[Show music begins]
Eric Scull: This is Episode 233 of Alohomora! for November 25, 2017.
[Show music continues]
Eric: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Alohomora! I’m Eric Scull.
Beth Warsaw: I’m Beth Warsaw.
Katy Cartee Haile: And I am Katy Cartee Haile. And we have a super special guest with us today, Mr. Josh de Lioncourt, whom I have been podcasting with for over a decade at this point. [laughs]
Josh de Lioncourt: A really long time.
Katy: Really, really long time. He is also a massive Harry Potter fan, which is not what we used to podcast about. But I’m going to let him introduce himself to all of you. We’d love to hear what House you’re in, what got you into Potter, and any other details about yourself you would like to share.
Josh: I am a Ravenclaw, and one of the cool things about that [is] I always identified with Ravenclaw House. I took the little quiz on Pottermore for the House, going through it and getting all of these questions trying to figure out how on earth do these match up to anything. And yet, [when] I got to the end of it, I thought for sure I was going to be in a different House. Nope. In Ravenclaw. So definitely that is my House.
Eric: It’s possible you were overthinking it then.
Katy: Like any good Ravenclaw would.
Josh: [laughs] So I also did the Patronus on there. Black swan, apparently.
Eric: Ooh! Cool.
Josh: And what’s the other thing? Oh, the wand. Maple wood, dragon heartstring, thirteen inches. So there you go.
Katy: Wait, what’s your flexibility?
Josh: Oh. Slightly springy.
Katy: Dang it! I’m never, ever going to find another brittle. I am just the weirdest.
Eric: Oh my gosh! Your wand is brittle?
Katy: Yes, and it drives me crazy!
Eric: Katy, you can’t go outdoors.
Eric: You have to protect your wand, okay?
Katy: I’m a danger to myself and others. I’m sorry, guys.
Eric: Yes. Oh my God.
Josh: Oh, wow.
Katy: But you’ve been into Potter for, I think, longer than I have.
Josh: Yeah, I started reading the books… I think it was 2002, I believe? It might’ve been 2001. I can’t remember because that long ago, it all kind of runs together. But yeah, I started reading them… actually, it had to be 2002, I think. It was just a couple of months after the first movie came out, so…
Katy: Oh, around the same time, then.
Josh: Yeah. So I read the first one in braille. I guess I should mention that I am blind, like another guest you had recently as well.
Eric: No kidding.
Josh: So I read the first book in braille and then started getting the audiobooks, read by Jim Dale here in America. I am a huge fan of the audiobooks. I am a much, much bigger fan of the books than the films. I enjoy the films, but I view them as just a little extra fun thing. The books are really what I’m into.
Josh: And I have read them more times than any human being probably should.
[Beth, Eric, and Katy laugh]
Josh: Because most nights I fall asleep to Jim Dale reading random chapters out of all seven books, which are permanently on my iPhone. And I’ve been doing that basically for the last decade, so there you go.
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Eric: Love it.
Katy: Yes, I love it too. And yeah, Josh and I were on Masters Cast together, the He-Man and She-Ra podcast, which was inspired by MuggleCast. Thank you, Eric. [laughs]
Eric: He-Man and She-Ra?
Katy: Oh yeah, another fantasy property much older than Potter and completely in a different universe. But it’s got magical elements in it, to be sure, so it was not a far jump to be a fan of that and a fan of Potter. But I remember Josh and I totally geeking out over it back in the day, and we have ever since. So this is super fun having you on Alohomora! with me. Squee!
Eric: Worlds collide.
Josh: One other Harry Potter-related trinket that maybe I’ll mention that I’ve done was another podcast that I did. It was a book club podcast that I participated on; a bunch of friends got together and read different things. But we were all Harry Potter fans, so for the two years that we did it, each year we put together a Harry Potter trivia challenge inspired by another podcast, NPR’s Ask Me Another, if you’ve ever heard that.
Beth: That’s awesome.
Josh: Very similar to it. They made me put it together because no one would play Potter trivia against me because I had read it too many times.
[Beth, Eric, and Katy laugh]
Josh: So I had to host and come up with the questions and everything. It was fun, though.
Eric: Do you still have any of those old questions of yours?
Josh: Not handy, unfortunately.
Josh: But if you want to hear those shows, the podcast was called The Blind Spots Book Club. It’s still out there.
Beth: Eric, I did catch that mining for trivia thing that you just did. [laughs]
Eric: Ah, thank you. Thank you very much.
Eric: Over on another Harry Potter podcast, MuggleCast, I’m in charge of our weekly Quizzitch segment. It’s a quiz and Quidditch put together [where] we just do a trivia question, and I’ve been running short. I’m running a little low on questions lately.
Beth: Well, I used to run trivia, Eric, and I wrote all my own questions as well. Shout-out to McGonagall’s Army, my wonderful trivia group from California.
Eric: McGonagall’s Army?
Beth: Yeah. [laughs]
Eric: I love that.
Beth: So I have a big bank of questions if you ever need any help.
Eric: Okay. I will accept all of your help.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Beth: All right. Well, let’s move into what we’re going to talk about this week. We are revisiting a chapter – Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21: “Hermione’s Secret” – and this chapter was chosen by a Twitter poll. So definitely keep an eye out for our Twitter and vote in future polls if you want to help decide what we’re going to talk about next. And as always, we recommend that you read the chapter before listening to this episode. And also, because we have talked about this chapter before, you should go back and listen to Episode 33, back from June of 2013, where we talked about this episode. And Eric, you actually were on this episode then.
Eric: Oh, great.
Eric: This is super funny. I think I’d just joined the show for a Prisoner of Azkaban book reading, and I was only in five or six chapters of POA. But I’m going to apologize because if you listen to Episode 33, which is actually 200 episodes ago exactly… How cool is that?
Katy: Oh my God!
Beth: That’s pretty neat.
Eric: 33 and now 233, so 200 episodes. God, we’re old. I’m old.
Eric: To listen to it, I apologize if I bring up some of my same favorite things about this chapter again. But I have a feeling we’ll be saying all new things about this chapter since so much has happened to Harry and to all of us since then. But if I do repeat myself a little bit, I do apologize. [laughs]
Beth: Well, I was just re-listening to the episode, and Katy pointed this out as well that you are just punching plot holes in everything.
Eric: Oh, really?
Katy: All of them. You guys turned this chapter into Swiss cheese. It’s ridonkulous. It’s hilarious.
Eric: Oh man. Good. I feel comfortable because I wasn’t planning on doing that this time.
Eric: I actually brought points to discuss.
Eric: I love it.
Katy: We’ll have new stuff to talk about, but that is a fun episode if you really want to think about how things could’ve gone differently. And Josh has something to bring up about that later as well. But yeah, we’ll bring some new things to the table this time around.
Eric: Real quickly, it’s time to mention that this episode of Alohomora! has been brought to you by HelloFresh. Visit hellofresh.com and use promo code “Alohomora30” to save $30 off your first week of deliveries. Also, this holiday season, HelloFresh does the shopping, planning, and delivery, so all you have to do is hustle, bustle, and enjoy. We thank HelloFresh for their support of Alohomora! And now it’s time to mention our Patreon sponsor. Patreon.com/alohomora is the web address. And we have to thank, this week, Nicola Poplawski for becoming a patron of ours. And you, like Nicola, can become a sponsor for as little as $1 a month. And there are perks listed over on our Patreon, which we will link you to at the bottom of the show, but we do continue to release exclusive tidbits for all of our patrons and sponsors in addition to mentioning them at the top and bottom of every show. Definitely check out the Alohomora! Patreon. It’s a great way to support the show and, of course, get some little extra special sneak peaks and tidbits and special features.
Katy: Woo-hoo! Thank you, Nicola. We love you. [claps]
Eric: Thank you, Nicola.
Katy: You’re awesome.
[Chapter revisit intro begins]
Dumbledore: Three turns should do it.
[Sounds of Time-Turner ticking and bells ringing]
Harry: Chapter revisit.
Whispered voice: Prisoner of Azkaban…
Dumbledore: Chapter 21: “Hermione’s Secret.”
[Chapter revisit intro ends]
Katy: So here we go, Chapter 21, Prisoner of Azkaban. I’m going to give you a little summary, and then we’re going to get into it.
Eric: Hit us with it.
Katy: Okay. Snape tries to convince everyone that Harry and his crew are Confunded, while Harry and Hermione slowly come out of their unconscious daze to realize that Sirius is still in danger. After attempting to convince an already-convinced Dumbledore of Sirius’s innocence, Dumbledore gives Hermione a cryptic message suggesting that they can save two lives if they play their cards right. Hermione uses her Time-Turner that she’s been using all year to attend extra classes to take herself and Harry back in time. They relive the last three hours and are able to snatch multiple souls from death’s grasp. Dun, dun, dun!
Eric: Love it.
Katy: So we’ve got several quotes that I want to make points about, and I figure we’ll just go in order of how they appear in the chapter. And then, obviously, we’ll throw in other points as they come along. But the first one is one that Josh actually brought up, and this is between Snape and Fudge. The quote is,
“Black had bewitched them, I saw it immediately. A Confundus Charm, to judge by their behavior. They seemed to think there was a possibility he was innocent. They weren’t responsible for their actions. On the other hand…”
Josh: Yeah. I love this window into Snape’s thinking, because we are seeing him – I think, anyway – internally conflicted. He hates Sirius to the “nth” degree. He wants to pile as much blame onto him as possible. But he just can’t resist trying to get Harry and company into trouble as well. I feel like there’s a little bit of a conflict going on there where he can’t quite make up his mind which one is more important to him.
Eric: Oh my God. Snape has never been worse. And he never will be worse than he is right now. I’ll say it. Reading this chapter again before we recorded tonight, I’m convinced he’s never, ever, ever been worse.
Katy: Really? Even threatening to poison Neville’s toad wasn’t worse?
Eric: Nope. It was absolutely not. Because here is a chance for… All that’s necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing, right? Snape is just not hearing it. He’s letting his childish grudge and his lack of empathy for the children and Sirius cloud and completely obstruct justice in this case. He’s gloating, and he’s never been uglier.
Katy: I agree with you, now that I’ve heard it.
Josh: I so agree. Sorry, go ahead. Go ahead.
Katy: I was just thinking in my head, “Oh yeah, the consequence of him being so horrible right now was the potential of someone dying.” So yeah, I would agree.
Eric: As for Neville’s toad shrinking… That was sad. That was a sad moment. But yeah, he’s never been worse. And the interesting thing is that Harry basically is hearing this, and it’s absolutely amazing. Reading it, you as the reader intuit that this conversation is happening in the distance, and Harry is overhearing it. And it’s said that he’s sluggish to respond, like the signal from his ears to his brain is held up and he can’t really respond to it. He’s sort of in a coma. This is one of those weird chapters. It’s almost as if the story isn’t focusing on Harry, one of those chapters where Harry isn’t in the picture at first, and you just get this brilliant soliloquy from Snape painting out the whole picture about how smart he is. And Fudge wants to award him the Order of Merlin and all this stuff, and you get a rare insight into how people behave when Harry is not in the room, because he’s actually not in the room. He’s hearing it from the distance.
Beth: Well, and I had forgotten just how much Snape has to do in this chapter, especially at the beginning. Because in the movie, I don’t even think he’s present at all for this part. And so I had forgotten just how much he had to do here. And it’s also interesting to me [that] we see Snape all the time maybe embellishing things or exaggerating about things, but we don’t very often see him just straight up being dishonest about how things happened. And I think he knows that Harry and Hermione and Ron were not Confunded, and he’s just saying that to get Sirius in deeper trouble and to discredit Harry and Hermione. We don’t see that particularly often from him.
Katy: Okay. So the next quote I had in here is Snape talking, still. He says, “Personally, I try and treat him” – referring to Harry – “like any other student. And any other student would be suspended – at the very least – for leading his friends into such danger.”
Beth: [laughs] That’s so blatant.
Katy: When I read it this time, I was like, “Oh my God. He’s totally trying to get back at Sirius, Remus, and James retroactively because they never got punished for the prank. He’s trying to punish Harry for what they did years ago.” At least, that’s the way I read it.
Eric: It’s despicable how much Snape is clearly trying to see how much he can pull off right here. But what I love is that Fudge, in all of his grand incompetence, is unwilling to commit to any sanctions for Harry Potter. He says, “Oh, you know, there’s always been sort of a blind spot when it comes to young Harry.” He’s just so unsure how to proceed. And this is the point where Snape’s very obvious vindictiveness does not translate into him being a concerned teacher. I think Fudge maybe doesn’t know openly that something is up, but Fudge is not willing to really see Harry as a bad guy right now.
Beth: He won’t until Order of the Phoenix.
Josh: I feel like we’re seeing Snape, too, where despite… How old must he be at this point? Like his late 30s or whatever? He’s got the emotional capacity still of the teenager that he was, it seems like. Not a lot of growing up has happened for Snape in the last 20-ish years.
Katy: Oh my God. That’s a good point. And we just were talking about that with Sirius in our recent episode. Oh my God. You’re so right, though, because he never moves past his teenage crush on Lily.
Eric: Well, and if you think about it, this is the one event in his life that he, from this moment in time, sees as possibly going the way that he wants it to. All he has to do is talk for a couple more minutes. The executioner has already been dispatched to get a Dementor to suck out Sirius’s soul. He’s about to win. Snape is about to win against his childhood enemy, the man who foremost was responsible for the prank that Snape has issues with for good reason. So he has to be vindictive because he hasn’t quite gotten what he wants, but he’s pretty convinced he’s about to, so it’s like Christmas came early.
Katy: He’s so horrible. Sorry. [laughs]
Beth: If Sirius had been given the Dementor’s Kiss and then Snape had later found out that, at least in this case, Sirius had been innocent, do we think that Snape would’ve felt any remorse for that?
Katy: Nope. I really don’t. I know he has felt remorse for other things in his life, but I think they all revolve around Lily. I can’t off the top of my head think of any other time other than perhaps over having to kill Dumbledore even though he did not want to. I’m sure he felt remorse after the fact even though it was agreed upon. But I can’t see him feeling remorse with anything having to do with Sirius because he just has this massive blind spot that he cannot let go of.
Eric: I appreciate the hypothetical. If he had gone through with it, if Sirius had his soul sucked out, which we know is not undoable, then I would’ve liked to have seen Snape in the end suffer that or a worse fate. It really would have been unconscionable to do this to Harry’s godfather now that we know that he’s in the right. It’s jumping ahead a little bit, but when Hermione even tries to say to him, “Sir, you weren’t there in time to see,” [Snape] just cuts her off.
Katy: Yeah. He literally screams at her, like, “Shut up, girl,” basically. And Fudge is like, “Whoa.”
Eric: Yep. “Hold your tongue, you stupid girl.”
Katy: Well, going on from there… Josh, you had a point about where Fudge in the same conversation says, “Extraordinary. And yet Black, and Harry, and the girl…”
Josh: Yeah. This part more just amuses me, and I think it’s such a great little teaser for things that we see, particularly in the next book. But Snape, just two seconds before that, has been talking about what happened, and he mentions Weasley. And yet when Fudge is asking after everybody, he leaves Ron out. He asks about Black. He asks about Harry. He asks about Hermione. I feel like the Weasley family [is] always being ignored or overshadowed by the rest of the wizarding world. We see that happen with Mr. Weasley several times throughout the series. We see that with Percy even, with Crouch constantly calling him “Weatherby” all the time.
Josh: And of course, Ron has his fit of jealousy throughout the first part of Goblet of Fire when Harry ends up in the tournament. It’s just an interesting little thing that even though he’s just been mentioned, even though all three of them are lying there in the beds in the hospital wing that they’re standing outside the door of, Fudge doesn’t think to include Weasley in what he’s asking about. It just strikes me as amusing and a neat little teaser.
Eric: He’s the redheaded stepchild. Nobody loves him.
Beth: [laughs] Aww!
Josh: Exactly. Exactly.
Eric: I feel bad for Ron.
Beth: [laughs] It’s interesting, too, because we know that just a little bit from now, Harry and Hermione are going to go off without Ron. And so to have Ron left out of this little mention and then also to leave him behind is an interesting little bit of storytelling there from Jo.
Eric: Yeah, Dumbledore is not like, “Hey! Harry, Hermione, you’ve got to wake Ron up. He is essential to my plan right now.”
Katy: Because he knows he would botch it up. [laughs]
Eric: “We absolutely must include young Mr. Weasley. Let’s get him up.”
Beth: Well, in the movie Hermione apologizes to Ron for leaving him behind, but I don’t think she does in the book. I think that he’s just…
Katy: No, he’s knocked out.
Eric: He’s knocked out, yeah.
Katy: … which is probably all the better. [laughs]
Katy: Although, in the movie it is really funny when they come back. [as Ron] “But you were just there! And now you’re there!”
Katy: [as Harry] “Nobody could be in two places at once, Ron. That’s ridiculous.” [laughs] Anyway, the next quote I took out… I guess this is Snape still complaining about the kids, [saying] they were “out-of-bounds, at night, consorting with a werewolf and a murderer.” But it had never really hit me until this moment: Did Fudge already know that Lupin was a werewolf? Because I know the staff did. It says that Dumbledore told the staff before hiring Lupin, and they were all cool with it and were sworn to secrecy, etc. And I know that it was out there because of why he was bitten as a child and his father and that history, so some people knew. But it doesn’t sound like a lot of people knew, because the students’ parents didn’t seem to know. They weren’t writing in letters like, “Why are you letting a werewolf teach my child?” So I was a little bit struck by the fact that Fudge was just like, “Oh, okay. Yeah, no big deal. Werewolf.”
Josh: I think he does know because… I’m jumping all over the timeline here, much like this chapter does, but I believe it’s in Goblet of Fire… It might have been in Order of the Phoenix; I can’t remember which now. But anyway, Fudge is in a discussion with Dumbledore, a very heated discussion, and he says, “I’ve always given you free reign. There’s not many that would let you hire people like Hagrid and werewolves,” and he rattles off all these different things. So I think at the very least, Dumbledore had to have given him the heads up. Maybe Fudge didn’t explicitly give permission, but I think he’s got to know at this point, I think.
Eric: Plus, from Pottermore, Lyall Lupin – Remus’s dad – was an expert. It would’ve been, I think, pretty big news that Fudge would be likely to recall that tragedy had befallen the son of this famous Lupin, given his name. And if Fudge took any Latin classes, he should already have known.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: If anyone in the wizarding world had taken Latin…
Eric: If anyone in the wizarding world took Latin classes, they are Seers who should be renowned.
Katy: And also from this quote, if they don’t believe Sirius is innocent, why do they all seem to believe that Lupin is? In the Shrieking Shack, Snape still doesn’t think that Lupin is innocent. He thinks that he’s still working with Black and was letting him into the castle all year and all this. In the following chapter, Lupin says, “Professor Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that I was trying to save your lives.” But in the context, it seems like they have that conversation later that night. And I could be wrong; maybe they had already talked about that. But I’m just curious: If Snape still thinks that Lupin is not innocent, why is he not sending Dementors out into the woods to look for the werewolf to suck his soul out too?
Eric: Do Dementors work on werewolves? You’re right; it’s unclear. It’s sort of a blind spot about what the word on the street is about Remus right now.
Beth: I expect that when Lupin came back from the forest, he may have been detained or questioned or even just spoken to by Fudge. But since Sirius was already… They call him convicted. He can’t really have been convicted because he didn’t have a trial, but you know what I mean. He was already convicted of committing crimes and escaped, which is another crime. And so I think that’s why he was the focus of the Kiss, and Lupin still… I’m sure they would’ve wanted to do some investigation, but he wasn’t just a “straight to the Dementor’s Kiss” type of situation.
Katy: That makes sense. And [the] last point about this, I’m just trying to figure out how Fudge got there so quickly. Because Hermione and Harry are talking about the time as they’re going through this, and there are only 45 minutes between when Snape lifts Sirius and the rest onto the stretchers back to the castle and when Harry and Hermione get back from their time traveling. So basically, when they were waking up…
Eric: Was Fudge not already there for Buckbeak’s execution?
Beth: He was, yeah.
Katy: Oh God, you’re right! You’re right. My bad. Completely forgot about that! [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, it happens later in this chapter, but it also happened earlier.
Katy: Yes! See?
Josh: And not only that, but they run into Fudge early in the day with the committee member when they’re going back into the castle – it’s at 2:00 in the afternoon or whatever – and they have a little conversation on the steps. Yeah, he’s been at Hogwarts all day.
Eric: Maybe Fudge has been working out. He’s got a step tracker. He’s got to make his steps and he’s picked up the pace a little bit.
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Katy: I just completely forgot he was already there. Oh my God. And I reread all the chapters surrounding this one. I have no idea why.
Eric: Definitely didn’t make that joke on Episode 33, so I feel pretty happy.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: Thank you, Katy.
Katy: You’re welcome. You can laugh at my expense this time; it’s all good. So okay, Josh, back to you. A paragraph or two later, you made a note. It says, “In the bed to his right lay Hermione. Moonlight was falling across her bed. Her eyes were open too. She looked petrified…”
Josh: I love this. I write as well, and any time you can do something this fun is like the Holy Grail of when you’re writing a scene. I love the way that Jo put this together. So we’re starting this chapter where Ron has been taken out of commission and Harry and Hermione are going to go off and take care of things. This is the reverse of what we had at the end of the previous book in Chamber of Secrets when Hermione was taken out. Harry and Ron go off, and they go off because Hermione is literally Petrified in that book. So kicking this reversal off, she’s doing this nice little subtle thing to plant that idea back in. I think it’s such a fun, neat little way to introduce what’s about to go down… and in the same place, right? Harry and Ron first see Hermione Petrified in the hospital wing, and here they are in the same place using that descriptor but in a different context. It’s very cool.
Eric: It’s perfect.
Beth: This is much more blatant than Jo usually does, and I don’t even mind because I love it so much. [laughs]
Eric: Oh yeah, and it works on its own. Of course she’s petrified. She realizes the stakes, as so few do right now, that Sirius, an innocent man, is about to have his soul sucked out.
Katy: And that you call it blatant… I never picked up on it before.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: I was like, “Oh my God, that’s amazing!”
Eric: It’s so subtle.
Beth: When she writes that Hermione was looking petrified, I just sort of [went], “Hey!” [laughs]
Katy: Oblivious Katy over here was just like, “Okay. All right, she’s scared.”
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: Awesome. And [the] next quote from Snape to Dumbledore – Josh, you had something to say on this one, too – Snape is saying,
“‘And does my evidence count for nothing?’ snarled Snape. ‘Peter Pettigrew was not in the Shrieking Shack, nor did I see any sign of him on the grounds.'”
Josh: Okay, so this loops back around to a little bit about what we were talking about previously, just the vindictiveness of Snape in this chapter and how it’s unmatched from anywhere else in the series. But one thing that I think is interesting – and I want to see what you guys’ take is on this – we find out later Snape was a Death Eater. He continued posing as a Death Eater, working as a double agent for Dumbledore. He knew the identities of many, if not most or all of the other Death Eaters, right? He knows Karkaroff was a Death Eater. He knows Lucius Malfoy is a Death Eater. So he knows a lot of their identities. He’s got to know that Sirius wasn’t a Death Eater, he’s got to know that he was innocent, [and] he’s got to know that Peter Pettigrew was a Death Eater. He’s got to know that even if he’s not sure, all he’s got to do is look at Sirius’s arm and see if there’s a Dark Mark, and he’ll know for sure if he’s a Death Eater. So he’s got to know, and yet none of this [happens]. The thing about the Dark Mark – the thing [how] he probably knows that Sirius isn’t a Death Eater – he never conveys any of that at any point in the last 16 years to Dumbledore. And I just think that that is such a step beyond the vindictiveness that we see from Snape anywhere else in this series. It’s quite amazing.
Katy: Yeah, I thought he really hated James the worst, but I’m not so sure anymore. [laughs] I think Sirius might have been his number one nemesis, or at least on par.
Eric: Yeah, I think that’s probably pretty accurate. I will say, regarding whether Snape knew that Wormtail was a Death Eater, or whether he knew that Sirius wasn’t a Death Eater, I think the Dark Lord would prefer to keep that card real[ly] close to his chest. The fact that Wormtail, who is one of the Potters’ closest allies, is secretly and cowardly providing info… I don’t think Voldemort would have paraded that fact around. Versus in Goblet of Fire, at the end when Wormtail has been victorious at restoring Voldemort, he is absolutely front and center for all of the praise as being the best Death Eater ever. Wormtail, up until the point where he betrayed the Potters by spilling the secret, had not been useful or worthy of any of Voldemort’s praise, so none of the other Death Eaters would’ve really known that Wormtail was even in the picture.
Beth: Hold on, though. Because maybe this is me – maybe I’m totally wrong – but I never got the impression that Wormtail was a Death Eater until he helped Voldemort come back to life, basically.
Beth: I got the impression that he was seeking out power and took the opportunity to give up the Potters to gain some power, but I never got the impression that he was working for Voldemort before that happened. Am I totally off base?
Katy: He was working for him because Sirius says he had been feeding him info for at least a year before this happened. But I’m not sure he was an official, Dark Mark-tattooed Death Eater. I think he was more a spy.
Eric: Like, canonized.
Josh: Well, he had to be eventually because as soon as Voldemort is restored to his body, he uses Wormtail’s Dark Mark to summon the other Death Eaters.
Beth: Yeah, definitely.
Katy: Dang! Good point.
Beth: Well, yeah, so I totally think he became a Death Eater by then. I just never thought he was a Death Eater all the way this early.
Katy: Gosh. Now I’m really curious about that. I don’t think Voldemort would’ve been strong enough to give him the Dark Mark when he was in baby form.
Beth: Hmm… Interesting.
Eric: Yeah, he must have had it from before. But he spent most of his life as a rat, so it’s not like he has this very visible [mark]. Did Scabbers have any tattoos?
Katy: [laughs] That would be hysterical, this tiny, tiny tattoo of the Dark Mark.
Eric: This tiny tattoo on his little arm… and his little missing [toe]. Little tattoo.
Katy: It’s just covered up by fur.
Eric: That’s a good question. But yeah, for Sirius, though, this speaks to how close Snape wants to get to Sirius, and he is blinded by his hatred and he does not wish to check his forearm. He would make up so many excuses as to why Sirius doesn’t have the tattoo, like to be covert with the Potters, for instance, who surely in close proximity would have noticed Sirius’s tattoo. So there’s an excuse. There’s an argument for Sirius never being given the Dark Mark, even though he could have been serving Voldemort or could have been a Death Eater.
Katy: I’m blaming a lot of this hatred on the prank. But if Snape thought all along that Sirius was the Secret Keeper and he’s the one that gave up the Potters, he could also be putting a whole lot of hatred on Sirius for Lily’s death.
Eric: It’s true.
Katy: So maybe that’s something else to consider.
Eric: I mean, he’s just got to look in a mirror for that hatred.
Katy: Right? Thank you.
Eric: But Pettigrew was the stopgap. It’s true, it’s unclear… What I want to know in terms of behind-the-scenes stuff is… If I could choose a chapter to read that was never published, it would be Dumbledore’s conversation with Sirius, the one that’s happening offscreen right now as Snape is talking with Fudge right before Dumbledore bursts in and Snape has his line about evidence. I want to know what they’re talking about because Sirius is clearly able to persuade Dumbledore about what the truth is. And I also want to read the chapter where it’s Dumbledore giving evidence against Sirius way back when the street was blown up, how there seemingly was not a conversation that took place between Sirius and Dumbledore then where Sirius could’ve professed his innocence and frankly saved a lot of time and pain for everybody. If he had professed that Pettigrew was alive and that the Potters had changed their Secret Keeper, for instance, he could have confided that in Dumbledore and maybe Dumbledore would have believed him. It doesn’t even seem like Sirius even tried, from what we know back then.
Katy: He didn’t get a chance. They just threw him in Azkaban.
Eric: Yeah, but he had a trial.
Katy: No! Sirius didn’t.
Josh: Yeah, Sirius did not have a trial.
Eric: Sirius didn’t have a trial?
Beth and Katy: No.
Josh: He was sentenced to Azkaban without a trial. He tells them that in Book 4 in the cave when they’re talking about Crouch.
Eric: But in this very chapter Dumbledore says that he gave evidence that Sirius Black was the Potters’ Secret Keeper. He gave evidence, meaning it’s…
Katy: Yeah, because that was the impression he was under. That was the bluff.
Katy: That was the bluff. They used Peter as a bluff. That’s in one of the chapters surrounding this one.
Eric: No, I’m saying where and when would Dumbledore have given evidence if there wasn’t a trial? I’m guessing it’s like…
Josh: I was thinking to Crouch specifically, not at a formal trial.
Eric: Interesting. Okay.
Josh: So connected to all of that as well, just an interesting little thing… You were talking about wanting the unwritten chapter between Dumbledore and Sirius. In my own headcanon or whatever of my own in thinking about what would’ve gone in… because we’re talking about a very, very short period of time that Sirius was able to convince Dumbledore and get him on his side, right? Minutes is what we’ve got here, essentially. And I always wondered if maybe that was all done – in my imagination, anyway – with the Pensieve. Sirius just offers up all of his memories, dumps it in the Pensieve, and Dumbledore gets to see exactly what actually happened. I think that’s a fun way to get it out of the way quickly, to convince Dumbledore quickly. Something that’s essentially irrefutable.
Eric: Yeah, I was thinking about that. Why couldn’t Harry or Hermione dump their memories? It’d be like, “Here, Fudge, take these in a vial,” and he takes them. But Snape would make the same case that these memories have been tampered with, that because they were confuddled or befuddled or whatever it is, their memories will be unreliable or somehow inadmissible based on the Dark magic that Sirius was conjuring.
Josh: Right. Yep.
Beth: Yeah. Grrr! [laughs]
Katy: Well, it’s interesting to me too… I mean, yeah. Maybe he just didn’t know about what was going on with Peter and Sirius back in the day, so that’s why he didn’t tell Voldemort. But he knew from the age of 16 roundabout that Lupin was a werewolf and he never told the Death Eaters or Voldemort that, which I find interesting because he hated him too. Not as much, but he still hated Lupin and had a grudge against him.
Eric: Well, that was a promise to Dumbledore, right? Not to tell about Lupin.
Katy: It was. I’m just surprised that he kept it, I guess, after school. It’s like every once in a while he does this little redeeming thing, and then he goes and does this.
Eric: That’s not a redeeming thing; that’s a self-preservation thing.
Katy: Well, how would telling them that Lupin was a werewolf not…? Wait, I’m confused.
Eric: Well, because nobody wants to face Dumbledore’s ire…
Katy: Oh. I see what you’re saying.
Eric: … and it wasn’t too long until they were after school that Snape needed Dumbledore’s help in a very huge way because he messed up.
Katy: Good point.
Eric: So I don’t think that much time elapsed where he would’ve been able to spread the word. And Lupin himself would have probably gone into hiding or something.
Katy: Yeah, I guess he was. We don’t really hear what he was doing when the Potters were hiding.
Beth: I also think Snape usually only gave up information that he thought would get him something in return [and] would put him in better graces or something. I don’t really know what he would’ve gotten out of revealing this piece of information. Maybe he was sitting on it until it became helpful.
Katy: Yeah, good point. And also, we found out here when the prank happened, because we’ve been talking about this prank a bunch lately in relation to Sirius, but we weren’t sure when it happened. And Snape actually says here, “Sirius Black showed he was capable of murder at the age of sixteen.” So there we go.
Katy: And his birthday is at the beginning of November, so my guess would be this happened in their fifth year, but it could have happened at the beginning of their sixth. But probably fifth is what I’m going with.
Eric: Wait. You said it happened in November?
Beth: No, Sirius’s birthday.
Katy: Sirius’s birthday is in November.
Eric: Ooh! Okay.
Katy: So if Snape was correct about his age… He may have been guessing [but] he says 16, so we’re taking him at his word. So if he was actually 16, then it would’ve been between November of his fifth year and November of his sixth year.
Katy: So there. I just wanted to…
Eric: So we’ve narrowed it down.
Katy: And I think one of our commenters actually left that in the comments after the Sirius episode. But I wanted to throw that in there just because I thought it was interesting.
Eric: Pretty cool.
Beth: Well, we’ve answered that question, but we’ve opened up another unanswered question. Josh, you pointed this out, and I am totally baffled that I have never realized this before, that the Time-Turner transports them to the Entrance Hall.
Josh: Entrance Hall.
Beth: Yeah. It’s crazy.
Eric: Yep. That’s weird.
Josh: It makes no sense, and it doesn’t even match up [with] what has happened earlier in the book. Because when Hermione uses it at other points in the book and they see her showing up in places she shouldn’t, or disappearing from where she is, it seems to work out that she’s not transporting anywhere. Plus, in the middle of a school day, I think people are going to notice if Hermione suddenly appears in the middle of the Entrance Hall, right? So it doesn’t make any sense at all why just this one time it’s transporting them.
Eric: This is one of the most jarring mistakes or shortcuts that J.K. Rowling has taken, I think, in the writing.
Katy: It’s super weird, and I never noticed it either. I’ve watched the movie so many times that that’s just what was in my head, that that’s how it happened. And then I read this and I’m like, “Wait a minute. Oh my God, he’s right.” But then in the movie, they perpetuate this because she just appears in Divination class, and Ron is like, “Where’d you come from? You weren’t there a second ago,” when I don’t think that happens that way in the book.
Eric: Really, it would have taken an extra paragraph to say [that] they were in the hospital wing, but the sunlight was brighter on the windowsill, and Hermione was like, “Come on!” Then they ran down, and then they were in the Entrance Hall.
Katy: Yeah. So weird.
Josh: It’s very strange.
Eric: Given the very, very closely guarded rules of time travel that Hermione is very desperate to express to Harry and make sure he understands fully – “Don’t be seen, don’t let yourself see yourself,” all these rules – appearing in the middle of the Entrance Hall in broad daylight, really for any reason, is a much less safe position than wherever you’re coming from.
Katy: Unless it has some kind of magic that puts you in a place where it knows nobody is around. But that’s certainly never stated.
Eric: Well, they had to run into a closet real quick because they themselves were coming, and that’s about as dangerous as it gets.
Katy: Yeah. [laughs]
Josh: Well, that and the Time-Turners at the Ministry don’t seem to work that way when they smash all of the Time-Turners and that Death Eater gets his head caught in the thing. All that stuff that’s going on doesn’t seem to…
Eric: That Death Eater’s head is now in the Hogwarts Entrance Hall.
[Beth, Josh, and Katy laugh]
Josh: I love it.
Katy: It’s the giant baby head from Phineas and Ferb. We know where it came from now.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: That’s hysterical.
Beth: So something else interesting that I noticed about the mechanics of the Time-Turner is that the chain is really long. Hermione has to dig into her robes to get it out, and then it fits around both her and Harry’s necks seemingly pretty comfortably. And I just found that really interesting because the only reason I can think of for that being the case is that Time-Turners are meant to work with multiple people at one time. And that struck me as kind of odd. What do you guys think?
Josh: It does mention that it’s a long chain and that it’s digging into Harry’s neck and stuff. So I think she’s probably using it in a way that’s not really intended for more than one person.
Eric: It’s long enough to fit them for sure.
Josh: But just barely, I think.
Eric: Maybe it’s not designed… Yeah, the writing isn’t clear. I get the impression… Beth, what you were saying, I get that 100%. It’s bigger. Especially in the movie, I think, it’s even more ginormous. She throws it around a shoulder or something. It’s like, “Does your Time-Turner necklace chain hang low? Does it wobble to and fro? Can you tie it in a knot?”
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Eric: It’s huge. But yeah, I think it’s that middle ground where it’s sort of a decorative necklace chain, and so you could actually loop it around your own head twice. Between the two of them, it’s not really designed for two people but it would fit two people, but barely. [It’s] kind of like how the Invisibility Cloak fits the trio, but only just, and once they grow older their feet are showing if they don’t crouch.
Beth: Yeah, that was definitely a parallel I drew as well. And the cloak is definitely not meant to fit more than one person at a time. And I’ve actually been baffled throughout this series at how long it fits all three of them.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: I do wonder, though, with the chain because it is supposed to be hidden; nobody is supposed to know she has it, so it would make sense for it to be pretty long so she can stuff it down under her shirt and not be noticeable. Because if it were just up at her neck, everybody would see this little thing.
Eric: Yeah, that’s true. And it’s got to be a one-size chain, right? It’s not like she tailored it to just be hers, because it’s a generic Ministry object.
Katy: I don’t know, though.
Eric: It has to also fit Kingsley Shacklebolt and Vernon Dursley… or not Vernon Dursley.
[Beth, Josh, and Katy laugh]
Eric: Who am I thinking of who’s huge and in the Ministry? I don’t know. Perkins? Anyway, it’s got to fit your average grown wizard.
Eric: Slughorn, thank you. And Hermione is a little girl, so…
Katy: No. I think the chain is interchangeable. I don’t think the chain is magical at all. I think it could be on…
Eric: Oh, the chain is definitely magical.
Eric: Yes. Oh, it has to be. It has to be because the chain is what is transported. The balance of the chain… Think of it as a rosary, a little beaded rosary chain where the magic is in the chain itself.
Josh: The chain has to be part of it because that’s what she is looping around Harry’s neck, right? Whoever has got it around their neck gets transported. So it’s got to be.
Beth: That’s very true. With Apparition, you can just hold hands. And if that was possible, they probably would have just done that. So you’re right; it must be [that] you have to be in…
Eric: Hermione is always looking for an excuse to hold Harry’s hand.
Katy: [laughs] Or maybe it’s just [that] she magically elongated it. I don’t know.
Eric: Yeah, nonverbal magic.
Katy: Well, not in that moment, necessarily. Maybe she did that earlier.
Eric: Yeah, 13-year-old Hermione is doing nonverbal spells here.
Katy: [laughs] I won’t give her that much credit just yet. Yeah, that’s a good point, though. It is a very long chain.
Beth: We got real in the weeds there, guys.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: Right? That was great.
Eric: You’re welcome, listeners, for that deep dive on the Time-Turner chain.
Katy: Let us know your thoughts.
Eric: Once again, it’s time to mention that this episode is brought to you by HelloFresh. And this holiday season HelloFresh does the shopping, planning, and delivery, so all you have to do is hustle and bustle and enjoy. So I recently got a HelloFresh subscription. I selected the vegetarian option and was delighted when my box arrived. I prepared a veggie fattoush salad with crispy chickpeas, za’atar spiced pita, and feta cheese. And I’ve got to tell you guys, I never spent so much time preparing a salad before, but it was worth it; it was absolutely great. The recipe card was very understandable. I’m not much of a cook, but I really loved it. And the greatest thing about it being November/December is lots of great holiday food, so this season your HelloFresh kit includes recipe cards with six easy steps to calm the holiday chaos. This means fewer trips to the grocery store because all of the ingredients come fresh, shipped fresh right to you. Less time in the kitchen means more time for family and festivities. With HelloFresh you can choose your delivery day to keep up with your busy holiday time schedule. I mentioned the delicious veggie fattoush salad that I prepared. Here’s what you can expect in the line of the holiday menu: meatloaf à la mom with roasted root vegetables and thyme gravy; pan-seared scallops with heirloom tomatoes, mashed potatoes, and Meyer lemon; there is a figgy pork tenderloin with green beans and rosemary potatoes; butternut squash and sage risotto with parmesan and pepitas; and thyme gravy chicken with roasted carrots and caccio e pepe potatoes. We want to remind our listeners that you can visit hellofresh.com, and when you use promo code “Alohomora30,” you save $30 off your first week of deliveries. If you’re a first-timer, they even send you a HelloFresh apron, which I have to say I pull off pretty well. I’m looking very forward to avoiding the hustle and bustle of these holidays by choosing HelloFresh. And we’d like to thank HelloFresh for their support of Alohomora!
Beth: So if you enjoy it here in the weeds, we should talk some more about the mechanics of time travel. And Hermione talks some about the rules that Professor McGonagall tells her, especially that you can’t let yourself see yourself. [laughs] So Katy, I think you had some stuff about that to talk about.
Katy: Yeah. One quote I pulled out there was, “Professor McGonagall told me what awful things happened when wizards have meddled with time…. Loads of them ended up killing their past or future selves by mistake!” So this tells us that wizards were not always so cautious when it came to time travel, and over the years they’ve created a multitude of laws surrounding the Time-Turners to make sure things like this don’t happen again. But at the same time, that seems to cause a little bit of an issue, I know, with some fans because of the specific type of closed loop time travel that’s used in this scene, that other types of time travel should not be possible in this same universe. I’ve seen fans argue this. So the fact that some were able to go back and kill themselves, that shouldn’t be possible. And something we can get into later, this writing on Pottermore that Jo did about Time-Turners is completely bonkers in comparison to how it’s used here in Prisoner of Azkaban. So yeah, it’s crazypants is what it is. [laughs]
Josh: I don’t think it’s necessarily contradictory to have both ideas. Because the way this is written, we’re seeing the loop from both ends. They’re going back to change it, but we also saw it from their perspective after it was already changed. So I don’t see a problem. They’ve put laws in place to prevent paradoxes, to prevent multiple timelines or those kinds of things happening. But we’re seeing the results of that from both ends of the loop, I think. So I don’t think it’s contradictory.
Eric: The reason it works is because they end up succeeding at not being seen anywhere they go. Dumbledore stresses it and they are able to enact it perfectly. I think we’re meant to believe that Buckbeak was always saved, essentially. And it’s really just that somehow Dumbledore picks up on the fact that it was somehow his own agency that caused Buckbeak to be saved. The weakest link about this time travel in this chapter seems to be Dumbledore’s agency. Because everything else is a nearly perfectly closed loop, but Dumbledore takes it upon himself to affect this change by explaining to Hermione that it’s got to be her. He knows everything that’s going on in the grounds; he knows exactly when he’s got to tell Macnair to turn around and hold them there longer. Dumbledore has a little bit more knowledge than he should if this were just an ordinary day with time travel involved. But besides that, it works seamlessly.
Beth: Yeah, I did want to bring up Dumbledore’s omniscience in this situation because this, of almost any other, I think, is the best example of an all-knowing Dumbledore, even so much so that he suggests searching the skies instead of the grounds for Buckbeak. It just seems way too much to be coincidental. And I’ve never been a huge fan of the omniscient Dumbledore theory, but this right here is hard for me to refute.
Eric: Well, it helps that he’s actually secretly Ron from the future.
Beth: That’s my favorite.
Eric: And Ron, of course, is unconscious. Oh, wait, that doesn’t work because Ron is unconscious.
Katy: Right? He’s not there. [laughs]
Eric: He’s not there. Well, keep in mind what Jo said about Dumbledore at one point, which is that the reason Harry gets the impression that Dumbledore can see through the Invisibility Cloak is because Dumbledore is secretly casting the spell Homenum Revelio nonverbally. And so Harry is glowing to him or something.
Katy: Oh, wicked.
Eric: Whenever you get in a room where Harry is under the cloak and Dumbledore sees him, it’s because he’s secretly casting that spell. I wonder if Dumbledore was able to do that in the forest and saw that just beyond the tree line was Buckbeak, and that was why he was able to say, “Oh, search the skies!”
Beth: [laughs] That’s so interesting. I’ve never heard that before.
Katy: Me neither. That’s a chin-scratcher.
Eric: Oh. I’m pretty sure that was somewhere on Pottermore.
Beth: Well, speaking of Pottermore, do you guys want to dive into what Pottermore says about time travel? I have it up.
Eric: If you have it, what does she say? I’m interested now. I’m curious.
Katy: It’s insane. Just get ready.
Eric: We didn’t have this the first time.
Beth: So she says that “attempts to travel back further than a few hours have resulted in catastrophic harm to the witch or wizard involved.” And then she goes on to talk about Eloise Mintumble, who became trapped “for a period of five days in the year 1402,” and that her body had aged five centuries in its return to the present and was irreparably damaged and she died in St. Mungo’s. It further goes on to say that during her five days in the past, she caused such a disturbance to [the] life path of all those she met, “changing the course of their lives so dramatically that no fewer than twenty-five of their descendants vanished in the present, having been unborn.” So this is our big discussion about being able to kill people in the future, [laughs] which is very interesting.
Katy: This bugs me to no end. So she comes back. Her body has aged five centuries. They didn’t say how long she lasts before she dies, but it couldn’t have been long; she’s basically dust and bone by that point. How does she get any of this information out? How do they know what year she was in? How do they know which people were unborn? Because only she should know. Everyone else should have never heard of these people. She should be the only one that knew of them, yes?
Eric: Okay. To your first question, “How do they know what year she was in?” Carbon dating.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: That’s medical science for you.
Katy: That’s hilarious.
Eric: I don’t know the answer to the other questions.
Katy: What do you think, Josh?
Josh: Yeah, I don’t really have a great answer either, really. But I don’t know that there’s necessarily not an explanation; we just don’t have enough information to say either way. We don’t know if there was… It could have been a Legilimens trying to figure out what happened to her; I don’t know. It could have been any number of things. Maybe she did last a little bit, long enough to tell her story as a warning to people. Because let’s face it, they’ve got some pretty weird medical stuff that they can do in the wizarding world, and they might have been able to keep her alive for a few hours or even a few days, maybe.
Eric: Yeah. Maybe she mentioned a prominent family that it turns out had never existed, and she was like, “Oh, there’s 25 members of that family.” And they’re like, “Nope. They died centuries ago.” Something like that, being unborn, life paths, that sort of thing… That’s the only thing I can think of other than that. But it seems like in both cases… which is actually reassuring; I thought it would be worse. In both Pottermore and the events of this chapter, there appears to be in the wizarding world a non-branching style of universe. The choices… You can go back in time and change something, but it was already changed. You’re not creating a new timeline by changing something. So we have a situation where Harry and Hermione in this chapter appear to change things, but the reveal is really that we just had a different, incorrect perspective on what actually happened the first time around.
Josh: I don’t know, though, because… I see where you’re going with that, but Hermione explicitly calls out [that] “wizards have gone back and killed their past selves.” And the only way for that to actually happen is either creating a massive paradox, which this chapter seems to argue against, or a branching set of timelines. Otherwise, if you die in the past, you are not able to go back and kill yourself. So it’s either got to be a branching timeline…
Eric: Well, no. If you kill your past self, maybe you have to take your past self’s place.
Katy: What? [laughs]
Eric: Well, think about it. If people are only traveling two or three hours in the future or in the past, and you barge into a pub and you square off with a duel and you accidentally kill your past self, or if your past self kills your future self, it’s not a paradox. But you might be fated to then go back in time and die, which is weird. But if you kill your past self, you’re only three hours younger, so you can just step in your place.
Josh: I have a much harder time with that than anything else that we’ve talked about here.
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Beth: The thing that I think is upsetting me the most is what I hadn’t even gotten to yet on Pottermore’s writing. Pottermore continues to say how the timeline was disturbed by Madam Mintumble’s situation, and they say that [the] “Tuesday following her reappearance lasted two and a half full days, whereas Thursday shot by in the space of four hours.” And the Ministry of Magic had a great deal of trouble covering this up. What?
Katy: Yeah, so [the] space-time continuum was not happy for a while.
Eric: I love that. I love that so hardcore. I will fight this. This is amazing.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: It’s really because it speaks to wizards being able to harness… and humanity, really. Humans do this all the time, right? We’re harnessing forces we do not completely understand. Wizards are no better than Muggles at that. We’re splitting the atom; we’re doing crazy stuff. And it just makes sense that a wizard, in this case Madam Mintumble… I want to say Mimbletonia, for some reason.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: Mintumble pushed the boundaries, and as a result, the entire universe – or at least the planet Earth – was affected in such a way that Tuesday was two full days.
[Beth, Eric, and Katy laugh]
Eric: Wednesday was four hours. But I totally buy that. It’s a freak weather pattern thing.
Josh: I think I’ve lived through Tuesdays and Wednesdays that went just that way.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: Yeah, Tuesday – two’s day – there [are] two days.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: I guess it works. It hurts my head.
Beth: It hurts my head too.
Katy: I guess maybe those 25 people were always destined to be born and then unborn, and that’s just the way it was always going to be. It’s just weird.
Eric: Yeah, there is that question too. How could they have existed in the first place if they are later unborn and there’s only one timeline?
Josh: This is why I can’t say that this idea of there only being one closed loop timeline… I don’t think that’s the case.
Eric: Well, yeah. So the question becomes, if you don’t believe in a closed loop timeline, then there must have been somebody that the very first Harry saw across the pond conjuring the stag Patronus. It couldn’t have always been Harry. Because the reduction level goes back and back and back to, where the first time, there was only one Harry dying across the lake.
Josh: Right. And that’s why it has to be the branching timelines, right? There has to be a timeline where Harry died on the lake and then they went back and changed it… and in that timeline he sees himself
Katy: Wait… No! I don’t like it!
Eric: Wait, he couldn’t have gone back. He couldn’t have gone back and changed it if he was dead.
Josh: Right. Well, that’s because there’s this weird thing in this universe where… Star Trek has done the same type of thing, right?
Josh: This is a common time travel trope, the idea being that there [are] multiple timelines where things work out. Maybe in one of those timelines he didn’t die, but he had the chance to go back and change things. Whatever. But there’s got to be more than one set sequence of events for these things to work out the way they do, otherwise there’s no way to make it work. There’s just no way to make it work.
Beth: Yeah, the idea [is] you’ve got a dimension where everything is possible in a dimension. So when you go back and change time, you switch dimensions.
Katy: No, I don’t like it. No!
Eric: I think now would be an important time to say that this is among my favorite chapters that J.K. Rowling has ever written. And given all of its controversy, given all the other questions that we have of it, if we poked the heck out of the holes in it the first time around, we’re poking holes in it again. I just have to say, reading this brings me some of the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced reading a Harry Potter book.
Beth: Yeah, I agree. Poking holes in this doesn’t make me love it any less.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Josh: Yeah, I am right on board. Although, for me, as much as I enjoy… The time travel stuff is fun; I love it when we get the interactions between Harry and Hermione. I love those.
Josh: I love those. And it doesn’t matter where they are in the series. And this is the first one, really, in the series that we get where it’s just the two of them doing something and interacting with each other and talking, and it’s just so good. It’s just so good.
Eric: When he does go off and conjure the Patronus, she runs from the tree line and goes, “What did you do? What did you do? What did you do?”
Josh: “I thought you were just keeping a lookout!”
Eric: “Listen, listen, listen!” But she’s like, “But I told you!” And he’s like, “No, no, no. Just listen. Listen. It’s fine!” It’s so funny.
Katy: [as Harry] “I knew I could do it because I had already done it!”
Eric: [as Harry] “Does that make sense?” [as Hermione] “I don’t know!”
Katy: That’s hilarious to me. The girl that’s been using it all year, she doesn’t get that? Come on.
Eric: It’s perfect.
Katy: Okay, for me, personally… this is just me. [laughs] Obviously, you don’t have to agree with me. I like keeping this in a closed loop. Ignore what Professor McGonagall said to Hermione about people killing their past and future selves. Maybe she was just trying to scare her. Let’s pretend that never happened and pretend that this Pottermore thing was never written because it may or may not have been written by Jo anyway. It says her name on it, [but]…
Eric: Well, with Cursed Child in mind…
Katy: Exactly. That’s where I’m going with this. Because if you say that all of this craziness can happen in canon Potter, then you’re saying that Cursed Child is just as canon, which I will fight anyone on. And that’s one of my big[gest] reason[s]: The time travel is so different in Cursed Child. So [for] me, personally, I’m going to just pretend McGonagall was exaggerating and that this Pottermore thing either was not written by Jo or doesn’t exist, or she just messed up. Whatever. [laughs] And I’m going to pretend this is a closed loop that only happened once, and that’s just the way it always happened. There. Now I’m happy.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: But I would love to hear, of course, from our listeners. Please leave us some comments. Tell us what you think, because it’s so confusing. But Josh, you also had an interesting point here when Harry and Hermione are in the trees watching all of this happen. Harry says,
“‘If [Lupin had] only grabbed the cloak!’ said Harry. ‘It’s just lying there…’
He turned to Hermione. ‘If I just dashed out now and grabbed it, Snape would never be able to get it, and…’
‘Harry, we mustn’t be seen!'”
Josh: Yeah, so all Hermione cares about is that they’re not seen. She’s not too worried about the fact that they are screwing with the timeline at this point. And so Harry doesn’t actually go get the cloak through all of this. In fact, he starts to go get it and she stops him. So it just brought the question to mind: What if at this point Harry had known the Summoning Charm and could have just Accio-[ed] [the] cloak and changed everything?
Josh: And I do wonder, where would that have led? Obviously, this would have completely destroyed Katy’s closed time loop…
Josh: But it would’ve made for a really interesting set of circumstances going forward from that point.
Eric: The spell wouldn’t have worked. Well, all it is is that Snape would not have been able to surprise them.
Katy: No, but he did in the movie without it, remember? He doesn’t actually use it in the movie; he just hides behind the door.
Eric: Yeah, he just bangs on the…
Katy: He still could’ve just hidden and listened behind the wall. I don’t know if it would’ve made that much of a difference.
Eric: But because we’ve seen it from the other end where he has the cloak, we know that any spell Harry could have cast, or any attempt he would have made to try and get it, would’ve been thwarted.
Josh: If you buy into the closed loop idea.
Katy: Yes! [chants] Closed loop! Closed loop! Closed loop! [laughs]
Eric: Well, yeah. Whether it’s “Harry can’t find his wand,” or “There’s a Time Lord that comes and physically stops him…”
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Eric: “… or a Watcher from Fringe” – you know, with the fedora – any of those guys stop the timeline from being interfered with. But in any case, she’s luckily right. Seconds later somebody comes that would have seen them, although it was just Hagrid. If Hagrid is drunkenly going up to celebrate Beaky’s survival, I don’t think he would have really minded seeing Hermione and Harry down by the trees. He would have maybe talked to them and drawn more attention to themselves. But in any case, what I mean to say is it’s very weird that Hermione is so careful about not being seen. It’s very important not to be seen this time, but the rest of the year? She pretty much could be seen because nobody knew what she was up to, and people would’ve just assumed that she was the same girl they had just seen maybe a couple corridors over. Right?
Josh: Okay, yeah. You mentioned Hagrid. How much did he have to drink to get drunk in ten minutes?
Josh: I’ve got to know, because he appears to be sober when the execution is going to happen. There’s no mention of him doing anything. And literally, basically ten minutes has happened if you do the math here. They come out of the castle about 9:00 p.m., they wait around for a while, they steal Buckbeak, they find Buckbeak gone, [and] Dumbledore asks Hagrid for a drink. So all of this is happening, and then we’ve got them hiding out in the trees for a few more minutes. After this point, if you do the math, there’s about an hour and 45 minutes accounted for of waiting time, plus the time of sending the Patronus across the lake. So Hagrid literally only has ten minutes to get drunk enough that he’s singing and weaving across the lawn. I think Hagrid has a Time-Turner for his drinking.
Eric: Maybe. Or he’s got some really strong stuff he’s been holding out on.
Katy: He’s got some Romulan ale stuck in there somewhere.
Beth: Oh my God.
Eric: Yeah, some IV drugs.
Josh: Look at the size of the tankards he drinks out of at the Three Broomsticks, though. How many of those are we talking? You’ve got to look at…
Katy: He’s got a barrel he just sticks his whole face in.
Eric: I think Hagrid [has] actually got a jacuzzi. It’s underneath his bed and it’s just filled with booze.
Katy: But you’re right. Every time Harry thinks about going and changing something, Hermione pulls him back and something happens that would have messed everything up. So she’s definitely right to have stopped him every time.
Eric: It’s so smart. When you read it the first time, you just think about how tight it all seems, how perfect it all seems.
Katy: This was my favorite book for a very long time because of all of this. It’s just so… ugh. And I still love it; I do. But Half-Blood came along and changed everything.
Eric: Half-Blood is great. It is a choice between those two for me as well. But yeah, basically you start off [that] Harry can’t move; he’s in bed. You see Snape getting everything his snivelly little face always wanted, and you feel so helpless. And part of the way through this chapter, as these characters are affecting change, they feel helpless, and you still feel helpless. But in the end, it all works out. It’s perfect. Maybe not in the way it should work out, because again, the torture is seeing Pettigrew escape all over again. That’s really the worst thing. And Hermione’s justification for that is not as clear; she’s like, “How are you going to find a rat in the dark?” That’s what she says. But really, they could have somehow tried and not pull Pettigrew out of Harry’s pocket until after rescuing Sirius.
Josh: They should have just let Buckbeak go free because Buckbeak likes eating rats. He can just fly down. He can eat Pettigrew; problem solved.
Eric: That’s the most frustrating thing. But it is the most essential part of this plot for keeping the timeline straight. Wormtail, of course, now has to go off and revive Lord Voldemort into his proper body. But yeah, I think that’s the one thing you just really wish… It’s not a perfect ending because Sirius Black still has to be on the run, but it’s the ending that doesn’t mean that two innocents were killed.
Katy: Yeah. And it does give that life debt that Peter now has to Harry that becomes important at the end.
Eric: Well, that was a couple chapters ago, right?
Katy: No. Well, I guess you’re right. It was a chapter ago when he spares him.
Eric: Yeah, when he doesn’t let Remus and Sirius kill him.
Katy: Yeah, you’re right. It’s all for the plot. It’s all for the plot. One of our patrons, Marguerite, had a question for us. Do we think that Hermione aged more than usual during this school year because she kept reliving hours of time?
Beth: Definitely five centuries.
Katy: I didn’t do the math because I don’t remember how many extra classes she’s taking to remember how many hours she’s adding to each day.
Eric: It’s three hours a day.
Josh: Well, it’s more than that, though, because sometimes she’s using the Time-Turner for extra study time as well. That’s when they find her in the common room and she’s missed Charms – where they did the Cheering Charms – because she lost track of things. She was just studying in the…
Eric: Oh, you’re right!
Katy: But I thought they…
Josh: So it’s way more than just the classes.
Beth: Am I the only one who thought in that scene where she falls asleep studying…? Am I the only one who was like, “Hermione, just use it to go back in time and take a nap!”
Katy: Right? [laughs]
Eric: Where would she sleep?
Josh: I think at that point it’s too late because now Harry [has] woken her up and he already knows that she wasn’t there. So unless you’ve got the branching timeline, you can’t make that work. You can’t make it work.
Katy: Too bad she doesn’t know about the Room of Requirement yet. It could be a nap room.
Eric: That’s true. That would be a perfect nap room. Oh man. Yeah, I think it’s pretty funny. Years later, Hermione no longer celebrates her birthday on September 19. She’s done the math, and it’s secretly May 3. Randomly [on] May 3 she brings a little cake to Ron and he’s like, “What’s this for?” But he doesn’t really ask questions because he just loves the food.
Josh: One thing that’s funny in this, too, is at this point, not only… Okay, she’s already a year older than Ron and Harry, give or take. She turns 12 three weeks into their first year, whereas Harry just turned 11 a few weeks before the first year starts. So she’s already a year older than they are.
Eric: Yeah. She’s born the previous September, and Harry is in July.
Josh: And then Dumbledore, obviously, [is] rounding off or doesn’t care or whatever. He’s like, “No one is going to take the word of two 13-year-old wizards.” So Hermione is already 14 at this point, and actually, if she’s been taking all these classes with the Time-Turner, she’s 15 at this point. He stiffed her two years in this little piece of dialogue.
Eric: She can’t respond to that because she’s petrified. She’s too busy being petrified.
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Katy: Well, take that to all the people who thought it was creepy that she went to the ball with Krum because there was such an age difference. Nope. There wasn’t.
Josh: Not as much.
Katy: She was at least a good year older than everyone thinks she was. That would also explain why she’s always so much more mature. She already is.
Josh: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. This had to be factored into her math for figuring out her new birthday. So she added in all this time for the Time-Turner, but she’s got to subtract the time that she was Petrified in Book 2. Is that…?
Eric: And it evens out perfectly.
Eric: That’s the biggest course correction in the universe.
Katy: Oh my God. That’s amazing. I love that.
Josh: You’ve got to wonder, because the Petrification by the Basilisk seems to be a sort of stasis, right? You’re not eating. You’re not breathing. You’re not anything.
Eric: She’s not aging.
Josh: So you’re not aging.
Katy: Oh my God. You just blew my mind again.
Eric: Headcanon is still that her birthday is September 19 or something.
Katy: [laughs] I love it. Real quick, I did want to make a few comparisons to some other examples we’ve seen in sci-fi and fantasy with this type of closed-loop time travel.
Eric: This should be good.
Katy: There aren’t many. Maybe, Eric and Beth, you have thought of some that are not in the Doc here. The ones I found and have actually seen: Somewhere in Time, which is a…
Eric: Great movie. Great movie.
Katy: Thank you!
Eric: Great, great movie.
Josh: Really, really good.
Katy: I was hoping one of you had seen it. Oh yeah, you’ve both seen it? Awesome. So yeah, listeners, if you have not seen Somewhere in Time, you totally should watch it.
Eric: It’s the best love story of all time. The first time I ever watched it, my father and I [were] on a recliner. By the end of it, we were bawling and holding each other. Bawling. Yeah. Absolutely insane. Christopher Reeve – who was Superman – and Jane Seymour [are] both fantastic. Somewhere in Time. Highest recommendation on that.
Katy: Totally. And then not all of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but at the end when they’re leaving keys for themselves because they’re like, “Oh yeah, we need keys to break them out. Okay, let’s remember to go back and leave them here so that we can use them,” and then they’re there. And then they put the trash can [so it can] fall on his dad so that they can break the guys out of jail. So there’s some of that going on in that movie as well. And then, Josh, you had an example too.
Josh: The Dragonlance Legends trilogy. So Dragonlance is a massive, massive fantasy series, some of which is really good, and some of which is really bad. But the Dragonlance Legends trilogy is, I think, pretty well regarded as the best of that series. That whole trilogy centers around a closed-loop time thing, except that the whole idea is that the character that we’re following in that story goes back and he thinks he’s going to be able to change everything. And as it unfolds, you’re realizing the things that he thinks are changing have just been misinterpreted, and it’s completely closed off. So it still ends up not changing anything. And it’s brilliantly done and a really fun series that does the same kind of things as this chapter.
Katy: Awesome. And I also want to highly recommend this YouTube video for everyone to watch that’s interested in time travel in fiction. It’s by the channel minutephysics, all one word, and the title of the video – so you can probably just search for this – is “Time Travel in Fiction Rundown.”
Eric: You know what?
Katy: What was that?
Eric: I saw this video, and I disagree with some of this stuff.
Eric: Yeah. He does really, really good work at doing a schematic, a visual graph, of the way time travel works in certain properties, but he gets certain things wrong, I think. I think his Back to the Future – and I honestly think his Harry Potter one – is not 100% accurate.
Katy: Well, you don’t think Harry Potter is closed-loop anymore, do you?
Eric: Yeah, I do.
Katy: Oh, you do? Okay. I wasn’t sure if we still agreed on that.
Eric: But yeah, I watched this video right when it was posted. It’s only a couple of weeks old. Now it’s got two million views, so that shows what I know.
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Eric: Yeah, everybody at home, feel free to treat this like it’s 100%. But I’m a little skeptical still about certain properties, but in general the video is a good overview of different things different people have done with time travel in fiction.
Katy: Yeah. I’m a very visual learner, I think, so when I was able to see the graphs he drew and the circles and the slashes and all that, to me it was helpful. But yeah, it may not be for everyone.
Beth: I just had an interesting thought. Sorry, this is going to be a Game of Thrones spoiler, so skip ahead a couple minutes if you don’t want to be spoiled on Game of Thrones. Eric, I think you can correct me if I’m wrong about this, but is Hodor a closed loop time travel situation?
Eric: Oh. Yes.
Katy: Yeah, I would agree.
Beth: Sorry, we were just talking about pop culture references and that came to mind.
Eric: Yeah, you’re actually right. Yeah, absolutely. The way it’s described in this video, too, is actually very smart, which is that it’s causality, but we’re reviewing the result chronologically before the cause, and that’s a big thing in time travel. So the effect can happen before the cause. Basically that’s just time travel.
Beth: Ugh. It’s so weird.
Eric: Time travel in a closed loop, yeah. So the effect of Harry going back in time was that he could cast the Patronus in this chapter to save his self. I was going to say past self, but it’s his future self, but it’s his past self. The effect happens before the cause.
Beth: [laughs] Oh, listeners, we’re going to talk ourselves in a circle here.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: Let’s not do that.
Katy: And real quick, I just want to touch on Cursed Child because Josh has not read it, you guys. I confirmed this with him.
Eric: Don’t, dude. Don’t.
Josh: It will be read at some point despite what Katy has told me. I do plan on reading it. It hasn’t happened yet. There is no audio version, and I’ve been holding off until I can read it in braille because reading with the computer voice on the computer is not particularly fun for me.
Eric: Is there still no braille version?
Josh: There is no braille version that I have ever been able to find.
Katy: Wow. I’m surprised by that.
Josh: I’m waiting for a braille display, which is a piece of technology you can connect to your computer, and it mechanically makes dots so you can read things. They’re very expensive. There’s a cheaper one coming out, so I’m waiting for that to read Cursed Child. And I wanted to read the Fantastic Beasts script as well that way; I really wish there were audiobooks for those.
Beth: It’s really surprising to me that they haven’t come out with braille versions of those, because I thought I had heard that the braille versions of the Harry Potter books came out when the regular ones did.
Josh: Yeah, they do. In fact, my wife and I have the first four books in braille, and we have The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages, and Fantastic Beasts, [which] were all available in braille as well. But Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts, neither one was produced in braille. I think some of that is because the electronic versions do exist now, which is fine, but I would much rather read them with some sort of braille format or braille display than having to listen to the computer’s text-to-speech drone it out. Because it’s fiction, and it’s hard to read fiction that way.
Beth: Yeah, I can imagine.
Katy: And with Fantastic Beasts, I know some movies will have another track that describes the action going on. Do they have that for that movie?
Josh: I believe they do. They did in the theater, anyway. I think the DVD/digital releases have it as well.
Eric: Is it called descriptive audio?
Josh: Descriptive audio or descriptive video, depending. It’s the same thing either way.
Beth: That’s neat.
Katy: Okay, then. I won’t ruin Cursed Child for you since you’re going to read it someday.
Eric: Nothing can ruin Cursed Child for you except Cursed Child.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: I’m sorry, dude. It’s not very good. You were warned.
Katy: He’s been warned multiple times. I’m not sorry I read it, because I want to know all the things so that I’m educated and can intelligently have conversations about such things, even if I hate them. So I still recommend everyone should read it at least once, even if you’re probably going to despise it. And you might not. You might love it. Who knows?
Beth: Sorry, Alison.
Katy: [laughs] I will just say that the time travel in that is completely different from Prisoner of Azkaban, and I’ll leave it at that.
Beth: Yeah. That’s unfortunate, although not entirely surprising based on all the other things that it breaks.
Katy: True that. Okay, so something happy that I had to throw in: I just had to point out that Buckbeak loves Hagrid so much, just as much as Hagrid loves him, and it’s the sweetest thing. The whole time I was reading this, and every time Hagrid is around and Beaky is trying to get back to him, it just broke my heart.
Eric: It’s true. I never noticed that before as much as I did this time. It breaks my heart, yeah. It’s really special.
Beth: Do we know if Hagrid ever gets to see him again?
Katy: Yeah, he comes back as “Witherwings.”
Josh: “Witherwings,” yeah.
Beth: Oh yeah, that’s right. Duh. Obviously.
Josh: I’ve got to say, I think of all of the “non-verbal” characters in Harry Potter, like the various animals, Crookshanks and Scabbers and Hedwig and whatever, Buckbeak has got more personality than any of the other ones throughout the series when we see him.
Beth: Yeah, I would agree.
Eric: Hedwig is very close.
Josh: Very close, yes.
Eric: Because we see more of Hedwig. But yeah, Buckbeak digging his talons in, not wanting to go… It’s almost infuriating, and it builds such good suspense when Harry is trying to pull Buckbeak into the forest. Buckbeak doesn’t really go, and then he slowly goes, and Harry is heaving, and then he goes a little bit faster, but they haven’t quite cleared the trees. It’s really suspenseful.
Katy: Yes. It’s perfect. So perfect. I’m surprised, honestly, that they were able to hold him back from getting to Hagrid later on, because hippogriffs are strong animals, so good on them. Maybe he could just sense that it was really important that he not be seen at that time. I don’t know.
Eric: Also, nobody had to bow to Buckbeak this time.
Katy: No, I think Harry did.
Beth: No, Harry did, yeah.
Josh: Harry does.
Eric: Oh, he does?
Josh: Yeah, when he goes and unties him from the fence.
Eric: Oh. Okay.
Katy: And they already know each other, so it was just a quick bow and “Okay, yeah, you’re fine. I know you already.”
Eric: These days, it’s just a fist bump.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: Hermione doesn’t have to, and Sirius doesn’t have to before they get on his back. But I guess at that point Harry is there, so he’s like, “Okay, well, if they’re cool with Harry, then they’re cool with me.”
Josh: In the case of Sirius, he’s not facing him head on or whatever, because Buckbeak is next to the wall, right? And not looking straight in the window. Sirius is climbing onto him over the top of Buckbeak’s head, right? So I don’t think there’s really a need to bow, because it’s off to the side.
Eric: Buckbeak is not going to be like, “Wait, who the [censored] is this guy?”
Katy: [laughs] When they land and he gets off, does he have to bow to him then? [laughs]
Eric: They’ve been flying for three hours; he gets off and Buckbeak is like, “Wait a minute, who are you?”
[Josh and Katy laugh]
Katy: That’s hysterical. The same patron who had that question for us a moment ago, Marguerite, also pointed out that there is a link between the stag in mythology and Harry, which I had never heard of before. So I did just a quick lookup of the white stag in particular and found a few points that did actually seem pretty appropriate in relation to Harry. White deer hold a place in mythology of many cultures. The Celtic people consider them to be messengers from the otherworld, which I thought was really interesting. Arthurian legend states that the creature has a perennial ability to evade capture and that the pursuit of the animal represents mankind’s spiritual quest, both of which are like, “Oh my God, how many times does Harry escape Voldemort? He’s so hard to capture.”
Eric: Oh yeah. But even in context of this chapter, Harry being connected with his father’s spirit – and even the idea that a Patronus that represents you would be his father’s Animagus form – is very much otherworldly and spiritual. Coming to terms with your deceased father, if it had been James in any way, would have fit this very, very well.
Katy: Very true. And the last point I found was that it also signaled that the time was nigh for the knights of the kingdom to pursue a quest, which is what happens going forward. Once Voldemort starts getting his body back and whatever, etc., etc…
Eric: It’s go time.
Katy: It is. It totally is after the end of this book. So I thought all of that was really interesting. And if any of you listeners know more about this than what I just read off and can educate us, please do, because I’m sure there’s more that I did not find. This was just a really quick, cursory search.
Eric: Margeurite, that was really cool.
Katy: Yeah. Thanks, Margeurite. That was awesome, awesome information. And do you all have anything to say before I go into this moon thing? [laughs] I had way too much fun with this, you guys.
Eric: What moon thing?
Katy: Okay, okay. Two things. One is a science-y thing, because I like to teach you guys things that I have taught myself. I always get moon cycles and all of that confused, so I just sat down with my husband and I’m like, “Explain it to me again. And I’m going to teach them.” It’s a quick thing. But before I get to that, I realize that Jo was not writing the books to occur on particular dates or in particular years, and it wasn’t until fans did the math on Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party that we figured out the timeline of the series at all. But I just wanted to point out that on June 6, 1994, when the events of this night take place, the moon was not full. Far from it. It was four days away from a new moon. And also, just because the sun goes down does not mean you’ll be able to see the moon, whether there [are] clouds or not, especially on that date. The moon actually set at 7:02 p.m. before it even got dark, because sunset was at 9:52 p.m. So that’s just…
Eric: I’m blaming Hermione’s Time-Turner.
Katy: [laughs] She messed up everything.
Eric: If they can make a four-hour-long Wednesday, then she can affect the duration of the moon cycle. [laughs]
Katy: Ooh, I like it. I like it. Nobody noticed that an extra few days happened in that school year, but they totally did to offset that.
Josh: I want to nitpick a little bit because we went back and forth a little bit in the email. I actually do think she at least, to some degree, intended these to be those years. Because the dates for specifically 1991 – not 1981, but 1991 in the first book – do match up with the correct days of the week for 1991. After that, the years get screwy. But I think it was intended. I think she was just a little bit lazy with marking out the days of the week after that. I do think it was intended. She did later on definitively codify it, right? Because we get the dates on Lily and James’s grave.
Eric: Yeah. By Book 7 it had been decided, but I never felt that she was intending specific days of the week versus dates. But I always wanted to…
Josh: So do you think it was coincidence that it worked out that way in the first book?
Katy: But it’s only for that one year. Because like you said, it may be [unintelligible]
Eric: If it’s only for that one year, I’m inclined to say… Whatever works the most times, I want to say, is the thing. Definitely by Book 7 it was… J.K. Rowling was the first person to say, “I don’t do math or anything like that.” But yeah, all I’ll say is personally, my gut feeling was [that] I would’ve liked the books to be timeless, not set in any specific year. I realize why the props department, when they see a tombstone, have to put a darn year down, and it gets crazy. You’ve got to put a year down. I get it. I understand the urge. But me personally, I was one of the last fans to subscribe to that from Harry Potter. But pick your poison. There’s no right or wrong. I’m pretty sure the right answer is yes, the dates are the way that she said they are.
Josh: The only other thing that also messes up the timeline… [and] again, we can blame Hermione’s Time-Turner. And I can’t believe… I’m such a nerd. I’m among nerds, and that’s good, so this works. But oh, man. I remember working it out and figuring out that I believe in Prisoner of Azkaban, at the beginning of it, Harry mentions Dudley playing “Mega Mutilation 3” on his PlayStation. And that moment when he thinks, that is something like 10 or 11 months before the first PlayStation was actually released. So it doesn’t quite work out.
Katy: Not quite. So close, Jo. So close.
Eric: She hates when you point that out too. She absolutely hates it. So if you ever want to get blocked by her on Twitter, just tweet it at her, “Hey, did you know the PlayStation wasn’t out yet when you wrote the play scene?” Yeah. So many of my accounts have been blocked because I just tweet that at her all day, every day.
Katy: That’s your version of “Is Lavender dead or alive?”
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: Yeah. I really want you to know PlayStation wasn’t around yet, Jo. But that is very impressive detective work there, sir.
Josh: More embarrassing to admit, I think, than impressive. But yes.
Eric: It’s fun.
Josh: It is fun.
Katy: We always do this stuff. It’s great.
Eric: There should be a mini game, though, where you can play “Mega Mutilation 3.” In a future Harry Potter game, that should be a thing.
Katy: It should. That’s amazing. I love it. It’s a little side quest. You go into the Dursleys’ house, you’re at his computer…
Eric: It’s canon.
Katy: Totes. Yeah, the moon got brought up on Episode 33 because they were wondering why Lupin didn’t change until the clouds parted and he actually saw the moon, because surely he doesn’t have to see the moon to turn into a werewolf.
Eric: Oh man.
Katy: But I think in the next episode, in the recap, they were like, “Yeah, he changes anyway. It doesn’t matter if there were clouds covering it or not. It was nice for the plot for it to just show itself and… things happen.” But even if he had been still inside the castle in a windowless room, he would have changed if he had not taken the potion. Or even if he had taken it, he would’ve changed. He would’ve just kept his mind. Sorry. You know what I mean. That’s why this got brought up, and it got me curious about if it was actually the full moon on that date, etc., etc. And then just to teach you guys about moon cycles, there are 13 moon cycles in a year. It takes 28 days for the moon to orbit the earth, so it’s only moving in its orbit about six degrees each day. Moonrise and moonset depend on location and time of year, just like sunrise and sunset do. And the moon sometimes rises and sets during daylight hours. I’m sure all of you have looked in the sky at some point during the day and have been like, “Oh, there’s the moon; that’s cool,” and then at night you can’t see it.
Eric: Yeah, that’s the extent that I’ve ever given [to] the thought, “Yeah, I have seen the moon during the day.” This is blowing my mind that there’s a moonrise and a moonset.
Katy: Yes. I taught somebody something. Woo! No, I literally did not care. Not that I didn’t care, but I never thought to think about it until a few years ago. I think this was around the same time that my dog passed away and I was out at night and I’m noticing the stars, and then I would notice that the moon was not always at the same place every night or at the same time. And I asked my husband; I’m like, “Why is the moon here one night and then a few nights later it’s there? I don’t get it. It’s the same time.” And then he explained all of this, and I’m just like, “Oh, that makes a lot more sense.” So there you go. It does not follow the 12-month calendar. It is actually a 13-month calendar for the moon each year.
Eric: I actually just watched that Doctor Who episode with the moon. You know which one?
Eric: With Peter Capaldi and the moon.
Beth: Oh, that’s not the one I was thinking of.
Eric: Oh. Yeah, I think it’s called “Kill the Moon.” But it’s pretty good.
Eric: Just watched that last night. It’s super funny. You mentioned the moon not being in the same place. That reminded me right of that.
Katy: Aha, there you go. There’s Katy’s Ravenclaw teaching class for the day.
Eric: Thanks, Katy. Thanks, Professor.
Katy: [laughs] You’re welcome. There will be a test later. Take notes. No, I’m kidding.
Eric: Oh gosh.
Katy: [laughs] Well, Beth, I want to hear these last few points that you had.
Beth: I just wanted to bring up that I thought it was interesting that all they have to do is use Alohomora to rescue Sirius, that they didn’t secure Flitwick’s office any more than I guess [is] usual. Did they just think that master escape artist Sirius Black couldn’t get out of a window locked with Alohomora? I don’t know.
Eric: I guess that’s a fair point.
Josh: It’s the seventh floor and he doesn’t have a wand, so I guess they figured it was safe. But that is a good point.
Eric: Yeah. He did just break out of Azkaban.
Beth: He broke out of Azkaban, which was thought to be impossible. At least in the movies they made it slightly more difficult for them to get him out?
Eric: [Weren’t] there bars or whatever?
Beth: Yeah, didn’t they use Bombarda or something to get him out? But yeah, this is just Alohomora. It’s very anticlimactic in my opinion.
Eric: If you were to cast Alohomora from the inside, it wouldn’t have worked. But if you cast it from the outside, you’re fine.
Katy: Maybe. I like that theory.
Beth: That’s Dumbledore, right? Just going like, “Oh, we’re just going to use a basic lock on the outside.”
Eric: [as Dumbledore] “Sometimes I surprise even myself, yes.”
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: [as Dumbledore] “I’m so brilliant, Harry. Yes.”
Josh: All they really needed to do was smuggle Hermione’s Time-Turner to Sirius. He could have flipped it over three times and been in the Entrance Hall and walked out the front doors.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: I love that.
Katy: That’s amazing.
Eric: Good point.
Josh: It would’ve been so much simpler.
Katy: But you know Sirius would never have been able to not mess with time. He’s so reckless. He would’ve gone after Peter. He would’ve done something to change things.
Josh: It’s true.
Eric: Oh yeah.
Katy: But I like that. I like that a lot, actually.
Beth: So the second thing I noticed that is significantly different from the movie is that in the movie, Harry and Sirius get a nice long heart-to-heart right before Sirius flies away. And I was struck rereading the chapter this time how little interaction they get before Sirius escapes. It’s like a, “Hey, thanks for rescuing me. Hurry up. Got to go. Bye.” And so we don’t get any of that mushy goodness of “I am in your heart.”
Eric: That said, there’s something to be quite moved by the quickness of the interaction here. Harry and Sirius communicate exactly as much as they need to. Sirius pays the compliment, “You’re definitely your father’s son,” and then he’s off, because he has to be. Because time is against them. One thing that happens in the book that doesn’t happen in the movie is the letter that he writes the very next day on the Hogwarts Express. And that, I think, serves as your alternate closure to Harry, since they don’t have that conversation that they’re able to have because of the freeze frame.
Beth: Yeah, and I think getting it through the letter is really interesting because Harry can reread it multiple times and has it to sit with and process, which is really nice.
Katy: And they just cut Pig… [laughs] I’m totally getting my words scrambled. They totally cut Pigwidgeon from the movies completely, and that makes me so sad! So sad.
Beth: I know.
Katy: And the ending of that, with him flying off on the broom… ugh. So cheesy. God.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: But that’s after this chapter anyway.
Beth: Next on Alohomora!: bashing Prisoner of Azkaban, the movie.
Beth: Sorry, Michael.
Eric: I’ve hit my quota of doing that, I think, for a lifetime, so…
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Josh: I haven’t seen the Azkaban movie in a long, long time. I think it’s my least favorite of the movies, actually.
Beth: I used to not be able to stand it, and lately every time I rewatch it, I appreciate it more and more. So I don’t know what it is about it, but I guess I have forgiven it for all of its differences from the books and just let it be what it is.
Josh: Yeah, I can do that with pretty much all the rest of them, though I don’t like Half-Blood Prince all that much either as a film. But the changes in the other movies don’t bother me nearly as much as Azkaban.
Katy: Because of all the Marauders stuff that gets cut, probably. That’s just a heinous, heinous crime to have cut all of that from that movie.
Eric: Yep. I think it’s a misunderstanding of what the book is about: Harry finding love and family in places where he didn’t know it, and not how weird the world is.
Josh: I think Movie 6 suffers from the same problem. They missed the mark of the important parts of that book, I think.
Eric: I think that’s probable.
Katy: Okay. So for our Podcast Question of the Week this week, we are going to ask you about Madam Pomfrey, our favorite healer/nurse/doctor/whatever she is.
Katy: [laughs] Patron of Hogwarts.
Katy: We would like your opinion. Is she a one-note character? Is it a problem? Is there not enough to her? We just want to hear what you think about her as a person, as a character, the examples we see in the series… Should there be more to her than there is, or do you think she is just as she should be?
Beth: And if you would like to hear us discuss this topic, go on over to our Patreon and we will be posting a little bit of a clip for you guys. And I also want to thank our guest, Josh, for coming on this show. Josh, you were awesome. You have brought so many great points to the show. Thank you so much for being here.
Josh: Hey, thanks for having me. This was a ton of fun.
Katy: Yay! [claps] I’m so glad you had fun. I had fun having you here. I haven’t podcasted with you in so long. [laughs]
Eric: You guys [have] to bring back the She-Ra podcast.
Katy: We do. We really do.
Josh: Yep. We’ve got to get our fearless leader on board with doing that.
Katy: It’s all John’s fault. [laughs] And also, Josh, why don’t you tell our listeners where they can find you online? Because you’ve got several projects that you work on, and they might want to look you up.
Josh: Well, you can find me on Twitter; I am @Lioncourt on Twitter. I have a blog that I almost never write on at lioncourt.com. And as I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of writing. So if you just search for “Josh de Lioncourt” on Amazon or Audible, you’ll find my novel, and on Kindle there is a companion short story that goes along with it. The book is called Haven Lost, and it is the first volume in a fantasy series. And I am in the midst of writing Book 2 as we speak.
Beth: That’s awesome.
Katy: The first one is really good!
Katy: Sorry. I have to put a plug out there. I loved it. [laughs]
Beth: That’s awesome. I will definitely be checking it out.
Josh: It’s darker in some ways than Harry Potter, so be aware. Not for children. Be aware of that. And if you do like it, leave a review. If you don’t, then probably don’t leave a review.
Eric: That’s how that works. Well, for Alohomora! listeners, time to give you a preview of our next episode topic. It’s going to be on the one, the only, Miss Ginny Weasley.
Beth and Eric: Another!
Beth: Thor cup smash.
Eric: Yes. I assume book Ginny and not movie Ginny. Although, maybe both, if you do the thing properly.
Katy: Probably both.
Eric: But yes, Ginny Weasley, the only Weasley girl. So definitely tune in for that episode and send us your thoughts on her in advance, and definitely, once the episode airs, give it a listen. If you become a Patron, you may be able to sponsor that episode, as we’ve mentioned before.
Katy: Indeed. And if you would like to be on the show, just like Josh was, what you can do is go to alohomora.mugglenet.com. You can do two things. You can click on the “Topic Submit” page and suggest your own topic, if it’s one we have not discussed yet and that we have not said we are going to be doing soon. And you can say yes, you do want to be the guest on that topic, or you can say, “No, I want to hear other people talk about it,” or you can click on the “Be on the Show” toggle or button or whatever. And you can actually choose one of the upcoming topics and fill out what your thoughts are about that topic and then email us an audio clip, a little audition, so we can make sure that your audio equipment is compatible with our format, with our show. And you can be on the show as well; you don’t need anything fancy. You just need headphones and a microphone. But we just need that audition to make sure we can get you sounding as good as possible to go on the show.
Beth: And you can get in touch with us in a variety of ways. You can follow us on Twitter @AlohomoraMN, and keep an eye out for our polls on there as well for when we’re deciding what topics to talk about. Then we have facebook.com/openthedumbledore, we have our website, alohomora.mugglenet.com, we have our YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/alohomoramn, and as always, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric: We mentioned our Patreon. We want to thank once again Nicola Poplawski for sponsoring this episode. And here’s the address that I teased earlier: It’s patreon.com/alohomora. You can sponsor us for as low as $1 per month, gain access to exclusive conversations that we only share with our Patrons, and you get the password to join Dumbledore’s Office, which is our exclusive Facebook group, as well as other benefits. And I promise the password isn’t 1234, so don’t try it.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: You guys, it’s not 1234, is it? Become our Patron and get the secret password.
Katy: And I also wanted to mention that we have an internship opening for the show. We are on the lookout for another one or two individuals to join our team as audio editors. So if you have any experience in this field and are interested in becoming an intern, please visit the following page, see if you meet the requirements, and if so, send in your application. The address for that page is mugglenet.com/site/internships.
Beth: Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to edit out all of our coughs and things and mistakes and…
Eric: Exclusive opportunity.
Katy: To hear our horrible, horrible mix-ups, mashups, whatever, like I just did.
Eric: Outtakes. Slip-ups.
Katy: I can’t even get the word out. Yeah. All of those. You get to hear all of that beforehand and laugh at us and make fun of us, and we won’t get mad at you for it. It’s all good. So you should totally check that out. Even if you just go to mugglenet.com and search for “internship,” I think, in the search bar, it’ll take you to that page. Not hard to find.
Eric: [sighs] You guys, I think we should talk about this chapter in another 200 episodes.
Beth: [laughs] I am so down.
Katy: I think we should too.
Eric: See how we feel about it.
Josh: It’ll be a closed time loop.
Beth: Oh no!
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Eric: We’ve closed the time loop now.
Katy: No, it has to happen, because it already has.
Eric: Yeah, exactly. I saw myself cast the Patronus before, but I thought it was my dad.
Eric: Now it’s time to cast the Patronus this time.
[Show music begins]
Eric: Anyway, I’m Eric.
Beth: I’m Beth.
Katy: And I am Katy. Thank you for listening to Episode 233 of Alohomora!
Beth: Open the Dumbledore! Again and again and again and again…
[Show music continues]
Eric: [as Harry] “But I could do it because I realized that I already had! Does that make sense?”
Katy: [as Hermione] “No! No.”
[Eric and Katy laugh]