Transcript – Episode 31

[Show music begins]

Noah Fried: Welcome, everyone. This is Episode 31 of Alohomora! for May 18, 2013.

[Show music continues]

Noah: Hey, guys. I’m Noah Fried.

Laura Reilly: I’m Laura Reilly.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric Scull.

Caleb Graves: And I’m Caleb Graves.

Noah: So guys, we were at MISTI-Con recently. We did our first live show. We want to thank Ellie Darcey-Alden, who played young Lily Potter in the movie, for being on with us. But that was just a really spectacular show. It was really cool meeting her – and her entire family, actually – and she had a lot of good insights and it sounded like the fans who went really enjoyed themselves. But how did you guys feel about the show?

Laura: Yeah, it was awesome meeting fans in person. I really wasn’t anticipating to meet people that actually did listen to the show and had part of our fanbase. So that was really exciting and great to meet you guys in person, to hear your comments in person, hear a lot of new voices, and the guest comments. So thank you so much.

Caleb: Yeah, I think it was just really kind of overwhelming to meet… like Laura said, we really enjoyed hearing some of you guys’ stories as you came and talked to us, and we even found a lot of new people who had not listened to the show before who came and joined us for our live show, so that was really great. Hopefully you are joining us now. But yeah, it was a blast. I loved it.

Noah: Yeah, it was a good thing you called out to them, Caleb, in the breakfast room just before.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: It was probably… I don’t know if that was necessary, but it helped at the end of the day.

Caleb: They were just trying to get their grub on.

Noah: Yeah. But it was a lot of fun, and shout-out to Rebecca and Sue. I met you guys. You guys are the best. [laughs] Alohomora! fans are so nice.

Caleb: Well, and since MISTI-Con went so well, we are really excited now to hit up LeakyCon this summer. We released a video while we were at MISTI-Con announcing that we would be at LeakyCon, and we’re really, really excited about that, especially since between the two LeakyCons all of the hosts will be up on stage for our live show. So in Portland, which comes toward the end of June, myself, Noah, Laura, Kat, and Eric will all be attending. So I guess that will be… well, we say like we’ve been doing live shows forever, but we just did our first one. So we’re really excited to have that many people on one stage, so pretty much everyone here in the States, Eric will be joining us. So…

Noah: Yup.

Eric: Looking forward to it.

Caleb: Yeah. Eric is actually the vet here, so you may have to…

[Eric and Noah laugh]

Caleb: You’re a LeakyCon live show…

Eric: I’ll tell them how many chairs to set up. That’s usually the thing. Sometimes they leave one and other times you’re there to fend for yourself. So I’ll make sure… I’ll speak with the AV people beforehand and we’ll get Noah a chair. Otherwise, it’s just… I’ll have to kneel.

[Noah laughs]

Caleb: I mean, Noah can sit on the floor. It’s fine.

Noah: [unintelligible]

Laura: We’re going to put him in the corner.

Caleb: [laughs] Yeah.

Laura: Timeout.

Noah: No, I can just walk around the audience.

Laura: Oh, dear, don’t encourage it.

Caleb: No.

Eric: There you go.

Caleb: No, no, no, no, no. But after Portland, in August we are so so excited to attend LeakyCon’s first convention over in London. So myself, Noah, Kat, and Rosie will be heading up London, England. It’s just so crazy to think about this is actually happening. I’m so excited.

Laura: And Eric and I will just cry. [laughs]

Eric: We’ll be in tears. It’s true.

Caleb: We’ll definitely miss you guys.

Laura: Yeah, no, we’re excited for you guys.

Eric: Maybe we should be your stateside correspondents.

Caleb: Totally.

Eric: You could flash over to us with a newsflash.

Caleb: Yeah, we need to bring all these Brits news of the States back home. So…

Noah: [laughs] Do them a service.

Eric: I will prepare a video package.

Caleb: Yes. Solid. So we’re really excited to do that. We’ll probably have a very similar set up to MISTI-Con. We think we learned quite a few things doing our show at MISTI-Con, but it went pretty well and we’re excited to hit that up again at Leaky.

Noah: There were a few audio things, but we got past it pretty quick because…

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: … everyone got so invested in the content of the show, which is what we’re all about.

Caleb: Yeah, big shout-out to all the technical work done at MISTI. They really came through and put a lot of effort into making sure the show happen well. So thank you guys for that and just putting together an amazing convention.

Eric: So MISTI was a lot of fun. We are looking forward to seeing you guys. If you guys are attending any of those live conventions we just mentioned, you’ll have an opportunity to see us in person and listen to one of our upcoming live shows. And now, let’s do what Alohomora! does best.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: Potter discussion.

Noah: I like that setup. I like it. [laughs]

Eric: Right?

Noah: That’s the best.

Eric: Well, so first thing’s first, there was an episode… we’re actually going to go two episodes back. It’s something… I’m willing to wager it never happened before. Back to Episode 29 of Alohomora! – of course, the MISTI-Con episode was smackdown in the middle of it, but Episode 29 we were talking about – or you guys were talking about – Chapter 18 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And sure enough, there were a lot of points that our listeners responded to, so we’re just going to dive right into those.

Noah: This comment is from HPAlison:

“Would Sirius have killed Peter? Absolutely. I think Lupin would have too. I don’t necessarily think that makes either of them a bad person. Both Sirius and Lupin are essentially good but very damaged people. And Peter caused much of their pain. I do think Sirius and Lupin would have regretted it largely because it prevents Sirius’s name from being cleared and also perhaps for the moral implications. And despite the fact that Dumbledore says that James would have spared Peter, I kind of wonder. The James I envision probably would have been intent on vengeance as well if Lupin or Sirius had been the ones Peter indirectly killed. But I do think Harry’s reasoning is more accurate, that James would not want Sirius or Lupin to become killers.”

Laura: I really agree with this comment. I mean, we did talk about [how] we know very little about James and his personality, but I think while Sirius does seem to be a bit more brash, I think Lupin… he’s pretty level headed, essentially. And if he was willing to kill Pettigrew, I really think that if the roles had been reversed and Sirius was the one that had been murdered and James locked away for it, I think he totally would have done the same thing.

Noah: That’s the thing, but Harry’s reasoning was that he felt that James would be the one to also say give him mercy. So does that mean that Harry is morally more responsible than his father?

Laura: Well, the way I kind of interpreted what Harry was saying was almost like James from beyond would not want Sirius or Lupin to become killers.

Eric: Mm.

Laura: Like kind of being like as if he was looking down and being, “I don’t want my friends to do this because I died, but not with the knowledge that I had died.” [laughs] Not way back when… had the situation been there and James been there, and James would have said, “No, we shouldn’t kill him.” I don’t know, maybe. But the impression I got was that it was James from beyond.

Eric: Yeah, I think I agree with Laura’s take on it, the way Harry is viewing it. But… I mean, Harry’s big quest to learn more about his father is very slow and painstaking. But anyway, so here’s… we’re keeping the subject on the Marauders because these chapters we’re working on are very Marauders centric, which is lovely. This is from Mischief Managed on the forums. Very clever name.

“Perhaps the seeds of Peter’s betrayal were planted in these early days. I’m definitely into purest of pure speculation here, but we can probably safely assume James and Sirius could change into their Animagus forms before Peter could. I could easily see them leaving Peter behind and going to hang out with Lupin until he actually managed to become an Animagus. Watching them go off, even while they were trying to get him to change into an animal so that he could join them, would have been hard for the fifteen-year-old Peter to watch and especially in someone like him, could have started some seeds of resentment/dislike. I can just see him sitting in his room, maybe even watching them from his window, muttering, ‘Always left behind, nobody wants Peter around, Peter isn’t as talented or cool, there they go roaming around, I hope they get caught…'”

Caleb: [laughs] I really love that dialogue.

Laura: This is the image I get is very “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” here. [laughs]

Eric: [laughs] “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”

Noah: But guys, I think this is absolutely true, right?

Eric: No, I think… I mean, just again, going based on how I interpret the line in the books, I really feel like they all became Animagi at the same time.

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: I think it was kind of very… it was so collaborative, such a collaborative process, that they all almost tried it at once and it worked at once. I think…

Laura: Well, they do say that Peter needed all the help from James and Sirius that they could.

Noah: Right.

Eric: Yeah.

Laura: So it kind of… it does make me feel like… not like this big, long gap of time when they were going off by themselves, but I do think that James and Sirius probably figured it out first, and then once they figured it out, be like, “All right. Come on, Peter, now you do this.”

Eric: I always, I guess, unconsciously compared turning into an Animagus as like restoring an old car. You know what parts you need for it, like, “Okay, carburetor goes here, this, that, the other thing.” I feel like the Marauders would have been getting one step closer with every passing week. For years, they were working on this, we found out. But I don’t think they would have gotten too far ahead of Peter. I think they would have made sure that they were all on the same page because again, the whole reason they became Animagi was so that they could entertain or still hang out with Remus and make him feel better. So I think they would have been very concerned with all of them doing it, and we should remember how close, I guess, they were in their school years. They were the Marauders. I feel like they really would have probably changed as close to the same time as possible. But I agree…

Laura: So probably less drastic but kind of in the similar vein of – not them transforming but – just Peter being a bit resentful. I think it’s safe to say that he might have had a bit of resentment just in knowing that he was probably the least popular even within his own group. It’s not that his friends didn’t consider him a friend, but I’m sure James and Sirius were obviously close, and Lupin is kind of on the outskirts of James and Sirius that it’s even farther a move from Peter, and I’m sure that was something that…

Noah: I mean, guys – just to be completely candid – don’t you think that Sirius and James’s treatment of Pettigrew – of Peter – during their school years contributed and perhaps directly led to his involvement with dark stuff later on because he wanted to prove himself?

Eric: No. I mean, Peter did what he wanted because he chose to. Whatever excuses he can come up with about so-and-so was mean to [him]. He was very happy to be their friend, and I think – as it’s put in the next chapter, which of course will come into play a little later – he’s basically just checking up with who[m]ever’s the most powerful, and at Hogwarts that was the Marauders, but after Hogwarts that ended up seeming to him to be Voldemort.

Noah: So you think that just plays into his fundamental personality.

Eric: I think he knows that he’s not powerful or as powerful as everybody else, and so he does want to leach off that power in his core being. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something that he’s consciously thinking of a hundred percent of the time.

Noah: But there’s a later point in the chapter where Sirius is joking with Peter about how, “Oh, we made you the Secret Keeper because we thought no one would suspect [you]. You’re so weak and cowardly.” So on that… what if that sort of wave treating him was something they did at school? And if that’s the case, is it possible that his environment of being with them caused him to make choices that were bad, and maybe if he had had more nurturing friends, he wouldn’t have done that?

Eric: I think when they were at school, though, they had Snape to worry about. All of their energy was probably focused on James’s biggest adversary, Severus Snape. You never really hear too much about them making fun of Peter although the teachers made fun of Peter for sure. McGonagall always looked down upon him and that sort of thing, so maybe there was a little bit of that.

Caleb: I think one thing that’s… something – and Eric, you were touching on this earlier – that we do too easily is impose the relationship we think they had between the four of them based on what is happening now. I just think when they were in school themselves – like you said – they were all focused on Snape. I think they were all still very good friends, and, while I think Peter was the weak one, the runt of the crew, I mean, they still thought of him as one of their own. There'[re] a couple of lines in the chapter we’re talking about today where it’s clear that Sirius is just now realizing how obvious it was back then that Peter was this slimy character in some ways, so it wasn’t necessarily as evident to him then. So I think, in general, we’ve got to be more careful of not assuming that the relationship they have now is so close to the way it was when they were in school.

Eric: That’s a very fair point. I think the nickname “Wormtail” was probably then an expression of affection as opposed to…

Caleb: Yeah, probably so and it’s easy to assume otherwise.

Noah: This next comment is from Larry:

“Snape doesn’t owe a life debt to anyone.”

That was when I think I made the comment that Snape owes a life debt.

“Snape’s life was only in jeopardy because of cruel actions by others. Just because they put the kibosh on it…”

What’s kibosh?

“… doesn’t mean they saved his life. They saved their own souls from scarring.

Now, for the ‘life debt’ on the whole, I don’t think that it’s literal. I don’t believe the text supports the idea that somehow magically your life is owed to someone who saves it. To me, it’s JKR being artistic with words. The fact that Peter Pettigrew decides to stop and think about what he’s doing in Deathly Hallows is reason enough. It was his decision to do what he did. There was nothing stopping him from doing whatever he wanted to do, except Voldemort’s curse. If there [were] a literal life debt, JKR wouldn’t have included Voldemo[r]t’s curse. This is very similar to The Lord of the Rings where Gollom [sic] is said to have a life debt to Bilbo, but it was just artistic writing and foreshadowing.”

Now, Eric, you’ve talked about life debts for many years now. These are existent things in the series?

Eric: Oh, God, have I? You’d think it [were] my shtick. Sorry, what was the question?

Noah: So this comment here… skgai is saying that life debts are more these sort of philosophical things and aren’t actually magical bonds in the series, but I believe these are actual things when they happen, right?

Eric: Well, what happens with Peter Pettigrew in particular when Harry comes to cache in on the supposed life debt is… actually points to a sentience for his Voldemort-given hand where it says, “Oh, you’ve shown weakness. I have to then strangle you.”

Noah: Right.

Eric: But I think that’s probably separate from the life debt. I think the life debt is more of a cultural thing. I think even in other literature a life debt is something where somebody realizes the significance of what someone else has done, so I don’t think it’s necessarily magical. The only possible refuting of that that I see as evidence by the series just off the top of my head is Lily Evans’s death because she protected Harry by jumping in front of him, and that was.. it’s not a life debt, but it would be in the same realm of magic, I’d predict, as that because it might offer some sort of magical bond between people.

Laura: Yeah, I have to agree with Eric that though the actual life debt itself – and I said this on the other episode – isn’t an actual magical… the whole Pettigrew thing with the hand, yeah, was a sentient thing, but the life debt caused him to pause and doubt himself, and maybe that was what caused the whole hand thing – but that’s for Deathly Hallows – but I do agree with what skgai said that Snape doesn’t owe a life debt to anyone, regardless of whether or not that’s a thing, because they said his life was only in jeopardy because of the actions by Sirius, and just because they stopped it… yeah, it kind of saved their own ass. That doesn’t mean he’s in debt to them.

Noah: It’s a… I mean, I totally understand that. I was always under the impression, though, that it was an objective thing – a real magical contract in some way. That was still unexplained, and I want to reevaluate that scene with Pettigrew where he’s about to kill Harry but then the hand stops him because I think Pettigrew is fully intending to kill Harry, but then when Harry says, “[I] saved [your] life,” he stops. But I don’t think he stops because he wants to stop at that moment. I think he wants to kill Harry. I think he stops because he magically can’t do it. And then…

Laura: It’s a moral thing.

Eric: I think he stops because, yeah, the good side of him – to borrow from Star Wars, the light side of the Force – causes him to hesitate. That’s it. It’s a hesitation because he remembers the scene from I believe it’s this chapter where he’s on his knees, and Sirius is going to kill him, and Remus is like, “Okay, whatever Harry says,” and Harry says, “No, don’t.”

Laura: It’s like Les Mis.

Eric: Pettigrew can’t help but realize that yes, in fact Harry has spared his life, and because he’s human, and that’s the natural human response when somebody says, “But wait. I saved your life. Why are you killing me?”

Noah: Yeah, so maybe life debts are way more powerful even though they’re not magic or something.

Eric: I think it’s like… it’s human. It’s a human condition thing.

Noah: Wasn’t that beautiful? Oh, that’s very nice.

[Laura and Noah laugh]

Eric: So Caleb, why don’t we give you a shot here? There'[re] comments on the Alohomora! site – again, from last week’s episode – about Crookshanks.

Caleb: Yeah, so this is from rebeccatheravenclaw, and it says,

“Rosie asked where Crookshanks was during the trio’s camping trip in DH, which made me wonder if maybe Hermione had her parents take him when they move to Australia as Wendell and Monica Wilkins. I can see Hermione doing this for two reasons: first, she knows she’s not going to be able to properly care fpr him while they’re on the run (and he would really get underfoot as they move their campsite everyday), and secondly, [since] Crookshanks is half Kneazle, perhaps Hermione thought Crookshanks may be able to somehow look after her parents while she can’t. The Kneazle entry on the HP Wiki says that Kneazles have the ability to ‘detect suspicious and distrustful people,’ which would help ‘Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins’ in case any Death Eaters were somehow able to track them to Australia. What do you think?”

Eric: I think the implications here are really cool – that Crookshanks would be a sort of watcher for them – but I don’t know that Crookshanks could necessarily actually protect against Death Eaters.

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: But I mean, then again, he got Ron pretty good when he first jumped on him, so yeah, I think it’s entirely plausible.

Laura: Yeah, I have to say that… yeah, there’s really nothing that says that this wouldn’t be the case of just them taking their cat with them – the family cat named something else.

Noah: As we’ve found, Crookshanks is incredibly smart, so I see this as very possible.

Eric: Oh, and the other thing is that Crookshanks would have had to have lived with Hermione and her parents on the summer holidays, which is something I didn’t quite consider before. From years three to seven it’s not like she left Crookshanks at Hogwarts although she could have, but… so I imagine her parents were pretty well-acquainted with Crookshanks. Maybe it’s harder to erase the memory of a pet, or she would have taken Crookshanks.

Laura: Okay, so on the show last week our special feature was The Beast Inquistion where we discussed in depth Animagi. So we got a lot of comments on that, and we also got a lot in our live show about the Animagus, too, if you want to check that out.

Noah: I thought that was [pronounces Aeh-neh-maeh-GEE] Animagi, Laura.

Laura: No. Geez, no.

[Noah laughs]

Laura: So on our forums HPAlison says,

“One of you commented that Animagi probably cannot change forms throughout their lives, whereas the form of one’s patronus can change. I agree with this, although I’m not sure why. I actually think it raises some difficult questions. An Animagus reflects one’s true nature. Is a person’s true nature set in stone their entire life? It reminds me of the concept of predestiny. What’s the use of trying to be a better person if who you are is already predetermined? Or taking a different angle, was Peter really a sneaky, deceitful self-centered person his entire life, or did he only turn into that person when faced with extreme stress of choosing between Voldemort and his friends?”

So I actually saw this comment prior to our live show and had that in my mind, and I think I brought it up, saying whether or not the Patronus and the Animagi were the difference of being your true nature and just the way you reflect yourself and whether those were two different things – predetermined. So what do you guys think on that?

Noah: Well, I think the fact that the Patronus can change should give us some – oh, that is my roommate – insight into how it works, so I think it has something to do with your inner self. It changes.

Eric: Yeah, I think, Laura, your suggestion there makes a lot of sense, but I do want to say that the Animagus form has to be allowed to be subjective to some point. For instance, rats: Yes, they are sneaky, and perhaps they only care for themselves – I wouldn’t really know; I don’t know them all that well – but they’re also brilliant. Rats are taught to navigate complex mazes and do a bunch of other things. Rats are really clever as well, and that’s not an attribute you ever see Peter Pettigrew showing or displaying except for maybe some very few moments in the series. So I think that the fact that he’s a rat, and he’s a traitor rat, and it plays on the language aspect as well… ultimately I think JKR was writing people’s Animagus forms because she was – in a way – cheating because she knew what that person would turn out to be, but again, to say that someone is badger-like or beaver-like or white rabbit-like really raises the question, “Well, what is a white rabbit like?” On one hand they’re soft and fluffy. On the other hand they breed like crazy.

Noah: That is true.

Eric: Is the person a bunny rabbit in the sense that they’re soft and fluffy or are they a sex maniac?

Noah: Well, Eric, I’m a bunny rabbit, and I will not speak to any of those on the show. But…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Okay. We can talk about this after.

Noah: Yeah, we can talk about that after, but to comment on Peter: If he is a rat, through and through, did he really have a moral choice here? He was always going to be the traitor. It’s kind of unfair, and I personally don’t find him morally responsible at all.

Eric: Oh, come on! But rats are also other things. I mean, Peter could have really risen to the challenge and come up with… Say, if he were more of a Ravenclaw, he still would have been a rat as an Animagus, but he could have adopted some of those other characteristics. Again, what we see a certain animal as being… we’re anthropomorphizing every animal that is ever an Animagus, and JKR did the same thing.

Laura: Well, I also think, Noah, that you are completely wrong in saying that just because… it’s not like the Animagus was a random choice, and the Animagus decided he’d be a rat, so therefore he’s stuck in this rat thingy’s ideas of what a rat could be. He became a rat because he had those characteristics. Not the other way around.

Eric: Apparently at one point, rats were evidently popular enough among students. I think, doesn’t Hagrid testify to that at some point? Or maybe he says toads are out of fashion. But because Harry, in his first year, is told you can either bring…

Laura: Yeah, no. That was toads.

Caleb: Yeah, because a rat isn’t one of the ones…

Eric: Oh, rat’s not one of those.

Laura: Yeah, because I always get irritated that Ron brings a rat when it isn’t an option. [laughs]

Eric: Oh, okay. I assumed it was an option, which meant of course I’m wrong now, but I always thought there would be more rats around. Perhaps in Pettigrew’s time it was a more common thing.

Laura: All right, so this last comment comes from rebeccathetavenclaw on our main site. It says,

“Going off on this Animagus subject, I’ve always wondered what would happen to people [whose] Animagus forms were creatures from the ocean because there’s clearly some breathing issues that need to be addressed… I believe my Patronus is a dolphin, so I think there must be people who have Animagus forms that are similar… or do you think that’s not ‘allowed’? Or is there some other way they could still have a fish or dolphin or similar as their Animagus and maybe magically be able to breathe on land? Wow, Animagi are way more complicated that I first thought!”

[Eric laughs]

Noah: And…

Eric: I think it’s during becoming an Animagus that you actually just need to make sure there is a tub of water near you just in case you turn into a fish.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: But…

Laura: I mean being… well, I don’t agree. As I have mentioned before, I am afraid of fish, but…

Noah: Then you’d be a fish!

Laura: For normal people, being a fish, I would imagine, would be cool. And that being able to swim across ocean… not like a small fish but even a whale or something. You know what I mean.

Eric: Yeah. No, I get what you mean. I think it’s interesting because we know that a Patronus can be something like an otter. [A] Patronus could be a dolphin. It could be pretty much any creature because it’s – not a shadow but – a beam of light in the shape of an animal. And so in that way it can take on the majestic characteristics of undersea creatures.

Noah: But I wonder, do we see any evidence in the series that Patronuses or Animag[i] can be aquatic creatures?

Eric: Yes, because they don’t breathe.

Noah: No, but do we see any evidence of them being those?

Laura: Well, no. Not in the sense that they’re there.

Noah: What if it’s not possible? What if you can only turn into mammals? Not amphibians.

Eric: Then that’s…

Laura: Well, they turn into insects and into birds.

Noah: That’s true. And birds are kind of like fish.

Laura: Or snakes.

Eric: Otherwise JKR is being racist.

Laura: I’m willing to bet if Voldemort had a Patronus it’d be a snake.

Noah: Yeah.

Laura: Or a reptile.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: That’d be a weird Patronus. Yeah, you’re…

Caleb: I mean, probably it’s just a risk you’ve got to take if you’re going to become an aquatic Animagus. You have to be prepared.

Laura: Maybe that’s why not that many people attempt it.

Caleb: Yes.

Noah: If you work for years, and then you’re just a fish, and then you die?

Caleb: Well, I mean, you’ve just got to be prepared. You have to have that discipline, and I guess, for lack of a better word, “practice” of switching back and forth and knowing [where] your limits are.

Noah: Do you think in every… in the manual, when you’re discovering how to become an Animagus, you have to make sure that when you do your first transformation, you’re over a tub of water just in case?

Eric: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Laura: Noah…

Noah: And now, it’s time for Noah’s segment. [laughs] Sorry, guys.

Caleb: Wonderful.

Noah: The Podcast Question of the Week, not from last week because we were at a live show. We didn’t actually touch on this. Wow, my roommate is just… allergies… the pollen. Anyway, the question was, “We don’t know much about James Potter other than the facts that he looks a lot like Harry and bullied Snape when they went to school… pretty viciously, actually. But we know that his Animagus form was a stag, and we know that a person’s Animagus form says a ton about the person.” Gross. “It is more or less a person’s spirit animal. So what qualities can we assume about James, given the fact that he was a stag?” Yeah, I remember posing this question… I just think it’s interesting because what is an actual stag in common culture and literature, and what does that mean for James’s character? Do we really know James – the guy he was – and is it similar to what a stag is? So here’s our first comment from The Grey Lady:

“I think an interesting way to look at it is James’s love of showing off. Stags will alwys try to show off for the females and come off as better than the other males. They will fight other stags for rights to a female. I think this is a connection to the way James behaves around Lily. I also like the fact that Lily’s Patronus is a doe, and James transforms into a stag. Did James become a stag because of his love for Lily, or did Lily’s Patronus change once she started to fall for James? Just something to think about.”


Laura: That’s interesting. I mean, I know there’s obviously the connection between the doe and the stag, but I didn’t think about them potentially changing for each other. Maybe it was just [that] they already liked each other once their Patronuses were being determined. Because we see young kids doing their Patronuses, but that’s out of the ordinary.

Caleb: Mhm.

Laura: Normally, that’s extremely difficult magic. So maybe they were already together and older when they determined that they would learn how to do this Patronus spell.

Eric: I know people think often that Snape was actually the one for Lily. It was just sort of a love that couldn’t happen, and it was forbidden, and they just didn’t really match up…

Noah: They do say that.

Eric: … but I think that… well, because it just seems like Snape is, in the end, the great romantic, and James is this cocky stag, as it were. But I think the fact that James’s Animagus is a stag – and later we learn that Lily’s Patronus presumably always was a doe, seeing as how that’s even how Snape identifies with her by taking the doe as his Patronus – we have to suggest the possibility that James and Lily were right for each other.

Noah: If their Patronuses were just naturally those then, yeah.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Or again, maybe hers changed to a doe for his stag.

Caleb: I think it was just sort of… I think I can just see it sort of becoming… they’ve had that connection, and that just sort of magic just allowed that fate to come about.

Laura: Yeah, that’s what I was saying.

Eric: Yeah, James and Lily were… oh, sorry.

Laura: No, I was just agreeing with Caleb. I was thinking.

Eric: Yeah, James and Lily were a great team. They thrice defied Voldemort, all that other stuff.

Noah: Thrice.

Eric: So I think it’s entirely possible that it was coincidence that they both matched up so well. But I do agree: You can’t change your Animagus form. I don’t think that would be…

Noah: Or it’s not a conscious choice.

Eric: Hmm, yeah.

Noah: Oh, wait, you don’t think you can change your Animagus form at all, but your Patronus can change?

Eric: Yes.

Noah: Now, do you think Snape – if he had been an Animagus… just like his Patronus changed, do you think his Animagus form could have changed?

Eric: No.

Noah: Got it.

Eric: Yeah, I think an Animagus is like if God – or if a deity – wrote down [a] one-word summary of who you were going to be in your life, for better or for worse, that word would be you. That would be your Animagus form.

Noah: Yeah.

Eric: But again…

Caleb: That’s a good way of looking at it.

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: … I mean, it’s extremely subjective because what’s a badger? So…

Laura: Right. It’s a lot of personification, and it also could get to kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy thing where it’s like, “Well, I’m a rat, so let me go do ratty things.”

[Eric laughs]

Noah: Do we think this sort of spirit-animal connection is a reference to those religious beliefs that were tied to spirit-animal stuff?

Eric: Yeah, I think it definitely is. And I mean, the concepts we’ll see in other literature, too. I like that both the Animagus and the Patronus exist in the Harry Potter series, but I think it’s right to question because the two are never quite separated from each other because one can change, the other can’t, but one changes quite frequently for some people and seems to be ruled by emotion, whereas the other one is really, really definitive, but nobody I think in the series has ever really asked or drawn the comparison between the two – the fact that there are Animagi and Patronuses out there.

Noah: There feels like a fundamental connection to them. Here’s the next comment from Mischief Managed:

“In what I’ve been reading, stags often are seen as a symbol for masculinity. This could imply James is some sort of hyper-masculine character? We know he is definitely a big Quidditch star, and sports stars in generaltend to be seen as the epitome of maleness and masculinity in our culture (well, in the right sports, I guess. I’m watching playoff hockey right now; that’s mostly what I’m thinking of).”

[Eric laughs]

Noah: That’s cool, Mischief Managed. Yeah, so this really speaks to The Grey Lady’s comment. It’s like James is this… if he is really a stag, he’s this hyper-masculine character and gets all the ladies, and I mean, he’s clearly the leader of their gang, I think, unless you guys would be willing to bet that it’s Sirius and James, but I feel like he was definitely the leader on some level, and so they just bought into the idea that Snape was jealous of him because of the Quidditch stuff. But do you think this is true? Do you think he really embodied this sort of masculine role?

Eric: I think he’s the alpha male of the group. I think that’s very fair to say. It’s not Lupin.

Noah: Yeah.

Eric: It’s definitely not Pettigrew, and Sirius is more of a follower. I think he does put a lot back on James’s plate. They play off each other very well, but James, I think, is definitely very clearly the real actor, the leader who’s able to sift through Sirius’s impulsiveness and actually determine what they’re going to do.

Noah: Yep.

Caleb: Yeah, totally.

Noah: That feels about right. Next comment from hpnut24:

“Independence, guidance, and strength are all interrelated with James. As an only child, I can see James being very used to relying on himself for the most part. Depiste the fact that he has great friendships, James can take care of himself. I think he is a very strong[-]willed person. He clearly has no problem stnading up for what he believe in even if he actions are misguided. I also see James as a guider or leader among his group of friends. It’s a shame we don’t see James more because he’s very interesting. I think he put up a front on the outside but was a really good guy deep down who was loved by many.”

Eric: Hmm, I don’t know about that. I kind of like a lot of what happens in Book 5 about questioning James. Harry really, really questioning because you see Snape’s worst memory, and it is terrifying, even to Harry. He’s blown away. And all we really get is this assurance from… it’s either Remus or Sirius immediately after saying, “Oh, yeah, but in later years he was a different guy, Harry.”

Laura: I mean, that’s valid. I mean, I’m not justifying what James did, but he’s also… obviously you should know the difference between right and wrong, but when it comes down to it, he was a kid – a smug kid – and he did see the error of his ways, I think, to a degree – certainly more than Sirius – when it comes to Snape.

Caleb: See, I’m not so convinced that he did. I mean, he obviously did some good in the world; he joined the Order, and obviously he was fighting against Voldemort, but I don’t think that makes him necessarily… I don’t know if that fixes him. I’m just thinking. I think Rowling is one of, if not the best at writing great characters, thinking about reading The Casual Vacancy, too…

Noah: Mhm.

Laura: Yeah, definitely.

Caleb: Just how that exploded. I just think… like Eric said, I agree when we get to that. That’s some of the best reading is when Harry really struggles with that image that he has of his parents, and perhaps he’s much more like his mother than he was his father because James isn’t this idealistic thing…

Eric: But I…

Caleb: … this idealistic character.

Eric: I will say James would’ve had to have changed for Lily to like him so much…

Caleb: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Eric: … because [he] clearly in “Snape’s Worst Memory” repulses [her]. And the other thing is that having a child does… getting married, having a kid changes you as well, for the better I’d like to think.

Caleb: Let’s hope so.

Eric: Yeah, unless you’re just sleeping less, and you’re even angrier and more of a douche.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: But yeah, I think… so I do think James’s transformation would’ve been better from when he was a kid, although he did die quite young still.

Caleb: Hmm.

Eric: He did die still quite young.

Noah: Can I just say that Harry is perhaps a perfect mix of the leadership and compassion that perhaps James never had?

Eric: I wouldn’t say perfect mix. He’s very much more emotion[al] I think.

Caleb: He’s got too many emotions.

Noah: Yeah. [laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I wouldn’t use the word “perfect” to describe any part of Harry. [laughs]

Noah: He’s our guy though. He’s the leader. He is…

Caleb: [unintelligible]

Noah: We were all looking up to him.

Eric: Well, the books are about him. Let’s just… let’s stop right there.

[Caleb, Laura, and Noah laugh]

Noah: Okay.

Caleb: [laughs] And we get the angriest fan mail ever.

Eric: We’re just being vague. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Noah: I love Harry. Harry loves us. It’s that simple. Because he died for us.

Eric: For five seconds.

Noah: For five seconds.

Caleb: Right.

Eric: Five nanoseconds actually.

Noah: I mean, it really depends because while he was there, it was actually multiple minutes. Anyway, that’s a whole other chapter.

Laura: Yeah, so we’re going to…

Caleb: So that wraps up our comments for last.. or I guess two episodes ago, and now we are going to jump right into this week’s chapter for our new discussion.

[Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 19 intro begins]

Wormtail: Chapter 18.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron: Expelliarmus!

[Sounds of crash]

Wormtail: “The Servant of Lord Voldemort.”

[Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 19 intro ends]

Noah: So guys, I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter. As we know from the last chapter, Snape has been hidden under [the] Invisibility Cloak…

Laura: [gasps]

Noah: … and has just revealed himself. That’s right. And he heard everything… or not everything, but he heard part of the story and now has revealed himself because he wants to save Harry, Ron, and Hermione from Sirius Black because he’s convinced, at this point, that Sirius is still bad, and Lupin was working with him to get him into the castle. So was this a surprise for you guys, having read the book multiple times?

Laura: Surprised that Snape was there or…?

Noah: Yes.

Laura: I mean, yes.

Caleb: The first time I read it, yeah. Is that what you mean?

Noah: That’s what I really mean. The first time…

Caleb: [laughs] Okay, I guess I’ll just say, “The way you worded that… umm, no.”

[Laura and Noah laugh]

Caleb: Because I’ve read it a million times.

Noah: So of course… [laughs]

Eric: I’m constantly – I’ll be on Noah’s side – surprised.

Noah: [laughs] Thank you, Eric.

Eric: Snape shows up? I keep reading in the hopes that one day he won’t show up…

[Caleb laughs]

Eric: … and that Harry and Sirius’ll go and live happily ever after. No, I think that – this goes back to what we were just talking about with old school rivalries with the Marauders – the reason Snape is so against Sirius is because it’s that old rivalry, and because James unfortunately died, Sirius was the next in line to be the one who Snape blames for all of his pain, and so it’s… Snape clearly will not listen to reason…

Noah: Ooh.

Eric: … and this is evidenced in the events of the chapter. And I think, unfortunately, there’s nothing the trio can do, necessarily, except for what happens.

Noah: Eric Scull, you just fell into the trap, man. I’m sorry. Now I have to explain to you: Snape is not angry about that at all.

Eric: Ooh.

Noah: He’s not angry about the Quidditch thing. That’s just the story. He’s angry that… he thinks Sirius betrayed the Potters to Voldemort and ended up killing Lily. That’s why he’s so angry in this scene.

Caleb: Mhm.

Eric: But no. But he won’t listen to reason about Pettigrew. He’s not interested at all, for any questions…

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: … and I think that is influenced from his earlier dealings.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: But wouldn’t you guys say that that’s why he’s chiefly really angry at everyone? Or that’s my case.

Caleb: I think it’s really hard to say what the chief reason is behind… I mean, Snape is probably the most complex character in the series, so I mean, that’s certainly one of the reasons, but I don’t know if it’s the chief.

Noah: Aww, man, Caleb, I completely disagree. It is the chief reason. Let me explain.

Eric: Well, here’s the problem. Oh, if I could jump in between you really quickly. The problem is that…

Noah: You totally are jumping. What is it? Yeah, go on.

Caleb: I’m going to punch him.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: If anybody betrayed Lily, it was Snape, and he should be realizing that first and foremost if he ever forgot it. He was the one – and this isn’t revealed until Book 5 – who brought the prophecy to Voldemort to begin with. So it’s odd to see him so worked up over Sirius. Well, I think that just helps influence his decision more to hate Sirius, that this is the guy who’s actually responsible for that final piece of the puzzle…

Noah: Right.

Eric: … that allowed him to kill her.

Noah: I mean, he feels…

Laura: I think – I don’t remember which one [of you] said it. I don’t know if it was Caleb or Noah, but I don’t think there is…

Caleb: Well, you’d better figure it out.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Caleb wants credit where it’s due. Right now.

Laura: Okay. Caleb, did you say that there was no chief reason for…?

Caleb: Yeah.

Laura: Okay. Well, there you go. Caleb’s thought…

Caleb: Yeah.

Laura: … agreeing… [laughs]

Caleb: I’m just fighting with Noah right now, so I need to know.

Noah: [laughs] Well, I’m disagreeing with both of you guys.

Laura: Okay, no. Well, I’m just saying I don’t believe there’s a chief reason necessarily because it’s just… there'[re] so many factors as to why he could be mad: the bullying, jealousy, Lily, the fact that Sirius thinks he betrayed him, just the fact that he was right all along about Lupin, the fact that Harry is… this still is having to deal with Harry, and…

Caleb: His hair.

Laura: … he snaps on Hermione.

[Caleb laughs]

Laura: I think there’s a zillion reasons why he’s…

Eric: He does snap on Hermione pretty bad.

Laura: Exactly.

Noah: Well, just to completely get rid of the going through the chapter plot by plot, I’m going to jump to a random sentence in the chapter to prove a point. It’s on page 265 in the UK edition. Snape is talking to Harry after Harry is trying to stop him. “You’d have died like your father, too arrogant to believe you might be mistaken in Black. Now get out of the way Potter, or I will make you.” So the reason that he says that is because he thinks that… he blames James for being so arrogant to make Sirius his Secret Keeper and therefore allowing Lily to be killed that way.

Laura: I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m just saying that there’s a bunch of reasons that are…

Eric: And I think that…

Laura: … factoring into his anger.

Eric: And I think that…

Laura: That’s one of them.

Eric: Yeah, and I think that that quote proves my point, too, that…

Noah: What? [laughs]

Eric: … it’s all about Snape’s feeling about James being too arrogant to consider any reason when in fact, it’s Snape who’s being too arrogant.

Caleb: Yeah, I agree. That’s the thing. That’s his impulsive argument, and so that’s what’s on his… that’s driving his anger, I think.

Noah: I feel like it’s his deepest reason for the insane anger that he has because there are so many quotes in the chapter where he’s talking about how he is suddenly quite deranged, how he… “But there was a mad glint in Snape’s eye that Harry had never seen before. He seemed beyond reason.” So all I’m saying is that the Lily thing was the chief reason underplaying all of this, even though multifaceted.

Laura: Okay, well, just to add another thing in here, I think another reason would be that… let’s say Snape is thinking this out of his mind like, “Oh, maybe he’s right, maybe Sirius isn’t guilty.” I don’t think he wants that to be the case. Because right now he could be saying, “How I hoped it would be me to get you.” He really is hoping that it was Sirius so that Sirius can be punished for it, that he can throw him back to the Dementors, and he doesn’t, I don’t think, want to know that all his hate isn’t justified because he hates him so much for so many other reasons that he just wants to throw him to the Dementors and doesn’t even want to hear that it might not even be true.

Noah: I just think it’s not so much the other stuff because it’s exactly what the Marauders say over and over again. It’s like they’re trying to explain why Snape is so upset. They always go back to the Quidditch thing, and there is never a quote where Snape talks about how he wishes he could be on the team, is there?

Eric: Well, you wouldn’t talk about that. He would internalize it. Especially Snape of all people would internalize it. I think the fact that James was always throwing the Snitch around on the grounds when he would go over and torture Snape makes it worse. It’s unspoken, it’s true.

Laura: As we were saying, it’s a lot of factors.

Eric: Yeah. Snape is a complicated dude.

Noah: All right, I just…

Caleb: He has a lot of feelings.

Noah: He’s very complicated, but I feel like I have figured him out. So let me please… I’m going to move on from this. Fans…

Caleb: No, no, no, no, no! We are not… no.

[Noah laughs]

Caleb: You do not get the last word on that.

[Noah laughs]

Caleb: You have feelings. The rest of us have feelings. Then we move on.

Noah: All four of us have very distinct…

Laura: Who’s holding the talking stick?

Noah: So everybody listening to this right now…

Caleb: He needs to come and hit someone with it.

Noah: … let us know what you think about this, and I would like to be interested if I win or if Caleb wins.

Caleb: Ugh.

Noah: So just let us know.

Caleb: I’m not the only one saying it, though. The other…

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: You totally are, Caleb. You asked for that.

[Eric and Noah laugh]

Caleb: Fine, whatever. I’ll win anything.

Laura: I’m on Caleb’s side here.

Noah: [laughs] So Snape reveals himself, and he is very angry. He’s completely… puts the trio off, and he instantly seizes… he actually shoots snakes at Lupin and binds him after calling him some pretty nasty names. He says…

Laura: Not snakes.

Noah: Hmm?

Laura: Aren’t they just cords?

Noah: Are they just…? They’re either cords, or I think they come out like snakes.

Caleb: Definitely not snakes.

Laura: They’re not snakes. [laughs]

Noah: Okay.

Laura: They’re not alive. Oh, God.

Noah: Are they…? [laughs] So you know what? Even before those cords, Snape ends up issuing some insults to Lupin that I thought were a bit unjust. Calling him a werewolf and continuously playing that because he said that Dumbledore should have trusted Snape, that to trust Lupin as a werewolf was a bad idea. The exact line is, “I shall be interested to see how Dumbledore takes this. He was quite convinced you were harmless, you know, Lupin. A tame werewolf.” So what’s the deal here with Snape using this really nasty…?

Eric: Again, old school rivalries. It goes back to that moment when Severus… his life was saved because he almost got torn apart by this “tame werewolf.” It’s all back to school. It’s all back to all of that.

Laura: And also, just in the same vein of what I was saying about him really wanting Sirius to be guilty, I think if he had had all these doubts about Lupin, it feels really good for him right now to be like, “Ha! I was right. I can go to Dumbledore and be like, ‘I told you so. Lupin is not a good guy, and he’s been working for Sirius.'” He’s super jazzed right now about being right about everything.

Eric: Snape has got his own arrogance, and it’s really interesting to see it come out in moments like these.

Noah: Oh, true.

Eric: But it’s come out before now, too. I mean, when he’s punishing Harry. Very much so.

Noah: Well, here’s my… my specific feeling is the fact… why does he even have to talk about the werewolf stuff? Because I feel like he’s playing on popular prejudices…

Eric: Yeah.

Noah: … just to upset Lupin, and that’s something…

Eric: Because he’s emotional.

Noah: … we see Draco do.

Eric: Yeah.

Noah: Is this something that Slytherins do, by and large, as opposed to the other houses?

Laura: No. We see Ron do the same thing about the werewolf prejudices.

Eric: Oh.

Laura: It’s not even that big a deal of it being a werewolf prejudice. It’s being anything he could insult him with. He throws stuff at Sirius equally.

Noah: That’s true. I just… I’m seeing a real connection with Draco and Snape here with the Mudblood stuff, and it’s problematic because, of course, Snape doesn’t buy into the prejudice, but he’s using it as an insult.

Eric: Mhm. Well, and not to mention there are three impressionable children in the room still, too. I think he’s just trying… he’s behaving badly in a way that is asserting his own dominance and control of the situation. He’s asserting control over the situation. Lupin is very sensitive to being called a werewolf. He’ll freely admit that he is one, but when somebody were to go and play off that prejudice, I’m sure it would weaken your readiness to defend yourself against attacks.

Noah: Yep. I totally agree. It’s, again, another multifaceted situation.

Eric: Mhm.

Noah: But right after that, there is an actual bang written in the text. You guys all have this?

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah, unless the American editors decided to take it out.

Laura: Well, I mean…

Noah: As they often do.

Eric: Well, it’s actually “bing.” We’re really fond of Bing Crosby over here in the States.

Noah: Bing Crosby. [laughs]

Eric: It actually says “bing” whenever somebody Apparates really loudly.

Noah: Right. So “bing,” “bang,” whatever you have, there is some sort of bang – it’s “bang.” Onomatopoeia right there – and it says, “thin, snake-like cords” – there you go, Laura – “burst from the ends of Snape’s…”

Laura: “Snake-like cords.”

[Eric and Noah laugh]

Noah: “Snake-like cords.” They were not snakes.

Eric: They’re snake cords.

Laura: What do you mean, “There you go, Laura?” I’m still correct.

Eric: Maybe snakes are painted on them. Some children, instead of egg-dyeing, decided paint the ropes that would later…

Noah: But that’s a very interesting question. Did Snape here choose them to be snake-like? Or is that just the spell? Is this…?

Laura: It’s like…

Eric: Ropes are snake-like.

Laura: … the cord on my microphone is snake-like.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: It’s the shape of it.

Noah: All right, all right, dismiss. It’s fine. So he pretty much binds up Lupin without a thought, and this is another professor. And I thought… I got shocked by that, and Lupin is struggling on the floor for an entire page. Was…? Are any of you guys shocked by this behavior? Does this seem legitimate with Snape in terms of what he thinks is going on?

Eric: I was harkening this back. I wanted to know if this was the first time that we had seen an adult attack another adult. And then, I think one of the only exceptions is, again, with Snape, though, for the Dueling Club, between him and Gilderoy. But yeah, it’s shocking, especially for these kids to see someone who… of course now, they’re very much questioning Lupin…

Noah: Mhm.

Eric: … but at the same time, to see one professor attack another and with such ill intent, it’s undignifying to be tied up in such a way. And so it’s actually very intense. It’s very shocking…

Noah: Yeah, shocking.

Eric: … and they just haven’t seen this kind of violence.

Noah: And that’s why I think Snape is particularly so deranged in this scene because he feels like he has to do this…

Eric: Mhm.

Noah: … even at the expense of Lupin. So Hermione is quietly saying, “But if there was a mistake,” and as Snape is usually with Hermione, he’s very short, except a little bit more so because he screams, “KEEP QUIET, you stupid girl!” And she’s clearly not stupid…

Caleb: Rude! [laughs]

Noah: … but he’s going through stuff.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: It’s nap time.

Noah: And he’s suddenly quite deranged. “‘Don’t talk about what you don’t understand.’ A few sparks shot out of the end of his wand, which was still pointing at Black’s face. Hermione fell silent.” So if there was anything to ever get Hermione to fall silent… [laughs]

Laura: I mean, as awful as it is how he’s treating her, I almost get his reaction of…

[Eric laughs]

Laura: … he does get annoyed with Hermione, how know-it-all Hermione is. That right now Snape is having a moment. He’s with Lupin and Sirius, and all this is going on, and then you get Hermione in the back being like, “Excuse me, Professor.” He’s probably just like, “Oh, my God. Shut up.” [laughs]

Noah: Yeah.

Laura: “I don’t want to hear it.” And yeah.

Eric: I will say, though, I know an expression. I don’t know how I first heard this, but it’s that shouting demonstrates you’ve completely lost control of the situation. So if you’re an authority figure, [and] you start shouting, I’m sorry, but you’ve lost control. Somebody else has the talking stick.

Noah: It’s the kind of authority.

Eric: Well, she’s… yes, but he’s losing the respect of the readers by doing this; he’s treating her poorly, whereas Lupin wants everybody to talk through this situation…

Laura: Talk it out.

Eric: … make Sirius recount all of… understand what it is that has happened, and that’s in stark contrast to Snape who does what must be done and “Stand aside, stupid girl. Shut up. You don’t know this; I know this.”

Noah: Yeah.

Eric: “I know everything. I’m angry.”

Noah: And of course it’s because he thinks he knows something that the others don’t.

Caleb: He’s the giver of truth here.

Eric: Hmm.

Noah: I mean, they…

Laura: That’s comforting.

Noah: I mean, they all do, but I will, again… the Lily thing… I think it’s making him act this way a bit. He is so deranged because he’s one of the traitors to her.

Eric: Well, I just don’t think it’s just the Lily thing. Again, this is the first time he’s able to confront Remus for being a member of the Marauders.

Noah: Oh, sure.

Eric: All year he’s forced by Dumbledore to give the Wolfsbane Potion, to concoct it. It’s apparently a harrowing process. Otherwise, I’m sure Remus would do it himself. And under Dumbledore’s eyes – watchful eyes – the worst thing that he does is – well, he hasn’t even done it, yet – to let slip that he’s a werewolf. He does assign that essay, which is the closest that Snape can do in Hogwarts to actually telling people, letting some of that rage out for the fact that Remus was part of a group of friends that heavily bullied Snape back in school. So now that they’re in the Shrieking Shack away from everybody’s prying eyes, away from Dumbledore, all’s up in the air, and he’s able to finally confront Remus in this way – in this manner – and let some of that emotion just overflow and leak out of him.

Noah: But Eric, Eric…

Eric: I don’t think he’s the master of his thoughts and feelings as much, yet, as he later comes to be. I just…

Noah: But Eric, if you were to rank the many reasons why he’s acting the way he is right now among…

Eric: Mhm.

Noah: … the most active, the most powerful in his mind, where would Lily Potter fall?

Eric: 5 or 6.

[Caleb laughs]

Eric: Based on the other things…

Caleb: Lily is [unintelligible].

[Caleb and Noah laugh]

Eric: Because Lily is not in this. It’s not like this whole scene is taking place over Lily’s grave. It’s not. This has…

Laura: Yeah, I really think people blow…

Eric: I don’t want to say it has nothing to do with Lily, but it has everything to do with the fact that these kids are about to embrace both Remus and Sirius as their protector[s] and savior[s] and God’s truth, this, that, the other thing, and Snape won’t even let Pettigrew exist in his mind. He’s quickly rushing them to tell them, “No, I know that these two are bad.”

Noah: Yeah.

Eric: “You can’t love them. You must love me.” You know Snape really wants…

Laura: I also, I think people blow it out of proportion a bit – the whole Snape thing with Lily – in that… okay, so I think Snape feels that way, but I don’t think he’s spending every second of his entire life after all these years being like, “Oh, my God, Lily. Lily is everywhere.” Like everything about it. I think…

Noah: Don’t underestimate the powers of love, Laura.

Laura: I know, but I don’t think it’s dominating his thoughts to a deranged level where I don’t think every bit of his actions are influenced by his love for Lily. I think there'[re] many other reasons for his actions.

Noah: Snape breathes “Vengeance is very sweet” in his deranged fashion. He’s clearly eating it up, but Harry won’t take it. He actually gets in Snape’s face and tries to stop him – as we’ve already talked about – and Snape says, “Silence, I will not be spoken to like that.” And Snape, again, has never been this angry before. This is a unique scene, and just in a… here’s the line: “Harry made up his mind in a split second. Before Snape could take even one step toward him, he had raised his wand. ‘Expelliarmus!’ he yelled – except that his wasn’t the only voice that shouted.” So not only did Harry do Expelliarmus, but Hermione and Ron did it, too, in the exact same instant at Snape. So my first question is “How do they all know to do that at the same time?” My second question is “How did Expelliarmus” – which is a Disarming Charm – “flip Snape all the way back?” Is it something about their intentions and what they wanted the spell to do? Or was it the fact that it was three at once? What do you guys think?

Laura: I think the fact that they all used it at once is just a testament to how little they know about magic. It’s… I don’t even think at this point they’ve even used Stupefy. That…

Noah: Right.

Laura: It’s… they… “Oh, all right. I know Alohomora, Wingardium Leviosa. All right, well, I guess Expelliarmus. It’s kind of the only thing that sort of will work here.”

[Eric laughs]

Noah: I personally have a theory that the spell does… each spell has a certain action, but when you… it’s also feeling – the amount of feeling that you put in – and obviously it’s such a high-tense scene right here that Harry is putting so much feeling into the wand that that almost changes the function of what the Expelliarmus spell needs to do right now. So it’s like it’s not only disarming him, but it’s [also] propelling him backward.

Eric: I have a much simpler explanation for that, Noah. Snape was simply holding onto his wand so tight that in order for the wand to be thrown out of his hand, he himself would need to be thrown a little.

Noah: Had to be shaken.

Caleb: Ooh. I like that.

Noah: That’s very good.

Caleb: I don’t think I’ve ever heard that explanation. I dig it.

Eric: Well, and it’s – to borrow from Charmed – the power of three, right? So I think them all…

Laura: Oh, my God, I love that you just referenced that. [laughs]

Eric: Maybe they were at different angles, and so the wand couldn’t decide what angle to throw, and so there was some kind of force field…

[Noah laughs]

Eric: … of magic force that pushed him back.

Eric: Although you’re right. Well, even the [Killing Curse] – Noah, I guess to your point – when Dumbledore is killed… spoiler warning. I guess we should have said that… we should say that before I say…

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: No!

Laura: No.

Eric: Even at the end of Book 6 when Snape casts the [Killing Curse] to a particular individual, it pushes them off the… that high place not to be mentioned on this show.

Laura: I think that’s a gravity thing, right? [laughs]

Eric: Well, in a sense I think it has…

Noah: Or some magic gravity.

Eric: … something to do with the movie, but essentially, that [curse] doesn’t do that. That curse does not touch you other than suck the life out of you. So for… I mean, for.. barring the green light, it doesn’t push people off balconies. It doesn’t have the ability to.

Laura: I just more always thought of it as dying, falling over because you’re a dead body, falling over super inconveniently over a ledge because that’s where you were standing.

Eric: Yeah, but I don’t think he was standing that close to a ledge. But anyway, so there’s an example of a spell hitting someone. and it also has a little bit of force to it, a little oomph.

Noah: Yeah.

Eric: So that could have something to do with it, but I just think, in this case, Snape was holding on so tightly that when his wand went to leave his hand, he went with it.

Noah: I mean, that’s a really cool idea. That’s a real cool theory. And it’s either that or what I said, maybe. I don’t know. That’s really cool. So that just happens. Snape falls back, and the line is actually that some blood dribbles down from his hair. And Harry is pretty much unfazed by this; he’s just really angry at this point. He’s never attacked a teacher before. Hermione is freaking out, of course, because she’s Hermione. And Lupin gradually gets out of his bonds because Snape has been rendered unconscious. So at this point, Sirius and Lupin, again, are like, “Ron, please give us the rat. We need to see it.” And Ron – even after all this – is still holding very dearly to Scabbers.

[Eric laughs]

Noah: And there are exchanges back and forth between those two and Ron, and why can’t he just hand over the rat at this point? Why is he still…? He’s being weird in these scenes, and it’s almost comic relief-y in a way. Do you feel like he should have handed it over? What does it sort of mean for his character? Does he not see reason? Or is it possible to assume that Sirius and Lupin are still unreasonable at this point?

Eric: I don’t think Ron can help it. It’s like finding out that your younger sibling of twelve years is secretly a dude named Peter Pettigrew. It just seems so out of left field. Ron has never personally seen the concept of an Animagus before necessarily. So I think just it’s the fact that the amount of time. And before Scabbers was Ron’s rat, he was Percy’s rat. So it seems even less likely that he could be anything other than the rat that he’s always known him to be.

Noah: Right.

Eric: Yeah.

Noah: I mean, Laura, Caleb, is Ron a… does he have some growing up to do, or is this something he would always do if given the situation?

Laura: Well, I mean, it’s not like it’s Dumbledore and… I don’t know, another supervisor… it’s not Dumbledore and his mother being like… standing there and saying, “You should give us the rat!” It’s someone that he’s been trained all year to think is deranged…

Noah: Yup.

Laura: … and murderous. And this other one that he just found out has been lying all year… well, not lying but failing to tell the truth about being a werewolf. They’re not the two most trustworthy people. In addition to what Eric said that… yeah, and he’s a kid still, [so] I don’t think his reactions are that unwarranted.

Noah: Mhm.

Laura: But I also find them irritating because I’m just like, “Come on.”

Noah: Very.

Eric: [laughs] Give him the rat, give him the rat. Yeah, I think at this point it does run a little long for certain readers where we’re just like, “Uhh, give it up! I want to see what these guys…” Because…

Noah: Yeah.

Eric: … it feels like the big reveal is coming. We can feel it.

Noah: That’s what I was feeling.

Eric: In our bones.

Noah: But it is actually gradually revealed to the trio that Sirius knows that it’s Ron’s rat because he saw the Daily Prophet article that Fudge gave him. Why Fudge just gave him the Daily Prophet… give that to an inmate… I guess he was feeling pretty generous that day.

Laura: No, they… that’s mentioned.

Eric: Yeah, he likes doing the crosswords. [laughs]

Laura: Crosswords, yeah.

Noah: Oh, right! Okay. Right.

Eric: He’s really into Sudoku. Sirius has always had a thing for numbers.

Noah: Which… so Fudge is actually… that’s pretty nice. Because you’re in Azkaban, you have nothing to do. All power to you. So… well, first, let me just start this. So it’s revealed to Ron that… why they think it’s Pettigrew. It’s because, of course, Sirius saw it in the Daily Prophet and why the whole toe thing happened – all that was left of Pettigrew was a toe – was because he actually cut off his toe prior to blowing up all those people.

Eric: Great.

Noah: With what spell he did that, I have no idea.

Eric: He probably just used a hacksaw.

Noah: He used a hacksaw instead of a magical… maybe it was magical hacksaws popping out of his wand.

Eric: Maybe the spell is Sever Us.

Noah: [laughs] Sever us! That’d be very… that’s terrible.

Eric: Every time you say Snape’s name, somebody loses a toe.

Caleb: [singing “Mysterious Ticking Noise”] Snape, Snape.

Noah: [continues singing] Severus Snape.

Eric: Oh, double one there!

Noah: But… so here’s a cool “what if” question. So after convincing the trio to change the rat and in this really epic scene, what if the rat didn’t change, and they were actually totally wrong? What would Harry, Ron, and Hermione do in this?

Eric: [laughs] What if it were just a rat?

Noah: What if it were just a normal rat?

Eric: After all.

Noah: And Lupin would have had to face the possiblity that Sirius totally lied to him. [laughs] And someone used… messed with the map to make it say “Peter Pettigrew.” And then Sirius probably would’ve killed them.

Eric: Well, if anybody could’ve messed with the map, it would’ve been one of the Marauders, right?

Noah: Yeah.

Eric: They made the map. It’s a very convincing story. I don’t know. I just don’t know. It would’ve been a little weird.

Noah: It would’ve been a really awkward moment.

Caleb: What a letdown.

[Eric and Noah laugh]

Caleb: “Ugh, this is disappointing.” And then the book ends.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: No, no, no! Hermione… here’s how the rest of the book would have happened, okay? So Hermione would’ve… they would’ve still somehow managed to believe Remus or Sirius. And Hermione would have used her Time-Turner to go back thirteen years and then follow Peter after the incident in the street with the Muggles. Or tried to prevent it.

Noah: Or Hermione would… her logic sense would go into overdrive, and she would realize that the entire thing was stupid and not true; Snape was right, and she’d have to fight their way out.

Laura: Then they wake up, and they’re in a dream within a dream.

Eric: Yeah, just like Inception. [laughs]

Noah: But with that, Eric, I’m going to have to hand over this chapter to you, buddy.

Eric: Okay. Yeah, we split this one up. This is really nice.

Noah: [laughs] Teamwork!

Eric: [laughs] Once the cat is out of the bag or the rat is out of the shell or whatever…

Noah: Aww. [laughs]

Eric: The rat is out of the rat body.

Noah: There you go.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: [laughs] You… well, they begin accusing Peter, and this is a situation because Peter’s existence in that room – his presence there – is the best proof that anybody could hope to have that what Sirius is saying is right. And very quickly the allegiances shift for good, where Harry aligns himself with Sirius for the first time. It’s a big moment for him. But before this happens, they start accusing Peter, and this is where he really gets to be confronted for the first time by his friends, by the other Marauders, about James and Lily’s murder.

Noah: Yes, yes.

Eric: So this really affected me, I… what did you guys think of this scene in particular, where Sirius is accusing Peter of all these things?

Noah: I mean, he just seemed to go back into his rat form a little bit. Isn’t the line that a little bit of the rat had stayed with him?

Eric: Hmm.

Noah: So just his going from member to member in the room to just sort of appeal to them… it really just seemed very dehumanizing for him, if I might say. Kind of rattish.

Eric: Yeah. And I like… I mean, Harry in particular is really noticeable about some of Pettigrew’s… I think they overdid it in the film. Can we all agree with that a little bit?

Noah: With the rattiness?

Eric: They kind of overdid the rattiness on film.

Caleb: Yeah, I agree.

Eric: But ultimately, Harry notices that Pettigrew is shifting and moving his eyes toward the door, and this is all pretty important because essentially what they accuse him of is shifting allegiances and betraying them, so… however, when… for somebody who’s betrayed them to Voldemort, the interesting bit of character… Jo doesn’t stop at that. She actually goes on to have him flinch when Voldemort’s name is mentioned, and there’s this new dimension that’s added, where even though Pettigrew is a supporter of Lord Voldemort, or was the betrayer, he is almost as afraid of Voldemort today…

Noah: Right.

Eric: … and Voldemort’s followers as he is of the Marauders in this room.

Noah: Right.

Laura: Well, I mean, that doesn’t surprise me.

Eric: Mhm.

Laura: And I mean, this is… I don’t even remember if this is just movie canon. It probably isn’t. In Goblet of Fire when Voldemort is talking to all of his Death Eaters, and he’s like, “None of you guys came back,” and then Pettigrew is like, “I returned,” and he’s like, “Out of fear.”

[Eric laughs]

Laura: I think the truth is that he didn’t spend his years searching for Voldemort, and he’s still… he did hide. He didn’t even serve his time in Azkaban for it. He literally just was cowardly and hid from it, so I think Voldemort probably would have good reason to be angry.

Eric: Mhm. Essentially everybody has Peter’s number almost always in the series after he’s revived here, in terms of being too cowardly to really be brave, to be loyal. So it’s [a] really interesting, ambiguous character being introduced right now for the first time. So my big question, I think, that comes from reading this half of the chapter and reviewing it for the show… basically, Sirius reveals that at the very last minute, at some point when James and Lily were about the cast the Fidelius Charm – isn’t it? – to make a Secret Keeper, Sirius… well, Dumbledore… we already know that Dumbledore volunteered, but James was like, “No, I think it should be my best friend, Sirius.”

Noah: Which is weird. I don’t understand why.

Eric: Right! Dumbledore, you’d think, would be the least reachable, right? The most untorturable of all wizards ever, but James is like, “No, Sirius should do it.” So Sirius was all set to be the Secret-Keeper, but according to this chapter, according to this moment, Sirius suggested at the last minute “as a bluff” that they change the Secret Keeper to Pettigrew. And the quote is because Voldemort would “never suspect” that Pettigrew, this weakling who isn’t really their closest friend, would be chosen for such an honor. And my biggest question here comes from the actual act of selecting Peter because does that mean that Sirius wasn’t up to the task of being tortured to death? Because this whole chapter they’re accusing Peter. They’re like, “You should have died rather than betray your friends! You should have died for what you believe in!” This, that, the other thing. “Because we would have! We would have done it for you!” But here’s a situation where Sirius had that opportunity to be the Secret Keeper, to stand up for James. And maybe it says something about his whimsical nature. “Oh, yeah, we’ll play a practical joke.” But he essentially was joking with James and Lily’s lives by making this change…

Noah: Mm.

Eric: … that so detrimentally affected the future outcome of the books.

Noah: So are you saying, “Was Sirius cowardly?”

Caleb: I don’t..

Eric: Yeah! I’m saying, “Is Sirius a coward?” Why wouldn’t he have volunteered… ?

Noah: Whoa.

Eric: … and stuck with that as a job?

Caleb: Now we… yeah, I brought this up briefly a couple of episodes back, and I think it was sort of related to our Question of the Week? But this is one of my biggest problems with Sirius. And I don’t necessarily think it was cowardly of him, but I think it was… I just don’t understand his brain here. Why this is not… why this is the decision he makes. It’s just such a foolish, rash decision. And while obviously, that sort of fits Sirius’s characteristics – being sort of rash and acting out – it just makes no sense.

Laura: I have a question before my comment of making sure of the technicalities behind Secret Keeping. If you’re a Secret Keeper, does Le… Legilil… ugh, that word. Legilililmancy [laughs] affect it?

Noah: Ooh.

Laura: Because my thought was maybe the reason why it didn’t go to someone like Sirius or Lupin was because they were the obvious choices…

Noah: Right.

Laura: … and Voldemort would come looking after them, and they’d be put in that position to die, and they’d be… and it’s not…

Noah: That’s what I thought, too.

Laura: … that they weren’t ready for it, but if you prefer not to die, that’d be great. Whereas with Pettigrew, Voldemort would never even go to him ever. So no one would ever have to be put in that position of “Do I tell the truth, or do I not tell the truth?” because they didn’t think it would ever even come down to that…

Eric: I think…

Laura: … rather than putting Sirius in that position, where he actually is holding the information.

Eric: Yeah, so essentially if [a] Legilimens forces you to tell the truth and give up the thing that…

Laura: Or Veritaserum, or I don’t actually know.

Eric: Veritaserum. I think it really does have to be a willing thing beyond any potion that you could possibly administer on someone. Yeah, so I guess it just raises more questions [laughs] than it does answers, too, because the specifics of the Fidelius Charm aren’t necessarily known to us, but…

Noah: We know that it has something to do with fidelity.

Eric: Yeah! There you go.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: Faithfulness. No, I think it really is about willingness, and unfortunately they gave it to the one person who later would willingly divulge that information to Voldemort. So obviously it suits the story, but ultimately I just thought Sirius, as James’s life-long best friend, probably would have risen to the honor because he talks a big game in this chapter. He says Pettigrew should have died and not given in to Voldemort’s tricks.

Noah: I mean, I don’t think it makes Sirius necessarily a coward either, Eric. I think he just thought in this case it wasn’t about that. Somehow he should do the smarter thing, and he really thought that the smartest thing to do would be give it to Pettigrew.

Eric: Yeah, it might be safer to hide the prize rather than draw a target on it.

Noah: But you know he’s going to fight, so is he really less brave?

Eric: Well, I mean, ultimately it was James’s decision, and James agreed with Black, so there had to be some wisdom about it at the time. But really, if there was any wisdom, they would have given it to Dumbledore.

Noah: That’s what I was just going to say, yeah.

Eric: Yeah. But anyway, moving on a little bit forward in the chapter, basically Black is able to counteract what Peter is saying because Ron has this history with Peter. This comes up again: the fact that as a rat he was with him for so long. But going into why Peter was silent for so long – and essentially Hermione chimes in and says, “But sir, why didn’t Peter kill Harry or do anything if he’s really a Dark wizard?” – he put himself in this position to hear the wizarding news so that if it were ever revealed, if he could ever be called upon, he would then rise up. And I thought this was actually one of the smartest things that Peter probably has ever done is to get… become… work out that arrangement. I mean, how did he know that…? Luckily, Percy had a thing for rats. Otherwise, he would have just been this little rat that was following Percy around for the longest time.

Noah: I mean, how did Percy pick him up?

Eric: “That darn rat! Keeps following me around! What is it? Want some cheese? What’s going on?”

[Noah laughs]

Eric: “I think I’ll pet him and name him Scabbers.”

Noah: I mean, there’s not really much to talk about how they were introduced in the first place, is there?

Eric: Well, isn’t it clever? Isn’t this one of the rare examples of Peter being pretty smart?

Noah: I think you’re absolutely right. He’s way smarter than obviously Sirius gave him credit for.

Caleb: Well, he has to be very resourceful, obviously, with the position he’s put himself in.

Noah: I’m sure as a Marauder he had to do lots of resourceful things for them at the expense of perhaps his own person as a rat. Maybe to pull off tricks on Snape because he could sneak around places? And possibly why Sirius also wanted him to be the Secret Keeper because if he was in trouble he could get out of there.

Eric: Yeah.

Noah: Oh, that’s probably why he was picked, too. Not bad. Except for the rat thing, and you’re going to be a traitor. Very…

Eric: [Laughs] So well, here’s the big thing. This is almost as big a reveal as the fact that Pettigrew is still alive – which this whole chapter’s full of zingers like this – but Hermione, again being very astute, asks “Mr. Black”… [laughs] he does a double-take. “What? Am I Mr. Black?” It’s like calling him “Professor” or something. It’s like, What? It’s so civilized. She asks him how he got out of Azkaban because she’s like, “Aren’t you this Dark wizard who broke out of Azkaban to kill Harry Potter?” Again, it’s this disinformation that they’ve… they’ve been under the wrong assumptions all year round, so she wants to clear it up. And sure enough, you can’t help but think that Jo designed the whole thing so that it would come to this moment where basically Sirius’s negative thoughts – which the dementors didn’t eat for dinner…

Caleb: Om nom nom.

Eric: [Laughs] Om nom nom nom.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: … were his escape route, essentially. And that I thought was… again, reading this book for the first time, I just thought it was brilliant. And we’re done. But actually, the fire that Sirius talks about – being in his head when he finds out that Peter is still alive – he says, “I had to do something. I was the only one who knew Pettigrew was still alive.” Now, I remember talking about this a couple chapters ago with you guys, about whether or not Sirius had ever been given a fair trial? But essentially, if Sirius was in fact the only one who knew that Peter was still alive, that it had been a trick, that it was not in fact Black [who] killed all of those Muggles, he surely would have told people. “Oh yeah, no. It wasn’t me. It was actually Peter Pettigrew. He’s still around. You should go find him.” So there seems to be a lack of information transfer on that part. But Sirius, being the only one who could essentially save the day, took it upon himself to escape from Azkaban, travel great distances. How badass is this? He swam back from Azkaban.

Eric and Noah: As a dog.

Eric: How cool is that?

Noah: That is cool.

Laura: Little doggie paddle.

Eric: Doggie paddle.

Noah: But yeah, Eric, I agree with you. I think the whole system of trials in the wizarding world is messed up to begin with because clearly they could have just Legilimensed him at the scene and sort of seen what happened, but they obviously don’t. Maybe because they think it’s a breach of morals, but then you should give them a fair trial. But maybe just the fact that Pettigrew announced it to everyone in the territory – in the area – and then killed everyone, the shock of the story? I don’t know, it just seems like he should have been treated more fairly given his reputation. You’d think Dumbledore would have stepped in at that point, but maybe, again, Dumbledore used him as a scapegoat for some reason.

Eric: Well, and this is getting into the next point that I had written down in the books. Essentially you’d ask the question, wouldn’t you?: Well, Sirius was James Potter’s best, best, best friend. Would he really betray him? That question’s not really being asked necessarily, but again when they’re talking to Peter about all of his wrongdoings, Sirius at one point asks Remus to forgive him because he essentially hid certain facts from Remus. And this is all… for instance, the fact that they switched to Pettigrew and the Secret Keeping, Remus was never told that.

Noah: Right.

Eric: So all this time Remus has assumed that it was in fact Sirius. Dumbledore didn’t say anything different, nobody said anything different. In fact we find earlier in the book people think that Sirius was the Secret Keeper. Everybody thinks that, but the problem is that apparently they knew that there was a spy in the inner, inner circles. And this is actually said by McGonagall and I think Fudge in the Three Broomsticks. So even the Marauders knew that there was a spy very close to them, and that would have been an interesting thing to read about, I think. Because ultimately Sirius and Remus and James and Peter… they didn’t really talk to each other as much as we might like to think they did in the last few moments because things were getting revealed. Lily and James were more narrowly escaping their bouts with Voldemort, and they knew there was an informant, but they didn’t know who it was.

Noah: But here’s the potential problem with this. Because Dumbledore is very brilliant, and he should have known who the person was – who was being the traitor and giving all the information out – because he needed Voldemort to fulfill the prophecy. So is it possible that even if he knew this truth here, that he just let it happen because he needed the prophecy to be fulfilled?

Eric: So that in order for there to be a vulnerability to Voldemort, you need to allow the terms of the prophecy [that] say that there will be a weakness to Voldemort to be met?

Noah: Exactly.

Eric: That’s deep.

Noah: And otherwise, wouldn’t he have known that Sirius would never have betrayed James and therefore let him stay in Azkaban so that this prophecy could be fulfilled?

Eric: Well, here’s more food for thought. Gosh, we’re getting full on this stuff tonight.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: But that food for thought is [that] Sirius must have actually wanted to be in Azkaban because if you think about it, he certainly would have had an opportunity, I think, at some point if he really tried to defend himself. Even right when it happened, when he was overcome with laughter as they were hauling him away in the police vehicles or whatever, he could have easily shouted, “I’m innocent!” this, that, the other thing, and really started…

Noah: No, he felt guilty because of the switch. So he willingly went to Azkaban because he felt so bad.

Eric: Well, no… well, yes, he felt guilty because of the switch, but at the same time he knew that Pettigrew was the one who actually was the traitor.

Noah: Right.

Eric: And if what you really want is the truth out… because Peter at that point was still very extremely dangerous in terms of being Voldemort’s informant in the Potters’ deaths.

Noah: He should have said something.

Eric: No telling what the future… yeah, so wouldn’t the priority have been self-loathing second and first the actual besmirching of Pettigrew’s name?

Noah: Sirius isn’t a man of priorities.

Eric: Caleb and Laura, what you do think?

Caleb: So I thought it was really interesting reading back; Sirius and Remus talking about how there was a spy in their midst. I think it was just really interesting the way Jo sort of wrote that and took us into the past that even this small group of friends knew there was this traitor among them. They were holding things without the other knowing, that Remus didn’t even know the switch would happen with the Secret Keeper. You assume he would know if they were all that close. So I just really thought… I don’t know. That really stood out to me more this reread than it really ever has before.

Noah: Mhm.

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah, definitely. And essentially… so it comes down to a choice, and just wrapping up this chapter, there’s a pretty big choice that’s made, and that choice is to not actually kill Peter Pettigrew. And this is an interesting choice for Harry to make, but Sirius, of course, wants to commit the deed he was imprisoned for. He wants to kill Peter. He says, [as Sirius] “Harry, this piece of vermin is the reason you have no parents.”

[Noah laughs]

Eric: [as Sirius] “This cringing bit of filth would have seen you die, too, without turning a hair. You heard him. His own stinking skin meant more to him than your whole family.”

Noah: That’s pretty dark. He’s not… Peter is not that unattractive.

Eric: Well, yeah. I mean, he’s a rat. He’s been living in dirt for twelve years. I’m sure he’s quite filthy.

Noah: That’s Lupin saying that, right?

Eric: Um…

Noah: Or is that Sirius?

Eric: No, it’s Sirius.

Noah: It’s Sirius. You can just feel the loathing in that writing, you know what I mean? Just all the words…

Eric: It’s loathing coming from passion from love for Potter. I mean, here’s the one… Sirius goes all caps in this chapter. It reminds me of Harry in Book 5.

Noah: So does Snape.

Eric: Because “how dare you talk to”… well, so does Snape, but I give him a lot less credit in this chapter.

Noah: Is it possible that Jo was in a really caps lock mood when she was writing this chapter?

Eric: I think maybe the shift button broke on her typewriter, or it was intermittingly breaking, and she hoped that she could finish the book without going back to it or replacing it. So anyway…

[Noah laughs]

Eric: But yeah, essentially Sirius really wants this death, but Harry chooses not to kill Peter. And he basically… but here’s the thing: I think Harry to some extent grasps the concept that there are things worse than death. And for instance, he says… no, okay. There is the line about not wanting his parents’ best friends to become killers, but there is also the “Hand him to the Dementors. Send him to Azkaban.” Because then it’s almost like Harry knows there’s due process, right? And the later revelation is that it will all clear Sirius’s name and all that other good junk. But ultimately, Harry wants Peter to suffer a little bit more. This is sparing his life, but it’s also causing his death to be more prolonged.

Noah: I don’t think that’s Harry’s intention. I think that’s brought more out in the movie. “We’re going to leave you to the Dementors, and it’s going to be even worse.”

Eric: Mm.

Noah: But I think he really doesn’t want them to become killers. Or he doesn’t think that man should make that choice or be able to do that. And it’s a very… it really is. It’s this merciful thing that perhaps his father wouldn’t have done. Until I think Laura was talking about how after James’s death, his morality changes.

Eric: Mm.

Noah: However, that’s possible if he’s dead, but…

Eric: Well, I think t was just a figure. It was a way of speaking.

Noah: Right.

Eric: If you could ever be murdered and then become level-headed about it at one point, plus assuming he’s in paradise now…

Noah: He’s somewhere. He’s definitely in some place. Maybe his morals do change. But yeah, it’s Harry’s choice.

Eric: Yeah. So that’s pretty much how the chapter ends. Except to say that they do end up tying up Peter. They say, “Oh, don’t you transform! If you transform then we’ll kill you!”

[Noah laughs]

Eric: Okay, I guess that works.

Noah: Not really.

Eric: But they end up tying up Snape, and Lupin uses Mobilicorpus, not Levicorpus, fortunately. He doesn’t hang him upside down by his feet anymore. But he does say “Mobilicorpus“, and this is not fully explored until the next chapter, so essentially, I’ll just say that they do tie each other up and prepare to leave the Shrieking Shack to go and turn Peter in. And fin.

Noah: Very good. Very good, Eric. Because the chapter discussion went so long this week, we’re not actually going to do the special feature discussion. But again, we’d like to plug our app, where you can get a lot of extra content for the show if you really want to listen to even more of us. But with that, Caleb, I’m going to throw it to you – the Podcast Question of the Week.

Caleb: Yeah, so I think that it was pretty easy to come up with a Question of the Week this week because it was probably the biggest debate we had among ourselves through the episode. And it’s all about what really is Snape’s biggest motivation in this scene in the Shrieking Shack. Obviously he’s a very overly complex character. But we’re interested in hearing what you guys may think about what is his biggest motivator as he’s interacting with Sirius, Remus, and even drawing upon his memory of James. Is it his need for revenge from his schooldays? Is it – as Noah says, which I disagree with – his love and loss of Lily?

Noah: Yes!

Eric: Caleb, what was your position on that? I wasn’t quite clear.

Caleb: I actually really think he’s focused on proving the next thing I’ve listed that could be his need to prove himself right to Dumbledore.

Laura: Which I agree with, too.

Caleb: I don’t want to influence other people, but yeah, that’s what I think.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: But you are.

Eric: Well, you said because “his love and loss of Lily” is definitely not it. Not like what Noah was saying.

Caleb: I don’t think it’s his… yeah. I think it’s there, but I don’t think it’s the biggest one.

[Eric laughs]

Noah: Whatever.

Caleb: Or something else. I mean, we mentioned a couple of other possibilities, or you may have your own thoughts.

Noah: Or it’s a combination.

Caleb: I want to know the biggest. I want them to single one out.

[Noah laughs]

Caleb: That’s a copout to say a combination. I want you to single it out.

Noah: All right, the single most important reason to Snape.

Caleb: What is the single biggest motivator of Snape in this scene in the Shrieking Shack?

Eric: It’s coming to blows.

Noah: Caleb, you’re going down. The entire fandom knows that it’s Lily.

Caleb: Ugh.

Noah: The “always” stuff is everywhere. It’ll always be Lily. Always.

Caleb: Oh, God.

Laura: All right. Well, if you would have liked to jump in on this fight, you can be on the show. Just head over to our website,, or email alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com. So if you want to just put stuff on our forums, maybe we’ll recognize you, or if you want to email us, analyzing something so that we might invite you on the show. In the meantime, subscribe and leave us love on iTunes in the reviews.

Eric: Also, there is always the opportunity to contact us interweekly and in between shows and have your comments read and that sort of thing. On Twitter we are located at @AlohomoraMN. On Twitter it’s as in “MuggleNet” – surprise, surprise. We’re at And you can call into the hotline. Our apologies, we did not play any voicemails on this episode, but we will get back to them in the due process of things. The contact number for us is 206-GO-ALBUS, which is 206-462-5287.

Noah: And we also want to make a quick mention about our store where you can buy our T-shirts. You can’t listen to Alohomora! and not have one of our fantastic Alohomora! T-shirts. To do so would not be enjoying the show to your fullest. No, of course. Of course, you can still enjoy the show without a T-shirt, but we want to tell you about our special host shirts, which have our special slogans on them for each one of the main hosts. And it’s just fun to show your pride and to spread the… it’s a real great way to advertise the reread to your friends because all they have to do is look on your shirt.

Eric: I’m still working on my zinger that is going to be turned into a shirt, Noah.

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: I think it’s going to end up being “5 or 6.” Yeah, that’ll be it.

Noah: That was probably the worst, but we’ll see if that comes up again.

[Eric laughs]

Caleb: And also, as Noah mentioned, we encourage you guys to check out our smartphone app, which you can find all the instructions for on the podcast page of the website. It’s availaible in t he US and the UK for an iPhone and iPad and on the Android and Kindle for US$1.99 and UK£1.29. It has things like transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and a lot more.

Laura: Yep.

Caleb: And I believe there’s even some special stuff from MISTI-Con from this past weekend.

Laura: Yeah, I was just about to say, “Yeah, if you want to check out our last episode, you can just…” So changing it up a little bit, just find all the… most of the hosts for all under one roof, and we had a little bit of fun, so if you want to check out Noah in a dance lesson this week from Joseph Darcey-Alden…

Noah: Ugh.

Laura: … be sure to check out that app, and if you want to see Caleb [and I] get creamed at foosball, check out last week’s episode.

Eric: Who creamed you at foosball?

Caleb: We did not get creamed. We got creamed because Laura is not good at foosball.

Noah: Whoa.

Laura: Or the fact that Caleb scored a goal for the other team.

Noah: That’s true. I did…

Caleb: That’s not exactly what happened.

Laura: Let’s remember that. That’s on camera.

Caleb: No, it’s not. Let’s move on.

Noah: I did videotape that.

Laura: Take it to the tape.

Eric: And now we’re just throwing each other under the Knight Bus here.

[Noah laughs]

Eric: It’s time to go.

Noah: Yeah. If I could just go in real quick, it was so fun talking to you guys at MISTI-Con. All the hosts enjoyed it. I have this crazy idea. If you all fans want to email me your notes on the chapter before I record the episode on Thursday – we always record the episodes on Thursday and then release on Saturday – send me an email. Spam my mailbox with your thoughts on the chapter, and I will do my best to get back to you.

Eric: I think there’s a little bit of slip there. You said “notes” as if you’re trying to source notes that aren’t your own.

Laura: Crowdsourcing.

Noah: No, I’ll never… I’ll source them, but I’ll always credit the person that they came from. And I’ll always do my own notes lest my other hosts get suspicious.

Eric: Always.

Noah: But it’s just because I feel like if you guys want to interact with us it’d be cool, so send me an email at noah at staff dot mugglenet dot com. That easy, and I’ll try to get back to you. I might get back to you within five minutes, or it might be months, but it’s…

Eric: That’s reassuring.

Laura: So the same way he interacts with us on emails.

Noah: Yeah. So go ahead and send an email if you’re interested in chatting about Harry Potter because I’m always thinking about it. So that’s about it. I’m Noah Fried.

[Show music begins]

Eric: I’m Eric Scull.

Caleb: I’m Caleb Graves.

Laura: And I’m Laura Reilly. Thank you for listening to Episode 31 of Alohomora!

[Show music continues]