[Show music begins]
Eric Scull: This is Episode 94 of Alohomora! for July 26, 2014.
[Show music continues]
Eric: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Alohomora! I’m Eric Scull.
Rosie Morris: I’m Rosie Morris.
Laura Reilly: I’m Laura Reilly. And here today we have an awesome guest, all the way coming from Europe. His name is Aradan.
Aradan Mankler: Hi!
Laura: Hello! [laughs] Would you like to tell everyone where you are from, specifically?
Aradan: I’m from Germany, a city called Hanover. It’s actually fairly big. Yeah. I’m in Austria right now, actually, because I have relatives there and I’m working there.
Laura: That’s awesome. [laughs] Very, very cool. We were just talking about how exciting it is always to have someone internationally because it’s a reminder that this is truly a global reread. And we’ve got Rosie today, also, so we’re all over the place today. It’s great.
Eric: [laughs] It’s more of a global re-read today than it has been on a normal episode…
Eric: … so that’s great.
Rosie: But before we start the show, as always, we need to remind all of you listeners to read this week’s chapter, which is Chapter 17, “Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four.”
Eric: Of Order of the Phoenix, right?
Rosie: Of Order of the Phoenix.
Laura: Right. Thanks for clarifying, Eric.
Eric: Wanted to make sure I didn’t get on the wrong book, you know? It’s… Okay.
Laura: All right. But, before we get into that chapter of Order of the Phoenix…
Eric: Yes, thank you.
Laura: … we are going to discuss another chapter, actually, from Order of the Phoenix.
Laura: It’s Chapter 16, “The Hog’s Head.” All right, so this first comment comes from thegiantsquid, who had a ton of comments that were all very brilliant but I went with this one. It says,
“I have an issue with how the trio is treating the other students during this discussion.”
The discussion being the one that happened in the Hog’s Head.
“If I put myself in this situation, I would want to know what happened in the graveyard too, and I don’t think that wanting that would be wrong or insensitive. The students seem to have gotten a pretty bare-bones explanation of the events in the graveyard, and their parents/Daily Prophet have been feeding them other stories for months, so I think Zacharias has reason to be as frustrated with them as he is. We know Harry, so we implicitly would trust him, but these other people don’t, necessarily. I would want more proof too than just, ‘Hey, I’m Harry Potter. I beat Voldemort when I was a baby, so everything I say should be immediately trusted, and if you question me, even with good intentions, I’m going to get really surly and attack your character.'”
[Aradan and Eric laugh]
“I think these students, if they are choosing to get involved with something like this, would deserve at least a quick rundown, but Harry expects (almost blind) acceptance of his word, even though the situation could get dangerous (which he does warn them of). Harry is almost pulling a Dumbledore here. The exact way Dumbledore gives Harry minimal info, but says, ‘Trust me, I’m Albus Dumbledore, greatest wizard ever, and I’m going to teach you this stuff because you’ll need it… somehow… in a way I won’t tell you,’ Harry is giving the DA minimal info, while saying, ‘Trust me, I’m Harry Potter, vanquisher of Voldemort, so I can teach you this stuff because it’s all real, I promise.’ I know these two situations aren’t exactly alike of course, but I think the resemblance is there.”
[Eric laughs and claps]
Laura: I love it. I love all of it. That’s exactly how I’m feeling. I wish I said it first.
Rosie: I’ve never noticed that link between Harry and Dumbledore before. Yeah, but it’s definitely there. I’ve never…
Eric: Without trying to be alike, they are.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Laura: Yeah, specifically think of how frustrated Harry was in the beginning of the book that no one would give him all this information, not even Dumbledore, but everyone on all corners.
Laura: And he is being a little hypocritical. I know it’s obviously a traumatic incident, but…
Eric: Well, I’ve always felt that in that scene, he’s just really trying to show off for Cho because he won’t talk about Cedric Diggory. Because he won’t. Because he just won’t. And it’s really because Cho’s there that I think he’s especially opposed to it, but also it is a little bit of entitlement. “I’m Harry Potter.” It’s kind of a double-edged sword the way that he wanted information from Dumbledore at the beginning of the year because he’s Harry Potter. And now these people, they aren’t Harry Potter. They’re just these kids who could…
Eric: … screw off if they don’t believe him because they’re inconsequential to his ego, or at least he thinks they are. But by the end of the chapter when he gets all of their acceptance, you bet it feels good. So, it’s kind of funny how – again, as this commenter says – he gives them very little information and I would agree, it’s not wrong for them to want it.
Rosie: I do think that he thinks that they know more about what happened than actually they do, as well, though. He thinks that Dumbledore has told them more…
Rosie: … which is completely stupid because he knows that Dumbledore doesn’t ever tell anyone properly.
Eric: Well, isn’t it Zacharias Smith who actually says, “No, he only told us that Voldemort killed Cedric and that you brought his body back.” And Harry still doesn’t get it. I think the issue is to think about how many – at this point, this is still September, I think. No, it’s the first Hogsmeade weekend in the first weekend in October – so, by this point, though, the Daily Prophet… Think about how many words have been written slandering Dumbledore and Harry…
Eric: … especially, in this story that they’ve come up with. And so, Harry really should try to equal that with a description, I think. A description – as it turns out, it’s not needed – but a description really would have been good right there, for Harry to recount it. I think, even as readers… Whereas at the end of Goblet of Fire, he told it to four different people and we got to see every time he told the story. This time, I think, it’s been a long enough time, we’re 16 chapters in, for him to have actually told that story and you could still maybe summarize it but for him to have told it again wouldn’t have been that ridiculous of an expectation.
Rosie: Which is, of course, what he eventually does, talking to Rita Skeeter, but they haven’t formulated that plan yet because they haven’t understood the need for that.
Rosie: But they will do, later on.
Laura: So we had another really awesome comment from spectacularlyhypothetical and this verges onto Deathly Hallows territory but we did discuss Aberforth a bit. So we’re not going to go too far into it because we’ll save a bit for Deathly Hallows but it says,
“I think it’s during the interview with Voldemort in HBP that Dumbledore comments that he is ‘Friendly with the local barman.’ Given what we know about what happened to their relationship, in hindsight this is an odd comment for Dumbledore. Now he’s obviously not being entirely honest as he’s having a tete a tete…”
Laura: I might be saying that wrong.
Eric: I think it’s [pronounces “tate”] tete? Tete a tete.
Rosie: Tete a tete. Yeah.
Eric: Tete a tete.
Laura: Okay, well, I’m not fancy so… [laughs]
“… with Voldemort, but it does suggest that he and Aberforth are at least on speaking terms. We also know that it was Aberforth [who] ejected Snape during Trelawney’s vision, so there is some sort of cooperation here. I think this is specifically to do with combating a dark wizard. I think that whilst they never properly reconciled, Albus and Aberforth probably had a sit-down where Albus said something along the lines of ‘we have to make sure nothing like this happens again.’ However, this would have [been] AFTER Albus confronted Grindelwald. I wonder how Aberforth felt about Albus defeating Grindelwald. What his opinions of that would have been?”
So, specifically in relation to the last chapter, we were talking more… I had brought up the fact of Aberforth listening to this whole thing happening and, what would be running through his mind? “Oh no, not again?” Or, if he sees Dumbledore and Harry and all these… just what was going through his mind here so I think this is what SpectacularlyHyptothetical was going off of.
Eric and Rosie: Mhm.
Eric: Yeah, I mean, it seems very apparent that Aberforth has stayed on as, at least, a spy for Dumbledore, but the lines of communication are clearly open between the two of them despite their personal differences. When you see things like that happening, it’s really about rising for the greater cause. And Aberforth and Dumbledore, I think, back in… If we’re looking at Book 1 with Hagrid’s dragon, for instance, I think even that occurrence was – what’s the word – communicated to Dumbledore. So, I think that it’s safe to say that Aberforth was pretty solidly spying – or at least reporting – to Dumbledore, anything out of the usual because Dumbledore can’t be everywhere 100 percent of the time. And this whole secret club and society just waltzed unannounced into his pub, so I think he would be quite alarmed.
Aradan: Is it a secret society at this point, though? I mean, they kind of meet in secret, but it’s…
Eric: Well, it’s nothing against the rules at this point, as Hermione had said in the previous chapter. She said she looked it up. It’s just uncommon. The whole reason they picked that place is because it would be off the beaten path and they’d be less likely to be overheard, but at the same time it’s the kind of place where you are overheard all the time because you can’t trust the people in there. So it’s secret…
Rosie: It’s more of a very quiet society.
Eric: Yes, that works.
Rosie: In terms of how Aberforth felt about Albus defeating Grindelwald question, I would love to know that story. And I’m really looking forward to Pottermore catching up with Deathly Hallows and things and finding out if Jo is going to write some more information about the Dumbledores and their history because that’s just a great untold story that we’ve only had little glimpses at.
Rosie: And I think I said most of my thoughts on their relationship now, in last week’s episode. So yeah, I’m just looking forward to a bit more backstory. [unintelligible]
Laura: Yeah, I just have one quick question. Do you think specifically about the DA – with this meeting, rather – that Aberforth said anything to Dumbledore about it, specifically about this meeting.
Eric: Yeah, I think so. I definitely think so.
Rosie: Probably, because Mundungus reports back to the Order and that would get to Dumbledore, so then if Aberforth didn’t mention it to Dumbledore then Dumbledore would probably ask Aberforth, knowing that it was there.
Eric: And Aberforth remains – if you think about it – he remains in that same room. I mean there is only one room to the pub – but I mean, if we’re assuming there’s an upstairs – but he basically stands by the bar, it says, cleaning that one glass with the dirty rag, basically the whole time and…
Rosie: Just listening. Just chilling. [laughs]
Eric: … he’s listening. There’s no other reason. His curiosity speaks for him and he’s not quite the selfish person who would just keep that information to himself, I don’t think.
Eric: I mean, if his brother is head master of the school, we’re talking about students, at this point, it’s like an uprising where they’re specifically defying a teacher. Now, she deserves all of the defiance in the world, but it’s still some pretty radical stuff that I think got mentioned even though they were being secret about it, or quiet about it.
Laura: Yeah, I agree.
Laura: Okay, and this last question builds off of one that came originally also from thegiantsquid, but I didn’t want to have two from the same people because you guys have just so many questions. So thegiantsquid had brought up about the fact that when they’re in class, they’re doing the Vanishing Spells, and whether or not…
Laura: … when a live creature gets vanished, what happens to its existence. Does it die? Does it still need nourishment? Does it just kind of freeze? But AccioPotassium built off of this and said,
“There could be an additional possibility to the understanding of the vanishment spell. Since the vanishment enchantment is only taught in Transfiguration class, it may be possible that the spell is only transfiguring the object into something unnoticeable. The person who is casting the spell might be transforming the unwanted object or subject into a common colorless gas. This enchantment would be rather difficult because the users would have to change the solid object into billions of individual monatomic gas molecules. I would personally transfigure my objects into helium because it’s a very nonreactive gas and helium would be able to leave Earth’s atmosphere for easy disposal of toxins.”
Laura: Wow. [continues]
“One of the problems with my hypothesis would have to be, why is it more challenging to transfigure a vertebrate than an invertebrate into a gas?”
Eric: There… [laughs]
Rosie: I’m guessing AccioPotassium is a scientist.
Eric: AccioPotassium, with that name why didn’t we suspect this sooner?
[Laura and Rosie laugh]
Laura: I suppose it’s true. See, originally when I first started reading this comment, I thought they were just going on the simple path of that they were transfiguring it into just being invisible, not really being vanished, which is transfiguring into…
Eric: Like Hollow Man.
Laura: Right. Just a simple magicky answer. But this went right into the subatomic particles type business…
Laura: … which I cannot speak to at all.
Eric: Actually, think of it like Hollow Man. That’s how I think of it. If you’re familiar with the movie, obviously, it’s a suspense thriller, kind of adult, starring Kevin Bacon. But they start testing their invisibility serum on smaller mammals like rabbits and even though those are vertebrates, it’s less complicated than the systems of a gorilla or a human, and so it’s thought to be easier to do a smaller object. It’s kind of the same principle that applies here when making something vanish… making something invisible. I always did think it was an invisibility thing, but it is interesting that it’s being taught in Transfiguration. I think that is a key, as AccioPotassium said, to its true nature.
Eric: As a spell?
Rosie: Then how do things like the vanishing cabinets work? Because with the word vanish, you would think it would be the same thing?
Eric: That’s true.
Rosie: And they are linked and they kind of transport you.
Laura: I think the vanishing cabinet is a bit of a misnomer, because it almost is not so much vanishing from existence, just almost apparating, kind of, but through an object. I don’t know. I don’t really know how the technology bit works.
Laura: I get kind of lost in it, but…
Eric: You can get lost in it and I think there’s a special rule of magic that governs twinship as Albus says, “Oh, that has a twin, doesn’t it?”
Rosie: Every action has to have an opposite and equal reaction.
Eric: But vanishing, you could be – I think – didn’t somebody turn up in the desert once they were vanished? I’m not quite sure. You would think it would be the same thing though, Rosie, as you said. I mean, I’d like to think that there’s not more than one kind of vanishment.
Rosie: Poor kittens if not.
Rosie: All those kittens that Hermione’s vanishing. [laughs]
Laura: Somewhere there’s a cabinet of kittens just wanting to be…
[Aradan and Eric laugh]
Laura: … summoned back.
Eric: Or Hermione’s…
Rosie: Maybe there’s a desert full of cats and rats…
[Aradan, Eric, and Laura laugh]
Laura: Why does it have to be a desert? Oh, that’s so sad. [laughs]
Eric: No, I think Hermione’s really had it out for cats ever since she was transformed into one, accidentally in year two.
Laura: Oh, that’s true.
Rosie: But she owns Crookshanks.
Eric: Oh, well. [laughs]
Laura: One step at a time, one day at a time. Aradan, do you have any thoughts on this?
Aradan: Well, yeah. I guess it kind of makes sense – the whole idea – except it still doesn’t really explain if… Does the creature die or does it… I don’t know. If it’s gas, can it be transfigured back or whatever or is it just pretty much gone?
Laura: Yeah, I don’t know if thegiantsquid offered up, does it stop existing, almost like clock stoppers a bit? But I don’t know.
Eric: And the other thing is well, wouldn’t it be better if… I mean, think of all the students that only go halfway there. [laughs] There’s only half.
[Aradan and Laura laugh]
Eric: It’s like Splinching yourself. Really. It’s terrifying, the idea that you would… A student learning and it’s more complicated, the more complex mammals. The closer to humans we get the more easy it is to mess up, so I don’t think it’s anything that harms the object but, then again, maybe Crookshanks is next on Hermione’s list. [laughs]
Rosie: Maybe it’s something a bit closer to the Disillusionment Charm where it’s just still there, it just looks the same as everything around it so you can’t see it…
Rosie: … kind of vanished. Just don’t stand on it.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Eric: Ah, well of course, those were the comments from last week’s episode. Of course, we do have the Podcast Question of the Week, which we do every week. There will be one this week. But first the one from last week, the question was,
“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 and Luna’s drastically different perspectives contribute to their development in this and future books? Stretching things out to a wider scope, how do Hermione and Luna’s fundamental differences represent the larger themes of Order of the Phoenix?”
So it was a very heady question, but as always our listeners rose to the challenge. And there’s just some amazing discussion happening on our Podcast Question of the Week thread on the main site as well as the forums. The first comment that I want to draw attention to comes from surprisinglyswishy, who says,
“Luna and Hermione are the embodiments of ‘seeing before believing’ (or at least ‘reading before believing’) and ‘believing before seeing.’ Luna works, in part, as a foil for Hermione. They’re both extraordinarily smart, but in two completely contrasting ways. We don’t see a lot of change in either Luna or Hermione’s worldview throughout the series; they’re both very stubborn and clash heads about Nargles and Crumple-Horned Snorkacks all the way until the end of the series. I think the important thing about how these characters develop is not whether they see eye-to-eye, or how open minded they are, but that they join to fight for what they believe in, and in the end, they both fight for Harry.
Overall, they’re representative of what the Sorting Hat asked of the school during the beginning of the year: students putting aside their more petty differences to band together to fight for what’s really important.”
Rosie: Exactly, it’s more about learning how to work with each other while still being yourselves then it is about adapting yourself to fit other people’s views. Very important message.
Eric: Mhm. The next comment comes from HallowsMaster97, who says,
“Hermone and Luna both posess great intelligence, their areas of interest are simply different. I believe Queen Rowling used Hermione and Luna to show the diversity of Ravenclaw house; Luna shows us that intlligence does not only consist of facts and figures while Hermione is a reminder that factual knowledge is of great value. This intelligence makes them briliant and complex characters.
A theme in Order of the Phoenix is ‘Education is power.’ The Ministry fears that if the students are taught DADA, they will revolt. The Ministry realises that education is dangerous. So having Luna and Hermione as prominent characters in this novel is great. We see Hermione deciphering the Ministry’s messages from the very beginning. These girls are a prime example what the Ministry is trying to prevent.”
Eric: Any thoughts?
Laura: I don’t know. Well, I agree that they are very… I like what they said about Luna having showing the diversity of Ravenclaw because of intelligence, it’s not so much also valuing intelligence fact-wise but also just inquisitiveness…
Laura: … I think would be a good word to describe Luna. She’s not… I’m not going to say she is or isn’t intelligent, especially when comparing it to Hermione. But she certainly loves learning, and loves researching stuff, and loves stuff. So I really just wanted to comment on the fact I enjoy that comment of the diversity of Ravenclaw. Because I’m all for house diversity. I don’t like painting one broad stroke.
Rosie: I love the idea that the Ministry realizes that education is dangerous as well…
Rosie: … and the fact that the whole… the fearing that if they’re going to be taught DADA, then they would revolt. But in fact they revolt because they are not taught DADA.
[Aradan and Eric laugh]
Rosie: And the idea that withholding education is as dangerous as education itself. Yeah, it’s a brilliant kind of double edged sword, isn’t it? It’s also really encouraging for young children, as readers, to be reading this. Where even the teachers are trying to not educate you. And it’s a kind of reverse psychology. You want to do well in school more, because your teachers are telling you not to learn.
Eric: Yeah. Yep.
Rosie: Tricking those readers into actually enjoying school a bit more.
Eric: And Luna is a very independent studier, I think…
Eric: … as a character. Well, this next comment comes from left field, as far as I’m concerned, but it is equally brilliant. I did not think about this. I’m interested to hear what you guys think. It comes from none other than SpectacularlyHypothetical, and this comment itself is spectacularly hypothetical. They say,
“I’ve always seen the contrast between Luna and Hermione as Rowling having a conversation with herself about faith.
Whilst we know that Rowling does subscribe to the Christian faith, she has stated that she has struggled with her faith.
I think Hermione represents the skeptical, rational, agnostic/atheistic tendencies Rowling might have, where as Luna represents a more faith and feeling side.
Crucially Rowling shows both Luna and Hermione having extraordinary insights and ridiculous blunders.
Hermione basically uses the logic of Russell’s teapot with regard to the requirements of proof, we see her being shown to be sensible in this chapter regarding the Heliopaths. But in DH, we see she is dead wrong about the Resurrection Stone using the exact same logic.
Rowling is using these two extraordinarily intelligent witches to play out some of the arguments she is having with herself regarding the relative merits of faith and rationality.”
End of comment.
Laura: I think this is, I mean, I’m not sure if I necessarily agree but I do think that this is really intelligent of looking at it. I don’t think specifically J.K. Rowling was talking about making the analagy, I guess, between faith or what not; specifically religious faith. I do think the argument can be made of just, faith in general. Like of…
Laura: … the whole “seeing vs. believing,” which we’ve already talked about. But…
Laura: … I do think it’s interesting especially with the comment she says that J.K. Rowling has made about her struggling with it and what not. I think she’s just making a broader statement that… I don’t know, that things that people do… that even if people struggle with believing things without seeing them or having the facts doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person. Umm, it’s just kind of an issue people have to deal with and vice versa.
Eric: That really plays into our fourth and final comment coming from Ellen Dawn, who says,
“I think that the conflict between Luna and Hermione’s personalities serves a couple of purposes in the book. First of all, Luna acts as Hermione’s opposing character, kind of like Harry and Draco. This provides a different view on the wizarding world, shows that there is more than one type of intelligence, and also provides some comedic tension [at] times.
In addition, I personally took away a lesson from reading their hilariously conflicting relationship. To me, their relationship proves that judging someone just because they are not like you is pointless and achieves nothing. Everyone has a right to be their own person, and you have no right to try [to] change other peoples beliefs and how they live their lives.
Hermione may not approve of Luna’s outlandish claims, and Luna may not approve of Hermione’s close mindedness, but in the end both personalities are crucial to defeating the evil at hand. When they argue, they literally get nowhere and achieve nothing, but when they work together in Dumbledore’s Army and beyond, they help achieve things that would not normally be considered possible from a group of teenagers.”
Rosie: Our fans are so smart.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Rosie: Brilliant. Yeah, all of those comments just all work so well together, and they all offer different ideas but they all work brilliantly. So yes, I approve of all of you. [laughs] You are very good.
Eric: [laughs] We need a Rosie…
Laura: Can I end on a petty note?
Rosie: Go ahead.
Laura: I just wanted to make it as bratty and simple as Team Hermione, Team Luna, where do people fall on the spectrum of who they tend to agree with more?
Laura: Just for fun. For funsies.
Eric: Oh, okay.
Rosie: I’m so conflicted on that one.
Eric: [laughs] Yeah, I don’t know where I would fall. Gosh. But as we said, all of the comments that we got in regards to our Question of the Week and all the comments we always get are brilliant. I wanted to mention, there was actually a particularly awesome discussion between Chocolate Frog Ravenclaw and Olivia Underwood again with the Question of the Week. So there is always more to read and always more to enjoy over on our website and over on our forums as well, regarding discussion of each of these numerous chapters. Very, very meaty, meaty chapters with lots of stuff going on.
Rosie: To answer Laura’s question, I think I’m slightly more towards Hermione, but wishing I was more towards Luna.
Laura: That is pretty much where I’m at. That is pretty much exactly where I’m at. I love Hermione so much, one of my favorite characters ever. I’m just not… I’m not as free-spirited as I would like to be. I’d be lying if I said I was.
Aradan: I don’t know, I think whenever something that we know something about like the Resurrection Stone or the curtain later on in Order of the Phoenix, I tend to agree with Luna; but whenever it is a discussion about one of the ideas in The Quibbler, mostly, like the Snorkacks and stuff… I don’t know, I have a really hard time taking Luna seriously. So I’m about halfway in between, I guess.
Laura: Yeah. It is a struggle.
Eric: And different mindsets have their merits in different times of the world. In the time where real people are making real bad things happen, I’m less inclined to believe in unicorns, even though we know that in the magic world things like unicorns do exist. It seems dangerous to be so hopeful as Luna is.
Rosie: I think my viewpoint is often shown as the Hermione one, and then Noah can be my Luna.
Eric: [laughs] Noah is a Luna. Noah is definitely a Luna.
Laura: He just is.
Rosie: Yeah. [laughs]
Eric: Not afraid to just say whatever. It is cool.
Rosie: And we need that on a show like this.
Rosie: So that we can have good discussions. It is all good.
Eric: Absolutely. We miss you, Noah!
Aradan: It is really interesting, though, that Hermione of all people is the skeptic, seeing-before-believing in the book, because she is one of the few Muggles who found out about magic. Although it is not at all in the family, it is… I don’t know, growing up in a normal home and suddenly it is, “Hey! Magic is real, and all this other stuff you never believed in is real.” And she is still the skeptic in the books. That always just really surprised me.
Laura: That’s so true.
Eric: That’s a really good point. No, that’s really good. And she seems to adhere quite strictly to whatever she can read about, whatever’s in the book because those are the rules. I think it’s really a question of trusting authority, though, and whatever is written. She has a personal character growth where she – in this book – is dealing with what’s written – or even in the last book, too, to some extent, with Rita Skeeter. She’s slowing divorcing the written word in such a huge way. So she’s not quite there yet until Luna has, of course, her publication, The Quibbler and all the stuff that they write about, Heliopaths and armies and stuff, and I think Hermione is really trying to reconcile her own inner skepticism, as you said.
Rosie: Maybe that’s also part of why she is a skeptic because she found out about magic when she was ten or eleven. She spent so long researching this new world that she’s just discovered and the parameters of it. So separating what she’s grown up with as fantasy from what is actual reality that she’s like, “No, Heliopaths are made-up. They’re not part of the actual real world.” It’s because she’s taught herself that.
Eric: So it would be like having to do it twice, right?
Eric: Having to create a whole new world. So she could have gone immediately to the world that she thought. Yeah, I get that. That’s very interesting.
Rosie: These are all very interesting discussions and we love all of your comments, so please, do continue to comment on this question and more that will be coming at the end of this show. And of course, you can go and do that on our main site as usual. But we do now need to move on to this week’s chapter.
[Order of Phoenix Chapter 17 intro begins]
Sirius: Chapter 17.
[Sounds of gasping and running]
Umbridge: “Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four.”
[Sound of a door slamming]
[Order of Phoenix Chapter 17 intro ends]
Rosie: So before we get into the nitty gritty of the chapter I will give you a quick summary of everything that will go on in this week’s discussion. We start off with the knowledge of the DA giving Harry a very good mood, matched by the good weather outside. They’re going to sit by the lake and do some knitting in the sunshine, as Hermione continues to make her hats. On Monday morning, however, the Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four is posted on the notice board in the Gryffindor Common Room and there’s a big crowd around it. They’re all talking about it could mean, and the second years are worried about their Gobstones tournament being cancelled. Ron is quick to reassure them in the very nice, older brother-y type of way. But breakfast doesn’t go very smoothly with all of the DA coming to ask what’s going to happen. And History of Magic doesn’t really go much better either. There are some snarky gargoyles that we will meet, who guard the staff room and McGonagall has a warning for Harry about spies in the communications systems around the school. The teachers prove that they are very bad at not taking their frustration out on the students. And Fred and George are showing off their Skiving Snackboxes, which they have perfected whilst Quidditch has been cancelled so none of them are out on the pitch practicing. Harry cannot concentrate on his Potions essay which he has had to do for failing yet another potion in class. And finally, a message from Snuffles has been intercepted, leaving Hedwig injured and a very close escape for Sirius in the fire towards the end of the chapter.
Eric: Busy, busy, big chapter.
Rosie: Very busy chapter. Lots of things go on all in one day… well, one and a half days. But yeah, there’s a lot to talk about.
Eric: It’s chapters like this that convince me that a Hogwarts television show would totally have enough stuff to do.
Rosie: It would last for eight series. So long.
Eric: [sighs] I’m still holding out hope for that.
Rosie: Yeah. But this is actually our fifth book, and five books in we are discovering new things about Hogwarts…
Rosie: … such as no boys are allowed in the girls’ dormitories. And I just find it really surprising that this is the first time that we’re hearing about this.
Laura: Is it?
Rosie: I think so. We’ve never seen it happen before.
Rosie: And Ron seems very surprised at it happening as he tries to go up the stairs and they turn into a slide…
Laura: Oh, okay.
Rosie: … which then shoots girls out from the dormitories saying, “What’s going on here?”
Eric: How puritanical is Hogwarts that this hasn’t happened sooner?
Rosie: Yeah, they’re very good.
Eric: I know Hermione says it’s a bit of an old-fashioned spell. It actually dates back to the founders, according to her, who felt that boys were not as trustworthy. And hey, I’m with them. But I’d actually forgotten what book this shows up in. I knew it was either “5” or “6”; “6” of course having much more romance.
Eric: But sure enough, this was that chapter. This was that book, and it is a funny way to start…
Laura: But that does beg the question, is it only for the older kids?
Eric: What do you mean?
Laura: Do all the stairs turn into slides, or do they only start turning into slides once they turn sixteen? [laughs]
Eric: No, I’m pretty sure… well, it’s just to the dormitories, right? Because there’s no reason for… well, it’s interesting how it’s introduced because Hermione could of course go up to the boys’ dormitories. I’m trying to remember a specific instance in which she did… I can’t think. It happens.
Rosie: Ron definitely says that Hermione is allowed up there and they point out the injustice of it all.
Eric: Yeah. Which he can do, okay: Point at the sky and shout. That’s fine. It’s funny. But ultimately, it’s just, I guess, one of those things. The funniest part is Ron is just so excited to hear Hermione’s response to this Educational Decree that he runs straight up to tell her, and then it’s like the slide doesn’t even discourage him.
Rosie: Yeah, it’s very slapstick.
Laura: Did a moment like that where he wanted to run and tell Hermione just…? Never appeared in five years. Five years!
Laura: They were never like, “Hmm, I wonder what Hermione’s room looks like.” Just never.
Rosie: They’re typical boys; they just don’t think about that. [laughs]
Laura: I guess. I don’t know. I’ve always found it so bizarre.
Eric: But the girls are amused. This is the funniest part, is that the girls start sliding down. I mean, they have no other choice, right? You have to slide down. But they’re just giggling uncontrollably, and I think one of the girls even asks him, “Oh, you tried to get up there?”
Eric: He’s like, “Yeah, yeah, I did. What bites? What’s going on?”
Laura: Not only that… it’s not just Ron and Harry not to have done it, but you would have thought they’d have seen some other boy over the five years attempt it.
Eric and Rosie: Yeah.
Laura: And would you not notice that all of a sudden people are just sliding down?
Eric: Yeah. I expected a…
Laura: That’s really convenient. I would want the slide all of the time!
Rosie: Yeah. At sleepover party type things, do they get the boys to try and get up the stairs just so that they can have a fairground, right?
[Aradan and Laura laugh]
Eric: Yeah, with bells and whistles. I imagine just bells going off and whistles and…
Rosie: It can’t be the safest safety procedure, though. What if there’s a girl walking up the stairs at the very top, and suddenly it turns into a slide and she goes all the way down to the bottom again? Not very safe.
Eric: Yeah, yeah.
Aradan: It’s not like Hogwarts and safety are really…
Aradan: If you look at the whole series, how often everybody is in the Hospital Wing and everything, it’s not really related.
Eric: [laughs] Children bounce; that’s just… they do.
Eric: They can fall a great deal and… yeah.
Laura: Eric has tried. Drops and sees what happens.
Eric: Actually, I was young and I fell down the stairs once, but I guess that just gave a lot of insight to our listeners. [laughs]
Laura: That just explained everything.
Eric: Thank you, thank you. No, but it is amusing. It feels out of place, but at the same time it’s just one of those factoids that was going to get to us eventually.
Rosie: So of course, why they were trying to get up to Hermione’s room was to tell her all about the Educational Decree itself, which I will quickly read out. And it says, “All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded. An Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students. Permission to reform may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge). No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor. Any student found to have formed, or belong to, an Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.”
Eric: Wow. No trial, no hearing. What does this remind us of?
Rosie: Yeah, exactly. But it always strikes me as funny that it’s a group of three or more students, so technically, they have to disband their friendship because they’re…
Eric: Oh! Oh!
Aradan: They can’t hang out anymore.
Rosie: Not allowed.
Eric: Oh, darn. Never thought about that. Wow. [laughs] Umbridge…
Rosie: Really seems very strict.
Eric: Yeah. Umbridge has really come at them with a sharp instrument here.
Rosie: Mhm. Technically that would go for Draco and…
Eric: Crabbe and Goyle.
Rosie: … Crabbe and Goyle as well. They’re not allowed.
Eric: And I’m trying to think of what sort of organization could be formed if they not choose to completely disregard the rules, as Harry would have to take on interns for his training to work…
[Aradan and Rosie laugh]
Eric: … just one at a time co-op with each other. It’s very interesting, but of course every character in this book who reads this is just thinking, “Oh my gosh. They know. She knows.”
Eric: Somebody snitched and it’s like, “Oh my gosh, who was it?”
Rosie: Yeah. They say the exact line, that it is not a coincidence. She knows about Dumbledore’s Army. And Harry finally realizes that perhaps the pub wasn’t the safest place to discuss it all.
Rosie: While Ron suspects Zacharias Smith and of course Michael Corner because they are 1, the hated Hufflepuff and 2, the boy dating his sister.
Eric: This was…
Rosie: And the DA just really aren’t sneaky at all when they come up to talk to Harry at breakfast later on.
Eric: Yeah. And no, I love how Ginny goes over to Michael to tell him not to come over and ask because everybody else is…
Eric: … the Hufflepuffs are all in a huge group walking toward the table.
Eric: It’s like, “No, get away! Don’t do it! We’ll talk to you later.” Hermione has to mouth the words to shut them up. Yeah, everybody is concerned and everybody is worried, but the coolest thing to come out of this is that nobody did snitch and Hermione knows why. At least, nobody in the group who signed their name.
Laura: Right. I’m surprised for the people that do end up snitching, and the people like Zacharias who were on the fence to begin with before this was even a thing. It’s surprising to me that they still go ahead with it.
Rosie: I think it’s because it’s the same as The Quibbler. As soon as something is banned, everyone wants it.
Laura: That’s true.
Rosie: And Zach hates Umbridge as much as anyone else, so if she has banned this then he knows that it’s going to work against her, therefore he’s more interested in joining it.
Laura: Yeah. No, I think it’s very childish, but people are like that until the day they die. They want what they can’t have.
[Eric and Laura laugh]
Rosie: But of course, it also includes Quidditch within this, as teams are also included in the description of organization, society, team, group or club.
Eric: Oh, darn.
Rosie: You have to say that as many times as quickly as possible.
Eric: Organization, society, team, group, or club.
Rosie: It’s so many times!
[Aradan and Eric laugh]
Rosie: Organization, society, team, group, or club. Yes. And Gryffindor does not get its team rebanded straight away while Slytherin definitely does. And Angelina goes straight up to Harry and says, “Quidditch is included!” And Harry goes, “It’s all right, you don’t have to worry about Dumbledore’s Army,” because he’s always thinking about his own thing slightly more than what else is going on around him, in a brilliant comic moment where he really just doesn’t think it through. And she’s like, “No! What are you talking about?” But yeah, Draco is mouthing off about how Slytherin team got approval straight away, and then that Gryffindor probably won’t, and he’s interested to see how long it will take. But we’ll discuss that a little bit more later on, as we have another important event to talk about before that happens chronologically in the book. And that is what happens during History of Magic, where Hedwig is suddenly appearing at the window. We’ve just had breakfast where all of the DA were distracting them, and Hedwig didn’t appear then. She has arrived slightly late and slightly disgruntled.
Eric: Yeah. This is sad, this moment. It’s sad and at the same time there’s this element of… because Harry is sneaking around, behind this ghost’s back. So it’s exciting; the whole class is watching him. So that aspect of it is fun, but the more we learn about what has apparently happened to Hedwig, the sadder you feel for her.
Rosie: And it’s the first time that we think of her as vulnerable as well.
Rosie: Obviously with what happens in the last book, we should have considered that to be a possibility, which I never did before that actually happened.
Eric: I don’t think anybody expected that to happen. [laughs]
Rosie: No. But maybe we should have done because of this. Maybe this was our clue.
Eric: Maybe, maybe.
Rosie: So yeah, we have to think about what this means alongside all of our previous discussion on owl post which has been numerous and lengthy.
[Laura and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: But you have to wonder. We’ve said, “Why don’t you just follow the owls when you’re sending messages to Sirius?” And this is an example where this has actually happened. They have managed to intercept her somehow. Harry has actually taken the owl to McGonagall and Professor Grubbly-Plank in the Staffroom at this moment, and Professor Grubbly-Plank mentions that Thestrals sometimes go for owls, but Hagrid has managed to get his herd well-trained and that they would never go for the Hogwarts post owls. So you’ve got an interesting little link to Thestrals there.
Eric: Yeah, that is interesting that Thestrals could possibly or have been known in the past to intercept owls that may have been carrying messages. Maybe…
Rosie: Mhm. But how do we think that Hedwig was intercepted?
Eric: Maybe Umbridge is a Thestral Animagus.
Laura: I mean, could it be something as simple as…? I’m thinking like in Game of Thrones when they go to intercept the ravens and they just…
Eric: Shoot them?
Laura: … shoot them down, but more just a spell. The same kind of thing of just shooting them down, but maybe missing and just…
Rosie: Accio Hedwig? [laughs]
Laura: Well, just missing and maybe even just grazing her a little bit so that she was fine, but…
Rosie: Like a Stunning Spell or something.
Laura: Yeah, like a Stunning Spell that hit the tip of her feathers.
Eric: It just hit the wing. Yeah, because owls, they don’t go invisible when they’re transporting letters. It’s not like I’m in transport mode, I’m going to be… but there has always been a magic shield feeling to the way that they know where they’re going and this sort of thing. When Harry was sending letters to Sirius when Sirius was on the run, Sirius would always advise him to use different owls and this, that, and the other thing, so that they wouldn’t be intercepted.
Eric: But now, of course, we have an example of where one was. It’s possible that she was with the other owls ready to deliver at breakfast and then saw Umbridge coming and then – assuming it was Umbridge – saw Umbridge coming and had the good sense to get out of there but not before a few spells hit her.
Rosie: I don’t think it would be Umbridge. I think it would be Filch.
Rosie: We’ve seen Filch trying to intercept the owl on the way out, rather than coming in, with the whole Dungbombs thing in the last chapter.
Eric: Yeah, but if Filch can’t do magic, not even a little bit…
Rosie: Yeah, which is equally… yeah, how would he?
Eric: Well, unless he had a long broom that he hit her with and…
Rosie: Some kind of big butterfly net.
Aradan: Throwing rocks.
Eric: I mean, if owls could talk, right? I think a lot of these mysteries would just be solved.
Laura: Honestly, I think that the owl… I have to stick with what I said of it not being fully intercepted but narrowly dodging it because I feel if it had been intercepted…
Rosie: The message would have been taken.
Laura: Not just that, but I don’t even think he would have really even gotten Hedwig back. If it was something as serious as Umbridge or whatnot… I don’t know. Maybe they would keep Hedwig just almost so they can continue to intercept messages but I don’t know.
Rosie: But that said, we know that the message probably was received by Umbridge because she then stakes out the fire later on that evening.
Laura: That’s true. Forgot about that.
Rosie: And Hermione says it would be easy to reseal the scroll. So Hedwig has probably been captured, like you said, at breakfast and they’ve read the message and then let her go to deliver the message and set up that trap to make sure it goes ahead to Harry’s hand.
Eric: The other thing… Hedwig apparently knows Harry’s class schedule, too. I mean, she found him in the classroom.
Eric: Did she go window to window? Just trying to find Sirius with Buckbeak was like, “It’s the thirteenth window on the right from the top floor!” It was like, “How will I find…?” Either Hedwig went window to window…
Rosie: Have you seen how many windows are in this castle? [laughs]
Eric: I mean, come on, it’s pretty much all windows. There are more windows than bricks…
Eric: … so I’m just saying, there is that magic involved where, down to the very last detail, she can find somebody. And for that to be interrupted… it’s scary actually that your post isn’t safe.
Rosie: There is a brilliant line within this scene as Grubbly-Plank says, “Leave her with me and I’ll fix her. I’ll sort her out.” And there’s a brilliant line which just says, “Hedwig was staring at Harry as if unable to believe he would give her away like this.” And it’s just so sad. Poor Hedwig. You can just imagine those big baleful eyes saying, “What are you doing? Why are you leaving me here with this crazy woman with a pipe?”
Laura: Poor Hedwig. Poor owls in general but whatever.
Rosie: Yeah, they have so many hardships. They’re just… they are more like slaves than the house-elves.
Laura: Yeah. They just have to get there…
Rosie: Flying the distance…
Laura: … and then they’re just like, “Ugh…” Hedwig is like, “I just want to take a nap and have a rat,” and then Harry is like, [claps] “Get up! Time to go work. Taking too long.”
Aradan: I really love the gargoyles in this scene, though. I really wish there’d be more of them. They’re just so sarcastic about it.
Rosie: They’re brilliant.
Aradan: Like, “Yeah, well, that’s put us in our place.”
Rosie: Whose idea was it to put sarcastic gargoyles outside the staff room?
Rosie: You’re always going to have kids going to the staff room to ask for help; that’s just what happens after school in general. So why put sarcastic gargoyles there to mock them every time?
Laura: Yeah, maybe just to deter them from going into the staff room because they need their coffee or whatever.
[Eric, Laura, and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: But to go back to what I was saying before, where Harry needs to keep his temper and Malfoy is mocking the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Malfoy says that there is a special ward at St. Mungo’s for people whose minds have been addled by magic…
Rosie: … meaning that Harry will be sent there eventually because of his spells of dreams – whatever that they’ve been talking about – and the fact that Dumbledore and Harry have been kind of painted as crazy within the paper. And we get the strongest reaction out of Neville that we have seen so far in the five books, where he sees red and he lunges for Malfoy, and Ron and Harry have to hold him back. And this is just the saddest example of dramatic irony where we know what’s going on, Harry knows what’s going on, but no one else does.
Rosie: And they just have no idea why Neville is reacting in this way, because obviously we haven’t got to “Christmas on the Closed Ward” yet – that’s a few months away. That whole little backstory there is not yet completely known. Even Malfoy is surprised by the reaction, so it’s obvious that he doesn’t know about Neville’s parents either.
Rosie: So, that’s really interesting considering who his aunt is, and he knows that his aunt is in Azkaban but he doesn’t seem to know why. So when do you think Malfoy finds out about Neville’s parents? Does he ask his dad why Neville would react in this way? Or does he do some research himself after this moment?
Eric: Hmm… Does he necessarily follow up and learn?
Rosie: Maybe not.
Aradan: No, I doubt it.
Eric: Yeah, I think he brushes it off as being this crazy thing that happened. He’s got Crabbe and Goyle to protect him and nobody expects Neville to be the one who’s just throwing himself at him just to cause a fight. So I think he’s unnerved but immediately things get distracted and muddled by the class up ahead and Umbridge…
Eric: … and all that stuff. So I don’t know if he ever follows up. He certainly never apologizes to Neville, so… that we’re aware of.
Rosie: Not that he would apologize to Neville.
Laura: Yeah, exactly. When has he ever apologized to anyone, especially Neville? Just try to picture it. It just feels awkward.
Rosie: Mhm. But it’s just so sad, isn’t it, Neville’s reaction?
Eric: Oh, definitely.
Laura: Yeah, definitely.
Laura: That whole plot, which we will get into when we get to that chapter because it’s such a fantastic chapter… it’s one of the most heartbreaking plots of the whole series…
Laura: … to me, if not the most heartbreaking.
Laura: There’s a lot… we got a lot of heartbreaking plots around here. I could make a case for a top ten, but…
Eric: Really, I’m finding now though… if I could just comment about this chapter as a whole, I feel like the book’s on an upswing. It’s on a huge upswing, this whole disobeying the rules…
Laura: Oh, yeah.
Eric: … and starting a secret society and… the book has really picked up to where Harry’s morale has picked up, too. Despite all of these challenges which have been introduced in every subsequent chapter, like “Oh no, this is going on”, even in this chapter, “Oh, Hedwig is not safe”, all these things, in spite of that he’s growing to become this great teacher of the DA. And they need a few more pieces of the puzzle, the place to fight and all this other stuff, but the book is just kind of on an upswing. You can’t help but feel a little happier reading these chapters.
Laura: Right, because we’re not in all the angsty Harry mode. He’s still… he’s always going to be an angsty Harry, but it’s not the main plot at the moment of everyone being against him and Umbridge is mean and Percy is mean, everyone mean.
Eric: Right. He’s the one restraining Neville, and to be honest, I don’t know what Malfoy is going on about. I didn’t really know what he was getting at. I knew of course about Neville, but just why is he talking? Why is he yapping?
Eric: What does he have to gain? And furthermore, Slytherin being able to practice – let’s talk about this for a sec – for Quidditch, okay.
Eric: What does that…? There’s no Quidditch Cup if the other teams can’t play because there are no battles, there are no matches throughout the year. So, Slytherin doesn’t win the cup if there’s no match. There’s going to be no match for the cup, so Slytherin just gets to fly around and hone those skills…
Eric: … for no point. There’s no reason behind it why Umbridge would only approve their team. They just need something to be doing all year while everybody else is in DA lessons, I guess.
Aradan: Well, I think at this point it’s also Slytherin doesn’t know about the DA group, so they think the whole decree is just to get them ahead in Quidditch because they know that their Quidditch team is ready and everybody else’s isn’t. So maybe they just figured they’re getting a whole ton of extra time to train so they can win the cup easier.
Rosie: Yeah, that’s true.
Eric: Oh, that’s a good point. I didn’t think about that. Yeah, they’re just looking for the advantage and it’s clear which house has the most sway with Umbridge. And isn’t it here where Malfoy talks about his father being good with Umbridge because he always stops by?
Laura: Yeah, yeah.
Eric: I mean, that’s really weird.
Rosie: The proof that Malfoy Senior is always at the Ministry.
Rosie: But as we enter the classroom, we discover that Umbridge is actually observing Snape in his lesson. Which reading it, the kids are probably on edge and Snape’s probably slightly on edge and Umbridge is just at the back of the classroom making notes. But as a reader reading this I was like, “Ooh, okay, here we go.” [laughs] “Let’s see what Snape can do against Umbridge.” Because you know that she’s going to criticize everyone no matter who she’s actually observing, and Snape being criticized is just going to be brilliant. And of course, straightaway we see that the class is working on their Strengthening Solution, which Umbridge says straightaway, “The Ministry would prefer that they were not being strengthened in this way…”
Rosie: In keeping with all the restrictions on DADA, “We do not want an army of strength.”
Eric: She couldn’t have been any more obvious. She could not have been any more…
Eric: It’s called a Strengthening Solution. “Now we would prefer that our students are not strong…”
Rosie: Strong! [laughs]
Eric: “Thank you, yes.”
Laura: Yeah. That’s not subtle. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] It’s definitely not subtle.
Eric: In fact… Harry is craning his head to hear this, but you would think that Harry would get a few more recruits right away based on that statement alone.
Rosie: But just imagine what Strengthening Solution could do. Is it just going to give you a bit more muscle? Or is going to light you like a properly whole cow?
Rosie: I mean, it’s basically steroids.
Eric: Did you just say “whole cow”? [laughs]
Rosie: It really is.
Laura: It’s not basically steroids, it is steroids.
[Laura and Rosie laugh]
Eric: Yeah, that’s what I take it to mean. I wonder if… I’m sure there’s side effects to every potion.
Rosie: Probably. Especially if you do them in the way that Harry does where it’s all burned to the bottom of his cauldron and he’s cleaning out again.
Eric: Oh, gosh!
Rosie: I would not want to take that. [laughs]
Eric: I imagine he would turn green if he took it.
[Aradan and Eric laugh]
Laura: He would ultimately…
Eric: It’s really hulking out.
Eric: Oh my gosh.
Rosie: But along with this we also get some brilliant Snape backstory. We get to find out that he has been teaching for fourteen years and that he has always desired the Defense Against the Dark Arts job but never received it. And we actually have a fan question on Audioboo, so let’s play that now. Take a listen.
[Audio]: Hey guys, this is Loony Lauren from the forums and I have a question for this week’s chapter: “Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four”. When Umbridge is evaluating Snape she mentions that he applies for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position regularly. Why not hire him this year to avoid Umbridge since we know that he eventually gets hired anyways? Just something I wondered while reading this passage.
Laura: I think that’s a really interesting topic because there really is no point. [laughs] My only thing I would say is that Dumbledore might still have been like, “No, not going to give it to Snape.” And then only after seeing what happened after he made that decision was like, “Okay, I’m going to give Snape a chance because we literally cannot get worse than Umbridge.”
Eric: Well, yeah. I mean, looking at… this is a couple of chapters ago when they… or was it also said in this chapter? They basically defined why Umbridge was appointed. It may have been an earlier chapter, but Educational Decree Number Twenty-Two gave the Ministry the right to appoint somebody in the position. So we know that yes, it was the fact that Snape was definitely not allowed to [teach] Defense Against the Dark Arts why Umbridge was even there. But had Dumbledore chosen this year to appoint Snape to that position, Umbridge may have just come in to Potions then… or to Care of Magical Creatures, which doesn’t have any more than a substitute, that sort of thing.
Eric: So I think the Ministry would have… the ends would have been the same. Umbridge still would have been appointed to Hogwarts regardless.
Aradan: Although the question is how much damage Umbridge could have done in Care for Magical Creatures. I don’t think they would have formed a secret club for that necessarily.
[Laura and Rosie laugh]
Laura: That’s true.
Eric: We need to learn about these Flobberworms!
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Laura: Yeah… no, but seriously, I like what Aradan’s going off of. Let’s picture this story in the frame of…
Eric: Well, he needs Snape.
Laura: … her doing…
Eric: Well, I think they…
Laura: … Care of Magical Creatures.
Eric: Well, here’s something to… no, that’s a funny picture, you’re right. But in this chapter Snape both answers Umbridge’s question and Trelawney – where they go later, I think – also reiterates that she’s been here sixteen years.
Eric: And you realize – do the math – these teachers joined Hogwarts right when they became… the exact year, probably the exact day that they became useful to Dumbledore for the fight against Voldemort.
Eric: Snape for overhearing the prophecy, which we don’t know about yet in the books, and Trelawney for making the prophecy, they both joined the staff at the respective different years before Harry was born, and then after Voldemort fell was the fourteen-year mark. So, they’re… these teachers are clearly playing this larger role, and I think that’s just… I hate to say “Well, then the plot of the next book couldn’t have happened if Snape was gone,” but it’s true.
Eric: Snape is made Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher next year – we don’t know it yet – but it’s all to play into this end result which is that Snape does leave, or at least the position, next year. And Dumbledore still needs Snape at Hogwarts this year, so he wouldn’t put him in the position that he knows to be more or less cursed.
Laura: That’s true. What you said actually gave me two thoughts. First that… because we were talking about “Why would Dumbledore hire Lockhart?” We were talking about that last week as we have many times before. I never really did consider the fact that he’s hiring purposely disposable people…
Laura: … and being aware of the curse, like not trying to hire someone…
Eric: But you should never take education lightly…
Rosie: Poor Professor Quirrell.
Eric: … because Seventh Years…
Eric: … or Fifth Years even for their OWLs had to take Lockhart, and…
Eric: … so you should never…
Eric: I feel like…
Laura: Oh, I’m not defending it…
Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Laura: … by any means.
Eric: No, no, no, but I agree.
Laura: I’m just saying that that could have been a train of thought…
Laura: … that he didn’t necessarily want to hire someone…
Eric: He liked too much?
Laura: It was definitely a risk to his position and… I don’t know.
Rosie: This year is a particular risk for hiring Snape in Defense Against the Dark Arts as well because if you put him into that position and he did have to leave at the end of the year because of the curse, then that kind of delivers him right into Voldemort’s arms. Because he would have to leave the school right… or something would happen that would cause him to leave the school that could be ultimately him rejoining Voldemort. We don’t want to give him that temptation.
Eric: Then again…
Rosie: Not that I think he ever would…
Eric: Then again, if Voldemort’s absense from Hogwarts is what causes the curse, then maybe Voldemort would have allowed him to stay on, I guess. Not that it’s a conscious thing… because I really don’t think it’s a conscious curse that Voldemort did this, at least that it could be some unspoken magic of the id kind of thing going on. But I think if Snape was needed by Voldemort to spy, then perhaps he would have been able to beat the curse.
Rosie: But knowing how Voldemort treats Snape at the end of… Snape…
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: … I don’t think even he would have been allowed to stand in that position that Voldemort wants.
Laura: I remembered what I was thinking before which was that… also when Snape is hired as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is right when Dumbledore has been given a death sentence. Which at that point he always obviously trusted Snape hugely, but still never enough to give him that Dark Arts position.
Laura: And I think when it came down to where Dumbledore was like, “I am going to die in a certain amount of time, and I’m putting Snape into the role of the person that’s going to kill me and putting all of this final stuff,” that was the line where it all came down and Dumbledore was like, “Okay, I have to fully commit at this point to trusting Snape.”
Eric and Rosie: Mhm.
Laura: “So I might as well give him something as petty as a teaching position when all this other stuff is being put on him.”
Rosie: Also, he’s only got one year to live. So, he knows that at the end of that year it’s all going to kick off.
Rosie: And also he’s only got one year at the job, and he might as well give him that year.
Laura: Yeah, and also Dumbledore can in a way just kind of wash his hands of him. “I’m going to be dead in a year, so if something happens…”
Laura: …”nothing I can do about it.”
Eric: Well, the whole thing is that Snape will die too because of the Unbreakable [Vow] – we’re talking a lot of Book 6 stuff – but if Snape is not the one to kill Dumbledore, then he dies too. So it really was, just in terms of the most clever plot mechanisms of the whole series, it’s one of those where you get this…
Rosie: It works on every…
Eric: It works on every level…
Eric: … for Dumbledore and Snape to form the alliance that they do. But still, Umbridge poking, prodding Snape, he handles it really well. He’s still bothered by it and penalizes Harry immediately afterwards, but it’s always… again, this chapter, these chapters where we see a teacher against Umbridge. Ron makes these ridiculous comments like, “Oh! It’s about to go down!” or “Oh, I can’t wait to see this!”
Eric: Harry goes into this class thinking, “Oh great, these are my least two favorite teachers and they’re both there.”
Rosie: So thank you to Loony Lauren for the AudioBoo question. As you can see, that created a lot of brilliant discussion, so please do send in your questions by Audioboo if you have them for next chapter. But just to close off quickly, as Eric mentioned earlier, we have Trelawney as our next lesson where she mentions that she did have sixteen years of service. But she has been placed on probation; she has failed her inspection from Umbridge. And we have to keep an eye on her and make sure she will be staying [at] the school in future chapters, which of course we know will cause problems. And speaking of problems, Sirius is in the fire again, and even Crookshanks tries to say hello, and he goes to nuzzle on his face, and it’s really cute despite the flames.
Rosie: Hermione tries to stop him from burning himself. Which is nice because Crookshanks and Sirius were really good friends…
Eric: Yeah, one year.Rosie: … in Prisoner of Azkaban, so it’s nice to see them still hanging out slightly. [laughs]
Eric: Well, Crookshanks face is already smushed from something before this.
[Aradan and Rosie laugh]
Eric: My face is already damaged. I’m going to get a little hot.
[Aradan and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: We learn that Sirius knows about the DA, and he warns that the pub was a stupid idea, and Mundungus was there as a witch in a veil because he was banned from the pub several years earlier, so he has to go in disguise. Sirius also gives a warning from Mrs. Weasley, to Ron, particularly, saying that she expressly forbids him from doing anything to do with the DA, and she often also says to Harry and Hermione that the message applies to them as well although she acknowledges she has no ultimate power over them. And then they discuss logistics, so Sirius gives them their blessing and says, “Where are you going to practice? There’s a secret passageway behind a mirror on the first floor that use to be quite big; you can probably go […] practice there.” And Harry says, “No it’s caved in.” No one is taking him seriously, and he’s a bit put out because he doesn’t really have the knowledge of Hogwarts anymore to be able to help.
Eric: Yeah. Right?
Laura: And then also, he couldn’t have specifically helped. It would have made him almost a part of this.
Laura: Because if this whole sort of thing had happened when he was a kid he would have been right on board with this, and he wants to be a part of it if he [were] able to and needed that knowledge. And I’m sure Sirius is probably a twice-more qualified wizard than Harry. I’m sure he’d love nothing more than to teach it, but…
Rosie: Yeah. When they mention the Shrieking Shack, you can just imagine him going, “Oh, yeah, I’ll move there!”
Rosie: “I’ll get out of Grimmauld Place and move to the Shrieking Shack for a year and help the kids. It’ll be brilliant!”
Laura: They’ll be fine with it.
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah.
Laura: Which just made me think of being very silly right now. If you can do all [of] this physical transformation and what Ron does back… which wasn’t Polyjuice Potion but back in Deathly Hallows when they rob Gringotts, and they’re just all different things like the changing hair and whatnot…
Laura: I understand Sirius has a very famous face and a lot of tattoos and stuff, but I feel like some stuff could have been done that he could at least go out not necessarily in dog form.
Eric: Well, you’re talking about one of the four creators of the Marauder’s Map who doesn’t know about the Room of Requirement, and this is a big issue. And I mean, if they had known what the Room of Requirement in all of its infinite majesty could do, then you could, like in Book 7 where they create a passage from the Hog’s Head underneath, their own secret passage into Hogwarts, yes, you would get Order members in their off time, even though I think Hermione says in this chapter, Lupin – or it was the previous chapter – is definitely busy; he’s not going to be able to teach us. You get somebody like Sirius who’s an Order member, who’s an adult, who actually has defended himself on a… I want to say “professional level”… but on an adult level with other Death Eaters, then he would be a great teacher. But it comes from them not knowing all of this information about the Room of Requirement, and so it’s very interesting, in retrospect, reading, to think about what could have been because you potentially could have had Sirius, as you say, Laura, out here teaching them. And the reality is not that far off, but it just doesn’t occur.
Rosie: Can you imagine Lupin’s reaction to finding out about the Room of Requirement?
Eric: I mean, or James’s?
Rosie: They built a whole house in Hogsmeade and a tree to get him out on the grounds but this whole time, on the same floor as the Gryffindor common room, there has been a Room of Requirement that once a month that he could have gone to and not even had to leave the castle and be safe.
Eric: Unbelievable, that probably would have been comfortable, right?
Rosie: Yeah, it would have had everything that he needed.
Eric: All the things that a wolf needs to be comfortable.
Aradan: Cage and bone?
Eric: Yeah, cage and a bone.
Rosie: He must be so frustrated.
[Eric and Rosie laugh]
Eric: But that shows Dumbledore’s lack of knowledge, too.
Eric: So this is cool how, I guess… of course we’re way off. We’re a couple of chapters off, but the discovery of the Room of Requirement is wholly their own even though Voldemort knew about it and stuff like that, but the discovery of how they find this place, how they solve their own problems, is really like a coming-to for these students. And that is one of those cool things about the book that I don’t always think about as being super cool, but I think it’s cool.
Rosie: All thanks to a house-elf.
[Aradan and Eric laugh]
Rosie: But more about that later. Of course, this chapter ends when Sirius looks over his shoulder, alarmed, and disappears suddenly from the fire, and the trio sits there and goes, “What just happened?”
Rosie: And suddenly a really creepy hand with stubby little fingers and old rings is clawing at them through the fire, knowing exactly where Sirius’s head had been moments before, and they all scarper because Umbridge is clawing away into the Gryffindor common room.
Eric: This was like at the ending of a Game of Thrones episode. Clearly.
Eric: “Was it not, Laura? Because what just happened? Because…
Laura: Never to really be addressed again.
Rosie: No, yeah.
Laura: This seems like a big deal. Like you said, like an end-of-Game of Thrones, cliffhanger-type thing, like “Oh my God!” You just saw hands crawling through the fire, grasping at his head. How dramatic. And then never again. I mean, I know we come a little bit not really full circle but consonants a bit with just talking with the whole fire thing that happens at the end, but then they wanted to talk to Sirius. There’s a recurrence of the themes…
Rosie: And then that the fire’s not safe.
Laura: … but certainly not addressing the fact that Umbridge was literally clawing through the fire. How the heck did that work, and how are we not more concerned about that?
Eric: Well, she has a fireplace in her office that connects to the network. What more do you need? She’s able, as a Ministry official, to go sideways. It’s like, think about it like the government, like Watergate, like tapping phones. It’s just like that with the Floo Network. So Umbridge is able to have her physical presence in somebody else’s phone call, I guess, if you just want to think of it like that.
Laura: Okay, well, if that’s true, then how could she have not gone further with capturing Sirius because this seems like a pretty convenient thing. I would just sit in the Grimmauld Place fire, then, all day. I mean…
Rosie: Do you think that the…? Oh, I’ve forgotten the name of the charm.
Rosie: The Fidelius Charm.
Eric: Could prevent…?
Rosie: Works… yeah.
Rosie: She can go into the Gryffindor common room because she knows about that, but she can’t reach into Grimmauld Place because she doesn’t know it exists.
Eric: Like an unlisted number. Or a blocked number.
Laura: I misspoke in saying that. But still, still!
Eric: Sirius, as an adult wizard, is weary enough that he is able to back away fast enough to escape, but otherwise, he would have been pulled through, perhaps, to the other side.
Rosie: Yeah, if she had caught him perhaps that would count as bringing her into the secret the same way as the Death Eater and the trio onto the door step in the final book.
Eric: Oh, because they Apparate there, you’re right.
Laura: I mean, could Umbridge… how? I don’t know, I’m having trouble understanding. I don’t know if it’s the movie, the way they portray this. Maybe the fire is throwing me off, but I don’t understand how she physically could have grabbed him. The actual clawing of it…
Rosie: Yeah. What would have happened in a normal…?
Laura: What would have happened if she had latched on to… what? Just… is she just sticking her hands in the fire? And…
Rosie: I’ve always imagined that it was a lot more of a proper corporeal experience. Because we see Mr. Diggory get that slice of toast from Mrs. Weasley at the Burrow…
Rosie: … in the book, as well. It’s much more of an actual physical being there – even if it’s only your head – situation. So there is definitely going to be something solid that you could grab hold of if you were reaching through the fire. Which, in the movies, you really don’t get that idea.
Laura: Right. It’s all very confusing.
Eric: It’s just like having a backdoor into a software program or into… it’s just you can come in to a different direction that people didn’t know existed. And most people, I’m sure, unless you’re a technician working on the Floo Network, you don’t know about these other doors, these other ways of… I just find it fascinating that that exists. I’m kind of glad we don’t see it again, but it does raise certain questions. I just figure, “Well, as a head of government…” and we later find out about her and the Floo Network, I’m like, “Well, no, she’s got the only active Floo. That’s exactly how that worked.” That answered the question for me.
Laura: All right, Aradan, do you have any thoughts on this?
Aradan: Yeah. Well, I at least figured that this kind of communication would almost be like using the Floo Network except instead of going there completely, you just stick your head through, so that would allow her to… it’s like she’s using the Floo Network to the same fireplace, except just sticking your hand through, and that would allow her to pull him through, I guess? Although, it does raise a question, again, with Grimmauld Place, how that would have worked out.
Rosie: I’ve always wondered why she only used her hand. If she stuck her head through as well, wouldn’t she be able to see and report on things more easily? She just seems to want to actually physically capture him, rather than metaphorically catch him in the act.
Eric: Yeah. So it may not be that she’s monitoring the conversation, that she just kind of gets there last minute maybe because she’s…
Eric: … because Hedwig’s letter was for… bless it…
Rosie: “Same time, same place.” Very cryptic.
Eric: “Same time, same place,” so it was very nonspecific, so even though it was intercepted by her in this chapter, she was perhaps trying to seal up other methods of communication?
Eric: And just the very end, notice that one of the fires was lit and just had to reach first to see what she could grab, to pull.
Aradan: Well, at least it’s really a bad idea on Harry’s part because McGonagall warned him not ten hours earlier…
Aradan: … “Be really careful with communication,” and then he’s like, “Yeah, sure”…
Aradan: … and goes and has an open conference call or something. It’s…
Rosie: He really doesn’t heed warnings very well.
Rosie: And that’s the end of the chapter.
Eric: Well, look at that. Well, once we’ve reached the end of our chapter, as we have, it becomes time for the Podcast Question of the Week. A lot of these questions have been very heady, very book-y, very topical, and I’m trying to aim for something a little bit more abstract with this week’s Podcast Question of the Week, which is “In this chapter, as Harry struggles to bring aid to his injured owl, Professor Binns grants his leave by addressing him as ‘Perkins.’ This seemingly random name is shared by Arthur Weasley’s co-worker, Perkins. Just what similarity, if any, does Harry share with Arthur’s cube-mate, and WHAT WORLD is Professor Binns in, that he makes such a naming blunder and can’t remember the names of his current students?” I think I remember…
Rosie: Not even just his current students.
Rosie: He’s Harry Potter!
Eric: He is Harry Potter! He’s fairly distinctive. Well, he calls Seamus Finnigan “O’Flaherty,” I think, in…
Eric: … Chamber of Secrets, and we don’t know another O’Flaherty, so I’m sure that’s why this question hasn’t been brought up before, if it hasn’t, but in this chapter, Harry is called “Perkins.” Why? What’s going on? And I think that is really the end of the broad Podcast Question of the Week. We’d like to see what you guys come up with with a little lighter question.
Rosie: I have a theory. So I might post that on the site myself.
Eric: You should. Okay.
Rosie: All that remains is to thank our wonderful guest this week, Aradan, and I’m hoping that you’ve enjoyed your time on the show.
Aradan: Yeah, I loved it. Thanks for the invitation. I had a great time.
Rosie: Thanks for being on.
Laura: And if you would like to be on the show like Aradan… [laughs] I’m never going to be able to pronounce it fully correctly, but…
Eric: Can we call you “Dan”? If you come back, can we call you “Dan”?
Aradan: Sure, go for it.
Laura: But if you would like to be on the show, head over to our website and check out the “Be on the Show” page at alohomora.mugglenet.com. You don’t need any fancy equipment to be on the show, just any basic recording equipment and headphones; that would be great. So head on over and do that.
Eric: If you would like to contact us, there [are] a plethora of ways in which you can do so. The easiest, fastest way if you’re signed into Twitter is tweeting at us – @AlohomoraMN on Twitter. We’re on Facebook: facebook.com/openthedumbledore, where you can write stuff on our wall there. You can call us on the phone; our number is 206-GO-ALBUS, which is 206-462-5287. You also subscribe to our podcast and leave us a nice review on iTunes. And also follow us on the now Time Magazine-mentioned Snapchat: mn_alohomora. If you’ll notice, Michael Platco, our mn_alohomora genius behind the digital palette, was recently mentioned in an article in Time Magazine, so that was amazing. Congratulations to Michael, and follow us on Snapchat at mn_alohomora. Then there’s Audioboo. You heard a comment on this very episode from Audioboo, and Audioboo is really just this super easy, really great way to leave audio messages for us and every other listener to hear. It is free; all you need is a microphone. We do ask that your comment remain under 60 seconds so that it is guaranteed maximum likelihood of play on the show because oftentimes we are trying to grab from all the areas but within a certain timeframe on the show, so under 60 seconds for all your comments, please and thank you. That was Audioboo, and I believe that’s it for contact methods.
Rosie: Just to say quickly, on all of those social media platforms, if you could Like and comment and share as many of those as possible, it really does help spread the word about our podcast. And also gets those messages to you guys a bit easier. I don’t know if you are aware, but things like Facebook actually hide things that you don’t show an active interest in. So if you do definitely want our comments from Facebook and Twitter and all of those kinds of things, make sure you are liking and favoriting and sharing our posts, and you will see many more of them than you possibly do now.
Laura: Yes, definitely do that. And thank you once again for all [of] your feedback that you have given us on what you want on the store. We have listened, and we have answered in some of the things, so we have now really awesome House shirts that I love, that say, “Your [insert house here] is showing.” So “Your Gryffindor is showing,” “Your Ravenclaw is showing,” etc. They’re awesome, so go check those out. And ringtones are free and available on the website; we still have all [of] the other crazy awesome products. Get yourself hooked up for the summer. If you’re going to LeakyCon, get yourself hooked up on all your swag now, and we’re going to have stuff there to sell, too, so…
Rosie: Also, remember we have our app, [laughs] which is available seemingly worldwide. Prices vary. There are transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more, which will probably also include, next week, something from LeakyCon. Eric, go ahead.
Eric: I would have to say, more likely than not will our app’s special feature have something to do with LeakyCon and several of us.
[Laura and Rosie laugh]
Eric: Though admittedly not all of us – shade, all of the shade to Rosie – will be there next week. We are happy to be bringing a panel discussion to Leaky as well, which you can find more information on the official schedule. We hope to see you there. We hope to see you come and find us at the MuggleNet booth where we’re running a special scavenger hunt-style thing called the ConQuest, and we’ll just have a lot of fun, and we wish that all of you can make it. For those of you that do, we will see you there. For those of you that can’t, we’re sorry, but we will certainly be there.
Laura: But you can still hear our show – we’ll be releasing it.
Eric: Yes, assuming no cataclysm happens with the recording.
Eric: I’m knocking on wood physically right now. But…
Eric: … yes, that show should be available. And if anything, we’ll definitely have some app special content videos, and I think we’re going to try [to] stock up when we’re there because we’re going to be together and it’ll be awesome.
Laura: Yeah. And also, just because we have written it in the MuggleNet post, so I guess it’s out there for everyone to see, if you are on the fence as to whether or not to attend our panel at LeakyCon or maybe something else, just keep in mind that we’re most likely also going to have free pizza.
Laura: So just throwing that out there. [laughs]
Eric: I read that. I didn’t know if I could believe it, but now that I’ve heard it on Alohomora! I’m going to believe it.
Eric: Free pizza.
Laura: No, it’s still a rumor, but it’s a pretty strong rumor.
Laura: And also, just because the topic is out there and I do want to plug it because I think it’s an awesome topic, if you are interested in the world that J.K. Rowling has created outside of the series, all the stuff that she keeps revisiting with Pottermore and the plays and Fantastic Beasts and now the technological divide between the people [who] can have Potter and cannot, please check out our panel. You will be able to come and give discussion, come up and give your thoughts to us, and it’ll be a nice back and forth. It’ll all be done over pizza most likely, so…
Laura: … please, if you’re wrestling over whether or not…
Eric: I can imagine…
Eric: I can imagine how that’s going to sound, us eating pizza during the podcast. [imitates eating a pizza]
Laura: I mean, we probably shouldn’t be eating pizza. You guys can… It might be happening immediately after. We’ll see…
[Eric imitates talking whilst eating a pizza]
Laura: Right. Yeah, that’s exactly what it’s going to sound like.
Laura: [laughs] But yeah, so definitely if you’re on the fence as to whether or not to attend. Of course, you’re going to attend.
Eric: [laughs] Of course.
Laura: All right, so I think that about does it. So thank you very much for listening.
[Show music begins]
Laura: I’m Laura Reilly.
Eric: I’m Eric Scull.
Rosie: I’m Rosie Morris. Thank you for listening to Episode 94 of Alohomora!
Eric: Open the Dumbledore!
[Show music continues]
Eric: I mean, when Harry was sending letters to…
[Train goes past in the background]
Eric: Sorry, there’s a train. One sec.
Eric: It’s a bane of my existence. It’s a train of my existence.