Transcript #660

Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #660, Sirius and the Cave Rave (GOF Chapter 27: Padfoot Returns)

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: This week, take note. No, we mean it; take notes, because everything you need to know about the plot of Goblet of Fire is revealed in this chapter, so don’t forget any of it. And you could probably say goodbye to this book once you get through this chapter, because you’ll know the whole plot.

Micah: This is it. Chapter by Chapter is over after this episode. Order of the Phoenix starts next week.

Andrew: [laughs] No, no, no. We kid, of course. We kid. But before we get to Chapter by Chapter, first of all, this is our first episode of June, so Happy Pride Month, everybody.

Eric: Yay.

Laura: Happy Pride!

Andrew: We always celebrate. Speaking of that, actually, Eric has a little news you wanted to share today.

Eric: Yes, yes. Pride is hitting differently for me this month. I have an announcement, and there’s kind of only one way to say it, which is to say it. I lately have been on a journey of self-discovery, and a lot of introspection over the last more than half a year, and really, it’s been a while. I’ve concluded that it’s time to come out on the show as gender non-binary, and that can mean a lot of things for a lot of different people; there’s no one way to be it. But my pronouns are updating from he/him to they/them, and I am looking really forward to being on this show with this new addition, with this change of just being my most authentic self. I’ve had friends tell me that I’m the most genuine person they know, and it’s a very kind thing for everyone to say, but I really have loved being part of the show for as long as it was. And now that I know this about myself, I just wanted to share it with you all, and definitely continue being that sort of best version of myself.

Andrew: It’s big news, it’s exciting news, and we’re very happy for you.

Laura: Yeah. I’m so proud of you, too. I mean, happy for you, of course, that you get to live openly as your most authentic self, but also just proud of you, because it takes bravery to not only come out… I can’t even… it’s not an experience I can relate to personally, but I have to imagine that also coming out on a larger scale, like in front of a podcast audience, is an even bigger step to take. And I’m so proud of you and I’m just so happy that you felt loved and supported to be able to do that, and we all just love you so much.

Eric: I’m really grateful to you guys. You guys have all been supportive. There was a time where I was like, “Oh, how do I do this? How do I handle it?” And it’s really just… I’ve had a lot of support from Meg, from my family, Meg’s family, from you guys, and it’s been a journey. I actually… little bit more information about it: I started hormone therapy, hormone replacement therapy. I’m on a similar or identical medical regimen to that used by transgender women, and the goal is to align my body with my mind. And I’ve got to say, because it’s sort of a slow process, but I already feel infinitely better, more at home in my body, which is a weird, weird feeling. Every time I look in the mirror now, I look back and it looks like there’s more of me looking back. And kind of a weird feeling because I spent all my life looking at mirrors!

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: But it’s kind of a weird thing, but it just means I’m following my gut. I’m following my instinct. I’m not being defined by conformity or fear; I’m not letting that rule me, and I’m looking just for that extra bit of happiness. I’ve really loved, through MuggleCast, following my passions this whole time. You guys know I’m passionate.

Micah: No…

Laura: No, not you. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, you know? I love stuff! I love being here! But as much as I love life, I want to seek even more additional joy, and doing this will be that for me.

Andrew: And be your true self. And I mean, we’ve been in the Harry Potter fandom for so long, and I think we can all agree that one of the best parts of the Harry Potter fandom is how accepting the community has always been…

Eric: Absolutely.

Andrew: So this is… as we’re seeing in the Discord right now as people see and react to your news for the first time…

Eric: Oh, I haven’t even looked. [laughs]

Andrew: It’s very busy; you might want to catch up on messages later. [laughs] But it’s a very welcoming community, and I think we all, for our own reasons, are very lucky to be a part of this fandom, where there is just so much love and acceptance.

Eric: I completely agree. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ll say, I love this journey I’m on, but it’s a really dark time to be starting any kind of transition, and there are so many lies being told about trans people, for years now, and it’s a really dire situation. And so I’m just grateful for everyone I know that’s on a similar journey, and I’m grateful that we’re able to sort of talk through this. And again, anyone who’s in the Harry Potter fandom, everyone I’ve told is very supportive and very caring, and it’s like, “Wow, I’ve surrounded myself with great people,” and it’s the people of this fandom, so I really appreciate the support now that I’m reading on Discord, and I just want to say thank you. And the reason, by the way, that it’s called Pride Month is because pride is the opposite of shame, and shame is what those who do not support this would want us to feel about ourselves, about not living authentically, and I’m over it. I don’t feel any shame. I am proud to say that this is me, and that’s all she wrote. I’m also really proud that I’m doing it before a Sirius Black chapter, “Padfoot Returns.”

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: I know.

Eric: Yeah, you guys were like, “Do you want to…? Are you sure you want to…?” I was like, “Yeah, it’s Padfoot!”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Sirius is back, man! It’s going to be so good.

Micah: Well, Eric, just know that we all love you – we always have, we always will – and regardless of any of those other voices that are out there, we’re always here to support you.

Eric: Thank you, Micah.

Andrew: And this is why we continue to enjoy doing MuggleCast, to continue being a supportive community for everybody in the Harry Potter fandom, in the face of certain groups and people. So that’s why, as we approach our 19th anniversary, we’re as proud as ever to be doing this podcast and being a platform for the LGBTQ community.

Eric: And we’ve all grown. We’ve all watched each other grow, and that’s kind of… some of us a little later to the game than others, but it’s all a learning process.

Laura: It’s also not a race.

Eric: That’s true. There were certain circumstances in my life that had to align for me to even be asking these questions, and that included a supportive partner, that included just getting to that right stage of my life, so it’s a journey that we’re all on in life. And I really appreciate the support, and I just appreciate the fact that we do this show, and that we still have an audience that loves to hear our thoughts and opinions.

Andrew: Absolutely, yeah.

Eric: So thanks again.

Andrew: Well, I think… yeah, absolutely. It’s not easy to come out, like Laura said, on a platform, too, no less to friends in your life, so give you a lot of credit for that.

Eric: Thank you.

Laura: You’re one of the bravest people I know.

Andrew and Eric: Aww.

Laura: Really. I mean that.

Eric: Wait, really? Oh, Laura!

Laura: [laughs] You are.

Eric: Well, I just kept getting questions about the longer hair.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: So I was like, “I can’t ignore it; I can’t not…”

Andrew: Yeah, I was wondering too. I was like, “Is this for a cosplay?”

Eric: “Do I tell them it’s for a LARP?”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: I don’t know, but yeah. No, thank you. I really, really to my heart, I really appreciate you saying that.

Andrew: Exciting start to Pride Month here on MuggleCast.

Eric: Hell yeah. How are we going to top this? [laughs]

Andrew: Well, this won’t top it, but next week – or the week after – I will wear my “Dumbledore is gay” T-shirt. Eric was anticipating something way different, I think.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: I know what’s happening next week, and it’s not that, but that’s exciting.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: Okay, well, it’s time for Chapter by Chapter, and this week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 27, “Padfoot Returns.” And we’ll start like we always do with our Seven-Word Summary.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Andrew: Crouch…

Laura: … is…

Micah: … not…

Eric: … innocent…

Laura: … of…

Andrew: … any…

Micah: … crimes.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Micah: I wanted to start out this chapter by taking a look at how Harry, Ron, and Hermione are discussing important information in Potions versus how they were discussing important information in Charms just a couple of chapters earlier, because if we remember that scene, it was very fun. Flitwick was flying around the room and…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Was it fun for Flitwick?

Micah: Well, I’ve got to imagine he has a flair for the dramatic, but I can’t imagine that in Snape’s classroom. Snape’s classroom is the complete opposite of Flitwick’s classroom, and so Harry, Ron, and Hermione should know better; that’s where I’m going with this. One thing to do it in Charms, another thing to do it in Potions where they know it’s only a matter of time before Snape catches them.

Andrew: Definitely. It’s not something that they had to discuss immediately either, this Witch Weekly article. It could have waited until after class. Now, that said, they probably would not have been focusing in class anyway, but knowing how Snape will treat them, it’s best to just keep this quiet for a little while longer.

Eric: Aren’t they kind of caught off guard by it, though?

Andrew: They are.

Micah: But that’s not an excuse. I mean, we can talk about that; they shouldn’t have been doing it. And I’m glad you brought up the Witch Weekly article, Andrew, because Laura, when I was reading through this, it made me think about your Draco character analysis that you did a couple episodes ago, because he’s back at it again.

Laura: Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, that’s so true.

Eric: Who was the ’50s cartoon character that you said…?

Laura: Oh, I think I said Dick Dastardly.

Eric: Yeah, Dick Dastardly.

Micah: But he’s up to no good yet again. He’s got the newspaper article, waving it in their face, and of course, Hermione gets a chance to share it with Ron and Harry. But because both of these situations happened, one outside of Potions, this one inside of the Potions classroom, I thought we could also compare a little bit of Hermione’s reaction. We know what ends up happening to her earlier on in the book; her teeth end up getting enlarged and there’s this awful interaction that she has with Snape. But in this chapter, when she reads all about her sordid affairs with Krum and Harry, she actually just kind of laughs back in their face, and it’s a great moment for her, I think.

Andrew: It is, yeah.

Eric: It’s so fierce.

Andrew: And it is really impressive that she could just shrug off an article about herself in a magazine at this age. I mean, this is the modern equivalent of being attacked on social media, but she just shrugs it off. And I guess it’s partly because it’s Witch Weekly, but still, I think it’s pretty impressive. We’ve all been there, getting attacked online, or at least I have. I won’t speak for everybody.

Laura: Yeah, for sure.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: And isn’t there this moment where Ron is like, “I told you she was going to do this, and you need to watch out; she’s painting you as though you’re some sort of scarlet woman,” and Hermione just laughs and is like, “A scarlet woman…?”

Eric: [laughs] Right.

Laura: “… What are you talking about, Ron?” So I mean, it’s admirable for sure how she’s able to just let it roll off her back like that, because she’s literally kind of in the belly of the beast right now, right? If she was going to be self-conscious or react badly to it, she’s in the absolute worst situation for that to happen. So it’s smart; it’s incredibly mature for a 14-year-old. I would not have taken it that well.

Micah: It’s definitely a side of her that we haven’t seen up until this point.

Eric: I wonder if the reason that she’s just emotionally not letting this BS in is because of her recent fights with Ron and stuff. She’s maybe gotten a better perspective of what matters, or something like that. Or maybe she figured that something like this could happen, especially given that Rita is buzzing about all the time.

Micah: I think Rita has a lot to do with it, the fact that it’s her article. She just puts no credibility towards it whatsoever, and so that’s what makes it so easy for it to just kind of roll off of her back. But speaking of Rita, Hermione is starting to catch on to her. She’s starting to notice that Rita knows things that Rita really shouldn’t know.

Andrew: It’s just gross how Rita is writing about kids. It’s not the Daily Prophet; it’s Witch Weekly, but still, that a publication of any kind would be writing about kids in a school, let alone a kid in their fourth year. It’s just really gross. And this also reminds me of how Millie Bobby Brown, the actress who stars in Stranger Things, she’s only 20 right now, but a few years ago when Stranger Things blew up, she was underage, and the media coverage around her was really uncomfortable and gross how they were treating her like an adult and talking about her like an adult, and it reminds me of that because there’s no reason Hermione should be commented on in Witch Weekly.

Laura: For sure. Well, on the Millie Bobby Brown front, too, I was going to say it wasn’t just the press; it was certain rappers, too, who struck up friendships with her, which was weird. But yeah, I mean, honestly, this is kind of par for the course when we’re talking about Rita Skeeter’s brand of journalism and the comparison we’ve made to the British tabloids, because think about how the British tabloids report on the royal children, for example. I think they probably tend to skew a little more favorable of them when they’re actual children, but when you look at the reporting that happens when they get into their teen years – especially if there’s an advantage to be gained from pitting one teenager against another teenager – they will do it, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

Eric: I also really question about Witch Weekly‘s common… who their base is, what their readership is. Also, how did Draco get a subscription?

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Narcissa sent it to him.

Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like a really teen-y magazine, gossip-ish type thing where talking about other underage kids is allowed, because the fact that this isn’t in the Daily Prophet maybe gives me some hope for journalism…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … that maybe Rita wanted to write this article for The Daily Prophet and then her editor was finally like, “No, the subjects are underage,” because now instead, it’s in these fellow gossip, Seventeen type magazine.

Micah: Right. And it’s the moment when she reads about Krum asking her to come visit over the summer that she recognizes, “Wait, there’s no way.” This was clearly a private moment between the two of them, so how Rita knew anything about it raises a lot of red flags. And let’s also just say it’s not just the fact that she’s writing about them; it’s literally the fact that she is attaching herself to these people. She’s infusing herself into these relationships between these students, and that’s even more gross than writing the article. [laughs]

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: That’s a good point.

Laura: You put it that way, it’s pretty gross.

Andrew: Even Pansy being described as pretty in the same piece is weird.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Well, and I think… I mean, Rita does that with Hermione in an earlier article, right? She describes Hermione as a pretty girl who, just like Harry, is one of the top students at Hogwarts or something like that, so she just uses flattery depending on when it suits her, which again, it’s par for the course.

Micah: And speaking of gross, Snape decides to crash this Witch Weekly party.

Eric: Ugh.

Andrew: [imitating Snape] “I’m pretty.”

Micah: And I’m going to go on the defensive for him a little bit here because he is the teacher and the students aren’t paying attention, and it’s kind of the equivalent of talking in class or passing notes. Do we think Snape is behaving any differently in this moment than any other teacher would?

Andrew: No.

Eric: Yes.

Andrew: I agree with you on this. I think a broken clock is right twice a day. And he was right to break up the kids; I’m actually kind of surprised he hadn’t done this sooner. This would be a very easy fix for some of the issues he’s had with the trio over the years, and he’s finally doing it, at least temporarily.

Laura: I don’t have a problem with him breaking it up, right? It’s a distraction in the classroom. But it’s the way he does it; I mean, he reads it line by line and I think throws smirks at the class at the end of each line. I mean, again, it’s not unusual behavior for Snape. This is exactly what I would expect of Snape, but it’s not what I would expect of a teacher in general.

Micah: Can I ask, though, nobody was ever in a situation in school where you’re passing a note in class and then the teacher came over, grabbed a note, and read the note aloud?

Eric: It’s a good question. I was thinking about that exact scenario.

Micah: Or maybe texting is the equivalent of today.

Eric: If you read texts, yeah. I mean, the difference is Snape, as soon as he sees what this is, knows the difference. He’s adult enough to know the difference that reading this aloud is not going to do anything other than upset the intended target of the article, right? It’s not a “gotcha” of… if it was something she was writing in class, okay, she’s not behaving well in class. But this article is a hit piece, essentially, and Snape publicizing it and making a deal out of it is actually a little different than just reading a note out loud.

Laura: I agree. And I have been one of the people caught in that situation. Me and my friends used to pass notes in class all the time, unapologetically; it was pretty bad. And we definitely had notes get taken up a couple of times, and the teachers would read them, but they wouldn’t read them out loud to the class; they would just stand there and read it and we would just all cringe and sink into our chairs as low as we possibly could.

Micah: [laughs] Wait for detention?

Laura: You know what, we actually only got that maybe a couple of times because it was usually pretty harmless. There was one time where we made kind of a mean joke about a teacher and we got in trouble for that, which was justified. But yeah, I mean, that kind of stuff is worth, I think, some kind of punishment for doing in class, and I think in this case, it would have been fine for Snape to give out detentions even. But I think reading the full article out line by line, when you already know the entire student body can get their hands on it anyway to tease each other about mercilessly, this was just a bridge too far. But that’s Snape. That’s his life. That’s his motto. [laughs]

Andrew: I’m siding with Snape on this one, and Micah, it sounds like, too.

Laura: You would.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: It teaches the kids a lesson. If it was so important to be discussing and reading in class, then maybe the whole class does need to hear this important news. And I know Snape is getting off on this, but still, the trio was out of line here.

Micah: [laughs] How do we envision Snape reading it? Is it Shakespeare-esque? Or Snape-speare-esque?

Andrew: Snape-speare-esque.

Eric: Snape-speare, that’s a good one.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: We’ll continue talking about Snape’s bullying in this chapter after this quick break.

[Ad break]

Micah: Snape’s bullying of Harry doesn’t stop at the reading of the Witch Weekly article because when he does separate the trio, he puts Harry up at the front of the classroom where he can essentially berate him, bully him, and nobody else can overhear it. And part of what happens a little bit later on in this moment actually sets up the next part of the chapter quite well between Snape and Karkaroff. But wanted to go a little bit into Snape’s treatment of Harry. Snape refers to him as a “nasty little boy,” and this made me think about Snape, and Snape’s upbringing, and I wondered if he’s projecting a little bit here. How many times did Tobias Snape refer to his son this way?

Eric: Wow.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. In some ways, you can look at Snape’s interest in teaching as an opportunity for him to try and make up for the bullying that he endured in the past. He gets to let out the abuse that he received as a child.

Eric: Yeah, I’ve got to say, there are many right ways to get into teaching, some wrong ones. This is a wrong one. Or reason, a reason for getting into teaching.

Micah: What would even put him in that category of being a nasty little boy? It seems very like something that your parents would say to you growing up.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, I think you hear the trope again and again for a reason that these patterns are cyclical, right? So even as parents, I think it can be hard for people to maybe unlearn the things that their parents might have said to them that maybe they don’t want to then say to their own children. And for someone like Snape, who’s very much emotionally stunted and really only living for one thing at this point, and it was the promise that he made to protect Lily Potter’s son, he doesn’t have a moral compass that points anywhere else. It’s just his due north is what he has to do for Lily, and that’s to keep Harry alive, and anything else doesn’t really matter all that much. Does that make sense?

Eric: Yeah. But also, how crazy is it that he’s berating Harry for this article about his love life, when Snape’s own love life was nonexistent except for Harry’s mom?

Micah: It’s a little weird. TheOtherMinister in the Discord says that “nasty little boy” sounds like something Aunt Petunia would say, or Marge, and that’s interesting because Petunia referred to Snape as a “awful boy.” People initially thought that this was a reference to James, but we learn later on in the series it was in fact Snape.

Eric: That’s right! That’s clever. I also think it’s something that Miss Trunchbull would say.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: Oh, you’re so right.

Eric: But she’s not in this series.

Micah: Of course, Snape is really upset with Harry not really for the Witch Weekly article; it’s more so because he is accusing him, yet again, of stealing from his stores.

Andrew: And that’s why he’s nasty.

Micah: [laughs] This time we learn Boomslang skin and Gillyweed are the two things that are missing. And we talked a little bit about this when his stores were broken into and the whole confrontation with Moody and Filch, but for such an accomplished wizard, he clearly sucks at even the simplest of security measures.

Andrew: Yes. This brings up the question we raised earlier in this book around security concerning the Goblet of Fire itself. I still wonder why there’s no wizard equivalent of a Muggle security camera, just some simple thing that monitors a space, and let’s say somebody crosses over the line, and that person’s name is going to be written down like on the Marauder’s Map. It just seems like somebody like Snape, who also – like Moody, the real one – can be a bit paranoid, something he would probably put together in his office, especially after this begins, these thefts begin.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: I mean, I don’t know why Snape doesn’t beef up security after this too. He warns Harry to never go back into his office, but he doesn’t say, “By the way, if you were the one that broke in, you don’t have to do anything different because I didn’t change anything about it.” It’s perpetually a security nightmare. It’s exactly like how in Cursed Child the kids are able to break into Hermione’s office using the same magic that they themselves used countless times to break in. It’s just unbelievable. It’s like, everybody is bad at security, apparently.

Laura: Yeah. Man, and they don’t learn their lessons. That’s the wildest thing.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Yeah, I wonder if that’s hubris for Snape, though. Does he think, “I don’t need to change anything because I’ll get ’em next time?”

Andrew: Yeah, he probably wants to catch them, too.

Laura: Does he set booby traps or something and think he’s going to get him? I don’t know.

Andrew: Yeah. He would love to hang the kids upside down or something like that, and walk in on them hanging upside down.

Micah: Yeah. And we know that Dobby is the one who got the Gillyweed for Harry; we just didn’t know that he stole it from Snape until this moment.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Oops!

Micah: So good job, Dobby. Way to keep coming through for Harry in the clutch. One thing I wanted to call attention to is that when Harry and Snape are having this conversation, it’s said that Harry is initially determined not to look at Snape, which is probably a good thing. When he does, it’s noted “he stared back, determined not to blink, or to look guilty.” Now, we know that Snape is a powerful Legilimens, and is it likely he was trying to read Harry’s mind at this moment and that Harry was possibly using Occlumency without even realizing it? Or maybe the Horcrux was coming into play here a little bit.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I love this because there’s layers here. Harry didn’t want to reward Snape by looking at him; by looking the other direction, it annoys Snape, surely, but also, it would be cool that if Harry was really blocking him out without knowing… and on one hand, blocking somebody out takes focus and practice, but if Harry doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he naturally has the talent, he might be doing it without realizing it. It’s like when we all… let’s say you’re playing a really stressful game of Guitar Hero and you’re really focusing hard. That’s when you start to fall apart. It’s when you’re not thinking about it too hard that you get really good at Guitar Hero. Just me? Okay.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: But I think about this a lot.

Laura: No, I agree.

Andrew: [laughs] Yes.

Eric: It’s a metaphor for all of life, I think, Andrew. It’s very profound. Maybe this is why Snape threatens Harry with Veritaserum. [stresses the first syllable] Or Veritaserum. [stresses the second syllable] I’ve always said Veritaserum [stresses the second syllable] but for some reason that one time I said Veritaserum. [stresses the first syllable]

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Maybe the fact that Snape can’t get in Harry’s head or see anything. It’s like, “Listen, I have a potion for this.”

Andrew: He’s taking it another step because his first attempt…

Micah: And I think the fact that, number one, he’s telling the truth, and number two, that he’s looking to protect other people that he knows are responsible, plays a pretty big role in his determination here to keep Snape presumably out of his mind. But this wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve noted that Harry has said it felt like Snape was trying to pierce his mind, so this could be another one of those moments.

Andrew: Or you can read it in hindsight as Snape maybe trying to get a look at Lily’s eyes…

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: … which is another good reason why Harry is not making eye contact so Snape doesn’t get Lily triggered.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: And then what do you do? He wouldn’t have Veritaserum. He wouldn’t have Occlumency. He takes it another step.

Micah: That’s Snape’s detention for Harry, just to stare into his eyes an entire hour.

Laura: Oh, that sounds awful.

Andrew: [laughs] [imitating Snape] “I will receive pleasure from staring into your eyes.”

Micah: Oh, geez.

Andrew: That’s weird. That’s Witch Weekly weird.

Laura: That is an HR nightmare. [laughs]

Micah: It is.

Eric: Hey, there isn’t HR here.

Laura: Well, that’s true. Hogwarts doesn’t have HR.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: If they did.

Micah: Well, Laura, so is Veritaserum, and we’re going to talk about that in just a minute. But wanted to make sure we called out the Bloomslang skin, and it’s important, especially because we as the reader as of right now don’t know who stole it. It’s brought up; we know Dobby is responsible for the Gillyweed, but we don’t know who is responsible for the Boomslang skin, but we can start to connect the threads because it’s a main ingredient in Polyjuice Potion. Mad-Eye is conveniently mentioned sentences later by Snape; he was out strolling the halls of Hogwarts the night Snape’s stores were broken into. And as we’ll learn later on in this chapter, going back to the Marauder’s Map, there’s more than one Barty Crouch, and he’s a Death Eater. So maybe not everything is being laid out perfectly for us in this moment, but it’s all starting to come together.

Laura: Yeah. And I think even with the mention of Moody they bring up… isn’t it brought up that Moody drinks from his private hip-flask in the same breath?

Eric: Yep, because Harry says, “Wonder if I should start using hip-flasks to prevent myself from being poisoned.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: It’s right there.

Eric: Yep. It’s brilliant.

Micah: So we mentioned the Veritaserum just before. Are we okay with this? This threat? I mean, this is…

Andrew: [laughs] Well…

Eric: No?

Andrew: I’m not okay with the part about Snape just straight up being like, “Careful, or else I’ll slip it into your pumpkin juice.” Like, whoa. That’s bad.

Eric: Well, he’s thought about this; that’s clear. That much is clear when he threatens it. He’s wanted to do this before.

Andrew: It’s very uncomfortable to read this adult talking about slipping something into the drink of a child. There’s a lot of weird stuff happening this chapter.

Laura: Well, in the next book we get to see someone actually do it, so…

Micah: And let’s not forget that this starts out with Harry thinking that Snape is about to pull his wand out to attack Harry, so he’s presumably anticipating physical violence from Snape, which I guess ends up being okay because he only threatens him with a truth serum.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: But it does also speak to Harry’s perception of Snape that he just assumes he’s not about to pull a rubber duck out or a little potion out. He’s pulling out, effectively, a gun. He’s bracing for a gun.

Eric: If this were the LEGO game, there would be a rubber duck that he pulled out first.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Aww, yeah.

Eric: I love that humor. But you’re right; I mean, it just shows how volatile things truly are, how dangerous Snape constantly looks to Harry, and I don’t think Harry is exaggerating at all.

Micah: No, it’s almost like a subconscious reaction Harry has, just like any of us would if somebody made that motion. And so Snape is just… he’s on a totally different level in this chapter when it comes to Harry.

Eric: Definitely.

Micah: But enter Karkaroff – because Igor saves the day here – and at least he takes Snape’s attention away from Harry for a bit. And I don’t know if he wants to compare arm hair with Snape, or wants treatment for his eczema…

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: … because he just rolls up his sleeve and is just trying to ask Snape if he’s experiencing any of the same symptoms, apparently. What’s going on here?

Eric: I don’t know. We don’t have enough information to solve this particular mystery.

Micah: We don’t.

Andrew: But it must be important if Karkaroff is interrupting class to talk about this. Snape is like, “Later,” and Karkaroff is like, “No, no. Now.”

Eric: Well, the desperation that Karkaroff has is a real big clue, and what he says in front of everybody is “You can’t slip away if I’m here now,” because evidently Snape has been avoiding Karkaroff. So now we’re really interested because it’s like, wait a minute, Karkaroff would probably also prefer not to be seen by the other students here, but he has no choice because Snape is slippery.

Micah: This is also the second time that Harry has overheard a conversation like this between Karkaroff and Snape; he first overheard them at the Yule Ball, so clearly something is up between the two of them. And I think we as readers can start to figure out a little bit because of what happens later on in this chapter as Sirius starts to talk more about Karkaroff, about Snape, and Snape is basically thrown out there as… not a suspect, but we know that there could be something more. I think the author is leading us in that direction to presume that there’s something else about Snape that we clearly don’t know at this time.

Eric: Yeah, right.

Micah: All right, we’re going to take a quick break, but when we come back, we’re headed to the cave rave.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It’s a Sirius party.

Andrew: Save that phrase for Book 6.

[Ad break]

Micah: So the trio manage to get out alive from Snape’s Potions class, and they are scheduled to meet with Sirius during their Hogsmeade visit, and they walk along the street in Hogsmeade all the way to the end, and there sitting, paws on the sign like a very good pup, is Padfoot.

Andrew: Aww. Who’s a good boy?

Micah: Eric, this is your moment.

Eric: I’m thrilled. I actually learned a new word, you guys. I never remember seeing this word ever before in the books.

Andrew: Cave rave?

Eric: Stile. S-T-I-L-E. Stile!

Andrew: Oh.

Eric: In Sirius’s letter he says meet at the stile, and I’m like, “You just know what that is?” Okay, consult Merriam Webster. It’s the thing where if you have a fence, it’s not a gate, but it’s a few stairs so people can climb over the gate, or climb over the… it’s deliberately not a gate, but it’s a way to get over a fence.

Laura and Micah: Oh.

Micah: So Sirius is stilin’.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: Well, or is he?

Andrew: Not so much.

Micah: Well, we’ll talk about that. We’ll talk about his lack of style.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. The kids follow him up to this cave, which is a really cool, well-placed cave, strategically very good. They’ve brought him food; he’s asked them to bring everything that they can, which is awesome. Turns out he’s still wearing his Azkaban prison uniform, which at this point, if you’re doing the math, he broke out if Azkaban before their third year of Hogwarts, so he’s in these rags that… if they’re his prison uniform, I doubt he changed during his 13 years in prison, so this is like, the 15th year that he’s in these robes, or tattered rags. And I want to believe that Sirius is in much better mental health, and is really loving his freedom and all this, but something tells me that there’s still something a little off with Sirius because he hasn’t… you couldn’t have stole any clothes at all over your…? You were in the tropics; you didn’t grab somebody’s extra sun shirt that they wore out? Nothing.

Andrew: Make a shirt out of some leaves, or find a Hawaiian T-shirt. I think if he’s barely able to get food, I can understand why he’s also not able to get any clothing, because it is observed that he’s been… he says he’s been relying on eating rats recently. And so I get it, but you would think he would make clothing a priority, [laughs] because even though he’s been hiding as a dog, it’s not a good look to be running around with your prison clothing on as an escapee.

Eric: At least it’s not orange.

Laura: Well, and I think that’s actually the point, though. He has been living as a dog, so why would he need to get different clothes? He’s only transforming here so he can talk to the trio, right? It’s too risky for him to be in his human form when he doesn’t need to be, so he probably just stays in his Snuffles form.

Andrew: Warner Bros. needs to create a Halloween dog costume that is Sirius’s prison clothes for dogs.

Eric: Ohhh. I like that.

Andrew: I would put that on Brooklyn for Halloween.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: I would put that on someone else’s dog.

Laura: Yeah, my dog would not tolerate it. [laughs]

Micah: But it begs the question, then: Sirius has to transform, though, when he is riding Buckbeak, right? Because Padfoot is not going to… I guess Padfoot could jump on. It would make a very odd scene. [laughs]

Eric: You make a good point; he’s probably human at least for those moments. However, I did come up with an explanation for this quizzical “Why hasn’t he gotten clothes?” And if I think about… it is a basic need, keeping us warm in the cold, especially cold, dark caves, but my thoughts are that Azkaban… you’re not a person when you’re in Azkaban, and I think a lot of that ego or a lot of that instinct to see yourself as an individual – especially what Sirius tells them about what Azkaban is like in this chapter – I feel like maybe the Dementors permanently or very, very greatly altered his sense of just identity. There’s no ego there that says, “I need clothes because I am a person.” I think Sirius on some level is still operating in this kind of no man’s land of… Azkaban just took it from him.

Andrew: I’m also just thinking about this idea of Snuffles riding Buckbeak…

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: … and maybe Warner Bros. should also create a saddle for hippogriffs for dogs.

Eric: Where is the AI art?

Micah: Well, we can get that. Don’t worry; I’ll take care of it for you.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Well, I was going to… I thought you were going with a spin-off series, though, Andrew, with Snuffles and Buckbeak.

Andrew: Oh, I could see that.

Laura: Aw, it’s like a buddy cop show. I love that.

Andrew: [laughs] Buddy cop show.

Micah: The thing that really stood out to me, though, about Sirius’s reappearance in this chapter – and he even says it – is the fact that he is acting as Harry’s godfather. Finally, there’s a parental figure. We’ve been talking about this all Goblet of Fire. No Dumbledore. No McGonagall. No Molly. No Arthur. Finally, Sirius shows up because he’s Harry’s godfather, and he recognizes that [censored] ain’t right.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: You can bleep that.

Eric: No, I mean, this is the substance that I want and hope and pray for from Sirius. I mean, Lupin would also be taking this as seriously if he were around; he’s mysteriously absent. But Sirius, apart from his questionable fashion choices or faux pas, the whole thing is that he’s able to give really good advice. He has great memory for what happened before; he’s able to really illustrate… he paints the picture of the first wizarding war for them. He talks about Bertha Jorkins in depth. He talks about Crouch a lot. He’s extremely interested; he’s engaged in conversation. Basically the only thing holding him back from saying more is the fact that he’s scarfing down all the food they brought him, but it’s absolutely, I think, the reunion that I personally, as SiriusBlackFan423, really wanted out of this book. It’s really good.

Micah: [laughs] Scarfing down all the food that they brought him because we learn he was eating rats, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Hmm.

Andrew: No, he might subconsciously find it very satisfying. “Mm, this rat tastes so good.”

Micah: Peter.

Andrew: “Tastes like justice.”

[Micah laughs]

Eric: Amazing.

Laura: Well, hey, maybe he’s like, “I might get lucky one of these days. You never know where he is.”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Oh, yeah!

Eric: “If I eat all the rats in the world, one of them is bound to be my friends’ betrayer.”

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: “This tastes of an ending.”

Micah: Look for the one without the little toe.

Eric: Oh, yeah, the little toe.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: There’s this interaction between Ron and Sirius, and they start talking about how… Ron says, basically, “Why don’t you try us?” in terms of trying to let us understand more about the larger wizarding world and more of what’s happening in adult land, right? And I think we as readers start to understand why this information hasn’t been shared with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and Sirius really pulls back the curtain and shares with us and the trio the harsher realities of the wizarding world, and most importantly, he paints a really grim picture of what it was like during the first war.

Eric: He says, “Imagine that Voldemort’s powerful now. You don’t know who his supporters are, you don’t know who’s working for him and who isn’t; you know he can control people so that they do terrible things without being able to stop themselves. You’re scared for yourself, and your family, and your friends. Every week, news comes of more deaths, more disappearances, more torturing… the Ministry of Magic’s in disarray, they don’t know what to do, they’re trying to keep everything hidden from the Muggles, but meanwhile, Muggles are dying too. Terror everywhere… panic… confusion. That’s how it used to be.” And I love that when Ron says, “Try us,” he says, “Okay, I’ll try you,” and then launches into it.

Andrew: [laughs] “You want to be treated like adults?”

Eric: And I’ve got to ask you guys – candid question – does the world that he portrays in this moment to Sirius’s picture sound familiar? Or strike you as being something that might…? It’s a little bit dystopian, but it’s also a little… there are, I think, similarities that we’ve lived through.

Andrew: Yeah, and there’s always the fear of the unknown as well. And when things are evolving in the world, you’re thinking where your friends and family members may fall on certain issues; that’s very stressful as well, just like we’re seeing with Sirius’s depiction of the first wizarding war. So yeah, I think it can easily be tied to what we see in the real world over the decades.

Eric: Yeah, good point.

Laura: And when you just think about the degree of division that you see, too, where it becomes really hard sometimes depending on the issue, right, to know who exactly you can trust when it comes to just general trust, or when it comes to people’s beliefs in your rights to be able to live and access certain things, right? So I can totally see the comparison here, Eric, for sure.

Eric: And the idea that the government is easily distracted, or can’t fix everything. I think that with the wizarding world, too, especially because it’s smaller and people are more scattered, they tend to look to government in a big way to be the solution, but we know the government officials of this book or the ones in question, and yeah, they’re just humans, just like the rest of us.

Micah: And Sirius is starting to have flashbacks, most likely, as he’s reading The Daily Prophet. I mean, his cave is literally scattered with… what do you call them… [laughs] I was going to say episodes. Issues of The Daily Prophet, right? And what I love about this, though, is it shows how good of a detective Sirius actually is because he’s reading through the lines of what is in the paper. He’s able to pull out the things that probably other people are just glancing past or not paying attention to, and that’s how he’s able to put a lot of this together. He’s basically put the entire puzzle, the entire mystery of the Goblet of Fire, together here in the back half of this chapter, just by reading through The Daily Prophet.

Eric: Yeah, I just think this proves he cares about Harry. He’s putting his own life at risk in going to this cave, going to Hogsmeade, but he wants to see his godson and he is being an active part of that protection, because knowledge is power and protection too. So I think that it’s really nice to see Sirius engaged in caring about Harry’s wellbeing. The fact that things got so suspicious that he felt he needed to step in is more than Lupin did.

Andrew: Oop!

Micah: More than a lot of people did that are supposedly Harry protectors.

Eric: Wow.

Micah: Guardians and headmasters.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Headmasters of the Galaxy, coming soon from Marvel Studios.

Micah: So we get to the info-dump backstory on Barty Crouch, Sr., and to borrow a phrase, it really does show us that the world isn’t divided into good people and Death Eaters, and that there are many shades in between. What do we make of the fact that after Sirius shares certain information on Crouch Sr. that Harry’s first reaction, his first inclination, is to go the direction of Death Eater?

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: So I think it’s partly instinctual because he just witnessed a lot of Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup. That’s still fresh on his mind, and…

Eric: Right.

Andrew: “Bad guy? Must be a Death Eater. Must be those guys that we just saw running around.”

Eric: It’s that meme with the guy and the butterfly: “Is this Death Eaters?”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: He just found out that Death Eaters… so “Is this it?” Harry doesn’t know enough other types of people, I think.

Andrew: Yeah. Plus, he’s missing, so if only there was something he could hide under… maybe a cloak.

Laura: Well, and doesn’t Sirius also note as well that Crouch’s legacy during the first wizarding world was to fight violence with violence?

Micah: Yes.

Laura: So he authorized the use of the Unforgivable Curses against Death Eaters and suspects, right? I think he mentioned that there were plenty of people who thought that Crouch was going about things the right way. But I think ourselves if we look at real world representations that we can compare this to, if we were looking at violent criminals being held accountable for what they did, I don’t think anyone on this panel would be in favor of saying, “Okay, well, let’s do to them what they did to their victims,” right?

Eric: Right.

Laura: But that was Crouch. Crouch was saying, “No, no, no, let’s do it, because we’ve got to cart these guys off to Azkaban ASAP.”

Eric: [sighs] Yeah.

Micah: I’m glad that you brought this up about Crouch, Laura, and want to paint a little bit of a better picture of him. We know that he rose quickly through the Ministry, putting his reputation above all else. As you said, fought violence with violence; he gave Aurors the permission to use the Unforgivable Curses on suspects, and he ordered harsh measures against Voldemort’s supporters. He gave Aurors the power to kill rather than capture. He sent Sirius to Azkaban without a trial. And the biggest reveal of this entire chapter is that he had a son, and he did nothing to save his own son when he was convicted of being a Death Eater himself – we’ll talk more about that later – but this doesn’t seem like a nice guy at all.

Eric: Right.

Andrew: No.

Laura: It’s definitely giving an eye for an eye, that kind of mentality, so it’s understandable why Harry would feel this way.

Eric: And they say an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. I think that Sirius’s painting the picture, though, shows you how in war time you can see it being used as a justification for this kind of behavior, this kind of treatment of the people who are supposedly running with Voldemort. The idea that they have to stoop to their level just to protect everyone, that you could do the wrong thing but for the right reasons and have it be justified morally, is kind of an interesting question, but because the book is still trying to… and Harry definitely thinks, “Okay, so it was Crouch who was in Snape’s office. It was Crouch who was in Hogwarts who might have put my name in the Goblet of Fire.” This does give you some of that plausible reasons to suspect that actual Crouch is the one that is the bad guy, the big bad at this book.

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Micah: Totally. And Sirius really does start to put some of the pieces of the puzzle together when he questions Harry about being in the box at the Quidditch World Cup.

Eric: Detective Sirius.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: “Did you notice whether your wand was missing prior to that moment in the field when the Dark Mark was cast?” He was trying to, I think, go through his mind and see if he can identify… and actually, I think the trio do, too, right? They throw out suspects of who could be responsible.

Andrew: Who was in the box, yeah.

Micah: But Sirius is very intrigued that Barty Crouch, Sr. would sack his own house-elf, and much of it probably has to do with the fact that he was reliving exactly what happened with his own son in that moment.

Andrew: Had a really good line here from Sirius, too; maybe Eric should read it, as the super fan who does good voice acting.

Eric: “Well, Harry, if you want to know what a man is like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

Micah: And maybe Sirius should take his own advice.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I was hoping that was the…

Andrew: I was waiting for Micah to dunk on Sirius.

Eric: I was like, “I could read Sirius lines till I’m blue in the face.”

Micah: No, I did think it’s somewhat ironic that he delivers this line when he’s talking about Crouch and his relationship with Winky when in fact he does not follow that advice at all when it comes to Kreacher.

Andrew: Look in a two-way mirror, Sirius. You don’t treat your inferiors much better either.

Laura: Ohhh.

Eric: Oh, man!

[Micah laughs]

Eric: Wow.

Laura: Don’t worry; Harry won’t.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Okay, now we can end the episode. [laughs]

Eric: Wow.

Micah: Yeah, that was a mic drop moment.

Eric: Peak moment, yeah. It’s an important point that you make, Micah, that Sirius is so wise in this moment, and we just love him, and oh God, he’s giving great advice, but then he doesn’t follow that advice himself. He’s incapable. Sirius is only man as well, and ultimately, it’s his own disdain and contempt for his own family members, and Kreacher associated, that are his own downfall.

Micah: And we could debate the use of the word “inferiors.” I think that shows a lot about perception, especially since we’re in a book where we’re talking about house-elves and how they’re viewed by the larger wizarding community.

Eric: I completely agree with that as well, that Sirius’s word can be offensive. It’s like if you’re trying to… I had a job interview once where I was trying to think of what the name was for the people that were under the manager, and I said “underlings.” The real word is “direct reports.”

Laura: Yep.

Eric: “Underlings” has a connotation. It sounds like inferiors.

Andrew: Under? Lings? Yeah.

Eric: It sounds like peons.

Andrew: Chicklings?

Eric: “Direct reports” is the word, so maybe Sirius should have said “direct reports.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: That’s very corporate, though. I don’t…

Micah: [laughs] Yeah, it is.

Eric: Well, we need another informal…

Andrew: “Take a good look at how he treats his direct reports, not his underlings.”

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Well, after telling Harry, Ron, and Hermione – and this is a bit of a fun moment – about Barty Crouch, Jr. being caught as a Death Eater, he throws a chicken bone to Buckbeak, and I didn’t think that this could be a coincidence, given what happens to Barty Crouch, Sr., right?

Andrew: No. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, I’m looking forward to getting to that chapter because I forget exactly what happens to Barty Crouch, Sr. How does he end up that way? No, it’s probably deliberate for sure.

Micah: I know we really didn’t touch on it, but it’s a heartbreaking story to read about Barty Crouch, Jr. His relationship with his father, what happened to Barty Crouch’s mother, all as a result of a really challenging… as is the case with any family, but this is a very challenging family dynamic because you have Barty Crouch, Sr., who clearly is a workaholic, and it is compromising his family as a result of that. Now, I’m not saying that all else equal things would have been different under other circumstances, but I’m wondering if Barty had spent a little bit more time with his son, if this could have had a bit of a different outcome. It’s hard to say; hindsight is 20/20.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, maybe, maybe not, but you can’t deny that this type of personality, being the head of the household, has an impact. It does.

Andrew: There can just be a broken father/son relationship that will never get better.

Micah: For sure.

Andrew: Even if they were to spend more time with each other.

Eric: Yeah, but I think Sirius describes Barty as barely 19 or freshly 19 – Crouch Jr. – and there still could be a rebel phase going on there. It’s an overbearing father character that wants to rein in his kid, and his kid just wants to get out of the house. I mean, there’s not a lot provided that explains why Barty Crouch, Jr. joined the Death Eaters, and I think that there’s probably a fair bit of people that were just looking for something to do. And it’s sad when you hear the story of kids getting involved with truly dangerous and unlawful and terrifying things just for a bit of rebellion, but that’s the vibe I get when they talk about Barty Crouch, Jr. trying to spite his father, but then being surprised when his father is like, “No trial for you,” or “I’m not going to give you any leniency and I’m going to punish you and send you all the way there.” I think everyone in that room was probably very surprised when Crouch Sr. cast that sentence.

Andrew: Oh, yeah. I mean, I can’t imagine witnessing something like that, or being the son in that situation and your father effectively betraying you in that way, no matter what you did.

Laura: Yeah. But I mean, I don’t know; as the son you kind of betrayed your father’s principles too.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Eric: Well, you’re supposed to be allowed to do that, right? [laughs] It’s the young generation and the old generation, but the old generation can’t do it to the new generation?

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Yeah, except in this case, it’s basically the wizard Klan, so…

Andrew: It’s still a hard pill to swallow, seeing a father have to do this to his son.

Laura: Sure.

Andrew: Even if it’s right, it doesn’t make it easier to witness, I think.

Laura: Oh, not at all. Almost like he shouldn’t have been allowed to oversee that particular legal proceeding.

Eric: Oh, he should have recused himself.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Oh, that’s a good point.

Laura: But that’s not how things work in the wizarding world.

Eric: It’s a new word, everybody. Look up “recuse.”

Laura: [laughs] Big on the legal jargon today.

Andrew: New to who?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: Well, we do get some glimpses into Azkaban in this chapter, and I think much like the way Sirius described the first wizarding war, he really shows the pain and the anguish and the depression of being locked inside of Azkaban. It’s our first glimpse, really, into it. We get the Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban, obviously, but we don’t actually get taken there the way that we do through Sirius in this particular moment, and he describes the experience that Barty Crouch, Jr. went through, saying he was “screaming for his mother by nightfall. He went quiet after a few days, though… they all go quiet in the end… except when they shrieked in their sleep.” I mean, that’s horrifying.

Andrew: It’s eerie. Yeah, that’s a terrifying thought.

Micah: He went on to say, “Most go mad, and plenty stop eating in the end. They lose the will to live. You could always tell when a death was coming, because the Dementors would sense it, they got excited.”

Eric: Oh, that characterization. This does it for me. I mean, there’s so few opportunities that we could ever have to find out an insider’s perspective on what Azkaban is like. This is horrifying. This is like going to a Sanitarium. People screaming, it’s uncontrollable, you know why they’re screaming, but you’re locked away; you can’t help. Nobody can help. Nobody can help them. They’re all life sentences, so they’re condemned. And then on top of it, your jailers are… is the word sadistic? Your jailers thrive on how close to death you are. So wow, it actually… Sirius’s story here is the case for absolutely abolishing Azkaban. Get rid of it entirely.

Andrew: Impressive he made it through, though, in his 12 years there.

Eric: Well, he still hasn’t changed his clothes yet, but yeah.

Andrew: [laughs] But he never lost the taste for chicken, so he turned out okay.

Micah: Or rats.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: We do, though, get a little bit of information about what happened to Barty Crouch, Jr., the fact that Sirius actually says he saw him get buried.

Eric: Clever, clever.

Micah: But I’m not really sure… depending on his cell angle and the window out, I’m assuming it was on a beach, maybe, surrounding Azkaban.

Eric: That sounds right.

Micah: But Laura, I know you’re big into horror, right? And crime and mystery. Are we to believe this? No real body here that we could see.

Laura: No.

Andrew: No body, no crime, says Taylor Swift.

Laura: [laughs] I mean, that basically captures it right there. How could I do any better? But no, I mean, honestly, that is constantly in the world of horror or mystery; if you don’t have a body, then you can’t count them dead. And that should have been a huge tip-off to everyone, right, reading this, but we were kids.

Eric: Well, I’ll disagree slightly, because there is a body.

Laura: Right, it’s just not…

Eric: Well, if you think about Barty Crouch, Jr.’s mom dying of grief, wasting away to next to nothing… when this all gets explained at the end of the book, it makes even more sense, I think. But if they’re both really emaciated, they look very similar, and you can’t blame Sirius for thinking that what the Dementors buried was Barty, because once the switcheroo was made… Sirius is definitely witnessing them bury him from a distance; he’s not right there. It’s like, a tower window looking out over a ten-story courtyard.

Micah: Right.

Laura: Yeah, I’m just wondering how much he would have reasonably been able to see, because if they just gathered a bunch of rags together and took them down there from a distance, if it was substantial enough, it could look like a body.

Andrew: Maybe I’m misremembering, or I misread, but wasn’t she…? She was under Polyjuice Potion, and she died under Polyjuice Potion. Correct?

Eric: Oh, there’s even that.

Andrew: And then did her body stay as Junior?

Eric: Not sure on that, but the Dementors are blind, so it doesn’t really matter.

Laura: Yeah, I don’t think it matters to them.

Andrew: No, I know, but I’m just thinking what Sirius is seeing.

Eric: For Sirius seeing, yeah.

Laura: But he wouldn’t be able to see her anyway because he would have been too far away, so…

Eric: But I think that when you’re in jail and the person in the cellmate next to you dies, you know who that was, so for Sirius to say, “Oh, I watched them bury him,” he watched the Dementors come get the person in the cell next to him, take them out, and he saw a body being put in the ground. That counts. So there is a body, it’s just the…

Micah: And Barty was also carrying a body, right? Senior was carrying Junior out of Azkaban.

Eric: Right, yeah.

Micah: All right. Well, there’s still a lot to unpack once we get to the end of the book, but I wanted to wrap up this chapter discussion by talking about some of Sirius’s time in Azkaban. And despite all the great detective work he’s done in this chapter, some things just don’t make sense to me here when Sirius is having this conversation. So there were three things that Sirius never learned: He never got confirmation that Barty was a Death Eater, he never overheard anything about Snape being a Death Eater, and he never learned about the Dark Mark. There’s all this confusion about what possibly could be on either Karkaroff’s or Snape’s arm that Harry shares during that conversation. It just seems strange to me that… particularly the last two. Never overheard anything about Snape being a Death Eater with all the other Death Eaters that were in Azkaban?

Eric: Right.

Micah: And the Dark Mark seems like something that would have been known.

Eric: I do find that maybe the most unbelievable aspect. I don’t think it’s like all the people in Azkaban have communal lunches every day or something…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … because Sirius would notice a tattoo. But that just shows you; I think when you’re in Azkaban, you’re just completely alone. So he never did see any other Death Eater’s Dark Mark.

Laura: But also, I mean, are we to believe that Sirius – people like him during the first wizarding war – wouldn’t know what a Dark Mark was?

Andrew: Or where it’s located, at least.

Laura: Yeah. I don’t know. There was part of me that almost… okay, first of all, this is clearly for the plot. That’s why this happens.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: Because obviously, if it’s revealed here, it’s too soon. But there’s this moment in the chapter where I think it’s Ron brings up Snape and Karkaroff talking to each other about something on their arms, and Sirius is like, “Oh, he showed Snape something on his arm?”

Andrew: I’ll read the passage.

Laura: Okay, thank you. Cool.

Andrew: I actually have it up right now. So Ron does tee it up, and then Harry says, “Yeah, you should’ve seen Snape’s face when Karkaroff turned up in Potions yesterday! Karkaroff wanted to talk to Snape, he says Snape’s been avoiding him. Karkaroff looked really worried. He showed Snape something on his arm, but I couldn’t see what it was.” Sirius replied, “‘He showed Snape something on his arm?’ said Sirius, looking frankly bewildered. He ran his fingers distractedly through his filthy hair. ‘Well, I’ve no idea what that’s about.'” That’s like Sirius has never even heard of the Dark Mark before.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: “Something on his arm?!”

Eric: Yeah, I want to clarify something: During the first wizarding war, everyone knew what the Dark Mark was because nobody wanted to come home from work and find it over their house. But what isn’t known is that the Death Eaters have Dark Mark tattoos, and that is how they are summoned by Voldemort to go back to the circle. That’s the part that’s the secret. Everybody recognizes – adults, people who were adults during the first wizarding war – would recognize the Dark Mark for what it is, but nobody knows about it being a tattoo.

Laura: But surely by now, people know. And I guess we can write this off as Sirius having been in prison for 13 years; he wasn’t able to ever really probably interact with anyone, like y’all were saying earlier, and he’s just been on the run, so he hasn’t been able to educate himself. I guess we can write it off that way, but it does feel a little bit far-fetched. I’ll let it go because I love this book, but this is definitely…

Andrew: Uh-oh, don’t say the R word. “Rushed.”

Laura: No, no, I’m not going to say that; I’m just saying this is one of those moments that it is the way it is for the plot.

Andrew: I’m going to bring up something from Jeff Probst on Survivor, since Micah likes Survivor as well. He likes to note as time goes on out on the island, the cognitive abilities decline. So to your point, Laura, Sirius’s cognitive abilities have declined while being in prison without the ability to eat chicken.

Laura: Oh, very likely. And I mean, he’s on the run and he’s eating rats, and God knows what his hydration or his ability to exercise looks like, so yeah, he’s having a hard time.

Micah: That’s fair. That’s fair. I would say the whole jury’s cognitive ability declined in this particular season of Survivor, but we can talk about that another time.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Micah is not happy with the ending.

Eric: So many questionable calls.

Micah: Somebody in the Discord, though, HedwigTheme, said, “Do you think he really didn’t know?” talking about Sirius and Snape. “I thought he was just withholding from the trio.”

Laura: I wondered that at first too.

Eric: It’s interesting because if Snape is still, to Sirius, a suspect, I think Sirius would be making other plans to talk to Dumbledore. I don’t think Sirius necessarily possesses the restraint to not tell them about Snape. I think that he just really… everything Sirius knows about Snape is really limited by what his interactions with him were like at school, and I think Sirius fortunately doesn’t hide away the fact that that’s all he knows about Snape. The exception is the stuff how Snape behaved in the Shrieking Shack at the last book; that and what he was like at school is all he knows. But Sirius doesn’t possess, for any reason, additional information about Snape or his loyalties or why Dumbledore trusts him. He just doesn’t know.

Micah: Well, so much information was revealed in this chapter, maybe some of it below the surface, but plenty of it on the surface for us, at least as readers, to be able to figure out where this is all going as we head into the final chapters of Goblet of Fire. But I wanted to give a special shout-out to Ron, because we often note how when Ron says some things jokingly or otherwise, they have a tendency to come true, or he has a tendency to be right on the mark. And two that I wanted to just call out were… this is when Sirius was talking about Barty Crouch, Sr. He says, “If you ask me, he still thinks he can bring back the old popularity by catching one more Death Eater,” and Ron responds, “And he sneaked up here to search Snape’s office!” And so the whole idea of catching one more Death Eater and then saying Snape’s name right after that? Score one point for Ron. Ron figured it out without realizing that he actually figured it out. And then a bit… actually, not that long after that, Ron says, “I know Dumbledore’s brilliant and everything, but that doesn’t mean a really clever Dark wizard couldn’t fool him.”

Andrew: Sounds like some people on this panel, although this is a bit more charitable of a…

Micah: But he’s got the measure of it; he just doesn’t know who it is at this point. But given we’ve been talking about a former Death Eater this entire chapter who’s supposedly dead, I don’t know. But anything else before we jump to odds and ends we want to mention? I know, like I said, there was a lot in this chapter.

Eric: Sure. Yeah, I think it’s clever that we don’t get a reveal of Barty Crouch’s kid’s name. If you did, the book would really end. It would just be over; we would have all the answers. But Sirius never says what his name is, and so you get 99% of the way there. But there’s still… I think we don’t find out what Barty Crouch’s kid’s name is until the Pensieve chapter.

Laura: Well, unfortunately, the Marauder’s Map does not display “Senior” or “Junior” on it…

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: … so that prevents the tip-off. [laughs]

Eric: It’s a real… yeah.

Micah: Yeah, it’s almost surprising that Harry doesn’t bring up the map, right, Eric?

Eric: Yeah, you could have easily gotten into this discussion about Barty showing up on the map, because Sirius is one of the four creators of the map and so if Harry still had his map – which is the reason, I think, that it’s not brought up, as Harry doesn’t have it with him – Sirius might have been able to do some extra magic and go into the metadata of who was seen on the map at a certain time and figure out that it’s Junior, not Senior. Maybe the name is only omitted due to a character limit, but that Sirius can extend it magically and… I don’t know.

Laura: Right click, “Get info.”

Eric: Yeah, you do have one of the creative founders of the map. And this mystery is largely centered on what Harry saw on the map, so it’s just a shame we didn’t… that’s what I want to… I always want to spend more time with the Marauders so that I can ask them more questions about the map.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Eric: And their interesting lives.

Micah: Yes.

Odds & Ends

Micah: All right. Well, let’s get to some odds and ends. First up, can we cross Ludo Bagman off the suspect list at this point? He comes up in this chapter…

[Eric sighs]

Andrew: Sirius is like, “Meh.”

Micah: Sirius doesn’t feel too strongly about him.

Andrew: Yeah, and I think there’s so much focus on Crouch at this point. All this work would not have gone into talking about Crouch if there wasn’t something afoot with him.

Laura: Agreed. It would have been a really great distraction, though, because doesn’t Sirius also say, “I don’t really know that much about Ludo Bagman,” and then he just kind of moves on with the conversation, so what if it was Ludo the whole time?

Eric: That would be the guy, yeah.

Laura: Oh, that would be brilliant. [laughs]

Andrew: And we spent this whole episode talking about these Crouch revelations for nothing.

Eric: It’s literally like the Eileen Prince thing, right? She just comes out of nowhere. She wasn’t on anybody’s radar.

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: Well, speaking of somebody who’s not been on anybody’s radar for a while, Bertha Jorkins.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Sirius, again coming through in the clutch, has a lot of information about Bertha, knew her at school. Quite the gossip, and according to him, she’s not as forgetful as we are led to believe, so another reason to think that something is up with that whole situation.

Eric: Yeah, Sirius suggests that she would be dangerous based on how much information she has in her. Okay, and finally, for odds and ends this week, y’all, I have a retraction. I don’t want to do this. This is against my will. I’m being coerced to do the right thing here. Remember, last week, when I asked if the hostages of the second task were really in danger?

Micah: How could we forget? It was the whole episode.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Well, it turns out the next… the opening line of this chapter is as follows. It’s not the opening line, but it’s the opening page. “Harry noticed that Ron’s version of events changed subtly with every retelling. At first, he gave what seemed to be the truth; it tallied with Hermione’s story – Dumbledore had put all the hostages into a bewitched sleep in Professor McGonagall’s office, first assuring them that they would be quite safe, and would awake when they were back above the water.” Okay, so we have confirmation that Dumbledore did tell them that they’d be safe. Anyway, moving on.

Andrew: Well, I’ll defend you for a second, Eric; it still doesn’t make it right. It’s still pretty messed up.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: No, yeah.

Eric: It’s still thirdhand, like, “Somebody said somebody…” We don’t see Hermione say that, but still, it’s wild that that happened.

Micah: Yeah. Well, I will say that I love the fact that this is really the first time that the second task is coming up at all in this discussion…

[Eric laughs]

Micah: … that we spent the entire time discussing the mystery of what’s going on in this book.

Eric: Yeah, but I’ll tell you, too, as many people pointed out last week, they were still in danger for what the champions might have done to them. Krum still might have bitten one of them in half, etc., etc., so I value the discussion we had last week. But yeah, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t say that it’s kind of solved. [laughs]

MVP of the Week

Andrew: Okay, it’s time for MVP of the Week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: I’m going to give mine to smart Ron – which I think I may have done once before, actually – for the line that we mentioned a few minutes ago. “Give it a rest, Hermione. I know Dumbledore’s brilliant and everything, but that doesn’t mean a really clever Dark wizard couldn’t fool him.”

Micah: It’s happened one too many times.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Eric: Is it any question as to who’s getting my MVP? Sirius Black is taking time out of his busy schedule life on the run, making himself available for godfatherly duties, and general adult life lesson-giving. Good for Sirius, everybody.

Micah: I’m going to give it to The Daily Prophet. As we mentioned, it’s giving Sirius a lot of important information and allowing him to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Laura: And I’m going to give mine to Hermione for a throwback to earlier in this discussion. I thought the way that she handled being gossiped about in a really crappy magazine was incredibly mature for her age, and it could have gotten a lot worse for her with her peers if she hadn’t handled it that way, so good job.

Andrew: Listeners, 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. We do prefer voice memos because you’ll sound better on them, and we’d also love if you tried to keep your voice message about a minute long so we can fit in as many as possible during Muggle Mail episodes. And next week we’ll discuss Goblet of Fire Chapter 28, “The Madness of Mr. Crouch,” and we’re going to have one or two special guests joining us. I’ll give you a hint: They’ve been on the show before, so it’ll be a fun episode of MuggleCast.

Laura: Oooh.


Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: Who authorized Aurors to use the Unforgivable Curses during the first wizarding war? And the answer is Barty Crouch, Sr. Last week’s answers were correct and submitted by CaliLovesQuizzitch; Elizabeth K.; George’s Holey Ear; I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading Goblet of Fire so I could find the right answer and now I’m too tired to come up with a clever name…

Andrew: Aww.

Eric: … I’m in geometry and I have finals next week and I don’t know how to do it aaaaahhhhh. Okay. I’ve reread Harry Potter 70 times because I have no friends besides y’all.

Eric and Laura: Aww.

Eric: Jiggly Jane; LC; Lloyd the Kiwi; Megwitch; Merlin’s saggy left earlobe; Ned Nederlander; Roby’s Screaming Smelly Sock; Snape’s Barber; Snuffles’s paw print; The 6-year-old whose mom wrote this because I can’t spell and love MuggleCast so much since I just finished listening to this series…

Laura: Aw.

Eric: … The 11-year-old witch; Tofu Tom; and Weaselbee. Yeah, I’ve got to tell you, when we had two weeks off of MuggleCast there just because of the Memorial Day thing, the Quizzitch box was getting so full that I had to actually prevent more entries, so if y’all saw the error…

Andrew: [imitating Ringo] Peace and love, peace and love. No more entries, please.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Yes, but it’s back open again, which means you can submit for this next week’s question: What food does Harry send to Sirius in his cave that Pigwidgeon is not suitable for? I loved this little detail. Submit your answer to us on the MuggleCast website, If you’re on the MuggleCast website, maybe checking out transcripts or Hall of Fame or anything else like that, just click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Andrew: And this show is brought to you by Muggles like you; we don’t have any corporate overlords who control the show with an Unforgivable Curse.

Micah: We’re just underlings.

Andrew: We’re just underlings. No, no, we’re not underlings!

[Micah laughs]

Eric: We’re direct reports.

Andrew: We’re the top dog here, and that gives us all the power, but we couldn’t do this show without support from listeners like you. We would be powerless without you. We would be the underlings without you. So to help us out, if you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, and that gets you ad-free, early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month. There’s also, and you’ll get all the benefits of MuggleCast Gold plus livestreams; shout-out to everybody who joined us tonight. You get access to our planning docs, the chance to co-host the show one day, a new physical gift every year – we’re very close to announcing this year’s gift, by the way – and you’ll also receive a video message from one of the four of us. If you want to support us a different way, check out our Etsy store,, and you can find the MuggleCast Cozy Comfy Combo pack, T-shirts, signed album art, wooden cars from our 16th anniversary, and more. Again, that’s Eric and Micah, you have some news to share concerning the LeakyCon schej?

Eric: That’s right! We finally have dates for our main panels at LeakyCon this year. The convention is, of course, July 5-7 at where, Micah?

Micah: Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.

Eric: That’s right. So first off, we have a MuggleCast meet-up at the con Friday, 7/5 at 11:15 a.m. The very next day on Saturday we have our podcaster mega panel, bright and early at 10:00 a.m.; love it when they do that. And later that day, live MuggleCast is Saturday the 6th at 5:00 p.m., and closing out the con, the final event is going to be…

Micah: It’s a lot of pressure.

Eric: Yeah. Sunday, 5:00 p.m. LeakyMug. We now have… we’re going to be joined, just like we did in Boston, Melissa, John Noe, and Frak Franco are all going to be there, so good ol’ LeakyMug represent.

Andrew: From Pottercast, for any newer listeners who don’t know. [laughs]

Eric: From Pottercast, yeah, sorry. The Leaky Cauldron’s pod… 19 years ago, there was another podcast started.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: So please join us there. Visit the website and enter code “Muggle” to get some money off your tickets.

Andrew: If you enjoy MuggleCast and think other Muggles would, too, we would love if you help us spread the word about the show, so do tell a friend. Maybe a Harry Potter friend who’s looking for more Harry Potter friends. And you can also help us spread the word by leaving a review in your favorite podcast app. We love seeing those reviews come in; they mean everything to us, so thank you for leaving a review. I will ask, if you enjoy the show, please leave a five-star review. Sometimes we get reviews that are one star, but then they write a really nice review, so I feel like they think a one star is like an A because… I don’t know. But five stars!

Eric: One star out of one? Yeah.

Andrew: [laughs] Five stars, please, if you enjoy the show. All right, 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: Bye, everybody.

Laura and Micah: Bye.