[Show music begins]
Noah Fried:: This Episode 38 of Alohomora! for July 6, 2013.
Noah: Hey, guys. I’m Noah Fried.
Rosie Morris:: I’m Rosie Morris.
Eric Scull: I’m Eric Scull. And our special guest this episode is Alyssa Feller. Hello, Alyssa.
Alyssa Feller: Hi, how are you guys?
Rosie: Very good, thank you. How are you?
Alyssa: Great, great.
Noah: I know Eric and I are getting ready to enjoy some independence.
Noah: Not so much for Rosie.
Eric: Let’s rub that in Rosie’s face, shall we?
Rosie: No, we’re just celebrating getting rid of you all.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Noah: That’s a kind of celebration but…
Noah: What about you, Alyssa?
Alyssa: Nothing too super exciting. I live in Orlando, so I might try to check out some of the fun Magic Kingdom fireworks.
Noah: Why not the Wizarding World?
Alyssa: They don’t have fireworks.
Noah: That’s a shame.
Alyssa: But I used to work at Universal [Studios Florida].
Rosie: They should. They should have… What is it? Filibuster’s Wet Launch… I can’t remember what they’re called.
Alyssa: That’d be very useful because it’s supposed to be raining all week. [laughs]
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah, okay.
Noah: You used to work at Universal [Studios Florida]?
Alyssa: Yup. I used to work at Universal [Studios Florida]. When I went in for the interview, they didn’t have any positions at Wizarding World, which was sad.
Alyssa: But I worked at Universal [Studios Florida], which is next door. I got to go there quite a lot, and it’s really great. If anyone’s never been there, definitely check it out.
Noah: Yeah, sure. I mean…
Rosie: I’ve never been. I really want to go. [laughs]
Noah: Did you hear rumors while the Wizarding World was being built? Was there any excitement?
Alyssa: Well, it was… I was working there last summer, and the rumors were pretty spot on. We all knew that it was being built, but Universal wouldn’t even admit it to us. So people would come over and be like, “Hey! So what’s that giant thing they’re building in the back where [the] Jaws [area] used to be?” And we’d just be like, “Oh gosh, I don’t know.”
Alyssa: I just went a couple weeks ago, and I checked out some of the construction on the new section. It looks really great.
Eric: Cool. I mean, if you had to guess – because you’re familiar with the main park – would you suggest that perhaps the new area’s going to be as large or larger than the Hogsmeade area in Islands of Adventure?
Alyssa: Probably a little smaller. It looks hidden even when it’s fully built, but I did get to see a bit of what looks to be the monorail track for the Hogwarts Express.
Eric: So looking forward to that. [laughs]
Alyssa: Looks very similar to what they have at Disney World, if anyone’s familiar with the monorails over there. So picture that, I guess, but with Hogwarts, which makes it so much better.
Noah: And I know in Magic Kingdom they have the monorail that goes through some of the rides. I wonder if they would do a similar thing in Universal [Studios Florida].
Alyssa: Not our [Disney theme park]. At California, I think. But here in Florida it just kind of stops in the front of the park.
Noah: Okay, maybe I’m thinking of something different. So that’s really interesting. Nice to meet you, Alyssa. So there were no comments for this episode in terms of last episode because that was our live show. Well, actually we had a live show just at this past LeakyCon. I was not there, but I hear it went well.
Eric: It went really well. It just went up on the feed very recently. It is a live recording, so some of the audio levels are a little tough at times. It just goes… it gets really loud when we’re trying to get audience feedback and really [quiet], but overall it’s worth a listen.
Noah: And was it a fun time?
Eric: Oh, a lot of fun.
Noah: That’s great.
Eric: Lot of fun. Caleb, Laura, Kat, and [I] and Ellie Darcy-Alden were there on the panel, and it was a lot of fun. We basically talked about the magic of rereading the series.
Noah: Which is very magical, and everything we do here on this podcast. And we’ll be doing it again [at] Leaky London in August, and Rosie will be joining us…
Noah: … as well.
Noah: That’s going to be a good time.
Rosie: So looking forward to that. It’s going to be the first kind of major Potter convention in the UK, so it’s going to be good.
Noah: Yep. And I’m at least anticipating some pretty great special guests but…
Rosie: We hope so.
Eric: Oh gosh.
Rosie: Not announced yet.
Eric: [laughs] LeakyCon is always pretty solid for that. I do want to thank everyone who did come out to our panel at Leaky in Portland. It was a wonderful time, and it was wonderful seeing and hearing from you all there. And looking forward to you guys in London. That’ll be a lot of fun, too.
Rosie: And thanks to everyone who was keeping me company on the Internet going, “Oh, I wish I [were] there.”
Rosie: We’ve had so many Facebook comments and Twitter comments over the last couple of weeks. We really love getting them all, and we try to respond to every single one, so do keep them coming in.
Noah: So now is it time to jump into Goblet of Fire? Is it that time? Are we ready?
Rosie: I believe it is.
Eric: Are we jumping? Is this…? No, we didn’t coordinate this. Is there a Floo thing? Is a Portkey set up? What are we doing? Are we jumping? Are we Apparating?
Noah: It would have to be a Portkey for this book.
Eric: Portkey. Yeah, of course.
Rosie: But we don’t know what they are, yet. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] Well, it’s a future… we’re just going to hold onto this mysterious boot.
Noah: I think… doesn’t Snape say something interesting in A Very Potter Musical? If he [were] a Portkey, and you just continually…? I’m not going to finish the…
Eric: That’s weird.
Noah: Yeah. [laughs]
Eric: But okay, yes. Rather than get ahead [of] ourselves, let’s start at the very beginning. Isn’t that a very good place to start?
Rosie: It is a very, very good place to start, so let’s do our first impressions of the book.
Noah: I thought we were getting into The Sound of Music just there.
Rosie: [laughs] First things first. Let’s talk about the actual size of this book because it is massive. I tweeted about the possibility of building houses out of these things because it really is kind of a brick-sized book. And thinking back on the previous three, the release of this monster was when the hype was really starting to pick up, and it was really just the perfect timing to get kids interested in reading longer books. They were hooked from the first three, and they really… they weren’t going to stop when it got to Book 4. So what did you guys think when you first saw Book 4? Can you remember?
Alyssa: I was scared.
[Eric, Noah, and Rosie laugh]
Alyssa: I think I was nine or ten, and at that time I was reading all those easy chapter book things. The Harry Potter books were the most intense things. And then I got this, and I think it took me a month to finish.
Noah: I was very intimidated, but when I started getting into the books, I felt so good just carrying them around because I felt like, “Look at me. I’m reading this huge book. I’m so smart.”
Alyssa: Oh, I still think that.
Alyssa: I’ve read a 400-page book. Can’t you? No?
Eric: Yeah. No, it definitely is a really big book, and I remember, this is the first book that I read that I owned. I borrowed the first couple from friends and stuff to read them, and then I actually recall going to the bookshop pretty much when this book was released in paperback. So it was like 2000… I could be wrong about the dates, but I got it in a box set, and I had read the other ones. But [Book] 4 was the biggest, and it was kind of intimidating size-wise, but I think the cover is still my favorite US cover. It just… Harry is very gleeful with a pot of gold, and so it just… right there, I knew that this was going to be a good book.
Rosie: It’s a very appealing cover, isn’t it, that one? Where it looks like it’s going to be fun, so you don’t get as scared as you could have done seeing the size of it.
Eric: [laughs] Yeah.
Alyssa: It looked like it was a much more mature cover. Before, it was… I think you guys were talking about it in the last book, where they just stuff everything into it. But now it was just very much like… there'[re] four characters. You don’t know [who] they are, but there'[re] some new characters in here.
Rosie: That’s true. We have no idea who they are.
Noah: Not only that, [but also] just the sheer size of this book. It really makes you feel like you’re inside it when you’re reading. You’re just so invested in the story. When you get to page 500, you’re just like… you’re inside, you know what I mean? That you can’t quite get with other books in a way.
Eric: I know I did. Yeah.
Rosie: Once you start it, there’s no way you’re going to close it and not get to the end. Yeah.
Noah: Right. Which is hard for us.
Eric: Yeah. I know our discussion’s kind of favoring the US cover, but I also have the UK book, and it is a pretty scary dragon. [laughs]
Rosie: It’s a very scary dragon. It’s brilliant. [laughs] Yeah, the…
Eric: Is it blowing fire? Or is the fire around the edges? I haven’t looked in a little while.
Rosie: I think it’s blowing fire. Hang on. [laughs] Let me have a look. It’s a very fiery cover, definitely, because it’s… the colors of it feel very hot. Yeah, it’s definitely blowing fire. The fire is just missing Harry, and you’ve got this mysterious golden egg that he’s reaching for.
Rosie: Or it’s a stone or something that we don’t know what it is, yet.
Eric: Right, right, right. Tension, tension.
Rosie: It’s so dramatic. In comparison to the others… the nice picture of the train or the interesting flying bird/horse thing, and then suddenly you’ve got a really big scary dragon, and it’s like, “Uh-oh. Okay, this one’s going to be perilous.” And the color changes reflect that as well because it’s very dark. It’s red and dark blue and black, whereas the other ones have been red and yellow or purple or blue. It’s going to be a challenge, this book. So yeah, so much happens in this book that I wasn’t sure how well it could be summarized in a synopsis. This is the section where I’m supposed to tell you what we’ve got to look forward to over the next however many weeks it’s going to take us to get through this.
Rosie: And it’s actually Independent Booksellers Week this week. So make sure you’re supporting your local independent [bookshop] if you’re going out to buy a copy of the book, if you’ve lost it or given it away for some silly reason or anything like that. But these short synopses are all from the dreaded Amazon. Sorry.
Noah: The dreaded?
Eric: The dreaded Amazon?
Rosie: They are very dreaded. You should be supporting the shops. Otherwise, they’re going out of business.
Noah: I guess they are kind of a monopoly on the book-selling market.
Rosie: Yeah. But anyway, [laughs] each one of the editions I found had a different synopsis on the site, which was quite interesting. So I’ve got the UK adult, the UK children’s, and the original US edition. And so here are the little synopses, and we’ll see how much they tell us about what’s going to happen. So this is the UK adult edition: “When the Quidditch World Cup is disrupted by Voldemort’s rampaging supporters, and the terrifying Dark Mark is resurrected, it is obvious to Harry that far from failing, Voldemort is getting stronger. The ultimate symbol to the magical world of the evil lord’s return would be if the one and only survivor of his death curse, Harry Potter, could finally be beaten. So when Harry is entered for the Triwizard Tournament, a competition between three wizarding schools to find the ultimate magician, he knows that rather than win it, he just has to get through the trials alive.”
Rosie: Which is quite a perilous description and gives a lot away about Voldemort, really.
Eric: Yeah, kind of complex sentences, too, the way it’s structured. This is – you mentioned – the UK adult’s edition.
Noah: Do you think this appeals to adults?
Eric: I just think in terms of… the sentences in the children’s and the US are just easier, I think.
Rosie: Yeah, I think it’s pitched at a level that is meant to be more mysterious and more thrilling. It’s pitched as a life-and-death situation thriller book with words like “resurrected” and “symbolism” and “ultimate magician” rather than “wizard” and all that kind of thing.
Rosie: Okay, so let’s compare that to the UK children’s edition, which… this one is from the original hardback.
Rosie: Which I think was released in 2002 maybe? It was after the first movie, which was 2001, so yeah, I think it was 2002. Anyway, “The summer holidays are dragging on, and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and there are spells to be learned, and unluckily, Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry can’t know that the atmosphere is darkening around him, and his worst enemy is preparing a fate that, it seems, will be inescapable. With characteristic wit, fast-paced humor, and marvelous emotional depth, J.K. Rowling has prove[n] herself, yet again, to be a master storyteller.”
Rosie: So there’s a lot more school emphasis in this one.
Eric: Yeah, it’s a lot more school. We’ve got Divination, Potions, summer dragging on, but uh-oh, who turned out the lights? It’s getting darker.
Noah: Yeah, but…
Rosie: It doesn’t give anything away though, which is very good.
Eric: Yeah. No, absolutely. I mean, the UK adult [edition] had the specifics, like [the] Quidditch World Cup, this, that, [and] the other thing. The UK children’s [edition] is leaving it…
Rosie: Yeah, it’s pitched at a very different level. It’s a lot less revealing and a lot more – I guess – mysterious [in] that you know you’ve got this hint of something that’s going to be dark and darkening toward the end perhaps but not necessarily as perilous as the adult edition would give.
Rosie: And then there’s the US edition which says, “Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch World Cup.” It actually didn’t say that. It say “International Quidditch Cup.” “He wants to find out about the mysterious event that’s supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal – even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.”
Eric: I think I’m going to give my crown to the US description. [laughs]
Noah: Yeah! [laughs]
Eric: But I may be biased, but I think they’ve got a few zingers in this one, like “… different can be deadly” and…
Eric: [in a British accent] … “He wants to be normal…”
Noah: I don’t know about “pernicious,” though.
Rosie: It’s a lot more spin-y, I think.
Eric: Yeah, spin-y. What was that, Noah?
Noah: Well, I don’t know about “pernicious Dursleys,” though.
Noah: I would have expected “pernicious” to be in the UK summaries, not in the American summary.
Alyssa: It’s interesting in the US edition how they make it a lot more about the Triwizard Tournament, and this is going to happen, while in the UK children’s [edition], it’s more about Voldemort. It’s almost like two totally different stories.
Noah: Well, I think in the first one maybe because they’re appealing to adults… is it possible that adults were less likely to have read the other three books leading up, and they’re trying to grab all adult readers who might just pick up this book without [having read] the others?
Noah: And therefore it talks about the story more?
Rosie: I think it was Goblet of Fire when the dark-colored picture covers were released with the adult editions. So this was the first one that actually had that… really trying to actually get to the adult audience a lot more. So pitching at a level with the threat level very high – and a very sophisticated threat – and kind of ignoring the fact that it’s a school novel…
Rosie: … would really work with that dark, dark cover and get… and, I mean again, with the size of the book, it’s more of an adult read. It looks more like an adult read, and it’s just pretending not… it’s like…
Rosie: … it’s pretending to be an adult read and a children’s read at the same time. It’s somewhere in a mysterious world where it’s just a perfect read for everyone. [laughs]
Eric: And slightly upsetting that it is the midway point as the US description points out. This is the middle book in the series. I always think of Order of the Phoenix as being the middle book just because it is the largest, and that’s the hump that you really have to get around when you’re doing a read-through is book five. So…
Eric: I think page wise, too – page count wise – if you take however many pages there are, and you cut those in half, you’re in the middle of Order of the Phoenix somewhere, but I definitely think that it’s interesting and a little bit sad by the time you get to the end of this book, and you realize there'[re] only three left.
Rosie: But it also feels like it’s the beginning of something.
Rosie: As the events at the end of the book suggest.
Rosie: It’s like something bigger is coming, and for the first time you really do have that over…
Alyssa: The last chapter in the book is “The Beginning,” so it’s the beginning of the darker things. The beginning of the middle, maybe? The beginning of the second half of the series, I guess.
Rosie: The Second War begins.
Noah: I think it really depends on where you want to draw the line: beginning, middle, end.
Eric: Well, do you think, in a way I suppose we could analyze this during the reading of the book, but do you think she’s closing one door and opening another? Do you think she’s ending his childhood and beginning his adulthood with the murder and things like that? But there aren’t…
Noah: I thought his childhood ended when Hedwig died. Spoiler alert!
Eric: No, that was when he didn’t have any ties left to his childhood. That was slightly different.
Noah: Poor Hedwig. Sorry!
[Eric and Noah laugh]
Rosie: I think Jo really likes playing with beginnings and endings and the whole “I open at the close” mystery. There’s so many things that work with that phrase, and perhaps this is another one where the close of the book is the beginning of the story, and the opening of this book is the close of Riddle’s life up to the second regeneration of Voldemort kind of thing. So yeah, there'[re] lots of different starting points that are quite interesting.
Eric: Well, in this first chapter it really feels as the book begins we get something very, very interesting, which is that the chapter takes place without Harry. We haven’t seen this for several books. It’s a very, very, very interesting way to start a book. And, we’re going to get into it a little bit more – well, obviously a lot more – detail during the show, but I wanted to mention that there’s a story I rarely tell, but it’s of the time that I picked up Goblet of Fire. This was the first Harry Potter book I ever physically touched, and it was really, really popular. I remember I was in seventh grade in school, and everybody was saying that Harry Potter was so very cool. I didn’t see it! I was like, “Oh, there’s this little wizard boy. There’s this mean old man after him. Oh, no, Dark Wizards, oh, no.” I didn’t know! I was just very, very ignorant, and I thought I’d give the Harry Potter series a try. The movies weren’t out, and this was what you had to do. You had to read. So I picked up Goblet of Fire. It just happened to be the book that was most accessible to me, and – to give the Harry Potter series a try – I read this chapter, which we’re going through on this episode. It’s the first chapter, called “The Riddle House,” and – to be perfectly honest, guys – after I finished the chapter, I put the book down and decided not to pursue Harry.
Noah: Woah! Eric! How could you?
Eric: [laughs] What a mistake, right?
Eric: It was not until at least a year later when the movie came out, and a friend of mine and his mother were going to see it, and they took me along and then I had seen… I was basically force-fed the movie. Until then, I didn’t really realize what was going on, and the reason was [that] this chapter, although I didn’t know it, is a far step from any of the other chapters, I think, that have happened so far. It takes place without Harry, and, to be honest, there’s a character named Wormtail, Voldemort is plotting, and I had no way of knowing that this wasn’t just normal occurrence for this series. So some of the little nuances and again, the small town politics about Little Hangleton and Big Hangleton and all these gossipy old people in a pub. And I was like, “I don’t get this! What is this? There’s no wizardry in here! There’s no magic in here!” So I put it down very ignorantly, but it was very… to me that’s always something that I look back on and go “Huh!” Because I almost could have gotten into Harry a full year or two sooner than I ended up doing. And this chapter, while now when we just reread it for this episode, I find it to be excellent and a brilliant way to set up the novel, the literary techniques and the effects or what Jo was going for were lost on me, and it didn’t hook me in the same way that I know that she was going for.
Rosie: I think that’s a sign of this book being a change in pace.
Rosie: The other three that we’ve already done, you can start really on any of them and get an idea of what’s happened before in that very first chapter. This one, if you[‘d] read the second chapter you’d have got that, but the first chapter – again, because of the adult editions perhaps coming out at that time – it’s designed more to perhaps grip the adult audience but also to give a breath of fresh air almost after the first three.
Rosie: We’ve had a very kind of same-y school year, blah, blah, blah, everything’s-nice-and-everything’s-sorted out-by-the-end storyline, so this one, giving you that slice of something different straight away, grips you, but it doesn’t if you haven’t read the first three.
Noah: And the other three books all start with Harry’s story, and it’s always a recap, and each is always trying to grab the reader immediately and keep them moving and keep them flowing in Harry’s story. But this one almost begins with Tom Riddle’s story – or Voldemort’s story, arguably – and maybe this is where their narrative battles split off because suddenly we’re telling two stories maybe starting here: Tom Riddle’s story and Harry’s, and…
Rosie: I think the only other time that we see something as dramatically different as this is the “The Other Minister” chapter, which is something that Jo wanted to include earlier, I think. I think she actually said that she wanted to include it in this book at one point.
Eric: Yeah, she did definitely say that, and I think, of course, by the time I read Half-Blood I was all over it, and so “The Other Minister” is one of my favorite chapters of all time. It shows how… basically the wizarding world’s policy to interact with the Muggle prime minister. Love it, love it! But similarly, if that had been the first chapter that I[‘d] ever read of any Harry Potter book, it’s possible I wouldn’t…
Rosie: You’d have gone, “What is this thing?!” [laughs]
Eric: I know, “What is this? Is this political narrative? What is this?!”
Rosie: Boring English politics! [laughs]
Eric: So we are following Frank Bryce around and stuff. This is a really good chapter for so many reasons that we’re going to get into, but I just can’t help but… I had to mention how it really turned me off at first when I just had no clue because perhaps as… all the things you guys are saying, compared to the other stories where they typically open with him at Privet Drive in bed working on schoolwork or something – maybe that’s just the third book. But it just seems to have… this is completely different.
Rosie: So why didn’t you start at the beginning? Why didn’t you pick up Book 1 first? Why did you start with Book 4?
Eric: It’s just… I remember I was in my English class, and it was just the Goblet of Fire in hardback because it had either just come out or recently come out, and it was just on the table where I was in the classroom.
Eric: And that was just what was readily available.
Rosie: [laughs] Okay.
Eric: But I just gave it a chapter because I figured, well, obviously if these books are as amazing as everyone says, I’ll be able to read a chapter and be like, “Wow, this is so awesome!” Unfortunately, that was the chapter I read.
Rosie: So always start at the beginning.
Alyssa: Yeah, I was going to say, “Even as a reader when I started reading it, I got to this chapter and still was… I mean, I kept going, but it still was very confusing.” I had no idea what was going on, especially with the Tom Riddle reference. I was just confused. I had no idea what was going on. I just ignored it, and then finally when you finish the book it wraps up again, and it makes more sense. But if I [weren]’t a reader I could understand why you would just stop there and walk away.
Rosie: I wonder how many people get confused in this chapter and just skip to the beginning of Chapter 2 where it’s more familiar.
Eric: [laughs] Standard. We’re going to get into the chapter in detail now, but first we have, of course… as a history, we read the dedication in the beginning of the book. Rosie, take it away.
Rosie: So the dedication is “To Peter Rowling, in memory of Mr. Ridley, and to Susan Sladden, who helped Harry out of his cupboard.” And this… we know, definitely, two of the people that this dedication is for. The third one, we think we know. Jo has never contradicted us, so it’s probably correct. But Peter is obviously Jo’s dad, Mr. Ridley would actually be the namesake for Ron; he is Ronald Ridley…
Rosie: … and he’s an old family friend of the Rowlings. And Susan Sladden is most likely the lady who would look after Jo’s daughter Jessica for afternoons in Edinburgh when Jo would go off and go to her now-famous coffee shop and actually write the Harry Potter books. So without these three people, very important things would not have happened, and these books would never have been written. So we thank them all as well.
Noah: Yeah, absolutely.
Eric: That was well said. This is so cool. I love the dedications. I love having the knowledge behind the dedications.
Noah: Is there any link between the dedication and the book that you can conceivably…?
Eric: Oh, you mean do you think the people she dedicated to in the first were the most important, and then by the seventh book, it’s just all the leftovers?
Noah: Yeah, I mean…
Rosie: I mentioned that last time.
Rosie: I think one thing that we do interestingly here is in the intro episode to the book and the outro episode to the book, we do the dedication in both episodes. So once we’ve gotten there, however many weeks away, do check back at the dedication that we’re talking about now and check at the end because we like to apply what we then know about the book to the dedication. So at the moment we’re giving you those ideas to keep in your head, and then, in however many weeks, we will go back to it and read it and see if it actually applied to any of the content of the book.
Noah: That would be fun from a literature analysis perspective. There’s gotta be something there.
Rosie: As a literature student, that’s what I do. [laughs]
Eric: Yes. This particular segment will have a sequel in 38 weeks, everybody.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Eric: Alyssa, you’ll have to join us then.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Eric: So without further ado, let’s actually get into Chapter 1: “The Riddle House.”
[Goblet of Fire Chapter 1 intro begins]
[Sound of creaking stairs]
Voldemort: Chapter 1.
[Sound of crackling fire]
Voldemort: “The Riddle House.” [hisses]
[Goblet of Fire Chapter 1 intro ends]
Eric: So it’s “The Riddle House.”
Eric: And I believe, as a few of us were talking on Twitter, we were sharing our favorite literary riddles [laughs] of history. But it’s a little bit of a different riddle that we’re talking about here. We are introduced to the village of Little Hangleton, and Little Hangleton is where some people live, namely the Riddles. Or “they lived,” I should say. The Riddles, and essentially this whole chapter, as we mentioned before, takes place without Harry – without Harry’s perspective – until, I guess you could argue, the very, very last sentence. So it’s a little different pace than everything else, but we’re introduced to this village and some of the people within it, including the pub, which is called the Hanged Man. So we’ve got a village called Little Hangleton, and the pub is the Hanged Man. Just very… on the surface, it just seems a little bit more grim imagery than we’re used to.
Noah: Yeah, that made me perk up while I was reading, and I rememeber back in 2000… it must have been 2007 or 2006. Help me, Eric, when the title for the book was released.
Eric: For which book?
Noah: Deathly Hallows.
Eric: Oh. Yeah, would have had to have been…
Noah: Must have been 2006, and we went on the original website and you… there was a hangman. You had to go through the door, and you just played hangman, and you could find out the title for the book gradually. So she seems to love this image, our author does. So how is this…? How do you think this is significant to this book or to the Harry Potter books?
Eric: Or to this chapter?
Noah: This chapter.
Eric: I mean, a hanged man is presumably… the noose and hanging is a form of execution, and the Riddles that we learn about in this chapter were executed by Voldemort. So there is that.
Rosie: That’s the kind of criminal side of it, but the hanged man is actually a tarot card as well, to bring it back into the mystical side.
Rosie: And it actually holds a lot of resurrection imagery. The hanged man is often seen as a martyr because he’s got a nimbus around his head, a kind of halo, and it’s often said that once the hanged man has died, has seen the mystery of death, he then gets the glorious mystery of resurrection, which, if you apply that to Voldemort, is incredibly important, and also, if you apply it to Harry in the last book, it’s incredibly important there as well. So the hanged man is an interesting figure.
Eric: I think we’ve just hit our obligatory genius moment for Jo in this episode. [laughs]
Rosie: Yeah. I wonder how many we’ll have today. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. No, executions and resurrections all in one chapter, in one little small town in Britain. Amazing.
Noah: Do you think, on some level, Frank is like a martyr, and maybe…? He’s executed. We’ll get there, but could it be in reference to him and the fact that the townspeople think he is guilty?
Rosie: Yeah, it could be. I mean, as we’re about to see, he’s been persecuted a lot throughout his life, and then ultimately, he dies for a crime that he didn’t commit necessarily.
Rosie: Because he just hangs around the house for some reason.
Eric: “Hangs around the house.” Ha!
Noah: Hangs around it.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Noah: Kind of crude imagery there, Rosie.
Rosie: Sorry. [laughs] I didn’t mean that one.
[Eric, Noah, and Rosie laugh]
Eric: But one of the things that was most misleading, I think – and Alyssa, you touched on this earlier – [was] knowing the name Tom Riddle from Chamber of Secrets, in particular, when Voldemort says, “I am Tom Marvolo Riddle” – that’s what his name spells – you wonder if at first they’re not actually talking about Voldemort, young Voldemort living with his parents in a mansion in this town. That’s not the case. But…
Rosie: Yeah, it was mine as well.
Eric: Yeah. And it’s really difficult, I guess, because it’s never explicitly stated. I was reading very carefully this chapter, and it’s really not specifically stated at all that Tom is Tom Riddle, Sr. Or that he’s anybody other than Voldemort, but the reason he can’t be is because he turns up dead. So either Voldemort is posing as this guy named Tom Riddle who is a student or something like that, or just something else very strange is going on.
Rosie: Almost as if it’s a riddle.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Noah: I think it might be, Rosie. It might be.
Rosie: I remember that the first time I read this book. I always really, really loved riddles, and I had books of riddles and things, and so because I was that kind of kid, but I remember being disappointed that there weren’t more riddles in this chapter, considering it was called “The Riddle House.” And the fact that is was a name really, really annoyed me because I wanted actual riddles I could get my teeth into it and solve.
Eric: You wanted to open the shutters on the window and have a voice shout a riddle at you.
Rosie: I wanted some kind of puzzle that I could solve. As I’ve gotten older and as I’ve read it over and over again, I realized that there are actually more subtle riddles in the story. There are questions that need solving, and there are problems that we need to answer that we won’t actually get the information to answer for books to come.
Alyssa: And what’s very interesting is you have the clues to almost solve the riddle at the end of the story. You can… if you really think about it, you could possibly, maybe come up with what’s really going on.
Rosie: Definitely, there are so many details that are so important, that we are getting right here in this very first chapter that will be used again at the end of this book and in subsequent books that this whole book… we know that Jo had difficulty writing this one, and just to have this as a finished product, it is one of the best books, in my opinion. And there is so much in there that it just is a completely different book in terms of the Harry Potter canon. The Triwizard Tournament in itself makes it very different, but the content is just so detailed and so perfect that it’s just… yeah. Obligatory genius moment all the way through.
Noah: I think it’s okay.
[Noah and Rosie laugh]
Eric: Noah is lukewarm to it. We’ll… by the end of this book, Noah, I hope to convert you because I agree with Rosie.
Noah: Really? Well, we’ll see about that.
Rosie: We’ll point out all the details to you, Noah, and by the end you’ll love it as much as we do.
Noah: I hope so.
Eric: Well, even looking at page count, this is 734 US pages, and that’s twice as long as the previous book, Prisoner of Azkaban. If I’m remembering correctly, she wrote this book in the same amount of time as she wrote each of the previous books, and that is a feat. And that is why, in fact, she had to stretch out and say no more for three years between Books 4 and 5.
Eric: Because from ’97 to 2000, this was all she did, and I find it… she said, too, that that she feels that this book could have been more polished as a result of her being rushed, but there are so many clues, the mysteries, so much grandeur. She’s introduced not just Hogwarts but [also] three schools of wizardry that we’re working with here, and the world is just so much wider from the get-go as a result of it so… well, getting back into the chapter, we are finding out about these Riddles, meaning the people named Riddle. They’re described as having been “rich, snobbish, and rude,” which is unfortunate. So essentially, this murder takes place, and people that evening are congregated in the Hangman Pub, and reading this chapter, especially this time around, I really got the sense of – we mentioned before – small town politics. This felt a little bit like The Casual Vacancy to me, which is, of course, Jo’s next book, also set in a small town in Britain, but this, to me, felt like Jo was kind of stretching those muscles because she paints a very, I guess, I would say “accurate,” a very understandable picture of how these different people, like the Riddles’ cook, will conspire and after several drinks, begin to tell these wild stories and begin gossiping about their fellow townspeople, who during the day not in a confined area they would never speak ill against.
Noah: I think that’s… the reason that we have that feeling is just because in the tone, her… Jo’s sense of Dot and some of the other characters… it just sounds like it was just so inevitable that the residents of Little Hangleton are just going to do this and want to know and just gossip at each other like it’s a problem with the culture. And it’s not directly said. It’s just sort of the way it’s written. Again, it just feels like she’s alluding that it’s inevitable, and there’s something human in that that’s not so good, which is all what The Casual Vacancy is, except that puts you a little bit more in there. So I think it’s just the writing and the tone that does that.
Eric: Now Alyssa, you had a comment about the prosecution of Frank by the townspeople?
Alyssa: Yeah, when I was reading it, it really reminded me a bit of Sirius Black being prosecuted almost without a trial. We know that Frank never gets a trial because he never is officially formally prosecuted by the police, but there’s almost a minitrial going on in the pub, and without any defense, they just simply say, “Frank did it,” and he’s never redeemed, much like Sirius. He just… in the public mind, he was guilty. No one ever spoke against him, and he was guilty until the day he died, unfortunately.
Rosie: Definitely. There’s this culture of almost… this is going to be an appropriate term but a “witch-hunt.”
Rosie: It’s that idea, isn’t it? Where there is not necessarily a lot of evidence, but there is something bad [that] has happened, [and] this person may have some connection to it. Therefore, everyone knows this thing, and it must be true. And yeah, I think both Frank and Sirius fall foul of that conception. And yeah.
Noah: And there’s something exciting in a witch-hunt.
Rosie: And there’s definitely burning on the front cover. That dragon…
Eric: There you go. [laughs] But yeah. So Frank actually, never being tried, as we say, because there is no cause of death, no discernible method by which he could have murdered these three Riddles. And this, to me, is just really cool because, as we find out later in the book, this is what the [Killing] Curse looks like. We find out about the [Killing] Curse later on in Mad-Eye Moody’s class – or you could call it “Barty Crouch’s class.” [whispers] Spoiler alert.
[Noah and Rosie laugh]
Eric: But I know I’m getting terrible at saying “spoiler alert” first.
Eric: I’m failing at that. But we learn about the [Killing] Curse later. Now, though, all we know is that the Riddles dropped dead, and nothing was wrong with them. They hadn’t been poisoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, suffocated, or as far as the doctors can tell, harmed at all. In fact, it’s even stated that the medical examiner, as if trying so very hard to find something interesting to say in their death reports, described that they had looks of terror on their faces, and that was it. That’s literally all that they have against… to state that these people were dead. They’re perfectly healthy otherwise, and I thought that was shocking.
Alyssa: Since we don’t quite know what the Killing Curse is like, at first I thought it was a basilisk. Isn’t that how everyone was found? With a look of terror on their face when they were petrified?
Rosie: Ooh, that’s true.
Eric: Yeah, that’s a good point.
Rosie: Maybe he took the snake out of Hogwarts. I mean, that’s… he was at the right age at that point to have just left Hogwarts. It could have happened. [laughs].
Eric: Right. We know that the events of his parents’ murder take place after the Chamber of Secrets events. So you think he took the Basilisk with him…?
Rosie: He could have done.
Eric: … to Little…?
Noah: No way!
Noah: Where’s he going to fit that thing?
Rosie: Or maybe he found some way to harness its power and take it with him. I don’t know. It’d be interesting if you could…
Eric: I think it’s the [Killing] Curse.
Noah: It’s probably the [Killing] Curse.
Rosie: Yeah. [laughs]
Eric: I think it’s absolutely easiest. I think it’s the [Killing] Curse.
Noah: Guys, it’s totally the [Killing] Curse.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Eric: I like that that was questioned, though. That’s why I like podcasting with you guys.
Noah: That’s what this show is about.
Eric: But no. So I guess I’m going to say [that] it’s the [Killing] Curse moving forward. But if it’s not, I’ll be shocked.
Noah: But the bodies were completely untouched, and it wasn’t like they… I mean, argument, you have the Basilisk. To have killed them that way, it would have been a similar thing. But this is… I feel like there’s going to be much more talk later in this book about how nothing happens to the body with the [Killing] Curse. So given that, she wants us to know that it was that.
Eric: But it is a riddle, as Rosie…
Eric: … expertly pointed out before, because in addition to the fact that they could not find out what killed the Riddles, there was no forced entry into the premises, and we know this as…
Eric and Rosie: Alohomora! [laughs]
Eric: And other such spells that could give the appearance of having the key. And of course, that leads to why Frank is suspected because he did in fact have a key, but it is a riddle, and very interestingly, Frank chooses to stay on the grounds and continues to be a groundskeeper right up until present day when it is said that a wealthy benefactor still pays him to look over the grounds.
Noah: You think the benefactor is Voldemort?
Eric: I think that’s what comes to mind at first, but then again, I really wonder, “Well, what kind of state would Voldemort have been in for the past thirteen years?” Because we see he’s obviously in a very diminished state in this chapter to have any form of continuing payment. Even if the guy gets… I don’t want to say “direct deposit.” It’s like 1992; I don’t know what was available, but I… wouldn’t it be one of Voldemort’s servants, do you think? Maybe Lucius Malfoy? Somebody who would…
Rosie: Yeah, I considered Malfoy a second ago, but if you think about it, if they owned the house, they wouldn’t have to keep making payments, and it’s a Muggle house rather than a wizarding one. So it’s not like the Ministry of Magic would confiscate it from Voldemort once he had died.
Alyssa: But would Voldemort even want anyone to know of his Muggle heritage? He changes his name quite early on.
Rosie: But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Because he doesn’t tell any of his supporters about his Muggle heritage. So they wouldn’t know about the house.
Eric: Oh, right.
Eric: And if he did tell them about that town at all, it would bring them closer to his Horcrux, which is hidden at the Gaunt house.
Eric: So are we to then decide as a group that the wealthy benefactor is actually just conveniently a wealthy benefactor who doesn’t want anything to do with the house?
Rosie: No, I thought it was Voldemort. [laughs]
Noah: Oh, is it because…?
Eric: To me, it’s Voldemort.
Noah: He uses it as a base later on.
Noah: I mean, we see him in there. So maybe he wants to keep it as some sort of ground that he could go to, like a property. I mean…
Rosie: It’s described as a very impressive mansion. So I mean…
Noah: He would have liked that.
Rosie: … it probably rivals the Malfoy Manor and…
Eric: And so how do you continue paying for its upkeep when you are an infant baby child thing? And how do you keep that secret away from Wormtail, who’s there with you everyday?
Rosie: He doesn’t need to keep it from Wormtail because he takes him there.
Noah: He takes him there. So maybe Wormtail knew all along. Maybe Wormtail was doing it. He was the one. While he was changing from rat to human, he was also direct depositing into Frank’s…
Eric: Yeah. But we don’t know…
Rosie: Yeah, we don’t know how long it’s been owned by the wealthy benefactor.
Eric: Yeah. No, it’s true. But before this current owner – and this is something I definitely wanted to bring up here – there were other people who tried to buy and live in the Riddle house but to no great success. The interesting thing is that, just like haunted houses, or houses that are said to be haunted, people don’t really stay there long. In fact, it’s a quote from this chapter of the book where owners said that there was “a nasty feel about the place.” So for some reason, Muggles aren’t comfortable living in this mansion, and this was surprising to me because it’s not technically a haunted house at all. It’s a site of a murder. It’s a house where people were murdered, yes. So to what extent is that the Muggles’ sixth sense kicking in, knowing that someone was murdered? Or is it more magical? Is there a more magical explanation that perhaps they’re feeling that the magical curse was performed here? And as an even further level of a question, didn’t Voldemort create – and didn’t J.K. Rowling [say] he created – a Horcrux based on the murder of his father, which occured here? So is this…? Do you think, is the Riddle manor the site of one of the Horcrux creations?
Noah: Yeah, I think the ring was. Wasn’t the ring…?
Alyssa: Was it the ring?
Noah: A Gaunt. It was the Gaunt son.
Eric: Jo did specifically answer which murders made which Horcrux. I remember that.
Noah: I’m pretty sure this was the locket.
Eric: But I mean, I guess my real question is, because of the state of these murders, the fact that there’s no blood to clean up or anything, it’s just [makes a whooshing noise] they drop. They fell dead. There shouldn’t really be any traces left that would somehow give Muggles the wrong impression.
Noah: It’s a magical imprint. It stays there after the magic has been committed.
Eric: Is it alive?
Noah: I don’t know.
Noah: It’s not alive, but Dark magic leaves traces. Dumbledore has said so. At least in the Half-Blood Prince movie.
Eric: But yeah…
Noah: I’m pretty sure in the actual books.
Eric: No, no, no, yeah. Dark… well, Dark magic does leave traces, but it seems like traces that only Dumbledore is ever able to pick up on. Harry and Dumbledore’s skill set in Book 6 is so far apart. He doesn’t know. Dumbledore begins murmuring, right? In different languages and comes up with, obviously, the boat and the rope – and this is getting way far ahead in the books, but I’m just saying – it just doesn’t seem like something you should be able to quantify. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe Muggles just, for some reason, feel bad about it.
Noah: I think it’s like a Dark magic residue that just sits in the space, that whenever anyone comes near, they just feel. “This is a nasty place. I don’t want to be here.”
Rosie: Bad things happened here.
Noah: And that could be the site of all… yeah, that happens in the real world. You just feel it. You’re like, “We’ve got to get out of here.” Maybe that is the site of some past murder or something happened. Especially if magic exists, maybe something disturbed the magical environment here because it was really dark and bad, and it just left a lasting impression. And I think a Killing Curse would certainly do that, and a Horcrux, absolutely.
Eric: So heading toward the end of this chapter, we have our hero, Frank Bryce, who gets up in the middle of the night, and actually, I feel bad for the guy because a lot of kids often come and torment him, and they’re the children of the people who are basically the children of the people who first started suspecting Frank. So he’s had a tough job here.
Noah: He’s had a pretty tough life, and then, the entire community has pretty much hated on him for years. I mean, I wouldn’t trade lives with him.
Eric: No. It is said he distrusts the police because of that incident as well. The fact that there’s so much suspicion. But he’s been living with it, and he occasionally lives with pranksters coming to the Riddle manor. So he feels that this latest instance, where he noticed lights on [on] the upper floor, is another case of kids playing pranks. So he grabs his hot water bottle – or his cane – and ends up walking up the stairs, and he overhears a conversation between Lord Voldemort and Wormtail. And this conversation, for anybody looking for clues, gives pretty much, as Alyssa was saying, a lot of plot points that are about to happen. For instance, Quidditch World Cup, the name Bertha Jorkins, who is talked about by some of the other characters that have to do with the Ministry immediately in the following chapters. And there’s little clues like “One more murder must take place,” and this, that, the other thing. And you really… it just really sets up the book because we are immediately shown what Voldemort is planning. So I thought it was interesting for Jo to take that direct approach, whereas, in the next book, it is said that Voldemort is planning, but we never ever see that except very rarely through Harry’s dreams.
Eric: So this was complete contrast to that.
Rosie: However, this is Harry seeing it through one of his dreams. So it’s actually exactly what you just described.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Eric: Although, I will…
Eric: Well, okay. Very well.
Eric: Except I’m going to argue that point in the next chapter because I don’t think it’s a dream at all.
Eric: Don’t you think by the very last sentence that it leaves it open? At least in this chapter – if we can separate this chapter from the rest of the book – couldn’t it just be coincidental? Couldn’t that just be her way of transitioning to the next character she was going to focus on? That 200 miles away, a boy called Harry Potter awoke with a start?
Rosie: No, because he remembers… I swear he remembers some of his dream.
Eric: Yeah, he does, but that’s in the next chapter.
Rosie: Oh. [laughs]
Noah: Wait, are you saying that this may not have all happened because it was a dream?
Rosie: What do you mean? That he’s making it up? Well, then…
Noah: Who’s making it up?
Rosie: What do you mean, Noah? [laughs]
Noah: What do you mean?
Eric: Oh. If it’s a dream, does Harry make it up?
Noah: Oh. He didn’t make it up. This really happened.
Rosie: Yeah. So what were you talking about? [laughs]
Noah: I thought you were saying that it didn’t happen.
Noah: That it was just a dream. Because that’s an interesting perspective.
Rosie: I’m saying that all of the… Eric was saying that all of the things that we see in the future, all of the bits that we see that Voldemort is planning, we see through Harry’s dreams and said that this was a contrasting moment of that. But it’s actually… we see this because we are actually inside Harry’s dream even though we don’t realize it at the moment.
Eric: But that whole backstory with Little Hangleton, which also takes place in this chapter… that couldn’t have been part of Harry’s dream.
Rosie: No. That is an interesting arrangement.
Noah: What if it is? What if this is all happening inside your head, Harry? That doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.
Noah: What if he dreamed this? What if he…?
Eric: You mean…?
Rosie: These… all seven books, actually, Harry… he went mad in that cupboard. I’m sorry, he’s still there.
Noah: That’s a valid theory.
Noah: And this could be yet another connection.
Eric: Oh. But I mean there has to be a point where the dream starts then. Because this whole chapter can’t be a dream.
[Noah and Rosie laugh]
Eric: But then Harry clearly remembers the next chapter that this stuff happened. So…
Noah: Just how crazy is this kid?
Eric: This kid is crazy!
[Eric, Noah, and Rosie laugh]
Noah: It was eleven years, guys. How could you not…? That’s the truth. I mean, it’s going to happen.
Rosie: It’s just an interesting use of the narrator, I think, that we don’t notice the moment where the narrator blends into the point of view of Harry. Or rather, we are an outside observer of Harry observing Voldemort.
Noah: That’s a very interesting…
Rosie: So we’re not actually seeing Harry’s dream. We are seeing our own viewpoint of Harry having a dream and of that dream itself in the real world.
Noah: We are…
Eric: It’s like we’re in a Pensieve.
Noah: It’s like we are Harry.
Rosie: A Pensieve is a good way of looking at it.
Noah: But I think the author is putting us in the perspective of Harry. If he’s having this dream, we are in the same position that he is.
Rosie: But we are from the second chapter… or the end of this chapter but not at the beginning of it. We get information that Harry doesn’t.
Eric: Right. In the beginning.
Noah: That’s true.
Eric: Huh. So one of these fun little tidbits that we find out about Voldemort during this dream sequence is that he apparently needs feeding rather often. I would say, I think it says every few hours he needs feeding.
Eric: In order to do this, he’s getting milked. Or… no. He’s getting… basically, Pettigrew is milking Nagini, and this is providing some sort of sustenance for Voldemort at this time. And I guess… again, thinking back to my seventh grade self reading this, I’m like, “What’s a Nagini? Who’s milking it? What’s going on?” Some of these questions I still haven’t answered.
Rosie: It’s a good question.
Eric: So I’m relieved. I am relieved to have this group of intelligent people with me to explain how it is that Nagini is being milked and how that could possibly provide sustenance to Voldemort.
Noah: Well, let me explain this process. Actually, I’ve come up with a diagram, Eric, to really show how it is done.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Noah: It’s quite gross. [laughs] In fact I am going to keep it for myself, but I did go onto the Wiki, and I found this little tidbit that might help us. “In 1994, Death Eater Peter Pettigrew milked the venom from Nagini’s fangs and used it along with unicorn blood to concoct a Dark potion [that] allowed Voldemort’s shattered soul to regain a rudimentary but physical form. This form is very weak, and it greatly inhibits Voldemort’s capabilities but granted him the ability to hold a wand and enough energy to perform sufficient magic until he could regain his true form. Until then, Voldemort required the potion every few hours to keep his crippled body alive, and Pettigrew had to continuously milk Nagini for the venom to keep feeding his master. It was for this reason that Voldemort refused to let Wormtail escape under the lie to find another wizard for the true rebirth ceremony, as Voldemort himself could not milk Nagini for the venom and concoct the potion.” So Eric, the potion is not only the milk, which I had first thought, but it’s actually a concoction of the unicorn blood and the venom together, with maybe a little bit of magic in there. But that’s interesting because we know unicorn blood has the effect of keeping someone alive even if they are near death, but with the venom it actually allows Voldemort to start constructing his body. And another point here that is weird is just the fact that he is in this baby form and he needs milk, and it puts Nagini in this weird maternal role. So why is Voldemort so infantilized here? And isn’t that odd and strange and rife with symbolism?
Rosie: I think it shows that he is harmless at this moment. He’s not a massive threat. He is vulnerable as well. If Harry managed to attack him at this point…
Rosie: … he is likely to be killed properly. Or rather, not properly because we don’t… we haven’t found out about the Horcruxes, yet. But it’s the fact that he is reliant on other people around him to do his dirty work. So for the rest of this story, as far as we know, Voldemort isn’t a threat. It is the people around him who are carrying out his plot that we need to look out for. It’s a riddle again.
Noah: And another weird question: Peter Pettigrew has to act as a kind of mother role here. Nagini does, too. Is there…? Does this seem strangely intimate in a way?
Eric: Well, it’s very intimate in that somebody is depending on another for survival.
Noah: Yeah, Voldemort has never opened up to anyone like this.
Eric: Well, I wouldn’t say he’s even opening up because this whole chapter he is insulting Peter.
Eric: And keeps telling him about how many more loyal servants he has than Peter. And he basically tells him, “First of all, your finding of Bertha Jorkins was an accident. It was pretty stupid to even be in a public place near wizarding officials. And second of all, you’re only with me because you’re afraid. And I realize this, and you’re not going to go off on your own because frankly, dude, I don’t trust you.” So Voldemort is just giving Peter the business, all while forcing him to milk this venom from Nagini. So it’s a crazy interesting power play, especially considering how vulnerable Voldemort is. But he still waves a wand; he’s still capable of murder. So I kind of disagree that he’s… clearly, he’s more vulnerable than he could be, but the fact that he’s got sort of a physical part of his body back, even in the slightest form, is quite intimidating. But I like how, essentially, Frank… unfortunately for Frank it’s the last thing he sees is what Voldemort actually looks like, and for Harry, it’s just a flash of green light. Or maybe it’s a green light for him, too, but he lets out a scream. He basically sees what is sitting in the chair, and the image is just so horrifying. I imagine it would be something that very visibly is just an act against nature, much like they’re talking about Horcruxes, the splitting of the soul being unnatural. I think whatever Frank would be seeing, even without having a wizarding perspective on it, it would be a monster. It would look like a monster.
Noah: And Frank doesn’t seem much like a screamer, so I don’t… it would have to be pretty awful.
Rosie: He’s a war hero.
Eric: Yeah, he’s described as getting more energy when he’s in a pitch as a result of the war, but when it comes time to look at Voldemort, it’s so hideous that he screams.
Rosie: And doesn’t that tell you something about Voldemort?
Eric: He’s ugly.
Rosie: [laughs] I’ve always imagined since reading the last book that his form in this scene is something similar to that form that we see at King’s Cross station.
Eric: Yes, I think… yeah, I think that’s definitely it. And for movie watchers, of course, it’s the little baby thing that gets dropped into the cauldron at the end of the book that I always harp back to. But what does it mean? I mean, what does the baby mean? Is it symbological because…? Or is it metaphorical because he is vulnerable like you’re saying? Is there any other meaning to it? Does everybody who is a soul and has to get a body…? Does everybody when they gain a body have to start out young like this?
Rosie: Perhaps. I think it’s more that it’s a reduction. You start off as a child, and you grow, and you become an adult, and you become greater or whatever, and to be reduced to something small and helpless again is a terrible thing. And to have done that to yourself through evil deeds would corrupt you physically as well as mentally. So I think that’s the case. He’s not some cute little toddler here. [laughs] He is a horrific thing.
Eric: Do you think he’s like a papoose baby? Do you think you could keep him in a little sock against your…?
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Oh, dear.
Eric: Do you think that’s what happens when they’re traveling through the woods?
Eric: Little Voldemort, little papoose.
Rosie: You could probably hide him in a little puffy jacket and a little wooly hat, and no one would know the difference. [laughs]
Alyssa: He could ride on the back of Wormtail as a rat with a little cowboy hat.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Wow, okay. I was not expecting this in the discussion. [laughs]
Alyssa: And I always loooked at Voldemort as being so powerful, and to see him as something so little and even this being his weak form, he can still commit mruder; he can still be terrifiyng. It’s even more terrifying when he gains his full body.
Noah: I mean, this is the… whatever this creature is, it’s the equivalent of where his soul is at, and what he needs to do throughout the book to get his body back is a sort of transformation, and it involves the bone of his father and the blood of an enemy, so in a way, taking the father’s bone, he builds a… is that like becoming an adult again? Coming of age by using different…? You know what I mean? It’s like the soul needs to grow here.
Eric: Yeah. No, I think it’s definitely a period of growth for Voldemort. I think that’s as clear as day, so perhaps the fact that he starts as an infant is simply to show that he is getting stronger, and they’re… at the end, when he’s in a full form, it’s an adult form. And if he started as an adult here, it wouldn’t have the same effect. Yeah, so anyway, there’s just a few more notes here at the end of this chapter. The first is that, as we mentioned before, they are plotting something, and Voldemort says to Wormtail that he has a plan for him. He says, “I will allow you to perform an essential task for me, one that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform.”
Noah: Ha, ha, ha.
Eric: And we had a laugh because we know that Wormtail loses his hand. Ahh!
Rosie: But we didn’t know at the time! It’s another riddle!
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Noah: Except Voldemort knew. But Voldemort must have known and was just joking to himself. Jerk.
Rosie: He always knew that he needed that hand of the faithful servant, so yeah. He knew what he was planning, and that was one of it.
Noah: So inasmuch as Voldemort was dissing Pettigrew, I think he was a very faithful servant. How many of them would milk Nagini and just basically mother him?
Rosie: Bellatrix would.
Noah: Oh, yeah. Bellatrix would.
Eric: [laughs] That’s the thing. Why doesn’t he just call Bellatrix up and…? Oh, she’s in Azkaban.
Rosie: She’s in Azkaban!
Eric: Oh, gosh!
Noah: She’s in Azkaban, Eric!
Eric: I thought I had the crux of the whole series. I thought I had something that I could pin on J.K. Rowling’s front door…
[Noah and Rosie laugh]
Eric: … and be like, “Look, why didn’t he just go to Bellatrix? Okay, she’s in Azkaban. All right, I guess that excuses her. Lucky, lucky Bellatrix!
Eric: Jo, you’re lucky. You got away. Okay. But anyway.
Noah: Yeah, she would love to do that.
Eric: Yeah. No, no, no. But he says to Frank Bryce – this is Voldemort, again – “I am not a man, Muggle. I am much, much more than a man. However, why not?” This is in response to Frank Bryce saying “Face me like a man.”: “I will face you. Wormtail, come turn my chair around.”
Noah: If you ask me, he’s less than a man. He’s a baby. And maybe Voldemort is deeply concerned about his manhood, in a way.
Eric: Do you think? Because he’s saying he’s more than a man. I realize it’s psychology. If you say you’re not something, it’s because you’re worried that you are. But I…
Noah: I mean, there’s argument that his endless pursuit of the Elder Wand is the sort of larger male psychology thing about his seeking manhood.
Eric: Well, he’s seeking infinite life and immortality. I think there’s a point where it goes past having manhood or not having manhood. Immortality… unless immortality has a gender quotient to it? If that’s a masculine thing?
Noah: I guess you’re… maybe it’s more of a human thing?
Eric: Well, yeah, transcending the realm… I think Voldemort, though, here is boasting. He’s very… this is a Voldemort that hates Muggles and thinks that pure-boods are superior and all that stuff. He’s “I’m much more than a man.”
Rosie: But he can’t turn his own chair around.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Noah: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: [as Voldemort] I will face you like a man. Wormtail, get my chair, come on.
Rosie: [laughs] It could be such an awkward comedy moment.
Alyssa: Definitely if he had wheelie chair that just spun around for him.
Rosie: Yep. Yeah.
Eric: Or he’s got a wand. Can’t he just lift his own chair and turn it around? [laughs]
Rosie: He could spin, yeah. Can you imagine Wormtail just going up behind the chair and just going [makes creaking noises]?
Rosie: It’s just so awkward.
Eric: [as Wormtail] You’re getting heavier, my lord.
Eric: Struggling with it, struggling with it. Yes. No, so my question – and we’ve talked about this – is “What is it that Frank sees?? Whatever he sees, he’s horrified about. Do we think that there’s any difference between this and what is shown in the movie at the end, when he drops the plunk into the cauldron?
Rosie: I guess it’s the same physical form because there’s no transformation happening between this point and the end of the movie or the end of… yeah, whatever we actually get to see. And I guess… I don’t know if he’d be stronger or weaker by then because he’d have been alive for almost an entire year. Just living off…
Noah: That’s a lot of snake venom.
Rosie: Yeah. And where does it…? Where are they finding the unicorns? Is there a unicorn farm that we don’t know about that they’re just getting all the blood from?
Noah: If there is, I’m not okay with
Eric: Yeah, unicorn farms. Geez. Well, no, this hasn’t been a whole year, has it? Because Wormtail only just escaped in June, and this is roughly…
Rosie: Yeah, but by the time that he’s dropped into the cauldron.
Eric: Oh, then it’s been a year. Yes, you’re right. So this would be an even more haphazard form…
Eric: … necessarily. More patchy.
Rosie: Or it’s either that he gets weaker over that year, or he gets stronger over that year. We don’t know.
Eric: That’s a good point.
Rosie: Maybe he just stays the same.
Eric: I’m thinking of Imhotep in The Mummy.
Eric: Slowly getting skin back.
Rosie: Yeah. We don’t know.
Eric: Well, that concludes our discussion for “The Riddle House,” Chapter 1 of Goblet of Fire, guys. We’re back in the game.
Noah: Yes, we are. I just imagined a lot of people cheering, but then I heard nothing.
Rosie: [laughs] Yay!
Noah: But somebody’s cheering out there, and thank you. Thank you.
Rosie: And 200 miles away, the boy called Harry Potter woke with a start.
Rosie: Ahh. [laughs]
Noah: And it was all a dream, and he was actually crazy.
[Eric and Noah laugh]
Noah: Which I think would be a very interesting panel discussion that I would love to give.
Noah: But that requires research.
Noah: Anyway, the Podcast Question of the Week.
Noah: Peter Pettigrew is remarkably… oh, I didn’t finish that sentence there. Never mind.
[Eric, Noah, and Rosie laugh]
Eric: Use your words, Noah.
Noah: I’m just going to have to use my words. Here is the Podcast Question of the Week: So guys, Peter Pettigrew in this scene is different from other times we’ve seen him. He’s mothering Voldemort. But there’s also this whole portion that you didn’t talk about so much, Eric, which is that he’s really questioning Voldemort on his motives and what he wants to do, in terms of getting Harry. I mean, we briefly talked about it, but why is Peter so set on Voldemort not choosing Harry, or he suggests taking another person? Why is he questioning Voldemort on the death of Bertha Jorkins? Has his life debt to Harry somehow begun to change his heart? Look out for Harry in some way? Has he suddenly just developed a conscience, guys? Or has Peter always been this way? Is he questioning? I just want to hear the listeners’ response to all of that, and the main question is “Do you think the life debt situation with Harry is somehow influencing his moral choices here??
Eric: Interesting question.
Rosie: [laughs] Simply, I think he just goes with whatever’s easiest, and Harry is definitely not an easy option. And that’s the excuse that he gives as well.
Alyssa: I feel like Wormtail is just so lazy. He would just grab the closest wizard and just do it that way.
Eric: But doesn’t he have a point? That “Oh, Voldemort, you could be… this could be done so much faster if we just grabbed Joe Blow out of the nearest pub.” I think…
Rosie: It’s one thing that I think StarKid has done really well, is that their whole Dark wizards and their theatricality of them – all of the dancing and everything that’s involved with them – is that Voldemort always goes for the big number. He doesn’t go for the little bit part. He wants the actual big climactic scene with the ultimate enemy. And…
Rosie: … he could have picked anyone and gotten his body back at the beginning of the year and had an entire year to build up his army again. He could have got[ten] Bellatrix out, he could have done all of these things, but he doesn’t because of Harry. And it’s all because he wants the show.
Noah: He could have just ignored Harry.
Rosie: Yeah. Mhm. He’s a victim of his own self-worth.
Eric: It ends up being one of the 734 different things that allow Harry to kill Voldemort.
Rosie: [laughs] Yep.
Eric: [laughs] The blood. The fact that he uses his blood. So everything from the gleam of triumph to spiders that dance await us in the rest of Goblet of Fire.
Rosie: So if you go over to the Alohomora! website, you may notice a few changes, hopefully, by the time this goes up, and you’ll see that there is a new design and a new layout and a new way of getting in contact with us. So you can still see the Podcast Question of the Week thread, but it will be in a slightly different way than normal, and you won’t be able to use your archive accounts anymore. You will need to use your social media or use a WordPress account, which is absolutely fine, and we love getting in contact with you, so it will be an easier way for you to get in contact with us. So make sure you get your answers in. And of course, if you would like to be on the show with us, as Alyssa is today, you can head over to the website, alohomora.muggleNet.com, or email us at alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com, and in the meantime, remember to subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes because we love reading your messages.
Eric: Other ways of getting a hold of us: You can tweet at us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at @AlohomoraMN on Twitter. We’re also on Facebook. You can come write on our wall at facebook.com/openthedumbledore, and you can call us and leave us your feedback via voicemail at 206-GO-ALBUS. That’s 206-462-5287.
Noah: And we also have a store. We have an Alohomora! show store, where you can buy host shirts with different sayings that we have said in the past. And it’s really cool, and it’s a great way to advertise the show to all your friends and to show your love for it, and I believe we just came out with a new line of handbags, am I right?
Rosie: We do. We have tote bags with all of our cast quotes on them. Eric and Laura, we really need to get yours up there sometime soon, but we also have two new designs. One of them is “Team Gambon,” and the other one is “Team Harris.” So you can support your Dumbledore now, either with a T-shirt, sweatshirt, or a tote bag.
Eric: I love these two new designs. Yes. It will be interesting to see how well they do in comparison with one another, so support your…
Rosie: Definitely. And there are little provisors on there, too. Like the Team Gambon T-shirt says “Team Gambon (Except for that scene in Goblet of Fire. That sucked.)”
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Noah: And know when I say, “Open the Dumbledore,” I’m only thinking about Richard Harris.
[Eric, Noah, and Rosie laugh]
Noah: So that should answer the question.
Eric: Yeah, we don’t want you to open the Gambon. Don’t do it.
Noah: You don’t want to go there. He’s angry. [laughs]
Eric: He’ll shake us. [as Dumbledore] Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?
Noah: Yeah, you don’t want that.
Rosie: [as Dumbedore] Did you open that door?
Rosie: [laughs] Anyway, we’ve also got our app, as usual. It’s available in the US and the U.K. for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Kindle. It’s $1.99 or 1 pound 29 pence, and there are transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more. I believe last week’s extra feature was something to do with LeakyCon, and it’s actually my week this week, so I need to decide that quickly, but it’s definitely worth getting if you have access to it, and there’s lots of extra stuff on there to enjoy.
Eric: We want to thank Alyssa for joining us on this episode. Thank you, Alyssa.
Alyssa: Thank you for having me! It was great.
Rosie: Great. Glad you’ve had fun.
Noah: And it was great to start Goblet of Fire! We did it, guys!
Noah: And are moving forward.
Eric: We’re doing it.
[Show music begins]
Noah: I’m Noah Fried.
Eric: I’m Eric Scull.
Rosie: And I’m Rosie Morris. Thank you for listening to Episode 38 of Alohomora!.
Noah: Open the Dumbledore!
[Show music continues]
Eric: Chapter 2 is called “The Scar.”
Rosie: [singing] Be prepared. [back to normal] No, that’s off.
Noah: Oh, we’ve got to keep that.
Rosie: [laughs] I don’t think I’ve ever had a blooper one myself, so yay! That can be my first-ever end-of-the-credits blooper moment.
Noah: That was a funny. That was good. Thank you, Alyssa!