[Show music begins]
Eric Scull: This is Episode 42 of Alohomora! for August 3, 2013.
[Show music continues]
Eric: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of Alohomora! I’m Eric Scull.
Michael Harle: I’m Michael Harle.
Terrance Pinkston: And I’m Terrance Pinkston. And today we have a special guest, Rukmini Girish.
Rukmini Girish: Hi, guys!
Eric: Hey! How’s it going?
Rukmini: It’s going well. Glad to be on the show.
Terrance: Yeah, thanks for coming on the episode this week.
Rukmini: Yeah, I’m really glad to be here.
Eric: So what brings you here? What do you do?
Rukmini: I am going to be a junior in college, studying creative writing and sociology. I have been a fan of the Harry Potter books since I was six, which is when my mom started reading the first one to me. And yeah, I started listening to the show pretty much from the beginning and have always been a big fan.
Eric: Very cool.
Eric: And this is quite a special episode. We were talking for a moment just before recording because Michael, Terrance, you’ve all guest-hosted on here before…
Eric: … but as it turns out, we do not have Caleb or Laura or Kat or Rosie…
Eric: … on this episode with us. This is almost entirely a guest-host podcast, which is… we’ll see how we do it, if we get asked back after this week’s episode.
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Terrance: So I think we should cut our losses now. Goodnight, everybody!
Eric: We’re carrying the torch because a number of the Alohomora! podcasters are in England, more specifically the plain of Salisbury, where they were this morning. Isn’t that right, Terrance?
Terrance: Yeah. Kat and Caleb and Alex from MuggleNet – she runs the social media outlets with me – they FaceTimed me from Stonehenge, and I was sitting there in Best Buy and I picked up the FaceTime because I knew they were somewhere in Europe, and so I picked up and they were right there. Stonehenge was in the background. It was a lot of fun to FaceTime from Stonehenge.
Eric: Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you need to FaceTime if you are… can you only FaceTime if you’re both connected to WiFi?
Terrance: That’s what I thought too, and I was… you know what I’m scared for? I’m scared for the data charges.
Eric: Oh, right!
Eric: Well, why is there WiFi at Stonehenge? That’s bothering me.
[Eric and Michael laugh]
Terrance: I don’t know.
Eric: Maybe it’s been there longer than WiFi itself.
Rukmini: It’s just part of the magic of Stonehenge.
Michael: Yeah, I like that. It’s magic.
Eric: No, that’s good. The data charges… well, the thing of it is, following these guys on social media now because they’re doing this huge European tour.
Eric: You’ll hear more about it, I believe, on next week’s episode of Alohomora!, by the way. But following these guys on social media is grueling. [laughs] I hate to say that…
Terrance: It is, it is.
Eric: … but seeing them with all of these excellent, brilliant photographs and… I have to give a shout-out to their social media because they are posting a lot of good photos. Kat has a lot of good coverage up, of just the Europe trip that they’re doing. And they went to Privet Drive and a number of other things.
Eric: But that’s the reason they can’t be [here] this week, just if any one of the regular… if any regular listeners were wondering, they are on a tour.
Terrance: Yeah, yeah. And the…
Eric: A self-driven tour across…
Terrance: They are. They’re going up through Scotland. Can you believe that? Visiting all the Harry Potter film sites out there?
Eric: I’m so jealous. Ahh!
Michael: It’s an epic precursor to LeakyCon London, right? Isn’t this a meeting of the not-going-to-Leaky London?
Michael: That was an official club we started in Portland, so…
Eric: Yes, that’s right.
Terrance: We did.
Eric: At the bus stop, right? That’s where it was christened…
Michael: Yup, yup.
Eric: … and named. We were waiting for the bus late one night. No, guys, you know what I do when I’m jealous that other people are traveling and I’m not? I bury my head into a Potter book.
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Terrance: Okay, so guys, we have a couple of comments on last week’s discussion on Alohomora!, specifically on Mischief Managed forums on Vernon remembering Molly. And AccioRain starts out by saying,
“One thing I thought about while listening to the podcast: a lot of Muggle families raise witches/wizards who don’t know about it until the child’s 11th birthday. Surely the Dursleys can’t be the only household who rejects witchcraft? What happens to the children of these parents in other cases? Normally I would like to input my own suggestion as to the theoretical outcome, but this time I have no idea!”
So, what do you guys think?
Rukmini: I would think that somebody from the Ministry would probably come and explain or persuade gently.
Terrance: Yeah, that’s the way it normally works, isn’t it?
Michael: [laughs] Gently.
Eric: Gently, meaning without wand?
Rukmini: Yeah… well, maybe at first. I don’t know.
Eric: Yeah. Well, it’s a great question, and I had to think of this while listening to last week’s chapter as well because magic, it just seems like it’s such a cool thing that anybody who is told that they’re part of a larger world would just flock to it. “Oh, this is so cool! I can do this and this and this…”
Terrance: Yeah. Yeah.
Eric: How could they ever get a single rejection? If… but then, at the same time, it’s an issue because it’s a secrecy issue. There are laws that govern the secrecy, and it’s not as simple as putting a Memory Charm on someone who is a wizard because eventually the magic comes out.
Michael: Yeah, that’s right. That would be a problem.
Terrance: Yeah, two things about this comment that I would like to have an input on. One, do you think the Ministry official or whoever goes out there… in Tom Riddle’s case, it was Dumbledore going out there to visit him. But do you think that they take Felix Felicis before they go out just to get that lucky vibe?
Eric: Gauge the scenario a little better?
Michael: I don’t think so. [laughs] That’s a great idea, but I think… doesn’t Slughorn make clear that Felix Felicis, the use of it is very regulated? It’s not recommended.
Eric: Still, if you ever need to succeed at something, it’s making sure that these parents are going to accept this new life for their children.
Eric: I wonder because it’s kind of like a little bit of a hole in the series, only because Harry found out so close to the time when he was going to enroll in Hogwarts.
Eric: His name was down “ever since he was born.” But he only really found out two or three months before school. That’s a paradigm shift. You’re thinking about going into… is it fourth grade or something? And instead, oh, you’re going to wizard school. It’s a lot to digest in a short amount of time, if they wait as long as they waited for Harry. But then again, I guess his letter came a bit earlier than his birthday. It was just a matter of Vernon and them running away from the letters. But still, you need someone there in person, I think, for sure.
Terrance: Well, do you think, that being said… with the families that reject witchcraft, do you think in order to protect that Statute of Secrecy for the magical community, that the Ministry official or whoever goes out there performs a Memory Charm on the family?
Eric: Well, we do have some more comments on the question, I think.
Eric: So let’s see if any of those answer your question, Terrance.
Terrance: IHateSpiders says – a very wonderful username, by the way…
“I don’t think that they would forcibly take the child from their parents and ship them off to Hogwarts if the parents didn’t want them to go. (Remember, Harry’s parents would have wanted him to go to Hogwarts – so everyone was willing to disregard the guardians wishes.) If this was the way things were done – Muggles would eventually figure it out (one of the Muggle-born children would eventually tell their parents), then the wizarding world would be exposed. What if you had a kid that didn’t want to go? Would they be forced to go? Not every kid wants to go to boarding school. Not every kid wants to leave home. And not every kid would be thrilled to find out that they were magical either.”
Michael: Can I just say that this sparked a pretty epic discussion in the forums? Oddly enough, a lot of people were split on this, and actually I was too when I realized that the consequence – if you cannot sway the child and/or the parents to go – is that you have a magical child who is potentially dangerous to society out there. And even if the knowledge, like we said, is erased from their memories, there’s still the potential for that magic to… especially because it’s made clear in the series that magic – unmitigated magic – is very, very dangerous.
Michael: So it has to be controlled somehow. It’s got to be taught how to control it because…
Michael: … J.K. Rowling makes clear that wands kind of channel… they’re an extension of a wizard and they channel the magic, and if you don’t have that…
Eric: Yeah. And I almost think that Voldemort, when he was young Tom Riddle, the magic that he could do without wands… and I’m not necessarily talking about talking to snakes, but in general the other magical things that he was exhibiting, the other magical behaviors, were almost deeper than you can do with a wand and learn a spell. They were kind of darker and scarier than the normal, standard-type stuff. And it’s weird that if you get a wand and you channel it and you go to school, it’s safer. But it just seems like Voldemort, for example, may have gotten even more evil a lot faster if it weren’t for school.
Michael: Well, let’s not forget he was also the heir of Salazar Slytherin.
Michael: And Slytherin really wasn’t a good wizard either.
Eric: Yeah, what’s that line in the series? “It is our blood, Harry, far more than our choices, that makes our…”
Michael: Paraphrasing a bit there, maybe.
Eric: Right, but anyway… yeah, omitting a bit about it being…
Eric: Backwards-ing it? But yes.
Terrance: Wicca, from the forums, also states that,
“I don’t think that the wishes of the parents are taken into consideration and rightfully so. I think that the children are allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to enroll at Hogwarts or not, because it’s an important decision that greatly affects their lives.”
But… okay, okay, my problem with this comment is, how can a child know that they’re ready for something of this magnitude?
Eric: I completely disagree. Of course the kid is going to be like…
Eric: “Oh, I want to go!” But it’s an 11-year-old. You don’t know what’s best for you, and this is a situation where… perhaps because the wizarding community is such a minority, as is hinted at in the series…
Eric: … that maybe there are so few Muggle-born witches and wizards a year. And when we get into talks about “How many people are in Harry’s grade? How many new wizards are there a year?” J.K. Rowling’s lack of math skills comes into play, which… self-admitted, she said, “I can’t do math.” And “How many people are there at Hogwarts?” All these questions really don’t have answers. But if it’s a small enough number of Muggle-born kids, I’m thinking in relation to the smaller population of wizards, maybe they really can. People from Hogwarts can make house calls and sit with the family and explain everything.
Terrance: Rukmini, what do you think? Do you think a child has the right to be able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to go to Hogwarts?
Rukmini: No, I don’t think so. But I think that, like you said, Dumbledore or somebody would probably go and… they would go to the kid’s house and they would try really, really hard to make the parents okay with going to Hogwarts. So, I mean, yeah…
Eric: It is boarding school. It is pretty isolated, which is the weird thing…
Eric: … is that to… even if… we, obviously, have the example of Vernon and Petunia, who want nothing to do with Harry, and I think they were going to ship him away anyway, but if you have really attentive parents that want to see their kid more than twice a year during the holidays, that might be an issue as well.
Terrance: Right, right.
Eric: Because sending them off to a boarding school that’s far, far away, you need a train to get there, could be an issue.
Michael: Yeah, there were a few people mentioned that if… some kids may not want to go to boarding school, [laughs] so…
Michael: That’s kind of an inconvenience for some. It makes sense in terms of what’s being taught. You can’t just… I don’t think you can just go to a school for magic that you can come home every afternoon. [laughs] That probably wouldn’t work out very well.
Terrance: Exactly. So another comment from the forums comes from Saiyangirl and she writes,
“We know that magical parents sometimes decide to homeschool their children or send them to a different school like Durmstrang, but non-magical parents wouldn’t be able to teach their child to channel their magic appropriately.”
As I think we were just saying.
“I imagine the Ministry would have to step in, as Muggle-born witches or wizards in that position are likely to pose a risk to the Statute of Secrecy. Would make for a very sad situation though – probably why Hogwarts sends special messengers in the first place. I wonder if these messengers are given a certain amount of freedom in using subtle bits of magic as a persuasion skill, like the ones we see Albus perform on Mrs. Cole when he goes to the orphanage to offer Tom a place at Hogwarts?”
Eric: Can we clear up my memory for me a moment? What does Dumbledore do to Mrs. Cole?
Michael: She’s really hesitant to let him see Tom because he can’t give her any credentials of who he is.
Eric: Oh, right.
Michael: So he kind of pulls like an Obi-Wan, “This is the guardian you’re looking for.” [laughs] Yeah, that’s how that goes down.
Eric: Smooth. Okay, okay.
Rukmini: He also conjures up some gin and gets her a little…
Michael: That’s right, he gets her drunk!
Michael: Because it’s Half-Blood Prince and we were almost… [unintelligible]
Eric: Maybe these messengers just get the parents of Muggle-borns drunk.
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Eric: Maybe it’s that simple.
Terrance: Well, that wouldn’t involve any magic, at least. [laughs]
Eric: Well, if we’re conjuring up liquids… which we have another problem we’ll get to later in this episode.
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Michael: Well, it’s interesting too because Saiyangirl later went on to say in her comment – she mentioned kind of what you were talking about, Eric – that the kind of magic Tom was doing was pretty dark, and Dumbledore – in a way he kind of suggests giving Tom a choice whether he can go or not…
Michael: But then in a way what he does when he talks to Tom, he doesn’t really make it a choice. Because he outs him with all of the things he’s stolen from the children.
Michael: So it’s really not a choice. He kind of makes him say, [as Dumbledore] “I’m going to get you into a lot of trouble if you don’t say yes.”
Terrance: But I don’t think that… yeah, as an adult doing that kind of psychological thing to a child, I think that Tom would have gone anyway because he was more interested in what Dumbledore could do as far as magic and he wanted to learn more.
Terrance: Things like that.
Michael: Maybe that was more to show Tom like, “If you do go to Hogwarts, no funny business.”
Terrance: Right, right.
Eric: Being strict with him.
Michael: “Or I will burn you. I will burn you.”
Terrance: “Like I burned this wardrobe!”
Michael: “This wardrobe is you.”
Eric: Oh gosh, that’s so harsh! Can you browbeat children into coming to Hogwarts?
Michael: [laughs] No!
Eric: But it’s one of the ambiguities, one of the great ambiguities, I think. Do they or don’t they have a choice? Which is obviously this whole question that we’re talking about.
Terrance: That’s like the question of the whole series – this choice.
Eric: [laughs] Do they or don’t they?
Terrance: Does everybody have a choice? But I think that’s…
Michael: I think maybe it’s that they… for Harry they send Hagrid versus Dumbledore for Tom. Maybe it depends on how much perspective…
Terrance: [as Hagrid] “Yer a wizard, Tommy.”
Michael: Maybe it depends on how much [time] they think this is going to take. I mean, they obviously send Hagrid for brute force. Because Dumbledore was probably like, [as Dumbledore] “Well, if the Dursleys resist, just beat them up!”
Eric: Think about how many doors get broken down over Britian every year…
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Eric: … because they keep sending Hagrid to do it.
Terrance: Well, yeah.
Eric: Those difficult children.
Terrance: If Hagrid breaks your door down, are you going to say no to that?
Rukmini: Do you think they spy on the Muggles beforehand just to see what kind of force or persuasion might be required?
Michael: I… oh.
Terrance: Some kind of recon or intel?
Rukmini: I think something like that.
Michael: I think that… maybe since McGonagall can turn into a cat – and she totally did that – she did it of her own accord before Dumbledore brought Harry.
Michael: But maybe they thought that was a really good idea and started doing it. [laughs]
Eric: Couldn’t that just be Harry Potter because he’s Harry Potter? We’re so spoiled.
Eric: Because everybody’s spying on young Harry, right? We just think that they could do that everywhere.
Michael: That’s true.
Eric: But I do like this idea of [laughs] Hagrid going around Dumbledore. It’s basically like Hogwarts Intimidation Squad. [laughs] People going around getting Muggle-born children to say yes.
Michael: Can you imagine how extra difficult this would be if one of the parents did not know their children were magicial and the other one was a witch or wizard and had kept the secret? And the kid was just acting weird and then that happens. [laughs] “Oh, by the way, honey, I have a secret that I’ve been keeping from you for a while.”
Eric: In McGonagall’s backstory on Pottermore, isn’t there a big issue where one of her parents was magical and the other one wasn’t?
Michael: Yeah. Yeah, her mother was magical but her father wasn’t.
Eric: But it tears the family apart.
Eric: Because the secret was kept almost, or it was kept the whole way, wasn’t it?
Michael: Yeah, it was.
Eric: Until the very bitter end. So…
Eric: Well, we’re getting away from ourselves here.
Terrance: So our next comment – dare I say our last comment – is going to be from Pigwidgeon and they state,
“On the Muggle-born kids being taken away to Hogwarts, I feel like they would almost have to be. Think about Dumbledore’s sister and what happened to her when she didn’t use her magic. It got bottled up and ended up killing her. If a child is kept from going and learning how to channel their magic they would be a huge danger to themselves and those around them.”
Eric: I like this comment and I think that the result is very similar to the conclusion we’re all making here that it’s probably best if the Muggle-born child says yes. So are we all in agreement that there’s probably not really much of a choice?
Terrance: Much… yeah, I think I would have to say so.
Michael: Yeah, I think maybe it is the situation with either a Dumbledore or a Hagrid type that they send. Dumbledore who is good at spinning his words so you can’t say no or Hagrid who is just like, [as Hagrid] “Yer going to say no?”
Eric: “I’ll break both yer legs.”
Michael: “But yer a wizard, Harry. I’ll break both yer legs and then I’ll have to take you to Hogwarts so we can fix them so everybody wins. Yay!”
Terrance: So that wraps up all the comments from this past week’s discussion and we’re going to kick it on over to Michael who has the Podcast Question of the Week responses.
Michael: Thank you so much, Terrance. So, last week’s question which was presented by Laura was in relation to picking up Harry from the Dursleys, and the question was: “How would the Weasleys picking up Harry from Privet Drive have gone differently if Molly had been sent instead of Arthur? Would they have been less afraid or offended by Molly? Would the twins have even tried their gag with the Ton Tongue Toffee in front of their mother, and would the Dursleys have reacted as rudely no matter who it was who came to pick Harry up?” Now there were a lot of responses to this. It was actually interesting because it was kind of split down the middle of people who thought it would have gone well and people who thought it would have gone badly. About a slim majority of people were saying that Molly would have handled the situation better. She would have been on time, she would have kept a watchful eye on Fred and George if she had even permitted them to go in the first place, and she would have made the whole visit as painless as possible. Although everybody – pretty much everybody – said that the Dursleys probably would have still taken jabs at her. But some of the general responses that were a little bit more specific, one was RoseLumos on the main Alohomora! site who said,
“For some reason I imagine Molly taking the Knight Bus to pick up Harry. It might cost more than Floo powder, but I think she would have seen all the problems with unknowingly hooking the Dursley’s fireplace up to the network.”
Do you think Molly would have used some other transportation to get there, Eric? Because the fireplace is the first debacle…
Eric: I think that’s a fair point to be… I’m not… I wasn’t sold on the Knight Bus until I paid a little bit more attention to what the comment was actually saying, and I think it is a more appropriate method of travel for people who clearly fear magic. It really comes down to the [Weasleys] don’t really know the aunt and uncle that well, so they couldn’t necessarily have made that problem. But I really wonder why Fred and George did even come along.
Eric: Like you said, why they were brought. That was clearly a mistake for Arthur.
Terrance: Yeah, that was a big no-no really because everywhere those two go there’s trouble that follows, especially at this time in their young lives. So I think it was… they were just begging for trouble whenever the Weasley twins were brought.
Rukmini: But why would Arthur even take them with them? I mean, “Family outing, let’s go to these Muggles!”
Michael: I like to think along those lines, Rukmini. I was just thinking that maybe Fred and George were like, [as Fred and George] “Oh Dad, we’ve never seen a Muggle house before. Wouldn’t that be fun? Yeah! That would be so fun, Dad.”
Eric: Well, they do have a purpose which is to do the brute force of loading Harry’s trunk.
Michael and Terrance: Yeah.
Eric: So there… maybe that’s why they were brought along because they offered to get Harry’s school supplies for him. Maybe that was it.
Terrance: Well, I don’t know because obviously they’re not afraid of using magic in front of the Dursleys. And with a flick of the wand, Arthur could have just as easily Levicorpused or…
Michael: [laughs] Levicorpused.
Terrance: Sorry. I know, I should know better.
Michael: That’s dark.
Terrance: He could have easily flicked his wand, used a spell, and gotten Harry’s school supplies. I don’t know. I mean, it’s possible that’s what the twins are brought for. But I think I agree with you, Michael, with them just wanting to see, “Oh Dad, we’ve never seen a Muggle house before,” and them expressing interest in a Muggle’s house, which is Arthur’s bread and butter, learning about Muggles…
Terrance: … pretty much kind of tugged at his heartstrings a little bit like, “Wow! They’re really interested in my work! I’m going to bring my boys along with me.”
Eric: I guess that’s true. If they had asked, I don’t think he would’ve turned them away at all. So I think you’re right.
Michael: Yeah, it’s just like Dumbledore twisting his words well.
Michael: Fred and George do it the same way, but we had a really… a very thought-provoking comment from Jake Pontzer who said,
“Maybe if Molly had gone and met them properly at their house, they could have realized truly how kind and warm (and normal) a witch could be. Perhaps this would have changed the Dursley’s attitude towards magic in some way. This could have had an astounding effect on the rest of the series; Dudley might have panicked less when he was with Harry during the Dementor attack in Book 5, the Dursleys may have trusted Dumbledore when he visited in Book 6, and their departure and farewell to Harry could have, as a result, been less awkward and more friendly.”
And as I said to you guys before we started recording, I think that’s basically saying that Molly would have given the Dursleys a spiritual experience.
Michael: And I really wanted… because Eric, you had some interesting responses to this so…
Eric: Yeah, I like this comment a lot because I think… and just reading last week’s chapter where this incident occurs with Arthur Weasley, I think it gets downplayed a lot. It’s barely there. It’s almost subtextual that the meeting between the Dursleys and the Weasleys is actually quite important, and it really, I think, reenforces… because it goes so wrongly, it really reenforces a lot of the Dursleys’ thoughts and feelings on the matter. Because they explode their living room, and to be honest… I’m going to talk about this a little at the beginning of this chapter, but I really don’t think he puts the whole living room back the way that he should with a simple Reparo. So it’s just this disastrous thing, and I was thinking how important it was – the meeting – and Jake’s comment about if Molly had gone she may have completely changed their minds. I think that’s right. Because ultimately we see that she cares for Harry but isn’t as bumbling as Arthur Weasley is.
Michael: Rukmini, what would you say to this? I’m interested to hear what you think, too on this one.
Rukmini: I think I kind of agree with you, Michael. It’s true that Molly would have been nicer, but she… I don’t think she would have changed the entire series. I mean, I think they would have seen Molly more as the exception to the rule. I mean, there’s James, who’s been sarcastic to them at their wedding or whatever it was on Pottermore…
Michael: Mhm. Yeah.
Rukmini: There’s Hagrid, who’s broken down their front door.
Rukmini: And I mean, I just don’t think they’ve had very good experiences with magic in general.
Terrance: Jake, I’m going to have to play devil’s advocate here with you, buddy. I think that the Dursleys are just so… they’ve got that bitter taste of magic in their mouths, and they really don’t… I don’t think that they’re open to seeing it any other way.
Eric: But Terrance, if I could interject here, their whole attitude towards magic is because the wizards that they’ve come into contact with are reckless. Even Vernon in the previous chapter is questioning Harry, “How are they arriving? What are they wearing? I hope they have the sense to wear something appropriate, I’ve seen what your lot wears.” That’s the thing, if Molly showed up using… I want to say public transportation, using the Knight Bus, was on time… that’s the biggest thing that Molly would have done differently, I think. [She] would have been on time. The fact that Arthur Weasley’s like a half hour to an hour late, I think is completely unacceptable. And they use Floo Powder which is instantaneous, so there’s no excuse. I think it would have changed their opinion drastically, maybe just baby steps here in terms of creating a better picture for the Dursleys. But I think Molly would have… basically Arthur made it worse.
Eric: And Molly would have either kept it at where it was before she came or made it a little better…
Michael and Terrance: Yeah.
Eric: Their perspective of wizarding kind.
Terrance: I’m not saying that Arthur didn’t have the ingredients of disaster, because he really did and that would put a sour taste in anybody. But I’m thinking no matter what, the Dursleys are just so turned off by the wizarding world. Because really Lily never gave Petunia a reason – other than being a witch herself – she never gave her a reason to hate magic. And I think that even seeing Molly as this normal kind of person that she can be, I think that it would stir up those old feelings that Petunia had about her sister and just… Vernon goes along with whatever Petunia says anyway. That’s why he hates the wizarding world, because she hated it and because of her experiences… well, also James gave him a reason as well. Still, I think they’re just so turned off that not really anything could change that.
Michael: I think we’re going to have to meet in the middle on this one. I think we’ll meet in the middle and say maybe there would have been… the safe answer [is that] the Dursleys would have had an indifference to Molly.
Michael: [laughs] I liked that “mmm”. That “mmm” is good confirmation on that. We do have a few more comments. Our next comment comes from Gus. Gus says,
“Things would have been much, much worse if Molly came! Hestia Jones, Dedalus Diggle and Mr. Weasley have all reacted to the Dursley’s treatment of Harry and specifically their lack of affection in saying goodbye. Molly is perhaps the most affectionate person in the series but also the most fiery! When things don’t happen the way Molly wants, especially when they concern her family and Harry, she’s like a lion. Think about her argument with Sirius in ‘Order of the Phoenix’, with Arthur in ‘Prisoner’, and even her treatment of Hermione after the Rita Skeeter article! A Molly-Vernon showdown would never have the comic hilarity provided by Arthur and the twins, but it would be much more explosive!”
Eric: The only point I want to make here is the Dursleys may have said goodbye to Harry. They may have if they weren’t so on edge by the fact that their living room had just been destroyed. So Molly wouldn’t have necessarily had to tell them off. I like that Arthur came to Harry’s defense here, held him back, and was like, “Wait, wait! Don’t go, Harry. He’s going. You should say goodbye. You’re not going to see him [until next summer].” And it’s true that Molly would have exploded more; I do agree with that. But I think the Dursleys were so on edge, that’s kind of what caused… yeah, they’re indifferent to Harry on most days, but if they had been overwhelmed with warmth from Molly, it would have been a completely different scene.
Rukmini: I think Molly has the sense not to pick a fight with Vernon just because… I mean, she would have the sense to be like, “Okay, I’m probably never going to see these people again. So, while I might tell them nicely, I’m not going to blow up at them.”
Terrance: I think… yeah, I think that’s very true. Because Molly tends to only react if people give her reason to, if they instigate it. So if Molly is a little more perhaps discerning in picking her battles versus Arthur… because it’s funny that you say that, Eric, that you like [how] Mr. Weasley jumps to Harry’s defense, because every time I read that part – and I still did this last time – I cringe. It’s not that I don’t like what Arthur is doing, but since we’re so in Harry’s perspective, like she writes it so well…
Terrance: You can feel the awkward tension.
Eric: You can see the gears turning, or Harry can see the gears turning in his uncle’s mind. Like someone who just destroyed his living room is giving him manners…
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Eric: But it is that, exactly. That’s the difference between what Molly would have done and what Arthur would have done.
Michael: Mhm. And our last comment comes from Daniel Sharp, and Daniel says,
“The fact that the Dursleys are speechless throughout most of this encounter is a blessing in disguise. Just imagine how rude Vernon could have been to that ‘dumpy woman’ if given the chance and had even insulted her family.”
By the way, “dumpy woman” is in quotes, just for all of you. I am not calling Mrs. Weasley a dumpy woman.
“I would have thought that being in his own home would have given Vernon a false sense of confidence. Family is everything to the Weasleys but more so to Molly as a stay-at-home mum. Her family is her entire life and I think because of this her reaction to the Harry-Dursley parting would have been even way more over the top than Arthur’s.”
So again, we’re thinking that possibly because of Mrs. Weasley’s attachment to family, she may have blown up. But isn’t that an interesting idea that Vernon would have felt more power on his home turf? Do you guys think that’s true?
Eric Yeah, but he wasn’t expecting people to show up from behind the wall. I think that’s what got to him.
Eric: He boarded the Floo up, way back – God bless him – in Book 1, for boarding up the letter slot in the fireplace.
Michael: Actually that’s… and they talked about that last week, that was the other discussion. Apparently, according to Rosie, a lot of people in Britain have false fireplaces. And so they’re just kind of… they’re not boarded up necessarily. They’re just blocked.
Michael: And Harry makes clear that it’s electric, but that’s why that is the way it is.
Eric: Whatever Vernon would have felt to being in control of the situation – going to answer the door, that sort of thing – that was all taken from him when they showed up behind the wall and had to get out. It’s just like, “How does that happen?”
Michael: Well, yeah, but if he had had that control in the first place, if Molly had just shown up at the door – which is likely what she would have done – do any of you think Vernon would have felt more confident in taking a jab at her?
Terrance: Vernon is going to take a jab at her anyway because she’s magical, I think.
Eric: I don’t know, he’s afraid of her because she’s magical, though.
Terrance: He would be kind of cowering behind Petunia, I think. “Get that dumpy woman out of here! She’s part of your lot.”
Terrance: All that kind of stuff.
Michael: I don’t know, it’s impossible to say how the Dursleys would have reacted because Arthur just rubbed them the wrong way so quickly.
Eric: I really think there’s a possibility and a potential – before we move on – that the Dursleys really could have been almost cordial to her. At the very least indifferent to her arrival.
Eric: I really think so. Because ultimately it is that catch-22 where, yes, they have to interact with someone they don’t want to, but they’re getting rid of Harry two weeks in advance, so ultimately I think it would have been a more or less amicable parting. And again, with all the things the other commenters were saying about not bringing Fred and George, would have led to a far greater result.
Michael: Rukmini, did you have anything to add to this?
Rukmini: Well, I don’t think Vernon would have been rude to her or anything if she hadn’t blown up his fireplace, which I think we agreed she had enough sense not to do. But I also think that – I don’t know if I’m just pulling this out of my head or if there’s any evidence for this – he would be more prone to insult her just because she’s a woman as well. I mean, I think he can be kind of sexist.
Michael: Hmm, that’s an interesting element.
Terrance: That’s a very good point, I think.
Michael: Yeah, I think that’s possibly true. But at any rate, it sounds like we’re pretty much in agreement that things at least would have gone better if Molly had been the one to pick him up.
Eric: Laura will be so surprised that we had such a good discussion on this.
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Michael: I’m sure she’ll be thrilled. But we want to thank you guys all for sending in your comments on that. We really appreciate it very much.
Terrance: And before we continue with the rest of the show here, we want to remind fans of Alohomora! that you can now purchase the Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks directly on the Alohomora! website. And guess what? You’ll get 10% off the entire series. They’re both available in a variety of languages: German, Italian, [and] both the UK and US English for the audiobooks and German, the UK and US English, French, Italian, [and] Japanese for the ebooks. You guys can also buy the ebook only of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts, and Quidditch Through the Ages with proceeds going all to charity – Lumos and Comic Relief. Again, fans of Alohomora! can now purchase the Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks directly on the Alohomora! website and get 10% off your entire purchase of the entire series. And you can find the exclusive discount links on alohomora.mugglenet.com.
Eric: And now, onto our discussion for Chapter 5.
[Goblet of Fire Chapter 5 intro begins]
Molly: Chapter 5.
[Sounds of food preparation]
Molly: “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.”
[Goblet of Fire Chapter 5 intro ends]
Eric: All right, so the first thing I wanted to bring up at the beginning of this chapter… Harry is traveling via the Floo Network, and he arrives at the Burrow, and the first thing he is asked is whether or not Dudley [laughs] picked up and ate that candy that they left for him. Guys, this is just… so clearly, it was intentional. And coming off the high that was the previous chapter, Harry is in a much calmer setting all of a sudden, and he doesn’t know what to expect except that he soon learns that what they gave Dudley was in fact a Ton-Tongue Toffee and that it’s part of a magical line of joke or gag treats – “gag,” of course, no pun intended.
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Eric: Because you’re gagging on your “ton-tongue.” But from their shop – or their soon-to-be line of jokes – Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes… my comment has to do with just the words that J.K. Rowling uses because when I was first reading Book 4 – and I was roughly twelve years old or something – I don’t think I knew the word “tongue,” so reading it… you know how you have those words when you’re reading where you just like, “Oh, it’s that word,” and you’re reading it in your head, and you skip over it?
Terrance: Right. Yeah.
Eric: And you’re just like, “Okay, it’s that word.” I’m making a note of that word, but I don’t know what it is. The fact that it’s “Ton-Tongue Toffee”… and I think in British English it’s “T-O-N-N-E” as well. So it’s like “TUH-nee TUHN-goo TAH-fee”. I didn’t know what it was, and I had never had toffee. I don’t think I’ve still had toffee. And I don’t know what “wheezes” are either. So this chapter, right from the bat, had just got me really, really confused because Jo is using words that were beyond me at the time. I just didn’t get it. You can get through the chapter without really understanding that a “wheeze” is from laughing – like from a joke – but it’s a stretch. It’s almost too much of a stretch. It’s funny that Jo should choose to do this. What do you guys think?
Michael: It’s “wheeze” because… I looked up… because I realized, actually, as I was reading… I mean, I know “wheeze” from laughing, but I never thought that’s what she… I was like, “Is that what she means by ‘Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’?” I never knew exactly what “wheeze” meant in the way she was using it, but it actually is British slang for “a trick, an idea, or a plan.” Which… isn’t that… ? It’s a lovely, multi-layered, perfect word for Fred and George, right?
Michael: It’s almost too clever for you and me, Eric, as twelve-year-olds reading this book.
Eric: [laughs] Yes. As uneducated twelve-year-olds who aren’t British… never… “wheeze” means… it’s a British slang for “a trick.” Huh.
Michael: Yeah. Or that’s just… yeah.
Rukmini: It’s pretty common as well. I mean, I grew up in India. I read the entire series when I was in India, so I have all the British versions of it. And I mean, I knew what a “wheeze” was, just from reading other British books. So if Rosie [were] here, I think she would tell you it’s quite common.
Eric: I’m so glad that you can speak for Rosie.
[Michael and Terrance laugh]
Eric: Because otherwise we’re just… we’re American, and we’re like, “Never heard that word before. Ooh.” That’s good to know that it’s common and that J.K. Rowling isolated half of the world in her biggest fan base for that word.
Rukmini: Well, she’s the queen.
Terrance: She is the queen.
Michael: We’re feeling dumber by the minute, right? We’ve got “Sorcerer’s” because we’re stupid, and now we don’t know what “wheeze” means.
[Eric, Michael, and Terrance laugh]
Eric: “Wheezes,” right? I still don’t get it. And I don’t understand “You-No-Poo.” We’ll come back to that.
Eric: Two books. We’ll come back to that, okay? I promise. But then there’s the Ton-Tongue Toffee. Did that screw you guys up at all?
Terrance: No, not really.
Terrance: It’s a heavy tongue.
Eric: Your tongue weighs a ton.
[Eric, Michael, and Terrance laugh]
Eric: It sounds so ridiculous saying it. It’s brilliant. It’s just good to be… and I think Harry feels the same. And so do all of the children, too, that what Fred and George are doing is brilliant and has real promise. But of course, Molly Weasley would not agree. And neither would Arthur Weasley at this present moment because almost immediately upon their return, they barely have time to talk. Arthur Apparates, I think, right back to the Burrow and begins scolding Fred and George for basically what amounts to undermining his life’s work, his – Arthur’s – life’s work in trying to keep up relations or promote good relations with Muggles. In fact, Fred and George have broken the number one rule in Arthur’s book, which is “respect the Muggle.”
Terrance: Yeah, well, you know what? They gave him a reason on why they did it. They said that because he was a bullying git. I think those were the words that they used in the chapter.
Terrance: And Harry is busting a gut over this because it’s hilarious. I mean, and it really was! Because whenever he said… whenever they asked him… I think they asked him how long was his tongue by the time he left him, and he said, like, four feet long. [laughs] Yeah, it was hilarious.
Michael: But you could see if we go off of our previous theory, that Fred and George ended up going because they talked their dad into it by saying that they were interested in his work. Wouldn’t that – and this is of course all speculation – have made Arthur extra, extra mad? [laughs]
Terrance: Oh, definitely. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. [laughs] Yeah. I think so. Well, the line from Fred and George that Terrance referenced, I think it’s closer to saying, “Yeah, we didn’t give him the sweet because he was a Muggle.” So it’s not… they’re essentially saying [that] they didn’t target him because he was a Muggle. It’s because he was a git. So they did target him. It amounts to almost the same thing. Except that they weren’t trying to disprove their father’s work.
Rukmini: But either way, I mean, Mr. Weasley is right because if we go back to Jake Pontzer’s comment about the spiritual experience…
Rukmini: … this definitely contributes to the [Dursleys’] dislike and mistrust of wizards and magic. I mean, that’s the simple truth, I think.
Eric: That’s a really good point.
Terrance: Yeah, it’s very good.
Eric: So what if Fred and George accidentally le[f]t it behind, or they gave it to Dudley by saying, “Here, take this. It will make you feel better.” Either way, it amounts to the same thing, which is that they have tricked or… what’s the word? They abused Dudley.
Eric: No, it’s in the same way that Arthur has abused the Dursleys by blowing away the fireplace.
Terrance: Yeah, well…
Eric: It’s not a good idea.
Terrance: Okay, so Arthur didn’t do it intentionally, I’m sure. I’m sure he didn’t have the preconceived notion of going to the Dursleys’ house and blowing up their fireplace, but…
Eric: Well, he didn’t expect it to be locked. But at least clean up after yourself.
Terrance: Well, yeah, yeah.
Eric: I think he came a little too quickly for… this is the other point that I wanted to bring up here is that he Apparates almost immediately after Harry travels, which means he pretty much had time to do a Reducto… or not a Reducto.
[Eric, Michael, and Terrance laugh]
Eric: Oh my God! How do you… could you imagine Dudley just crumbling to ash? No, no, no. On his tongue, to… what’s the spell? [laughs] What’s the opposite of Engorgio? Un-Engorgio!
Michael, Rukmini, and Terrance: Reducio!
Eric: Reducio but not Reducto?
Michael and Terrance: No, Reducio.
Eric: Okay. Whatever. Reducio. I’m failing. I’m hitting all of the wrong bases on this episode.
[Michael, Rukmini, and Terrance laugh]
Eric: I’m terribly sorry, people. Reducio on his tongue and get out of there. I mean, yes, it’s true that it wouldn’t take long to clean up. I don’t think that Arthur cleaned up after himself.
Michael: Do you think he just shrunk Dudley’s tongue and then was like, “Oh, God. Okay, bye!”? [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. Well, he would have had to have been because even though… look, the good thing is that he persisted because the Dursleys were going to end up going to the hospital the same they did with the pig’s tail and have it cut off or something terrible.
Michael: [laughs] Oh, God.
Eric: Yeah, can you imagine? I mean, come on. It probably still would have grown. It would have filled up the whole car…
Eric: … by the time they got to the hospital. [laughs]
Terrance: That would have been funny. [laughs] They are like, “Well, we’re back with him again.” “Oh, great. A pig’s tail the first time and then now a long tongue. What is your kid getting into?”
Eric: Yeah, yeah. At least in the later books the Weasleys have the antidote with them right next to it. It’s the second half of the same capsule. This time they didn’t. But I think that it took them long enough to allow Arthur Weasley to fix Dudley…
Eric: … and I really don’t think he would have also fixed their place because once their son was fixed, I think they would have just [chased] him and said, “Go. Get away.” I think he had to hightail it out of there, to be honest. Even if it meant not fixing their fireplace.
Terrance: Well, okay, was there a… I don’t remember later on in the later books, but cleaning up the mess and part of Arthur’s job… does that include specialty in Memory Charms as well?
Eric: Because he works for the Ministry, if a Memory Charm [were] needed I would assume he could just phone that in and be like, “Hey, guys, you need to come over here.” And they probably owe him one from when he showed them how plugs work or something, so…
[Rukmini and Terrance laugh]
Eric: … I can see them bartering to go get some Memory Charms put in, but typically I’m sure that can’t be recommended, to continue Memory Charm-ing your way through.
Michael: If they were to use a Memory Charm every time something went wrong with a Dursley encounter I think the Ministry would actually stop sending…
Michael: … the squad to their house. [laughs]
Eric: They are wasting tax payer dollars on all these Memory Charms for the Dursleys.
Eric: Well, actually they hit their quota later on at the campground with the Quidditch World Cup, don’t they? All the Memory Charms that they have to place on that Muggle, so we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Basically, the other thing that happens at the very, very beginning of this chapter is that Harry meets Bill and Charlie who[m] he doesn’t know – has never met before – but immediately he figures out whom they must be, not only because of their red hair but he [also] identifies Bill [as] separate from Charlie, so I thought this was really cool.
Terrance: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. There’s this point made on the characterization of the Weasleys and how J.K. Rowling manages to make seven different children different.
Eric: Absolutely. Bill adds a… I think the exact quote from the book is, “There were no better words for it: cool. He’s cool.” And it’s just… that’s a way she’s never described any of the other Weasleys. He’s cool. He has a ponytail. He has an earring. He’s cool. And Charlie just has scars because he works with dragons. So it’s very interesting characterization, the way that Jo is able to introduce… to be fair she did… we had some interaction with Charlie back… was it in Sorcerer’s Stone?
Eric: With picking up Norbert.
Eric: At least that wasn’t Charlie – it was his friends – but he still kind of was an active player. We [had] heard about the Weasleys, which is great. It wasn’t just all of a sudden, “Hey, there'[re] two new Weasley brothers.” They were mentioned before, which Jo is really good at making sure that these characters get their mentions in…
Eric: … before their introduction. So that eased it a little bit. But basically they walked up, and they were living, breathing characters as soon as they shook Harry’s hand. It was brilliant.
Michael and Terrance: Yeah.
Rukmini: I think the calluses on Charlie’s hand was a really nice touch. That immediately shows outdoor guy, hardworking. Okay, the dragon brother.
Eric and Terrance: Yeah.
Michael: Yeah. Well, and then you get Bill who’s got his dragon hide boots and his earring. And his hair… [laughs]
Michael: … his long hair. Yeah, no, it is actually… I never really reflected on it until now, but just to think how there’s… she had to create seven – for the Weasley kids – very distinct personalities. And they do all come through as being very… even though they all feel very connected as a family, they all have very unique traits about them. I mean, Ginny is… we just get around that by not talking about Ginny pretty much. [laughs]
Eric: No, no, no. Come on.[laughs]
Michael: [laughs] She just…
Eric: You’re thinking movie Ginny. I think Ginny is important, but it’s unfair to comment on Ginny before the middle of Book 6. [laughs] It really just is. [laughs] It really is.
Michael: Well, she’s…
Eric: Because as soon as…
Michael: She is distinct, though, in that unlike the other Weasleys, who are pretty bold social people, she’s very shy. And she…
Michael: So that’s her defining trait, I think, for the first three books or so. And then by [Book] 4, she starts becoming a part of the group. Because I do love in Book 3 when she’s going with Harry, Ron and Hermione to sit down and they want to talk about stuff with Harry, and Ron just says, “Go away, Ginny.”
[Eric and Michael laughs]
Michael: But he doesn’t do that anymore in this book, which is really nice. She is becoming her… we see her starting to become her own character really.
Eric: Yeah. No, that’s fair. But… so now our meeting of the Weasley family is complete, which is an important thing to check off the list, is that we’ve now met all of the Weasley children. And speaking of Weasley children, Percy is up to his knees in work for the Ministry. And this is actually a good, fun scene, really. When they’re going upstairs, essentially Molly Weasley crashes the party, and [laughs] Fred and George are stuck downstairs with her while Arthur explains what it is that just happened at Privet Drive. In the meantime, they go upstairs and they have a little chat with Percy, who’s on a very important assignment from the Ministry.
Terrance: Did anybody think while reading this part about Percy, anybody ever think about that part from Half-Blood Prince where Cormac McLaggen says, “My father will hear about this,” all pompous and stuff like that? I don’t know. This part about Percy was like, “Oh my God, Percy. Just shut up!”
Michael: No, I never think that. Honestly, with Percy, for me, I’m one of the few people I think in the world who gets a real kick out of Percy. I love pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth because it’s always badly timed. He always says the wrong thing [laughs] and it’s like, I find it lovably endearing and the stuff that he says provides some of the best humor I think amongst the Weasleys. So I…
Eric: And it’s such a problem having Fred and George to essentially strike at all of your vulnerabilities all the time.
Eric: And it’s not just even the verbal stuff, which they do a lot of there, and Ron does it too to some extent. “Oh, that report’ll change the world, I expect.” [laughs] You know, cauldron leaks. But at the same time when they send him dragon dung and all this other stuff, they just endlessly pick on Percy. I love Percy too and I think that, unfortunately, he is a victim of his own family.
Rukmini: But he’s so annoying. I mean, this… okay, this is the book and I think this is the chapter where I really just started disliking Percy.
Rukimi: I mean, he was always the annoying older brother before, but he was okay. I mean, he was one of the Weasleys, but this time it’s just like, “Gosh, stop being so power-hungry and detestable.”
Michael: No, that’s…
Eric: But, Rukmini, I’m surprised to hear you say this because Book 5 is where all that really comes in.
Michael: I actually think Rukmini is right. This is the first chapter where we see Percy talk a lot about the Ministry and he’s speaking specifically very adoringly of Crouch. Ron even points it out, he’s like “Crouch this, Crouch that. They should get married.”
Michael: And it’s… this is the first time I think we get a hint that Percy’s actually got some goals, like real, set goals that he’s willing to stomp over his family for at this point.
Eric: No, no, no! I completely disagree. I don’t think there’s any of that in this chapter at all about him preferring… well, what I see it as an escape route as Percy’s family doesn’t like him. Fred and George pick on him every waking moment. They think he’s intolerable. They’re intolerable to him. He has nowhere to go but to the Ministry and to his ambition to give this report in the hopes that something he does matters because in a family of seven – here’s the other thing about being amibitious – in a family of seven you blend too well. They all have red hair, clearly that stands out, but he’s trying to find his own way and I don’t see anything wrong with that. But in Book 5, when he starts saying the Ministry thinks that you lot are criminals and he starts stepping away from his family because they’ve… he starts resenting their treatment of him and stepping away, that’s when you can make all the bad arguments against Percy.
Rukmini: But I mean, I see the seeds of that right here because he’s…
Rukmini: … already starting to think that, “Oh, because I work at the Ministry, because I work for Mr. Crouch, I’m automatically more important than all of you.” I mean…
Rukmini: … he’s working…
Eric: Is he wrong, though?
Rukmini: He’s working on a report about cauldrons bottoms.
Rukmini: Bill and Charlie don’t have to be quiet when he’s working on a report about cauldrons.
Eric: Yeah. If Fred and George exist for any reason, it is to prove that nobody should take themselves too seriously.
Eric: I can see why that aspect of Percy’s character would be annoying to you because Percy does take himself quite seriously.
Rukmini: Yeah, but I mean, it’s not just Fred and George, like I said. I mean, he yells at Bill and Charlie and they’re his older brothers too.
Eric: They are crashing tables. Oh, he does yell at his older brothers. That’s a good point. Well, my issue is that, I think in writing this too, in Book 5 don’t we hear the spell Muffliato?
Eric: Or do we not hear it? Is that the point? We don’t hear it?
Eric: Doesn’t that make a room impenetrable by audio? So, couldn’t he cast that on the outside of his window and the outside of his door and never have to worry ever about any noise anybody was making?
Terrance: Yeah. I don’t think that that spell was invented at this point.
[Rukmini and Terrance laugh]
Eric: Oh. That’s what I’m saying. It’s just a development of the writing…
Terrance: Right, right, right.
Eric: … because it serves the plot to show what a pompous kid he is.
Eric: But looking back, that’s just something that struck my mind and I was like, [gasps] “Wait a minute! There’s a spell for that!”
[Eric and Rukmini laugh]
Eric: There’s an app for that. Percy, just cast the Muffliato. But then I could make the point that maybe it always existed, his family just was never kind enough to do it for him.
Michael: I’d like to… I think that might actually go along with Percy’s antagonistic nature with his family. He could just use the spell, but he would rather make a show of it, which it’s very clear…
Michael: … in this chapter that he loves to make a show to get attention because he does that later at dinner. So…
Eric: Mhm. Well, you mentioned dinner. Mrs. Weasley is cooking dinner when they decide to go back downstairs, actually. Ginny, there’s this brief moment where they can’t bring up Sirius in front of Ginny so they decide all to go back downstairs. And this is actually really important, I think, point for our discussion of this chapter because Mrs. Weasley is cooking. She does her wand. She’s still upset over Fred and George, so her wand is doing things that she doesn’t want it to and potatoes are flying out of their skins a little too hard, all of this other stuff. But there’s a lot of interesting things going on with her cooking because at one point, it is said that she’s working with a bowl of, I think it’s pasta, sauce begins spewing from her wand and this is part of just the regular, normal cooking whatever she’s making. But my thought was, how is this happening because I distinctly remember it said in the later books that you can not conjure – is it especially food? Or it’s other things. You can’t conjure something out of nothing. It essentially has to come from somewhere, especially food.
Michael: Now the interesting thing… I think this is what we were talking about with Muffliato. I think this was a bit of a retcon on Jo’s part…
Michael: … because Hermione actually alludes specifically to this moment in Deathy Hallows.
Michael: Because Ron is complaining about how hungry he is and he’s like, [as Ron] “I want food! My mother can make delicious food just with her wand!” [back to normal voice] And Hermione’s response is, [as Hermione] “Your mother can’t produce food out of thin air. No one can. Food is the first of the Five Principle Exceptions of Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration…” [as Ron] “Oh, speak English, can’t you?” [as Hermione] “It’s impossible to make good food out of nothing. You can summon it if you know where it is. You can transform it. You can increase the quantity if you’ve already got some.”
Eric: Hmm. By the way, excellent reading there.
Michael: [as Hermione] Thank you. That’s why I do AudioFictions.
Eric: Oh, gosh. Is Hermione still here? Hello, Hermione.
Michael: [as Hermione] Hello. [back to normal voice] She always pops in for the logical anecdotes.
Michael But she… that… I mean, in a way this is Jo… I think she was just so determined to not give the trio food in Deathly Hallows.
Eric: [imitating a child begging] Feed us, please. Please, Mum, I want some food.
Michael: [in a begging voice] Please Ms. Rowling, just a bit of bread! [back to normal voice] But I think that it does get around it, because you could possibly argue that whatever sauce Mrs. Weasley was making, I mean, perhaps she already had made a little bit or perhaps she had some somewhere else?
Eric: Right, and just stored it in her wand or put it in a special pot at the other end of the room. I completely agree, and that’s the solution I came to.
Rukmini: I don’t think so though, because I have the book open. It’s page 55 of the UK edition and after the potatoes slam off the walls and ceiling, she’s pulling saucepans out of the cupboard, and then the quote is, “She slammed a large copper saucepan down on the kitchen table and began to wave her wand around inside it. A creamy sauce poured from the wand tip as she stirred.” So, unless she has sauce stored in the cupboard, which would be a little strange…
Michael: [laughs] I was wonder…
Eric: You don’t know.
Michael: [laughs] You don’t know her.
Rukmini: [laughs] I don’t! I don’t.
[Eric and Michael laugh]
Eric: You don’t know her. You don’t know… you can’t criticize where she keeps her sauce.
Michael: That’s a good way to shut down any argument on Harry Potter. “You don’t know them!”
[Eric, Michael, and Rukmini laugh]
Eric: Well, I don’t mean to be as abrasive.
Michael: Well, no, no, no. Maybe it’s that she… okay, maybe she pre-made it and put it in the fridge and wizards are sometimes lazy and so, she was like, “I’ll just summon it out of my wand to heat it up.” Elaborate, elaborate way to get around it.
Eric: Do the Weasleys have a fridge?
Michael: Do they have a fridge?
Eric: Does magic… does electric work at the Burrow?
[Eric and Michael laugh]
Michael: How do they keep things cold? Yeah, that’s… [laughs]
Eric: Oh, gosh.
Terrance: Same thing… the same way they kept things cold back in the 1800s. They must have ice or something.
Eric: The underground cellar.
Michael: Dig a hole and put ice in it. Yeah.
Eric: Yeah. But, yeah. Do we have any other comments regarding food?
Rukmini: Yes. Well, this scene… I mean, there are knives flying across the kitchen…
[Eric and Michael laugh]
Rukmini: … and Harry and Ron have to jump out of the way.
Rukmini: So you’ve talked about safety before on Alohomora! So, I just thought I’d point that out.
Michael: No, I think that’s a very worthy point because there’s… I mean, that even goes along… I know the girls were talking last week about the possible horrible consequences of Ton-Tongue Toffee and that Dudley was essentially choking on it, like his own tongue.
Michael: And here we are with Mrs. Weasley throwing knives around. This isn’t the last time. There’s a very memorable scene in Order where a knife comes very close to Harry’s hand. [laughs] So I think wizards are just a little more… I feel wizards are a little more devil-may-care about safety because they can fix things so easily.
Eric: Right, that’s just it. Just grow it back!
[Michael and Rukmini laugh]
Eric: You lose a finger? We’ll reattach it. Reparo!
Terrance: Tell that to Peter Pettigrew.
Eric: Oh, gosh. He wanted that…
Eric: It was… oh, gosh. How can I say this? It was an aesthetic choice…
[Michael and Terrance laughs]
Eric: … to be without a finger, or whatever it was. But you’re right. I think… well, regardless, dinner is very good. But before it happens, I did want to bring up Crookshanks. [laughs] Crookshanks and the gnomes. Okay, everybody, was this not the coolest thing in this whole chapter? [laughs]
Terrance: I… you know what? I’m still having…
Michael: Was it?
Terrance: Okay. The chapter describes the gnome as being like ten inches tall. That’s a pretty big gnome. I mean, if you think about it, that’s really, really tall.
Eric: This cat is going after these garden gnomes. [laughs]
Terrance: What is it doing when he catches them? Eats them, or…
Eric: They have these little feet. They look like… I think she said potatoes.
Eric: Potatoes with legs! [laughs] The cat who is so vicious, who is going after Scabbers all in the previous book – but for right reasons – is now being endlessly entertained with gnomes. I just think gnomes… if you had a pet cat, gnomes would be the best way to entertain them. It’s better than a laser pen or something. You just have a gnome who can actually run away from the cat and they can play together.
Terrance: I think at this point, J.K. Rowling is channeling the Smurfs and Azrael.
Terrance: Yeah, yeah.
Michael: That’s quite a theory. [laughs]
[Eric and Terrance laugh]
Michael: Let’s not consider that, considering the rating of The Smurfs on Rotten Tomatoes right now.
Eric: Oh, no.
Michael: But I think the lovely thing about Crookshanks chasing the gnomes and everything… Rowling just… and this is all throughout this chapter. I think this is why people actually really like this chapter. It’s… Rowling paints just a lovely picture of the Burrow. This is a place that you would totally want to hang out, I think. And that’s just part… I love that she describes what’s kind of going on in the background. I remember when I got to play the Chamber of Secrets video game for the first time, and on the PlayStation you actually do get to go to the Burrow…
Eric: Right. Yes.
Michael: … and you get to toss gnomes around. And it is an awesome… I kind of wish they had more in that space, because…
Michael: … it’s lovely to just get a sense of what it’s like to hang out on an everyday… just every day with the Weasleys.
Michael: It’s very comfortable, and this whole chapter… I mean, really, I realized this is only the second time we go to the Burrow in the series.
Michael: So, it’s definitely… she makes us love being back here again.
Terrance: Yeah. I mean, from everything in the chapter, from the gnomes to eating outside underneath the blue sky. I think it is described, “Harry looks up at the blue sky,” and different things like that. So, I mean, I think it’s very homey, and she sets a great, great setting for us to just kind of chill and relax.
Eric: I mean, even Bill and Charlie battling tables.
Terrance: Right. Right.
Eric: How often have we wanted to do that? Or have done that with chairs or something? It’s…
Eric: … just amazing. It’s just what you would normally find a chair match. [in a deep voice] “It’s a chair match” [back to normal voice] brings a whole new meaning to that. But just the kind of thing you would want to see your siblings do.
Eric: To battle each other and that kind of thing, so that’s a good point. And of course my final comment happens during the dinner conversation, and this is between Barty Crouch… or it’s between Percy and Mr. Weasley about Barty Crouch, and about actually the disappearance of Bertha Jorkins. Little gem of knowledge here that basically Arthur Weasley and Percy are talking about Crouch’s… or is it Ludo Bagman’s…
Michael: It’s Bagman. It’s Bagman that they’re…
Eric: Bagman’s inattentiveness…
Eric: … or his inattentiveness to the recent disappearance one month ago of Bertha Jorkins. And now, Harry, because we expect – the people who caught Bertha’s name the first time in the beginning of this book – are now thinking, “Harry will snap to it and remember that Bertha Jorkins and Voldemort are going together, that something happened.” Well, he doesn’t. In fact, there’s not even a reference or mention like, “He thought he heard that name before.” Nothing. So, it’s still flying under the radar, under all of our noses, and I think it’s very clever.
Eric: But there is some discourse on Bagman that I thought was worth mentioning, because we haven’t met him yet.
Eric: I mean, in general. So, would you, if one of your co-workers disappeared…
Eric: Would you just say, “Oh, they get lost all the time.”
Michael: Well, I think… we’ve talked about this in previous… I was actually on an episode where we talked about this, just the Ministry’s kind of ineptitude…
Michael: … in general. It’s not just Ludo. This is kind of a problem throughout departments. And not necessarily that they’re losing staff mysteriously, but I do think that… I mean, it’s made clear that Ludo is a very carefree guy and that the Magical Sports and Games is the cool place to be, which I think is why Percy’s so disdainful of it. [laughs] So it’s… I’m not surprised the way they talk about Ludo and the fact that he’s so devil-may-care about it. Especially when you factor in that Bertha Jorkins is kind of a cry-wolf case.
Michael: Like, “Oh, she’s done this before. She’ll turn up. Somewhere.”
Eric: Well, the way I took it – and this is kind of one of those most subtle, dramatic moments – is that Bertha goes missing and no one cares because they just assume that she’s lost. It’s kind of like everyone passing judgment on Bertha. But not necessarily wrongfully so because she’s apparently gotten lost, just like this, before. But everybody’s just like, “Oh, yeah. She’s probably lost.” She probably read the… misread Albania.
Terrance: That silly Bertha. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. Probably went to Australia instead. They’re close, right? Australia, Albania, kind of sound the same, kind of spelled the same. Same letters? No. They’re just like, “Yeah, she probably went to Australia instead.” There’s such carelessness, and it’s weird to see them dismiss this. To us, it’s obvious matter of national and international security because now Voldemort… from her testimony, Voldemort is able to – from her memory I should say – is able to build this plan. I just think it’s sad to see her disappearance go get dismissed so greatly by all these different people. And it happens later, of course, in later chapters.
Michael: The comment I wanted to bring up – and it’s on page 64 of the US edition – but it says that Harry suddenly remembers about his reasons for writing to Sirius, and he’s about to tell Ron and Hermione but he hesitates because he doesn’t want to make them sad. He’s basically thinking, [in a British accent] “Oh, we’re having so much fun right now, I don’t want to ruin it.” [back to normal voice] And he knows in the first… the second chapter it’s very clearly outlined how he thinks they’ll react. And I just thought it was interesting because the way she says it is almost… it’s very similar to how Dumbledore explains why he didn’t tell Harry all of his reasons or all of the history of Voldemort and his relationship to Voldemort in order.
Eric: Because he doesn’t want to kill the buzz?
[Eric and Michael laugh]
Michael: Yeah. No, he actually says that for Chamber… when he’s talking about what happened in Chamber of Secrets, he’s like, [as Dumbledore] “Oh, I was just so proud of you, and everybody was so happy…”
Michael: “…and so I just decided to be quiet.” [back to normal voice] And…
Michael: But the interesting thing is he says that he does it… and you know Dumbledore. It’s a good reason but at the same time it is fairly flawed. But he does say, [as Dumbledore] “I was trying to protect you in your innocence, and it was because I cared about you.” [in normal voice] And I just thought that was a really interesting thing because in Deathly Hallows Harry gets so upset with Dumbledore for not sharing things with him. But Harry does this a lot. This is the beginning. I feel this particular story is the real beginning of when Harry stops telling Ron and Hermione things immediately.
Eric: Yeah, it’s starting him down the path that he needs to take in five, really.
Michael: Yeah. Yeah.
Eric: When he’s secretive and feeling like things only happen to him.
Michael: Because from Sorcerer’s through Prisoner he loves going on adventures with them. He’ll happily let them come along. So this is…
Eric: I think it’s part of becoming your own man, though, too.
Eric: He really wants to handle certain situations on his own. He’s already written Sirius about it; he thinks the matter is taken care of. And if he ends up being wrong, and nothing ever comes of the scar, it never hurts again, he never has another dream about Voldemort, then he’s justified in not telling them because it’s not really a big deal. And then… again, though, if it rears its ugly head again, now that he’s in their company, he can easily tell them if it happens again. I really don’t think he has anything to lose by not telling them. Because it’s either going to happen again or it isn’t. If it does happen again, it’s important enough to bring up for sure, and if it doesn’t happen again, it wasn’t important enough to bring it up the first time.
Terrance: And he doesn’t want to alarm them for any reason because he’s not sure himself.
Michael: That’s true. Yeah, it’s… there’s definitely an element of [in a British accent] “I don’t know what this is, so I probably shouldn’t tell anyone.” [back to normal voice] But I do think it is mixed with, [in a British accent] “I don’t know what this is, and I don’t want Ron and Hermione to freak…”
Michael: “… and I don’t want to ruin the good times, because my, was this dinner delicious.”
Eric: Yeah, it is his first night back and they get rushed off pretty quickly to the World Cup and all that other stuff. But…
Rukmini: I think it’s also…
Eric: Maybe it’s just…
Rukmini: I think it’s also the fact that Harry just hasn’t had any friends before and he doesn’t want to be the depressing buzz-kill guy.
Eric: Or the… what’s the word? The victim all the time.
Rukmini: Right. Yeah.
Eric: Just who brings the room down because he’s always got problems, always got a big wizard after you. [laughs] Big, evil Dark Lord got you down, Harry?
[Eric and Rukmini laugh]
Eric: We’re so sick of it. Can you just imagine Ron and Hermione going, “Not again, your scar this. Come on, seriously.”
[Eric and Rukmini laugh]
Eric: “Why don’t you get that looked at? Seriously, your scar hurt again? Ah.”
Eric: I want to talk about me.
Michael: Well now, that’s actually a fair fear of Harry’s because eventually in Book 6 that does come to light with Harry’s anxieties being like, [in a high-pitched voice] “Oh, Harry, you’re so silly,” [laughs] over and over again.
Michael: So, yeah, it’s… I think this is kind of… a lot of people call Book 4 a big turning point in the series, and I think this is where these… we’re seeing the seeds of Percy in the Ministry, we’re seeing Harry becoming more secretive and becoming more like Dumbledore, and it’s… these changes are already happening early on.
Eric: Yeah. Very interesting because I think of them as being tangential or background stuff. In this book, I never really before have been connecting a lot… so many of these things to the future of this series. To me it’s just another book; it goes a little bit faster, I think. Faster paced than every other book before it. But to me I’m just like, “Oh, yeah, Harry’s feeling this,” because I’m so in the moment. I’m not thinking, “Oh, yeah, he’s going to become… he’s being more like he will be in Book 5.” Book 5 is essentially the payoff to a lot of these things that we’re saying. So, that’s pretty cool.
Terrance: So it’s time for this week’s Podcast Question of the Week. In this chapter, Fred and George are revealed to Harry to have constructed an entire line of special treats and to have completely invented their own style of items such as gag wands. How do they do this? How do the fake wands work? What is the magic behind Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes? And how did Fred and George figure out how to do it?
Eric: We look forward to seeing your responses on the forums and actually on the Podcast Question of the Week section on the main Alohomora! page, which is located at alohomora.mugglenet.com. Rukmini, we want to thank you for joining us on this week’s episode.
Rukmini: Thank you very much. It was great fun to be on.
Michael: You were a fantastic guest, Rukmini. To find out how you can be on the show, listeners, head over to the Alohomora! website, alohomora.muggleNet.com, or email alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com. You can figure out all the details how to do that. We do ask that you do have good recording equipment and recording program. But in the meantime, please subscribe to Alohomora! and leave us a review on iTunes and tell us how you think we’re doing.
Terrance: And to contact Alohomora! you can also find us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AlohomoraMN or by the @ symbol @AlohomoraMN. Also on facebook.com/openthedumbledore. You can also call us at the hotline, 206-GO-ALBUS. That’s 206-462-5287.
Eric: And, guys, one of the coolest things that we have is our Alohomora! store where you can get host shirts and shirts with certain sayings on them. Not just shirts but coffee mugs and tote bags. All sorts of stuff. A variety of items. And the best part… here it comes. You ready for it? It is that more designs are being added momentarily. And Kat just showed us a design recently, which I think is my favorite thing I’ve ever seen in terms of… it’s just brilliantly drawn and I cannot wait for it to be released on the Alohomora! store. Of course I’ll mention it when it does become available, but we are adding shirts every so often. It is pretty frequent, so you can go and check us out and see if any of the memorable quotes that we have on there, as well as a number of really intelligent designs, are available in the store to buy. That is the Alohomora! store. You can find that link on the Alohomora! webpage, alohomora.mugglenet.com.
Michael: And Alohomora! does have an app, which is available in the US and UK for iPhone and iPad, as well as Android and Kindle. In the US, it is $1.99, and [in a British accent] in Britain, it is 1 pound and 29 pence. [back to normal voice] It is now available for Windows 8 phone users; exclusive to the US at the moment, still the same price. The app includes transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more. So please check it out.
Eric: That concludes this episode – 42 – of Alohomora! We’ll see you all next week. We look forward to hearing your responses on our Podcast Question of the Week and comments on our Alohomora! forums for any of the discussions we had during the show.
[Show music begins]
Eric: Thanks for listening. I’m Eric Scull.
Terrance: I’m Terrance Pinkston.
Michael: And I’m Michael Harle. [as Hermione] Thank you for listening to Episode 42 of Alohomora!
Eric: Open the Dumbledore.
[Show music continues]
Eric: Well, the way he… I just assumed it’s manipulation of Latin, right? You assume what the root words are and you know from other magical spells that people know that certain words have power.
Terrance: That is very, very disastrous. Just ask Luna’s mom. Oh wait, we can’t!
Eric: Unexpected harshness in the eleventh hour!
Eric: On this… oh wait, we can. Luna’s mother is dead… there’s a plane overhead. Just give me a moment. I wonder where it’s coming from. I wonder where it’s going to.
Michael: It’s probably going to LeakyCon London.
Eric: And with that, we’re back into the show.
Eric: Who is Dobby’s favorite Weasley?
Terrance: [as Dobby] Dobby’s favorite Weasley is Ron Weasley, sir!
Eric: [laughs] Let’s just ask that as the Podcast Question.
Terrance: Oh my God.
Eric: Which Weasley is Dobby’s…
[Eric and Michael laugh]