[Show music begins]
Caleb Graves: This is Episode 146 of Alohomora! for July 18, 2015.
[Show music continues]
Caleb: Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Alohomora!, a midsummer day’s discussion, shall we say. I’m Caleb Graves.
Michael Harle: I’m Michael Harle.
Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller. And our special guest today is none other than author of The Nevermore Trilogy, Kelly Creagh. Welcome, Kelly!
Kelly Creagh: Hi!
Kat: Hi! Thank you so much for joining us.
Kelly: Thank you so much for having me.
Kat: Absolutely. Tell us your history with Harry Potter.
Kelly: I got started late with Harry Potter. I went to go see Prisoner of Azkaban, and I had been seeing the movies. I just had not been reading the books – shame on me. I saw Prisoner of Azkaban with a friend, and then when the end hit in the Shrieking Shack, I just looked at my friend who took me there, and I’m like, “Wait, what? What is this magic that is happening?” And so right at that moment, I got really hooked with the drama and the characters, and I had to find out what was going to go on next, and I picked up the books and just devoured them. And I was in undergrad at the time – and so just one after the other – and so the only book that I was anticipating the release of was the last one. That’s the one that I actually got to go wait for at a midnight party at Borders.
Kat: Nice. I feel like a lot of people joined around that time.
Kelly: Yeah, and I’m officially Sorted through the website Pottermore as a Ravenclaw.
Kelly: Thank you!
Kat: I’m Ravenclaw as well.
Caleb: You said “Borders,” and my heart just fluttered.
Kelly: I know, I know, I know.
Caleb: Because I miss it so much.
Kelly: Me too.
Kat: So sad. RIP Borders.
Michael: I love that you feel in love with it during the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. That warms my heart. [laughs] My favorite movie of the series.
Kelly: It’s a good one.
Michael: Yes. It’s – in my opinion – the best and at least the most artistic, so that’s always good to hear. But of course, we’re way past Prisoner of Azkaban. [laughs] As you listeners now, we’re in Half-Blood Prince, and today, we will be discussing Chapter 28 of Half-Blood Prince: “Flight of the Prince.” So we want to remind our listeners to make sure [to] read that chapter. Because – as you guys said last week – of course, nobody’s read it yet. So make sure [to] read it so that you can get the most out of our discussion today.
Caleb: But before we do that. We are going to recap some of your comments from last week’s very tragic episode – or “it ended on a tragic note,” I should say – because of what happened in the book. You guys left us over 200 comments, so obviously, there was a lot to talk about. We can’t possibly capture it all in this episode, but just a few. The first one comes from WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock? on the main site, and this is on the topic of Dumbledore and Harry and Draco, and it’s abbreviated a little but it says,
“[The hosts] talked about Dumbledore using Petrificus Totalus on Harry to keep him hidden, and the hosts seemed to think [that] this was cruel and torturous. In a way, I get that, but it was truly the kindest thing Dumbledore could do here. He had to protect Harry, and he didn’t know what was going on in the castle. He was greatly weakened, and […] [h]e knows that it is time, and now that Draco has brought his plan to fruition, which he must have worked out through the Dark Mark on the castle, he knows that Severus will have to kill him to stop Draco doing it. The feeling I get from Dumbledore is that he is okay with this – he is ready. But he has to make one last attempt to save Draco. The hosts talked about how what Dumbledore is doing here is for Harry’s benefit. I agree with that to a point – but for once, I think what Dumbledore is doing here is more for Malfoy’s benefit than Harry’s. Yes, Dumbledore wants Harry to hear what he hears, he wants to put together the last pieces of the puzzle, but Dumbledore is also stalling, and he is trying to connect with Draco. Dumbledore’s concern for Draco has always interested me, and I’m surprised we haven’t talked more about it. Dumbledore makes Snape swear to kill him so that he won’t be killed in unpleasant or humiliating ways, that is true – but it is mainly because he doesn’t want Draco to become a murderer. He wants to save him from that.”
I thought this was an interesting point because I do think, whether we disagree of agree with it, we don’t talk about the Malfoy aspect in this scene as much.
Kat: That’s definitely true. Our conversation from last week was definitely Snape-centric. I mean, he tends to overtake most conversations when he pops up in the book.
Caleb: And even Harry much more thna Draco, obviously, because we’re in Harry’s point of view.
Michael: I think that makes sense, though, because – at least when reading this book, especially because the first time, not knowing exactly how this was all going to pan out and what part Draco was going to play in the rest of the series – he’s left on the wayside by the time Snape shows up because he has no lines or very little mention after that point, and we’ll see in this chapter, too, he just is shown running away, and Snape takes charge. So I think it makes sense as to why the conversation turns to Snape more at this point. This is really… even though “The Prince’s Tale” is also another one of Snape’s big moments, this was such a pop culture iconic moment, especially because of the way that it was spoiled for a lot of people, so I think there was just something that happened around this particular death. Kind of what you guys said last week. It wasn’t so much that Dumbledore as it was Snape who killed him. That was the real shocker.
Kelly: Yeah. I think that something really interesting about this is that Snape and Dumbledore have a common goal in Draco, and I think a lot of the action that they’re taking together as a team is meant to prevent Draco from making the same mistakes that Snape made, and so I think that’s a personal investment for Snape, in particular.
Caleb: Yeah, I mean, I’m trying to… I guess I think I agree with the comment because I think Harry is so secondary, in a way. Because once Dumbledore takes care of him… he freezes him – and I know you guys talked about that a lot last week – that’s easily taken care of. But actually, I don’t really have much to add. I think Kelly’s point is really spot-on. I think he’s trying to save him from… I hadn’t really thought about the Snape connection as much, but it’s pretty accurate.
Kat: I mean, yeah, I remember… I think it wasn’t last week; it was the week before or the week even before that, there was a lot of discussion about Dumbledore trying to save not only Draco but [also] Snape from making the same mistakes that Tom Riddle made. So maybe that’s just part of Dumbledore’s nature, and I guess this scene could be showing that Dumbledore is just trying to continually save people from making the same mistakes as others made in the past, including himself, I suppose.
Michael: Well, and as far as making Harry watch, which I know is… I think your guys’ point last week wasn’t so much that it was intentionally cruel on Dumbledore’s part. It was almost mistakenly cruel because Dumbledore didn’t really know what was going to happen. But I do think – and you guys hit upon this a little bit last week, and I know it was talked about in the comment by a lot of people – that it’s also a lesson for Harry because like you had said last week, he needs to watch Malfoy fail at this, because he needs to see that Malfoy still has innocence and humanity in him so that… I think you said, Kat, last week, [that] he needs to let go of his perceptions of Malfoy. Because that’s very important for his interactions with Malfoy in Deathly Hallows and how Harry is going to acquire the Hallows.
Kat: Right. Yep, it’s a very important moment, that one, from last week.
Michael: It’s the ultimate putting together of the pieces of Dumbledore’s puzzle, right? All the pieces that he’s set up. I don’t think they came together in exactly the way he planned it, but it still worked for his plan.
Kat: Yeah, close enough.
Caleb: All right, the next comment comes on the topic of loving and/or hating Snape from MoodyHorcrux, and the comment says,
“I need to say that I know a lot of people don’t like Snape, and it was talked about a lot in this chapter, but come on. HOW would Snape have been able to tell Harry in book 5 that he understood the secret message about Padfoot[?] I think Snape went about it exactly the right way. Umbridge was going mad and wanted information now. Snape had to act as if he had no clue what Harry was talking about, in order for Umbridge to stop questioning the odd sentence. Snape and Harry aren’t friends, and it isn’t as if Snape would wink or give some kind of signal to let Harry know he understood. You can’t hold that against Snape as a person. He listened to Harry and warned the Order. If he didn’t warn the order… that would be something entirely different, and I would completely understand people being angry with Snape then. I would be too!”
So obviously, a lot of this comment has to do with things from the previous book but still draws upon this dynamic of loving or hating Snape, which was left on such a cliffhanger whenever this book [was] first released. And I know we were talking before we started recording, Kelly has some strong feelings about Snape.
Kelly: I do.
Caleb: So I thought it would be a pretty good one for our discussion.
Kelly: I love Snape. I have been with him, on his side, since Book 1, and there was only one moment in the entire series that I doubted him. And it was after I closed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I did. I got over that, and I still wore my “Loyal to Snape” sticker at the event because I had some time to think about it, and I just knew the whole time that he was a good guy, even though he acted terrible, especially toward Harry. But I think in this instance in particular, once he killed Dumbledore, Snape had to do whatever he had to do to keep that cover. That was so vital to everything. He was such a key player, and I think that from that moment on, Snape was playing the game completely by himself.
Michael: Oh, yeah. And we’ll get into this more with the chapter discussion, but I think this chapter is where those issues for Snape come to a head a little bit, especially with the things Harry is attempting to confront him with that are pulling Snape in two directions. So yeah, and I think as far as the MoodyHorcrux’s example, yeah, sure, you can’t get mad at Snape for that one because he was working undercover. But there are still plenty of other things to get mad at Snape about.
Kat: Very true.
Kelly: I’m not saying he’s perfect.
Michael: No, I think as far as the double agent goes, he’s pretty dang excellent. That I don’t really fault him on. It’s just more his behavior toward his fellow human man.
Kelly: Yeah, toward Harry in particular.
Kat: Well, I mean, and Neville and all the other… he’s just a bully, and that’s what my big problem is with Snape. He’s just generally not very nice, so…
Kelly: I think he’s genuinely not very happy.
Caleb: No, I agree.
Kat: Very true, very true.
Caleb: All right, and our final comment this week comes from DoraNympha and [is] on the topic of Dumbledore’s fall:
“[A]bout Dumbledore’s epic fall: maybe just because of Cedric’s movie death, but I guess you could make someone fall a few feet backwards with a Killing Curse if you blast it at them hard enough. However, I think the fall was more for us readers, precisely because of the reactions you mentioned, the site [sic] and all. We needed something more than just Dumbledore crumpling in an unmoving heap on the floor; we needed to witness him die and die in a way that he’s DEFINITELY not alive. By this time he had been dying for a year because of the Horcrux curse, he had just drunk some weird potion that’s made him uncharacteristically weak, he’s just been hit with a Killing Curse while not having a wand in either hand or else hidden in his beard somewhere that we know of, AND if this wasn’t enough, he went and fell about a gazillion feet from the top of the highest tower you can find at Hogwarts. This is Jo eliminating all doubt: Dumbledore [i]s definitely, irrevocably, undeniably dead. Ouch.”
Kat: I mean, those are all valid points, but I mean, if you read through www.dumbledoreisnotdead.com like I mentioned last week, you would agree with a lot of those points too. I firmly believed for a long time that he wasn’t dead. And it was not denial; it’s not that I didn’t want him to be dead. It’s just all of the other evidence. Sure, I mean, he fell from a gazillion feet, but he’s a wizard. I mean, he can do wandless magic. There'[re] a million reasons why it was even five percent possible, and let’s leave it at that.
Kelly: Coming from the scene from an author standpoint, I think it’s very metaphorical in that you’ve got sort of the king on the chessboard has this huge fall from the high tower. So I think it’s metaphorical in that sense too, that you see the person [whom] we have all been seeing as our mentor, because he’s Harry’s mentor, take the ultimate fall and literally be broken and killed. So I thought that that was also a nice touch that J.K. Rowling put in there.
Michael: Yeah, no, I think it actually, like you were saying Kelly, makes Dumbledore’s death more grandiose in a way for Harry to deal with death in a new way that he hasn’t quite done yet. Because again, we’re going to talk, in the chapter discussion, about how Harry handles this death versus other deaths that he’s come across. And I always, because I know you guys were talking, too, about the theories around why Dumbledore… why it seemed like he was suspended in the air for a moment before he fell. And the way Rowling writes it, I always saw that… and I see this, I think, because I am film student, but I see things in terms of cinematics, and that felt very cinematic to me. And they did it in the movie. They actually found a way to translate that, where they just did it in slow motion. But it’s almost like she was writing it as if Harry was perceiving it in slow motion because it was such an unbelievable, huge thing that occurred.
Kat: Yeah, like when Sirius dies, and he has that same reaction where everything stops.
Michael: Slows down, yeah. Actually, because Charlie and I just finished reading that chapter because we’re in Order of the Phoenix, and yeah, the way she writes that is she describes Sirius as bending back in a slow graceful arc toward the arch, and it does have another slo-mo kind of moment to it. So Rowling knows how to give most of her characters a good send-off. Most. Not all, [laughs] but most.
Caleb: All right, well, that is all of the comments we’re reading for this week’s episode.
Kat: So we will jump into our Podcast Question of the Week responses from last week. Just to remind everybody of the question, big surprise, it’s about Snape. So it was
“In this chapter, Draco is alone (with Harry) with Dumbledore, ready to ‘kill.’ Dumbledore is slowly convincing Draco to come to the light side. However, Death Eaters interrupt him, and then Snape shows up. If Snape had shown up first, would it have changed anything in the path of the story?”
So as you can imagine there were two schools: the yes and the no school. So I’m going to read two comments because a lot of them were really similar, but these two, I think, had the best, most concise points. So the first one here is from They’ve Taken My Weezey, and it says,
“I think Snape would have still killed Dumbledore. It would have been more respectful to such a great man to have presented the body to the [D]eath [E]aters rather than ‘betray’ Dumbledore in their presence. I think that Dumbledore was in enough pain in that moment, and Severus alone would have been enough relief. He would like it to end there and then, as seemingly was planned.”
So basically, nothing would have changed. Snape still would have killed him. Maybe the Death Eaters would have been there, maybe not.
Michael: Well, the big thing with this set up is who disarms Dumbledore and who gets the Elder Wand. And was it now… because that’s something I get confused about, and I guess we’ll get better clarification in Hallows, but it was Dumbledore’s intention that Snape get the Elder Wand, right?
Michael: So this plan would have allowed the plan to go correctly.
Kat: Well, no, because Draco’s already there.
Caleb: Yeah. [Draco] still disarmed him.
Michael: Oh, so he still disarmed him.
Kat: Yeah, we were just saying if Snape had showed up before the Death Eaters…
Kat: … would that have changed anything?
Kat: Not before Draco.
Michael: Okay, I see. Yeah. I think he’s still… Snape’s bound by the Unbreakable Vow, and Malfoy’s still not… whether the Death Eaters show up or not, this is all predicated on Malfoy’s actions. Snape also seems in kind of a hurry to leave, too, and Snape also knows that Dumbledore’s going to die anyway. So Snape has orders.
Kat: I wonder how much of that haste comes from just not wanting to be in that moment anymore though, as opposed to, “Hurry up, get the heck out of the castle. I just killed Dumbledore.”
Michael: I think that’s an element of it, yeah. Definitely.
Michael: Because Snape… a lot of people before we had Book 7 didn’t know how to interpret Snape’s look of just pure hatred and anger at Dumbledore. But a lot of people have said that perhaps it’s because Dumbledore is forcing him to do what he doesn’t want to do.
Kelly: I think he really resented it.
Michael: Yeah. Absolutely.
Kat: Disgusted with the Order almost, in a way.
Kelly: That and probably a little bit with himself, that he had gotten himself into this. He had to do this action and it was his only way to redemption, but I don’t think redemption was his goal. I think he was just trying to fix things.
Kat: Well, our next comment is almost on that track. It’s from MoodyHorcrux again. Hey, two comments in one show. Good job.
Kat: The comment says,
“Snape showing up first would have definitely changed the path of the story. Draco and Dumbledore would have never had that moment together on the tower, where I seriously believe that at that moment, Draco’s eyes had began to open slightly to other possibilities for his life, and [he] didn’t want to be a Death Eater anymore. He was horrified and Dumbledore was saying there could be another way. I’m always reminded fondly of this moment they had together when I think of what Draco became after the war. If Snape had gotten there first and killed Dumbledore before Draco ever had the chance to finally do what he’s been aiming for all year, Draco would have resented Snape. He would have said that he could have done it and Snape took all the glory for himself, and I think he would become a bigger threat in Book 7. I could see Draco really craving for another opportunity to prove himself to have his moment. Maybe we could have lost Draco at the end of the war trying to prove himself or doing something else Voldemort asked of him that would put him in another position that would again, most guarant[ee] his death.”
So… there are parts of this that I like that I’m not sure I agree with but I think were probable, especially the whole Draco resenting Snape part. I think that if Snape had showed up sooner – before the Death Eaters, after Draco – I’m not sure Draco would have just let him do it. I think Draco would have had a little bit more pride.
Michael: That’s probably true because Draco is definitely intimidated by the other Death Eaters trying to push him. It’s a very peer pressure situation because he doesn’t even… Fenrir Greyback, he didn’t even want there, who’s making him extra uncomfortable. And it is important that… I do agree with MoodyHorocux that it’s important for Draco to have talked to Dumbledore. But of course, that’s assuming too that Snape shows up before that talk is over.
Kat: Yeah, and that’s what I was going for when we were formulating this question last week and thinking about it. I think Draco is the person that Snape showing up first would affect the most. I do still think that Dumbledore would have died either way. I just think it’s important for Draco’s story that it happens the other way – the way it does in the book.
Caleb: Yeah, and obviously it would’ve had a much bigger… had Draco not had that character growth, for lack of a better phrasing, that would have certainly affected Narcissa’s big decision in Deathly Hallows. So everything would have been very different.
Kat: Hmm. I never thought about that – that’s true. She might not have lied. Fairly true. Well, as I mentioned, those are just two of the schools – the yes and the no camps – so head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com and definitely continue the conversation. There’s a lot of responses there, and the conversation will go on forever probably if we let it. Which we’re going to, so head over.
Michael: But for now, it’s time to put your running shoes on because we have a chase to do in Chapter 28 of Half-Blood Prince.
[Half-Blood Prince Chapter 28 intro begins]
Snape: Chapter 28.
[Sounds of footsteps in the forest and burning fire]
Snape: “Flight of the Prince.”
[Half-Blood Prince Chapter 28 intro ends]
Michael: Having blasted Dumbledore off the Astronomy Tower, Snape takes charge of the Death Eaters and leads them out of the castle. Briefly struck dumb by what he has witnessed, Harry follows in hot pursuit, dodging a small-scale battle in the corridor below as the DA, Order, and staff attempt to defend the school. Sprinting past blood and bodies, Harry gives chase across the grounds. After setting Hagrid’s hut ablaze, the Death Eaters manage to escape, but not before Snape reveals a piece of crucial information to Harry. Returning to the castle, Harry and the rest of the school discover Dumbledore’s body, but Harry alone spies and retrieves the locket, now revealed to be just that thanks to a mysterious note from RAB.
So before we get into the meat of the chapter, I did want to touch on what we on the show have been determining “the little things.” Just little things to pull out that’ll be important maybe later or things that weren’t fully explained in this chapter. Most of the little things have to do with the Death Eaters. We meet a lot of Death Eaters in these chapters, and some of them go unidentified and unnamed. But just as a reminder and confirmation, especially because I realized how confused I was about this when I took the Harry Potter Geeks Who Drink quiz, and there was a whole section on Death Eaters and I had no idea which ones were which. And there are so many names that get introduced very late in the series. So the enormous blond Death Eater who is shooting spells all over the place and is the one who causes the roof to cave in is Thorfinn Rowle. He’s the big brutish Death Eater we will see in Deathly Hallows attacking the trio at the cafe.
Michael: The brutal-faced Death Eater who Harry Stupefies is Yaxley, who will be extremely important in Deathly Hallows. He will kind of bump up to a pretty major secondary role in the Death Eater squad.
Kat: Now, are we just comparising…
Kat: Comparising? Are we just comparing descriptions between books and when they get named and when they don’t? Or how do we… where did this information come from?
Michael: I think the information comes from Deathly Hallows when Harry sees these people for the first time, and he recognizes them as…
Kat: Okay. Got it.
Michael: He references that he saw them on the top of the tower.
Michael: The other important bit is that there are two… as the quote says in the chapter, “There were two bodies there, lying facedown in pools of blood, but there was no time to investigate.” Just to confirm, those bodies are Bill and Gibbon, one of the Death Eaters. Gibbon has a bit of a poetic justice death. He’s the one who put the Dark Mark in the air.
Michael: He is later identified as the person who shot the Dark Mark up into the sky, and he ran down the stairs because he was too afraid to confront Dumbledore by himself.
Michael: So, he ends up dead and is in a pool of his own blood, as well as a little bit of Bill’s, who is not dead. Which I found very interesting when I was thinking about this, because Bill’s death, or supposed death, is a bit of a psych-out.
Michael: Which I don’t think – correct me if I’m wrong – isn’t really quite something we’ve encountered before in the Harry Potter series.
Kat: Well, except Ron with the poison.
Michael: With the poison, that’s true. Well, I guess you could stretch that to Katie Bell as well.
Kat: Sure. Yeah.
Michael: And what I thought was interesting though about that is that Rowling sets up in the previous chapter that somebody has died – not Dumbledore.
Kat: Mmm. Right.
Michael: And I don’t think she’s really ever done that before, where she sets up for a death that we actually don’t get.
Kat: Right, that’s true. Yeah, because Draco says he stepped over the body. But maybe it was one of these people.
Michael: It was, it was Bill.
Caleb: Well, yeah. Yeah, it was.
Michael: Yeah. So…
Michael: … I thought that was intersting because that’s never a tactic she’s used before, and I had wondered if she had even planned to kill Bill off at some point. She’s never said she has. But I thought that was interesting because in a way, I don’t know if it’s meant to… no good guys die except Dumbledore, and Gibbon is the only bad guy who dies. So I just thought that was interesting in terms of the choice she made because she sets us up for another death, and then she actually is kind enough not to deliver on another death in this particular book.
Kat: I mean, Jo likes things to go full circle, so I feel like she wouldn’t have killed him simply because she needs somebody to fulfill the new werewolf quota.
Michael: That’s true.
Kat: You know, full circle.
Michael: Yeah. That’s absolutely… yeah, that’s definitely a part of it. Well, and I just thought it was interesting that she decided not to do two good guy deaths, regardless of who that other person might have been, if it had been Bill or somebody else.
Caleb: It probably would’ve been also super overshadowed.
Michael: By Dumbledore?
Kat, Kelly, and Michael: Yeah.
Michael: Too much. So we’ll save that for the last book.
Caleb: Not that she has no problem with that in the next book.
[Kat, Kelly, and Michael laugh]
Caleb: But we will discuss that.
Michael: Well, and I guess the Felix Felicis really helps with that, too.
Michael: At least for most of these characters.
Kat: That’s true.
Michael: So those are the little things, just to note about the chapter. Again, there were a lot of Death Eaters that we were introduced to. Not by name though, but they will have bigger roles in the next book. Now the other thing that’s kind of a little thing but still… it’s the thing that ends the chapter, but I want to talk about it… is the locket. Because we get the full note from RAB, and RAB, as we now know, is Regulus Arcturus Black. The funny thing is I’m pretty sure everybody figured that out.
Michael: Is this the worst mystery ever in the Potter books? And why, I want to ask, is this mystery even essential? Why did she bother to do this? I have my opinions, but I want to ask you guys what you think about this.
Caleb: Do we know she intended it to be like this big mystery?
Michael: Well, it is kind of the big cliffhanger mystery, aside from… because I think we close the book out with…
Caleb: Yeah. Well, the characters consider it more toward the end of the book…
Caleb: … so I guess… yeah, she didn’t intend it.
Kat: For me, I’m bad at that stuff, and I didn’t guess it. The only reason I knew is because someone on the Internet told me.
Kat: And I feel like that’s probably a case for a lot of people because this is the book where the Internet was booming.
Kat: It was the first time that you could get spoiled online for a big Harry Potter book. And so I…
Caleb: I remember a lot of LiveJournal posts about whether Snape was good or bad.
Kat: Yeah. Exactly. And I think MuggleNet had a no spoiler thing for 72 hours, and they did that for Deathly Hallows as well. But I feel like the mystery was made bigger because of the community and the fandom that was growing, quite honestly.
Michael: Mmm. Yeah.
Kat: I think that influenced a lot.
Michael: Oh, yeah. I think that’s definitely a big deal. That’s something I think a lot of new readers may not take into account because… all of you new readers have social media at your fingertips now. And you have all seven books that you can read within a day or two, if you so desire.
Kat: I mean, every website you went on was, “Is Snape evil?”
Kat: “Is he good? Oh my God, he killed Dumbledore.” You couldn’t get away from it.
Kat: I mean, that’s still the case with Potter news, but you know…
Michael: And I think you’re right. I think a lot of people got the answer because they went online and saw it. And I think a lot of people… I actually went, like you said, to dumbledoreisnotdead.com, which is now beyondhogwarts.com. They shut down discussion, but they still kept all of their archives up, pretty much for this reason, for historical reasons, to go back and look at the discussions. And one of the… there were of course lots of discussion on R.A.B., and a lot of people pointed out that other than the people that Hermione will point out in her research in the upcoming chapters, really, Regulus is one of the few, if not only viable options. So… if you sat and ruminated on it long enough, it wasn’t exactly… I think the “A” is probably what threw people off the most, because we didn’t have Regulus’s middle name at the time. But I was also wondering what Kelly thought of this mystery as well, since this was the book… you were waiting for Book 7, so you were with…
Kelly: Yes. I think that J.K. Rowling does such a good job of just as a mystery writer, but also the fantasy writer. But I think that she put clues in the whole series, some of them that were meant to be solved by readers.
Kelly: And others, like the larger mysteries surrounding Snape and whether or not he was good or bad, I think that’s a larger mystery that wasn’t going to be able… there was no answer for that. And so that’s why that was the huge thing, but she gave you little Easter eggs throughout each of the books for you to speculate on. Think about Sirius, when everybody was wondering about what was going on with him, and we found out that he was a friend. And so I think there were clues leading up to that as well. So I think she does a really good job of sprinkling things in that she wants readers to dig deeper and find.
Michael: That’s a great point. I never even thought about that maybe there are mysteries in each Potter series that are easily solved by the time you’re done reading…
Kelly: With a little bit of digging…
Kelly: … which makes the reading a little bit more interactive. It almost feels like one of those RPG role-playing video games that you’ve got to go through and find the little letters and piece it together and see who says what to who. And so I think that’s just pure genius, another facet of her genius making the books interactive in that way.
Michael: Mhm. That’s a great way.
Kat: I can see her typing them or writing them, “Hee-hee-hee-hee…”
Kat: “Let’s see if they find this.”
Kelly: I bet she did, and I bet she found a lot of joy in that.
Kat: I hope she did. I hope that’s how it happened.
Michael: Well, and that makes sense. I guess not every puzzle needs to be super complicated. And the Snape puzzle is so fraught with different pieces that can go either way, so…
Kelly: And that is a complicated puzzle.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And then, Caleb, you had a question I saw about Regulus as well.
Caleb: So I couldn’t remember if… we might find this out later, but do we know how Regulus, going to the actual letter that Regulus left for Voldemort, how he knows about the Horcruxes? Was it just because he was in Voldemort’s inner circle? Did he find out another way? I can’t remember.
Michael: I think, from what we find out, that he was very high up in Voldemort’s inner circle… and Dumbledore, I think, mentions this. And I know we get confirmation in Hallows, but Voldemort boasts a lot.
Michael: And he can’t keep… Voldemort’s that kind of person who’s done this major thing, and he just can’t help but at least hint to you about it.
Michael: Like, “I went to the caves just a few days ago… I won’t tell you why! Don’t ask, because I’m not going to tell you!”
Michael: But I think that’s [Voldemort]’s type of boasting, and I’m sure Regulus put two and two together, it sounds like, from that.
Kat: Probably it was similar to when he did the whole “I’ve gone further than anybody along the lines of immortality.” It was probably something super vague in that sense, and then Regulus pieced it all together. That’s what I always assumed and inferred, I think.
Michael: I think… I guess the interesting thing about that question is, the books [take] a noncommittal stance on exactly how much information on Horcruxes is known to the public, or at least to even Dark wizards because when I was reading Order again last night – Charlie and I were reading the scene where Dumbledore and Voldemort confront each other in the Ministry – and Dumbledore flat out says things about “There are other ways of destroying a man…” and it’s pretty fair that he’s implying Horcruxes in that line because Dumbledore…
Michael: Yeah. Because he knows what Horcruxes are; he just doesn’t know if Voldemort has used them definitively or not.
Kat: Right, he probably already has all those books in his office, right?
Michael: I would assume so. Because they’ve been banned from the library.
Kat: Right. Oh man, that’s a good point! We never caught that before!
Michael: So how much does the wizarding world even know? How much would Regulus know about Horcruxes? Because I’m assuming, despite Voldemort bragging about them, he’s probably not going to be sitting down and discussing them with his Death Eaters. [laughs]
Kat: Around tea, yeah.
Michael: Yeah. You can’t give Voldemort a box of glazed pineapple and ask him about Horcruxes. It doesn’t work that way.
Kat: Not quite. Not quite.
Michael: So that’s something to keep in mind, is that we don’t know how much the wizarding world knows about that topic. But on a more serious note, the locket stretches over to Dumbledore. It’s fallen out of his pocket, and luckily, it was still nearby as Dumbledore took that fall. I wanted to talk a little bit about Dumbledore’s death and death as a character, actually, in this story. Listeners, I’ve mentioned here before on the show… if you have never watched the Nostalgia Chick – she’s on the website where the Nostalgia Critic hangs out – she just did a video about different cinematic incarnations of death, and she actually included death as a background player in Harry Potter and talked about death as a character. And I thought that was really interesting in terms of this discussion with Harry about how he deals with this… well, I guess would be the third or fourth major encounter with death, depending on how you view Harry’s ideas about his parents… I wanted to compare, especially Dumbledore’s, stages of grief for Dumbledore versus Sirius and even with Cedric and track how that’s changed. I wanted to see what you guys thought about how Harry’s views on death have evolved. Just from this chapter. There'[re] other things in the following chapters we’ll see as well. Kelly, you write about Edgar Allen Poe! People die in there all the time!
[Kelly and Michael laugh]
Kelly: Yeah! I think they’re all so… they seem to build on each other. I mean, I feel like Sirius was really hard-hitting because that was family. Sirius was his last link, his last possibility [of] having a father figure, a family figure, there. So that one was really personal. I think Cedric Diggory became personal. But I feel like Dumbledore seems to be the kicker. I feel like it’s the biggest death, I think, in the series, the most shocking for sure, right around there with Sirius was pretty shocking too. I didn’t see that coming. But I think Dumbledore’s death was probably inevitable, especially right before the last book, because here you’ve got Harry Potter as your title character, and again, I’m coming at this from an author’s standpoint, and you’ve got to have this last book, and Harry essentially is going to have to go it alone. I think in terms of character arcs and things, he’s going to have to face the big battle by himself because if Dumbledore is there, man, you just have Dumbledore straighten it all out. But if he’s got no one but his friends, and he doesn’t have his mentor anymore, I guess it’s a very practical reason for killing Dumbledore. But in terms of death, it just seems to be just something that follows poor Harry from page one.
Kat: Yeah, I mean, and it’s funny to think about death also surrounding Dumbledore because he’s had so much of it in his life that it’s funny that he should die at this point in Harry’s life, considering all the loss that he had at the same point. Do you know what I’m trying to say? Dumbledore died at this point in Harry’s life when Dumbledore had so much death when he was Harry’s age.
Kat: There we go. That’s better. And I think it’s a good comparison of the two because they both reacted in similar yet very different ways. Dumbledore almost went into himself and changed more in a personal way, and then Harry became a little bit more… I don’t want to say “vindictive,” but definitely determined and decided to do better for others because of everything he’s experienced, so I feel like they’re…
Michael: What an interesting comparison! Because if you stretch that to two other characters, Voldemort encountered death at this stage because he was the murderer at that age. Snape, while perhaps didn’t encounter a death at that stage, he did encounter the loss of a relationship at that age that shaped him forever. So isn’t that interesting, Kat, that your suggestion that each of these characters at this particular age went through this loss? And I’d say they all dealt with it pretty differently.
Kat: Yeah. They definitely did.
Kelly: On that, I think there’s always parallels being drawn between Harry and Dumbledore, but there are always parallels being drawn between Harry and Voldemort as well, and so I think with the way he deals with Dumbledore’s death, you see a little bit of that Slytherin streak that the Sorting Hat sort of saw in him too, I think, in his reaction to it and the moments that followed, especially in his pursuit of Snape.
Michael: Oh, absolutely. Well, and that’s, again, what I was thinking of in terms of Harry’s growth with his views on death because I was looking at the five stages of grief and comparing them here to how he goes through them because we identified that he goes through them in order as well, and he goes through them almost perfectly in order, and each stage is lingered on for a pretty long period in that book. And here, what I found, he actually seems to experience denial and bargaining in the same stage at the first point. Because he actually doesn’t think Dumbledore is dead when Dumbledore flies off the tower, and then he actually has this thought, the narration says, that if he gets Snape and Dumbledore in the same place, he can undo everything.
Caleb: But then at the same time toward the end of the chapter, he recollects to the moment of the tower, realizing he knew from the beginning that Dumbledore was dead.
Michael: Which is interesting, yeah, because then that…
Caleb: It fluctuates.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely, because that suggests there’s an element of acceptance in the first stage And he of course… I think the big thing that he goes through is anger in this chapter.
Caleb: He pursues Snape just like he pursued Bellatrix in the last book.
Michael: Absolutely. Absolutely. And his depression, I think, will definitely carry on into the last chapter, but… and in the last chapter it will be mentioned that Harry actually has the comfort of a funeral versus not having had one for Sirius. So there’s a different way to cope. The last chapter does confirm that there was no funeral for Sirius, because apparently, since you don’t have a body, you can’t possibly have a funeral in the world of Harry Potter.
Kat: Yeah. And too, I think, with Sirius, there was still such a stigma around him as a person that even if there had been a body, I’m not sure there would have been much of a funeral for him.
Michael: Yeah, because the public’s impression was still incorrect.
Kat: Yeah, because it’s… what’s Harry going to do?
[Kelly and Michael laugh]
Michael: Well, yeah. We never even get official confirmation of when Sirius’s reputation is – if it is ever – reversed in the wizarding public’s eye. And the other thing I wanted to discuss with Dumbledore’s death is this interesting approach to it. Speaking of the denial and the bargaining, there’s a very interesting aspect of believability with Dumbledore’s death. To quote the narration, Harry is hit with an “enormous and incomprehensible truth” after he sees it happen. And when he tells Hagrid, Hagrid flat out says, [as Hagrid] “Snape kill Dumbledore – don’ be stupid, Harry. Wha’s made yeh say tha’?” and Hagrid denies it all the way until he sees the body.
Kelly: And that was so heartbreaking.
Caleb: Even when he sees the body, he doesn’t even think it’s Dumbledore until he actually realizes, oh, that’s Dumbledore. He sees a body before he realizes…
Caleb and Michael: … it’s Dumbledore.
Michael: Yeah, and in the next chapter, Harry will confront lots of other characters who will initially be in shock or not believe it at first.
Kelly: I think J.K. Rowling did a good job of putting in a built-in trigger, too, for us and for Harry to believe, but because the moment he knew he was dead, the spell that was holding him had lifted. And that was another little moment that told us, goodness, it’s happened.
Kat: Oh. And poor Hagrid’s moan. Aww.
Kelly: Oh, I know. And then Fang howling at the end just… oh my gosh.
Caleb: And then no one realized this before, but we have a moment of Harry and Hagrid out almost to the forest, but just on the grounds here together at the end, this conclusion of this big battle, and we’ll have the same thing happen in the next book. Obviously, the circumstances will be different, but it will just be Harry and Hagrid out in the forest after the big battle. Not… well, before the final battle, but after the big battle inside the school.
Michael: Yeah, that seems to be a motif that Rowling has going on. She stresses it a lot more in Hallows for the poetic idea of Harry being carried out of the forest by Hagrid, just as he was carried out of the rubble.
Michael: But yeah, it’s present here, too. And of course, as well, Hagrid will carry Dumbledore’s body during the funeral in the next chapter.
Kat: Aww, Hagrid, I just remember when the odds came out from the bookie for Deathly Hallows and everybody was like, “There’s no way she’s going to kill Hagrid, because if you did, basically the entire world would hate you.”
Kat: I remember that.
Michael: Yeah, that was the big one. Hagrid was definitely…
Kat: It was.
Michael: And what’s interesting with this enormity of Dumbledore’s death at this believability issue is that, as MoodyHorcrux said in their comment that we used, they felt that Rowling’s writing definitively says, Dumbledore’s dead. No chance of him coming back. But I felt like all of this enormity and believability almost was the fuel for why people thought he wasn’t. What do you guys think?
Kelly: I can totally see that.
Caleb: Yeah, I think a lot of authors do use that tactic, so it’s not irrational to think that way.
Michael: And of course, the association… which Rowling later pointed out and was her way of confirming that he wasn’t coming back, she did say in, I believe, one of her interviews during a live reading that Dumbledore was not going to pull a Gandalf.
Caleb: Yeah. Well, any Lord of the Rings fan who’s reading this, as I was, knows this almost mirrors… well, shouldn’t say “mirrors,” but it’s pretty close to what happens to Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Gets struck down, obviously by not a frenemy or whatever you want to call Snape, but a huge fire demon, totally battling it out, and then it happens. But it’s also different, right? Because in Lord of the Rings, it’s early in the series, and there’s still time for a lot of things to change. And this is at the end of the series, where Harry is at a really pivotal point. So it’s me being a huge Lord of the Rings nerd reading this. I couldn’t even… despite the physical similarities of the moment, never made me think… I knew he was dead from the beginning.
Michael: Yeah. Well, and I guess, too, when you reflect on Rowling’s views on death that have been so permeated through the series, that’s not really something she would ever do, so it would be disrespectful to her own ideas about death. But of course…
Caleb: And we also know that writing Dumbledore’s death or… she’s talked about this before, I think, in a video interview about losing her mom and on how difficult that was and how it was really difficult to lose Dumbledore. So just to footnote what you just said.
Kat: Which is funny, because as much as she lost him, she didn’t lose him.
Kelly: He does come back for a discussion. So in a way, he sort of does pull a Gandalf.
Kat: But here’s the thing. Jo has said that Dumbledore is her, and she is Dumbledore. So as much as she has killed him, does she ever really lose him? Personally.
Caleb: Well, I think no, and I think that’s her as a writer. She’s always putting her personal experiences, struggles in life, in her writing, and I think that’s just… losing people close to you, you hold on to them, and I think that’s what she’s doing here with Dumbledore.
Kat: Yeah. I mean, this would be a good question for Kelly. As a writer, do you feel like when you kill a character, do you feel like you’ve lost that person from who you are?
Kelly: I think it can be a very emotional thing. Actually, in the original draft of my last book that I just wrote, I did kill a major character, and I decided not to kill that person in the revision, and it was a huge revision. But it was difficult. I remember reading an interview, or maybe listening to an interview, with J.K. Rowling that after she had written the chapter where she had killed Sirius, she was speaking to, I think, her husband and started crying. She was like, “Well I’ve done it. I’ve killed him.” And I think it is a huge part of you, and I’m sure ending the whole series, this whole seven-book series, was almost like a death to her. So it’s no surprise to me that Dumbledore would have been killed so close to the ending, and so I think maybe that was her way of also preparing herself for the last book.
Kat: So if… let’s pretend that you had killed off that character, you would still feel like they’re with you in some way.
Kat: Even though you killed them in the series, they’re still a big part of you.
Kelly: Yeah, they’re still always going to be a part of me, and this character known for their dialogue… I mean, I’ll sometimes hear that character in my mind say things and make me laugh. So I think you always have your characters with you. I mean, think about Jo today. I’m sure she carries everybody from Harry Potter with her. I mean, they’re just a part of you. It’s difficult to kill them because…it’s harder on you, I think, as a writer knowing that your readers are going to feel pain. But there’s also a little bit of a ha-ha-ha, I killed a character. I will admit to that. There’s a little bit of that.
Kat: Oh, I bet George R. Martin has…
Kelly: Oh, yeah. [laughs]
Michael: Well, in terms of something like Harry Potter where the impact on pop culture is so enormous – weird comparison that I was thinking of right now, but everybody knows, at least in the film canon that say an iconic film character like Darth Vader, is dead. But he’s not dead in the eyes of pop culture. He’s at Disneyland everyday. [laughs]
Kat: True. [laughs]
Michael: And the same way we see Dumbledore’s in the park. He’s in the ride. He’s still there. He’s alive and Harry’s still eternally stuck in that school age that we can go back and live forever. And the books are still that way too. You can go back and read the book and Dumbledore can be alive again. And even in Deathly Hallows, what’s so interesting about him coming back is that he implies that it’s Harry’s choice to decide whether he’s taking to Dumbledore or not, or if Dumbledore’s a…
Kelly: I love that.
Michael: …. weird manifestation of his subconscious or whatever.
Kelly: And then to have Dumbledore reappear, I think, helped to give the audience a little bit of closure regarding his death.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. It’s fun to get all the final answers that we’ve been looking for from him in a way that…
Kelly: And that final scene helps solidify him as an eternal person for all of us.
Kelly: It helps him to live on.
Michael: Absolutely. In a way that does not betray his death in Book 6.
Michael: But in the heat of the moment, Harry is very, very angry at Snape. And without much thoughts, decides to try and take revenge on him. Harry attempt to use the Unforgivables on Snape. He tries to use Crucio on him a few times.
Kelly: I know.
Caleb: Which he’s been successful with in the past, so it’s not totally unreal…
Michael: Well, that’s something I wanted to ask. Would it have worked if he had been able to actually fully cast it on Snape?
Kelly: Yeah, I think it would’ve. I think he was angry, and there’s that Slytherin streak. He’s angry and I think he was just full of rage. I mean, Snape – the way he sees it – Snape took away his last bit of family. I guess Dumbledore is Harry’s last bit of true family if you think about it that way.
Kat: Is this righteous anger, though, that Harry’s feeling right now? I mean, I’m not so sure. I mean, I think it might’ve done almost exactly what it did to Bellatrix, where it knocked her over and she giggled about it. I’m not sure.
Caleb: But there’s also the problem with he doesn’t have that relationship with Bellatrix, where here, he’s regardless of what has happened along the way, he has hated Snape since day one.
Kat: Mhm, that’s true.
Michael: That’s interesting…
Kelly: Mhm. There’s history.
Caleb: So there’s a lot of animosity built up there.
Michael: That’s interesting that that lifelong hatred might fuel a more pure dark anger towards Snape. That could make the curse work.
Caleb: Right, because it’s also blind anger, right, in some ways. He wouldn’t see the rational side of people explaining to him how Snape is good – understandably so in some cases. But yeah, it’s a very wild kind of anger. I think it may have worked better than it did on Bellatrix.
Michael: And I guess too that kind of ties in with what we were discussing about the maturity level of Harry’s growth with his relationship to death. His immediate need is to take revenge, which is something I think he’ll eventually grow out of…
Michael: … because it doesn’t seem to work out very well for him, which leads perfectly into Snape, who is still a big topic of discussion here. He’ll be gone soon for you listeners who are tired of him. He’ll be gone for a little bit and we’ll have a break from Snape. But Snape does a lot of interesting things and I would say, next to some of the stuff in “The Prince’s Tale” and later in Deathly Hallows this has to be one of his most interesting moments. He doesn’t say a lot, but what he does do and say is very fascinating. First of all, Snape almost completely takes the role of the leader in this chapter. We’ve never really seen this before, which I thought was interesting to see in action because Snape has always… he’s always perhaps craved… we get the sense from Harry that he’s craved leadership and that he definitely wants more than he has, but throughout the series, he’s been pretty content to sit back and do as Dumbledore tells him, or as Voldemort tells him. Do you think Snape’s… do you think there’s at least a little part of Snape that is relishing in this, maybe?
Kelly: I do not.
Michael: Why not?
Kelly: I feel like… I mean, we get that look of rage against Harry and that look of rage against Dumbledore. He’s doing this thing he doesn’t want to do, and maybe he’s been really focused on having a role of authority. But he gets it at a very large cost.
Michael: That’s true.
Kelly: So I think at this point, he’s in solider mode. I think he’s [like], “I’ve got to carry out what I said I was going to do.”
Caleb: Yeah, I would agree. I think there’s also just so many things he’s too focused on. He’s focused on this pact, agreement he had with Dumbledore, and he just carried out the most dreadful part of it, but he still has to push it forward. He has to… he’s keeping in mind that he saving face with the other Death Eaters there. And he’s also very concerned about getting Draco out of there.
Kelly: Mhm. Yeah.
Kat: I think there’s too many things on his agenda to really be… and like Kelly said, we see that visceral anger that comes when Harry calls him a coward or when Harry’s using his own spells that I don’t think there’s any room for him to be relishing it.
Kelly: He’s sacrificing absolutely everything, which is not clear to us as readers as this point, but it’s clear to Snape, and then to have Harry blast him and say you’re a coward, and that’s coming from the son of James Potter, that’s a lot for Snape to handle in that moment.
Michael: Absolutely, which goes into our… I wanted to definitely highlight that, the fact that Harry can call Snape a coward twice and the second time he does it, he gets a reaction from Snape that he’s never seen before.
Kelly: We haven’t seen it before either. It’s the most emotional I think Snape has been.
Michael: … he’s kind of grabbing at himself, and he’s tormented, and as Harry puts it, he’s losing control of himself. Let’s see, it says, “His face was suddenly demented and human, as though he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning house behind them.”
Caleb: Yeah, you can only hold that stuff in for so long.
Kelly: And we didn’t get it in the movie, and I missed it so much. And I feel like if there’s one thing that is really telling in this moment about who Snape is as a person – if there’s one huge clue as to what’s really going on with him, this was it. That emotional reaction should have told me that he was good and that he had just done something that he despised. Because he was being called a coward for doing probably the bravest thing he’s ever done.
Caleb and Kat: Yeah.
Kat: I definitely… this for me, as somebody who – great character, terrible man – I feel like this is one of my favorite Snape moments. He’s just the most real he will ever be in the whole series, in this moment. It gets me every time. I love it, it’s a great line.
Caleb: It would have just… it’s such a selling us short to have not seen Alan Rickman deliver that performance too.
Kelly: [gasps] I know!
Caleb: [laughs] God.
Kat: I know. Terrible.
Michael: It’s okay, he’ll get his moment in Part 2.
[Kelly and Michael laugh]
Michael: He’ll get his time to shine. One of the few good things about Part 2, in my opinion. And interestingly, the movie did choose to cut that out, but it does choose to leave in [laughs] he reveal that Snape is the half-blood prince! Umm, who cares! [laughs]
Kat: I mean, it’s such an anti-climax. It’s the name of the book, you know, it’s – ugh. It’s so disappointing. The biggest let down for me.
Michael: I loved – you know, because I actually feel that there is – I love saying who cares. Because a lot of people… I think that is the immediate reaction. Especially when you look at the movie.
Kat: Ugh. Terrible.
Michael: Because it has no relevance to the movie.
Kat: No. None whatsoever. They should have changed the name.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Kat: That’s how irrelevant it was.
Michael: They should have changed the identity of the Half-Blood Prince for the movie. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: But there does seem to be some relevance to this in the book… I was wondering – I don’t want to force it on you guys if you guys have any ideas perhaps – because this is the big question. This is the thing. If you ordered this book off of Amazon.com you got it on a box, with the side that says, “Who is the Half-Blood Prince?” It was probably one of the most successful of the Potter marketing campaigns, next to Hallows. It was the big question about this book. So what… is there a purpose? What is the purpose to you guys?
Caleb: I mean, I always… it definitely didn’t play out the way I thought it would and that’s probably true for almost every reader trying to figure out who it was. But I always appreciated the way Jo… I thought it was pretty crafty the way it was revealed. This very intense moment, you’re coming off of this devastating death of Dumbledore. This very visceral anger from Snape that we’ve never seen before. And then this comes about it, and it’s just like “What?” It’s been the focus of so much in the book, I mean obviously a much lower key thing with “Who was the owner of the book?” It was the focus of Harry and Hermione’s disagreements so often in the book. And it brings you back to what was really going on in the book for so long. I don’t know, it unsettled me and that’s why I appreciated the way Jo wrote it.
Michael: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. I think it’s no less… even though the mystery for many was underwhelming… the resolution; it’s no less well crafted than the other Potter books.
Michael: Because the Half-Blood Prince storyline is the MacGuffin storyline. Those of you who don’t know what a MacGuffin is, it’s the thing that everybody’s chasing for, chasing after, wondering about, focusing on in the plot that is actually not the main point of the plot. It’s the thing that the characters seek, but maybe what they learn along the way is actually more important than the MacGuffin itself. If you ever watch a Hitchcock movie, pretty much everything the characters go after in a Hitchcock movie is a MacGuffin. [laughs] Almost all of the Harry Potter books are titled after the MacGuffin. Deathly Hallows is a bit more shaky than the rest, and Chamber of Secrets. I don’t know. Kelly, as a writer, what are your thoughts in terms of how this reveal affects the series?
Kelly: Well, I thought it was a great reveal. But I think it was a little underwhelming. Only because we’re so punch drunk by everything else. [laughs]
Kelly: We just lost Dumbledore and we just don’t know what’s going on… and Draco’s part in this… and you’re sort of just going back through the pages, like “Well, what? The half-blood prince, who cares?” That’s the reason we’re like “who cares”. It’s because it’s no longer a big deal. What’s a big deal has just happened.
Michael: That’s interesting. Because that makes me reflect on my underwhelming reaction to the reveal of the prophecies point in Order of the Phoenix…
Michael: … because Sirius has just died and I could have cared less about what the prophecy revealed. Because I think, as a reader, we all know that Harry is going to have to confront Voldemort. It’s almost like it’s narratively… it just has to be said for the characters to understand that. And it’s not the reveal of everything, I think Half-Blood Prince is more the reveal of everything than Order does, honestly. But that’s interesting that we’re too overwhelmed by all these absolutely shocking plot points that have happened just prior.
Kelly: And I think it’s also a great reveal, because it happens close to the end of the book. So by the time you close it – by the time you have absorbed all that’s happened – you can think back to what was written in that diary, and the person. What can be said about the person. And then Snape and Draco and the bathroom you start to realize “Oh, that was Snape’s spell.” And so things start to come together after the fact…
Kelly: … inside your brain. And so, I think it was a good place for it to happen.
Michael: Yeah, I… the value for me comes from – and, again, this is not ruminated on in the movie at all and it’s given a little time in upcoming chapters – Harry reflects on the fact that it was Snape who was the Half-Blood Prince and what that means to him. And there’s a moment where he recalls “Well, I did consider this writer a friend for a time.”
Kelly: Yeah, that’s very interesting.
Michael: And I think that even though, again, the Half-Blood Prince reveal might seem kind of “who cares” to a lot of readers, I think in a way it’s subconsciously adding to your “Is Snape good or bad”?
Kelly: I think so too. Because the diary made him a little bit more relatable than we’d previously seen through his actions.
Kat: Especially with how much Harry learns from it, and takes from it and really reveres it.
Caleb: And it’s all Harry. It’s totally Harry’s actions that’s humanized in that. Because otherwise, it’s just Snape’s words on a piece of paper, right? There’s no…
Caleb: … personality there. It’s Harry bringing to life this aspect of Snape that we don’t know and was him until now.
Michael: Yeah, which is very important because we will – until perhaps the end of the series – we won’t ever see Harry look at Snape that way, throughout the books.
Michael: That’s the only time, in the books before Hallows, where Harry sees Snape in a completely sympathetic way. He doesn’t even really fully sympathize him when he sees the memory in Order of the Phoenix. Because he finds comfort in Lupin and Sirius’s words to the contrary of what he saw. Which is also another interesting thing to mention, that Snape does throw out that Harry is using the book – the spells in the book – the exact same way James did. He’s trying to use them against Snape.
Kat: He’s teaching… Snape is teaching Harry right until the very end.
Kelly: Yeah, it’s just… absolutely.
Kat: It’s a great moment.
Michael: Yes. And I pulled out that quote from Snape, when Harry is throwing spells at him. Harry tries pretty much every spell in his arsenal on Snape, and eventually Snape says, “Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!” And like you said, Kat, this isn’t necessarily completely a taunt; it’s a lesson, isn’t it?
Kat: Mhm. Very much.
Kelly: I agree.
Michael: He is saying that Harry is going to need this stuff if he wants to succeed in the task that Dumbledore has set for him.
Kelly: It’s also a huge clue, I think. And if there’s anything telling people who Snape really is, this is another huge clue. And now that I read it, after I reread the chapter, I’m like, “Oh, it’s so obvious!”
Kelly: But it wasn’t obvious at the same time because I remember being crushed. I remember being like, “No, he can’t be bad!”
Michael: [laughs] Yeah, absolutely.
Kat: You and twelve million other people.
Michael: Well, and that’s why I think, again, the Half-Blood Prince reveal is so integral to this because… and really, when you look at it that way, I think for those of us who were disappointed, that might bring back Kat’s famous OGM – Obligatory Genius Moment – how she put this all together for the first-time readers to really leave this book deciding what side they were going to take before Deathly Hallows, but with enough evidence to go both ways.
Michael: Which was just, I think, very impressive on Rowling’s part.
Kat: As much as I do think that it was brilliant, and definitely planned very well, it just never really struck me as super great until, I guess, now. I mean, I always knew it was a good moment, I just… it never felt quite right to me.
Michael: Well, and it’s interesting how it is pieced together, I think, in a way that nobody expected, when that question came out of, “Who is the Half-Blood Prince?” I think everybody did just assume, “Oh, wizarding royalty!” And some people even thought maybe it’s a character we haven’t met yet. A lot of people wanted it to be a nice character and not a bad guy. [laughs]
Kelly: Well, it was a nice character.
Kat: I think that’s debatable.
Michael: A character who did good things and bad things. [laughs]
Kat: For questionable reasons every time.
Michael: Yes. Well, maybe that is… I think there were people who went into it having an idea of who they wanted the Half-Blood Prince to be, and I think it was surprising. I don’t think a lot of people guessed it was Snape before the book came out.
Caleb: One friend actually joked to me, right before the book came out, that it would be Snape. Totally joking.
Caleb: Just as a random name-throwing. I didn’t think it would happen at all, and then sure enough.
Michael: Lo and behold. Well, that… wow. That friend deserves that shout-out because… wow. [laughs]
Michael: I unfortunately made a joke similar for Deathly Hallows that came true in a much worse way. During my Deathly Hallows party I facetiously said to my friends, “She wouldn’t kill off Fred and George! That would be taboo to kill off one of the twins!”
Michael: And woopsy-daisy. [laughs]
Kat: It’s your fault!
Michael: It’s all my fault! [laughs] All the deaths are my fault. I joked about them or said something facetious. But then, after Snape and Harry have their confrontation, Snape manages to escape just past the gates after being chased out by Buckbeak, who again, I had mentioned early on was going to have his little moment at the end of the story.
Michael: So he gets his little cameo and it’s pretty important. And now, the thing that I just wanted to end the chapter on… because everybody loves to harp on it, and I just had to give a little harping room. I’m sure there will be more during the actual film watch, but it’s worth citing here in terms of its impact, and a lot of people had strong feelings about this one: The cutting of the battle from the movie. This fantastic little battle that takes place completely got omitted. Feelings on that?
Caleb: I remember when it first came out I was pretty upset, but now being so far after the fact… I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I definitely, obviously would prefer it, but I’m not as upset about it certainly as some other choices that were made as I was at the time. Because I feel like maybe the most important things are still there? I don’t know.
Michael: Sans any reflection on the Half-Blood Prince’s meaning; that’s not there at all, apparently. [laughs]
Caleb: Right. But that’s part of the setup throughout the movie, right?
Kat: I understand why they cut it. They didn’t want it to be repetitive, fine, whatever, whatever. But if you’re going to cut that, give me all the memories.
Kat: All right, don’t get me started. We won’t go there.
Michael: We’ll get to that later. But I just… because I did think that it was an interesting choice because the producers and directors made it very clear, like you said, Kat, that they didn’t want to have a pre-Battle of Hogwarts, I guess. And to me, it does make sense in terms of the cinematic narrative, but at the same time… I think we really pointed this out in Order of the Phoenix that we don’t see that much exciting, grand magic in the Harry Potter films. I think a lot of us realized during Voldemort and Dumbledore’s battle in the fifth movie, that we were like, “Wow, this is the first time we see magic being used in an awesome way!”
[Caleb and Kelly laugh]
Kat: Well, the thing is, there’s not a whole lot of grandiose magic in the books.
Michael: In the books! In the books.
Kat: There’s just really not.
Michael: No, that’s very true. I think there’s an element of… in the end, I think Rowling is teaching us that magic doesn’t really solve all problems.
Michael: And Harry even says that big bangs and smoke are actually not real magic; that’s just pretty magic. But in terms of a movie, it just seems like cutting out a battle scene, as far as excitement goes… I know a lot of people cited that as a mistake.
Kelly: I think if they would’ve played up the last moments and brought Buckbeak in; I don’t think they brought him into the movie… and Snape, I think, just pretty much walks away.
Michael: Yes, he does.
Kelly: Yeah, if they had given Snape that moment, and Hagrid… I think they catch the hut on fire, that’s there, but all the other extra stuff… that moment between the two of them, I think, is one of the major climaxes of the book, and it just didn’t happen. So I think maybe that’s the conflict that we’re looking for. And I probably would have been okay without the battle if we’d gotten at least that.
Caleb: Totally agree.
Michael: No, yeah, the idea that nobody is really… Harry is chasing Snape, but there’s really no, “Oh my God, what’s going on?” tension from any other characters in conflict with Snape. Which, Kat, I know you had mentioned, too, why none of the other characters even bother to chase after Snape.
Caleb: Oh yeah, I think I had written that in.
Michael: Oh, you wrote that in, Caleb. Yeah. [laughs] I know that the characters later confirm why, but…
Caleb: Do they? I can’t remember.
Michael: Yeah, Tonks says, “Well, we just let him go because we thought he was saving Malfoy.” [laughs]
Caleb: Oh, that’s right.
[Kat and Kelly laugh]
Kat: That’s right. Oh, lord.
Michael: “We thought they were trying to escape from the Death Eaters. Oopsy-daisy.” You would think they would have figured it out when Harry went chasing after them!
Michael: Apparently not.
Kat: Oh, well.
Michael: So yes, we leave the chapter with the reflection on the locket and the trouble that it has caused, and maybe it wasn’t even worth it. We’ll find out as the chapters go on, but for now we are complete with “The Flight of the Prince,” Chapter 28 of Half-Blood Prince. And we now know who is the Half-Blood Prince!
Kat: We only have two to go. Two chapters.
Michael: Oh my goodness. And then it’s time for Deathly Hallows.
Kat: [sighs] Oh, boy.
Kat: Okay. But before we jump that far, let’s get into this week’s Podcast Question of the Week. So the topic of the moment, even though it occurred last chapter, is the death of Dumbledore. Everything that happens in this chapter is because of that moment and everything leading up to it. So we wanted to talk about that a little bit.
So obviously, the death of Dumbledore in the last chapter shook all of the readers, mostly with its unexpected timing, but it also affected a lot of the characters in the novel who assumed Dumbledore was untouchable. And we see quite a few reactions, including that of Harry, and as we discussed, he goes through anger and denial and bargaining. And then Hagrid, who, obviously, denial and sadness. And even poor Fang howls into the night. That moment always… it’s touching. Anyway, so with this big emotional moment, who do we believe feels it more? Is it Harry? Is it Hagrid? Is it somebody else? And whose course in life does it alter more dramatically? Who does it affect in the long run?
We’re really interested to hear what you guys think about that. As usual, head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com and share your theories. Or send us an audioBoom and we might read your thoughts on the show next week.
Michael: And we want to of course thank our wonderful author guest Kelly for being on the show today. Now, before… Kelly, we have the listeners; we can direct them to your website and whatnot and tell them more about your books. I do want to ask – because I love asking the authors and writers who come on this show this question – if and how Rowling has had any influence on the writing that you do or if you had been inspired by anything in particular from her writing.
Kelly: Oh my God! She’s an insane… just a wonderful influence on my… I mean, I don’t think I would be a writer if it wasn’t for her. I decided to become a writer and to pursue writing, which I’d always been doing, but I decided to try to pursue it as a career during the time that I was reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I just thought, “I want to do this. I want to create magic like she does.” And so she’s my hero.
Michael: Aww, that’s wonderful to hear. [laughs] That’s something we hear a lot from, actually, the authors, so that’s good to hear from you, too. And just again, tell us a little bit more about the series that you do, the books you’re writing, and where the listeners can find you, perhaps, online and where they can find your books.
Kelly: Sure! I’ve just finished a trilogy; the last one is called Oblivion. It comes out two weeks from today, the time we’re actually recording. So it’ll be out on the 28 of July. And the first book is Nevermore and the whole series is about a goth and a cheerleader that get paired up to do a project about Edgar Allan Poe. And Poe died under really weird circumstances; he disappeared for five days before being found in a Baltimore gutter, unable to say what had happened to him. I’m saying that he left clues in his poetry and in his short stories as to what really happened to him and that he fell into that alternate plane of existence. And now Varen, my goth boy, is also a writer and he’s following down the same dark path and it’s up to Izzy, my cheerleader, to save him. And so that’s the gist of the whole series and it’s finished and so you can get all three. And you can find me on the web at www.kellycreagh.com. My last name… well, it’s K-E-L-L-Y C-R-E-A-G-H. It’s one of those funny Irish names.
Caleb: Irish for the win.
Kat: And guys, so I’ve read all the books; I got an advance copy of the third one. There’s going to be a review up on MuggleNet very soon. They are the kind of books that you can’t read at night.
[Kelly and Michael laugh]
Kat: No, seriously. Because it’s dreams and nightmares and I have had to put it down at night and say, “Okay, I’m going to read that in the morning.” Because I can’t do it.
Kelly: I take that as a huge compliment.
[Kelly and Michael laugh]
Kat: They scare the crap out of me at parts.
Kelly: Oh, I’m so glad!
Kat: But they’re really, really, really great and I’m saying that… I read a lot but I don’t read a whole lot, so… and I wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true.
Michael: That’s such a cool concept for a story.
Michael: Just idea bulb for you. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this – and I know Rowling loves her, too – but Agatha Christie also had something similar happened to her where she disappeared.
Kelly: Oh, really?
Michael: Yeah, she disappeared for a few days.
Kelly: Oh, interesting. Hmm.
Michael: There was a movie made about it and there’s actually a whole Doctor Who episode about it. [laughs]
Kelly: Wow! Oh, that’s cool.
Michael: So yeah, so maybe your characters could team up and do an Agatha Christie project.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Kelly: Yeah, that’s a good idea.
Michael: I don’t need credit for that. It’s all yours.
[Kelly and Michael laugh]
Kat: How kind of you, Michael.
Kat: But what’s your website? You have a Twitter or anything like that?
Kelly: Yeah, I’m on Twitter. It’s @kelly_creagh. And you can find me on Facebook under my full name, Kelly Creagh, and then my website is www.kellycreagh.com.
Caleb: Are you working on other stuff now that that trilogy is over? Is it hard to shift gears?
Kelly: I am working… Oblivion has been done for a while for me so it’s not been too tough to shift gears. I’ve had several projects I’ve been working on; nothing under contract, but I’m doing a little bit of a story with a certain magician named Harry Houdini.
Caleb, Kat, and Michael: Ooh!
Kelly: Yeah, he also died under very strange circumstances. So it’s been really cool to do some research on Harry. There’s actually a quote in Enshadowed, which is the second book, when one of my characters is picking a lock and Isobel says to her, to Gwen… well, she says something like, “I’m like Harry.” Gwen says, “I’m like Harry,” and Isobel says, “Potter?”
Kelly: And she goes, “No, Harry Houdini, Isobel. The king of handcuffs.” So I’ve been a fan of his so it’s been cool to explore his life and to pick up on the supernatural things that were focused in the last part of his life, too.
Caleb: Very cool. Well, good luck with that one.
Kelly: Thank you.
Caleb: And if you’d like to join us as a special guest on the show, just head over to our “Be on the Show” page at alohomora.mugglenet.com. If you have a set of simple headphones like Apple headphones, you’re all set; no fancy equipment needed. And while you’re on the main site, you can download one of our ringtones for free.
Kat: And in the meantime, if you just want to keep in touch with us, you can find us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, facebook.com/openthedumbledore, on Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast, our phone number is 206-GO-ALBUS – that’s 206-462-5287. And don’t forget, you can always leave us an audioBoom. It’s free; all you need is an Internet connection and a microphone. Head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com, click the little green button on the right-hand bar thing, and leave us a message under 60 seconds and you just might hear it on the show.
Michael: And of course we have our Alohomora! store with multiple products including themed House shirts, such as the Desk!Pig, the Mandrake Liberation Front, Minerva Is My Homegirl, and so much more to choose from. So make sure and go to the main site, alohomora.mugglenet.com, and click on the link for our store to check out our products.
Caleb: Also, make sure to check out our smartphone app that is available all around the world. Prices may vary depending on your location. It has really great things like transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and much more.
Kat: And I figured I would bring this up today since we’ve touched on it a little bit. Our Half-Blood Prince movie watch, we have a date and time. It’s going to be Saturday, August 8, starting at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. You have to have your own copy of the film and once the movie is over, about ten minutes after that, we’re going to be doing the live show. So write down the date; come and join us because I think it’s going to be a pretty interesting discussion.
Michael: We know you all ask, and no, we cannot stream the film; that is illegal. [laughs] If you want Alohomora! to finish reading Deathly Hallows, no, we cannot stream Half-Blood Prince for you. [laughs]
Kat: Yep, sorry.
Caleb: All right, and with that, that’s going to do it for this week’s episode of Alohomora! I’m Caleb Graves.
[Show music begins]
Michael: I’m Michael Harle.
Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 146 of Alohomora!
Michael: Open… the… Dumbledore.
[Show music continues]
[Audio]: Hey, Alohomora! This is Celestina Is My Homegirl. Greetings from wintery South Africa. I just wanted to say that I finally caught up with the show after months and months and months and months of not being able to listen to it. The last episode I listened to was November last year or some time. I just wanted to say it does really [feel] like coming home. I’ve had the best two days at work catching up with everything. You guys seriously are brilliant at what you do, and I just love it. So yeah, just wanted to send you some love, tell you to keep up with the good work. I’m so sad that there’s only so many episodes or chapters of Harry Potter left and that you guys make it so entertaining we’re not even going to worry too much. We’re just going to enjoy it. Yeah, so thank you and keep on keeping on being awesome. Thanks so much. Bye!