth would probably be a bad boss, though. You’d probably have to start out doing the work nobody else wants, like goat herder.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: And you’d eventually have to get to bartending.

Andrew: Herding them into Aberforth’s bedroom, which would raise some questions.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Every time they break out, you have to go round them up.

Micah: Oh, wow.

Andrew: But yeah, I think it’d be a lot of fun doing trivia nights at the bar, karaoke nights…

Eric: Okay, all of that sounds amazing.

Micah: Ooh, karaoke? Yeah.

Eric: I would be your worst patron. I would come and say hello every day; I’d be like, “How’s it going?” [laughs]

Andrew: “Oh, Eric wants the usual. He wants the double Firewhisky.”

Micah: I would actually like to be a brewmaster…

Andrew: Ohh.

Micah: … and make wizarding world beer and go around and deliver it to… well, first stop, Andrew, your pub, of course. What are you going to call your pub, by the way?

Andrew: Well, I said I’d work at the Hog’s Head, but hold on. Let me consult ChatGPT for some ideas.

Micah: Okay.

Laura: [laughs] Oh my God.

Micah: But I just think it would be cool to travel to all these different wizarding world locations and see pubs in all different countries and cities. Maybe not countries, but cities. Although, I could do countries; I could Apparate or find a way to get the beer to come along with me.

Andrew: Well, Micah, I heard – and by heard, I mean I saw on our shared Google calendar – that you’re going to be going to Scotland in a few weeks, so maybe you can start your research at that time.

Micah: Oh, maybe. Yeah.

Laura: It’s very exciting.

Micah: Do you want me to find a place for you?

Andrew: Yes, please find me a nice meadow to build in.

Micah: And some goats?

Andrew: [laughs] Some goats.

Eric: They all have fun creature names like the Prancing Pony or Gilded Dragon.

Andrew: These Chat GPT suggestions aren’t the best. The Phoenix Feather Pub, Hogsmeade Hideaway, the Wandering Wand Inn. I actually like that one.

Laura and Micah: Oooh.

Micah: Where does the wand wander?

Andrew: [laughs] The Whomping Willow Wine Bar. ChatGPT just loves alliteration.

Eric: I think I have a new friend in ChatGPT.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Just don’t ask it to write your college admissions essays.

Andrew: Yes.

Laura: The colleges are onto y’all. Don’t do it. [laughs]

Eric: Similarly to, I guess, Micah’s being sort of independently employed or the head of something, I do think one of my favorite wizarding world careers that we know about is a proprietor of a shop, say like Diagon Alley, and I am about to admit something very Slytherin to you all for the first time – it’s kind of a big deal – I actually like how Borgin and Burke operates.

Andrew: Whoa.

Eric: I don’t enjoy the subject matter and peripheral details about what they sell, but I love the idea of wizarding world artifacts, essentially employing somebody like Tom Riddle, who’s a basically Indiana Jones archaeologist, goes out, gets these things, and they all have a magical history, and then to bring them into the shop and be able to curate what’s on display. There might be more stuff in the back. So what I’m saying is I would run a Borgin and Burke shop without the Dark stuff, without the artifacts, if we can help it, that are stolen from other cultures, but just have a shop where it’s curiosities that have a non-sinister but robust magical backstory and the curiosities cabinets… cabinet of curiosities? Wait, that’s from something else. That would be what I would do.

Micah: That was Guillermo del Toro, wasn’t it?

Eric: I think it was. I didn’t watch it.

Laura: Yeah, it was. You should; Rupert Grint is in it. He was very good.

Eric: Hey!

Micah: Oh, yeah, that’s right.

Eric: I’m behind on my Rupert watching. I haven’t watched the Shyamalan film yet. Laura, what would you do?

Laura: I would want to be some kind of interpreter for the Ministry, and the way that I would imagine that working is that I could be an interpreter for either magical folk who are new to the country or for magical creatures who have fallen upon hard times and need some kind of representation because they don’t speak the language. I’m super nerdy and into all things linguistics, so just from a pure interest point of view, I would love to be able to spend my time dusting up my proficiency in a number of different languages so that I could help people. But also, I would probably end up interpreting in some trials, and y’all know that I love true crime, so I feel like I would get to marry three of the things that I love the most – which is the wizarding world, languages, and true crime – all in the same space. It would be perfect.

Eric: Man.

Andrew: Perfect, yeah. And we have another question from a listener: This is from Daniel on your favorite Harry Potter mystery.

“Ahoy, y’all!”

And by the way, I have just while we’ve been recording today removed the “Ahoy, y’all” line from the contact form. It was fun.

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Oh, why?

Eric: It was time. It was time for something else.

Andrew: It was time. We’ll figure out something else.

Micah: We need a new one.

Laura: Yeah, we’ll get a new one.

Andrew: [continues reading]

“I love hearing the Slug Club patrons, especially the recent one with the girl who does a book club.”

That would be Liza.

“I was in one once and we read Where the Crawdads Sing. It was a fun mystery, which brings me to my questions. What is your favorite mystery plot line in Harry Potter? Did you solve it, and if so, what clues led you to it? Reading back it feels so obvious on some, but they do have some red herrings to distract us.”

So they’re talking about mysteries in the book that were then solved by the end of the book. I really liked the Chamber of Secrets one, because the fact that this snake was under the school and quietly Petrifying students was terrifying! It was just this lingering onsite threat. Now, did I figure it out? I have no clue.

Eric: Oh, none of the mysteries that I even pondered, I was like… no, I didn’t solve any of them before it was revealed in the book, but I still have my favorites. And specifically to that one, Andrew, the way in which the students were Petrified and not killed hid the identity of the beast that was doing; it was like, “So-and-so saw it through Nearly Headless Nick, so-and-so had his mirror…” that kind of thing. That’s what I love the most about that, is it’s so detailed and so methodical and happenstance that it was really fun. Yeah, for me, just the mystery of Sirius Black, what really happened and how he’s getting into the castle kind of just has… there’s a lot of mysteries that get wrapped up in Book 3, so I’m just going to say all of them, but essentially surrounding Sirius. Big surprise.

Micah: For me, with Prisoner of Azkaban being my favorite book, it was definitely the Marauders reveal, and just the way that that was all… slowly you receive breadcrumbs, even as early as Sorcerer’s Stone with Sirius and the motorbike and the introduction of Scabbers and the fact that he was this rat that’s just been there the whole time, and all of a sudden at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, you get this huge reveal.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, obviously with Goblet of Fire being my favorite book, a lot of my favorites come from this book. I love how everything was hidden in plain sight, but because there was so much going on and there were so many red herrings, it was really hard to figure out, and honestly, when I was reading it, it kept me guessing until the last moment. Although I do want to give a special nod to the identity of the Half-Blood Prince; I really, really enjoyed that one. I think it was another instance of the answer being hidden in plain sight, but because Snape has been a fixture of these books – and Harry is so predisposed to never assume that Snape would be capable of doing anything smart or clever – as readers, it would have been difficult, I think, to pick up on the hints that happened throughout the book, and there were several of them. But I just thought that that one was really well done too.

Micah: Yeah, it definitely was. The one thing I will say, though, is much like the Marauders, the movies did that whole thing dirty because they never explained why Snape was the Half-Blood Prince. What’s the connection?

Muggle Mail: Social media

Andrew: All right, now we have a lightning round of sorts, social media Muggle Mail responses. We asked listeners on social media to chime in about the show or any questions they might have. This first one is from Jenna Levine.

“Hey, y’all! First of all, you guys are awesome. I have been a Harry Potter fan since I was a kid, and my love for the story only grew as I got older. I wanted to give my take on Hermione and house-elves. I’m assuming that up until she went to Hogwarts, she went to primary school. I have no knowledge of British education, but I think it’s safe to assume that she learned a little about the slave trade in her history lesson. She was taught that slavery is bad and that’s that. Now, I know that many wizarding families mainly homeschooled their kids before sending them off to school, so it’s possible that they aren’t taught about Muggle history, but maybe it’s because of this lack of understanding that wizards still have house-elves. Anyway, love you all, and Millennial.”

Thank you, Jenna.

Laura: Aw, thanks.

Eric: This one came from Rachel.

“Saw the update about the upcoming Muggle Mail episode. I am loving the Goblet of Fire deep dive. What I’m finding especially interesting is the role the media plays with Rita Skeeter and how easy it is to skew things online, as well as the discussions of the dynamics between the trio and how that connects to later books. Thank you for such engaging podcasts!”

Yeah, I want to say you guys went real hard on the media last week, in its role in encouraging more fear and hatred, so it was good stuff. I loved it too.

Andrew: I’m a bit of a media nerd, so I keep an eye on that type of thing.

Laura: Next one comes from Susan, who says,

“Long time listener! I’ve actually been going back to earlier episodes and listening to them, currently in the 400s.”

Well, you’re almost there. Kind of.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

“I really love how Chapter by Chapter has evolved from Half-Blood Prince to this latest reinstallment, and I love the Girls Night podcast episode. Favorite headcanons have been fun in recent episodes also. Also, thank y’all for all your unhinged commentary, especially Micah. There’s nothing like looking like a laughing loon at 5:00 a.m. at the gym. Love y’all, and thanks for all the laughs and smiles.”

Laura: Micah, You got a shout-out!

Micah: I know. It’s great.

Eric: From ChatGPT!

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: “Looking like a laughing loon at…” It’s all that alliteration. That gives it away.

Micah: Yeah. I’m glad that, Susan, I can make you look like a laughing loon at the gym.

Andrew: Micah is unhinged. We’re working on it. Just kidding; don’t change, Micah.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: I love the idea of someone laughing at MuggleCast at 5:00 a.m. in the gym. Next time I wake up at 5:00 a.m., I’m going to think about you laughing like a loon in the gym listening to the Micah and all of his unwell-ness.

Micah: Next up is Scarlett, who says,

“Newish listener! I’m always up for a Potter podcast and never get tired of hearing more about Harry Potter, even after all this time. Can’t get enough about diving deeper into the episodes. And yes, Cedric did…”

[laughs] Here we go again.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Nooo!

“… Harry dirty! More clues, Cedric. More clues.”

Andrew: This might be the hottest debate in the fandom.

Eric: It’s settled now.

Andrew: We struck gold here, I think. We need to get on TikTok and start talking about this.

Eric: That’s true, yeah.

Andrew: Michelle said,

“Long time Harry Potter fan but never listened to podcasts till last year. Started at Episode 1, up to Episode 380 now. I have many more till I catch up, but I refuse to listen to the new episodes yet!”

[Eric laughs]

“I don’t want to miss anything you all had to say and love hearing the speculating compared to what actually happened. Love your podcast! Hope you all never stop!”

Andrew: I respect that – especially going through the episodes pre-Book 7 and pre-Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – so I understand, but at the same time I’m like, “Oh, the quality is so much better now; please don’t listen to those earliest episodes.” [fake cries]

Eric: I can’t wait for March of 2026 when Michelle catches up to this episode and reads the message that she sent getting read.

Andrew: Yeah. Aww, Michelle.

Eric: But then we’ll be on Episode 700-something. This next one comes from Andrea:

“Hi y’all, long time listener, first time caller. Had a funny image pop in my head when y’all were talking about who wore it best, Dobby or Mr. Weasley.”

Another Micah-ism, really good stuff.

“You were dissing Mr. Weasley for wearing jeans that were too big. Remember, Harry Potter took place in the ’90s, so maybe Mr. Weasley was actually trying to look cool and was wearing a pair of super baggy JNCO jeans…”

Laura, what is this word?

Laura: Yeah, JNCO.

Eric: Thank you. I’m not fashionable.

[Laura laughs]

“… because that is my new headcanon now. Love the podcast.”

Eric: Mr. Weasley was hip! I demand a retrial!

Andrew: And JNCO jeans actually did come back a couple of years ago; I don’t know if they’re still trendy. But you know what? This is a great call-out, because I used to wear baggy jeans in the 90s/early 2000s.

Laura: Yeah, we all did.

Micah: Yep.

Eric: Mine were cargo jeans. They looked awful.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: They were still baggy.

Laura: Well, then you still fit in. Our next one is from Lauren, who says,

“Your Hagrid slander makes me cry.”

Andrew: Micah.

Laura: With a crying emoji.

“In all seriousness, though, he just needs a curriculum. He never met a creature he didn’t love, so he can’t gauge what’s appropriate to teach to the kids that aren’t interested in the subject (and let’s be fair, most aren’t). Also, I think people are expecting him to teach something more akin to Magizoology, like when Hermione mentions she learned far more from Grubbly-Plank than she did in Hagrid’s lessons. Hermione loves theory, but what Hagrid is good at is practice. I’ve worked in animal care, and let me tell you, my best teachers were the Hagrids.”

Laura: That’s so heartwarming.

Andrew: It is sweet. I love Hagrid. You’re not going to get much hate for me.

Laura: Yeah, his heart’s in the right place.

Andrew: Yes.

Laura: It definitely is. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, Dumbledore didn’t set him up for success. The buck ends with Dumbledore.

Laura: That’s the thing.

Micah: All right, heading over to X, from @ManaJammo: “I love revisiting Goblet of Fire with y’all. Brings back all the good memes and Harry’s 14-year-old drama.”

Andrew: @EleanorAndresen said, “I love that you guys are leaning into the teen angst of it all.”

Eric: Watch us bust out the leather jackets for Book 5.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. Wait till Order of the Phoenix.

Micah: @EveryFlavorJules says, “Love every ep. Always wishing for more queer reps in the stories, especially with the dance and dating scenes.”

Laura: Agree.

Andrew: @MildNoMore84 said, “The latest episode got me thinking about how the goblins fit into the wizarding world.”

Eric: @SoulLynda says, “Longer episodes! More discussion on whatever, if not the chapter. Love you all.” I have a recommendation, Soul: The older episodes – particularly, like, 330 through 520 – are all whatever topic we could think about, and they’re all like 90 minutes long. It was an insane time where we plumbed all these other facets of the books.

Andrew: And we’re also releasing two bonus MuggleCast installments a month through Patreon and MuggleCast Gold on Apple Podcasts, so there’s some more content for you.

Micah: Yeah, and check out the Must Listens page. I think that would help with some of what you’re looking for, Lynda. All right, should I bring us home?

Andrew: Yes. Wrap us up.

Eric: Bring us home, Micah.

Micah: All right, final email of the episode, and it goes all the way back to May 2, 2007.

Andrew: Aww, today’s recording date!

Eric: Before the last book!

Micah: It’s right before the last book, and it was the first email that we received on May 2, and appropriate because we are recording on May 2. And it’s from Andrew, 17…

[Andrew gasps]

Micah: … from Bel Air, Maryland, on the subject of Deathly Hallows US edition. How they heard of us: iTunes. And I’ll share a story after this, but they say, “Did you notice that whatever they are reaching for, Voldemort has his eyes fixed on Harry alone?” I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that about the Deathly Hallows US edition cover.

Andrew: Let me….

Laura: I think what the cover is depicting is the moment where Harry is reaching for the Elder Wand, so Voldemort is a dead man standing at that point, right?

Eric: You don’t actually see Voldemort’s eyes… oh, wait.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Eric discovers the book flap. [laughs]

Eric: There’s more art in here, guys!

Andrew: I’m going to take issue with this email from Andrew. I’m looking at it now; I think Voldemort actually is looking up, not at Harry.

Eric: Yeah, he’s looking up, and so is Harry.

Andrew: If that were true – which maybe you could argue it is – that’s a really cool observation.

Eric: I do think that in that courtyard, Voldemort is not going to be looking at anyone other than Harry, particularly because Harry just pulled a Houdini and got out of the trappings of death. And also because Harry is the only threat to Voldemort; nobody else can come close. And so it’s like, when you have somebody’s full and undivided attention, that Voldemort judged Harry as being the only one worth his time, essentially.

Micah: The important context here is, of course, Deathly Hallows had not been released yet, and there was so much theorizing that went on. It’s really cool to look back in our inbox and just see the volume of emails we would receive every single day with new and different theories on obviously, this one was on the book cover, but certainly just things that were going to happen in the seventh book. And the funny thing I’ll just mention is one of the other emails I looked at, it actually said, “Just thought I’d let you know, Episode blah-blah-blah is not working on iTunes,” and so it’s a little bit of a throwback to our older days.

Andrew: [laughs] Okay.

Eric: We should fix that.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Hopefully it’s fixed.

Micah: I think it’s probably fine now.

Eric: All the player links, we tested them, because they’ve been updated recently.

Micah: But we used to get emails like that.

Eric: No, I love that. I really do.

Micah: Listeners cared. They still do.

Andrew: Thanks, everybody, for contributing to today’s episode. And thank you to Andrew back in May 2007 for submitting that email. We really hope you’re still listening today. [laughs] If y’all have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can email or send a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or you can use the contact form on Or you can call our old school phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. And next week, Chapter by Chapter will return with Goblet of Fire Chapter 25, “The Egg and the Eye.”


Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: All righty, last week’s Quizzitch question: The tub in the prefects’ bathroom features roughly how many golden taps? The correct answer is “about 100.” And I gotta tell you, Andrew, you said we were done with Muggle Mail, but the names that people submitted are pretty much letters to us in their own this week.

Andrew: Oh.

Eric: It seems like they took the spirit of the Muggle Mail very… at least the first couple; I’ve severely truncated some of these. Correct answers were submitted by Hello MuggleCast, it’s me, Mrs. Norris, and I can’t see Harry Potter, but I can smell him…

[Micah laughs]

Eric: … Hello Harry, long time no sea? Well, that’s probably because Hogwarts is surrounded by a Black Lake instead of an ocean. Anyway, I’m coming into this tub against your will.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Ooh.

Eric: Okay. All I want is a Quizzitch name read because it makes me feel as special as Ginny when someone wanted her, that was the best character in the series, and please read this, it would make me feel special and help cure my anxiety. They didn’t even leave their name. They were just like, “It will help…” Okay, What are the odds Andrew is wearing his Hogwarts alumni long sleeve? Andrew, you got a long sleeve shirt under?

Andrew: Not today; I’ve got this very cool MuggleCast 15th anniversary T-shirt available on our Etsy store. But I do wear that from time to time and maybe I’ll wear it next week.

Eric: What are the odds?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: The silver taps that want to be used even though they just use normal water. Okay, and then some of our shorter names that we love to death for these segments: All Snapes and Sizes; Buff Daddy; Elizabeth K.; Gumdrop Button; Harry the high school dropout; Micah the Supreme Goat Lord Master… gee, I wonder which name Micah submitted this week.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Pine fresh Cedric; Rub-a-dub-dub, Myrtle’s in the tub; SPEW’s forgotten cause; “That’s my golden egg, you bleep…”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Eric: That one is good. The 11-year-old girl that loves Harry Potter; The Hogwarts plumbing system that has had more than enough of Myrtle; The mermaid in the portrait winking at Harry; The really long name that nobody wants to read in case they mess it up… real. And Tortured Poets Department is about Harry Potter.

Andrew: The new Taylor Swift album.

Eric: That’d be an interesting theory.

Laura: Make the Music Connection.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. So that was the winners for last week, and here is next week’s question: Speaking of Moaning Myrtle, where specifically does Moaning Myrtle mention haunting Olive Hornby? Submit your answer to us over on the MuggleCast website, If you’re on the MuggleCast website – maybe you’re checking out transcripts or something else – click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Andrew: This show is brought to you by Muggles like; you we are proudly an independent podcast and we depend on listener support. Many of our listeners come through every month, and we are deeply grateful for that, but we can always use more support to help sure up the future of this show. So if you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free and early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month. And then there’s also, and you’ll get all the benefits of MuggleCast Gold plus livestreams, our planning docs, Discord access, the chance to co-host a show one day – I think we’re going to try to get a guest on next week – a new physical gift every year, and a video message from one of the four of us, which as we shared a couple of weeks ago, people really love.

Eric: And Micah and I, just as a reminder, will be at LeakyCon this year from July 5-7 at Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. And we also have a wonderfully edited announcement video that went to our Instagram and is a collab with LeakyCon. But thank you, Chloé, for putting that together for us with the dregs of footage that we had from Chicago and elsewhere, so check that out. Little announcement video. We’re excited to be back at Leaky. Team StarKid was just announced in manners relevant to Harry Potter, so that’s good stuff, and we look forward to hanging out with Brian and Meredith and all them.

Andrew: And we don’t have access to owls, so we could use your help in spreading the word about the show. And we’d also appreciate if you took a moment to leave us a review in your podcast app. Lastly, visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and more. So that does it for this week’s episode. Thank you, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: We’ll be back next week with more analysis of Cedric and his hint for Harry. Bye, everybody.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: Bye.