Transcript – Episode 144

[Show music begins]

Eric Scull: This is Episode 144 of Alohomora! for July 4, 2015.

[Show music continues]

Eric: Hello, everybody. Happy Fourth of July to our American listeners, and welcome to another episode of Alohomora! Open the Dumbledore! I’m Eric Scull.

Kat Miller: I’m Kat Miller.

Michael Harle: I’m the long lost and finally found Michael Harle. [laughs]

Eric: We found you!

Michael: And our guest today is Conor, but you listeners might know him as skgai…

Kat: Yay!

Michael: … one of our frequent commenters on the main site. Say hello to everybody, skgai.

Conor Bresnan: Hey, everybody, how you doing?

Michael: Fortunately…

Eric: Conor, I have a pressing question for you.

Conor: Oh, shoot.

Eric: Have we for the last 143 episodes of Alohomora! been mangling your username, or is it actually meant to be pronounced skgai?

Michael: We asked him and he wouldn’t tell us. [laughs]

Conor: I sent Noah a response and he never shared it with everybody.

Kat: Oh. I guess not.

Conor: It’s just a nonsensical word. I just like how it looks, like how George Lucas has R2D2 and THX1138. It just looks cool to me. I don’t even pronounce it in my head. I just see it, so you can pronounce it any way you want. I kind of like it like that.

Eric: No kidding. Huh.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Well, if you say it’s like R2D2, then perhaps we should be calling it S-K-G-A-I.

Conor: I don’t know, I think skgai has a better ring to it, though.

Kat: Yeah, I like skgai.

Michael: It’s actually pronounced Conor, you guys.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: It’s just written in another language.

Michael: It’s Celtic.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It’s a heck of an interesting… I like that you like the way that it looks, and I obviously have to say honestly that I also like the way it looks. So it’s not something I would have thought of, but now that I know the story behind it, I’m even more intrigued.

Conor: It’s actually… I created all my usernames in 2001 for some reason and just stuck with them, and I was a big fan of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the Spielberg movie…

Michael: Oh my gosh, that’s a great movie! Oh my God, I just watched it a few minutes ago.

Conor: Yeah, it’s fantastic… but SKG is Dreamworks’ Company.

Michael: Yeah.

Conor: That’s the bottom letters of Spielberg, Katzenberg, and… I don’t remember the other guy’s name.

Michael: Nobody does.

Eric: Oh, no way!

Conor: I just added “AI” to the end of it. It’s totally ridiculous, but it just stuck forever, I guess.

Michael: That is very clever. That’s really… oh my gosh, I’m geeking out over this.

Eric: Answers are revealed… no, that’s really cool. I like it a lot.

Kat: I mean, talk about old usernames, my first username ever was KatnLance because I had a crush on Lance from NSYNC.

Eric: Lance Bass.

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Kat: And it wasn’t “and.” It was “n” like K-A-T-N-Lance.

Eric: Mmm… Kat n’ Lance.

Michael: Oh, the 2000s. Good times.

Eric: Oh, we usually ask this question of our guest hosts, Conor. What Hogwarts House would you be in?

Conor: I would be in Gryffindor.

Eric: Oh.

Conor: That’s where Pottermore sorted me into and I think it’s the right call. I certainly value those things. I don’t know if I’m necessarily courageous at all though, but I do value it.

Michael: Well, that’s okay. You don’t necessarily have to be. You can also be chivalrous.

Conor: That’s true.

Michael: So do you open doors for people a lot?

Conor: Yeah, I guess…

Michael: See?

[Everyone laughs]

Conor: If I’m with somebody, I will always open the door for them.

Eric: It’s the easiest way to be a Gryffindor, just commit to…

Michael: Hold doors open for people. Well… and listeners, I just have to say a big shout-out and thank you to all of the Alohomora! staff and MuggleNet staff who covered for me for these last few weeks that I was supposed to be on and I wasn’t able to be. I appreciate all of the hard work done to cover for me at the last minute very much because I was busy singing and dancing for my chorus. [laughs] But I’m back now, so it’s all good. And since I am back, I will today be leading the chapter discussion, which is Chapter 26 of Half-Blood Prince, “The Cave.” So make sure and read that chapter before listening to the rest of this episode so that you can get the most out of our discussion today.

Kat: [whispers] Such a good chapter.

Eric: What a chapter it is.

Michael: Oh, it’s so good indeed.

Conor: Yeah, I waited for a long time to get on the show and then you guys plop “The Cave” on me. It’s the biggest chapter and so much to talk about.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Kat: You’re welcome.

Eric: Your patience is rewarded. We really are at the excellent, fateful chapters of Half-Blood Prince. We’re at that side, this end of the book. And last week we discussed the previous chapter, which was Chapter 25. And we have some comments that we gathered after the episode aired from people who had a lot to say about what we talked about, and it’s mostly discussion on Snape and Dumbledore.

Kat: Big surprise.

Michael: Those are good things to talk about, though.

Eric: Yes, lots of interesting things to talk about based on last week’s episode. I was listening to prepare for this episode, and I just have to say that a lot of great points were brought up and a lot of people really enjoyed our host last week as well – our guest host, Shauna. So Conor, you got a lot to live up to. Bring your brain and we’ll start discussing.

Conor: I’m ready.

Michael: You know, listeners, all those episodes from the past where we would say things like, “So you guys said things about Snape, but we’re going to save that for later”? Now is later.

Kat: It’s later.

Michael: Later is now. [laughs]

Conor: I thought you’d just wait until “The Prince’s Tale” and then we’d just have like a 14-hour podcast on Snape.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Oh, God.

Michael: Yeah, that episode will be three different episodes for that chapter.

Kat: We’d have to find somebody who actually likes Snape since none of us do.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: True.

Conor: Oh, I love Snape. Are you kidding me? He’s fantastic.

Eric: Ah… but I was trolling on your comments and you said that this was your least favorite book.

Conor: It is. Remains.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: You’re discovered!

Conor: I know, it’s weird. It is all about Snape…

Eric: It is the Snape book.

Conor: … but I still find this least appealing of all seven books.

Eric: Well, we will certainly have a lot to talk about. So from Chapter 25, our first comment comes from ISeeThestrals. They say,

“Dumbledore does try to place a lot of trust in people and I do think he did see how much Snape regretted his actions in the memory in Deathly Hallows. But I think another reason he might have pulled him under his wing was so he wouldn’t go astray the way Tom Riddle did. Dumbledore did not catch Riddle before he became the darkest wizard of all time, and even though it’s a bit of a lesson of trusting the wrong people, Dumbledore was willing to place faith in another wizard who had always appeared to be dark and dangerous. Though I don’t think he thought Snape would surpass Voldemort, he might have put a great effort into bringing Snape to his side in order to prevent him from slipping deeper into darkness. It was too late for him to do anything about Riddle, but in his mind it wasn’t too late to steer Snape on the right path. I’m not certain if Dumbledore had been watching Snape closely enough to witness his hidden friendship with Lily, but if he had, he might have remembered that a young Gryffindor had seen something worthwhile in the young Slytherin. If that was the case, it might have inspired Dumbledore to put such faith in Snape and believe the remorse he felt for Lily’s death.”

Oof! So this discussion last week was again, why does Dumbledore trust Snape? And that came to a head in the Headmaster’s office the end of last chapter.

Conor: I disagree with this comment. I think that Dumbledore isn’t taking Snape under his wing to keep him on the good side. I think he just trusted Snape from the get-go and let Snape be Snape and utilizes all of his strengths. I don’t really see him trying to protect him in any way. He doesn’t seem like he’s doing that at all.

Eric: Well, Trelawney and Snape were juxtaposed or placed together in the same chapter last week. They both apparently applied for a job at the same time, and I can’t help but feel that based on how that turned out – Trelawney made the prophecy and Snape’s the one who heard the prophecy and betrayed it to Voldemort – they’re both key players surrounding the prophecy, and I think it’s a bit like Dumbledore collected them after that. He decided that these were two people that he needed to employ immediately, if not with genuine concern or interest, but just to keep them and have them with him. That’s kind of the part of this comment that I see. He brought Snape in because it was essential, because Snape has value.

Kat: Well, he knew that Snape was a Death Eater when they found him peeping through the hole, listening, right?

Michael: Mhm.

Kat: So I do think that it wasn’t until after Snape revealed his “love” for Lily…

Michael: Hmm!

Kat: … that… you like that?… that Dumbledore decided to trust him. And I don’t think… I disagree with the comment as well. I don’t think that Dumbledore was trying to keep him from going astray. I think quite the opposite… I kind of agree with Conor. I think Dumbledore was just letting Snape live the life he was going to live no matter what. Because Snape is a prat, but he is not an evil Dark wizard.

Michael: I agree with Conor because this comment from ISeeThestrals seems to imply that Dumbledore has a feeling of guilt over what Tom Riddle became, and from what we’ve read, he does not.

Conor: Yeah. I don’t think so.

Michael: He takes no responsibility for that, and I don’t think he should. We did talk a little in “The Secret Riddle” about how Dumbledore could have missed the obvious signs that Tom Riddle was a super-unusual, weird, creepy child. But at the same time, Tom Riddle was not Dumbledore’s sole responsibility. And so… I don’t think that is what’s motivating his taking Snape under his wing. I think, like you said, Eric, he sees Snape as someone of value for this whole mission against Voldemort.

Kat: Mhm.

Eric: Well, let’s take this discussion a little further. We got a comment from IGotTransfiguredintoaRhubarb. They say,

“I was just listening again. Someone said that Dumbledore changing the subject from Snape to the Horcrux was an excuse for Dumbledore to not discuss this issue. Whil[e] Dumbledore, in my opinion, does not have the sun shine out of his you[-]know[-]what, he has every right to refuse to talk about this with Harry. Although Snape is a jerk, Snape is entitled to his privacy on the matter, and [D]umbledore[‘]s refusal to play into Harry’s hands is perfectly acceptable. Dumbledore has the right to protect his teacher[‘]s dignity [regarding] this humiliating occurrence, no matter what our views or Harry’s views are.”

[Michael laughs]

Conor: Now this I agree with wholeheartedly.

Eric: Okay.

Kat: Me too, in fact.

Eric: Harry does the whole shouting at Dumbledore thing. It’s revived briefly in this chapter.

Conor: I think everyone was right there. Harry has every right to be angry, Dumbledore has every right to not tell him anything, and Snape has every right to be a jerk. So…

Kat: Yeah.

[Eric laughs]

Conor: … it’s just a confluence of everyone gets to be right.

Eric: One of those evil triads.

Michael: Yeah, for me it’s mixed… I do think that, generally speaking, this is correct. In preparation for this chapter, I thought it might be useful to reread a few chapters from Deathly Hallows, so I reread “The Prince’s Tale.” And putting that into context with this, yeah, I can see that. But at the same time, it’s tough for me because Dumbledore is using everybody as a chess piece in a game. And when you look at it that way and he’s not informing all of his pieces, he is truly playing it like chess: these people are easily sacrificed; these people are the people who will be saved. It’s a little tough when you’re restraining that information, and I guess it’s difficult too because I’ve never really been favorable of how Dumbledore shuts the discussion down. I guess it’s because he’s backed into a corner and he can’t really get out by explaining any other way, but it just doesn’t seem to be approached very well.

Eric: I think for me, I liked it the most when I just reread it. Earlier today, Jim Dale was reading it to me, and I didn’t hate it so much as I have in the past. I always thought that the revelation of Snape was very eleventh hour and very last-minute, not well handled, all that stuff. Except what occurred to me when I was again going over last chapter and going over some of these comments is that this was the last time Harry would have an opportunity to shout at Dumbledore for something. There are so many, if not too many, revelations about Dumbledore… about what he kept from Harry, about all that stuff that comes out later after Dumbledore is dead and Harry can’t do anything about it, that I actually looked at this scene between them (where Harry is shouting about Snape even further for the tenth time) as a novelty, because this is the last time that Harry’s going to be able to do that. And Dumbledore, I guess as part of his character, was just unapologetic, and that’s the Dumbledore that I think we’re meant to remember, that he really did what he did without many regrets. As often times as he spoke about his regrets or appeared to be humble, Dumbledore was not that type of character. And in shutting Harry down, he displays that again, and it may be a little bit insensitive. I think it may be fair to call Dumbledore insensitive, but I just liked it because Harry was able to shout at him one last time.

Kat: And I like the fact that it happened here. You mentioned that you used to think it was a little bit eleventh hour, and I think that Harry’s rage is really important for him to bottle up in this moment. Otherwise, think about afterwards when they get back to Hogwarts. He’s thinking about everything they just went through and his recent knowledge of Snape, and then he sees Snape and he’s like, “Oh my God, I want to freaking murder you.” And I feel like it was really important for it to happen at that time, for him to stop thinking about it. And then when he sees Snape, it just comes bubbling back up and he is so mad again.

Michael: Well, that’s what also puts some, perhaps extra, added weight on the fact that Snape is revealed to be the Half-Blood Prince. Because we have had a lot of people throughout this book saying, “Who cares? Who cares who the Half-Blood Prince is? It doesn’t matter.” And in the scheme of things, probably not. But as far as the relationship between Harry and Snape, which is supposed to be a pretty big, major piece of Deathly Hallows, I think she wanted us to leave with that note.

Kat: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Eric: This is how you get one of his kids named after you.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: But only a middle name, not a first name.

Conor: Right. What else that does is it leads us right into the chapter we’re going to discuss, “The Cave.” If you can go into a scary situation in a book where you are really pissed off at somebody and you’re confused and you maybe even doubt him, that’s a good place to get some fear going. So I think it works as J.K. Rowling’s writing to really get you set up for the chapter we’re going to talk about.

Eric: Yeah, that’s true. A huge reveal, followed by this compounded huge other set of reveals. Shifting gears just slightly but keeping the subject on Snape, there was some question raised on last week’s episode about how exactly the interruption of the prophecy affected the prophecy, whether Trelawney stopped…

Michael: Oh, yeah.

Eric: What made it so he only heard half the thing? And the most satisfactory answer that I read on the comments comes from SnapesManyButtons on the Alohomora! main site. They say,

“I don’t think Trelawney paused in giving the prophecy but that after hearing the first part of it, Snape was grabbed by Aberforth, and while being yelled at and trying to explain [to Aberforth] why he was there, he missed hearing the final half of the prophecy. It would only take about 30 seconds to recite the entire prophecy, so he wasn’t out there long before Aberforth grabbed him and then only maybe 20 seconds more before he opened the door to let Dumbledore know he’d found someone outside. Also, Trelawney is not aware of her surroundings while giving the prophecy, but she would only have missed 20 seconds or so of Aberforth and Snape in the hallway before she came out of the trance and they opened the door. It’s clear that Voldemort never received the entire prophecy or else he wouldn’t have worked so hard to get it in Order of the Phoenix, so if Snape did hear all of it, he kept back half of it on purpose.”


“One theory of why Snape turned over the prophecy is that he was sent to apply for a teaching job so he could spy on Dumbledore. Being so young, he probably had little to no chance to get this job, so he was probably in trouble to start with. After being caught listening at the door, he couldn’t even ask for the job and was faced with returning to Voldemort having failed in his mission[, s]omething that never ends well. So he gave Voldemort the prophecy hoping to appease him and lessen whatever punishment he would get for failing his mission. I doubt he had time to really contemplate who the prophecy would be about or what its ramifications would be[;] he was just trying to avoid Voldemort’s wrath. It’s entirely possible that he didn’t even know Lily was pregnant. She was only a few months along in late ’79 or early ’80 when the prophecy was made.”

Michael: Thank you, SnapesManyButtons, for that last bit because I have to believe that fan fiction has very much warmed people’s ideas of how much Snape and Lily were in contact with each other around this time. Because they were not. Pretty much at all. [laughs] I have very little doubt that Snape knew nothing about Lily’s pregnancy. I don’t think he knew anything about that. So I appreciate that bit there because yeah, there’s so much fan fiction where Snape will go to Lily before the wedding or when he hears about the baby, and he’ll be like, “Come with me,” and she’ll be like, “I want you, but James has me trapped in this loveless marriage!”

[Eric, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Eric: I just want to know how long it took Voldemort to react to the prophecy in this way, then. How long he was searching for the Potters in that case. Because if she had given birth to Harry when the… oh yeah, she hadn’t, because the prophecy says “will be born when the seven month dies,” right? And he was nearly a year old? It was October of the following year. Halloween. So it was at least 15 months, I think, between…

Kat: My major issue with this – and I’ve read it very carefully today because I knew we’d be talking about it – is that when Trelawney is telling her tale, she says, “I remember I was starting to feel a little odd. I had not eaten that much that day. But then we were rudely interrupted by Severus Snape.” And here’s the thing: If she was in the middle of the prophecy when Snape burst into the room, she wouldn’t remember that.

Conor: Yeah. That’s always bothered me too.

Kat: Right, so she had either… this is obviously something that Jo messed up or something, but she had either done the entire prophecy or not at all if she remembered being interrupted by Snape. So you have to lean toward the whole thing, but there must have been a scuffle in the hallway with Aberforth, and that’s what stopped Snape from hearing the entire prophecy.

Eric: Right, and then when they burst in, and then it’s just Trelawney’s recollection that it was Snape who interrupted, but in fact, it was the other Dumbledore having apprehended Snape 20 seconds prior or whatever [and] then coming through the door. I think that’s where the middle ground is. But I agree. The text makes it seems like Snape would have heard the whole thing. Because she cannot have any recollection of the prophecy, and Dumbledore wouldn’t tell her why she’s so valuable.

Michael: No, for me the text works fine because the part, of course, where she says, “Oh, I didn’t eat much, and I was feeling a little faint” is probably her way of saying that she was doing the prophecy without realizing she was doing it. So I figured that SnapesManyButtons’ explanation was pretty much the longer version of that. I assumed… because Trelawney sometimes just goes, as we’ve seen before, into a prophecy sometimes in mid-conversation. She could do that, potentially. So she probably thought she was still in the middle of a conversation with Dumbledore about her job when, in her mind, Snape interrupted, which wasn’t necessarily the case, but this is just… SnapesManyButtons’ explanation is always what I assumed happened. Because I think the proof we have… because there were some suggestions I saw in the comments that Trelawney was actually stopped and then continued a second half of the prophecy…

Eric: Like had to resume or had to be brought back into the…

Michael: Yeah, but I don’t think… that’s very unlikely, and 2) in Order of the Phoenix, the recording of her prophecy is in full. There’s no break in it.

Kat: Yeah, that’s just not how prophecies work in the Potter universe.

Eric: If you’re lucky enough to be tuned in, you can’t interact or reuse it. But okay. Final comment from last week’s chapter has to do with Eileen Prince, and I believe the discussion last week happened on whether or not it was convenient or what the importance was of the Eileen Prince reveal is in last week’s chapter. Spellephant writes in,

“To be fair about the Eileen Prince discovery, I think there had to be something in the way of an explanation, or Snape’s moniker wouldn’t have made any sense. There would be no reason for him to be called “the [H]alf[-B]lood [P]rince” without knowing his mother’s name. Plus, [his] name, coupled with what we know about his background, sheds more light [o]n his teenage self. He almost does what Voldemort does, in renouncing his father by means of a name. Only instead of lying about his blood heritage, he chooses to make it a focus. Snape is such a divisive character in so many ways, him being half one thing, half something else perfectly sums him up for me. He straddles light and dark, plays the double agent…it’s such a fitting name for him, but without knowing where it came from, it wouldn’t have the same impact.”

Conor: Yeah, totally agree on that. I actually, on the forums, called Snape the “continental divide of morality” because he’s just right in the middle. There’s no one way or the other with him.

Kat: That’s valid. That’s a good subtitle for him.

[Eric laughs]

Michael: That… yeah, I like that. I like that comment just because I noticed last week on the show, there was a lot of brushing off the Eileen Prince reveal as if it was really a waste.

Eric: Okay, but I love the idea that it’s Madam Pince.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yeah, I mean…

Michael: That was a little much!

Eric: That was the craziest thing I have ever, ever heard.

Michael: Yeah, that has to be one of the craziest theories I’ve heard. [laughs]

Kat: So I mean, but here’s the thing: It is a little bit out of left field. I mean, Hermione just being like, “Oh, guys, guess what? Haha, I happened to find this person,” and she sells…

Eric: Yeah, this is…

Kat: I mean, it’s a little convenient. I get that it’s important, but it’s just a little easy.

Michael: I think coming from Hermione it works because the narration and the writing does such a good job. Harry is obsessed with this book, but in a way, Hermione is obsessed with this book but not for the same reasons.

Eric: Well, Ron has that line that’s like, “She’s upset over the fact that you get better Potions scores,” and I think that serves to underscore Hermione’s whole interest in this thing, which is that she has that grudge. And it just shows that each of these characters, even the trio, [is] focused on totally different things at the same time. They’re still friends, they’re still hanging out, but they each have their own directives. Hermione doesn’t care at all about the Draco Malfoy thing, but she does care about the Half-Blood Prince thing. And then [with] Ron, there’s a different mixture of caring about each of those things. And so… I don’t know. It made sense to me, but I agree that it’s like the Nicolas Flamel: [as Hermione] “I was looking in the wrong section [back to normal voice] this whole time.” The fact that the answer is there, that somehow.. I forget how exactly she comes across the connection to Snape, that it is his mother. But again, it’s in a book or something like that or in a newspaper.

Michael: Well, and I think the Nicolas Flamel thing works well because it’s set up in Sorcerer’s Stone because Harry reads his name on the wizard card. But I can see why people have a problem with the Eileen Prince thing, but I think that goes back to what we’ve talked about before with Half-Blood Prince, which is that there is no mystery. And it’s all laid out right in front of you, and this mystery is not constructed the same way. Really, the mystery of who the Half-Blood Prince is, is the mystery that needs more clues to it and the one that’s solved at the end because the mystery of Malfoy is not a mystery.

Eric: Right. We all know he’s up to something.

Michael: Yeah. So I think this is like the Nicolas Flamel – I’m glad you brought that up, Eric – because it’s the same thing where this is the thing that wraps it all up. It’s not… it’s a McGuffin. It’s not really that important in the grander scheme, but it’s something that’s satisfying for the reader to know to wrap up that little mystery in the background.

Eric: Just to end our conversation, it is funny that Hermione goes off in search of old Potions awards…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: … because that would also… if she is to be successful, it would mean that Snape, too, inherited his Potions skill from his mom, the same way that Slughorn says Harry does.

Kat: Aww, that’s cute.

Conor: That makes me wonder how far back Hogwarts records go. We always learn about there’s these ancient records that they have to find. How far back do you think they’re going?

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Kat: I mean, clearly far.

Eric: I’m sad there’s no date on the Gobstone Club thing because that would have…

Michael: Because nobody cares about Gobstones.

[Kat laughs]

Michael: Gobstones is the loser sport of the wizarding world. I’m not saying I wouldn’t play it! [laughs]

Eric: Hermione was going back at least – what? – 40 years? Maybe 60 at the most. If it was Snape’s mom, yeah, anyway.

Conor: Yeah, that will be like 60 or 70.

Eric: That’s the first student she found ever named Prince, because she went back per year. Did she just pick a decade? How’d she find that? Unanswered questions.

Kat: Who knows? It’s Hermione. So I guess speaking of Hermione and Potions and all that jazz, we’ll move on to the Podcast Question of the Week responses from last week. To just remind everybody of last weeks question, it was “Hermione suggests that Harry take the Felix Felicis himself as he prepares to set off with Dumbledore, but Harry leaves it with his friends for their safety. But what if Harry had in fact taken the Felix Felicis? How would that have possibly changed the outcome with Harry and Dumbledore with the Felix Felicis, and Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and the others at Hogwarts without it? ” So lots of comments as usual. It seemed that a lot of people tended to focus more on the Dumbledore and Harry situation.

Eric: Ah, that’s where it’s at.

Kat: Yeah, well, I mean, the general consensus was that if everybody at Hogwarts didn’t have it, they’re dead, so…

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: And that can’t happen [i]n the sixth book because they’re still off to fight in the war.

Kat: Right, exactly. So valid point, valid point.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: And we’ll get to another valid point here. First one is from HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis. It says,

“Imagine Harry getting back to Dumbledore, carrying his Invisibility Cloak and a huge Felix Felicis grin. Wouldn’t Dumbledore tell him ‘Go back, Harry, you’re drunk!’? Before they leave Dumbledore emphasises that Harry must obey every order instantly. It would be difficult to do so if Harry ha[d] this little something in his head that gives him nudges about what to do or what to say. Harry would have more trouble following Dumbledore’s orders, and we see what happens when he does something that he was told not to do: touch the water in the cave. They are dealing with magic that is far advanced and complex and designed to ward off anyone who is not extremely skilled, careful and imaginative. It’s not a matter of luck that they get to the basin and back out again[;] it’s Dumbledore’s nerve and experience and Harry’s hero-privilege that protect them.”

Michael: I like that, because it suggests that Felix Felicis doesn’t necessarily mean always do what’s best in the situation as a whole, but it’s pulling out your individual best qualities and Harry’s individual best qualities. [as Harry] “I’m going to save everybody, and I’m going to do something about it right now,” and Dumbledore’s like, [as Dumbledore] “No, don’t go in the water!” and he’s like, “I’m going to swim to the Horcrux right now through this lake of dead bodies! I can do it!”

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Michael: I like that. I think that’s definitely a good point that maybe that Felix Felicis might think it’s the right thing to do for Harry, but it may not be the right thing to do in this situation.

Kat: That’s so funny, the swimming. I can just… I’m picturing Dan in the movie when he was on Felix and the swimming.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I don’t know. It just totally works for me.

Michael: [as Harry] “Got this!” [laughs] [as Harry] “Don’t worry about it, Dumbledore. I’ll be back.”

[Eric laughs]

Kat: “You just wait here Dumbledore. I got it.”

Michael: [laughs] There’s another… I’m thinking, having really close[ly] examined the chapter, I even wonder… I don’t know if any of the other comments suggested it. Hermione says that Felix Felicis can only take you so far. I wonder if Felix Felicis has a bad reaction with Dark magic or if it’s just disabled against Dark magic, so…

Eric: Yeah, I wonder.

Conor: I don’t know if Felix Felicis… it seems to be an independent form of magic. Doesn’t seem like anything else affects it, other than another lucky potion.

Kat: Yeah, hard to say.

Eric: Well, it is interesting about Felix, and I really go back to all the great discussion we had on that chapter when he was taking it, because for the longest time, I always felt, “Oh yeah.” In retrospect, it seemed to me like it would just be… seem to work like a potion that was only a potion. Except when you actually read the chapter, it’s actually a voice inside his head that is telling him things he couldn’t possibly know. So there’s still, I think, some debate over the centians over it. We found out last chapter how it’s brewed, too. It involves… I think it’s six months, and you have to let it stew, and that… just knowing that it has to stew to me evokes this idea of it has to bond with the environment somehow.

Kat: Learn, almost.

Eric: Yeah, sitting out in just a pot somewhere, a cauldron, and that just makes it one with the world. So I don’t know. It’s a really, really interesting substance, and even though, as I think was just mentioned, Hermione says it has its limits or that it can only enhance what you’ve already got, so it couldn’t help Harry see the invisible boat or know what to do on the cave wall any better than he normally would be able to, unlike Dumbledore. Maybe he should have given Dumbledore the Felix Felicis.

Conor: I don’t even know if it would have done anything because the luckiest thing for Harry is that Dumbledore is with him because without him, he never would have gotten anywhere. [laughs]

Eric: You’re right. It’s like, “Oh, come on, Harry.” [laughs]

Michael: Giving it to Dumbledore… I don’t know if that would do any good because Dumbledore intends to die, so he’s already got his plan. He’d be like, [as Dumbledore] “This is going exactly as it would have if I hadn’t got Felix Felicis.”

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Kat: Well, commenter Rock Cakes presents an idea that basically changes the entire series.

Michael: We love those. [laughs]

Conor: I love this comment. This one’s fun.

Kat: It’s a good one. So let me read it out. It says,

“If Harry had taken the potion, he and Dumbledore would have gotten away from the cave sooner because Harry no doubt would remember how to repel the [I]nferi with fire. The early arrival of Harry and Dumbledore to Hogwarts could have wide[-]reaching effects. One possibility is that Malfoy may not have been waiting for them at the tower and thus would not be in a position to disarm Dumbledore, who was in possession of the [E]lder [W]and! Perhaps then Snape would have disarmed Dumbledore that night and unknowingly become the master of the [E]lder [W]and. Then in Deathly Hallows when Harry disarms Malfoy at the Malfoy Manor, the [E]lder [W]and does not change its loyalty to Harry. Then in the final [B]attle of Hogwarts, when Voldemort kills Snape, Voldemort truly does become the master of the [E]lder [W]and and defeats Harry! Duhn-duhn-duhn!”

[Conor laughs]

Eric: Oh my God. Dun-dun-dun is an excellent [unintelligible].

Kat: It is. It is.

Conor: Rock Cakes was really sure of this.

Kat: Yeah, I mean, it’s totally… Personally, I think it’s implausible.

Eric: I like the idea that Harry taking Felix here to help him here would doom him.

Kat: Well, yeah, because it’s a lucky potion, and it turns him completely unlucky, basically.

Eric: Oh man, that works in the way that wishes go wrong and that kind of thing. That’d be a very good cautionary tale. I like that idea. Good one, Rock Cakes.

Kat: Yeah. No, nothing else?

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Kat: I mean, I was just giving everybody a chance to talk.

Michael: That was very nice. [laughs]

Kat: Yeah. So our last comment here comes from WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock.

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Kat: They get better as time goes on. It’s like the potion. They brew and they stew.

Michael: Somebody is on that Tonks love right there. [laughs]

Eric: I mean, it’s no skgai.

[Conor laughs]

Kat: Yeah, right.

Eric: Still a cool username.

Kat: No skgai. All right, so the comment says… Okay, so this is a part of a much longer comment. I should probably start by saying, “It was, like, seven paragraphs, couldn’t read it all.”

Eric: Nice.

Kat: So head over there, read it, and you’ll get… Anyway, it says,

“In fact, even running through the castle, Harry is remarkably lucky.”

So this is talking about… Just read the comment. You’ll get it.

“He lands every spell he casts (until Snape). Even the Impediment[ J]inx he casts outside near Hagrid’s ‘miraculously’ finds [its] mark. The only thing Felix could do would be to help him land spells against Snape – and ask yourself, would that really have been lucky? Harry is in fact extremely lucky that he does NOT land any of the spells he casts at Snape. He has the potential to do great damage here, and it is down to luck and Snape’s skill that he does not succeed. Ultimately, Harry’s friends need the luck more than he does. This is the [one] point of the FEELIX FELEE SIS PO SHUN[…], one that Rowling tries to illustrate. Luck exists – even further, you can make your own luck, literally. But there are limits. And the night Dumbledore dies also proves that luck, sometimes, means not getting what you want right when you want it. Harry is ultimately much more lucky that he does not destroy Dumbledore’s best[-]laid plans, that Snape escapes with his cover intact, and that he lives to follow the trail Dumbledore has left for him.”

Conor: I think I disagree with everything there. Sorry.

Eric: Ooh, wow.

Kat: Wow.

Conor: Sorry. Harry is not lucky in the next chapter. He’s just focused. His anger has focused him, and he’s able to do exactly… I mean, nothing is in his way. I think he mentions that he sees other people, doing other things, but it doesn’t even register to him. So he’s just focused, and that’s why he’s able to get to Snape. And I don’t think the potion would have enough of an effect to help him do anything to Snape. Snape is too skillful.

Kat: I agree with that.

Eric: I don’t know about that. But I also think… I mean, wouldn’t you say it’s lucky that Snape isn’t killed by Harry here? Because Snape still had a heck of a lot of good things to do for Harry. Like placing the sword in the right place. All that stuff in Deathly Hallows.

Conor: I would bet that Rowling would not consider any of that luck. I don’t think she actually believes in luck, just from what she’s said in interviews. I think she would just call it something else because she certainly believes in that your choices are the most important thing. So I doubt that she would enjoy luck being in play at that particular moment.

Michael: Yeah, I think that’s even why she uses the Felix Felicis plot-wise the way she does because as I had mentioned before in a previous chapter, I thought it was crazy that she developed Felix Felicis, because I was like, “You spent so much time trying to figure out how to get rid of the Time-Turners, and then you made this?” [laughs] But she does very clearly set up the rules for Felix Felicis, and then she gets rid of it.

Eric: Because it might strip people of their agency if it worked too well, right?

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: Harry always had the skills to persuade Slughorn. He just needed the path to be illuminated a bit more. I don’t know how to explain, though, Harry’s friends… all the spells that are thrown at them just miraculously miss, whether stormtroopers who have invaded Hogwarts or something, how to explain that away with luck, but it is luck. And that’s more traditional. You would say that luck does that. Can I just say, “I have a trump reaction or trump response to this Podcast Question of the Week”? See what you guys think about it? It should be good.

Kat: Okay.

Eric: [laughs] Okay. All right. Yeah, get ready.

Kat: Expectations are high.

Eric: [laughs] Okay.

Kat: Eric Scull.

Eric: All right, all right, all right. So you remember how when Harry did take Felix, he had that inkling to go not to Professor Slughorn’s office…

Kat: Oh, wait, can I just say, “The way you just phrased that makes it sound like he’s taking Felix out on a date”?

Eric: [laughs] Huh. Okay, you know how when he took Felix…

[Conor, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah, because you were like, “They didn’t go to Slughorn’s office.” [laughs]

Michael: Fan fiction!

Eric: Well, Slughorn had last been seen, I think, having dinner or something. They didn’t go to the Great Hall. They didn’t go to Slughorn’s office. The voice in Harry’s head, Felix, told him to go to Hagrid’s. Someone asked. He said, “I feel like Hagrid’s.” Or was it the vegetable patch? “I think it’s the place to be. You know what I mean?” is a movie-ism. I feel like if Harry had taken Felix Felicis to go on his trip with Dumbledore before they Apparated, he would have been like, [as Harry] “Sir, I have a feeling like number twelve, Grimmauld Place is really the place to be tonight,” and then they would go to Grimmauld Place where the actual locket was and actually kill the Horcrux.

[Conor laughs]

Michael: Hmm, wow. I wonder if that could work as strongly Well, and with the previous suggestion too, from, I believe it was, HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis, the idea that if Harry takes it, he might not do the right thing for Dumbledore. Harry already has an overwhelming urge to stay at Hogwarts because he’s worried that Malfoy’s plan is going to go into play that night. So who knows which directions Harry might have been pulled in depending on what his focus was because we’ve seen too that Felix Felicis doesn’t necessarily just do things for you because Felix is what ostensibly causes Ron and Lavender to break up and Ginny and Dean to break up.

Eric: Though [those] both [benefit] Harry.

Michael: You could argue that, yes, it does. Ron and Lavender is a little bit of a stretch for me, but…

Eric: Oh, it was annoying.

Michael: Yeah. [laughs] Oh, that’s a minor annoyance, so Felix will take care of that for you too. I wondered, though, with that, since Harry has so many things that he’s trying to focus on, how Felix would solve all of them.

Eric: Yeah. No, but just the idea… Not to overshadow or foreshadow this chapter too heavily, and I know this chapter… It’s blessedly left out the fact that this mission is all for naught, but knowing that the locket exists somewhere else, the Horcrux is not where they go to look for it, it just makes me think that if Harry had taken the potion, it would have said, “Maybe you should try Grimmauld Place before you go to this cave thing.”

Michael: Dumbledore would have been like, “Okay.”

Kat: No, actually, that’s totally valid because Harry… That locket is in Harry’s subconscious.

Conor: That’s true.

Kat: Because they threw it away the last year.

Michael: So he’s seen it.

Kat: So it’s there. The locket’s in his head, yeah. That’s totally plausible, I think.

Conor: And I think they could have found the locket too, because if Dumbledore [were] under the assumption that luck guided them to this place, he would be able to search out a really Dark object like that, so I think this is good.

Eric: Th[ere are] some flaws because Mundungus has already been pilfering from Grimmauld Place, although I think the locket happens after this, chronologically, so it should still be among Kreacher’s things or something like that. Also, Dumbledore has been to Grimmauld Place before, and admittedly, he didn’t take place in the housekeeping, like the cleaning, when they all came across the locket and all took turns trying to open it. I mean, if Dumbledore had been there, he would’ve said, “Oh! This has some signature on it that is… known magic is on this thing.” And he would’ve recognized it instantly. The fact that he was in the same house, the same domicile as the locket before, when it was actually the locket and didn’t notice it is, again… I don’t know if it was an oversight because it was a couple [of] floors above maybe… but it’s uncomfortable. It’s one of those uncomfortable closenesses. But yeah, I like to think that if Harry took Felix, he’d go to Grimmauld Place and prevent all of this crap from happening.

Kat: I’m on your side now. I think that’s totally plausible.

Conor: Yeah. I think it might… I think Mundungus had already taken it, though. I think we’re meant to believe that, when you reread the book, that when Harry finds him outside Hogsmeade, that that’s when he’s stolen everything.

Eric: Oh, yeah, I thought he kept going back, but it’s…

Kat: He probably did.

Eric: I can understand that being explained away in that way.

Michael: And now we are going to head into…

[Half-Blood Prince Chapter 26 intro begins]

Harry: Chapter 26 – “Accio Horcrux!” – “The Cave.”

[Sound of screams]

[Sound of water sloshing]

[Half-Blood Prince intro ends]

Michael: All too soon, the time has come to pursue that flighty temptress, adventure. In search of another fragment of Voldemort’s soul, Harry and Dumbledore Apparate to the cliffside where, in his youth, Voldemort terrorized his fellow orphans. There, they discover a cave filled with some of the Darkest magic Harry has ever encountered: a blood sacrifice required for entry; a concealed boat meant only for one; protecting the Horcrux locket, a potion to make the drinker go mad [and] an invisible barrier on all useful charms, all leading up to an encounter with Voldemort’s army of the undead Inferi, bodies of his previous victims rising up from the surrounding waters. In a blaze of enchanted fire, Harry and Dumbledore just manage to escape with the Horcrux and their lives. But with Dumbledore’s health quickly deteriorating, will all of their efforts have been in vain? Yes, they will have. So…

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Michael: I guess that question is answered. [laughs]

Eric: That answers that question.

Kat: Spoiler alert!

Michael: Spoiler! So the first point I wanted to talk about – before we get into the really meaty stuff, which is more character business and certain objects – I want to talk about the Dark magic and the deep magic of this cave. But as we get into this cave, I see Conor has a bit of a point to discuss.

Conor: Well, you can’t not talk about this if you’re going to read this chapter. I mean, Dumbledore is using a breaststroke, and he has buckled shoes.

[Michael laughs]

Conor: I mean, the guy is just all time. He’s awesome.

Eric: I failed to… oh, okay. He’s awesome. Okay.

Kat: The thing that I thought about in this moment is that Harry would drown because he has had no physical education whatsoever. Ever.

Conor: I just thought the same thing.

[Eric laughs]

Kat: Ever. The Dursleys didn’t teach him how to swim. Harry would be dead.

Eric: Oh! There’s a comment like that in this chapter in the beginning. Before they’re in the antechamber, they’re in the water, and Harry looks at the small, dark… where the water goes into the fissure, and he notices that during high tide, that area would clearly be flooded.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: And I’m thinking, “What do you know about tides?”

Kat: [laughs] Right. Exactly.

Eric: You’ve never been to the beach. You’ve never gone to the shore and taken a lesson on surfing. You don’t know about tides. There is a little bit of a suspension for disbelief on this whole swimming thing. I think I’m with you there.

Kat: Yeah. It’s just so funny. I don’t know.

Eric: But Dumbledore’s breaststroke is described as being perfect.

Kat: Of course. I mean, it’s Dumbledore.

Eric: Now that’s coming from Harry, who also probably doesn’t, I mean, know how to swim. But still, it’s pretty cool. You’re right about that.

Kat: Wait, does that mean that Jo has a perfect breaststroke? Because you know how she says she is Dumbledore? I don’t know.

Michael: Tweet her that.

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Eric: I don’t think she also has buckled shoes, though.

Michael: She probably would.

Kat: She’d probably answer that one if she answered any question.

Michael: “Dumbledore has a perfect breaststroke. Do you? #swimming”

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Kat: Can I do that right now?

Eric: #alsobuckledshoes

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Wait, I’m going to do that right now.

Michael: All right. That’s amazing.

Kat: I totally am.

Conor: I brought up the buckled shoes thing because I don’t have a good picture of what Dumbledore really should look like because the movies… that’s not what he looks like. That’s not how Jo describes him. But do you guys have an image of him? Because every time she describes something he’s wearing, I’m like, “Really? He’s been wearing that the whole time?”

Michael: I like Mary GrandPr√©’s artwork on Dumbledore. That’s pretty close to what I picture, except with a hat, because she doesn’t usually draw him with a hat. But I think that’s pretty close to how I see it. The drawing on the back of the later Philosopher’s Stone covers from the UK, from the children’s edition is pretty good too. Anybody else? [laughs]

Kat: Sorry, I’m tweeting still.

[Conor and Eric laugh]

Michael: All right. [laughs] I guess that’s it for Dumbledore’s looks. And we’ll talk more about Dumbledore later, because actually, Conor, that’s a great comment. The breaststroke thing actually gets into another point that I do want to talk about with Dumbledore later, and…

Conor: I can’t wait to hear what…

Michael: Oh, I will. Oh, you’ll see.

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Kat: Michael is the queen of the sequiturs.

Michael: I’m the queen? Ohh, thank you.

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Michael: So… but and listeners, you’re going to note a lot probably in this chapter discussion that I have pulled a lot of quotes, not only because I think they are very useful in terms of this discussion, but also because this is a chapter much worth reading aloud, and I was like “Oh, I want to read some of this aloud because it’s good.” But as far as the Dark magic and the deep magic going on in this cave, I wanted to read these two quotes here from this chapter. This first one is Dumbledore discovering that this is the right place to go in, and he says, [as Dumbledore] “‘Yes, this is the place,’ said Dumbledore. [as Harry] ‘How can you tell?’ Harry spoke in a whisper. [as Dumbledore] ‘It has known magic,’ said Dumbledore simply.” The other quote is,

“Harry did not ask how Dumbledore knew. He had never seen a wizard work things out like this, simply by looking and touching; but Harry had long since learned that bangs and smoke were more often the marks of ineptitude than exper[t]i[s]e.”

And I wanted to just touch a little bit on the discussion maybe about just more deep magic in general because as I was reading this, I was thinking, 1) that this is a great setup for some of the things we’re about the encounter in Deathly Hallows, but 2) why don’t they teach any of this at Hogwarts? This seems like actual practical stuff for the magical world.

Eric: I had a question about that too. It just doesn’t… when did Dumbledore learn this? There'[re] a hundred questions because there doesn’t appear to be a post-secondary school in the wizarding world.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Which is insane! Why aren’t there universities? Seriously.

Eric: You just assume that there are, but they haven’t been mentioned.

Conor: No, I think it’s all apprenticeships. It’s got to be because I think she specifically said, “There is no post-school at all.”

Kat: Right, but Healers and stuff? Come on. They…

Eric: During this chapter, I’m thinking, “How would anyone from the Auror…?”

Conor: That’s apprentice too. She actually points that out – the Auror and Healer – that she does say that they learn through apprenticeships.

Eric: Okay, but my question during reading the chapter was, “How would an Auror handle this cave? If they were alongside Dumbledore and Harry wasn’t, what is their level of magic?” Because Harry thinks that maybe a tingling on his arm indicates that he has some sort of sensitivity to the magic. Dumbledore is able to catch a boat chain that’s invisible out of thin air.

Kat: Well, and it specifically says that Dumbledore says something seemingly in another language.

Eric: Right, and it goes back to what Snape did to cure Sectumsempra, to heal Draco, was he was not chanting but singing almost.

Kat: It’s probably just Latin.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Because we know they don’t know Latin, so it probably sounds foreign to them, and it’s just Latin.

Eric: Well, that’s my whole take on the recent news that Jo is talking about, the Native American influence on the school in America, is because I was thinking, “Well, maybe they get into more chanting” or I don’t know, some… that musical pulling things out of the air type of magic, but if Dumbledore knows it… I mean, he certainly didn’t [go to] school in America, so…

Conor: I think it just must be self-taught. That’s the only way he would learn it. Because it seems like Dumbledore and Voldemort and maybe Snape are probably the only three people in the world who know about this.

Michael: Well, yeah, and it’s suggested definitely in Deathly Hallows that Dumbledore learns of these kinds of things on his world travels that he takes post-Hogwarts, but…

Eric: So maybe it’s just that they don’t have a way to consolidate the knowledge.

Michael: They have Hogwarts! [laughs]

Eric: They have massive libraries. Lots of books.

Michael: Well, this goes back to what we were talking about when they were taking their tests, their OWLs, and conversations we had had. I actually was listening to the show, I think, during their OWLs testing, and I remember we were talking about there was a Charms class where Flitwick is teaching them how to put legs on teacups, and we were actually going, “Why is he teaching them to put legs on teacups in their fifth year?” And this seems to be what the level of magic should be at least starting to get to by your fifth and sixth year.

Eric: Well, yeah. Look at maths class, for instance. By the time you take trigonometry or calculus, you’re… as an eighteen year old I was going into calculus and I was thinking, “Why in life would I ever need to figure out the area under a curve?”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Why the hell would…? Unless I’m a carpenter creating a round table, how would I ever need to develop…? And that’s how advanced it was. It was so advanced mathematics that it was intimidating. But I was being exposed to it at the age of eighteen. And so you’ve got to think that seventh years, at least, surely would have a similar level where it’s so advanced it’s scary, of magic, but as of… and I know Harry skips his seventh year, but he’s still going out into battle with Expelliarmus, and further more in this chapter, to bring it all back, he’s using Petrificus Totalus on the Inferi.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: And that’s a first year spell! That is a first year spell. He’s going into this cave; Dumbledore is pulling a rope out of thin air that doesn’t exist – a chain – and sailing a boat across the lake where there is no… unbelievable. And Harry is throwing first year charms at these Inferi. There’s such a drastic difference between the two.

Michael: No, it still kills me that the deepest, probably most complicated spell Harry knows is Expecto Patronum – which is my favorite spell in the series – and that looking through, researching the sources, Rowling has tried to make clear that Expecto Patronum is almost exclusively for communicating with other people and getting rid of Dementors. But she has not explained whether it has an effect on anything else. Because I thought, “Well, Expecto Patronum, if it could hit Inferi, would be awfully useful in this situation,” but yeah, like you said, Eric… I mean, Harry even uses… he doesn’t even think; he’s like, “Sectumsempra!” These things don’t have blood! [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, it’s nice to see that the clothes start ripping. He’s just really causing them all to have bad fashion.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, that’s the worst of it. But yeah, it’s just very curious to me that we get these really deep… because I don’t know about you guys, but I love this version of magic, even just a tad bit more…

Conor: Mhm.

Michael: … and in a way, too, I guess the other reason I have questions about this kind of magic is because it doesn’t really seem to build off of what they learn at Hogwarts at all because it’s nonverbal and it’s a very traditional sense of magic. It goes back to when we were in Goblet of Fire and Voldemort was resurrected from the cauldron. And Wormtail wasn’t chanting Latin, he was using a kind of poetry spell that was in English, like an incantation, more like. And that’s not what is taught at Hogwarts at all, so it…

Eric: It’s just so advanced. And part of this, too, leads into… this chapter is really where my… it’s been building up for some time, but why I dislike Book 7 as a finale, that none of the other Horcruxes… seeing just how well-protected this was with magic that Harry has never seen, I would have really liked to have seen four more locations like this. Now, there are some flaws in that comment because Gringotts is pretty safe, it’s a pretty cool place to try to break into. The Ministry, where the real locket is, is also… at that time it’s the hub of the center of a corrupt government so that’s also pretty cool. But there’s still nothing along the lines of… and the snake is kept alongside Voldemort at all times which is also a pretty scary place to be if you’re trying to kill a Horcrux. And then there’s the Room of Requirement. But there’s nothing like the cave. There’s nothing that Harry is way out of his depth. The bar is set so high because of this cave chapter, that he needs another Dumbledore pretty much; he should need another Dumbledore to guide him through each of the other places.

Conor: Is the cave the first thing that Voldemort goes to check when he finds out that Harry is killing his Horcurxes? I think that’s the one he thinks is most vulnerable, or does he go to the Riddle House?

Eric: I think he goes to the Riddle House, but then there’s also some idea there of it having been protected with some of these similar types of charms because Dumbledore breaks through them.

Conor: It just seems odd to me that this wouldn’t be the last place he goes to because it’s clearly the one he put the most effort into protecting.

Eric: It is the most formidable, yeah. And can you imagine him herding all the Inferi into here? Did he just massively kill a whole village?

Kat: Yep.

Eric: Or did he kill people and one by one drop their bodies here?

Conor and Michael: I think he killed one by one.

Eric: And just brought them here?

Michael: No, I think he vanished them there. He doesn’t have to… remember they’re wizards, he doesn’t have to physically take them, like, “Pick this one up, here we go…”

Kat: What gets me is that Regulus is in there.

Michael: Yeah. Isn’t that creepy? Isn’t that a horrible thought?

Kat: Yeah, it’s super creepy. And also, I think…

Conor: And I’ve never thought about that before. Thanks, Kat.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Sorry.

Eric: Wait, Regulus is in…? No, surely not.

Michael: Yeah, Regulus…

Kat: Of course he is. He died on the island.

Eric: Wait, and he wrote that note while on the perch on the pedestal or before…?

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: He probably wrote it before he left because he had the locket in his possession before he went to the island.

Conor: He wouldn’t be an Inferi, though. That takes a spell, so that’s okay.

Michael: Unless Voldemort stopped in and was like, “Ooh, a new one.”

Eric: So he’s just down there decomposing. Oh, man.

Kat: Yeah, it’s pretty gross.

Eric: You don’t think Kreacher would’ve retrieved his body?

Michael: No, he couldn’t.

Kat: No.

Conor: He told him not to come back.

Eric: Ah.

Michael: Yeah. Sucks, right? No… [laughs] When you said, Eric, that Regulus would’ve been writing the note, that made me think of that scene in Monty Python where they’re in the cave and they find, “The Castle of Aughhhh.” He’s like, “Oh, he must have died while carving it!”

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Eric: Oh, yes. That’s awesome. Yeah.

Michael: But Conor, I see you had a point about a particular piece of magic.

Conor: Oh, yeah. The archway in the antechamber is lit up once Dumbledore puts blood on the stone. That seems really similar to Lord of the Rings. Did anyone else think that?

Michael: No, it does.

Kat: Well, it doesn’t say lit up, right?

Conor: Yeah. Yeah, it does, right?

Michael: It’s lit. It’s glowing.

Conor: Okay. Yeah, I mean…

Kat: Are you sure?

Conor: Yeah.

Eric: I think it glows temporarily and then fades immediately.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: But then Harry is like, “Hey, whoa, huh, whoa! Something happened there! I saw something!”

Conor: And then it goes in full blast once he puts the blood on, I think. That’s fully lit up.

Kat: Oh, yeah. There’s a… yeah. “It outlined blazing white as though there was a powerful light behind the crack.” Fine.

Conor: I mean, that just sounds like Mines of Moria exactly.

Kat: It does. No, you’re right.

Conor: Are we thinking that’s an homage? Because this seems pretty blatant.

Michael: I… go ahead, Kat.

Kat: Well, how else are you going to show an opening in the rock?

Conor: Well, the rock could just open. You don’t need light.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Right, but you need the blood. So that’s the only way.

Michael: Well, I think there’s been a lot of discussion amongst scholars, even, of how much Rowling borrowed from Lord of the Rings, as well as other sources. And I think in this particular case, these kinds of things are… some people have said that she was actually carrying around a copy of The Hobbit with her at times. I don’t know if I believe that. I don’t know if that’s true or not. She’s been very tight-lipped when people try to talk about Lord of the Rings with her.

Conor: I think she’s flat-out denied it sometimes.

Michael: Yes, she has. And I think it’s just inevitable because Lord of the Rings, for its time, while it may not have gained the immediate popularity like Harry Potter did because the social climate was different and advertising was different back then… but Lord of the Rings set a similar standard for the fantasy genre and there’s a lot of things that are tropes in Lord of the Rings that you in ways can’t avoid. But what’s interesting about that – and, again, we’ll get to that with Voldemort in a few minutes here – is that Dumbledore actually almost practically says, “God, what a cliche.”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Essentially. So she does try to turn it on its head and give it some meaning of why it’s almost, “Oh, this is so typical.” So that does come up, I think, narratively. But I don’t know if she meant it as a direct homage or not, considering that she tries not to do that.

Conor: Right. I can’t think of another instance where she has.

Michael: And then, of course, listeners, I was going to talk about the Inferi a little bit, but believe it or not, Pottermore won’t open right now. [laughs] It has crashed for some reason or it’s under maintenance. But I can’t get to it. But I highly suggest… we’ve talked about it before on the show, and I believe we’ve read the excerpt on the show before. So listeners, make sure and go to the Pottermore website once it’s updated or once it’s done being crashed. You can go relive the good old days when it first opened. But make sure and check out the reading on Inferi. It’s a very interesting reading, actually, and it explains a lot, too; the big question of why Inferi are not zombies, and why that’s different in Jo’s world. She has some really good reasoning behind that.

Eric: Oh, darn. And here I was thinking of the Mudbloods song, “Zombies!”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Do you know it? Do you know wizard rock? Do you know this?

Michael: No, I don’t.

Eric: It’s an awesome song. You must listen to it. It’s on YouTube; check it out. The band is The Mudbloods and their song is “Zombies!” With an exclamation point, just for the listeners at home.

Michael: Oh. Oh, no, it’s not canon! [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, now, thanks to Pottermore, it’s not canon. Thanks, Pottermore.

Michael: Yes. But I do also have an audioBoom that actually has a great question about some of the magic, specifically about Summoning a Horcrux. So let’s take a listen to that.

[Audio]: Hi, this is Christina, [unintelligible] in the forums. I got to wondering if the whole Dumbledore drinking the potion and thus weakening himself thing could have been avoided with a properly chosen spell. When Harry and Dumbledore get to the cave, Harry asks Dumbledore if they could try Summoning the Horcrux. Harry uses “Accio Horcrux,” but as we now know, what is in that basin is not actually a Horcrux. Had they known specifically [which] Horcrux was in that cave and used “Accio locket” instead of “Accio Horcrux,” would it have zoomed out of the basin to a waiting Harry and Dumbledore? Just something I thought of, and I wanted to hear your thoughts. Bye.

Michael: [laughs] Why not?

Kat: Wow!

Michael: Yeah, tell us how you really feel.

Eric: No, I think that Voldemort would have stopped that. The only time that blunt approach works with Hermione and the Horcrux…

Michael: Oh, with the book? Yeah, that books.

Eric: At the end of this school year.

Michael: [as Hermione] “Accio books. Oh my God, it worked.”

Eric: But I was wondering… that thing that does jump when Harry casts that spell, it’s just one and not all of the Inferi, so is that Inferi[us] just poised to jump, or was his name similar to “Horcrux”?

[Eric, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Eric: Horace the Inferi[us]? “Accio Hor…!” Oh, wait, never mind. And Horace is like, “All right, I’m going to do this. I’m going to get Summoned. It’s great.”

Kat: It’s my moment!

[Eric laughs]

Kat: It’s my moment to shine! I’m Horace the Inferi[us]!

Eric: It wasn’t even an Inferi[us]. It was a dolphin that just wandered in there.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Just a rogue dolphin that happens to be…

Kat: A dolphin Patronus!

Michael: No, I think it’s implied, actually, that that’s multiple Inferi jumping out at once to give you a spook.

Eric: It’s very clear, if you read, that Dumbledore knows, totally, that there [are] Inferi down there, even before the boat.

Kat: Well, he said he knows that there’s something.

Eric: He uses the plural.

Michael: He knows.

Conor: He knows to use fire later. I mean, he knows they’re Inferi somehow.

Michael: He knows, he knows, he knows.

Eric: Well, that was a generalization, too, where he’s like, “Well, it’s cold and wet and dark. They probably need warmth and light.”

Michael: [laughs] But as far as the audioBoom goes, I would be inclined to agree with “no,” just because I think that Voldemort would be anticipating an issue of semantics as far as…

Eric: Just knowing that the… let’s talk about what’s immediately surrounding the locket. Let’s not talk about the fact that it’s on the middle of a pedestal in the middle of a lake filled with Inferi. That potion that can’t be touched or basically siphoned off in any way other than by drinking it. That alone would have prevented the locket from being removed from it.

Michael: Yeah, there’s a barrier around it.

Kat: Yeah, you can’t even touch it.

Michael: Like a little bubble. So it wouldn’t…

Eric: I think that barrier is probably…

Kat: Well, I mean, definitely, it doesn’t work.

Michael: Well, and we’ve seen, too, that… because they try that again with some of the other Horcruxes in Deathly Hallows, and it doesn’t work, so yeah, you can’t just [Summon] a soul. If you can [Summon] a soul, you could be just ripping people’s souls out just as you walk down the street, so… [laughs]

Eric: Fatality!

Kat: Right? Because that’s true, because I mean, in essence, it’s no longer…

Michael: It’s not… yeah, technically speaking, this shouldn’t really be something you can Summon because it’s not physical, so… and even by putting it in a locket or a cup or whatever, it’s still not physical, so… yeah, that makes sense. I do like that Dumbledore gave Harry a shot at it, though. Because he was like, “Let’s see what happens!”

[Eric, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Eric: “I’m going to show you how stupid you are.”

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Noo, I don’t think that’s why he did it. I think he did it to make Harry feel important and like he’s helping some way.

Michael: Well, and I think Dumbledore is also very aware… having seen Harry perform a fantastic [Summoning] Charm in Goblet of Fire, I think he knows that [the Summoning Charm] is a good charm that he can do really well, so… that’s actually a…

[Eric laughs]

Conor: I think he actually genuinely thinks that’s a good idea. I mean, when he says that “the best to find out what we’re dealing with.” I think “just cut to the chase; let’s find out what’s going on.”

Eric: Yeah, he does compliment Harry, and it’s pretty believable that he actually was impressed.

Michael: And speaking of that Horcrux in there, Dumbledore has a little thing to say about… as they sail across the lake, and he says, [as Dumbledore] “I think we can resign ourselves to the fact that they” – of course meaning the Inferi – “will at some point realize we are not Lord Voldemort. Thus far, however, we have done well. They have allowed us to raise the boat.” And it got me thinking, “Is Voldemort maybe actually in some way present here?” Because we know that the Horcrux is not a Horcrux anymore. It’s just a locket, sadly. Tear. But is the Horcrux with Harry having any effect on this journey? Is it perhaps keeping Harry and Dumbledore safe because it is a part of Voldemort, and maybe the Inferi see that? Or is it putting them in additional danger in some way? Yeah, the big questions. [laughs]

Conor: I don’t think the part [of] the soul in Harry really has much feeling at all anymore. Because it was never intended to break away. I don’t know how much effect it really does have. Even though on the forums I’ve talked about doubting the…

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Michael: There'[re] people out there who have a strong theory that the Dursleys are the way they are because Harry is a Horcrux, so…

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Kat: Oh, Lord.

Eric: And it’s just their time being spent around a Horcrux? That’s crazy.

Kat: But Harry… okay. But Jo has said that Harry is not a true Horcrux. And she only used that term because what else are you going to call it? So all those theories are [blows a raspberry]. Sorry.

Eric: Well – at any rate – is Voldemort, in some form or another, in that cave? I have to say no because he doesn’t realize that he hasn’t been there since Regulus ha[d] taken his Horcrux. Otherwise he would have made another one. So he has to be far away from that cave both in body and spirit.

Kat: And also, I have a feeling that whatever he put… whatever protections are on the cave, like Dumbledore says, are about the level of magic. And Dumbledore obviously has a lot of magic, so if the person entering maybe had lesser than Voldemort… that the Inferi are just looking for a level of magic.

Conor: I think it’s possible, too, that Voldemort wanted whoever found the cave to get to that island to suffer horribly. I think he wouldn’t want the Inferi to attack them before they had a chance to get to the island.

Eric: That’s the question, too, that I have from reading this chapter, is “Would the Inferi have ever stopped their attack?” I mean, Harry was being basically being dragged under; in the movie, it’s even worse, where he nearly drowns. But Dumbledore says about Voldemort that he’d want to meet the person who got this far. So at what point do one of these Inferi…?

[Michael laughs]

Eric: By what means is Voldemort then notified that there’s been a break-in? Why wasn’t that alarm triggered now? Because if Voldemort is designing this so that, say, somebody does penetrate the defenses, he wants to meet them and just subdue them a little bit to give himself time there. What mechanism didn’t go off that would’ve alerted him to come and find them?

Michael: Well, as far as we know there isn’t one. Because as we’ll see in Deathly Hallows, Regulus Black is a victim of this, and as far as we know, Voldemort never talks to him. He’s just dragged under, and that’s the end of it.

Eric: Yeah, so this idea that Dumbledore specifically says that Voldemort wouldn’t want to kill whoever got this far…

Conor: I don’t remember reading that. Are you sure about that?

Eric, Kat, and Michael: Yeah.

Conor: That’s weird.

Michael: Well, and plus, the book makes clear that – the movie has muddled up in everybody’s mind because it had to do this to fix the plot in the movies – Voldemort cannot sense when a Horcrux is destroyed. It is completely separated from his body, and he has no tingling when a piece of his soul is destroyed.

Eric: Yeah, what Dumbledore says about Voldemort not wanting to kill whoever drinks that potion is the No. 1 reason Harry agrees to feed Dumbledore the potion. Even when times get rough…

Conor: Maybe Dumbledore was lying.

Kat: That’s my thought, is that Dumbledore was lying.

Eric: Maybe. Even when he’s on the ninth or tenth goblet out of twelve, Harry keeps powering through, and it’s because he’s been told that it won’t kill Dumbledore.

Kat: And I think that’s why… see, Dumbledore has laid all of the little things down for Harry to get out of there on his own.

Conor: Really?

Kat: The boat’s there, he tells him about the fire, and he knows that he has to have blood to get out the door. Harry knows how to Apparate. Harry could have left on his own.

Michael: Yeah, that’s very true.

Eric: Yeah, if only he had remembered the fire. But he forgets fire.

Conor: Yeah. Does he even know a spell to make fire? Have we ever seen him do that?

Michael: I believe the [incantation] to make fire is Incendio, and I…

Conor: Has he done that before?

Michael: I don’t know if he…

Kat: Well.

Eric: Hermione has! In Book 1, Hermione had the blue flames.

Michael: Yeah, there’s a similar spell, and I don’t know if anyone knows if the blue… well, I guess the blue flames would work because they’re not hot, but they’re at least light.

Kat: It seems like one of those first year spells. Dumbledore is confident that Harry knows it, and Harry is like, “Oh, yeah, right, fire. Of course. Duh.”

Conor: I actually had a point on that. There’s a line in the text that says, “Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth,” and I was thinking, “Can the same be said for overestimating youth?” Because the whole chapter, Dumbledore is way overestimating Harry. He forgets that Harry can’t even dry himself; he has to put a spell on for that. He forgets that Harry is even there; Harry literally walks into him. He doesn’t fully explain the danger to Harry. He doesn’t tell him that it’s Inferi down there or exactly what to do. He just says “fire.” I mean, that’s not enough of an answer.

Michael: Let’s talk about this a little bit. We’ll get back to Voldemort; he’s around. So Conor, you touched on a few quotes, and I’m actually going to read a few of them in full because I do think they’re important to this discussion. And the first one is that one where Harry is freezing, and Dumbledore has just opened the door, and he says, “‘You’ve d-done it!’ said Harry through chattering teeth, but before the words had left his lips the outline had gone, leaving the rock as bare and solid as ever. Dumbledore looked around. ‘Harry, I’m so sorry, I forgot,’ he said; he now pointed his wand at Harry and at once, Harry’s clothes were as warm and dry as if they had been hanging in front of a blazing fire.” Another quote, further down, and this is – again, Conor, you mentioned this – where Harry and Dumbledore are walking, and Dumbledore stops. Dumbledore says, “‘Aha,’ said Dumbledore, and he stopped again; this time, Harry really did walk into him; for a moment he toppled on the edge of the dark water, and Dumbledore’s uninjured hand closed tightly around his upper arm, pulling him back. ‘So sorry, Harry, I should have given warning.'”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Beep! Beep! Beep!

Michael: I bet his wand could make that noise.

Conor: Blinkers? What’s he going to do?

Michael: And then yet again, another. This is probably one of my favorite moments from this chapter, and I actually have to say that this transaction to me has always been… a lot of people cite the “Always” moment from Deathly Hallows as the big one to tattoo on yourself, but this quote? Oh my gosh, this hits me more than that one does, and it says, “Harry helped Dumbledore back onto the icy seawater that filled the crevice in the cliff. ‘It’s going to be all right, sir,’ Harry said over and over again, more worried by Dumbledore’s silence than he had been by his weakened voice. ‘We’re nearly there… I can Apparate us both back… Don’t worry…’ ‘I am not worried, Harry,’ said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. ‘I am with you.'”

Kat: Wow.

Eric: That’s beautiful.

Michael: Yes, it’s a great quote. But what’s interesting… what I wanted to point out with those two quotes as you were saying, Conor, about Dumbledore perhaps overestimating Harry, I wanted to talk about the relationship between Dumbledore and Harry because the reason I read those first two quotes in juxtaposition to this last one is Dumbledore, a few times here, almost seems to forget that Harry is there and is very negligent of him.

Eric: It’s just that he’s in a… I don’t want to say “a trance,” but dealing with that type of magic that…

Michael: See, I could see that, but at the same time, Dumbledore deals with this ostensibly all the time. He certainly has been all year, and what I think is interesting just about these is that the way it’s written, to me, these two passages – those first two – always surprised me. Because… it’s the way Dumbledore treats Harry. There’s just something a little off to me about it, but in a way…

Eric: It… I don’t know. I mean, it’s a mystery, right? He didn’t know what he was going to find in this cave. Every time that Dumbledore figures out “Oh, there’s a boat here,” or “Oh, it has to be drunk,” regarding the potion, he is pleased and surprised, and he makes a little “Oh ho” or “Ah ha” sound. He’s figuring this out right there with Harry. It’s just that the mystery, it really literally could be anything when you’re dealing with wizards of this caliber, and it takes concentration to be able to discern what’s going on. He has that line… Perhaps you could help me find this, Michael, but he says… When he’s talking about the potion and he says it has to be drunk…

Michael: [unintelligible]

Eric: … it cannot be vanished or transferred or transfigured or… They were there for, like, ten seconds and he’s already gone through the list of, like, 15 things you can’t do to this potion, and that’s because he’s tried every single one of those things or figured out a way to learn that about it without trying. He’s doing work, and Harry is just along for the ride.

Michael: Well, I guess I just found it interesting because it’s not really how we’ve seen Dumbledore interact with Harry before.

Conor: Well, I think if we bring in ring theory here, this actually could explain a lot. So the ring in this book, within this book, the chapter that’s the ring is “Horace Slughorn,” at the beginning of the book when you meet Horace for the first time. And if you’ll believe this or not – this is an OMG moment – when Dumbledore Apparates with Harry he goes, “You are with me,” and now at the end of the book he says, “I am with you.” The whole Harry-Dumbledore dynamic has completely changed in this book, and I was trying to pinpoint where, and first I thought it might be when Harry just let… So Dumbledore was on the drink of despair and he… Harry got him into the boat while he was lassoing that fire and it just… Harry used his intelligence to assess the situation and actually do the right thing and not get in the way of anyone else, and I thought that might be the moment where Dumbledore is like, “Well, finally he’s learning some Ravenclaw qualities…”

[Michael laughs]

Conor: “… because he needs all four Houses to figure out how to get these Horcruxes.” But it’s also possible that he changed his mind when Harry got Slughorn’s memory, so… But there’s definitely… This is the chapter where everything changes between Harry and Dumbledore.

Michael: No, I think you’re absolutely right because right before in the previous chapter when Harry is leaving and Hermione says, “No, take the Felix Felicis with you,” Harry says, “I’ll be fine, I’m with Dumbledore.”

Eric: Well, furthermore, if you’re looking for a moment it’s certainly got to be where the power dynamic or where the dynamic shifts between them.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: It’s got to be when he’s force-feeding Dumbledore. This is something you can imagine doing with an elderly parent or somebody who is in the infirm; you’re feeding somebody. He has to lie to Dumbledore like, “Oh, this will make you feel better.” That’s something that is much more of a mature problem to have or a more… That could have aged Harry 20 years.

Michael: Well, and actually, before we go on to the question, because I definitely want to talk about that, I guess I just wanted to perhaps suggest with those quotes – and Conor, you were kind of touching upon it too, with the change in the dynamic, or the power in the relationship – it just… These quotes, I guess they just stand out to me because they don’t necessarily… They’re such little throw-away moments of Dumbledore disregarding Harry for a minute and realizing what he did, and it’s not very common to his character to disregard people who are in his presence – he’s very attentive to people most of the time – and it just kind of, to me, was almost like more of that kind of Dumbledore that we’re going to see in Deathly Hallows who when he has a focused mission that is serving the greater good, that he sometimes forgets about certain people who might also be suffering.

Eric: Yes, yes. Even his family.

Conor: That’s one of my frustrations with the whole book, because Dumbledore has been doing this [for] the whole book. I mean, every time Harry brings something up, Dumbledore is like, “Well, we’re going to talk about what I want to talk about now.”

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Eric: [unintelligible] Dumbledore… No, no, no, no, no, no, that’s incorrect because Dumbledore simply tables the discussion about Snape and Draco because he knows Harry is right, and he knows that there’s also nothing that can be done about it because he needs Snape to complete his mission by the end of the year.

Conor: I understand his reasoning…

Eric: He needs…

Conor: … but it’s still frustrating through the whole book to just shut Harry down.

Eric: But he’s not disregarding what Harry says.

Conor: But it feels like it.

Eric: He’s just impeding the investigation. What he’s doing is preventing Harry from reaching that… Because if Harry reached that conclusion about Snape or Malfoy with definitiveness and made such a fuss over it that they had to pay attention to it, Snape would be killed by the Unbreakable Vow by his inability to fufill the promise and Draco would probably be carted off to Azkaban. But Dumbledore would still be alive but without his double agent, and the whole plot would be screwed up


Michael: I think Conor is right in that it’s frustrating to read. It’s… And that’s, perhaps, even… Again…

Eric: But it’s not like Dumbledore…

Michael: No, it’s not…

Eric: … doesn’t know what’s going on or…

Michael: No, and that’s…

Eric: Dumbledore is fully in control of the fact…

Michael: As far as I can tell…

Eric: … that he cannot talk to Harry about that. The book where Dumbledore didn’t talk to Harry was Book 5.

Michael: Well, yeah, and he had…

Eric: That’s the one where he was keeping his distance. This one, I feel like Dumbledore… The whole Horcrux…

Conor: I preferred it when he just didn’t talk to him, though, [laughs] instead of just ignoring him.

Eric: Surely the Horcrux lessons where Dumbledore lays bare the entire rest of the game plan to kill Voldemort is a huge moment between them. There’s a series of moments; the lessons with Dumbledore – one of my favorite things about this book. Like Dumbledore…

Michael: Oh, no. I don’t think that’s in question. I think what Conor is saying is that there’s… Dumbeldore arrests… When it gets to that part about Malfoy and Snape, Dumbledore arrests control of the conversation. Well, he does what Harry doesn’t and so that’s… And I guess I get Dumbledore’s approach with that because Dumbledore knows that Harry won’t give this up, and so I think his new approach is “I’m going to be stern with you because I haven’t been before.” But, of course, that doesn’t work, [laughs] is the consequence. But I was just wondering if maybe the ground work isn’t being laid in this book – and in this chapter, even – just for the Dumbledore that we’re going to be encountering in Deathly Hallows. That it may… It’s not… It shouldn’t be a complete surprise, but…

Eric: Yeah, it’s an interesting question.

Michael: But going back to the potion, which as far as we know, through Pottermore, is officially called the Emerald Potion. Thanks to the Half-Blood Prince soundtrack, it has a much more interesting name that I prefer, which is the Drink of Despair. I think that’s much better. But it has essentially been confirmed that the potion causes the drinker to vividly re-live bad memories while also physically weakening them.

Kat: What I’ve read about it is that it happens in stages.

Michael: Ooh! That’s interesting.

Kat: So…

Michael: Uh-huh.

Kat: Yeah, it was just a theory. I can’t remember where I read it, but basicially that first it causes you kind of excruciating pain and then it goes into the bad memories. And because you’re… They compound on top of each other. So not only are you in physical pain because it’s doing whatever it’s doing to your insides, but then you have these horrible memories in your head and then basicially…

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: … you just [makes the sound of sticking her tongue out] X’s on the eyes because…

Michael: Well, and…

Kat: … it’s just too much. Your body can’t handle it, the physcial and emotional pain.

Michael: That’s a great description to lead into my question, which is that I kind of noticed… And I don’t know if you guys did because… Again, we’re dealing with such interesting Dark Magic here. And this is a potion I think… Next to Fred and George’s simulated daydreams, which are completely harmless but they are vivid, there is nothing I don’t think we’ve seen that’s like this as a potion, as something you can drink. And it just seemed, though, that there have been things like this we’ve seen before and I’m wondering if maybe they’re things that Voldemotrt pulled his inspiration from. Or maybe even used somehow in his potion. Because, apparently, this is… nobody has made this potion before. This is Voldemort’s potion, as far as we can tell. And I didn’t know if you guys…

Kat: Right.

Michael: … saw any connections to… I didn’t want to flat out point them out if maybe you guys perhaps saw connections to other things we’ve encountered in…

Eric: Here’s a connection: If Kreacher drank it, how did it refill?

Michael: Voldemort refilled it manually.

Eric: If Kreacher…

Kat: Mhm.

Eric: But that’s what I’m saying… He would have known… Oh, wait, he did know about it.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: He was there with Kreacher, yeah.

Eric: He did know about Regulus because he killed Regulus.

Michael: He wasn’t with Regulus. He was with Kreacher because he took Kreacher the first time to test the whole thing. And he had…

Eric: Uhh…

Michael: Yeah, Voldemort borrowed him.

Eric: Oh, Voldemort borrowed him. Oh, okay. I see. Wow, I forgot all about that.

Michael: I did too. I only remember because I reread it. [laughs] Yeah.

Kat: And then Regulus goes back on his own.

Eric: Wait, but how does it go… how does Voldemort not know that the fake locket is there? Because the potion was refilled around the fake locket.

Conor: Yeah, it doesn’t… the potion would have had to have refilled itself because there’s no way Voldemort knows that it’s been drunk, so…

Kat: Right, right.

Conor: That’s the only way to explain it. Otherwise, it’s just a mistake by Rowling.

Eric: That’s really the fear, too, that I had while reading this chapter, is… there’s a moment where Dumbledore loosens his grip and it almost falls but Harry catches it. I’m like, “Well, if any of that spills, does the whole thing refill itself to the top?”

Michael: Probably.

Eric: What’s the magic surrounding that? Or if Harry decides to take a few drinks, does it then refill to twice the… how much does it know about what they’re doing? The coolest thing about this was the water deprivation aspect where afterwards Dumbledore survives but water vanishes before it can get to his lips. He literally cannot be relieved. That is incredible!

Kat: Yeah, somebody in the comments was like, “Why didn’t Harry just shove his wand down his throat?”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: And I was like, “Whoa, harsh.”

Eric: You’ve already violated that. You’ve already crossed that line. Why not just “Aguamenti![makes gargling sounds]

[Kat laughs]

Michael: Well… and Conor, you had a question about that.

Conor: Oh, I was just wondering if… could Harry have drunk the water from his Aguamenti spell, or was the curse on more than just the drinker? Seems to me like Harry probably could have drank his own water but Dumbledore for some reason could not have.

Michael: Eww!

Kat: He could have baby birded it! Drink it and given it to Dumbledore.

Eric: Aww!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Because kisses are totally allowed on that island.

Kat: I mean, if it saves his life…

Michael: You gotta do what you gotta do.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. No, I wonder… it’s not clear, and I like how it’s kind of vague, that it’s disappearing from the goblet. The goblet was not provided to them by Voldemort. Voldemort wasn’t like, “Here, have a goblet.” Dumbledore conjured that. So, if the curse cannot be on the goblet itself to always be empty if it’s tried to be filled with water, the curse has to be on the potion, which was previous. So either the potion having been in the goblet now prevents water from being held there constantly, or the potion having been drunk by Dumbledore is preventing any other water than the lake water to enter his lips after the potion touches the lips.

Kat: Or it’s in the air. It’s just one of those atmospheric things where water that’s not a body evaporates.

Michael: I think…

Eric: Yeah, could be.

Conor: Voldemort is pretty smart. I don’t know how he did this.

Michael: No, I think, Conor, you’re onto something because I think Voldemort’s magic in this cave is very much accounting for intention on the part of the people who are in there.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: And I think… like you said, I am very impressed. I don’t know how he did it. Because there’s magic here that’s doing things, like Harry notes that the darkness is darker than he thinks it should be.

Conor: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, the ripples go away too fast.

Eric: The lake heals itself. The ripples on the lake go away faster than they’re supposed to.

Conor: I think they say that the air even feels heavy. Or there’s something about just the atmosphere being heavy, too.

Michael: Yeah.

Conor: There’s all sorts of bizarre things.

Kat: They’re also in a cave, guys.

Eric: They are, yeah.

Kat: So remember that caves have very different atmospheres than everything else.

Michael: Well, they do… Harry even says… it’s kind of like your whole thing with the “How does Harry know about the tide?” And Harry has been in caves, but not caves like this. But he does note that the darkness seems more oppressive than he thinks it should be. Yes, so…

Kat: Right. I mean, he does know what dark is, so I’ll give him that much.

Eric: Yeah, he’s been in a dark dormitory at night.

Michael: … I could definitely see that if Voldemort might have a way of casting a spell where if water touches somebody’s lips it disappears if it’s not the water from the lake.

Kat: Well… and also, too, Conor’s point here…

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Voldemort didn’t expect there to be two people. So I do think that Harry probably could have conjured… I don’t know if he could have had it out of the goblet, but I do think that if he was cool enough to conjure something else he would have been able to get water in that.

Eric: Could he have conjured milk?

Kat: No because that’s food and you can’t make food out of thin air.

Eric: Oh yeah, it has to come from somewhere. Oh, man.

Michael: And with my question about where, perhaps, Voldemort got this idea for the potion, since I didn’t hear any of you say it, I was thinking of Dementors and boggarts as maybe sources of his inspiration and things that he may have even found a way to incorporate into the potion somehow.

Eric: Yeah.

Conor: Essence of Dementor, that was an ingredient.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Eww.

Michael: It’s horrible to think about, but I wouldn’t put it above Voldemort to figure out how to stew some Dementors and boggarts in a cauldron. And then of…

Kat: That would imply that Dementors have physical bodies.

Michael: Well, and see, again, Voldemort playing with things that shouldn’t be played with. I imagine Voldemort is somebody who could actually use some kind of essence from a Dementor or a boggart.

Eric: Yeah, Voldemort is so close to the Dementors that I think there absolutely would be a plausibility there for him to get some ingredients from them.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yeah, he uses the air. [sucks in air]

Eric: Maybe he had a Dementor kiss as his lucky charm.

Kat: Oh, oh, oh! Maybe he uses the souls that they suck out of people.

Michael: I like that thinking.

Eric: Yeah, souls.

Kat: Dude, maybe that’s what Dumbledore is drinking. Maybe it’s other people’s really crappy… I mean, you know it’s not, but that would be fun.

[Eric laughs]

Michael: Well, it is funny you say that because there were a lot of theories back in 2005 about what Dumbledore was seeing based on the fact that Dumbledore was yelling things out such as “Don’t hurt them” and “No more, please.”

Eric: Yep, “Hurt me instead.”

Conor: I recall you guys doing a MuggleCast episode a long time ago about the theories.

Eric: Oh, please!

Conor: There were some wild ones.

Eric: It was just about what he drank, yeah. That was all. [laughs]

Michael: Eric, remind us of some of the things if you remember any of them.

Eric: Well, what I remember most is that we’re trying to tie it in with the words that are coming out of his mouth, with the things that he’s saying: “Hurt them, not me.” You get the idea, just like the document that you wrote up says, students in peril, things like that. When Deathly Hallows came out, I think we revisited the subject, and it was just like, “Well, is he thinking about Ariana? Is he thinking…?” He says, “I know I did wrong.” Does that in any way relate to the peril he personally experienced with ignoring his family or…? “I know I did wrong” is a heck of a thing to see. It almost seems uncharacteristic that at any point in his life, Dumbledore would have to atone for something he did wrong unless it’s what he did with Harry, and that hasn’t happened yet, to where we found that out. So it’s like, is it really his memories? Are they someone else’s memories? That was the big… we couldn’t get past that question. I still can’t get past that question, so until you get past that question – whether they’re his memories personally and what he’s saying is actually coming from him or whether they’re someone else’s memories entirely and in that case totally insignificant – what he’s saying just has to do with whatever he’s seeing. But it’s not related to his past. And then there’s the issue of he always says, “No more, don’t want any more.” But you never know if he’s completely always talking about the potion or whatever he’s seeing.

Conor: Are we in agreement on what it is now or is there…?

Michael: I believe there is general agreement that it is stuff about his family, mostly Ariana, but the way he’s talking suggests… because he says, “Don’t hurt them,” and his family was all [compromised] as a result of his actions.

Eric: Yeah, but his family was never in one place together being tortured.

Conor: I think it starts off with a bad memory, and then it switches to fear [for] his students. I think that was a theory that I still believe. I mean, you can’t say “they” and refer to his family because that doesn’t really fit.

Kat: I don’t know, because this part on page 572 says,

“It’s all my fault, all my fault. Please make it stop, I know I did wrong, oh please make it stop and I’ll never, never again…”

That has to be Ariana.

Conor: Yeah, that has to be Ariana.

Kat: Yeah, has to be.

Michael: Yeah, I think because the students in peril was a very popular theory because nobody knew anything about Dumbledore’s family circa 2005. And there were people who thought maybe it did refer to something in Dumbledore’s past, like his family, but nobody could say anything for sure. I got the sense… I always just… and this is purely based on theory and assumption and how I read the text, but I always got the sense that while there is a reliving of bad memories, that there is also this… it’s almost like a film going through his head of everything he did wrong with his family, and maybe he’s experiencing these memories rapidly, strung together, meshed together.

Eric: You are really seeing a projection like a boggart would show you. Like a boggart, it’s like a glorified household pest – it’s the creature under the bed – but it has a way about it, a magic about it that allows it to pinpoint exactly what you’re most fearful of, and it can actually be an abstract situation such as the death of a child, and it will show you the corpse. That’s the magic behind it – it shows you the corpse of your kid. And so to see him possibly seeing his family, who[m] he’s betrayed, all at once, when they wouldn’t have necessarily appeared together and have been all hurt by him that he could actually be seeing a situation that doesn’t exist, that never existed. It’s not a memory in a way that a Dementor would pull bad memories to the surface, but it’s also a projection of your fears in some way that a boggart is. So I think it’s accurate to conflate Dementors and boggarts when describing the effects of this potion. I think that’s a pretty good guess.

Kat: I do think, too, that that quote that I read before – and this made me really sad just thinking about it – when he says, “Oh please make it stop and I’ll never, never again,” he’s talking about loving somebody. He’s talking about [how] he will never love or fall for another person again because of what happened with Grindelwald.

Eric: He could also be talking about just never putting his family second again.

Kat: No, I don’t think so because…

Conor: I agree with Kat here.

Kat: … he’s talking about… he’s saying, “I’m sorry. I did this thing wrong. Make it stop, and I’ll never do this other thing that made this thing happen again.” And in his mind, what made Ariana die is his duel with Grindelwald and the fact that he loved him and wanted to stop him from being that person.

Eric: No, I think it’s just that he left his family. Yeah, he left because of love, but it’s just that he left. He didn’t give any care to his sister. He le[f]t her alone, and he didn’t care about his family. He cared more about himself more than he cared about his family.

Michael: But I think he… based on what Rowling has said, and again, this depends on how you interpret it because she says this outside of the book canon, but she has said that Dumbledore… and this is a very interesting thing to talk about, especially with the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, as far as Dumbledore’s sexuality because Dumbledore, she says, consciously became asexual after his time with Grindelwald. He actually chose to not have a relationship again, and he turned to books, and so I think if you want… because just as much with Deathly Hallows, when you read the stuff about Grindelwald… I mean, no, I don’t think very many people initially read it thinking that Dumbledore was in love with Grindelwald. That was something that’s imposed on the text later by Rowling. Of course, she knew it, but we didn’t. And I think…

Conor: The first time I read it, I felt there was a strong…

Michael: A strong connection, yeah, definitely.

Conor: I thought it was something more than that.

Eric: Albus was seduced by the dark side.

Michael: But I guess I’m just saying that it’s just as much of a choice that you can read it that way in this particular instance. It’s not definitive, but I do agree with you, Kat, that I think that’s definitely a strong possibility of what Dumbledore is saying.

Eric: [sings] “I’ll never fall in love again.”

Michael: But before we wrap up the discussion, I do want to jump back a little bit to Voldemort because there'[re] some interesting things said about Voldemort in this cave. He’s probably got… there’s a lot of discussion about Voldemort here, and it leads up to some very interesting conclusions that I wanted to point out. So there'[re] a few quotes here about Voldemort, and the first one is, as we’ve talked about earlier, Dumbledore is not very impressed with Voldemort on this cave business. [laughs]

Eric: B-.

Michael: And Harry says as Dumbledore figures out that payment is needed for the cave, “[as Harry] ‘Payment?’ said Harry. [as Harry] ‘You’ve got to give the door something?’ [as Dumbledore] ‘Yes,’ said Dumbledore. [as Dumbledore] ‘Blood, if I am not much mistaken.’ [as Harry]Blood?[as Dumbledore] ‘I said it was crude,’ said Dumbledore, who sounded disdainful, even disappointed, as though Voldemort had fallen short of the standards Dumbledore expected. [as Dumbledore] ‘The idea, as I am sure you will have gathered, is that your enemy must weaken him- or herself to enter. Once again, Lord Voldemort fails to grasp that there are much more terrible things than physical injury.'” The next quote: [as Dumbledore] “‘Voldemort would have been reasonably confident that none but a great wizard would have been able to find the boat,’ said Dumbledore. [as Dumbledore] ‘I think he would have been prepared to risk [what was], to his mind, the most unlikely possibility that somebody else would find it knowing that he had [set] other obstacles ahead that only he would be able to penetrate. […] Voldemort will not have cared about the weight, but about the amount of magical power that crossed his lake. […] I do not think you will count, Harry: You are underage and unqualified. Voldemort would never have expected a sixteen-year-old to reach this place. […] Voldemort’s mistake, Harry, Voldemort’s mistake… Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.'” And then further on when they are sailing across the lake, this is probably one of my favorite things that Dumbledore says about Voldemort: [as Dumbledore] “There is nothing to be feared from a body, Harry, any more than there is [anything] to be feared from the darkness. Lord Voldemort, who of course secretly fears both, disagrees. But once again he reveals his own lack of wisdom. It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” And I also pulled a quote from Deathly Hallows that I thought was relevant to some of the ideas here, which is after Kreacher tells his story, and he explains that he was able to leave the cave after drinking the potion, and Harry asks, and then Hermione responds, “[as Harry] How could Voldemort have made such a mistake? [back to normal But even as he thought this, Hermione spoke, and her voice was icy. [as Hermione] “Of course, Voldemort would have considered the ways of house-elves far beneath his notice, just like all the pure[-]bloods who treat them like animals… It would never have occurred to him that they might have magic that he didn’t.” And what I was just noticing about the picture that Jo was painting in this chapter of Voldemort that we’ve kind of gotten before, but it’s being flat-out said here. Again, my favorite quote is when Dumbledore basically says, [as Dumbledore] “Voldemort is afraid of the dark,” and… [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. “The thing you need to know about Voldemort, Harry, is, he’s secretly afraid of the dark.”

Michael: And the thing I was wondering is…

Eric: “And bodies.”

Michael: Because we’ve talked about mathematical issues splitting up a soul and how much soul is left in Voldemort and how much soul is in each Horcrux, but I also wanted to talk about the development of Voldemort as a person and just touch on… my question was, did splitting his soul so early in life – because we know he made his first Horcrux at Hogwarts when he was a teenager – and does splitting his soul so early in life condemn Voldemort to this very… what Dumbledore paints as a juvenile way of behaving and viewing the world? And is this something that Voldemort could have maybe outgrown and maybe even been greater a wizard had he not done this?

Eric: I like the question. It might go a little bit of a way to explain his behavior in Book 7, really, to me because there'[re] a lot of really cool things in this cave, a lot of really cool setup. When he finds out that his Horcrux is…

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, he has little tantrums.

Eric: … he freaks out and goes crazy and runs…

Michael: And kills people on the way.

Eric: … from place to place and then gets pissed and goes and attacks Hogwarts. But yeah, but maybe that has to do with his whole… because this whole cave thing is so well thought out. Dumbledore, on the boat ride, out of the cave, is like, “Oh, this was a pretty good thing, after all.” Because he says, “One person would not have been able to do it alone.” So even though he takes points away from Voldemort on the way to the island, on the way back, he’s giving some credit back where it’s due, and that’s… so your question about whether or not his early splitting of the soul stunted his growth in a way, I like that idea of having to account for his sort of hectic, frantic reactions and the way that he handles himself once he realizes he’s on the path back to mortality.

Conor: Well, the first time we see Tom Riddle when Dumbledore sees him as a young kid at the orphanage, he’s already exceptionally arrogant, so I don’t know if splitting his soul really changed him at all. I think he was how he was to begin with.

Eric: It is interesting to figure out what attributes Voldemort has that are tangibly because of his splitting of the soul. Horace calls it unnatural in the Horcruxes chapter. It’s like, “It’s not a natural thing to do, to split your… to actually encase your… it tears the soul apart. It’s against nature.” Actually, just that phrase “against nature”… to be able to see on this person… Dumbledore says in a later chapter that the part of Voldemort’s soul that’s in his body… that he still retains his brain, his smarts, and all of his magical prowess. The fact that his soul is diminished does not affect his ability to think with all of his wits and does not affect his strength as a wizard in terms of casting spells. So what does it affect, honestly? What the hell else is there? Oh, geez, I swore. What the heck else is there?

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, that’s tame.

Kat: Hell is fine, Eric.

Eric: Isn’t that what matters the most, though, to a wizard? What exactly is the downside of splitting your soul? I’m not seeing it. What are those…?

Michael: And that’s why I ask the question: Because I think this is the downside. Because like you said, Conor, there are some things that seem to be predetermined about Voldemort. And I think that’s a discussion that perhaps will go on about the books forever because there’s also, of course, the issue that Voldemort was birthed under a love potion and a lot of people have said, yeah, that that predetermined a lot of things about him.

Eric: Under duress.

Michael: And even Rowling has suggested that to a degree. But she’s also just as much suggested, textually in the book, that yeah, Voldemort had a choice and he also, by the end – and I guess what ties into this question is that essentially, Rowling has explained and the book does pretty much explain this – that if Voldemort had felt any small iota of remorse for anything he did in Deathly Hallows when he talked to Harry at the end, that he would have felt something, but he would’ve died on the spot because he wasn’t equipped to feel anything. But he would’ve still had that ability because he still at least had a little bit of soul left in him. But it would’ve killed him. And so that’s why I wonder just if by splitting his soul Voldemort almost put himself in this… he permanently is that Tom Riddle from Hogwarts. He never grew beyond that. Like you said, Eric, he grew in smarts because as Dumbledore says in a previous chapter, his brain isn’t affected. But I just assumed that this… I was wondering if this doesn’t stunt his emotional growth.

Conor: I think what splitting your soul takes away from you is just your ability to be compassionate and love, which I think the books prove are pretty important aspects of life you’re throwing away.

Eric: Well, I think, too, with Harry, it is said in Dumbledore’s office that when Voldemort possesses Harry, he does it with great…

Kat: Risk?

Eric: What? Yeah, great risk to himself because it’s this diminished soul versus a full soul. And I guess in the terms of possession it matters the most because one soul is trying to take over the other. But that’s really the biggest thing I can see about why Voldemort having not a full soul in his body, all in one piece, actually matters. Does it make him more dangerous?

Michael: Mhm. Oh, yeah. I think absolutely it makes him more… I think Dumbledore knows it makes him more dangerous. And I think in a way, again, I’m suggesting that perhaps it makes him more dangerous because he has the mindset of a selfish teenager.

Eric: Yeah, I was going to say, is it more dangerous for any other reason than that he is impossible to kill at that state? That he becomes harder and harder to kill for good if he splits his soul so many times. Is there another side effect?

Michael: But the conversation has gone on, I think, quite a bit on this. There’s so much more to talk about. I will end by saying that I think Rowling’s writing is completely taking a new interesting tone here that does set the stage for Deathly Hallows. I did want to at least say that there’s a brand of suspense in this chapter that I think is new for the Harry Potter series. She does suspense well, but there’s something different about this one.

Conor: It reminded me a Voldemort returning in Goblet of Fire. I think that’s similar.

Michael: It’s funny because it definitely reminded me of that, too. I was thinking back on that. Yeah, I was absolutely getting that sense.

Conor: Right.

Michael: But maybe it was… I don’t know if it’s the setting or maybe the fact that… I think the thing that makes the difference between that and this is that Voldemort isn’t physically present. And in a way, that makes it more terrifying because Voldemort loves to monologue and tell you what he’s doing, and without him there to do that and to show off, Dumbledore and Harry are completely left at his mercy. And as Dumbledore continually talks about, there is this fear of the darkness and the unknown and how we really shouldn’t fear it. But I think the narration continually counters that with Harry being like, “Yep, but there’s dead bodies in the water.” [laughs] So…

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: Well, yeah, it’s interesting… Not to jump ahead to the next chapter, but the hold that Dumbledore places on Harry, the paralysis, etc., that goes away the second he dies because once you die, your spells go away. The fact that Voldemort was able to enchant this cave in such a way, die, and that all of those enchantments are still there…

Michael: Ah.

Eric: … may speak to whether Dark Magic is more powerful, or it just may speak to the unique way in which Voldemort was able to do this because… was there a period of fourteen years where the cave was penetrable and you could go in and go take the Horcrux because he wasn’t alive yet to reestablish his spells or…? What’s going on?

Kat: Hmm.

Eric: Because those spells presumably lasted since he put them there and those Inferi were just waiting that entire time even after his death, all through his death, and past his rebirth to this moment.

Kat: Right, but you have to think about… he didn’t die. His physical body died. He didn’t die. So…

Michael: There were still traces of him left.

Conor: Mhm.

Eric and Kat: Yeah.

Eric: So it’s your soul that’s holding the spells to…?

Kat: I would say so, yes. Yeah, it makes sense.

Michael: Well, because… yeah. I guess. I mean, I was about to say your soul tethers you to life but not in the wizarding world because you can get your soul sucked out and still be alive, apparently. [laughs] So there’s some questions with that. “A fate worse than death.”

Eric: Oh, yeah. “A fate worse than death.”

Michael: And Conor, I actually… I don’t know if you know how to compact it a little bit because we’re pretty, I think, over time… but I do want to let you go ahead and say what you wanted to talk about about Plato’s Cave. Yeah, I’d love to hear it. I really would love to hear this.

Eric: I want to see this. I really want to see this happen.

Conor: Well, I don’t know if I can compact it, sorry…

Michael: Give it a shot, and if it’s not, we’ll put it in the extras or something.

Conor: Yeah. Has anyone read about the Plato’s Cave allegory?

Eric: I have. Okay, so I have; it was a while ago. I kind of know the summary. But it’s like, “How will people living in the cave explain what life is like outside of the cave to the people inside the cave?”

[Everyone laughs]

Conor: I’ll give a brief summary of what that is.

Eric: Did I just butcher that?

Michael: It was not very eloquent.

Conor: It’s in Plato’s The Republic and it’s a small section of that play. And the idea is that you have prisoners in a cave and they’re all chained together; they’re forced to look at the wall in front of them and they can’t move their necks and turn around. And there’s a fire behind them, and there’s objects going across a line in the fire, so they’re seeing shadows of objects, so they’re seeing a sandal or something. And they’re seeing the shadow of a sandal. And so they think that’s a sandal. To them, that is a sandal because they don’t know what a real sandal is like. So then if you take those people and you bring them out of their chains and they can see the fire, at first they’ll be blinded because the fire is so bright; light in this instance is sort of an allegory for enlightenment or knowledge. But if you see the fire, you’ll be blinded first, but then once you get your bearings you’ll realize, “Well, wait a second, that was just a… this is a sandal. What I saw was a silhouette.” And so now they’ve had a whole new total foundation of what they’ve learned. And then if you get out of the cave completely and you look at the sun, again you’re blinded, so you’re just at different levels of knowledge. And the whole idea is that in order to fully understand something, you must know it holistically. And that’s what this book especially, Half-Blood Prince, is all about. Harry needs to learn what is going on holistically. Dumbledore gets so mad at him when he doesn’t understand the Prophecy. He says, “You need to understand why you’re doing it. That’s the most important part.” Because up until then, Harry doesn’t really understand most of anything, and that’s what Dumbledore has been trying to teach him. And obviously the similarities in this chapter… I mean, if this was Cuckoo’s Calling, she would’ve had Plato’s Cave allegory in ancient Greek; just a line from that, you know how she does with each chapter, some ancient Latin thing she puts there. That would be the line for this chapter because it’s just right out of the book. I mean, you have the cave, you have the fire, the Inferi are basically the prisoners; they only see the dark. They can’t stand the light.

Eric: Oh my gosh.

Kat: That’s cool.

Conor: I think she took a lot of inspiration from that in particular.

Kat: I’m sure she did. I mean, she reads a lot.

Eric: That should definitely go in this episode.

Michael: Well, yeah, I took an intro to philosophy class and this was taught, I think, within the first month or so, this allegory. So I’m sure… knowing the kind of classes that Rowling took in college, I wouldn’t be [surprised].

Conor: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I think she mentioned in her Harvard speech that she went searching for ancient wisdom…

Michael: Yeah.

Conor: … while she was in college.

Michael: Yeah.

Conor: And she took all the classics.

Michael: And yeah, I think that definitely adds to the ancient magic and the eeriness of this.

Eric: As much as I would love to read about what Dumbledore does when he leaves Hogwarts, I’d even more like to read about…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: … what J.K. Rowling did in college to look up ancient stuff.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: You know, all the stuff that was actually formative to the Harry Potter [series], her reading about tree wood…

[Conor and Michael laugh]

Eric: I want to just watch a made-for-TV movie that’s her researching trees.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Kat: Oh, boy.

Michael: It could happen.

Eric: I totally want that.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Careful what you wish for.

Eric: I think it’s the coolest thing, that her years and years and years of research all boiled down into seven books in such a really cool way that we’re able to… people like Hunter are able to pull that literary work out of this scene.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: I like it.

Michael: And we’ve…

Eric: I like that connection a lot.

Conor: It actually… the whole allegory, if you read the whole thing, there’s so many similarities between the whole series. There’s actually one translation [that] has the line “in essence divided.”

Eric: Hmm.

Conor: I mean, they talk about things that are one and the same yet divided. They’re just talking about Harry and Voldemort over and over again, just in a completely different way.

Eric: Oh, that’s so cool.

Michael: Yeah, and that’s why I’m glad that… I knew the conversation about this chapter was going to be so substantial, and I’m very much looking forward actually to the listener input because there’s so much to talk about in this chapter, and I don’t think we’re able to touch everything that you could discuss here.

Conor: You could talk about every paragraph…

Michael: Oh, yeah.

Conor: … for like two minutes. There’s a lot going on.

Michael: Absolutely. But unfortunately, Alohomora! does not have that kind of time. That’s why we look to you, the listeners, so make sure to head over to the Alohomora! main site after you’ve listened to this show and leave your comments with us because we will definitely be reading some more of those, and you guys are what continue this discussion. But for now, that is the end; we are exiting “The Cave.” And it’s okay, because we are with Harry, so we’ll be just fine.

Eric: Mhm.

Kat: And we’re going to move on to this week’s Podcast Question of the Week. So, we talked a lot… well, we touched on it a little bit at the beginning of the chapter on ancient magic – you know, deep magic, Dumbledore, Voldemort, et cetera, et cetera… Now, I don’t want us to try and – big word here – pontificate…

Michael: That’s a lovely word. Thank you for using it.

Eric: Whoa!

Kat: … about how that happens and…

Michael: That’s beautiful.

Kat: You’re welcome. Thanks.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I don’t get to use that word very often, so [I] had to throw it in there. So I don’t want us to…

Michael: Say it again. [laughs]

Kat: … pontificate… [laughs] I don’t want to go there with the Question of the Week this week. So what I was really thinking about is, Harry’s reaction to a lot of this is he didn’t even begin to think about how this would happen. He didn’t ask Dumbledore whenever, and I was wondering… I’ve been curious for a long time about how Dumbledore became the wizard that he was at the time of his death. We talked a little bit about school and why there isn’t university or whatever, but…

Eric: Independent study. It all was independent study.

Kat: Right. So, we know that Dumbledore had plans to go travelling, but he never ended up doing that and presumably never did much with his life besides teaching.

Eric: Transfiguration.

Kat: What?

Eric: Transfiguration, right? He was a Transfiguration teacher.

Kat: Yes, he was. Right, but…

Eric: Yeah. That’s one subject, and he seems to know a lot about a lot of other stuff.

Kat: Right. So seemingly, he never left Hogwarts really. So where did he learn all this incredible magic, and how does one become that “type of wizard” – that really smart and intuitive magic, the “I can rub my hands over the wall to find the door” type of magic? I’m really interested to see what you guys think about that. I’ve wondered about that for a long time. It’s like Gandalf…

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: … but he’s like five bajillion years old…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … so it makes sense for him. I mean, Dumbledore’s not that old. Yeah, so there you go.

Eric: Yeah. I think the difference is Gandalf comes from another realm.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Right.

Eric: Not of the same world.

Kat: Obviously.

Eric: Whereas Dumbledore is meant to be a human…

Kat: Right.

Eric: … who’s like all the rest of us in every biological way except for the addition of magic.

Kat: Right. So you guys know what to do. Leave us some comments over at Send us an audioBoom – you can record those on the website – and maybe you’ll hear it on next week’s show. Whew! It’s a good one; I’m looking forward to these.

Eric: Yeah, me too. We want to thank our guest Conor…

Michael: Woo!

Eric: Conor, you were one cool skgai.

Conor: Thanks.

Kat: [laughs] That was good, Eric!

Eric: I think you’re a cool skgai, man. You’re pretty cool.

Conor: Thanks, everyone.

Michael: Pretty sure of that.

Eric: Pretty neat, Conor.

[Everyone laughs]

Conor: Yeah.

Michael: Cool skgai.

Conor: No, I had a pleasure being on this podcast.

Michael: We’re glad we finally got you on the show, and you were an absolute fabulous contributor to the discussion. We knew you would be…

Conor: Thanks.

Michael: … based on the amazing comments you’ve been leaving us. And we know that there’s a lot of other listeners out there who have been leaving wonderful comments but frequently say, “I’m just too nervous to be on the show.” Well, you best get over that if you want to be on at any point because we are at the tail end of Half-Blood Prince here, people; it is getting serious. It’s time to buckle down and send in your audition to be on the show because we want to have you here. We want to talk with you about Harry Potter, and to do that, we ask that you visit the “Be on the Show!” page at If you have some headphones with a built-in microphone, or maybe a microphone of your own as well as some recording equipment on your computer, you’re all set to go. No super fancy equipment [is] needed. And while you’re on our website,, make sure and download a ringtone for free while you’re hanging out there and getting ready to work yourself up into sending an audition for us.

Kat: Yeah, and while you’re listening to that ringtone, you can keep in touch with us by tweeting at @AlohomoraMN; find us on Facebook at; check us out on Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast; and you can always leave us a voicemail on our Skype number, which is 206-GO-ALBUS (206-462-5287). And as I mentioned, send us an owl on audioBoom; it’s free. All you need is an Internet connection and a microphone. Go to In the right hand panel, there’s a little green button. Click it, send your message – under 60 seconds, please – and maybe you’ll hear it on the show.

Eric: Green button, green button. Also, check out the Alohomora! store. We have lots of fascinating objects for your… perusal over there.

Michael: No Horcrux, though. [laughs]

Eric: We have House shirts, Desk!Pig – yeah, no Horcruxes yet – Desk!Pig, Mandrake Liberation Front, Minerva is my homegirl, and so many more… totes and… what was I going to say? Is there a word for sandal that starts with “T” that I can’t think of right now?

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Thong?

Michael: I thought you were going to say totes magotes.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Totes and magotes are over at the Hogwarts Alohomora! store…

Kat: We have thong sandals.

Eric: … so check that out at Click on “Store.”

Michael: And we also have… [laughs]

Eric: From totes to magotes, Alohomora! store.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: We also have our Alohomora! smartphone app. Well, how about that? It’s available on this side of the pond and the other. Prices vary, depending, seemingly worldwide! That’s a good old one.

Kat: Seemingly worldwide, sorry.

Michael: Prices vary depending on your location. The app usually includes transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more. And this show, there will definitely be plenty of extra content. [laughs]

Kat: Oh, yes.

Conor: We’ve got some good ones in there.

Michael: Just for you, the listeners, lots and lots of extra discussion because this was an absolutely astonishing chapter. Well done, Rowling. You’re going places. [laughs] But… yeah, you’re going to make it.

Kat: You’re going to make it one day, kid.

Michael: See your name in lights. But for now, we again are heading out of “The Cave.” We are Apparating back to Hogwarts, so we say goodbye for now. I’m Michael Harle.

Kat: I’m Kat Miller.

Eric: And I’m Eric Scull.

[Show music begins]

Eric: Thank you for listening to Episode 144 of Alohomora!

Michael: [as Dumbledore] “Don’t worry, you can open the Dumbledore because I’m here with you.”

[Show music continues]

Kat: Even the Impedimenta Jinx he casts… Why can’t I say that word?

Michael: Impedimenta.

Kat: Someone say it.

Michael: Impedimenta.

Eric: It’s kind of a weird word.

Michael: Yeah, you said it right.

Kat: I said it right.

Michael: It’s Impedimenta.

Kat: I said it right.

Conor: You said it right every time so far.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Oh, go me. [laughs]

Michael: Psyching yourself out.

Eric: Yeah, you’re five for five.

[Conor laughs]

Kat: This is the point of the [stumbles over words] Felix Felicis potion…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: This is the point of the [stumbles again] Felix Felicis potion…

Michael: Wow.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Michael: Don’t hurt yourself.

Kat: Guys, I’m really hungry!

Conor: Yeah, you need some food.

Michael: Then get it.

Kat: Okay.

Michael: Don’t have an aneurysm. [laughs]

Kat: Okay. This is the point of the [stumbles yet again] Felix Felicis potion…

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Potion. Potion. Potion. Potion.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Thanks, Eric. Okay.