Patrick Musilek: Just a quick message before the episode starts: We had some big technical difficulties and problems on this episode that unfortunately, due to the nature of the way we record the show and the timeframe we have to get it done, didn’t allow for us to rerecord anything. So I tried to piece everything together as well as I could for you guys. I recorded a couple of comments and the Podcast Question of the Week because those unfortunately went missing, so that’s why you’ll hear me a couple of times throughout the episode. But I hope you still enjoy this episode as much as all the other ones, and we look forward to hearing from you in the comments section on the website and on the forums.
[Show music begins]
Eric Scull: This is Episode 103 of Alohomora! for September 27, 2014.
[Show music continues]
Eric: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Alohomora! I’m Eric Scull.
Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller. And our very special fan guest today is one that I believe all of you will know. It is Cheryl Klein, the executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books. Yay!
Cheryl Klein: Yay!
Kat: Thanks for joining us, Cheryl. We’re so excited to have you here.
Cheryl: It is so fun to be here. It’s just a blast from the past to go back to this book. This is the first of the Harry Potter books that I worked on, and so rereading it I was taken back to 2003 and thinking, “Oh man, we left that comment in there?”
Cheryl: And stuff like that, so… and there’s a hyphen that… I actually wrote down, “Oh, why did we leave this hyphen in there? We should take a second look at that hyphen.”
Eric: Oh my gosh, what page is this hyphen on? Now I need to know.
Eric: Will we get to it in this chapter?
Cheryl: It’s one of the references to potted plant.
Eric: Oh, yeah.
Cheryl: It’s hyphenated. I was like, “Why is that hyphenated?” I have a feeling there was probably a good reason for it at the time, but I don’t remember it anymore.
Eric: Oh, okay. Fascinating.
Cheryl: We’ll take a look at it. This is the kind of thing I obsess over personally, so… I started working at Arthur A. Levine books, which is an imprint of Scholastic, in 2000 shortly after Goblet of Fire was published. I was Arthur’s editorial assistant, and I worked on Books 3 – I’m sorry – Books 5, 6, and 7, and my title on the last two was more or less continuity editor. Which meant that my job was to keep track of the overall what we call the “style Bible” for the series, making sure that every time “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans” comes up, for instance, that “Every Flavored” is not hyphenated. And it’s B-O-T-T-apostrophe-S, not S-apostrophe, and so on. And I also tried to keep track what all the various magics were. So if somebody said Levicorpus, it was different from Mobilicorpus and the spells always operated in the right way.
Cheryl: So I was backed up on that by a huge team of copy editors and everything too. And my boss was the actual editor of the series who was talking to J.K. Rowling and everything. But yes, I do obsess over things like hyphenation. [laughs]
Cheryl: And phrases like “potted plants” because that’s my job.
Eric: Oh yeah, that’s totally cool.
Eric: That’s really cool. That really brings up the question for me… I wanted to know how many people would you say then – I know you said it was a big team – how many people had their eyes combing through Jo’s words before the book was published to do things like this?
Cheryl: Editorially, I think there were probably about ten of us on both sides of the Atlantic… ten to twelve.
Eric: Oh, okay. Mhm.
Eric: That’s cool.
Cheryl: We were working with the team at Bloomsbury as well…
Eric: Mhm. That’s just awesome.
Kat: Oh my gosh.
Cheryl: It was pretty amazing.
Cheryl: Well, we were very aware that if we got anything wrong, everybody would let us know about it.
Kat: Oh, we are familiar with that, yes.
Cheryl: Because a lot of the books I edit – they have 10,000 – 20,000 readers, something like that, and that’s great. [laughs] We’re thrilled with all the readers we get, but with these we had a guarantee of… I don’t remember the exact print run numbers, but I think maybe the last one was 12 million first printing or something?
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Cheryl: So we were very aware of the audience that was out there as soon as the book came out.
Kat: Well, I think the listeners of this show will particularly appreciate that because they love to pick us apart when we miss something. [laughs]
Cheryl: Well, there we go.
Kat: Yeah. So there you go. Not that we mind… I’m not saying they’re bad or anything…
Kat: We love them. Anyway, what Hogwarts House are you?
Cheryl: I am a Ravenclaw.
Cheryl: Yes, structure…
Cheryl: … little bits of knowledge…
Cheryl: … I love those very Ravenclaw-y things.
Kat: Oh, awesome. Well, we just want to take a moment to remind all of you listeners out there that this week we are going to be discussing Chapter 25 of Order of the Phoenix, “The Beetle at Bay.”
Eric: But before we do that, we want to get to some comments on our discussion from last week where we discussed Chapter 24 of Order of the Phoenix. So there is an ongoing conversation now about Sirius and his continued actions in front of Harry to Harry about whether or not he really is a good father figure or godfather. This comment comes from thegiantsquid, saying… the dialogue is actually about Lupin, because Michael always asks, “Well, where’s Lupin in this book? Where is Lupin in this book?” So the comment from thegiantsquid says,
“Lupin finally gets a few lines on page 527 (US edition) and they are so awesome that I’m going to put them in this comment: ‘…Harry, I know you don’t like Snape, but he is a superb Occlumens and we all – Sirius included – want you to learn to protect yourself, so work hard, all right?’
LUPIN IS THE GODFATHER HARRY NEEDS.
Lupin is fostering a relationship between enemies, mending bridges, and teaching a younger generation to look past people[‘]s faults in order to accomplish a common goal. Sirius only behaves like a stubborn, slighted child, and actively perpetuates Snape hate. Lupin even compliments Snape! I think it’s important that Lupin also says that ‘Sirius included’ wants Harry to do this. I feel like Lupin and Sirius had a bit of a heart-to-heart where Lupin put Sirius a bit in his place, so Lupin tells Harry this is a roundabout fashion by including Sirius’s name specifically. Most importantly, Lupin addresses Harry’s concerns, he reassures him, shows him that there are people supporting him, and offers him advice all in one sentence!
Lupin is the greatest, and he deserves a much bigger moment than this.”
We did… last chapter was the Occlumency chapter, and so there was a lot of interesting stuff between Sirius and Snape and Harry going on.
Cheryl: Yeah. I think everybody in this situation is trying to do what they think is right, but they’re doing it in the worst manner they possibly can.
Cheryl: Like Snape knows he has to do this, but he’s doing it with complete… the least good will he could possibly muster.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Cheryl: And just when I was listening to you read this comment, I was thinking about how Sirius is really the bad boy uncle. He’s like the one that you want to hang out with because you know he’s going to give you your first sip of beer or something like that.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Cheryl: And you’re going to have a good time with him and he’s going to say outrageous things. You could be like, “Oh my gosh, did you hear what Uncle Sirius said?” to your parents afterwards…
Cheryl: But I think the commenter is right, that Lupin is this sort of person – the cool-headed person that Harry really needs in this situation. He’s sort of Dumbledore Junior, or something.
Cheryl: I only assume that James was closer to Sirius all together and they had a good time when they were younger, and so that’s why he went with the reckless godfather rather than the safe one maybe.
Eric: We also in the last chapter had the incident where Sirius gives Harry the mirror but he doesn’t open it.
Eric: This comment comes from PuffNProud. They say,
“The mirror… doesn’t everyone have one thing they truly regret doing or not doing, even though the right answer was in front of you the whole time and you just never saw it[?] Opportunity missed, wrong choice? Something that replays in your mind, that when you think about it you want to kick yourself in the head?”
[Cheryl and Kat laugh]
“I think that’s the mirror for Harry.”
[laughs] Anything that Cheryl had a problem with, they fixed.
[Cheryl and Kat laugh]
Eric: They changed. [laughs]
Cheryl: I think that’s actually probably true.
Cheryl: For the purpose of… not that just because I had a problem with it, it got fixed, but…
Cheryl: … I don’t have a problem with most of the things she does, and I think that…
Cheryl: … in this case, just the sadness of the whole thing. Yeah, it’s sort of his first… this is a book where Harry is really operating as an adult for the first time and seeing the feet of clay of everybody, and I think this is his real feet of clay moment too. His first adult mistake that he makes is perhaps taking off on his own to go to the Department of Mysteries without checking with Sirius or anyone else first, and it doesn’t go well. So I think this is just another one of those adult mistakes, maybe.
Kat: Who would you guys give the other mirror to if you had this?
Eric: How do you mean?
Kat: Who would you give the other mirror to if you had a set?
Eric: Oh, like for somebody to keep in touch with us?
Eric: Probably my mom.
Eric: [laughs] Because I forget to call her sometimes, so if I just had a mirror in, I don’t know, clearly a common room at my house…
Kat: I was going to say, not the bedroom.
Eric: Yeah, not anywhere… no, but just to… I could… yeah, so she could check in. So that would be a gift to my mom.
Kat: Oh. That’s sweet.
Cheryl: My best friend just had a baby, so I’d probably give it to her so I could check in with her and the baby.
Cheryl: But on the other hand, we already text photos of the baby and things…
Cheryl: … pretty much 24/7.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Cheryl: So it’s like we already have the mirrors, kind of.
Eric and Kat: Yeah.
Cheryl: Wizarding technology was ahead of iPhones basically.
Eric: So we actually had some comments. We always say the comments are split: we have the main site and then we also have the forums. And we love everyone who goes over and comments at length on the Alohomora! forums. For the last couple of episodes, we haven’t mentioned or brought up comments from them, so here’s two comments that happened over on the forums. Firstly, from Honeydukes Empire (username), and they say,
“Here’s something crazy I never thought of before: Maybe Dumbledore thinks having Snape teach Harry would be good because it’s a way for the two to try [to] get along by working together towards a common goal? It does make sense for Harry and Snape to learn to get along because they are ultimately on the same side of this war. It reminds me of what Dumbledore tried to do with Sirius and Snape. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, this can’t work if they’re unwilling to cooperate.”
Eric: So there was some questions, I believe, if I’m recalling the discussion correctly last week, Cheryl, that why didn’t Dumbledore teach Harry Occlumency? Because clearly Snape is so antagonistic, so would Dumbledore believe…
Eric: Would it have been smarter for Dumbledore to do it himself?
Kat: Of course it would have been smarter, but it’s Dumbledore. Yeah, I don’t know.
Kat: He doesn’t always take full responsibility for his mistakes.
Cheryl: And isn’t he trying to avoid Harry in general here? Just because of the whole communicating with Voldemort thing?
Cheryl: So, trying to teach him Occlumency would be completely the opposite of that.
Kat: [laughs] Right.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Eric: Yeah. So, our last comment here from last week’s discussion comes from MinervaLupin on the forums, and they have a really good comment here:
“My first thought when reading this chapter was whether or not Occlumency would have even worked for Harry. We can all agree that this is not a normal situation; Voldemort and Harry’s mind are connected via the Horcrux. So what Voldemort and Harry are doing can’t really be called Legilimency, so Occlumency would not be able to stop this connection from happening. But then I thought, why would JK bother with Legilimency and Occlumency at all if this would not work for Harry?
So far, everything she wrote in the books has had a use, even if a small part, so I do not believe that she would make mention of Occlumency, much less have a full chapter and many others to follow concerning this, just for the simple fact of adding it in. It is quite possible that it might have been able to help Harry but, to get around it, chose to have him not master it. Then again, maybe she just used this Occlumency stuff to throw us readers out on a loop and not have us suspect the Horcrux connection and that nothing can really help Harry with keeping Voldemort out of his head.”
Kat: Whoa! Okay. Recap?
Eric: Yeah. What?
Kat: I feel like that was such a confusing comment.
Eric: No, that comment is perfect. It just says Harry would not… even if Harry had learned Occlumency… we learn he fails miserably to grasp it – could be Snape, could be Harry’s fault, who cares. The idea is that it wouldn’t have protected Harry anyway.
Kat: Because of the Horcrux.
Eric: Because the Horcrux is not your standard form of mind reading.
Kat: Got it. Okay.
Cheryl: And Dumbledore knew. Dumbledore suspected the Horcrux connection, so that goes back to why Dumbledore asked him to do this in the previous thing. And I think that would lend way to the theory that Dumbledore wanted Snape and Harry perhaps to build a relationship.
Eric and Kat: Mhm.
Cheryl: And also just the overall experience of Occlumency is another case of Harry kind of venturing into adult territory and in this case being able to control yourself and control your mind, and he’s sort of failing miserably at it. [laughs] As he does quite often throughout this book as we will see in this coming chapter, in the ways that teenagers always fail at things. We all fail at things when we’re first learning to control yourself, to get with the girl, whatever it is.
Cheryl: And so, it’s another sort of feet of clay moment.
Eric: Well, I said that was our last comment and it certainly is, but we do want to do a shout-out. We heard from DisKid – not DatKid, DisKid.
Eric: I’m going to keep making that joke until everybody laughs. We heard from DisKid – DisKid is somebody who on Pottermore was sorted into… was actually a four-way Hatstall, Cheryl…
Kat and Cheryl: Whoa!
Eric: … and was somehow able to choose which House they went into, and I believe they chose Hufflepuff…
Eric: Yeah, he chose Hufflepuff, so that’s awesome. But… anyway, we heard from them and they just said that they didn’t… I asked, kind of jokingly, what questions did I have to answer the other way to be able to do that, to rig Pottermore? And they just said that it was two and a half years ago and they don’t really remember. But it was exciting and for the longest time they didn’t realize you could be a Hatstall, and they actually just thought that Pottermore allowed you to choose which House you wanted to be in.
Eric: So, very interesting.
Cheryl: It seems like if you did that, you ought to get a big burst up on your screen that says, “You are a Hatstall!” You know?
Eric and Kat: Yeah.
Eric: Well, I feel like that’s what does happen. Maybe it’s a more recent thing, but Hatstalls were an extra content from J.K. Rowling. I don’t know if that was during the chapter – maybe they introduced another Hatstall and that was the thing – but I remember reading really early on about Hatstalls and it was directly from Pottermore. So yeah, I would think that something would come up and you would see it. But hey, whatever. Still pretty exciting that Pottermore just doesn’t know.
Kat: Would you have chosen Gryffindor if you got a four-way, Eric?
Eric: Possibly. Yeah, because the thing with Pottermore was that I didn’t choose it, but I was accepting of it once I read the welcome letter. So I think I probably would have just gone with Gryffindor because I’d been dressing as a Gryffindor for years. But once I read the Hufflepuff welcome letter, I said, you know what, this is me now. I get this, this kind of fits. So obviously I was very happy.
Eric: Cheryl, have you seen any of the Pottermore at PlayStation Home, the digital environments that you can go roam?
Cheryl: Oh, no. This sounds very interesting.
Eric: It’s really quite cool.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Eric: We’ll be the only ones in Hogwarts.
Cheryl: There were things that would come up in response to questions we would ask that would be tidbits here and there. But more or less, as an editor your job is to work with the text that exists.
Cheryl: And so there wasn’t so much time to explore all the fun stuff. But it’s coming out now.
Kat: Just so you know, we are pretty sure that Jo listens to the show.
Kat: So if you have anything you want to say to her… no.
Eric: I think that’s a joke. Isn’t that just a joke we keep telling? That’s just…
Kat: Well, the thing is…
Eric: … so people keep listening to our show, thinking that…?
Kat: No, no, no, no. The thing is we will ask questions on the show, and then she answers them on Pottermore.
Cheryl: Oh, interesting.
Kat: I don’t know. I mean, what was…? It was something very specific about owls using the Floo Network, some random theory we came up with, and she answered it on Pottermore. So, you know…
Cheryl: Oh, that’s great.
Eric: Yeah, right?
Kat: She probably just has someone in her camp listening, but we like to pretend…
Kat: … that she sits down every Sunday and listens to the show.
Cheryl: Well, she certainly has been very fan-responsive about the mere fact that Pottermore exists, so…
Cheryl and Eric: Yeah.
Cheryl: … that’s funny.
Eric: Yeah, she’s awesome.
Patrick: All right, so now we’re up to the Podcast Question of the Week responses, and the first response that we got is from username Hollywobbles.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Cheryl: Excellent name.
Kat: Very cute.
Patrick: And she says,
“I don’t agree that Snape is a horrible teacher. He does start by comparing what Harry is going to need to do to something similar that he has done before (resisting the Imperius Curse) so that he will have an idea of what he is supposed to do. Snape doesn’t give him step-by-step instructions, but it seems to be that it’s more of a magic you ‘feel out’ rather than having a specific set of rules to follow. He compliments him (as best as Snape is ever able to compliment Harry) on this first attempt. Yes, Snape is a jerk to Harry. As a person, he is not very nice. But as a teacher? I think he is doing as well of a job as any other could. His biggest mistake seems to be that he assumes Harry will take any responsibility for himself learning Occlumency; Harry does zero research on it, and doesn’t put any effort into practicing. He (as always) relies on Hermione to hand him the information that he should have been searching for himself. Harry’s inability to learn is more his own fault than anything. Like every other thing in this world, you can’t learn it by just being handed the information. You actually need to try. Maybe Dumbledore thought that Harry would be even more motivated to close his mind because it was Snape trying to get in, even though Voldemort getting in his mind should have been plenty of motivation.”
Kat: So I still think that Snape is a really horrible teacher, but I do think that he’s probably teaching it correctly.
Eric: Well, we talked last week.
Eric: We did say that… Snape just kept saying to Harry, “close your mind,” or “clear your mind,” without really spending time to say, “this is how you do that.”
Kat: Hmm… mhm.
Eric: So there was that little tidbit because it was all in the heat of the moment and the action that was happening.
Kat: I mean, but that’s valid. That’s like telling somebody to shut your mind off before you go to sleep if you can’t sleep, if you have… what’s the word where you can’t sleep?
Kat: Yes, thank you. That word. If you have that, they’re like, “Just clear your mind.” I mean, how do you explain how to do that?
Cheryl: But you can teach… you do deep breathing. You do… [laughs]
Kat: The techniques.
Eric: Go to your cave.
Cheryl: And Snape doesn’t… I mean, I think Snape probably could do all of this, but I think all of these people, like I said earlier, just bring out the worst in each other.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Cheryl: And so I think that he is just so devoted to… I mean, he’s such a good Occlumens that he’s so devoted to keeping himself protected, he can’t think about… and Harry brings up such negative feelings in him that he can’t bring out any of the good stuff that is in him when it comes to teaching.
Kat: Is there good stuff?
Eric: Yeah. Uhh, well, that’s just…
Cheryl: In Snape?
Cheryl: Well, I mean, when we see Snape teach Potions, he’s always harsh, but he’s also… he knows what he’s doing. And he can teach technique and style and so on.
Eric: Yeah, well, whenever he criticizes a student on their potions, he tells them exactly where they went wrong.
Eric: He may say it a little jaunting, weird, getting on everyone’s nerves with the way he says it, but he is helping them. I think, too, but it’s because Snape is such a good Occlumens that we know he’s able to fool Voldemort after years of working really closely with him that it makes me want for more, in terms of these lessons with Snape and Harry because I feel like Snape not only gets it, [but] he is pretty much the one who’s putting that into the most practice that you’d ever need [as well].
Kat: He’s mastered it.
Eric: He’s absolutely mastered it, and so you would think that he would be capable of explaining a little bit clearer to Harry how to do these things. But as you’re saying, I mean, it’s really the personalities that are clashing here.
Patrick: For the next comment, QuibbleQuaffle says,
“If we’re comparing Snape to Lupin with Circle Theory, both Occlumency and the Patronus [C]harm take a lot more than just waving your wand, but while Lupin guides Harry through it, builds up his confidence and makes sure he’s okay after by giving him chocolate to help with the effects of the fake Dementor, Snape explains Occlumency in a way that Harry can’t understand it, attacks him before he’s ready, outright calls Harry ‘weak,’ and afterwards just lets him walk away when ‘Harry felt shivery; his scar was still aching, [and] he felt almost feverish … he was very white, and his scar seemed to be showing up more clearly than usual.’ Surely there would have been something either Snape or Madam Pomfrey could have done to help with that. This goes beyond the typical wizarding disregard for health and safety because this is a magical threat that Snape is leaving Harry vulnerable to. Maybe he’s going for a more tough-love, Fake-Moody approach, but even Fake-Moody took Neville aside to comfort him, ‘like Professor Lupin would have done,’ and encourages his students as well as being hard on them. Nevermind that Lupin was a better teacher than Snape, Barty Crouch, Jr. was a better teacher than Snape.”
Kat: We have to remember that Little Crouch was obsessed with Harry, so he was going to do anything to get on his good side.
Eric: Oh, including comforting Neville?
Kat: Yes, including comforting Neville.
Eric: Well, still, I mean, he demonstrated he knew what to do or knew how to do it.
Kat: No, that’s true.
Eric: It worked for Neville.
Kat: He was a great teacher, that is true.
Eric: Well, Snape’s journey, I mean, knowing that the first lesson didn’t go very well in the last chapter and knowing what eventually happens, which is as soon as Harry really gets insight into Snape, he shuts down lessons and refuses to teach him further, I mean, that alone just says that there is no tolerance here, that there’s not going to be any kind of… it was a bad first lesson, and all the other lessons subsequently are going to just be equally bad. It’s not going to get any better, unfortunately.
Kat: I wonder why the side effect is that his scar shows up more clearly than usual. What’s up with that?
Cheryl: I mean, I was just thinking it was the whole… well, in the long view, it was his Horcrux being activated, the memory being that the scar is the physical manifestation of that connection, and so since they’re going so deep within him, I guess – or trying to – the scar would…
Kat: And because he was very white, so it probably stood out more.
Eric: I can’t… I just thought of something terrible, which is, scars or previous cuts can reopen or bleed or whatever, which I thought would be totally crazy if Harry bleeds from the scar. Thank God that didn’t happen.
Cheryl and Kat: Oh, yeah.
Eric: … because it’s tingling, maybe there is a physical… it’s not bleeding, but maybe there’s a physical… that it’s getting more pronounced, and the tingling is a physical side effect. It’s not just mental that it’s tingling. So maybe that has something to do with it. I mean, he has a physical scar, so maybe it’s just getting more prominent because it is being affected kind of thing.
Patrick: All right, so the next comment comes from SnugglesWithNifflers…
Patrick: … and they say,
“I wonder if, during these lessons, Snape was searching Harry’s mind for similarities to Lily, or even glimpses of her. Most of Harry’s memories that Snape sees go against Harry being a James Mini-Me and paint him in a much more sympathetic light. Snape does get a glimpse of Lily when he sees her through Harry in the Mirror of Erised. I feel as though it would have been difficult for Snape to resist diving deeply into Harry’s mind at the temptation of seeing Lily again.”
Eric: No, no. I hate to disagree…
Eric: I do hate to disagree with somebody with such a brilliant username that just tickles me to no end, but no, Lily died when Harry was one. I don’t think that he’s really looking to be able to… it’s not fruitful to think that you’re going to get any kind of memory of Lily. Yes, the thing with the Mirror of Erised happens and did happen to Harry, but you just don’t go diving into some kid’s mind with the hopes that you’re going to find their mother, who[m] you love, because he only had one year with her. What’s he going to remember? What’s he going to find? It just doesn’t seem like that that’s valid.
Kat: Well, it’s Snape, and I think if you think about the fact that he knows at this point that Voldemort is using Harry, what if in some crazy world, Snape… I feel that this is potentially maybe even only two percent of the motivation, but it’s there. What if he thinks that he could see memories of Lily from Harry through Voldemort? [laughs] Does that make any sense, what I was saying there? [laughs]
Eric: So he’s trying to inception, where he’s trying to go four layers down?
Cheryl: But he could go into Voldemort’s mind and see Lily through Harry’s eyes? Is that…?
Kat: Yeah, or…
Cheryl: How does he just see, basically, Lily getting killed?
Eric: Yeah. Because that’s probably the only…
Cheryl: [laughs] Oh, that’s… because isn’t that the primary connection?
Eric: … apart from the other thrice times that they defied him, or whatever – right?
Eric: … which was in the prophecy…
Eric: … I feel he didn’t interact with them all that much. I feel like, even Snape wouldn’t be so bold as to try [to] pry into Voldemort…
Kat: Yeah. Me [n]either. It’s just…
Eric: … through Harry or not…
Kat: … trying to throw something fun out there. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, it was fun.
Eric: I had fun discussing that immediately.
Kat: And also seeing Lily through the eyes of somebody [whom] she did love might be nice.
Eric: Oh, gosh, now my heart is broken.
Kat: [laughs] It’s Snape, it’s fine…
Patrick: All right, so our last comment here comes from jessfudd, and they say,
“I think Dumbledore and Snape were using Harry as bait (again), or they were using Harry as a back door for Snape to try [to] get into Voldemort’s mind. If Voldemort had broken into Harry’s mind during one of th[e]se lessons, he would have seen Snape teaching Harry almost nothing as well as him making Harry’s mind into mush to make it […] much easier for Voldemort to overpower it. I believe that in the greater plot, where Dumbledore is forming a […] plan against Voldemort, Harry is a resource to be utilized at this point, not yet a team member in the fight. If the goal [were] really to teach Harry to close off his mind, these lessons would have been taught better, even by Snape, and he wouldn’t have had the option of quitting. I don’t think they meant for Harry to get lured to the ministry and actually go, but I do think they expected Voldemort to make a move like that in that way and planned to head it off. I’m pretty sure they underestimate[d] how stupidly brave Harry can be.”
Eric: This is a heck of an accusation.
Kat: It’s interesting. It’s an interesting thought.
Eric: Well, they’re playing with fire.
Eric: No, I think it’s a… that’s one step too far for me, but that’s just me personally. I guess I think that it’s Harry being a danger to himself and others, and I mean, just the fact that he is inside Hogwarts, and Hogwarts is a place where you’re supposed to be safe means that they wouldn’t want Voldemort peeping around. If something like full on possession could happen, as a result of the connection that Harry has, the very last thing we want is Voldemort at the heart of where all the students are, and so I think it’s in everyone’s best interest that Harry be protected against Voldemort no matter what. That’s just good business. That’s just a good idea.
[Cheryl and Kat laugh]
Cheryl: I mean, I think Harry is a resource to be utilized pretty much sums it up. [laughs] Okay, I think that’s Dumbledore’s… I mean, I think you’re right that they should be careful with Harry and Hogwarts and everything, but I mean… and the “Forest Again” chapter in Book 7… Harry says [that] he’d been a tool all along, and he’s kind of okay with that. [laughs] Or at least he goes to his death. He recognizes that. Spoiler alert. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. I know.
Cheryl: For anybody who’s listening to this and hasn’t got[ten] there yet.
Eric: There is a five-minute period where we didn’t say the HalfBlood Prince’s identity in the last chapter.
Eric: Yeah, we did.
Kat: Wait. People know…
Cheryl: Oh my God!
Kat: People exist.
Cheryl: [laughs] I don’t think you should be able to get a job as a children’s librarian these days if you haven’t read Harry Potter!
Kat: It still baffles me that there are people in the world who haven’t read Harry Potter.
Cheryl: Well, also, I got into editing in part because my grandfather was a professor of children’s literature, and even after I started working on the books he refused to read them.
Cheryl: He wasn’t big into fantasy, and he tried the first one, and he didn’t like it, and that was that. So… I mean, and I respect there are people who are like that or people for whom this just doesn’t chime, but I also think, “If you’re a children’s librarian…” I mean, come on!
Patrick: All right, to complete this section here we’re going to give a little shout-out to the people [who] did a good job on the forums and on the main site, just discussion, something that we didn’t have time to mention in this episode. Oh, boy, this is going to be fun. All right, we got Albert Cashier, BeachBadger27, BlameitontheNargles, CentaurSeeker121, ChocolateFrogRavenclaw, Elvis Gaunt, FeatherSickle7662, HagridsDrinkingProblem, Hufflepug, loony_lauren, mollywobbles, PuffNProud, Rose Lumos, Silverdoe25, SlytherinKnight, and WizardorWhat. Thank you, everybody, for your contributions.
Kat: And I guess with that we’ll jump in to the chapter discussion for this week.
[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 25 intro begins]
[Sound of a harp playing in background]
Cho: Chapter 25. No, I-I can’t. I-I just can’t do it.
Harry: Oh, come on Cho. Don’t be such a human hosepipe.
[Sound of Madam Puddifoot’s door tinkling]
Harry: “The Beetle at Bay.” Cho, come back! Ugh.
[Sound of a harp]
[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 25 intro ends]
Kat: Okay, so here we are. Chapter 25: “The Beetle at Bay.” I’m just going to do our litle chapter summary thing before we break it down, per usual. Okay, so… oh no! In this chapter, ten high security prisoners (read: Death Eaters) have escaped from Azkaban Prison. Bode is eliminated from the equation by a potted plant – not hyphenated – and a very clever murderer.
[Eric and Kat laugh]
Eric: Wait, should it be hyphenated? I think that should be hyphenated.
Cheryl: I don’t think it should.
Cheryl: I mean, and this might be a British vs. American thing, too, because we have different styles of hyphenation on different sides of the pond. But anyway, sorry.
Kat: It’s okay.
Cheryl: Please go on. [laughs]
Kat: Hermione keeps Ron and Harry in the dark, and Hagrid gets put on probation. Harry is once again the topic of discussion at Hogwarts, but this time it’s different. Thank goodness for the DA, or Harry would have nothing to live for. He’s so dramatic, that boy. Valentine’s Day finally arrives, much to Harry’s… uhm, excitement? And his Hogsmeade’s date with Cho. No Dementors are around to capture the escaped convicts, yet golden cherubs are plentiful in Madam Puddifoot’s. [pronounces as “pudding”] Puddifoot’s? Is that…?
Eric: [pronounces as “putty”] Puddifoot’s?
Kat: [laughs] [pronounces as “putty”] Puddifoot’s.
Eric: [pronounces as “pudding”] Puddi? [laughs] I guess it’s not wrong. I mean…
Kat: Putty, putty… how do you say it? [pronounces as “putty”] Puddifoot?
Cheryl and Eric: [pronounces as “putty”] Puddifoot.
Kat: [pronounces as “putty”] “Puddifoot”? Okay. I’m going to redo that, then. Yet golden cherubs are plentiful in Madam Puddifoot’s. Was that better? I guess.
Eric: Little bit.
Kat: Okay, fine. Hands are harder to catch than a Snitch, and after Cho cries into her coffee cup, Harry meets Hermione and Rita Skeeter to write the article that would change everything.
Kat: [laughs] It changes everything.
Kat: Okay, so the first point that I want to talk about here is obviously the first big thing we get in this chapter is the mass breakout from Azkaban. Holy crap, oh my God. Ten prisoners, ten high-security prisoners, are out. And…
Eric: Yeah, that’s unfortunate.
Kat: The Quibbler‘s words, that.
Eric: As soon as Hermione digs in, Harry realizes that nobody else is talking about it. I mean, except for the teachers. But plenty of students just ignore the paper at this point.
Eric: And I feel like that’s something you should never do. I feel like maybe they need classes or lessons about why it’s important to actually keep up with news.
Kat: Whoa, whoa. Are you saying that you read the newspaper when you were 15, 16, 12?
Eric: In study hall. But I did only read the comics, so I don’t know.
Kat: Okay, that doesn’t count. [laughs]
Cheryl: I was going to say that I was really struck by rereading the article. I was struck by the position that it places the reader vs. Fudge and the media. I mean, clearly we are against Fudge and the media altogether, but we know what’s being reported about Sirius is untrue, so it ends up making us sympathize with the criminals, in a very Harry Potter Alliance way, like we are the people who… this is the sort of thing in the Harry Potter books that encourages people to question the dominant power. Because it’s teaching you how media can lie and how…
Cheryl: … government people can lie. And so you can’t trust it. And so when people talk about the rebellious spirit of the Harry Potter books sometimes, I feel like this article – which, it says Harry is a criminal, but we know Harry is a good guy – is the short of thing that really passes that lesson on implicitly to readers without ever getting really didactic about it.
Kat: And that’s such a strong undertone of this book as well…
Cheryl: Yeah, absolutely.
Kat: … all the political-ness because we know Jo loves that. Did you read Casual Vacancy?
Cheryl: I did. I loved it.
Kat: Yeah, me too.
Cheryl: Yeah, there are about ten of us in the world, I think.
Eric: That’s three.
Kat: That’s three. Right, exactly. That’s three. So in this article we get a couple [of] names – actually, really only two because we had Bellatrix’s name before this, right?
Eric: Well, this is… it’s probably more important that she broke out than it’s important that some of the others broke out.
Kat: Right, so just a slight background because we don’t really know too much on the two that are mentioned, so Antonin Dolohov. So according to the Wiki, it says that he attended Hogwarts with Tom Riddle and was possibly part of his gang, potentially even the first of his “friends.” He was part of the group of five Death Eaters [who] brutally murdered Molly’s twin brothers.
Eric: Yes, thank you for bringing this up. Gideon and Fabian Prewett are Molly’s twin brothers, so that wasn’t pointed out in this chapter. It just says he was responsible for killing them, but [they are] Ron’s uncles.
Kat: They were mentioned in passing previous to this, right?
Kat: Antonin took part in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, and he was the one who got the [Silencing] Charm shot at him by Hermione and then did that spell that we don’t know what it is. The spell… Cheryl, you don’t know what that spell is, do you?
Cheryl: I would have to reread that chapter…
Cheryl: … to know what you’re talking about.
Kat: Oh, okay. Anyway, I thought maybe it could be some cool thing that was cut, and we didn’t know about.
Kat: She wouldn’t be able to tell us anyway, so it’s okay. [laughs]
Cheryl: I don’t know. [laughs]
Kat: Anyway… [laughs]
Kat: … he was later defeated in the Battle of Hogwarts by Flitwick. So…
Eric: Isn’t it…? I’m sure it’s a movie-ism, but isn’t Dolohov the name of the Death Eater [who] gets petrified in the cafe in Part 1 where Ron is like…?
Eric: … “I recognize him. He’s Dolohov”?
Eric: Well, because if that is canon, then Ron was just staring down the wizard who killed his uncles… and didn’t realize it.
Kat: Right, that’s true.
Eric: So that’s interesting.
Kat: That’s a book thing, too. It was on the Wiki, so…
Eric: Mmm, okay.
Kat: It, the Wiki, doesn’t say that he was confirmed as killed. It just says that he gets “defeated by.” The next name we get here is Augustus Rookwood. Of course, we all have heard about him a few times here. He was a Department of Mysteries worker until he turns spy in the first Wizarding World War. He was part of that whole Ludo Bagman scandal where they thought that Ludo might have been a Death Eater. He was involved in all that. And Karkaroff is the reason that he was originally put into Azkaban.
Eric: Oh, that’s right. That was Karkaroff’s one… that last name that he chooses…
Kat: The one name. Mhm.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kat: Yep, exactly. Again, according to the Wiki, it says that he was instrumental in getting Lord Voldemort on track to steal the prophecy since he worked in the Department of Mysteries; he knew about the prophecies and what would happen if someone not named would try to steal it, blah, blah, blah, all of that. He was at the scene when Fred died – sad face – and Percy chased him down.
Kat: Yeah, and it was his, I guess… it’s unknown whether he is alive at this point. And just a little entomology here. That’s the right word, right? Okay.
“Rookwood was named as Algernon Rookwood in the first UK editions of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’, but his name reverted to Augustus again later on.”
Is that true? Do you know?
Cheryl: I have only ever seen it as Augustus that I recall, but…
Kat: Huh. All right. Well, maybe the Wiki is wrong. Anyway, and it says that,
“Rooks are known to be extremely sociable birds and also have a kind of caw that sounds like a croak.
Rookwood is indicated to be a sociable wizard, and when he was seen speaking to Voldemort, he was hoarse and his tone was described as a croak.”
So here you go. And I guess concerning this mass breakout – just jumping a little bit ahead to when Harry and Cho are later in Hogsmeade – Cho comments how funny it is that when Sirius Black escaped there [were] Dementors everywhere and now there [are] none. And Harry is like, “Oh, yeah.” He notices the absence and notes the significance, and I’m wondering that… is nobody else questioning this or mentioning it? Because nobody seems really concerned about the fact that nobody is really looking for these guys.
Eric: Well, just because the Dementors aren’t at Hogwarts doesn’t mean hypothetically that they’re not elsewhere looking for the Death Eaters. Nobody said… unlike the story with Sirius Black where… was it Fudge or somebody where… whoever heard him saying, “He’s at Hogwarts, he’s at Hogwarts,” and they had reason to suspect and Dumbledore had to begrudgingly allow the Dementors to be in that area, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts area, unlike that now it’s just they could be anywhere in the greater world. I don’t know. So clearly they’re trying to cover up that the Dementors are no longer under ministry control, as they’ve said for months and months. Dumbledore warned against this. But my question is, really, why did only ten high-profile people escape if the Dementors are not on the Ministry’s side anymore?
Eric: Why didn’t everybody break out if the Dementors are no longer there?
Kat: Ah. That’s a good question.
Eric: So that was my question from just reading this chapter and seeing… Jo is brilliant, and I want to bring that up later, but…
Kat: What, her brilliant?
Eric: Yeah. Just with… with the Dementors, though, there’s really this question about where their position is now because the only reason they could have broken out is either the Dementors are still at Azkaban for the Ministry and just happen to look the other way and now the Ministry is figuring out how to penalize them or whatever, as if they could, or the Dementors all just left with Voldemort.
Kat: Well, that was another question I had. Is it ever explained exactly how they broke out?
Eric: I mean…
Kat: I didn’t think so.
Eric: … I assume they just opened the door.
Eric: Although if you go in the movie, it’s like there’s a hole in the building, but that’s… I mean, that just looks cooler than opening the door.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Eric: I just figure if Voldemort really has the Dementors on his side or is able to persuade them, then it would really be a matter of just letting him in and letting them out. There wouldn’t be anything to it. There wouldn’t need to be… you wouldn’t even need to blow a hole in the side of the building.
Cheryl: I mean, we don’t really know what the nature of the Dementors’ employment contract with the Ministry is, necessarily.
Cheryl: Do they feed them souls every so often?
Cheryl: Like, “You served us for a year. Have a soul” or something?
Cheryl: But I mean, I can sort of picture the Dementors playing both sides here, that whatever way they are paid, or whatever they do get out of being at Azkaban, they want to maintain that, but then they’d certainly want whatever Voldemort could offer them, because he certainly wouldn’t hesitate to offer more souls.
Eric: So I wonder how word got out that this happened, because if the Dementors are still under the function of the Ministry, they probably would have covered it up. In fact, it’s probably in everyone’s best interest, for Voldemort, that nobody knows that they broke out. So are there some loyal Dementors who [laughs] recorded…
Kat: Jim! It’s Jim.
Eric: Jim the Dementor, who recorded…
Kat: Oh, that’s a running gag on the show.
Eric: … that this happens. And then all the other Dementors otherwise would have kept it secret. Because that’s the thing, is you don’t show your cards, right? You don’t show your hand.
Cheryl: There’s a warden somewhere, or Head of Department of Magical Corrections or something, that we don’t see. I mean, if those people in Azkaban are even all Voldemort people. You could just have your standard, higher-level Mundungus Fletchers or something.
Eric: Yeah, that’s true. And we know that even Hagrid gets sent to Azkaban for random things. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah, I was going to say, “We don’t know how many people are actually in Azkaban.” So as far as we know, maybe the Dementors only guard the really high-security people. And the rest of it is just not guarded.
Eric: We’ll have to wait for Pottermore.
Kat: [sighs] We say that about a lot of things. [laughs]
Cheryl: Hint, hint. Hint, hint.
[Eric and Kat laugh]
Kat: Yes. Jo, do you hear that?
Eric: Right? Nudge, nudge.
Kat: Wink, wink.
[Eric and Kat laugh]
Kat: Right, exactly. Okay. So speaking of Death Eaters and Bellatrix Lestrange, we are going to move on and talk about Neville and Dumbledore’s Army, which I really love. Obviously, I love Dumbledore’s Army, big fan.
[Cheryl, Eric, and Kat laugh]
Kat: But I particularly really like the mentions, even though it’s really short in this chapter, about how upon the news of the mass breakout reaching the students’ ears, Neville very quickly becomes very focused and very determined. And it just makes my heart grow three sizes. I really love Neville, one of my favorite characters. And yeah, and I mean, it makes me want him to be like this all the time. And I don’t know, because clearly, he has it in him, so why is he not just like this all the time?
Eric: Well, I think the interesting thing that I took out of this was that the article that announces the mass breakout of Azkaban actually states what Bellatrix was sent to Azkaban for. It actually says, “Bellatrix Lestrange, convicted of the torture and permanent incapacitation of Frank and Alice Longbottom.” So Harry, Ron, and Hermione just found out by accident – was it two chapters ago? “Christmas on the Closed Ward” – what happened to Neville’s family. But now it’s in the public, and we don’t see any real ramifications or repercussions of this from a Neville perspective, whether or not any of the students really… Well, we know they don’t read the newspaper.
Eric: But if they did, the answer’s right there that that happen[ed]. And I think Frank and Alice Longbottom should probably be pretty well known as a result of… They just got some fame before they were injured so severely, so I feel like that should raise… I mean, now everybody knows, and I think Neville… Personally, for his character, talking about him being inspired to do better, is… I think now he’s no longer hiding from the past. I think he’s really able to embrace it. That secret is out now.
Kat: But do you think it is, though? Because I always was under the assumption…
Eric: It’s in print.
Kat: Right, I know, but we said before that nobody reads the newspaper. They get secondhand news. Do you think that that’s a bit of news that would get telephoned on?
Eric: I’m just saying it could. I mean, there’s a possibility that there’s one other student [at] Hogwarts who reads the paper and could go up to Neville and say, “I had no idea, I’m sorry.” But I think it’s just the fact that it is out there; it is public. Plenty of people… Not at Hogwarts. Hogwarts is not the Daily Prophet‘s only potential readership.
Kat: [laughs] They would be out of business if it [were].
Eric: [laughs] Yeah, they would, wouldn’t they? The whole world presumably reads the Prophet, so I think for Neville… Again, going back to how he feels about this, I’m sure people knew before, but the fact that it’s made public again and that Bellatrix is out and free, that more than anything is just going to inspire Neville to get better at defensive spells because he may have a sort of bloodlust or a sort of avenging thought here about one day finding her.
Cheryl: Well, yeah. When she’s in Azkaban, justice is, in theory, being served. And there’s not anything you can do with it. She’s just there, and yeah, he can’t go in there because she’s being punished, in theory. And now, if he ever meets her, he can lay the law down. He can get back at her.
Eric: Vigilante justice.
Cheryl: So that seems like plenty of motivation to kick it up from just being normal Neville to awesome Neville. Neville with pecs.
[Cheryl, Eric, and Kat laugh]
Cheryl: I always think about the movie posters with this movie and how all the kids had been just kids, and then suddenly they were very much young men and women, so yeah. As I was rereading this chapter – for the first time in a long time, I will admit – I was really struck by how much of this time is spent in narration. I do some teaching of writing on the side, and we talk a lot about the difference between dramatization, which is where the scene where all the kids are sitting around talking about what’s in the paper, versus narration, which covers a long period of time, and it’s much more general. It doesn’t focus so much on specific incidents or days. And I was really struck by how much of this chapter, including this whole Neville bit, is just narrated. And how smoothly she leads us through a pretty long period of time here, I think.
Eric: Well, that’s just it.
Cheryl: Most of January and February and how much she covers. Because you go from Umbridge and the teacher and how she’s sort of stalking Trelawney and Hagrid, through the DA, through Occlumency, and then you get another little scene with Ron and Hermione, and then you get an ongoing with all these letters that everybody’s getting, and all the way up to Valentine’s Day. Going back and forth between narration and dramatization is a hard thing to do, and handling narration role is a hard thing to do, and this is just masterful stuff here and the way it just sort of leads you from topic to topic in a completely smooth way and that you’re always anchored in Harry all of the time.
Eric: I mean, she easily… 45 days or so pass. And this book is still the longest book of them all, but she manages to pick out what’s important. And it’s not jarring; you totally feel like you understand. Yeah, lessons with Snape don’t go any better, and everything you said about probation, this, that, and the other thing. So she manages to traverse great periods of time without it slowing us down or getting in the way but also being all that obvious that that has just happened. All of a sudden, it’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s time for Harry’s date!
Kat: Yeah, she’s so masterful at that. She does that frequently throughout the series.
Cheryl: And she checks in on all her subplots as she/s going along. I mean, I’m sure you all have seen that plot chart that was… yes. I mean, [laughs] when I’m reading this chapter and I was thinking about that chart and how, like, “Oh, yes, here she has mentioned the Order of the Phoenix. Here she has mentioned the DA,” [laughs] I could just see her checking off boxes on that chart.
Kat: Wait, there’s a plot chart? What’s this?
Eric: Have you not seen this?
Cheryl: Well, it’s a chart for Book 5 where you have the chapter number down the side, then the title of the chapter, what month it takes place [in], and then she has a little plot summary written in of what the main action of the chapter is. And then she has all of her subplots listed on the side. So it’s Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore’s Army, Cho, Snape, I think, Sirius… And she’s gone through and written what happens with each of these subplots in each of these chapters.
Kat: Okay, I just googled it, and I had seen it before. I guess it just didn’t… wow.
Cheryl: Yeah. I use this chart when I’m teaching plotting. And everybody’s just sort of jaws drop when they see it [laughs] because it’s…
Eric: I know, right? It’s like, “You can’t be like J.K. Rowling!”
Eric: Surely, she’s not human, right? They’re going to discover, in 50 years, that she’s an android or something, right?
Cheryl: Sent from the future. She’s the Terminator of authors.
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Kat: That’s brilliant. Puddifoot’s?
Eric: Yes! It’s still… yes. Go, yes.
Kat: Sorry. We’re going to talk about Madam Puddifoot’s and those amazing, awkward teenage years, okay? So this scene… I laugh every time. Harry is the epitome of awkward strange boy teenager. I love it.
Cheryl: Emotional range of a teaspoon.
Kat: Yes. Were you two like this at this age, Eric and Michael?
Eric: Who, me?
Kat: Yes. Well, not Cheryl. I was talking about boys.
Cheryl: I have a whole range of a tablespoon.
Kat: Oh, perfect!
Eric: I think that… I mean, Harry is like Ron in this chapter, more than he is him. I don’t know. He just doesn’t get it. I feel like… No. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I was a good listener because a lot of my correspondence with girls actually happened over the Internet, so…
Eric: … it was less awkward than being in front of somebody.
Kat: Fair enough.
Eric: So that really removed a lot of the awkwardness that surely would have happened. So I’m saying I probably was like that, but fortunately for me, the circumstances made it so it was never all that awkward, or it was as awkward as it is just to instant message somebody.
Kat: You got to learn at an arm’s length.
Eric: Yes, exactly. So that was my situation.
Cheryl: I’d be curious to know… When I first read this, I was, I guess, 24, 25, and I thought it was hilarious too because yeah, it is such a teenage experience. But I feel like I remember hearing from actual teenage readers that they didn’t find it funny at all.
Eric: They’re like, “No, this just happened to me yesterday.”
Cheryl: Because they had no distance from it.
Cheryl: It seemed really awkward and terrible for them. And so I’d be curious to know, both from you all, depending on how old you were when you first read this and from your readers who might want to post, what their initial experience of this scene was.
Eric: Yeah. I was fifteen and Harry was fifteen, so that worked.
Cheryl: And did you think it was funny or did you think it was…?
Eric: No. I thought it was terrible.
Cheryl: No? [laughs]
Eric: It sucked hardcore. Yeah, it was bad because when I was reading it the first time, Cho did seem just prone to fits of tears that weren’t necessarily justified.
Eric: And I think that was how I remembered her. But one of the joys of reading this chapter, for me, was… I am such a Harry-Ginny shipper. I cried tears of joy as soon as that happened in Half-Blood Prince and I have supported it ever since. I think they’re amazing and perfect for each other. But as a result or as a consequence, I don’t like Cho very much, and I’m just like, “Yeah, she just cried a lot. What was the point?” But reading this chapter, when they’re walking down to Hogsmeade and even at Puddifoot’s, I guess they’re outside and she points out that the Dementors aren’t there. She is smart and she has things to say that are not too far from Harry… I mean, they’re on Harry’s level. They really reel him in to discussion, rope him into discussion that matters. And I feel like I have been giving Cho the wrong shakedown here because she’s actually… apart from the fact that this ends in tears and she runs away crying into the rain, which is really dramatic, I just feel like she kind of for a minute she was actually on Harry’s level and it’s a shame that he ruins it. But I don’t think there’s anything he could have done differently. I think it’s awkward. I think it’s supposed to be awkward.
Cheryl: Oh, yeah.
Kat: What… remind me the year this came out? ’05?
Kat: ’03. Okay, so I was 21 and so I had a little bit of space from that. I had only had one boyfriend, so…
Cheryl: And you found it funny, too?
Kat: I did, I did.
Cheryl: And maybe this is a male-female thing, too.
Eric: What’s funny? What’s funny about it, Cheryl? Tell me what’s funny. What’s funny about this?
Cheryl: What’s funny about this scene?
Eric: Oh, come on. Even Michael has been quiet. He’s like, “It is pretty funny.”
Cheryl: Just his utter… I guess what’s funny about it is just how utterly ignorant he is of how to behave and how to act. I mean, I sympathize with that. I do remember that from my own experience of the first time you’re slow dancing with a guy, and are you supposed to put your hands on his shoulders or you link them around his neck. All of that is very recognizable, and so even as I’m laughing I find it very endearing and sweet.
Cheryl: But then Harry totally not getting why he shouldn’t be talking about Hermione all the time.
Eric: Well, that was an accident. That was an accident. Once he did it, he couldn’t take it back.
Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. And then the… I think that Hermione – not Hermione – Cho likes Harry and would be glad to get together with Harry but they’re just in different emotional places altogether.
Cheryl: And that is just making them unable to truly connect beyond a general, “You’re kind of cute.” “You’re kind of cute, too. We like each other. Let’s get coffee.”
Eric: Well, Cho thinks that Harry has got all these girls or whatever. Not just Hermione, she’s like, “How many are you seeing after her? Just go through them.” She makes these crazy accusations and runs out. He is so indignant over the idea that he could possibly like Hermione in that extra way…
Eric: … that he gets defensive. But there is a bit of… there’s this overly dramatic… when he senses that what he should be doing is holding her hand but he reaches for it and then she pulls it away.
Eric: She doesn’t pull it away consciously, it just happens to… she decides to… she gets distracted and her hand goes off the table. So it’s as he is diving for it to make everything right…
Eric: … denied! He can’t.
Eric: She’s distracted so. It is unattainable. He cannot win in this situation and that makes me uncomfortable as a guy. That makes me really uncomfortable.
Kat: But you have to ask yourself what actually is Cho trying to accomplish by taking Harry to this little tearoom? Because, I mean…
Eric: Well, it’s cold, the rain is cold, right? Well, I assume…
Eric: … the function is just to warm up, although the fact that there are only couples. The fact that there are only couples in there…
Cheryl: Yeah, they could have gone to the Three Broomsticks or something.
Eric: … is suspect.
Eric: Well, this is more romantic than the Three Broomsticks. This is just quieter than the Three Broomsticks. The Three Broomsticks has Hagrid getting wasted.
Kat: Per the usual. Yeah.
Eric: So yeah.
Kat: But do you think she took him there looking for a make-out session?
Eric: Well, why did she bring up Cedric? That’s what I want to know because it’s like…
Kat: Well, yeah!
Eric: … all other points aside of what happens, etc., her bringing up Cedric does feel, to me, a little out of place because if she is there with the intention of getting with Harry or being closer to him… what she needs and why I think she’s there, why I think she’s there is that she wants to finally get his account of what happened with Cedric.
Kat: Yeah, I mean…
Eric: Because she says that.
Cheryl: I think that she only brings that up after she’s also brought up Roger Davies and after Harry has said that he is going to be meeting Hermione.
Cheryl: So I think she brings him there sort of thinking, maybe I’ll get together with him and we’ll have a cute Valentine’s Day, she seems like the sort of person who likes cute, fun things…
Cheryl: … and being romantic and all that really girly stuff, I guess that’s my image of Cho. And then it goes really badly and so then she starts to punish him and try to get other things from him. Because he’s not giving her the easy, sweet, cute, romantic, dreamy stuff that she wanted. That’s when she turns on him.
Eric: Well, yeah…
Eric: … this is a trap.
Eric: I’ve been…
Eric: She says, “I’ve been meaning to ask you for ages. Did Cedric… did he m-m-mention me at all before he died?”
Eric: That’s a trap.
Eric: That’s a freaking… excuse my untowardness to the female race, but that’s a girl trap. That’s how they get you. So, like, “Does my dress look fat?” “Did my dead boyfriend mention me before he died?”
[Cheryl and Kat laugh]
Eric: The answer to both of those questions is “Well, one of them is no and the other is yes.”
Kat: Wait, what?
Eric: That’s a trap. [laughs]
Cheryl: I’ll say, in contrast to the Harry/Cho relationship, I love all the moments with Harry and Ginny in this book.
Cheryl: I feel like this is almost the more romantic book between the two of them then Half-Blood Prince. That’s certainly the one where he’s thinking of her, and having dreams and so on and so forth, but this is the one where he’s talking about how tough it is and she’s like, “Well yeah, I’ve been possessed by Voldemort too.”
Cheryl: And she’s really helpful to him a number of times in a way that you build a long term relationship…
Cheryl: … in a way that Cho just doesn’t.
Eric: Well, that’s kind of like… Yes.
Cheryl: And so those are… They’re just such great subtle foils in this book. Yeah.
Eric: Mhm. Cho just unfortunately picks all the wrong topics at all the right moments.
Eric: Harry doesn’t want to talk about Cedric because he feels – I don’t want to say jealous – he feels like… that she… the more she talks about Cedric or wants to know about Cedric, the less he feels like his own person, his own candidate for her affection.
Cheryl: Mhm. That’s a good point.
Eric: That’s what I think, that’s how I feel. So when he reacts negatively or poorly to the answer, it’s kind of as much about asserting his own personhood as it is about anything else.
Kat: It always made me question if she had any actual, genuine interest in Harry, or if she was just there for closure and discussion of Cedric.
Cheryl: I think she liked him. I think she thought he was cute. He’s smart, he’s fun.
Eric: She remembers their first time together.
Eric: She remembers their first time pretty vividly, actually.
Cheryl: Yeah. But on the other hand, I’d say the one memory he does protect from Snape is kissing Cho.
Cheryl: That’s something that’s precious to him, and he’s like, “You don’t get that; you don’t get to see that.”
Eric: I forgot about that. Small victories.
Cheryl: Yeah. So it’s something that I think is… he has some investment in Cho. It doesn’t play out in any happy way.
Eric: It’s Shakespearean; it’s flawed.
Cheryl: One thing I wanted to say before we move onto another topic is you mentioned at the very beginning the little chapter opening illustrations of Harry and Cho.
Cheryl: It’s really interesting if you look at the chapter illustrations for Book 1 going all the way to Book 7 to watch the development of Mary GrandPré’s art.
Cheryl: Because they start off being very iconic; they tend to be focused on one thing or one object or something. And as they go along, she was doing a lot more picture-book work after the Harry Potter books, and you can see them get more detailed, I think. This isn’t a universal rule, but you can see them… a lot of them… this one really acquired a whole aspect of scenes, rather than just being a cherub or something like that. So it’s a fun, interesting way to see both… I think you can see both Jo sort of developing as a writer through every book and Mary changing her art as she goes along.
Eric: Yeah, I think that’s true. I mean, this is really… I’m looking at it again. This is the perfect chapter art.
Eric: I mean, and it is detailed. It’s not just Harry and Cho; it’s Harry and Cho sitting at a table with the tea on it, with him reaching to touch her hand, and her hand on the edge of the table dangerously close to the edge of the table, and a cherub sprinkling confetti on them.
Kat: And I’m sure there’s some in the coffee cup if we could see it.
Eric: Right, exactly.
Cheryl: One of my jobs on the series was checking all this chapter art against the actual text. [laughs] So I’m very invested in all these little pictures.
Kat: Oh, really?
Eric: Were there any you thought were too vague?
Cheryl: Well, if there were, we corrected them. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. Okay.
Cheryl: If there was something that… like the cherub was supposed to have a wreath on his head, and he didn’t or something like that. Things like that. So yeah.
Eric: Oh, right, right, right. Okay.
Kat: Do you remember any that were just blatantly wrong? Or not wrong…
Cheryl: Oh, goodness. This is eleven years ago now.
Eric and Kat: Yeah.
Eric: It’d be funny if the chapter called “The Half-Blood Prince” was just Snape’s face.
Eric: I’m sure it’s something different, but…
Kat: But I want to talk a little bit about, I guess, the end of the chapter and Hermione’s plan. Okay?
Eric: This is awesome. It’s so awesome.
Kat: Of course it’s brilliant. Hermione the hero, our hero. She’s amazing. We love her. Let’s all bow to Hermione. But of course in the beginning of the chapter she’s like “Oh, wait, I need to go write a… write a letter… I don’t know… it’s worth it,” and then she just leaves. Leaving Ron and Harry in the dust, kind of per the usual. [laughs] And we come to find out, at the end of the chapter, that it was indeed most likely Rita Skeeter that she wrote to, and Xenophilius Lovegood. Not most likely, definitely. So I was wondering what do you guys think she told Rita to get her to show up at the Three Broomsticks? Because Rita and Hermione, they are not…
Eric: Well, how long…
Kat: … BFFLs. They are not best friends.
Eric: … was she in a jar?
Eric: In Hermione’s trunk?
Kat: Valid question.
Eric: Because I just figured…
Kat: I don’t know.
Eric: … she could just open the jar and let Rita out. Something happened and I may be missing the specifics here, but when we see Rita she’s been let go of the Prophet or she left.
Kat: Right, I think at the end of Goblet it says that Hermione… because Ron was like, “Oh, my God, that’s her?”
Eric: Yeah, I’m pretty sure she just…
Kat: And Hermione’s like…
Eric: … rolls the jar…
Kat: No, I think Hermione’s…
Eric: … and grins really… rolls it around and the bug…
Kat: But I think she says that, “I’ve told her I’ll let her out when we get back to London,” there’s the quote.
Kat: I just got it.
Eric: Okay, thank you. But that’s… no, you can’t use that… that’s the trump card that she’s always using because I feel like after this, she can’t use that anymore. Or…
Kat: I have lots of points about that, actually. One: what would have actually happened to Rita Skeeter if Hermione had reported her? But also, on your point is that Hermione clearly does not keep calling it in, this is her one favor, because, as we know, Rita Skeeter just wrote a whole bunch of crap about Hermione from the Quidditch World Cup.
Eric: But that’s your answer, then. I feel like she just said to Rita, “Here’s your chance to make good. Okay, come here to this place at this time, and we’re going to settle our differences,” or, however she would word it that would get Rita…
Cheryl: I mean…
Kat: I think she would have had to mention Harry.
Eric: I think Rita wants this over as much as… well, not that Hermione wants it over, but this is a perfect, perfect use of Rita.
Cheryl: See, I think of Rita as just being probably like a freelance journalist. Especially in the UK, they have a lot of people like Christopher Hitchens or someone who will write for whatever publication gives them an outlet, more or less.
Cheryl: And Rita is just the consummate news hound. If there’s gossip, if there’s a story to sniff out, or something she can say, she’s going to chase it down. And I think that Hermione probably evoked the Animagus thing, but probably could have just said, “I’ve got a hot story involving Harry Potter, the boy who lived. Come to the Three Broomsticks,” or something, and even given Rita’s cynicism about Harry and everything, which I really love in this chapter, actually.
Cheryl: I bet she wouldn’t have been able to resist that, you know?
Eric: I feel like it would have been a struggle though, right?
Cheryl: An exclusive story.
Eric: Does she want to involve…
Eric: … herself with the girl who trapped her in a jar? Even for Harry, even for…
Eric: Is that how desperate she is? I feel like she would have had to…
Cheryl: Well, yeah, she’s down on her luck…
Eric: No, no, no, she would have had a moment where she didn’t want to go, but then she would have had to admit to herself that she was so low that she absolutely needed to go for that. But…
Eric: … my whole thing about what’s happening with Rita in this chapter is Hermione is actually… I don’t want to say doing her a favor, but they’re giving her some dignity. They’re allowing her to write the story that’s going to be read and is going to set the record straight. It’s completely against Rita’s will, but they’re using her for such a proper, good purpose that matters, and they’re allowing Rita to write this. I don’t know what I’m trying to say exactly. But the fact that Rita is reluctant when… they’re using her for the right function, I think, in this case. It’s not vindictive for Hermione on Hermione’s part; it’s just, “You need to write this.” And she still has a bit inside her that is a writer that does care about reporting facts. It’s been hidden by years of abuse or whatever that she has just gotten in the kick of being more of a gossip columnist. But there is a part inside Rita that becomes clear in this chapter, where she, in the end, agrees to write this because… not because she doesn’t have another choice. I really feel like it’s because as a writer you do have this innate interest in presenting something that is important. I feel like in this chapter there’s plenty of quotes of just her getting real with people…
Eric: … which makes me feel like she’s very vulnerable; like her guard is down. I mean, I have several examples and we can talk about it a little bit longer, but I just think that Rita really… this is the most real we see her; she’s not hidden by… because she doesn’t have a lofty job to hide behind and she’s not as super popular. She’s unemployed at the moment for all intents and purposes and so for her to be called in to do a job – but Hermione controls it – it’s not going to be published where she wants it to be published and in fact, she’ll get laughed at, or the article will get laughed at or whatever… I still think that Rita is the best she has ever been in this chapter because all of that other crap is stripped away, and at the heart of it you get a woman who wants to write something that people read. And so when she says to Luna, “I could manure my garden with the crap that’s printed in your father’s rag,” if I can actually find that quote…
Cheryl: So you see that as an example of Rita’s actual pure journalistic heart and her actual pure love for something?
Eric: Yeah, I do. I absolutely do…
Eric: … so she says, “I could manure my garden with the contents of that rag.” She is being insulting to Luna. She’s being insulting to everybody at the table. But I think part of her wants to write for something that’s going to be published. She cares about the fact that her article is not going to be seen…
Eric: … and so she gets real with Hermione, and she’s like, “Okay, look, Fudge is leaning on the Prophet, etc., etc.,” and she reveals – it’s just a truth bomb after another – where she’s like, “Hey, the Prophet exists to sell money,” or, “The Prophet exists to sell the Prophet,” so she’s just laying all these truth bombs down. She wants to write the article, I think, that is going to get read, but she cares that people are going to… that the place where they want to publish it is… well, The Daily Prophet won’t publish it, and then the place where they suggest to publish it, she thinks is just not credible. So yeah, I think a part of her really secretly is on board with this because that is her life’s calling, to be a journalist. But that could be radical.
Kat: Hmm. Yeah.
Cheryl: … I would go with that… I think that’s a much warmer interpretation of Rita than I’ve ever put on her…
Cheryl: … that she’s got this love of journalism and such and she wants the story to be seen. Because she’s always sort of seemed to me like somebody who is selling herself to the highest bidder, selling her story…
Eric and Kat: Mhm.
Cheryl: … and everything she says here about, “Nobody wants to believe the Death Eaters are back; it’s against the public mood, so it won’t be able to sell this.”
Cheryl: And then her… I mean, I love the exchange where Hermione says, “The Prophet exists to tell people what they want to hear,” and like you quoted, she says, “The Prophet exists to sell itself, you silly girl.” That’s another one of those great sort of political moments reminding us of the role of the media…
Cheryl: … both in the wizarding series and, actually, in the larger world that people should remember.
Eric: Yeah. Well, also she asks how much she is going to get paid for writing this. She does ask that.
Eric: I mean, she’s unemployed. She probably has to live off of… I don’t know. She probably doesn’t have the world’s greatest financial situation right now, so she does ask what she’s going to get paid to write the article and they tell her that she’s not going to get paid anything. I mean…
Cheryl: Luna says, “My dad doesn’t care about making money.” [laughs] Sort of like in direct contrast to the more functional papers.
Eric and Kat: Yeah.
Eric: But yeah, I mean, I think my big question is: Why does she end up doing it? It’s just because of the blackmail? Do you really want to believe…? That’s a cold interpretation… it’s just because of blackmail.
Cheryl: “How can I…? What’s in it for me?”
Cheryl: For either a good story… because I think she always… whenever she talks to people, she always goes for the jugular.
Cheryl: She always goes for the heart, the place where you can find conflict, the place where you can find a story, where people don’t get along, or where people are hurting the most. I think that’s just an instinct for her at this point basically.
Eric: It’s just so… it’s brilliant that Hermione is using her as sort of a counter insurgent, or just to go the other way.
Eric: And I think… to clarify what I was saying before, I don’t think Rita is a good person still. In fact, there’s a beautiful… it’s a one-sentence – no, a two-sentence – paragraph, but it says, “‘Daddy will be pleased’, said Luna brightly. A muscle twitched in Rita’s jaw.”
Eric: It’s like she doesn’t… most of her doesn’t want to be doing this. But I think there is something to be said about the fact that it does come out; all this comes out and it is from Rita’s pen. I mean, she does go back to doing what she does best in later books, doing the Dumbledore thing, but for a moment here I like to believe that a couple of those weeks in that jar really did her some good.
Kat: Do you think it was that long? I was going to say, oh, Hermione, that’s bordering on… I don’t know… something.
Eric: Well, didn’t she capture her before the end of Goblet of Fire? Or no; it was at the Hospital Ward, maybe?
Cheryl: Yeah, a couple of days.
Eric: In my mind it’s weeks and months. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah. [laughs]
Eric: In my mind, Hermione is much more dangerous than we think.
Kat: Well, I think that’s a legitimate thing. I mean, I think she’s much more dangerous than anybody lets on but… yeah, so there you have it. That’s “The Beetle at Bay.”
Eric: Wow. Why is the chapter so named? Does anybody understand what…?
Cheryl: Well, “hounds at bay” are when hounds are hunting a fox or something, I think?
Cheryl: Or maybe it’s “the fox at bay”? I forget. It’s a hunting metaphor.
Eric: Oh, okay.
: Something being at bay. So I think it would mean that the beetle is being hunted.
Eric: Oh, the beetle being Rita, of course?
Cheryl: Yeah, yeah.
Eric: Okay, and they’re keeping her… they’re forcing her to do something.
Cheryl: The Rita… yeah, the beetle is under their power…
Eric and Kat: Mhm.
Cheryl: … is the object of their attention and within their power.
Eric: I’m glad that Harry and Cho’s date didn’t have any bugs in it.
Eric: I was like, “At one point we’re going to get to the beetle but I’m glad it’s not during…” like a beetle in his tea or something. [laughs]
Kat: Oh, gross.
Eric: I know. It’s so funny because she has these chapters named for one event that occurs in them, but so many other events occur in them…
Eric: … and so I was expecting… I think I remember expecting a bug to pop out during Harry’s date… [laughs] but that was just silly 15-year-old nonsense.
Kat: Wow. I was going to say, that’s a 15-year-old boy for you.
Eric: Yep. “Ooh, there are going to be bugs.”
Patrick: So now it’s time for the Podcast Question of the Week and this week’s question is as follows: “The classic moment of this chapter is of course Harry and Cho’s disastrous date. The fandom has put a lot of blame on Cho for the failure of this relationship, but was there ever perhaps a chance for this to be compatible? What about Cho’s personality might have made this relationship work? Could she have ever reached Harry in a different way? And what could Harry have done better on his end of the relationship?” So that’s the question. Make sure you leave us your responses on the main page and on the forums and maybe we’ll read your comment next week.
Kat: And of course before we close out we do want to thank you again, Cheryl, so much for joining us. It has been amazing. I hope you’ve had a great time.
Cheryl: It has been really fun to go back in my Harry Potter roots here and chat with you all. I had a really good time. Thank you.
Kat: Remind our listeners or tell our listeners where they can find you out in the Interwebs.
Cheryl: It is called The Narrative Breakdown and it is a podcast I do with James Monohan, who is a TV and film editor, and we talk about all different forms of narrative and storytelling and writing, how you can tell stories from a first person point of view, or what it’s like to construct a video game, or how to write a good query letter if you are an aspiring writer. So you can find that at thenarrativebreakdown.com.
Kat: Is that on iTunes as well or no?
Cheryl: And that is on iTunes, absolutely.
Kat: Okay, cool.
Cheryl: I am just excited to see what J.K. Rowling does next. I mean, I think every move she has made since Potter has been really interesting and surprising and shown her trying to grow as a writer. The whole Robert Galbraith thing…
Cheryl: … I have to tell you, when that was revealed I was actually at my bachelorette party…
[Eric and Kat laugh]
Cheryl: … with Melissa Anelli of the Leaky Cauldron… [laughs] so in the middle of my bachelorette party Melissa had to go off and post this gigantic news.
Cheryl: And then half of the rest of my bachelorette weekend was devoted to discussing J.K. Rowling’s authorial choices. [laughs]
Eric: I was going to say, wouldn’t you all have just shown up at the bookstore just to get a bunch of books?
[Cheryl and Eric laugh]
Eric: Maybe you were on a party bus and you’re just like, “Driver, detour! Barnes & Noble! Go!”
Cheryl: Right, right. [laughs]
Kat: [laughs] That’s funny.
Cheryl: And then I think Melissa was heading to my wedding a couple of months later and that’s the morning that they announced that the Fantastic Beasts movies were going to be made.
Cheryl: And so Melissa and I were joking I just need to keep having wedding events, so we just keep getting J.K. Rowling news.
Eric: I know. You pick good dates, Cheryl.
Cheryl: [laughs] Yeah. So anyway, I just love reading what she writes and I’m just looking forward to whatever that will be for whatever age group.
Kat: And this is just a tidbit… speaking of Melissa, I went to Kazu’s panel, which you moderated at LeakyCon…
Cheryl: Oh, yeah.
Kat: … and if I remember correctly… are you one of the people on the box set?
Cheryl: I am. That is correct.
Kat: Okay, which… I remember thinking, “That is the coolest thing ever. I want to be a person on the Harry Potter box set.” Just saying.
Eric: What is this?
Cheryl: If you look at the image of Hogsmeade on the seven book box set that Kazu Kibuishi illustrated for us, if you look very closely at all the windows, there are various people associated with the publishing of the series inside the windows.
Cheryl: I think in Zonko’s there’s a bald man and that’s actually our art director David Saylor, and there’s an Asian man and that’s Kazu.
Cheryl: And then up in one of the upper windows there’s another bald man, and that’s my boss, Arthur Levine. [laughs] And I think I’m in that picture, too – although I’m very hard to see – and I’m the blonde one. And then my favorite is definitely in the window over Zonko’s you can just see a really pretty blonde woman writing at a desk with a candle, and that is J.K. Rowling.
Kat: Mhm. Yeah, so cool!
Cheryl: So I love these little easter eggs built into it.
Eric: Gosh, I love that idea, that she just transcribed what she was watching as she was walking around Hogsmeade.
Kat: Me, too.
Cheryl: Right, right.
Kat: Oh, we all want that to be true, let’s be honest. So there you go.
Eric: Well, if you the listener would like to be on our show, all the details and information that you need to find out how to do that would be over on our website, which is alohomora.mugglenet.com. Certain things like Apple headphones will make it easy for you, but otherwise there is a whole exhausting list of steps on becoming one of our hosts, so go check that out.
Kat: I think it’s actually only a three-sentence paragraph so…
Eric: I heard it was exhausting from our previous guests.
Kat: Oh. Well, that might be the thing that I send out after.
Eric: Oh, okay. Well, go check out our site and decide for yourself whether or not it’s inviting. I feel like we haven’t had a shortage of guests, so…
Kat: We have not, we have not.
Eric: Yeah, so it must be easy enough.
Kat: [laughs] It is. In the meantime, of course, if you just want to keep in touch with us, you can find us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, facebook.com/openthedumbledore, on Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast, of course our Snapchat account is mn_alohomora, our phone number 206-GO-ALBUS (206-462-5287)…
Kat: You like how I do the “Go”? Yep. Anyway, Audioboo, which of course is free, and all you need is an Internet connection and a microphone. You can leave us a message on alohomora.mugglenet.com; just keep it under 60 seconds, please.
Patrick: Also, there’s the store on the website. Check that out. Apparently there’s sandals, a couple of other things… new House shirts! Yay! And also don’t forget that there are ringtones there on the website that are free, so check those out.
Eric: Also, there’s the app, the Alohomora! app, which is available seemingly worldwide. If electronics worked at Hogwarts you can bet that all of the students would be on this app. Every week we have transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more. So go check that out for both iOS and Android.
[Show music begins]
Eric: Once again I am Eric Scull.
Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 103 of Alohomora!
Cho: [crying] Open the Dumbledore!
[Show music continues]
Cheryl: Is there a great Harry/Cho fan fiction? There surely must be.
Eric: Yes, it’s called “Tears: A Love Story.”
Eric: “An Ocean of Tears.” I’m going to write my own.
Cheryl: “The Hosepipe Redeemed.”
Kat: [coughs] Oh, I’m choking!