Transcript – Episode 107

[Show music begins]

Eric Scull: This is Episode 107 of Alohomora! for October 25, 2014.

[Show music continues]

Eric: Hello everyone, and welcome to another fantastic episode of Alohomora! I’m Eric Scull.

Kat Miller: I’m Kat Miller.

Michael Harle: I’m Michael Harle. And our guest on this episode is David Sullivan, all the way over in the UK. Can you say hi to the listeners, David?

David Sullivan: Hi to the listeners, David.

[Kat laughs]

David: As they said, my name is David Sullivan, I’m from London in the UK, I’m 23, and I’m very happy to be here.

Michael: Wonderful. What house are you in, David? We always ask.

David: Yeah, I would have to say Hufflepuff, and that is also where Pottermore put me so I’m quite happy about that.

Eric: Ooh.

David: It’s just… I don’t know. I know it’s a bit of a cliché for people online to say Hufflepuff. At least that’s how I feel.

[Eric laughs]

David: Online it seems everyone is either a Hufflepuff or a Slytherin or a Slytherpuff… but yeah, no, Hufflepuff is where I’ve always seen myself, so yeah.

Michael: Who thought we’d ever get to the point in the fandom where it would be a cliché to say that you were a Hufflepuff? [laughs]

Kat: Mhm.

David: Well, this is a fandom of hipsters, so what can I say?

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: That’s true.

Michael: David, what’s your history with Harry Potter? When did you get into it?

David: Well, I’ve been a fan for a long time. My first exposure to it was in 2001 when the first movie came out. My dad actually got tickets for us to go to a special screening of the first film. Now speaking of hipsters, as a kid, everyone else at my school loved Harry Potter and I was the only one who didn’t.

[Eric laughs]

David: It wasn’t because I hated it. I just wasn’t interested, and I was like, “What the hell is this? This is going to boil over soon.” So I went along to this screening begrudgingly, and needless to say I came out of that cinema and the rest is history. I knew I’d found my new obsession, and I read the first four books, which were the ones that were out at the time, in the space of about a month, and I’ve never looked back since.

Eric: Wow.

Kat: Aww, that’s a cute story.

Michael: [laughs] Well, and it’s great to have a Brit on the show, actually, for this particular chapter because there’s a lot of British-centric things to talk about in this particular chapter. One of the most major…

David: Oh, well, that’s good to know because one of my pet peeves when listening to Alohomora! sometimes is the little hangups on British things when Rosie is not there to guide you down the right path…

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Eric: Oh, okay.

David: … so I’m glad I can be of some use.

Eric: All right. Well, Michael and David, I’ll rely on you both to point those out to me because I’m pretty sure I missed every single one of them in this chapter.

Kat: You’re good at that. Yeah.

David: By the way, before the hate starts coming in, I should say that everything I say; take it with a pinch of salt. That is British sarcasm at its finest. The kind of thing you’ll only get on Alohomora!. So don’t feel that I’m being a jerk to our beloved hosts or anything. Don’t worry; I’m sure they can take it.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: Listener beware.

Kat: Right. [laughs]

Eric: This week we are going to be discussing Chapter 29 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix titled “Career Advice.”

Kat: But of course, before we do that, we are going to talk about some comments from last week’s chapter which was Chapter 28, and everyone out there who can count already knew that. So the first comment we have here is from Ellen Dawn on the main site. She says,

“I would like to make a quick comment on the James being a controversial character discussion. I’ve personally always felt that James never redeemed himself within the pages of the text, and so it is hard to read the ‘Snape’s worst memory’ scene and feel the same way about James as I originally did. We have Lupin who discusses the scene and provides some feedback that is supposed to ease our minds slightly, but there is one thing that makes it impossible for me to think very highly of James. That one thing is Sirius. Throughout this book and earlier books, we see Sirius act completely immature regarding his relationship and grudges with Snape. When I see James’s best friend act so immaturely with Snape this many years later, it has a profound impact on what my mind would extrapolate James’s behavior to be if he were alive at the time of this book. I’m sure James changed as he grew up and must have toned down the ego a bit to end up with Lily, but to me he will never be fully redeemed for what he did in this scene… or better said, who he was in this scene.”

Michael: Ooh, dang. That is harsh.

Kat: Yeah, that’s like… ooh.

Eric: So I guess… I mean, I like this comment because it’s basically saying if James had really reformed so profoundly it would have affected Sirius and changed Sirius, too, so that they would never say anything against Snape.

Michael: Hmm…

Kat: Yeah! I mean…

Michael: Keep going, Kat, go ahead.

Kat: … no, I’m not sure I have a complete thought on it yet, although I do really like it.

Michael: No, I do… yeah, it’s definitely well-written.

Eric: Yeah, but Sirius was in jail for thirteen years. All he has got left is his glory days at Hogwarts, I think, that he clings to, and I would say that it’s probably not the same thing. Although, I agree with Ellen Dawn that it’s not in the text that James is really redemptive. We just kind of – in this chapter that’s forthcoming – have to take Lupin and Sirius’s word for it.

David: Yeah, I think Ellen does raise a very good point and I agree with what you just said, that I don’t think the text actually provides much evidence for James having evolved because we don’t really get to see any of him as an older man. But all I will say is that I don’t think using Sirius as the litmus test to judge James’s development is necessarily the best thing to do because the thing with Sirius is he didn’t… well, what actually does come out in this chapter is they say the thing that really reformed James was Lily. And that obviously is something that Sirius didn’t have. As far as we know, he didn’t have a significant other. And of course, the other thing with Sirius is the thirteen – the twelve years, sorry – in Azkaban; I always get the sense that left him a bit emotionally stunted. So I think you just touched on this, that mentally, he is still back in that same time period where… I mean, I know that James hadn’t long left school when he was killed, but I still feel that in that time, there was room for him to have grown up.

Kat: But don’t you think that… I mean, obviously Sirius and James remained close even as they got older, and sure, Sirius didn’t have Lily, but he had Lily in his life. Don’t you think she would have impacted him?

Eric: Well…

Michael: No.

Kat: I mean, considering that Sirius lived with James in the family, though.

Eric: Well, is this an Alfonso Cuarón movie where he says that Lily really affected Lupin and Sirius really much?

Michael: No, no… [laughs]

David: No, I don’t believe that’s in the book.

Eric: Poor joke, poor joke. But no, it was in the movie, is what I’m saying, when Lupin confides in Harry that Lily “saw the best in others…”

Michael: Yeah, no, that’s from Lupin’s perspective, strictly. Sirius doesn’t really talk about Lily in that way.

Eric: But I’m saying if it affected Lupin, why wouldn’t it affect Sirius the same way, though?

Kat: Well, Lupin was already not a jerk.

Eric: Yeah.

David: I suppose what I’m saying as well is, I mean, not just Lily specifically, but I’m trying to think real life examples here. I mean, quite often when you get boys that age, sometimes you might get a bunch of guys who are sort of rogues in their own way. And I do think that sometimes getting a steady girlfriend can cause them to mellow out a bit. Whereas if Sirius didn’t have that, then maybe he is still a bit of a rogue and… I mean, it’s hard to say because I’m thinking back to that one-page story that JKR wrote about James and Sirius on the motorbike.

Kat and Michael: Mhm.

Eric: I was thinking about that, too, a minute ago. Yeah.

David: Yeah, because that is obviously set after they left Hogwarts.

Eric: Mhm.

David: At least, that’s the assumption, I think.

Michael: Yeah.

David: In which case, that may be our only glimpse at the way that James was in his interactions with Sirius after this period, really, in “Snape’s Worst Memory” and I think…

Eric: Mhm.

David: … obviously none of us really know the answer because it’s all going to come down to the fact that we don’t know a lot about how James was in those later years, but I mean, I could see one of them maturing more than the other, I suppose, is what I’m trying to say.

Eric: And being hunted will do that to you, and I realize it was the war and everybody was in the war together, but I think Lily and James, specifically, were hunted specifically by Voldemort. And I feel like that would have a real humanizing effect on you and just trying to raise your young and that kind of thing. I feel like James, in the end, was probably a pretty good father, pretty good husband to Lily. He adapted to be whatever she needed – whatever they needed – to survive for as long as they did.

Kat: So now we have an Audioboo from Angela.

[Audio]: Hi, my name is Angela Hawkins and I wanted to talk a little bit about the episode “Everyone’s Fifteen.” As someone who has a little age on my side, as I’m closer to Kat’s age, I really believe whether or not you sympathize with James or not begins with where you were socially in the hierarchical structure of high school. So if you were at the very top, then of course you sympathize with James because you realize that 15-year-olds will mature and then later realize that that is not behavior they would like to pass down to their children. However, if you were at the very bottom, then you are with Snape in the fact that… no, he gets no credit for being 15 and acting like a jerk because Lily was 15 and she wasn’t a jerk. Also, I think what adds to the controversy is that Sirius is grown as James’ best friend and we would assume that James would be a lot like Sirius, unlike Lupin, who has shown remorse and has grown and matured. So that’s my two cents. Thanks.

Eric: I like this. I like this comment. Is it possible that what she’s suggesting… so depending on where we were in the hierarchical structure of our high schools, if we would be more inclined to be sympathetic towards James or Snape depending on where we were.

Michael: All right, everybody, time to own up to your high school experience.

Eric: Oh, gosh.

Kat: I was going to say I specifically put that in there because I don’t fit her theory. I was not a popular girl. I wasn’t at the bottom like Snape is or whatever, but I was a band geek. I had my little group of friends and we hung out in the band room and did that stuff but… okay, I guess I take it back that I don’t really fit this because I do sympathize with Snape but I don’t at the same time. I’m somewhere in the middle, I guess. Sorry, that was very non…

Eric: So you were somewhere in the middle in school and you’re somewhere in the middle in the book regarding who you feel sorry for?

Kat: Sure, yeah. Yeah, that fits the theory, yeah.

Eric: It does serve to… yeah.

Michael: Because that’s about where I was because I was not… people always told me after high school that they were so shocked that I was so myself in high school. People were always really surprised that I was just happy to be me. And I went to a really good high school; I went to a charter school that encouraged that, I think, more than if I had gone to a public school. But I was always the person who could flit around between pretty much everybody and just chat with anybody and I felt comfortable. And in that same regard, yeah, coming away from Order of the Phoenix I remember feeling bad for Snape but at the same time I remember also taking in what Sirius and Lupin say later about James and also seeing that James isn’t all bad and that there’s no one wrong person in this setup of what happened.

Kat: Mhm.

Eric: Yeah, I think the scene in the chapter is written so beautifully that you’re just supposed to feel bad for Snape no matter what. For me, I’d have to say I was also probably in the middle to low end. But I think that because of the chapter being written so well, you’re supposed to feel bad for Snape no matter what. It would be interesting to hear from somebody who was utterly popular, but I think anybody with a bit of age on them would possibly have the insight to regret their actions bullying others and/or you’d understand that it’s not necessarily just bullies and bullied in the world. So I think if you’ve had a human moment in your years of schooling, you can sympathize for both characters in different ways.

Kat: Yeah, I was just always that person. I wasn’t really ever picked on in high school because I was always quiet and to myself but a pretty confident person. I was a goody-two-shoes; I never did anything wrong so nobody ever picked on me for anything, but definitely growing up when I was younger… the later years of elementary school and middle school, that’s when it was the roughest.

Eric: Yeah, middle school for me was terrible.

Kat: Ugh, awful.

Michael: Yeah, I was home-schooled for middle school because my parents didn’t think that I would do well in a public middle school and they were right, so…

Eric: You have really cool parents.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Kat: Clearly. Well, our last comment here from our friend Celestina Is My Homegirl…

Michael: Yes. I’m singing a Celestina Warback song tomorrow night at the library that I work at, so…

Kat: Oh, please… wait…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Are you selling tickets, Michael?

Kat: Wait, Michael, you have the Special Feature on the app this week. You have to record that.

Michael: [laughs] I will try. I will get somebody to videotape it.

Kat: That would be incredible.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I have to see that. Okay, but anyway, Celestina is my Homegirl says,

“I was thinking about Harry’s reaction to his dad bullying Snape, and I wonder, in an alternate universe where James and Lily aren’t killed, would this matter to Harry as much? Would Harry growing up knowing about James’s dislike of Snape lessen his shock at seeing his father bullying him? Would Harry’s feelings of disappointment and anger be as strong if he hadn’t lived with the Dursleys’ bullying for ten years, or is it just another aspect of his ‘saving people thing’?”

David: That is a very, very good question. My immediate thought to that is that Harry… I mean, I imagine he would still be disappointed in seeing what his father did to Snape, but it wouldn’t necessarily be such a shock because he would know that his dad was more of a well-rounded human being, I suppose. He would know that there were pros and cons to him, whereas as it stands, Harry has grown up… or I should say, over the last 5 years, had this very idealized image of James in his mind, which is nothing but good things because that’s all anyone ever tells him. Other than Snape, but he always disregards Snape’s comments. So I don’t think he would be so shocked to see that his dad would be capable of showing malice to someone like Snape, but I do think that Harry ultimately takes more after his mother and is naturally a very compassionate person. Which again, I suppose, ties into the “saving people thing.” So I don’t know. It is a good question. I don’t know that he would feel as much sympathy for Snape, maybe, but it would still possibly make him uneasy.

Eric: Yeah. Well, I think it’s really a game-changing question because without the years and years of abuse from the Dursleys, and with his parents there, Harry would be a totally different person.

Kat: Right. I was going to say, he probably wouldn’t even ever see these memories or think about them or… he obviously would not be taking Occlumency lessons because his parents would be alive.

Michael: Well…

Eric: Oh, if the whole book hadn’t… yeah, the whole book wouldn’t…

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: I mean if the entire series hadn’t happened.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: That’s the problem with when you do what-ifs, is that there’s a ripple effect, but I think with these particular kinds of what-ifs, we’re saying that if we could change it where this one thing changes, but we can still keep everything else intact…

Kat: Yeah. No, I agree.

Michael: Because I think David is on the right track, especially because that last line in Chapter 28 is: “What was making Harry feel so horrified and unhappy was not being shouted at or having jars thrown at him – it was that he knew how it felt to be humiliated in the middle of a circle of onlookers, knew exactly how Snape had felt as his father had taunted him…”

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: So there’s a direct reference in the narration to Harry’s years of being bullied by what I assume he’s remembering is Dudley and the Dursleys. So I do think that definitely does play a role in it. But I think – you’re right, David, too – that there’s still the element that his father has been built up in his eyes so much by other people that the deconstruction of the father figure that happens throughout the entire Potter series would still be a factor here.

David: Yeah, to me I see Harry being exposed to Snape’s worst memory as a real bolt from the blue. It’s a complete shock to him going from one extreme to the other, because prior to this really it’s only Snape who’s ever put down his father. I feel that if over the course of the series people had maybe filled in the blanks about James a bit more, then Harry could’ve taken it a lot better. But as it stands, because he’s been living with this idealized image that his father was some sort of noble hero, and suddenly he actually sees his father in the memory and he sees him bullying Snape, it is a complete shock to him. I still think that if Harry hadn’t grown up living with so much systematic abuse at home, he would still be opposed to the bullying but it wouldn’t necessarily affect him on such a personal level.

Michael: Yeah.

David: Whereas I think what really uneases Harry in that last chapter is that he actually finds himself not looking at his father and thinking, “Oh yes, I take after him; I’m so proud.” The person that he actually feels himself relating to is Snape, which is something that he obviously wasn’t at all prepared for. So that’s my take on it.

Kat: “Do not like” is what Harry is thinking. He does not like that, yeah.

David: He does not.

Kat: So that wraps up our recap comments for this week, and take it away, Michael Harle.

Michael: Absolutely. Because we’ve been discussing James so much, let’s flip that a little bit with the Podcast Question of the Week. We’re going to focus a little more on the other person in this argument and that is Snape. And the question from last week is: “This is Snape’s worst memory, but what makes it the ‘worst’? Is it the interaction with Lily and guilt of calling her a Mudblood, the humiliation by James, the full scene of everyone laughing at him, or something worse?” So the majority of the comments were in agreement that it actually… the reason that it is the worst is in fact because this is where… this is a major turning point for Lily and Snape’s relationship that Snape frequently reflects on. There were a lot of comments about that and that has of course been discussed a lot in the fandom as is. So I did try to choose some comments that kind of pushed a little deeper and more theoretical, which we always like here on Alohomora! And the first one I chose was from bent-winged-snidget, who said:

“I definitely think that Snape calling Lily a Mudblood made it his worst memory but in a different way than assumed. Part of his regret and pain caused by this event was Lily’s immediate distance from Snape, as we find out in the last book in the Pensieve. However, I think that part of the pain was also caused by the fact that after five years of being extremely close friends with Lily, Snape has come to think of her, even unconsciously, as a Mudblood. His friends like Mulciber and Avery probably influenced this thought a lot, but I’m sure Snape never even considered that Lily was any worse because of her blood heritage.”

Eric: Yeah, that’s a good point. He hangs around with this crowd that is obsessed with blood status and those terms get thrown around so often that they mean less… they have less of an impact. He’s more likely to just use them, and he gets familiar with that word enough that he throws it out forgetting that it’s actually tremendously hurtful.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: And the people that he doesn’t hang out with as often – the girl of his dreams, Lily – is not the kind of person that is going to use that word.

Michael: Yeah. That’s why I chose this comment, because I feel like that idea of what Mudblood means at the time that Snape used it and versus how he sees that word now and the time he’s had to reflect over that particular aspect, I just felt kind of goes a little deeper than Snape pining after Lily, which is what we talk about a lot.

Kat: Mhm.

Eric: Yeah. Well, it’s like in this upcoming chapter when Lupin says, “Oh, you know, he always had his head buried in the Dark Arts.”

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: That’s it exactly. Snape allowed these words… he allowed himself to become the person who uses these kinds of words.

Michael: Yeah, which we will…

Eric: Always in spite of himself.

Michael: Which we will later find out is really what hurts Lily so much.

Eric: Right.

Michael: It’s not just the fact that their affection for each other is gone, but that it also cuts so deep that Snape has turned to a different side than she has. But of course that will be revealed a little later. And we also had another great response from SpinnersEnd, and another commenter Ari Schwartz kind of built on SpinnersEnd, I don’t think even realizing it because they didn’t respond directly to each other. Ari Schwartz, your comment came in like three hours before recording and I’m so glad it did. But SpinnersEnd started by saying,

“Is this really Snape’s worst memory? Wouldn’t that be the day he realized he was, at least in part, responsible for killing Lily? Or the day Lily died? Snape might have ruined their friendship in this moment, but she was alive, and as long as she was alive, there was hope, however futile, that she might come back to him.”

And Ari Schwartz said in a follow-up comment,

“I think that if we are to believe that this is in fact Snape’s worst memory, this says something rather telling about Snape’s character, as well as his relationship with Lily. Like, if Snape truly loved Lily, then his worst memory would be finding out that she had been murdered and that he had helped lead her to her death. But if this is his worst memory, it shows that Snape didn’t love Lily; he just wanted her all for himself. He views her as this idea and not a person. This memory is the turning point, wherein Lily breaks away from Snape and will eventually get with James. And for Snape that’s unbearable – that someone else could get this “thing” that he felt he deserved/owned.”

Eric: Whoa!

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: Whoa!

David: There’s a lot in there.

Kat: That’s an amazing comment, and I was thinking the whole time about that kind of similarly. What if this is Snape’s worst memory because this is the moment where he felt like he could have stopped Lily from ever being with James? And therefore this is the moment that he lost all hope of ever getting her back. And I think that that relates very much to this comment.

David: See, my take on it – and this is also addressing bent-winged-snidget’s point as well – is there’s lots of ways you could look at it. But the way that I’ve always seen it, Snape sees this as the absolute point of no return, not just for his chances of being with Lily or anything but for himself as well.

Kat: Mhm.

David: The point that bent-winged-snidget made about how this was possibly the first time he had used the word Mudblood – almost subconsciously it just spilled out – could you possibly make an argument that this is the defining moment where Snape actually turns to the dark side?

Eric: Yeah, I think that that is pretty much exactly well-stated. And I mean, Snape for me in my head canon, it’s like Lily… everyone else had been like, “Oh yeah, Snape, he’s such a Dark Arts kid. Let’s go pick on him. Let’s go because we’re not into that dark crap.” But Lily was willing to hold out. She had grown up with Snape, she knew him. And it wasn’t until that moment when she got called a Mudblood by him that she realized then that she was just wasting her time; that was who he truly was if he was going to call her that. And we know it was an accident; we know he didn’t even mean to say it. But he was so hurt and thrown upside-down that he said it. But that was the point for her where she realized that, “Wait, he is.” It was kind of a proclamation of his identity like we’re all saying.

Michael: Well…

Kat: Mhm.

Eric: And I think that’s the point where she realized that it wasn’t worth it, that he was in fact maybe too far gone onto the dark side at that point. And the worst part of it is that as a falling action, because he’s so upset he’s just going to tumble further and further into the dark side.

Michael: And that’s something that was debated in pretty much all of the comments: is the memory of Snape’s truly the moment when Snape loses Lily? Or is the memory Snape’s personal perception of where he loses Lily? And a few comments brought up that – quite a few comments brought up that the memory we will see later in Deathly Hallows is actually perhaps the full-length version. That’s the sequel to the worst memory or the proper ending to the worst memory that Harry doesn’t get to see right now. And that actually completes the whole thing in that sense, and that Lily… because the way I read that memory is that even though Lily really is at the end of her rope with Snape, she is giving him a choice in that discussion. She’s kind of… not directly, but she’s kind of giving him an ultimatum, and he turns her down in the end. And of course, the discussion will go on and on about Snape’s regrets of that decision or whether he does or does not regret. But to get back to Ari’s comment, I just thought that that was a very provocative suggestion that Snape doesn’t in fact love Lily, or love her in the truest sense that perhaps…

Eric: He just wants to possess her.

Michael: Yes, that she’s…

Kat: Well, I mean…

Michael: … a thing, an object and that he’s in love with an idea of her.

Kat: I think that’s definitely true. It’s no secret that none of us on this podcast really enjoy Snape.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: We think he’s a good character, not a good person. I’ve always thought that he didn’t really love her, that he loved the idea of her and what she could do for him pretty much.

David: I agree 100 percent.

Kat: Yay, another one. Woo-hoo!

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: I don’t know, I think she’s always been a symbol for him as what’s pure and good in the world. And yes, it’s a symbol; it’s kind of like an idea. But I think she really could have made him happy and I think he really would have… if they had gotten together, I think things would be totally different. I think he does like her for who she is. He also though from an early age saw her as unattainable. I mean, she came from a whole family and he didn’t – that’s the thing, too. There is something that SpinnersEnd said: is this really Snape’s worst memory? And I feel like the other thing about that is maybe it’s just the worst memory that Harry was able to see then. Because he couldn’t of course go to the day that Snape found out Lily was dead.

David: Yeah. I think it’s just a catchy chapter title.

Eric: [laughs] It’s just politics.

David: Yeah.

Michael: Well, and as a lot of people pointed out in the comments, Rowling is exceptionally clever by titling that chapter “[Snape’s] Worst Memory” because reading through the first time, many of us assumed it was the worst because of James’s taunting of Snape. And of course that turned out not to be the case. Almost everybody did overwhelmingly agree that the memory was the worst more for the fact of what happened between Lily and Snape than what happened with James; almost nobody discussed what James did to Snape as far as that goes. So a lot of very rich commentary. There were some excellent comments that I couldn’t include. I wanted to shout-out to Albert Cashier, Casey L., CentaurSeeker121, ChocolateFrogRavenclaw, Christy Lou, GobblingFire, Hufflepug…

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: … Holly Norris, HuffleProud, Laurel Phoenix, looney_lauren, Sheetlebug, and SocksAreImportant. There’s definitely a few great new usernames in there. I also wanted to make a big highlighted shout-out to Batty Bags, MinervaLupin, SeekerHolly Skgai, and SnugglesWithNifflers. You guys, your comments were excellent and I almost was able to include them in the show but they just couldn’t fit. But please, everybody, make sure and head over to the main Alohomora! site and read all of those fantastic theories and comments that our listeners came up with this week.

Kat: Yeah, we had over 100 comments on the episode itself, which is amazing. You guys are the best.

Eric: So definitely read those. And speaking of reading, be sure to read this upcoming chapter before we discuss it.

[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 29 intro begins]

Umbridge: Hem, hem!

McGonagall: Chapter 29.

Umbridge: Hem! Hem, hem!

McGonagall: “Career”… [sighs] “Career Ad-“

Umbridge: Hem! Hem!

McGonagall: “Career Advice”! Are you quite sure you would not like a cough drop, Dolores?

[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 29 intro ends]

Eric: Well guys, here is the chapter summary. Harry is having trouble dealing with what he saw in Snape’s Pensieve. He wishes he could talk to Sirius about it, but soon a plan is made for him to do so. First, he must meet with McGonagall to discuss his future career as an Auror, but Umbridge crashes that meeting.

Kat: [as Umbridge] Hem, hem!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Harry breaks into her office later that day. He has his chat with Sirius and Remus and lastly goes downstairs to find that the Weasley twins have called it quits on their continued full-time education. Actually, the first point of this chapter also has to do with the Weasley twins, which is kind of cool – they kind of bookend this chapter. There’s a very… I don’t think it’s prominent, but there’s this reference in the beginning of the chapter, because Harry is moping and he’s really, really worried about what he saw in the Pensieve still. And the only thing – this is going back to what David was saying earlier in this episode as well – which is that pretty much everybody around Harry growing up has said these great things about his dad, and that makes it a lot harder for Harry to reconcile his issues based on what he just saw. And Harry’s going through the whole story and figuring out that the only thing he heard against James, beyond whatever Snape said to him, was that McGonagall called both James Potter and Sirius Black “troublemakers”. This was back in the Three Broomsticks, I believe it was, in Book 3. That was the closest that anybody has ever gotten that wasn’t Snape to saying that James was anything less than absolutely the most important person ever. So Harry however is reminded that they were troublemakers like Fred and George are troublemakers of this generation. And there’s really this brilliant comparison or brilliant possibility that Harry considers: If my dad and Sirius are the Fred and George of their age, could Snape be somebody like Malfoy, who’s their enemy? Could we see Fred and George behaving in a similar way to, say, Malfoy, that we did James and Sirius with Snape? What do you guys think of that?

Michael: There’s so many great… actually, this chapter has a lot of great comparisons with present characters to past characters. And this is, interestingly, one that I personally used to skim over until this particular read because we got so many comments leading from your guys’s discussion last week that “Would Harry do this?” and everybody was like, “Well, Harry is 15, too, just like… everybody’s 15!” as you all put it. And the interesting thing here is that Harry doesn’t necessarily… he’s even hesitant in his comparison with… and he says, “Well, maybe Malfoy would deserve it, at the very least.” And a lot of people were saying, “Well, Harry would never do an unprovoked attack on Malfoy.” But I don’t know. Just thinking about the dynamics, Harry definitely puts himself above his father in this respect by saying, “Well, Malfoy would punch me first, and then I’d punch him.” And basically, I think the Weasley’s would probably do the same.

David: Yeah.

Michael: So I don’t know if it’s a fair… because I don’t think Fred and George would do anything without provocation.

David: No. I mean, I think it’s a hard comparison to make directly because, at least based on what we see in “Snape’s Worst Memory,” Snape didn’t do anything to provoke what happened.

Michael: Yeah. Right.

David: They picked on him just because he was different and weird and a bit creepy, basically. Whereas the thing with Malfoy is, Malfoy is an obnoxious brat, and everyone knows it.

[Michael laughs]

David: And the Weasley twins are driven. I mean, they definitely have a good heart. They’re pranksters, but they wouldn’t really do anything with the intent of going out of their way to hurt someone.

Eric: They’re not in it for glory like James and Sirius were. So that, for me, is the big dividing line. Well, then again, Fred and George, even in this chapter, really seek glory.

Kat: In this moment, yes, but they’re not doing… I mean, the only thing they’re doing is Umbridge, and we all know that she deserves that. And it’s not necessarily…

Eric: So it’s okay because she’s bad?

Kat: No, because it’s not toward her. All they did was the swamp, and she’s just the disciplinarian of the school, so that’s why it affects her. It’s not directed… I mean, it’s directed toward her, but it’s not directed at her. Nothing’s being done to her.

Eric: I think it’s interesting how during this book, though – I mean, we’re just forced to go along with Harry – Harry is good. And so everything he likes is good, and everything he doesn’t like is bad. Now, I feel like the book is fair with Umbridge. I mean, she’s just the worst person imaginable, so it is a little, I think, fishy or a little vague, though, as to whether or not certain other people deserve what they get.

Michael: But I do think it is interesting, actually, to go back to Dudley and the situation that happened in Goblet with the toffees because Arthur makes a very good argument to them – one of the few times he’s actually firm with his children – and he tells them, “This is exactly why there are problems with the relationship between Muggles and wizards is because wizards see Muggles as their play things, to just play jokes on and do practical tricks on, and it’s not funny.” And it’s no wonder that Dudley is terrified of the wizarding world. I mean, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon may seem to have an irrational fear of it, but look what they’ve encountered with things like this that have happened to both them and their child.

Kat: I’m just going to play devil’s advocate for a moment and say, “But pretend you’re in that room, and you’re a Muggle, and you are very aware of the wizarding world, as they are. It’s a little bit of an overreaction.”

Michael: Well, I think, yeah, I mean, if we’re going into specifics, yes, Aunt Petunia probably shouldn’t have been tugging Dudley’s tongue out, and there shouldn’t have been things thrown.

Kat: Right.

Michael: But at the same time, considering all the things that the Dursleys… their most direct contact with magic… Fred and George certainly weren’t helping.

Kat: No, they weren’t, but I think that the Dursleys are scared of magic.

Eric: Well, is it better or worse… is it better or worse that Fred and George picked on Dudley, whereas James and Sirius picked on Severus, who could hypothetically defend himself? One day. Dudley is way unable to defend himself. I mean, he actually had to have… and what Hagrid did to him. I mean, he had to have his pig’s tail surgically cut off.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Eric: There’s still a nub there.

Kat: That’s really bad.

[Eric laughs]

Kat: The pig’s tail is bad. That’s not a practical joke. That is a physical transformation. That’s bad. I don’t see the toffee as a giant, big deal.

Eric: Well, it’s nice to have this discussion, though, because it really reminds me of what happens in this chapter, which is that Hermione is looking at the pamphlet to liaise with Muggles, and it’s a little bit like Michael was saying just then about people… and what Mr. Weasley touches on with the relations. I’m going to quote from the book:

“All they want is an OWL in Muggle Studies…. ‘Much more important is your enthusiasm, patience, and a good sense of fun!'”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: To liaise. It’s like a government… to liaise with Muggles, you need a good sense of fun because they’re just fun, they’re zany, and you can just…

Kat: Those silly little humans.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Silly little human beings kind of thing. So it’s an interesting idea, I guess, that the Weasley twins are, very briefly, considered by Harry to be like, “Well, could they… were they kind of like the modern day Weasley twins?” So do we think… where do we end up on that? Do we think that James and Sirius were worse?

David and Kat: Yeah.

Kat: They were more cruel.

Eric: Okay.

Michael: I think by the textual evidence, yes, James and Sirius were worse. But because we don’t have full information on that, I can’t say for sure, and I know she’s not going to fix it on Pottermore because she’s so reluctant to write anything about the Marauders from this point. She’s let the fan fiction go wild and take it in its own world.

Eric: So a little bit into the chapter, Harry goes to the library, and he’s still down about this whole situation, and he’s surprised because who should come […] join him but Ginny. And this is a missed opportunity for the film to make another awkward Ginny-Harry reference that she’s feeding him chocolate.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: It could have gone so wrong if they had filmed it because she does feed him chocolate. But part of what… the reason that I’m bringing this up is, Michael had a great point – couple [of] episodes ago now – just talking about how… I believe Michael and I both ship Harry-Ginny big time, but apart from many people thinking that Book 6 is the real Harry-Ginny book, there are some great moments between them in earlier books, and this is one of them, is in this library. And basically, Ginny tries to comfort Harry. She recommends that he maybe talk it out with Cho; she misdiagnoses his upset as being Cho-related. But no, he says, “Actually, I’d really like to talk to Sirius.” And she says, “Well, hey, we might be able to work that out.” And she basically… that’s the catalyst then. She goes off and talks to Fred and George, who end up coming up with a way for Harry to talk to Sirius. So I really think that Ginny is wonderful for Harry, and that was pretty much my point there, that this scene between them is great. She just works… he feels better immediately after she leaves, and it could be the chocolate, but they get kicked out of the library together. It’s a great scene.

David: I think what’s important here is that we, the audience, are seeing that Ginny is, in some way, through her actions, able to provide Harry with a source of comfort. She’s no longer just Ron’s little sister; she is actually someone [who] Harry can trust and confide in, and she cares enough about Harry and Harry being happy that she is willing to use her connections to her brothers to try [to] make Harry’s wish come true in its own way.

Michael: I do as I did in the last episode where we talked about this: I smash my coffee cup, and I say, “Another! One more! Not enough!” I like this scene.

Eric: [laughs] More scenes. Yeah.

Michael: I like this scene a lot. Like you said, Eric, I love this scene. I… but I think, initially, the saddest thing about this, rereading it this time, I didn’t even remember this scene existed.

Kat: Aww.

David: Neither did I.

Kat: That is sad.

David: I completely forgot about this, and I mean…

Michael: Yeah. This is a lovely moment that shouldn’t be forgotten.

David: And I’m sorry – and I’m going to beg in advance, please don’t throw me off the Skype chat – but I am not the biggest Harry-Ginny fan.

Eric: Okay, you’re done. Goodbye.

[Michael laughs]

David: Yeah…

Kat: Hang up, quick.

Michael: I’m not hosting the Skype call, or I possibly would.

[Eric laughs]

David: But with that said, I am open-minded about it, and I had completely forgotten about this scene, and reading the book again and actually picking up on the Ginny scenes and particularly her interactions with Harry, I don’t think it comes quite so out of nowhere in Book 6. It’s just very much left to subtext.

Michael: Yep.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: That’s…

David: And by the way, just to clear it up, I’m not a Harry-Hermione shipper either. I was always Ron-Hermione.

Michael: Okay, all right. You’re back in my good graces.

[Eric laughs]

Michael: Well, we talked earlier about what happens when kids don’t get along. Now let’s talk about what happens when adults don’t get along.

[Kat laughs]

Michael: This chapter is brilliant. It has so many things to it, and the next thing that we’re going to discuss is what happens when Harry goes to Professor McGonagall’s office for career advice.

[Eric and Kat laugh]

Michael: Name of the chapter. So Harry goes, and he is… actually, he forgot about it. He was heading up to Divination. So much has happened today. He’s been in his head, and so he runs in a little bit late, and who should of course witness this but Professor Umbridge. Somehow, for some reason, she is there, and…

Kat: Well, I’m going to interrupt you because that was a major question that I had about this. Why is she there?

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: And if she’s monitoring these or whatever, is she there specifically because of Harry? Why didn’t she choose any of the other professors?

Michael: Well, we don’t know that she didn’t, but at the same time, I do think this is just about Harry. Well, she basically exists in this chapter just to discourage Harry from joining the Ministry and becoming an Auror, but she doesn’t give any advice at all about what profession he should be going to.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: But she doesn’t actually say “He would be better suited for this.” She actually just says how bad of an idea it is, and she, of course, coughs a lot and makes notes and makes reference to her note and wants McGonagall to read that she does not under any circumstances think that Harry Potter would ever, ever, ever be fit for an Auror position. But at the same time, she’s pretty useless in actually justifying the reason that she’s in that room.

Kat: Well, and also, how does she know that Harry’s going to go in there and say that he wants to be an Auror?

David: I think whatever Harry said, she was going to have an issue with it because… I mean, the question I was going to bring out is… I mean, yeah, I get the sense that she is only sitting in on this one session because it’s Harry. But is she there to just get a rise out of Harry, or is part of this trying to get a rise out of McGonagall? Because could it be that…? I mean, McGonagall has made it absolutely no secret the fact that she’s got no time for Umbridge whatsoever. And of course, McGonagall is the Deputy Headmistress, and she’s fiercely loyal to Dumbledore. Could it be that Umbridge sees McGonagall as an obstacle, and this is part of an attempt to maybe try [to] wrong McGonagall into doing something that is so… that she can…

Kat: Dismiss her?

David: Yeah, exactly, in its own way. And part of why I say that is because something that does actually happen in this discussion is Umbridge, in a completely deluded, paranoid moment, accuses McGonagall of going for the role of Headmistress and wanting Dumbledore to take the role of the Minister.

Eric: Right.

David: So… is it a case of…? She’s doing this – one – to put Harry down but – two – to kill two birds with one stone, to try [to] basically antagonize McGonagall further. Because that’s certainly what happens, whether she’s intending it or not.

Michael: I think… I agree with that. I think McGonagall is No. 2 on her list right now. At least, if not No. 2, at least No. 3 if Dumbledore is […] No. 2. Because she is the next person in power, and she has vocally… this is very similar to Goblet of Fire where… because I just read this part because I, of course, as the listeners know, I’m in a constant rereading cycle of the series with my brother, and we actually just read the part where Hermione vocally challenges Rita in Hogsmeade. And Ron says, “Don’t do that. She’s going to get you back,” and Hermione is like, “Oh, don’t even worry about it.” And Hermione and McGonagall have been very much compared in that respect, and McGonagall is doing the same thing here. She has warned Harry previously not to rise to Umbridge and her taunting and her tactics to get things out of people, and McGonagall does exactly that in this scene, and like you said, David, that is exactly what Umbridge wants from this confrontation.

Eric: I would have to disagree that Umbridge’s agenda has anything to do with McGonagall at first. And the reason is, I was actually just rereading when you guys were talking, and I’m looking at it at the point where it becomes personal. Basically, McGonagall draws first blood, if you’re going to see this as a sparring match. Umbridge is there to try [to] just make it clear that she doesn’t think that Harry can excel at whatever he wants to do. And… but really, she’s the one pointing to the marks and McGonagall says, “Oh, let me rephrase. Harry is able to pass all…” It was the competent teacher. It says,

“I should have made my meaning plainer. He has achieved high marks in all Defense against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher.”

So first she calls Umbridge incompetent, and then Umbridge ends up saying… let’s see… “which means this boy has as much chance of becoming an Auror as Dumbledore has of ever returning to this school.” Umbridge makes it personal when she brings up Dumbledore and the fact that she doesn’t think he’ll ever return to the school, but that was after McGonagall had already called her not a competent teacher. So it’s getting heated, it’s getting personal, we know it eventually erupts, but Umbridge waits to attack Dumbledore and attack McGonagall until after she herself has been attacked. It just shows me that she was really just there for Harry.

Kat: So just before we move on, I had one other thought just that I was thinking about while reading this section, and it takes us post-series. We don’t have to talk about it too much; I just wanted to bring it up. So we know that Harry doesn’t go back to Hogwarts afterward, and McGonagall is in here talking about how you need this, you need that, you need Exceeds Expectations and this and at least Acceptable in that, and then there’s three years of additional training to become an Auror. So he didn’t finish Hogwarts, so he never gets his NEWTs seemingly, unless he took it as a GED-type thing where you can get it when not finishing school, so how did he actually become an Auror? Did he just test in? Like, “Oh, you defeated the Dark Lord. You get an automatic in.” [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, here’s the test: “Write your name. ‘Harry Potter.’ You passed. Congratulations.”

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Eric: It’s… “You get an A.”

Michael: Now that is a great point to bring up because this chapter is why that has always bothered me, as it would seem it has you, Kat. Especially because this chapter… and David, this is why I was so glad to have a British individual on the show, because as far as the career advice chapter goes as a whole, I’ve… over here in the US, we don’t really do career advice like this until college. And even then, it’s not so broad where people get to look over all their options. They’ve already chosen by the time they start college usually, even if that’s not the profession they end up in. We definitely don’t get career advice like this in high school.

Eric: I did in my public school, not to contradict you.

Michael: Oh. Well, I mean, and maybe I’m just blanketing, but from the general understanding I have is that you get a more… You don’t get such specified… You don’t get little pamphlets, and you don’t get such specific instructions on what you’re supposed to do toward that job in high school.

Eric: Uhh, we did.

David: Well, to give my experience, I mean, I don’t think we did get careers advice in Year 11, which is the equivalent of [the] fifth year [at Hogwarts], because it was assumed that everyone would be going on to further education and that there would be time later on. So yeah, we didn’t get actual, official careers advice until later on in college, as you say, which, in hindsight, doesn’t make a lot of sense because you go into college, and you pick subjects, and you don’t necessarily know what subjects you might need for your ultimate career, but that’s how it’s done. When we had careers advice, we would have people from different industries come into the school, and they would also have a little desk, and they would have Q&A sessions, and they would have pamphlets and things. But it was not as specific as it is [at] Hogwarts, where it’s like, “Oh, well, if you want to do that, you need these grades.”

Michael: And McGonagall does suggest that there’s further education in Auror training, but I always assumed that happens at the Ministry as an understudy position, but…

David: Yeah, I didn’t see that as sort of official further education so much as you would just go there, and there would be some sort of induction course. Because there isn’t any further education or university in the wizarding world. Sixth and seventh year [are] the end of the line as far as their education goes. So really, before going into that, they need to have a rough idea of what it is they want to do in the long term.

Michael: Yes. Unless, as Kat and Eric said, you kill the Dark Lord with [the Disarming Charm].

[Kat and Michael laugh]

David: As always, one exception to the rule.

Michael: [laughs] And the opportunities are yours, and you can rise to the head of the department in a very short amount of time.

David: Needless to say, in my post-school career, I’ve not defeated any Dark Lords, so…

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Kat: Sad.

David: … my job ladder has been a little slower, but oh well.

Michael: Yet! Yet!

Eric: Okay, moving on. Fred and George promised a diversion, and a diversion they did deliver. We’ll get into that in just a moment, but Harry is able to sneak up to Umbridge’s office. He uses the knife that could open any lock [that] Sirius gave him a couple of years prior, and he’s able to actually go to Grimmauld Place via the Floo Network, at least his face, his head, is in the flames. And he sees Lupin, and Lupin goes and gets Sirius, and he is able to basically tell them what has happened. So first of all, we learn that Lilly and James apparently didn’t start dating until seventh year. So it’s not like Lily went right into James’s arms that very next day of Snape’s worst memory.

Michael: [laughs] That’s key, people.

Eric: I feel like that’s important to illustrate…

Michael: No, it is. That’s totally important.

Eric: … because part of what I had forgotten about Snape’s worst memory, is that he does say, “Oh, Lily, I’ll let Snape go if you go out with me.” So it’s really not like she took him up on that offer right away. She’s like, “Oh, okay, I’ll go out with you because I don’t have anything better to do.”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: It still took a severe, I think, coming around for James’s character before she would go out with him.

Michael: No, I would say that’s one of the most informative telling tiny little bits of information we get about that.

Eric: Right, I mean, but that’s pretty much what Lupin and Sirius say, is that it took a few more years. He eventually stopped looking for the girls in the room. He eventually stopped playing with his hair. Although they have this great moment where Lupin is like, “I forgot he used to do that.”

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: Or maybe it was Sirius. But it’s tough because Harry is desperate. He’s coming out. He’s telling them this whole story, and they’re listening, and all they can do is say that he changed. And I remember reading it for the first time, and it still felt like not enough. I mean, the emotional wallop that the previous chapter packed, and then Lupin is just like, “Oh, he got over it.” We’re supposed to… I don’t know. Did you guys feel the same way? Does it make you feel all the way better or just a little bit better? Or how do you rate the way that Lupin and Sirius are able to try [to] calm Harry?

David: I think it reassures Harry in terms of knowing that his father died a good man and that Lily had good reasons for growing to love him in the end. I don’t think it particularly justifies the way James actually acted at the time, and I think both [he] and Sirius do make mention of that.

Eric: Oh, and Lupin says, “I never stopped you guys either, even though I thought you were out of sorts.”

Michael: Yeah, that was the other interesting, actually, character connection/disconnection, is that in the previous chapter, Lupin is really connected to Lily, not by how they know each other, but by how they act in the situation, and there is a lot of narration that just connects their reactions but then also distances them by saying [that] Lily is the one who does something and Lupin is the one who does not. Lupin loves… more Lupin love here. I’m always sad when I read this part because poor Lupin. This is something that I think we’ve talked about before, that Lupin was so… he really wanted to be so included in this relationship – and Pottermore discusses this too – that that’s why he doesn’t do anything, because he was worried he was going to lose his friends. So he just doesn’t say anything, and clearly, all these years [later], he still regrets and feels bad about that, so…

Eric: Yeah. If you had any father figures that you liked in this series, then Order of the Phoenix is the one that’ll destroy them all for you. [laughs]

Michael: Rosie mentioned this last week on the show that the Marauder section is the part that… the fan fiction absolutely exploded after this book in that category, and it continues to this day. We don’t definitively get assurance. I don’t think even Harry… like David said, I think Harry leaves this discussion feeling, yes, his father died a good man and was a good man in his marriage and grew up to be a good person, but there’s definitely this feeling that the conversation got cut off a little early, and Harry has more questions about this, and sadly, we’ll never really get more answers about it.

Kat: Oh, right, because then…

Eric: I think Harry is pretty justified in thinking that his father was a jerk at school at that time that he had seen.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, it was funny that you guys… the whole “everybody was 15” line came last week because Harry says, “I’m 15” in this.

Eric: Oh yeah, well, that’s the great equalizer, though, is that Harry is distancing himself from James, which has never before happened because he always thought, “Oh yeah, I’m just like my father. I love that.” But now that he’s the same age, and he sees how differently James approaches Snape, it just changes him. But he is interrupted. There is noise, and he actually just has enough time to get back, to leave Lupin and Sirius in Grimmauld Place and get under the Invisibility Cloak before Filch comes in.

Kat: Can we talk about how stupid uncomfortable that would be to have your head spinning while your knees stay in a different place?

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I’m just saying.

Eric: Yeah, that’s a bit weird, but I don’t know. Maybe they should have given Harry some toast for his journey.

Kat: They should have, that’s true.

David: That would be weird because if Harry’s head ate the toast, would the toast then sort of travel through the Floo Network to his body?

Michael: No.

Eric: Yeah.

David: Because I guess it would have to, but…

Michael: Somewhere, Noah is just singing hallelujah that somebody…

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Michael: That is such a Noah pondering question. Yeah, no, the mechanics of the Floo Network… the thing that terrifies me most about the Floo Network in this scene is that Harry has no definitive idea what he’s supposed to do, and he’s just like, “I guess I’ll just stick my head in the fire.” And luckily, it turns out okay, but knowing how many wrong things can happen with magic, that was a gamble in the first place just to stick his head in there.

Eric: Oh yeah, and he just… I mean, he puts his head in the Pensieve, but then all of him flies in, so he puts his head here, but them some of him is able to remain behind.

David: Yeah, see? I mean, this always struck me as bizarre because… I mean, I know it’s magic so it’s okay, but my… I suppose what seems strange about it to me is that I always saw the Floo Network as, essentially, teleportation. It’s this idea that you physically cease to exist in one place and you appear in another, whereas here, the question I would ask is, physically, where is Harry’s neck?

[Michael laughs]

David: I mean, is it stretched incredibly thin between the two fireplaces or does it exist in another dimension or what happened there?

Eric: Yeah. Well, when you hear about the Floo Network, too, is it a place? Is there really interchanging highways or hallways or anything like that that you’re flying through? Or is it that there'[re] infinitesimally small units of measurement that connect to wormholes and to… Or is it a wormhole? Is the Floo Network a series of wormholes?

Michael: Well, and the fact that Harry can feel the pain in his knees all the way from where his knees are [at] Hogwarts even though…

Eric: Oh, that’s a good point.

Kat: And don’t forget: His head isn’t actually there. He’s just an imprint in the fire in his head, right?

David: Well, that’s how it appears in the film, but in the book, I always got the impression that the head was actually sitting in the fire.

Kat: So it’s like splinching but without splinching.

Michael: Yes. Yeah, I think that’s the best way of visualizing it.

Eric: And the flames tickle.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, he can feel the flames, yeah.

Eric: His head’s not on fire, so it’s interesting. Well, I’m sure our listeners will have a good time thinking.

Kat: Oh yeah, they will.

Michael: Yeah, the science of magic. That always…

David: Yeah, I was proud to be the honorary Noah for this episode.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: He’s clapping [should] he be listening.

Eric: You wore it well. Well, so the person who’s coming, it turns out to be Filch, and he is digging through Umbridge’s desk for something that he finds, which is the form to approve whipping.

Michael: What the hell? [laughs]

Eric: There’s this great, funny moment. He kisses it.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Eric: Finds it, and he leans in and kisses it. And he says, “They’ve deserved this for years. I finally get to do it!” So he runs down, Harry follows, and of course, there’s this brilliant scene where Fred and George at first appear cornered, and there are students all around. It’s the entrance hall, I think.

Michael: Yes, the entrance hall.

Eric: And basically, they quickly Summon their wands, not before announcing where their new premises are, their business, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, you can buy a swamp just like the one you’ve seen demonstrated upstairs, and they kick off and fly into the sunset. We all know this very, very well. I suppose that I don’t really have many questions about this, but this is the great finale to the chapter, so…

David: I have just one point about Filch and the whipping, which sounded much kinkier than it actually was.

[Everyone laughs]

David: My question is, I’m trying to remember if this is just a movie-ism or not, but I know that in the Philosopher’s Stone movie, he actually reminisces about a time when [as Filch] “detention would see you hanging from your thumbs in the dungeons. Oh, I miss the screaming!” It’s as though he can actually remember a time when there actually was corporeal punishment at Hogwarts, and they actually would torture the students. So from that, are we meant to [infer] that at some point during Filch’s time working as caretaker that that kind of punishment actually has existed at Hogwarts?

Kat: I was going to say [that] I would suggest that it wasn’t [during] his time as caretaker but probably when he was a student. Because he was born in ’56, according to the Wiki, so…

Eric: Did he go to Hogwarts? Was he a student?

David: That’s a good question, yeah, because he’s a Squib.

Michael: No, he wouldn’t have gone to Hogwarts.

Kat: That’s true. That makes no sense.

Michael: I mean, the books definitely imply it too. Harry sees, I think, the leftover old chains in his office that he’s not allowed to use.

Kat: Yeah, but he started at Hogwarts in 1973. That’s Dumbledore. That’s either the very beginning of Dumbledore or the end of Armando Dippet, and I doubt there was punishment at that point.

Eric: Well, it is a medieval castle, okay, guys? Let’s just think about that for a minute. It’s got dungeons. It’s got dungeons. It’s got all of the things that you would expect to find – torture things – in a castle.

David: Yeah, but I can’t imagine that as headmaster, Dumbledore would ever condone students being hung [by] their thumbs in the dungeons.

Eric: That seems extreme, I would agree, but we haven’t quite seen the thumb instrument to hang them.

Kat: So sorry, Dumbledore was definitely headmaster when Filch started.

Eric: Just like in present day, where a mere 20 years ago, when I was five and six, spanking was much more generally accepted. I’m not saying I got whipped or whacked a bunch of times by my parents, but it was much, much, much more widely accepted to do to children than it is today, at least that’s how I feel. So something like that, a paddle… I mean, I’ve never been paddled in school, but my mother was, and she went to a private Catholic school, and she always talks about how the nuns…

Michael: The nuns!

Eric: The nuns with rulers, and they’d rap your knuckles with the rulers. This happened not in our generation, but in the generation previous. So I would say… and that’s just in the real world in America, so I’m thinking why wouldn’t it be the same for the previous generation over in England and over in…

David: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, no that’s true it was the same here. We had the cane, which was…

Eric: Mhm. Right.

David: … I don’t know the exact date, but that was outlawed sometime in the early ’80s, maybe? Around the same sort of time.

Kat: I think this is a math error on Jo’s part. We know how not good she is at math. Because I truly think that Dumbledore would have had whipping or hanging people from thumbs. And he was definitely…

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: … headmaster when Filch started so.

David: Because see the way I look at it is corporal punishment is one thing, but Filch is clearly a sadistic…

[Everyone laughs]

David: … expletive removed… and he gets some kind of sick pleasure of not just punishing the students, but actually torturing them. And I know a question that many fans have raised over the years is Dumbledore’s questionable recruits in terms of his staff…

Eric: Mhm.

David: … but no matter how much he might pity Filch for being a Squib or anything I can’t see him condoning Filch torturing the students knowing that Filch is getting off on it in his own way, so…

Eric: Well, Filch never gets to. That’s really the thing about Filch that’s important is that he stays around event though he’s never been allowed to torture those kids.

David: Well, the point I’m making though is that there are numerous allusions certainly in the films and I think in the book as well that Filch did have the opportunity to torture the students at one time.

Eric: Mhm.

David: And now he’s happy because obviously that has been outlawed at some point and Umbridge is bringing some of that back.

Eric: Right.

David: I don’t know. That’s probably me just nitpicking and making a fuss over nothing, but I’m a Harry Potter fan, what are you going to do?

Eric: No, I mean Umbridge tries to poison Harry with the Veritaserum and that is clearly against the law…

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: … and Filch needs this approve for whipping to be signed, presumably by Umbridge, so he can carry out this punishment on Fred and George for making a swamp. We know it’s a little bit difficult to remove, but it’s really just…

David: He’s looking for an excuse to use it.

Eric: Yeah. He’s clearly is getting off on it. I think that’s fair to say…

Michael: No, yeah I think the point is really good too that – like you said – it’s a medieval… that Hogwarts does still carry a medieval ways of thought. We’ve talked about this before, the progression of Hogwarts is kind of stopped around the thinking of… about the ’50s and ’60s era, depending on where you are in the world. But that is where their technology, knowledge seems to have essentially end and their ways of thought in many ways. But there’s possibility here since Filch had to get this permission from Umbridge, maybe they’re… and you know how we note there’s a history with Hogwarts and contention with the Ministry and with the school board that Lucius Malfoy was previously on, of all people. So maybe there were laws that had to be worked around by Dumbledore that were a little outdated that he didn’t like or perhaps had to work to change that weren’t immediate. If we’re going to give an excuse for Rowling, since her math is bad. That’s the only thing I could think of is that Dumbledore had to jump through hoops to get rid of these laws.

Kat: But it was like fifteen years or sixteen years.

David: Oh.

Kat: Yeah, because Dumbledore, according to the Wiki, started as headmaster in ’56 and Filch didn’t show up until ’73.

Eric: Hmm, whoops…

[David laughs]

Kat: But nice reasoning, good reasoning.

Eric: … I’m not convinced Filch says that in Book 1. I think it’s got to be a movieism.

Kat: I wanted to point out that at the very end here on page 675 of the US edition, there’s one of the many references… well, not many references, to the number twelve on here because the twins’ new place in Diagon Alley is number ninety three. Which obviously when you add them is twelve.

Eric: Oh.

Kat: So there you go.

David: That’s a bit of a stretch.

Michael: [laughs] I was like…

Kat: That’s not a stretch!

[Michael laughs]

David: No, sorry. That’s being mean.

Eric: Harry’s head travels through the Floo Network to 12 Grimmauld Place.

Kat: Right.

Michael: No, I was like, ninety three isn’t twelve.[laughs]

Kat: When you add them, it is.

Michael: [laughs] When you add them. Nine plus three.

Eric: Do we know what it means? Do we know why it’s relevant that twelve is brought up in this particular moment?

Kat: No, but I wanted to just point it out since it’s a thing.

David: Yeah.

Michael: And now before we conclude the episode, we always like to ask a Podcast Question of the Week. And this week, I was very determined to ask a question about James and I want to thank all of my fellow podcast hosts, including our guest David, for helping format this question so that it comes out as the most, perhaps thought provoking, we could do for the topic of James. Because I definitely want to ask about James because this is really the last time he’s going to play a prominent, major role in the series. And my question is: In this chapter, Harry considers whether James “forced” Lily to marry him. While he is assured by Remus and Sirius that this is not the case, Harry does not leave the conversation completely convinced. What about James caused Lily to change her views on him and eventually marry James? Was it simply his loss of arrogance, or something more? [singing] “Was there something there that wasn’t there before.”

Kat: Aww.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Like snowball fights.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Aww.

Michael: Like adorable snowball fights and birdseed.

[Eric, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Please head over to the Alohomora! main site and tackle this question for us.

Kat: And we want to thank our lovely British man, David, for joining us today. Thank you so much.

David: No problem at all. It’s been an absolute honor. I’ve listened to Alohomora! since the first episode, and I know I sound like I’m completely fangeeking right now, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so…

Kat: Aww.

David: … thank you very much for the opportunity. It’s…

Eric: It’s great to have you.

Michael: Yes.

David: No, it means a lot to me, so thank you.

Michael: Well, thank you, David.

Kat: Aww.

Michael: We loved having you on the show. You were a fantastic contributor to the conversation.

David: It’s very good to hear. I know I can waffle on a little bit at times, but as long as there’s something of worth contained in there, then it’s all good.

Kat: I think that’s what Eric says to himself every time he podcasts.

Eric: David, you and I are pretty alike.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

David: Well, I have to say, I thought that myself. As I said to you before we started recording, you are something of a podcasting hero of mine, and saying that now…

Eric: I know, that made me feel so good. [laughs]

David: … your listeners can bask in the glory that is “Eric the Podcasting Hero.”

Eric: Yeah.

[Kat laughs]

Eric: I think that there…

David: There are worst people I could be compared to.

Eric: That’s true. There are similarities in our origin story and similarities in our personalities, so I think that we’re going to be fast friends and I’ve added you on Skype, so you should add me back.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

David: I’m on it. Thank you very much, sir.

[Eric laughs]

Michael: Well, if any of you listening out there find the Alohomora! hosts, any of them to be your podcast heroes, we love if even if you don’t, we would love for you to join us on the show. To do that, check out the “Be on the Show” page at If you have a set of headphones and a microphone please, as well as a program to record yourself on, then you’re pretty much all set. We really don’t require anything too fancy, and we’d love to have you join us for our Harry Potter conversations.

Kat: And in the meantime, if you just want to stay in touch with us, you can find us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN,, on Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast, of course our phone number is 206-GO-ALBUS – 206-462-5287 – and you can leave us an Audioboom, much like the one you heard in the recap earlier. It’s free – all you need is a microphone and an Internet connection, and you can do that over at Just please keep it under sixty seconds, that way we can play it on the show.

Michael: And just like Fred and George, we also have a store. At the Alohomora! store, we have sweatshirts, long-sleeve tees, tote bags, and I always think it’s funny that flip-flops are on this list because it’s winter now, guys. But if you’re in the sunny areas, like me, feel free to get some Alohomora! flip-flops and so much more merchandise. We also have ringtones that are free and available on our main website.

Eric: And let’s not forget the smartphone app. It is available on this side of the pond and the other. Yes, that’s right.

David: I can confirm that is the case.

Eric: We’ve recently replaced our phrase “seemingly worldwide.”

[Michael laughs]

Kat: That’s so sad!

Michael: End of an era.

Eric: Transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more can be found. Listen or look for Michael singing…

[Kat laughs]

Eric: … Celestina Warbeck on this week’s app.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: If that doesn’t sell apps, I’m done. I don’t know what can.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Eric: This has been another wonderful episode of Alohomora! It’s been a blast to record with you all.

[Show music begins]

Eric: I am Eric Scull.

Michael: I’m Michael Harle.

Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 107 of Alohomora!

Michael: [as Fred and George] Open the Dumbledore! And give her hell from us, Peeves!

[Show music continues]

Eric: Here is your – from me to you, the listener – chapter summary for Chapter 29. Harry is having a trouble… oh, let me read to you all of that.

Michael: Herp derp derp.

Eric: Harry is having trouble… I’m going to read you the whole thing.