[Show music begins]
Michael Harle: This is Episode 93 of Alohomora! for July 19, 2014.
[Show music continues]
Michael: Hello, listeners, and welcome back to Alohomora!, the global reread of the Harry Potter series. I’m Michael Harle.
Laura Reilly: I’m Laura Reilly.
Rosie Morris: And I’m Rosie Morris. And it’s my pleasure to welcome our fabulous editor Patrick back to the show. Hi, Patrick!
Patrick Musilek: Hello!
Laura: We were just talking about it. It’s been quite a while since you’ve been on the show, so we’re really excited to have you back considering that you’re such an integral part of the show every week.
Patrick: Yeah. I’m excited to be back, and I just want to point out to all of the listeners that the last time I was on I was filling in for one of the hosts, and I actually ended up being on the episode with both you, Laura, and Rosie. So this is a return of the Laura, Rosie, Patrick connection.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: And really just Laura-Rosie also because Laura and Rosie, being in very conflicting time zones, rarely get to record. So I’m very excited that four of us are all together.
Michael: Yeah, I’m just the party crasher.
Michael: I’m always here.
[Laura and Michael laugh]
Patrick: I want to say, “I specifically… back when I first starting working on the show, which was I think Episode 4 – this chapter and this sort of section of this book, which is my favorite, by the way – I knew I wanted to be on the show for this because this is just my absolute favorite chapter, I think, in any book I’ve ever read, and we can talk about that later when we actually get into the chapter, but this was always sort of my plan to get on for this chapter and be in the discussion for this one.”
Laura: That’s awesome.
Rosie: Well, welcome to the show for that chapter, then.
Laura: Yeah, glad it worked out.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: All right, so speaking of that chapter, just a reminder to remind the fans that that chapter is “In the Hog’s Head,” Chapter 16. So give that a read if you haven’t already.
Rosie: But before we get anywhere near that Hog’s Head, we have to recap all of our discussion from last week, which was Chapter 15. And we will start with thegiantsquid who says,
“During McGonagall’s Transfiguration class, she mentions that snails are invertebrates and therefore less complex than mice, being mammals and vertebrates. Is Transfiguration also kind of a biology class? Would the students have to study how the things they are [t]ransfiguring function and what their composition is in order to make informed decisions when choosing items/animals/spells for a [t]ransfiguration? I read this in the book and thought it seemed like a way to further general education within a magical environment. Thoughts?”
And I just want to put in a special mention to Spellephant and Claire Marie for continuing this conversation on our main site. There are some brilliant comments talking about biology and transfiguration and how they would work together. But I just thought this was a brilliant comment to bring in a conversation we were having a few weeks back, where we were talking about the fact that there are no Muggle classes at Hogwarts, so how do these students manage to get their everyday education? And this is a brilliant example of where that everyday education comes into the magical education. What do you guys think?
Michael: I don’t remember if I was on that show or if I just listened to the discussion, but I do remember the discussion being that we had come up with yeah, maybe these lessons actually have elements to them that are actually like normal, practical, lessons that we just don’t see because that would be boring for us to read that. And I think that that makes sense in this respect. I mean, even from… I always harken back to the passage from Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry is having his first week of classes, and I think the passage reads something like “Harry realized that it wasn’t just about waving your wand and saying silly words” and that there’s actually a lot of in-depth stuff and work to be put into spellwork.
Laura: Yeah, I never really considered the more, I guess, biology element of it. I have to say that it’s probably pretty rudimentary. Pretty much as far we see, “This is an invertebrate, and this one isn’t” type thing. But at the same time that’s really… it’s almost teaching the necessary aspects of it, which there is something to be said for, I guess. I don’t know. I’m not a science person – never have been – so I would’ve loved for that to have been as advanced as my biology class got.
[Laura and Rosie laugh]
Laura: But yeah, I think… I mean, this is certainly a movie set thing, but I remember… I think it’s Chamber of Secrets when we really get to see McGonagall’s classroom. There'[re] a lot of diagrams of birds and whatnot written on the board, which would lead me to believe that they do have to learn a little bit more about the things that they are transfiguring, especially if they are live creatures.
Michael: Mhm. Well, and actually, a few… on the last episode on the comments AccioPotassium! came along and was talking about Astronomy classes, and surprisinglyswishy also joined that conversation, as well as Hufflepug, and they were talking about how wizards apply astronomy different[ly] from how we do because they were saying that we study astronomy because eventually, in theory, we’d like to go farther out into space, and we keep sending crafts out into space, and satellites, but they were saying how wizards wouldn’t use it that way because their aspiration, unless you’re watching StarKid, is to not go into outer space.
Michael: They just want to use astronomy more for the function of potions and how that affects potion ingredients and things like that.
Michael: So it’s… they are learning that stuff because there’s a chapter back where Hermione mentions the volcanos on one of Jupiter’s moons, and that’s pretty in-depth knowledge for wizards to have.
Rosie: But then that is Hermione.
Michael: But it is Hermione as well, too. But it’s part of their homework, so…
Rosie: Sure. Yeah, so it’s generally accepted that there would be general lessons within magical ones, though perhaps slightly more tailored to the specific needs of the magical workings, so they don’t really learn excessive stuff about the way things work if they don’t need that specifically for whatever they’re trying to do. Yeah?
Michael: Mhm. I think that’s about right. Well, and wizards think Muggle stuff is just amusing and silly anyway.
Rosie: True. But how much anatomy of a pig would you need to make a Desk!Pig?
[Eric, Michael, and Patrick laugh]
Rosie: Just to bring it back.
Michael: [laughs] You have to ask since Noah hasn’t been here for a while, right?
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Anyway, our next comment comes from Sycamore Combustion, and it says,
“This chapter quickly turned into an exercise in frustration with Harry. Because of his pride we find the injustice of Umbridge’s detentions have become acceptable as a consequence of Harry going it alone rather than addressing it. [H]arry’s injuries are more keen and visible with this chapter’s detention. Despite the description of [the] weeks ‘inscription,’ the consequence is that if Umbridge can get away with it, her techniques become more brazen; it’s something she just does [rather than] something she can inflict upon the student body as a matter of course, all because no one spoke up – not even Hermione. Had Hagrid returned as expected, this would have reached the Headmaster’s ear right away. […] Instead, good characters do nothing before things get out of hand. So where was Dumbledore? He hits a nail on the head by immediately defending Trelawney, yet is he […] clueless about Harry[‘s injuries] Grrrr.”
[Rosie and Eric laugh]
Laura: Yeah, I think it really was frustrating for me to read and just the logic behind when he was saying, “Oh, he’s not going to say anything because oh, then McGonagall will get fired if she complains about it.” But I mean, it’s torture, so it’s not something you just brush under the rug, and it’s just… right now Harry is being dramatic and like, “Yeah, I’m going at it alone,” but who’s to say that…? I feel like Harry is not the only person getting detention.
Patrick: Well, and we know later in the book for sure that all [of] the members of the DA end up having to do that. I mean, they all end up having the same punishment. But I think, too – and you guys have mentioned it on episodes in the past – wizards don’t look at physical injury the same way that a [Muggle] does because a lot of things can just be repaired with a flick of the wand. And the quill works in such a way that it heals itself anyway. It’s just that he does it so much that… the point of the punishment is that he does it enough that it stays on his hand, but I mean, in terms of McGonagall and stuff, I think they were more thinking along the lines of she doesn’t have any power to do anything anyway. I don’t know. I mean, it’s tough because people later on had to do it, and you do wonder why nobody did anything about it. I mean, surely the teachers had to find out after 28 of the students started to have the same punishment, so I don’t know.
Rosie: But even if the teachers know they don’t seem to do anything about it.
Rosie: Even later on they never seem to change anything.
Michael: By the time, I think, that many more students are receiving this punishment, Umbridge and Fudge have put so many practices in place that she can’t get in trouble for it.
Patrick: Yeah, that’s true.
Patrick: And I think by that point, Dumbledore is gone as well.
Michael and Rosie: Yeah.
Michael: But earlier on, yeah, I can see where that is odd. The likelihood that no other student is getting in trouble in Umbridge’s class seems pretty low. But of course, we do have to consider, too, that she is specifically out to get Harry.
Michael: She probably… I mean, I imagine if other students are causing minor disturbances in her class that she’s probably not as focused in on that or cares as much as she does when Harry does it.
Patrick: And I mean, the whole point of her being there and everything is directly related to Harry in the first place, and her sole focus is to try to… she’s asking people to basically snitch on Harry and anything he says and all that stuff, so I think her sole focus is on Harry in the first place, so it makes sense that he would be the one she singles out.
Michael: But it is grossly inappropriate that Harry doesn’t share this with higher authority at the school. [laughs]
Patrick: What do you guys think would be worse: writing that and having it appear on the back of your hand every time or being chained up by your thumbs in the dungeons?
Rosie: Umm… thumbscrews. [laughs]
Patrick: Yeah, I think that’s pretty tough. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah, I’d go with the thumb screws, too.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Patrick: Yet somehow Filch just seems like a playful character, and Umbridge is just evil.
Rosie: That’s true! Why do we like Filch more than Umbridge? [laughs] Maybe because he never actually follows through…
Rosie: … and we can actually feel sorry for him because of the Squib nature.
Michael: I think [unintelligible].
Patrick: And I think his character in the movies is absolutely hilarious.
Patrick: Almost every single thing that he says is a great one-liner, and so I think a little bit of that leaks into the book.
Michael: Yeah. I think Filch is more… kind of going back to… I know, a point that you brought up a lot, Rosie, about the earlier books, about how they’re more Roald Dahl-like in nature…
Rosie: Yes. Yes.
Michael: I think Filch is definitely more a product of that…
Rosie: One of those parts.
Michael: Because Umbridge… I can’t quite see her being in a Roald Dahl-esque world because she’s just a little too violent for that. Roald Dahl gets pretty dark and violent, but she’s not really comically violent. She’s pretty…
Michael: … seriously violent. [laughs]
Rosie: I think that’s the interesting thing. Umbridge is nasty, and that dual, two-faced nature without ever being a caricature, which makes her more chilling because she’s natural in her unnaturalness.
Rosie: Whereas a lot of the other evil characters have been… like the Dursleys, they are so overblown that they are these more caricature characters.
Patrick: Yep. That’s a good point.
Rosie: And maybe that’s bringing it into the more older books now that we’re in Order of the Phoenix, we can understand the delicacies and intricacies of a more human character, and we don’t need it to be a cartoon anymore. We have a greater understanding of the world around us and therefore of the differences in other people.
Michael and Patrick: Mhm.
Rosie: Yeah. Something like that. [laughs] There have been lots of thoughts on the OWL grades, with the examples from the UK, the US, and Australia, and pretty much everyone agrees that the practice tests are always going to be marked more severely, including our listeners who are also teachers who say that they actually do this in practice, so thanks a lot, guys! I’m sure your students will thank you as well.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: And they all actually agree that Snape probably marked everyone equally harshly as well, so it’s not just that he’s picking on Harry although that probably comes into it a little bit. The A-B-C-D-E-F system, which is the UK system for GCSEs, seems to resemble OWLs most closely, which makes sense. They take them the same year of schooling, all of this kind of thing. OWLs definitely seem to be based on GCSEs, though, this got a little more complicated once the UK introduced an additional top grade of A* after the book was actually published, and all of those letters are now being scrapped for numbers anyway.
Rosie: So it’s quite interesting that the gap between UK schools and Hogwarts is actually kind of growing, and I was just wondering if you guys thought that there might be a change in the way that school children reading the books now would see Hogwarts in comparison to how, perhaps, kids like me did as we were growing up. Although you guys probably have a different experience anyway, seeing as you don’t have the UK school system.
Patrick: Well, can you explain the UK school system at all? At least at the time that it was when the books were being written?
Rosie: Sure. Well, I mean, the books follow quite closely the secondary school system where you enter school for what would be Year 7 for us, but it’s first year for Hogwarts. And then, you go to sort of your fifth year, which for us is Year 10/11? And then you would do your exams, and you do have end-of-year exams going through, but you’re only really graded the A, B, C, D, E, F [letters] when you get to sort of the year before your main exams.
Rosie: So roughly around the same time that these kids are experiencing at Hogwarts now.
Rosie: So yeah, it does really quite follow quite closely this idea of having banded grades as well.
Laura: Yeah, I never really thought… just because it was so… I never compared it against my own… the US grading system, let’s say, for the SATs, but one thing I am thinking of now is just almost how rounded up or down the scores are because it’s an A or a B or a C or in this case, E or O.
Laura: And whereas the SATs, for us… it’s a definitive number. It’s 810 or 809…
Laura: … and it doesn’t get rounded up or down. And I don’t.. I mean, I hate the SATs, and I hate graded things in general, so I’m not going to say one’s better than the other, but it’s interesting with the OWLs how things are rounded up or down. I don’t know which one they would go but that someone could be barred from a career, really, if they just got one point below the cut-off for, let’s say, Potions or something.
Michael and Rosie: Yeah.
Laura: It seems pretty messed up. It seems like a flawed way of choosing someone’s career, pretty much, for the rest of their life.
Michael: That, I think, is pretty… that’s interesting, Rosie, this question of “How will this date the exprience for future readers, especially readers in the UK?” Because I remember when I was younger, I think I didn’t take the Hermione’s lessons stuff and the grading stuff that they were always talking about too much to heart because – and I still remember this – listeners, you should go look this up because it is amusing to watch. It’s a clip from Craig Ferguson[‘s] show, and he had British actress Emily Mortimer on, and he asked her what it was like, her time in America and being in America, and she said how funny it was that her daughter, one day, was listening to a Disney CD in the car, and she was like, “Oh, she’s singing about hopes and dreams and her future and that she can do anything she wanted, and I was just thinking, ‘You know, if we were in the UK right now, and she [were] singing this that loudly, she would be shot.'”
Michael: And while it’s obviously not that extreme, and we’ve talked about this before that the American school system and especially parenting in the US really does encourage kids to believe that they can literally do anything they want, and our media further increases that idea with things like American Idol and X Factor, which I know were somewhat borrowed from you guys.
Michael: Thanks to Simon Cowell.
Rosie: You got the direct imports from us but yes.
Michael: [laughs] Yes.
Michael: But we’re kind of inundated with that all around.
Rosie: Yeah. Well, you guys have the whole American dream thing, where anything is possible, isn’t it? So…
Michael and Patrick: Yeah.
Rosie: Yeah, that is quite different from the UK, but I think we do encourage kids to have aspirations. We’re not saying that these grades are definitive, and you can never better them.
Rosie: I think we’ve actually – probably in the last 10, 20 years – we’ve been working quite hard to change, maybe, that idea that you’re stuck at your level and can’t aspire to anything else.
Michael: Mhm. Well, and if that changes, that would definitely reflect a change for future UK readers by this point in the series depending…
Michael: … on how far those changes go.
Rosie: I don’t think they’ll change that much.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: But I think the new grading system in the UK – the 1 to 9 rather than A to F – is not really going to change all that much. There are still going to be banded grades. We’re still not going to get a very, very specific number like you guys do for the SATs.
Rosie: But within those bands, you’re falling somewhere within that. And if you are on the cusp of a grade, your exams would normally be remarked and they would try and give you as many marks as possible to get you up to that top grade…
Rosie: … that you’re after. But it does really affect some schooling. You guys have heard of Oxford and Cambridge, of course, and those kind of things that those universities that require the top, top grades, and if you miss out by one thing in your A-levels, which are the NEWT equivalents…
Rosie: … then that will affect what university you can go to. It might not affect your entire future career, because obviously you can study the same subject in a variety of different schools that would require different grades to get in. But it might make you change your choices of what you would study before you get to that stage. And yeah, that could change your entire future path. In the same way that we see with Harry at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince where he thinks that he didn’t get his Potions grade, therefore, he’s not going to train to become an Auror anymore, and we – obviously, with Slughorn’s introduction – that gets to change.
Rosie: So it is interesting that those boundaries do reflect the current UK system.
Patrick: Well, and that brings up an interesting point, too, because I was thinking about the grades and, if you compare their tests to something like the SATs – the SATs here in the US – you’re asked a question, you answer the question, and there’s a right answer or a wrong answer. But with their tests at the end of the year – and I’m sure you guys will get more into this – there’s a written exam, which I’m sure has a correct answer, but then there’s also a practical exam. And – I think – Ron doesn’t Transfigure a something into something perfectly, but he manages to pass. Basically, there’s different levels of – almost – subjectivity that the teachers or the people that are doing the exam can give, and so someone might pass you for doing something, whereas someone else that’s doing the exam might not pass you. There’s a lot of… It’s subjective – almost – whether you pass or not.
Rosie: Magic definitely seems to be a lot more free and unrestricted…
Rosie: … than academic grades that we might have, perhaps. And just to close off the comments from last week, we have a final comment from HufflePug, which probably won’t require much discussion. It just says,
“You mentioned some pretty awesome Hermione moments in this episode: her first time saying ‘Voldemort,’ her idea to start the DA, and of course her splendid defiance against Umbridge in class. Hermione has always been one of the strongest people in the series but in this book she just has these consistent shining moments that make the readers and her peers respect her intelligence along with her bravery. Later we see her performing near-genius spells to preserve the secrecy of the DA, analyzing Cho’s behavior instantly after Harry describes it to her, and coming up with the idea for the Quibbler interview [that] ended up being so successful. Basically, is there anything this girl can’t do? This has been your ‘Hermione is the best person ever’ rant of the day.”
Michael: I approve of that comment entirely.
Laura: Yeah, pretty much. [laughs]
Michael: That’s perfect. And what will be wonderful once we get into the chapters, there are going to be many more moments this week to celebrate about Hermione as well.
Michael: This is definitely her…
Laura: Yeah, definitely.
Michael: … her book to shine. But before we get into this week’s chapter discussion, we are going to review last week’s responses that you guys put in for the Podcast Question of the Week. And just as a reminder, that question was,
“While Umbridge is unquestioningly horrible, does Hogwarts need a more rigorous method of evaluating teaching practices? What do you think is used now, if anything, and what should be the happy medium between previous practices and those that Umbridge brings with her new position?”
So a little more focused on education here as that is a big focus of this book. And we… just like with last week’s comments, we got a lot of responses from teachers, including this one from Clare who said,
“I’m a middle school teacher in West Virginia, so I love thinking about this question! We don’t see any kind of teacher evaluations from Dumbledore, but I can see the teachers being evaluated based on the end of the year exams, such as OWLs. These seem similar to the state standardized testing in the US. Unfortunately, this is still how many teachers and schools are being evaluated in the [M]uggle world. At Hogwarts, students have had a few poor teachers, such as Lockhart (little content knowledge) and Snape (bullying students). For these reasons, I think there should be yearly evaluations put in place similar to my school. Depending on years of teaching experience, teachers are observed 1-3 times throughout the school year. At the end of the year, both teachers and principals evaluate the teacher’s performance based on professionalism, community activism, lessons, collaboration, etc. If the professors at Hogwarts receive a poor evaluation, Dumbledore could put them on an improvement plan the following year with supports put in place to help them become a better teacher.”
Laura: Okay, see… The problem with this, and I can offer an alternative even in the Muggle world, but at the same time… except maybe just listening to the students…
Laura: But whenever I had the principal sit in my classrooms when I was in high school and even before that – middle school – it was a completely different day…
Laura: … than what I would normally sit through.
Laura: Comically so, where it would be my one history – awful history teacher in high school – he just ranted about the same thing every day, no facts to back it up. He would pretty much harass all the students and then the principal sat in and he went around the room and asked everyone for a current event and wrote on the board, and it was a joke. And of course then that person’s never going to get fired because they’re putting on their best behavior. And we see that for Umbridge, that the people aren’t really doing that because they don’t care – pretty much – what Umbridge thinks, which is respectable. But at the same time, for a situation of what this question is asking – Dumbledore is a bit more clever than this situation – maybe it would work, but let’s say, even in the future, when Dumbledore isn’t there any more… I don’t know, I just can’t see it being any different than Muggle [laughs] schools.
Rosie: We have issues, though, if teachers are being evaluated based on the end of year exams, because how many times have we seen the exams cancelled at the end of the year…
[Laura and Michael laugh]
Rosie: … for various reasons? There is no evaluation going on if there are no exams. [laughs]
Michael: [laughs] Maybe that’s why they’ve been able to get away with some of these…
Michael: … bad appointments. [laughs]
Laura: That’s probably true.
Michael: [laughs] Well, and it’s also been pointed out – and I didn’t include the comments about this because there were so many good comments – but it was pointed out that maybe there are possible ways that Dumbledore has more of an omnipotent way of keeping an eye on the teachers and their activities, and there might be other magical means because – as we know – there’s quills that can keep track of magical births that just happen in the world. So who knows what the tools Dumbledore might have to be able to keep track of his teachers’ methods. But we had another more UK-centric comment that I was hoping Rosie could shed some more light on…
Rosie: I can try.
Michael: … from IGotTransfiguredIntoARhubarb… [laughs]
Michael: … and the comment says,
“We have something called OFSTED in the UK. Their purpose is to evaluate the school, and make or suggest changes they see fit. Umbridge’s methods of madness are the somewhat more extreme versions of this. From what we know about the canon it seems apparent that inspection of the teachers is non existent. I’d imagine though that the teachers would be observed on a yearly basis. Through observations and the students test results. After all, teaching ability needs to be assessed along with end of year grades. If the students meet the required or expected test percentage according to what the teachers predict, then is there really a call for anything much more than a standard routine classroom inspection?”
So tell us more about Ofsted, Rosie.
Rosie: Ooh, interesting.
Rosie: Along with the changes… Right, the education system in the UK, over the last five or so years, has been in a major state of upheaval…
Rosie: … due to a politician who actually – yesterday – lost his job.
Michael: Oh. [laughs]
Rosie: And so, yeah, we’re in an interesting time for education at the moment, which – considering I’m training to be a teacher in September – it has been something I have been following quite closely. But yeah, Ofsted is a government body that’s meant to be independent from the way schools are run…
Rosie: … and that visits schools unannounced, supposedly, and will inspect a variety of lessons throughout the school, see how the students are doing general day-to-day things. But, as Laura said, whenever you put an inspector in your class it’s never the same as when you don’t have an inspector in your class.
Michael: Mhm. That’s interesting, though, that they come unannounced.
Rosie: Supposedly. There’s always been a bit of a… Maybe a couple of days before…
Rosie: … you would know that they were coming in, maybe that week, but you don’t when that week. They are supposed to, now, be going in with no announcement at all. I don’t know if that’s actually happening properly, yet, but that’s…
Laura: That’s unfortunate if you planned a movie for the day.
[Laura and Michael laugh]
Rosie: Yeah, exactly. [laughs] But it’s meant to give more of a realistic impression of what’s going on. But, also if you’ve got an inspector in your class, as a teacher, then you’re going to be more nervous and you’re not going to be as natural…
Rosie: … as you are in front of a class in general, as well. But yeah, Umbridge I could definitely see as an Ofsted-style character in Jo’s mind that she would put this political inspector figure within the classroom. Just, yeah it screams Ofsted, really.
Michael: [laughs] And you said Ofsted has been around for how long?
Rosie: Oh, a long time. I’m not entirely sure, but it’s been the last couple of years things have been changing and there have been a lot of more scandalous things coming to the news…
Rosie: … where Ofsted has been failing or have been going by their views of education rather than the general education system. Or specific inspectors have had views on how things should be taught [that] don’t necessarily fall in line with the rest of the country.
Michael: Mmm, okay.
Rosie: So yeah, there have been a few issues. But I hope I am never inspected by Umbridge. [laughs]
Michael: [laughs] Well, and with that knowledge in mind that goes perfectly into the last comment I have here from a fantastic username, SheFlooLikeAMadman. And listeners, it’s Floo as in Floo Network, which is just perfect. But SheFlooLikeAMadman says,
“I think Umbridge’s hateful officiousness (with her little ‘inspections’) is meant to be a very deliberate swipe by Jo at the idea of government interference in schools, and the demoralising effect it can have on teachers. I don’t think we’re supposed to come away from Order thinking, ‘Gosh, what this shows is that Hogwarts needs MORE MINISTRY INTERFERENCE.’ I imagine Hogwarts regulates its own standards of education to a certain extent, because no teacher is going to bungle educating their pupils when those SAME PUPILS could accidentally blow them up, if mistaught! (Ditto for angry parents, since a lot of them are going to be wand-wielders too.). And since there IS only one school for magic in Britain, which educates EVERYONE, people would soon notice if there was something up with the standards there. I think Hogwarts is fine as it is, guys. If it ain’t broke, don’t Reparo it…”
I thought that was…
Michael: … a pretty good statement on that.
Laura: I’m not going to lie with what people have brought up of… I still – and I’ve said this many times before – I cannot defend Dumbledore’s decision to hire Lockhart.
Laura: I just don’t understand it…
Michael: That’s, yeah.
Laura: … at all, except as a plot point. But…
Michael: Well, and people…
Laura: … I don’t know.
Michael: … people cited that.
Laura: I understand the concern…
Laura: … but obviously, this is an extreme scenario.
Michael: Well, and it was brought up as well, too, that Hogwarts does serve as both a mix of not just being an educational institution but – as everyone in the wizarding world seems to know – the safest place to protect things, which is why we have somebody like Trelawney or people like Slughorn on staff as well.
Laura: In their parents’ defense, I think it was, maybe, the last chapter. I don’t think it was this one. Yeah it was the “High Inquisitor” chapter…
Laura: … in the press release it was saying oh, that he hired a werewolf…
Laura: … Lockhart, someone with Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head…
Laura: … then the legit guy was hidden away by a Death Eater. Yeah, great, it all worked out in the end for stuff, but from a normal student with a normal parent’s perspective that is perfectly reasonable grounds…
Laura: … to question the headmaster. And I don’t think it’s out of, “Ah, you evil parents and evil Ministry” for wanting to do something about it. Obviously we hate Fudge, and we hate Umbridge, and we hate everything that came from this and the interference, but I don’t disagree that something should have been done because that’s four years in a row, that we know of, of something happening.
Rosie: There are several brilliant fanfics in the comedy category, which are just from a regular guy’s point of view during Harry’s time at Hogwarts.
Rosie: Just kind of, “Oh, did you hear about what happened to Harry today? This is ridiculous. What’s going on?”
Rosie: That kind of viewpoint…
Rosie: … is the funniest thing if you read it from….
Rosie: … that fly on the wall point of view.
Rosie: Yeah, just, for anyone else it would be ridiculous. [laughs]
Laura: Yeah, no, it’s not absurd to think, “Maybe it’s not the safest place in the world…”
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah.
Laura: “… considering a kid died.” If a kid died due to something that wasn’t explained in a Muggle school, [laughs] some higher power sure as heck is interfering into something just to respond.
Michael and Rosie: Mhm.
Laura: Obviously we hate everything that was done but I don’t think it’s how aghast Hermione is that the Ministry would do something. I think it’s reasonable, in theory, just not in practice.
Patrick: Well, do you think some of that might have to do with the fact that Dumbledore, as the books progress, he becomes so much more preoccupied with things that are outside of the school. Do you think it’s just that he’s neglecting his duties at the school and making bad decisions?
Laura: I don’t think that’s, I mean, kind of… I don’t know…
Laura: … I could go either way. Because like I said, Lockhart, no excuses. Quirrell, I could see maybe not seeing that coming, or whatever. Obviously Lupin was extremely qualified, and Mad-Eye Moody was extremely qualified. Those were just two… one scenario was just prejudice, and the other scenario is kidnapping…
Laura: … or whatever, so I don’t know. I feel like Dumbledore should have been more paying attention. But I don’t think it’s certainly all his fault, with the exception being Lockhart.
Michael: Well, and of course… and we’ll continue to keep up to date with this as we continue through the books, but that’s also really dependant, too, on back, way back in the day when Steve Vander Ark was on the show and whether or not you subscribe to the theory of just how all-knowing and all-in-control is Dumbledore of all these situations. And when does he choose to let things play out? When does he seem to think he knows what’s going to happen? And when is he just taken by surprise at certain events in the book?
Patrick: Well, that’s what I think. I think up to this point, though, he’s been able to keep tabs on everything and have that omnipresent presence…
Patrick: … but I think at this point it’s starting to get away from him. Especially, obviously, Voldemort’s coming back. He doesn’t know everything Voldemort’s doing. I think, at this point, it’s starting to get away from him and you can make an argument that he is starting to foul some stuff up now.
Michael: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s definitely true. So we’re going to have to send Oftsed after Dumbledore.
Michael: Yep. But in the meantime I just wanted to make sure to give a few shout-outs to the other participants who I couldn’t use your comments, but you did have some great thoughts this week. Shout-outs to Bill White, Dan Sharp, thegiantsquid, Hufflepug, loony_lauren, madame_lestrange, Marge Miller, QuibbleQuaffle, Ravenclawsome…
[Laura and Rosie laugh]
Michael: … SpectacularlyHypothetical, suprememugwump, and WizardorWhat. You all had great contributions this week to the Podcast Question of the Week. If you listeners would like to see what they had to say, make sure [to] visit the Alohomora! main site.
Laura: All right. So now we’re getting to the chapter that Patrick has eagerly been waiting for for months, apparently.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: Years, really.
Patrick: Years, yep. Since 2003. [laughs]
[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 16 intro begins]
[Sound of a door creaking open]
Umbridge: Chapter 16.
[Sound of a bell ringing and a door closing]
Umbridge: “In the Hog’s Head.”
[Sound of a goat bleating]
[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 16 intro ends]
Laura: We last left off with Hermione and half Ron trying to convince…
Laura: … Ron is trying to keep as far of a distance as he can. A safe distance away from having any sort of accountability in this decision.
Michael: He is just staying out of slapping distance, that is all.
Laura: Right, slapping radius. Yeah. But Hermione is still convincing Harry that he is good enough at Defense Against the Dark Arts to teach the class, and Harry still thinks that it is just Ron and Hermione, but Hermione has got a few more people.
Laura: So once he finally agrees and she assures him that it is just a few people who are going to show up at the Hog’s Head pub to hear him speak. Of course, “a few” means “only all of the non-Slytherins we know by name in the series.”
Rosie: Every single character, yeah.
Laura: So they show up to the Hog’s Head, the barman over there looks a little too familiar, and the not-so-intimate group of 25 students want to hear Harry’s version of what happened in the graveyard. Angsty Harry isn’t having it, and assures people that he was just winging it the whole time, he has had help and luck. But the students remind Harry that he is pretty darn special even if he doesn’t want to admit it, and by signing their secrets away on Hermione’s enchanted parchment, Dumbledore’s Army is formed in all but name. So let’s dive into… more in-depth into the… it is called “Into the Hog’s Head,” right? The chapter?
Michael: It is “Into the Hog’s Head.” Yeah, we’re go. [laughs]
Laura: So into “Into the Hog’s Head.” Right. All right. So once Harry has agreed to have this meeting of sorts and they’ve decided on Hogsmeade, Harry is initially worried less about leading this meeting and more about the risk that Sirius is just going to show up anyway, barreling down the street as a dog. He is just concerned about the whole thing. And Hermione, in responding to his concern, is just like, “Harry, bide your time, once the Ministry believes Dumbledore about Voldemort they’ll believe Sirius is innocent also.” I just quickly wanted to talk about this because I’m less inclined to believe that even if the events of the book played out exactly as they did, minus Sirius being killed, and Voldemort saw, Fudge is like, “Yeah, he is back,” would the Ministry have truly vindicated Sirius just like that?
Laura: I would agree.
Michael: [laughs] I’m mixed on that. Well, the interesting thing as far as proof in the chapter is that Hermione says… and this is something we debated a lot near the end of Goblet. She says, “Well, they would know right away because he doesn’t have a Dark Mark.” And I thought, well, that is interesting, because we had a whole debate on how that worked back in the day. When Death Eaters were caught and whether they could disguise their Dark Mark, how this would seem to be an obvious giveaway, and yet that wasn’t really considered trustworthy because then people could just claim, “Oh, Voldemort, he enchanted me and he branded me with this.”
Laura: Or, opposite, people like Greyback who don’t have the Dark Mark but are clearly a Voldemort supporter. The Dark Mark is more the inner circle, but that doesn’t make you not a supporter.
Michael: I think it would… I think with Dumbledore’s support there might be a way to at least get Sirius… ensure Sirius’s freedom and safety, but it wouldn’t be quite as clean-cut as Ron and Hermione are hoping it would be.
Patrick: Yeah, I agree with that.
Laura: Yeah, my… the thing that I would see happening is because clearly, I mean, this is such a huge blunder for the Ministry meaning – in regards to the Voldemort business, not even Sirius. But I feel like if they have to go through that whole thing of like ‘Whoops, we goofed guys, Voldemort’s back.’ [laughs] Just to… on here, everything we’ve told you I feel like they couldn’t easily just say ‘Oh, yeah, we were wrong about the Sirius thing for the past seventeen years, also.’ Or however many. I feel like he’d almost be like a scapegoat, to be like ‘Well, see, but we did catch him, like we’re one bad guy down already,’ and just almost kill him just to kind of… before trial, before anything, just… you know what I mean?
Laura: Just to say they did one thing right.
Michael: Well, and it would be interesting…
Rosie: But then it would be even more of a scandal if it did come out that he was actually…
Michael: Yeah. Well…
Michael: … and that… it would be interesting, too, because you would also have to consider that by this theoretical point that we’re thinking, if things still do play out the same otherwise, Scrimgeour’s will… would be the minister. Not Fudge.
Michael: … Scrimgeour is very PR concerned, but in a different way than Fudge is.
Michael: He’s super tactful about public relations. So I would… I still think that he would… that there would be a way to get Sirius free and… so that he could live the rest of his life. But Scrimgeour would make quite a few deals with Sirius and Dumbledore before he would… it would have to go down completely his way.
Laura: Yeah, and you need… you still need Pettigrew, pretty much.
Michael: Yeah, to prove it.
Laura: You need him, in order for that… not even just as proof, but just as – even if proof alone and how much the Order, and how much Dumbledore supports him all of… Potter, meaning James Potter as closest allies.
Laura: You would still need Pettigrew out to appease the public.
Patrick: That would have been an interesting…
Patrick: … side story, if in this theoretical universe, Sirius survived, maybe he would have asked Sirius to go hunt down Pettigrew to prove his innocence. And that could have been an interesting “what if?”
Laura: Hmm. Perhaps. But sad-face.
Laura: All a moot point.
Laura: Because he’s dead.
Laura: Yeah. Anyway, so now they’re going into Hogsmeade, and Harry kind of feels bad, because he’s only going to Hogsmeade because of Sirius, and he told Sirius he couldn’t come, but that’s just a sad side note. But it seems to me like multiple levels of poor planning…
Patrick: Oh, yeah. [laughs]
Laura: … that Hermione would choose to meet in the Hog’s Head so openly. I mean, I know that they’re saying, “Oh, the Hog’s Head, no one goes in there,” but the type of people that do go in there are the “dodgy” sort of folk…
Laura: … that [laughs] what… I would specifically not want to hear that – this being planned, this is pretty much the kids version of the anti-Voldemort movement, and this is the place where Hagrid won the dragon egg…
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: … with the whole Voldemort business from here, which they even mention in the chapter.
Laura: And it’s kind of like the creepy part of town, and it’s… if they met in a very crowded place for no… they said, “Oh, I want to meet in the Three Broomsticks because it’s super crowded, and no one could hear anything you were saying,” that’s exactly what…
Rosie: What you want.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: … what you want.
Laura: You don’t want the quiet place that’s going to…
Laura: … draw attention when 25 students who normally never go there all pile in at one time…
Laura: … and everyone’s going to be looking at them like, “What are you guys doing here?” and everyone can hear… all the people that are in there can hear every word that they say. The Three Broomsticks, meeting in a corner, that looks like 25 kids all celebrating something, and no one can really hear what they’re saying because it’s loud…
Rosie: Not suspicious at all…
Laura: That makes more… [laughs]
Patrick: Yeah. [laughs]
Laura: That makes more sense.
Patrick: Yeah, and Sirius…
Patrick: … kind of chides them about that a little bit.
Patrick: I think it’s in the next chapter.
Rosie: Whose idea was it? Was it Hermione’s idea, or was it Ron’s?
Michael: It was Hermione’s…
Laura: It was Hermione’s.
Patrick: It was Hermione’s, yeah.
Rosie: Yeah. It’s…
Rosie: … interesting because she’s had so many genius moments in this book, but each one seems to be tampered with a slightly naive, or just… she seemed to have this kind of dual personality thing going on where she’s brilliant, but kind of stupid at exactly the same time.
Michael: Well, and to her credit, she’s 15.
Laura: Yeah, no, it’s true…
Michael: I think she’s… she was probably also thinking that she… because she does say if Umbridge did find out she wouldn’t like what she’d hear and Hermione is probably still thinking along the lines, as we mentioned earlier, that there may be students who would snitch or let slip what was going on. Even indirectly, because word gets around fast at Hogwarts. And, well, yes, they would probably have been a little suspicious to just go and gather with people at the Three Broomsticks. Once the group gets over a certain number of people, people would be like, “Gee, Harry is not usually surrounded by about 30 other people.”
[Patrick and Rosie laugh]
Michael: “That’s odd.” [laughs] Eventually, it probably…
Michael: … would have attracted attention in a large public place.
Laura: Yeah, because the way they say it, they do really just list them, being like, “And then this person walks in” and it’s not, “Oh, they filled in and then a few minutes later…” It’s just like a list of 25 people that all come in at once.
Michael: Yeah. That was probably…
Laura: So that had to have attracted just, picture this people. If they have to walk even a far distance, that’s that much longer of a time…
Laura: … for people to realize that people are moving in mass to a location.
Patrick: Yeah, it actually, probably, ended up working in to their favor that they did this. And it was just lucky that one of the people that happened to be in there was Mundungus. So…
Laura: Right. Yeah, it’s like I said, it’s kind of a moot point because it does all work out for them. So, you know, “Great, good for you,” it’s just…
Laura: … strikes me as strange. I mean, Hermione does tend to overlook the obvious sometimes.
Michael: Well, and they’ll…
Laura: Because she thinks she’s being clever about something like, “Oh…”
Rosie: But then…
Laura: “… we’ll avoid the Three Broomsticks.”
Rosie: … at the same time, there’s nothing technically wrong about what they are doing.
Rosie: It hasn’t been banned yet. So they’ve got no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to meet. So…
Laura: That’s true.
Rosie: … even if they are meeting in a dodgy pub because they know that Umbridge, perhaps, wouldn’t be 100% behind the idea…
Rosie: … to put it nicely, there’s… they don’t believe, at this moment, that there is something that she would do to prevent it. And it… that is why there’s the big blow up in the next chapter when these things have been banned, Quidditch and things as well.
Michael: And, of course, again to be fair, probably couldn’t anticipate that the barman was Dumbledore’s brother, who he never talks about.
Rosie: Well, he does look strangely familiar.
Laura: But I wanted to talk about that a little bit because, correct me if I’m wrong, is it not a plot point, later in the series, that they actually…
Rosie: Incredibly similar.
Laura: … confuse Aberforth for Dumbledore? So they looked extremely similar. And also, Harry just saw this guy’s photograph not even a month ago.
Laura: In the Dumbledore’s Army…
Rosie: He’s got other things on his mind.
Laura: Not Dumbleore’s Army… the Order’s picture.
Patrick: Yeah, which I wanted… I wanted to bring up something real quick about that, because when I was rereading this, I read a couple of chapters before this as well to kind of catch up. And I read that chapter where Moody shows him the picture and, I think, Moody specifically says, when he talks about Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth, he says something like, “He’s a strange chap,” and he only met him the one time. And I thought, has he never gone into the Hog’s Head ever? I find that very hard to believe that… that Moody would not have… I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t be a bigger part of all this stuff. Unless, Moody was lying to just sort of draw atten… to not draw attention to the fact that Aberforth is part of the… kind of has a bigger role to play.
Laura: I mean, I think he has a bigger role to play in the future, but he did kind of distanced himself for the whole…
Laura: … thing in light of what happened with his sister and whatnot. He saves the day later in the game, but he is not, by any means, a part of the Order at this point.
Rosie: I find it interesting that he has stayed so close to Dumbledore.
Rosie: Like, sure Hogsmeade is known to be, is it the only purely wizarding village in the UK?
Michael: Yeah, I think it’s the only…
Patrick: I think so.
Michael: … completely, but there are other pockets of communities that…
Rosie: Yeah, I mean, I can understand why he wouldn’t want to be in Godric’s Hollow, but there are other things… places around the UK he could have gone to but, instead, he chooses to be near his brother, even if he can’t stand him. [laughs]
Michael: Which is part of the tragedy of that.
Laura: Right. Not that Dumbledore really pops in.
Rosie: That we know of.
Laura: Yeah, that’s true. And it’s funny. Just also, I want to mention about Aberforth. It’s our first role… the first mention of Aberforth and his goats business.
Laura: He’s just the sketchiest part of the Harry Potter series.
Michael: [laughs] It’s weird.
Laura: But yeah… but I also think it’s funny that Ron thinks that he would sell him anything like alcohol-wise. He was like, oh he wants to try firewhisky, which at least lets us know that the wizarding world at least has some sort of standard on underage drinking…
Laura: … like that there is restrictions that he thinks he can like get away with. Because otherwise we don’t really get any formal notice because butterbeer is slightly alcoholic and whatnot.
Michael: I love the little…
Laura: Just thought it was funny.
Michael: … side mention, too, that Hermione is like, “Flitwick told me to bring our own glasses,” and I was like, “Dang.”
Laura: Yeah, want to borrow my shot glass? Yeah.
Michael: That was… like was that dodgy or what. If there wasn’t any confirmation that this is the grown-up book, there you are.
Laura: Yeah, exactly. And once all the people pile in, there’s thirteen Gryffindors, seven Ravenclaws, and five Hufflepuffs, and notably missing is Seamus and, you know, the apparently non-existent Gryffindor females that just never do anything against the rules ever, but…
Laura: If they even exist. But yeah, Seamus is missing, but pretty much everyone else we know is there, and Hermione kind of begins her speech as to why they’re there and she’s kind of nervous, but she gets more heartened as she goes, and as she starts to kind of insult Umbridge’s teaching styles more, and she openly declares that Voldemort is indeed back because Dumbledore says he’s back and Harry says he’s back, and… I kind of have to wonder, like, they make note that the barman is listening and he’s continuing to dirty the rag… like the glass that he’s cleaning. I have to wonder with all this… as a conversation like shifts itself to Dumbledore and Zacharias Smith starts to say stuff about Dumbledore, what Aberforth is thinking about this whole business right now.
Laura: What do you think? At this moment, is he like impressed, is he supportive, is he like, these stupid kids, what is he thinking about? What does he think about even what the Daily Prophet is saying about Dumbledore like…
Rosie: Well, he would have known about the greater good idea…
Laura: … so he might even be worried about the idea of kids banning together under the notion of doing something… for the benefit of you know a generation because of an idea that kind of roots itself in Dumbledore. So he might be kind of getting, “Oh no, here we go again,” but at the same time, Voldemort is back. He understands that there is a need for the war, all that kind of stuff. Yeah, it’s difficult. Dumbledore is not dead yet, so there’s an element of hope, which I don’t think Aberforth has when we see him later. You know, because when he has that conversation with Harry – the “Why are you doing this? Why are you listening to him?” conversation – I think it is because he’s seen his brother fail finally…
Rosie: … and because even the mighty can fall that low twice with the loss of his sister and then once he’s brought up with his eventual death… but yeah, I don’t know. I think he must be very conflicted with himself as well as…
Rosie: … about what they’re doing.
Michael: I would agree. I’d say he would probably after they all leave, I’m sure he would be left just as… his feelings would be just as mixed as they ever were before. I think the reason that Aberforth takes so much interest is that – and like we were saying – Dumbledore… it’s not like Dumbledore stops in and asks for a firewhisky every day. I’m sure Aberforth hasn’t really heard more direct stuff about Dumbledore from… especially from students because students don’t go into the pub…
Michael: … this is probably a level of you know candid news that he has not heard for quite a while, so… and for her people who are so close to Dumbledore like Harry, it’s a very different level of news, I’m sure. So like I said, I’m sure he’s just still as baffled as he was before about the whole thing.
Rosie: Do you think that the passageway that we see in Deathly Hallows only opens up during Deathly Hallows? Or do we think that it is already in existence behind the portrait of Ariana?
Patrick: I think it’s there.
Patrick: I think it’s there all the time. I actually am pretty sure that… as I was reading the seventh book, I just always got the opinion that that passageway was put there so that Dumbledore could visit Aberforth.
Rosie: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. We don’t know how much contact they have with each other at this point.
Patrick: I’ve always thought that… and it’s been a while since I read the seventh book and I’m excited for us to get there so we can revisit that, but I remember thinking, as I was reading the seventh book, that, “Oh, there’s a player in this game that has been important the whole time…”
Patrick: “… and he has just always been there.” And I always remember thinking that Dumbledore would keep Aberforth in the know on everything, and that they weren’t necessarily friends, but that Aberforth realized that he might be needed in the war to come, or whatever. So I think it’s there at this point.
Rosie: It would be so interesting to know more about, not really the backstory, but the current story…
Rosie: … the underlayers that we don’t really know.
Michael: Well, and it gets, of course, so complicated because part of the view we get of it is through Rita Skeeter, and those tip-offs that she will write later are probably the hardest to pull out the truth from what she says, so it’s a very muddy relationship. I mean, maybe Pottermore will enlighten us a little more in the future, but for now there’s really no confirmation on how close or how distant they were from each other.
Patrick: Yeah. And this is where we’re getting into, I think, some of… this book, and Goblet of Fire to an extent, too, are… and you guys have discussed it; this is where JKR’s writing is really… I mean, I think it’s at top form here because she is setting up stuff here in this book that is just so clever. And I mean, even things like you mentioned earlier; we were laughing about the goat, but I remember in the break between the sixth and seventh book, using that… I think in the sixth book they mentioned something about Aberforth again in context of a goat, and I remember before the seventh book came out, it had never been confirmed that Aberforth was the… because at the point where we’re reading this the first time, you don’t know that that’s Aberforth…
Patrick: … and in the break between the sixth and seventh book, I remember it being a thing that we all figured out as a Harry Potter community, that the guy that was actually running the Hog’s Head was Aberforth and it was because of the subtle goat hints.
Rosie: There were hints about the goat, yeah.
Patrick: Yeah, and so it’s just stuff like that. I think this is where Jo is getting into her stride, and she had such a difficult time writing Goblet of Fire, and after that I think she just… it was uphill from there and that’s one of the reasons I love this book so much. It really… I don’t know. I could just gush about this forever.
Patrick: But I’m going to wait to do my gushing until we get a little bit more into the chapter.
Rosie: Her writing does just have so much flair in this that you can see that she’s having fun with the elements. Yeah, it’s brilliant.
Patrick: Oh, absolutely. And even the way that she writes Hermione; you really feel that she’s nervous when she starts her speech.
Patrick: And just the little sentence she writes about when the door opens and you can see light and dust particles in the air as everyone starts walking in. You can clearly picture that in your mind; they’re sitting in this dodgy… it’s just such good writing. This is the obligatory genius moment, for sure.
Laura: [laughs] Yeah.
Rosie: You have to remember that by this point, Jo has lived with this world for twenty years, perhaps, since she started really plotting out what was going on. So these characters, at this point, are properly alive, and she can live in these characters and write these characters in such a way that they are fully formed people…
Rosie: … and therefore the nuances, and the delicacy, and all of the stuff I was saying earlier about Umbridge’s character, she can apply to every single character in the world. And that’s why we’ve seen Cho having more human moments. That’s why we’ve got Hermione having these kind of difficulties where she’s genius and stupid and where she’s completely nervous and you can feel the emotions coming out of the page, and that is why it’s just glorious.
Laura: Yeah, sure. So back to what’s happening with the students… really, everyone is very attentive, and for the most part Harry knows everyone that is there because even the two people that he doesn’t know by name we know is Marietta and Susan Bones. But Zacharias Smith is really the only one there that is visibly a problem.
Laura: He is really the worst non-Slytherin student there is in the series, which to a point, I admire that that was put in there just so that Slytherin wasn’t the only comically evil house; there is questionable students in every house…
Rosie Why did it have to be Hufflepuff? [laughs]
Laura: … I mean, there’s people in every house.
Michael: Yeah, no, she’ll make up for it later because she’ll introduce… who is it? Cormac McLaggen.
Laura: Yeah, exactly. Right.
Michael: And he is a snot, so…
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Patrick: But isn’t he a Hufflepuff, too?
Michael and Rosie: No, he’s a Gryffindor.
Patrick: He is Gryffindor, okay. [laughs]
Laura: Yeah. So he is really the one to say – even though it’s on everyone’s mind – that he wants proof as to why Voldemort is back. Harry realizes most of the people are there to hear his side, which I don’t think is necessarily true. I’d be inclined to believe that at least some of these people are genuinely fed up with Umbridge and want to defend themselves, like the purpose of the meeting, but Harry tells everyone to peace if they want to know about Cedric, but no one does. And people… I think Susan Bones is the first one to pipe up and ask if he can produce a corporeal Patronus, which is echoing what her aunt, we find out, said during his hearings. And then it just snowballs from there of everyone confirming that he’s done all this cray stuff over the years. And as fun as this scene is of stacking all these things that Harry has done on top of each other, like, “Oh, yeah, he did the Sorcerer’s Stone, and he saved it from Quirrell, and then he smashed a Basilisk through the skull with a sword,” at the same time it struck me by surprise that for the most part, most of these people didn’t know that this stuff happened.
Laura: I always assumed… and I don’t know if it’s because from Sorcerer’s Stone when he’s like, “What happened between you and Quirrell is a secret, so naturally everyone knows…”
Rosie: Yeah. [laughs]
Laura: … I don’t know if that’s a movie-ism or not, but anyway, I just assumed because of the way gossip travels that just everyone knew all of these things. So it struck me by surprise that people like Lavender say, “Wow!” And she didn’t know that… I don’t know which one it was…
Patrick: I think that… see, I always thought that everybody has just this general sense that Harry is involved in a lot of stuff, but the details of a lot of the stuff never really get out. Yes, everyone knows that Quirrell and Harry had some sort of a problem and that Quirrell was gone, but I don’t think everybody necessarily knew that Quirrell had Voldemort on the back of his head and that he died and all that stuff. And the same thing for the subsequent books; I think everyone just has a general idea that Harry is involved in stuff, but not the finer details.
Rosie: Yeah. It’s like Ron with his story that he continues embellishing and embellishing and changing and getting worse and worse and worse…
Rosie: … until someone laughs and points out something; then he refines it and goes back to the original story.
Laura and Patrick: Right.
Rosie: … and you hear these things that seem so absurd that you think, “Oh, it’s just an exaggeration, he probably just had a detention or something. He didn’t actually go and fight Voldemort on the back of someone’s head.” It gets to the point where it’s so extreme that people don’t really believe it…
Rosie: … so to hear that these things actually happened, and that that ridiculous story that you heard was true, that in itself is quite amazing, not just the fact that he did it.
Laura: But how else do they explain away things? Like how the Chamber attacks stop, and with Quirrell… I don’t know if any of you saw a popular social media thing that went around this week. It was a live blog of someone watching Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time,without having ever watched anything or read anything before, and they’re like, “Wait, did eleven-year-old Harry just legit murder a dude?”
Laura: And it’s exactly that! Quirrell is dead! And Harry was the only one down there. Was no one…? Everyone was just chill with the fact that, to quote, “Harry Potter just legit murdered a dude.” What else do they…? They just accept things so easily and be like, “Yeah, okay.”
Rosie: They do seem to accept things, don’t they?
Patrick: Yeah. Well, weird stuff happens all the time. It’s a wizarding school and Dumbledore is really good at keeping everything contained, I think.
Laura: I guess, but kids are gossipy by nature. I feel like everyone… if one person says that Harry… they say, “Oh, I found out from a portrait that you stabbed a Basilisk with a sword.” Really? That didn’t get around? I heard the guy was just like, “Oh, interesting fun fact. Moving on with my day.”
Patrick: Well, I thought it was cool that when Lee or when Susan Bones asks if he can create a corporeal Patronus, I think George or Fred mention to Lee that their mom told Ron to not talk about it because they didn’t want to bring any more attention to him.
Rosie: Yeah. That’s so sweet.
Patrick: And I think that maybe goes deeper than not wanting to bring attention up. It’s hiding information from people, and if they can disguise that by saying, “Oh, Ron, don’t talk about it. Harry is already super famous. You don’t want him to get more famous, do you?” Then Ron will do that because that obviously is playing into Ron’s feelings, too. I thought that was interesting that Jo particularly chose to actually have that comment in there. I thought that was neat.
Michael: Well, and the comment also ends up being a hint toward who is under the black veil because Mundungus twitches when Mrs. Weasley is mentioned.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: Oh, I didn’t notice that.
Patrick: I didn’t get that. That’s funny, yeah.
Michael: That’s the hint because otherwise you would have no idea that it’s him. It’s just a wonderful little throwaway moment. But yeah, no, it is also a great comment because it does give more insight into how even the Weasleys talk amongst themselves about Harry when he’s not around.
Patrick: Right. And if I can just take this moment to do my gushing about this, and this is… I sometimes get really jealous that you guys get to do this on a regular basis because you get to express your opinions about everything all the time. And I just wanted to say that as I was growing up reading the books, I was relatively the same age – I think I was 16 when this was happening – and there was one thing that always frustrated me as I was getting into reading and different things, and it was the fact that people, in not just books but any medium at that time, were really… no one ever really got any vindication for being the hero. And especially with Harry because he doesn’t want to be a hero; he wants to be just a normal kid and he was thrust into the hero role, and admittedly he filled the role really nicely, but he was just thrust into it. And when you get into this chapter, and the chapter before this when Ron and Hermione are complimenting Harry on everything that he has done, and in this chapter when you see all the kids in awe of all the things that he’s done, it’s like… I remember reading it the first time and just feeling such a sense of satisfaction that finally Harry is getting recognition for the things that he’s done. And because of that, after this… this moment was actually what really sucked me in. I was a big fan of Harry Potter before this and I went to the midnight release for this book and all that, but this really sucked me in and I have to say, too, in the… there’s two parts to this. That’s the first part, basically, that I love the fact that Harry is getting vindicated. It’s so satisfying to finally hear someone appreciating everything that he’s done because the poor kid has gone through so much. And they even say it later; when Dumbledore is talking to him at the end, he says he had to endure things that grown-ups could never even fathom. And he had to do that on a yearly basis, and growing up with the fact that his parents were murdered and all that. The other thing that I think is so awesome about this, and one of the reasons that I love this book so much and especially the Dumbledore’s Army aspect – which I think is possibly my favorite thing I have ever read or watched or seen ever; it’s so satisfying – is that the break between this book and the previous book was about a three-year break, and I remember at the time I was looking for something else to read and I read the first nine… up to that point, the first nine Series of Unfortunate Events books were out.
Michael: Oh yeah, I love those books.
Patrick: Yeah, I love those books. They are just brilliant. But one thing that always frustrated me with that and a lot of other stuff at the time was that in all these adventures and stuff, kids would always be thrust into danger and everything and no grown-ups ever helped them.
Patrick: It was always just, “Figure this out on your own.” And everyone, especially in Series of Unfortunate Events, which is…
Laura: Yeah, that’s [unintelligible]…
Patrick: Just… yeah, it’s so frustrating.
Rosie: Whenever they win they always get straight back to square one again, yeah.
Patrick: And at the time I remember reading this and thinking this is Harry, my favorite character, and all the other characters from the book getting together and saying, “No more of that. We are going to take matters into our own hands, and it doesn’t matter what the adults think. We’re going to start fighting back.” And there’s a lot of deep stuff that goes on into here, with wanting to contribute to the Order, not being old enough, and all that stuff, but this, to me, is the peak of the books. This is where, as a sixteen-year-old self, I just…
Patrick: … this was so satisfying to me, and I just think a lot of people felt the same way with the Dumbledore’s Army aspect and everything. It’s just… it’s so satisfying. I can’t say that enough, that this just… even reading it again, I was reading it again last night to catch up, and it just is so… I have a smile on my face the entire time I’m reading this, and I laugh out loud at the stuff that Fred and George say, and it’s just the most gratifying thing I’ve ever experienced in any medium. And I just wanted to say that.
Rosie: I think it is incredibly important for young adult literature as well to have that moment where the hero is recognized and praised for something for a change.
Patrick: Absolutely. Mhm.
Rosie: And I think that’s something that a lot of kids find when they’re growing up, is that they hear a lot of negatives. You have all of this stuff in the media about youths doing this, and all that kind of stuff. And to have a moment where you are recognized for the good things, even if it’s you living vicariously through your favorite character, or through your hero in your book or in your film or whatever. That praise reflects back on you, and you feel good because your character is succeeding in something.
Rosie: And yeah, it’s an incredibly important moment. Yeah, I agree.
Michael: Well, and I think, like you were saying, too, Patrick, why I think this part is important in the scope of the… this chapter specifically is important in the scope of the entire Potter series as this represents a drastic change in the pattern that we’ve become used to for Harry Potter…
Michael: … which is that Harry and a combination of Harry-Ron, Harry-Hermione, or all three, are going to take something on, usually Voldemort or some subsidiary of Voldemort, and they’ll go on this kind of adventure, just the three or two of them, or however that ends up being set up…
Patrick: Mhm. Yep.
Michael: … whereas this is the first time where we’re opening this up to all of the students of Hogwarts being included. And it is definitely the first signs of that. I think at that time we were all kind of gearing up and getting excited for this epic confrontation that is going to involve everybody by the end of the series.
Patrick and Rosie: Mhm.
Michael: It’s exciting to see the first sparks of that happening here. Something bigger.
Patrick: Right, and I want you guys to do me a favor as you continue on, too, because I think this is the point… from here on out, I think you’ll start noticing Harry having a lot more confidence in his self. So keep that in mind as you guys go through the rest of this book and into the next one because I think this is, like you said, really important in the grand scheme of things because it instills confidence in Harry, and in Ron and Hermione in giving them confidence to let Harry know that he’s not alone.
Laura: Very well said. So we just have a little bit more to get through, but first… [laughs] I mean, it feels silly coming back to this. I have this funny moment, as an aside…
Laura: … but that was just beautiful, nice verse you were using, and it seems very ridiculous to go back to this, but I refuse to skip it, so with Zacharias Smith being a jerk throughout this whole thing.
Laura: Yeah, I’m a Weasley twin fan. I can’t let it go. It’s one of my favorite… and as you said, I think it was Rosie who said this is – I can’t remember – clearly the adult book…
Laura: … we have this lovely insult when Zacharias is saying, “Oh, Harry is holding out on us,” and Fred says, “That’s not what he said.” And then George says, “‘Would you like us to clean out your ears for you?’ … pulling a long and lethal-looking metal instrument…”
Laura: “… from inside one of the Zonko’s bags.” And then Fred says, “Or any part of your body, really. We’re not fussy where we stick this.”
Laura: I just love it.
Rosie: Love it.
Laura: Yep, love it.
Laura: That was just my obligatory “Weasley-twins-are-the-best-characters-in-the-book” moment. [laughs]
Michael: Well, no… that’s another reason why this chapter is appealing because seeing these students, especially a lot of the ones that we don’t get to interact with on a regular basis all here together, they’re a pretty funny group of people.
Laura: Yeah, pretty much exactly what you said, as silly as that moment is, it’s a good reminder that all of these characters in specific… because I said these are all pretty much, minus Seamus, the non-Slytherin main characters…
Laura: … from Hogwarts. It widens the circle a little bit. It’s not just… moving forward, this isn’t just going to be about the trio anymore.
Laura: This is the book where we start to include Ginny, Neville, and Luna, and kind of the twins, into that inner circle.
Laura: And even further from that, this is where the other students – Seamus and Dean and what not – are going to start doing things…
Laura: … of relevance, and it makes it more realistic. It makes it less… just about a book about three people.
Michael: And to add to Patrick’s gushing, this is also just a wonderful example with Jo’s writing where she can… she introduces – even though we do see a lot of people who we already know – she introduces quite a few new Hogwarts students who we haven’t met, and she gives them all very distinct personalities right off the bat…
Michael: … so you know who every member is. I think that’s just a cornerstone…
Laura: And who’s going to be a problem.
Michael: … of her writing.
Michael: Yes. Yeah, exactly…
Laura: Because even Marietta, it says… they don’t even name her, but they say she’s the one that’s shifting uncomfortably, and she’s the one…
Laura: … that is weary about signing that piece of paper, more so than other people.
Michael: Mhm. But that particular talent of hers is why I always try to highly recommend her other writings… especially Casual Vacancy because she does that in the first chapter where she introduces like fifteen characters and somehow you know who each character is very distinctly.
Michael: That’s a very unique talent that I think is a hard thing to do in writing…
Michael: … to introduce that many people so quickly.
Rosie: She never falls into what I call… you know the movie Pearl Harbor?
Rosie: And you know how the whole war kind of stops and they chase after one car in that movie?
Michael and Patrick: Mhm.
Rosie: Like it’s all focused on that one thing? That would never happen in an actual battle.
Rosie: You would never just have every single member of an army chase after three people in a car.
Rosie: So it’s really nice when authors or writers or movie scripts never fall into that trap of only following the main characters. And yeah, that’s exactly what she’s doing in this scene is proving that all of these characters have their own lives that intertwine in this moment and that you can see that they are all individual characters coming together. And yeah, they’re all fully rounded and they all play a part in the war rather than the main three or the main six or whatever you want to think about.
Laura: Mhm. Yeah. And another funny quote – pretty much exactly leading into this – another quote that’s meant as a bit of humor but is really, really great at summing up what the problem is right now. Even though Hermione is the one that’s organizing this movement… so Hermione tells the crowd that Umbridge thinks Dumbledore is forming an army to overthrow the Ministry, and Luna responds…
[Laura and Michael laugh]
Laura: … that “Oh, that’s only fair because Fudge has his own army of heliopaths”…
Laura: … which are spirits of fire that gallop across the ground burning everything in front of them, naturally. And Hermione not seeing the big picture is like, “That doesn’t exist.”
Laura: She’s like, “Yes, it does,” and she’s like, “No, it doesn’t.” And Hermione asks, “Where’s the proof?” And Luna responds, “There are plenty of eyewitness accounts, just because you’re so narrow-minded you need to have everything shoved under your nose…” And someone interrupts… Ginny does an impression of Umbridge to lighten the tension. [laughs]
Michael: “Hem, hem.”
Laura: But at the same time, that quote right there, “there’s eyewitness accounts but you’re too narrow-minded that you need to see it under your nose,” that’s literally the problem right now between Harry and the Ministry…
Laura: … and people like Zacharias that need to have the proof of Cedric and really the entire reason that they’re there. So I just found that very interesting.
Patrick: Yeah. That’s a really good point, yeah.
Laura: But to close out, Hermione tells everyone to sign the paper and pretty much reveals exactly what they’re agreeing to in saying, “If you sign this, you are saying that you will not give away these secrets.” Because we know what’s going to happen when they do.
Laura: And… it’s… what would she have done if someone like Zacharias or Marietta had said, “No, I’m not signing it”? But of course now they know the secret just as much as anyone that’s signing the paper. Like what would she have done if they’d been like, “No, I’m not doing this, I’m refusing to sign”? What’s her option there?
Michael: That’s pretty much another oversight on Hermione’s plan there which is… that was, as Rosie put, one of her moments of being a bit stupid in her sea of genius…
… The way that she got the word out and approached the students was very tactless to just go up to people, because she even says that Zaharias is only there because he overheard her talking to Ernie and Susan. [laugh]
Laura: And specifically asked. It’s not like she overheard them and was like, “Oh, Zacharias, do you want to come too?” He overheard and asked, “What’s happening?”
Laura: So someone could have overheard and been like, “Whoa! I’m telling Umbridge and getting brownie points.”
Patrick: But like she said too though, there’s technically nothing wrong with what they’re doing.
Patrick: So technically anybody could be involved.
Rosie: Yeah, and they’ve got plausible deniability as well from this moment. It’s the same excuse that Dumbledore later uses like, “You’ve got proof of this meeting happening at this specific time.” But if they don’t sign that piece of paper then they’re not allowed to come back and therefore they won’t have any proof of future meetings.
Michael: That’s true.
Michael: So… yeah, and I’d like to think that if Hermione had been in this situation she would have gotten to that same level of logic that Dumbledore did.
Laura: Right. And kind of just to end on a silly note of romance…
Laura: Well, first off we know this chapter begins with Hermione off-hand mentioning Viktor Krum and Ron’s like, “What, are you still involved with him?”
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: And it’s just like a reminder of “Oh, that happened.”
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Laura: But Cho is purposely fumbling with her stuff… assuming that Harry will talk to her or something, but Marietta ushers her out. And then Hermione in revealing pretty much exactly what we were saying, all the random people that were there… Michael Corner… she’s like, “Oh, he only came because Ginny’s dating him and all of his friends.”
Patrick: And then Ron blows his top. Oh goodness. [laughs]
Laura: And what’s kind of sad is that they met at the Yule Ball. And I’m like “Oh, Neville.”
Michael: Neville, yeah.
Laura: Yeah, but…
Rosie: He was dancing in his room afterwards as well, so we obviously thought it went really well. But nope, Ginny’s off with Michael.
Laura: Aww… no.
Michael: There’s my namesake from the series, Michael Corner.
Michael: Eric got Eric the security guard. I get Michael Corner.
[Michael, Laura, and Rosie laugh]
Laura: Yeah, and one last Hermione being maybe not-the-smartest moment…
Laura: … she’s like… and I say this in the movie too… when Hermione says, “Cho couldn’t take her eyes off you”… yeah, probably also everybody because not only was the meeting about him, he was also the one talking the entire time.
Patrick: Yeah, but I think Harry got what she was meaning and I think she meant what Harry got. [laughs]
Laura: Yeah, I know but, “Cho couldn’t take her eyes off you”? Everyone can’t! [laughs]
Patrick: Yeah, but in context though.
Laura: I get your point but… whatever.
Michael: I think it’s kind of cute that Hermione sees Harry as like another gal pal. [as Hermione] “Talk to me about yourromantic stuff. Tell me about your life.”
Rosie: She’s trying to set him up. She’s teasing him, it’s fine.
Michael: It’s cute, it’s cute. That’s Hermione being a girl. [laughs]
Patrick: Of course, there’s lots of crying in Harry’s future but we’ll get to that later.
[Michael and Laura laugh]
Laura: Cool… but yeah, that pretty much wraps it up.
Michael: All right, so before we close out the show this week, we’re going to head into the Podcast Question of the Week and examine further the characters of Hermione and Luna. And the question for this week is, “In this chapter, Luna and Hermione have a more escalated confrontation in which Luna states that Hermione refuses to believe things unless they are ‘shoved under her nose.’ Considering all of their confrontations, what do Hermione’s and Luna’s drastically different perspectives contribute to their development in this and future books?” And stretching things out to a wider scope, as Laura had suggested a little earlier in our conversation, “How do Hermione’s and Luna’s fundamental differences represent the larger themes of Order of the Phoenix?”
If you guys would like to contribute some answers to that question, make sure and visit the Alohomora! main site, where you can find the Podcast Question of the Week posted up.
Rosie: And all that remains is to thank Patrick for being a fabulous guest onceable… onceable?
Rosie: Once again… that made no sense… once again. I hope you actually really enjoyed talking about the chapter that you’ve been waiting for for so long.
Patrick: I did. I’ve been waiting for this chapter but more or less just this book and for my chance to finally say what I’ve been wanting to say forever and the whole reason that I enjoy being part of the Potter universe in the first place. So I hope that came across as understandable.
Michael: Oh, absolutely. Very eloquently worded. And if we’re going by our fanciful thinking that Rowling listens to everything we say… [laughs] by extension, you’ve just told J.K. Rowling everything you’ve ever wanted to tell her, I imagine. [laughs]
Patrick: That’s pretty much it. Absolutely.
[Laura and Michael laugh]
Laura: And also, just to extend the thank you once again, thank you for all that you do and all that you have done over the years or so and being our editor for the show… being one of the editors. It’s really an incredible thing that you do for us, and we quite literally would not exist without you guys.
Patrick: Well, that’s absolutely true, and it’s not always the funnest job in the world, but it’s nice to know that we’re… that people enjoy the show. And I laugh and scream at the screen so much as I’m editing that it’s definitely fun for me, too.
Michael: Well, good, and thank you again, Patrick. And if you would like to be on the show, listeners, just like Patrick, but not really because none of you are editors…
Michael: [laughs] … you can find out how to be on the show by heading over to our website and checking out the “Be on the Show!” page at alohomora.mugglenet.com. We just ask that you have a set of headphones and a microphone so you can talk to us. Nothing too fancy, just enough that you can record the show with us.
Rosie: And of course, you can contact us in a variety of different ways. If you are perhaps not wanting to be on the show as a voice, you can send in your thoughts on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, on facebook.com/openthedumbledore, on Tumblr [at] mnalohomorapub… I can’t speak today, I’m so sorry.
Rosie: Yeah, listeners, there’s been a lot cut out of this show. We apologize.
Rosie: On Tumblr on mnalohomorapodcast. You can phone us on Skype, which is 206-GO-ALBUS (206-462-5287), or you can subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. We love reading those, so please do continue to send them in. You can follow us on Snapchat at mn_alohomora. And of course, you can send us a message on Audioboom, which we could actually play directly on the show, and it’s free and all you need is a microphone. But we do ask that you keep it under 60 seconds, please, otherwise it just gets a bit too wieldy to manage to get on to the show. But we do love listening to them and we love to reply to them as well, so please do send them in.
Laura: And thank you everyone for your feedback on what you want in the store, and we are answering one of the calls with… if any of you guys have seen the awesome new House shirts that we’ve put out that says, “[insert House] is showing,” so “Your Gryffindor is Showing,” “Your Ravenclaw is Showing,” I love them…
Laura: I’m definitely going… I want to wear mine to LeakyCon…
Laura: So if you would like to wear yours to LeakyCon, or just to bed, or just to the gym, or wherever you’d like…
Laura: … please buy them and all the other stuff that we have. You know we have a ton of stuff. We have the flip-flops – we’ll always have the flip-flops – and ringtones are free and available on the website. So go nuts.
Michael: [laughs] Go nuts. I like that. Go nuts! [laughs]
Laura: Go nuts!
Michael: And of course, as we always say, we have our Alohomora! app, which is available seemingly worldwide. We haven’t heard any complaints yet. Prices vary depending on your location. The app includes transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more. I believe I am actually in charge of the app content this week. I’m pretty sure I’m going to do something with my brand-spanking-new Wonderbook: Book of Potions game. Because I just played the first potion on that, so maybe we’ll do something with that. But until then, this Hogsmeade trip is over, and it is back to Hogwarts for us.
[Show music begins]
Michael: I’m Michael Harle.
Laura: I’m Laura Reilly.
Rosie: I’m Rosie Morris. Thank you for listening to Episode 93 of Alohomora!
Michael: Open the Aberforth Dumbledore.
[Show music continues]
Patrick: It’s tough to say. Say something funny!
Michael: [as Hermione] Dragon bogies.
[Laura, Michael, and Patrick laugh]
Michael: It worked.
Rosie: Okay, Michael, it worked.
[Michael and Patrick laugh]