Transcript – Episode 79

[Show music begins]

Eric Scull: This is Episode 79 of Alohomora! for April 12, 2014.

[Show music continues]

Eric: Hello, everybody, and welcome to Alohomora! I’m Eric Scull.

Laura Reilly: I’m Laura Reilly.

Michael Harle: And I’m Michael Harle. And our guest on today’s show is Daniel Pihlkar. Dan, say hi to everybody.

Dan Pihlkar: Hey, everybody!

[Michael laughs]

Laura: Hey!

Dan Pihlkar: What’s up?

Michael: You, Dan, are a fellow podcaster. Tell us a little bit about your podcast.

Dan: I am. I’m the host of the A-Squad Podcast. It’s a video game podcast, and it’s pretty loose. We tried to stay community based and make a podcast that you can listen to back episodes of, so we try to hit media issues in the video game world and trends and whatnot rather than hit the news, and we have a good time!

Laura: That’s awesome. And where are you from?

Michael: Cool.

Dan: I am from New York.

Laura: And what’s your Hogwarts house?

Dan: [laughs] Okay.

Michael: The important things. [laughs]

Dan: Right, right. Well, I’m one of those lucky people [who] got everything they wanted from Pottermore.

Laura: Me, too!

Michael: Ooh!

Dan: So I got the phoenix core wand, and I got to be in Hufflepuff, which I know a lot of people say, “Oh, you mean you had to be in Hufflepuff,” but…

Laura: Aren’t there two… there’s three Hufflepuffs on the show, right?

Dan: There’s three Hufflepuffs on this show!

[Michael laughs]

Laura: I’m not one of them, for the record.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: That happens a lot, though, doesn’t it? We do have a lot of Hufflepuffs around here most of the time. But that…

Eric: See, and they make the best guests.

Laura: I have been sorted into Hufflepuff by everything that wasn’t Pottermore despite me knowing I’m a Gryffindor, so getting Gryffindor on Pottermore was the single most validating moment of my life.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: There you go.

Laura: But I do associate with Hufflepuff very strongly.

Michael: [laughs] Dan, have you played the Harry Potter video games? I know there’s quite a few out there.

Dan: I have, I have.

Michael: Yay!

Dan: And it was a lot of fun running around Hogwarts Castle.

Laura: Which one’s your favorite? I actually feel very strongly about the video games. So I’m very curious.

Dan: You know what?

Eric: Me, too.

Dan: To tell you the truth, I like the spells app on my smartphone.

Laura: Really?

Eric: Oh!

Dan: Well, I play a lot of people in it.

Laura: Oh, that’s true.

Dan: I’ll duel other people.

Eric: No kidding.

Laura: Quidditch World Cup for life.

Dan: Yeah.

Michael: Oh, I love Qudditch World Cup. Oh, God.

Eric: Oh, that game? That game is awesome.

[Dan and Eric laugh]

Eric: Okay, in, terms of roaming Hogwarts, though, I don’t think anything will beat the – Ready for this? – Chamber of Secrets game that came out.

Laura: I agree. I agree. I agree. PlayStation One.

Eric: It was just…

Laura: It was just fantastic.

Eric: It took forever to load, I think, if I am remembering correctly, but…

Laura: Yeah. It was… every level was different; you did something different on every level. It was fantastic.

Eric: Yeah.

Laura: You saved Ginny from a washing machine. I don’t know where that came from.

[Dan, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Michael: I played the PlayStation and the PC versions when I was younger, so I don’t… they all had really different situations, so… but…

Laura: Yeah.

Dan: Chamber of Secrets – yeah – blew my mind when it came out. But…

Michael: Yeah, that was a good game.

Dan: The subsequent games, they really didn’t change. I mean, speaking of someone who loves Harry Potter books more than anybody else I’ve met in real life, I wasn’t too happy with the games.

Laura: Yeah.

Michael: But there’s some good harcore for nostalgia, so…

Dan: There was.

Michael: And speaking of “nostalgia,” we’re going to analyze Chapter 2 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix today, titled “A Peck of Owls.” We want to remind you to make sure [to] read that chapter before listening to the rest of the episode.

Eric: Yeah, guys. We’re now in the fifth Harry Potter book out of seven, so if this book weren’t so long, I’d say we’re almost there, but we’re not.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Not quite.

Michael: Not close.

Laura: Not at all.

Eric: As we said on last week’s episode, this will take us at least a year to do, so we do want to get into some comments that we did received on last week’s episode, which was Chapter 1. And the first comment here comes from the Alohomora! main site. This is Elvis Gaunt. We talked a little bit about this sur of energy that went through Harry, and Elvis Gaunt’s quote relates directly to that. They say,

“I don’t think any magic was involved when Vernon releases Harry. He notices the neighbor watching them and quickly releases Harry for appearances’ sake. However, there are quite a few bits of magic here that the Ministry has overlooked. They include the Apparition/Dissapparition of Mundungus and whoever else is keeping a watch on Harry and the [Wand-Lighting Charm] that Harry himself casts.”

So there you go, guys. We know that the tracker is not perfect, and Harry has been blamed for the Disapparition of the house-elf in Book 2, but it seems like there seems like there was some other magic and the Ministry missed [an] opportunity here to pin on Harry in this same chapter along with the Patronus Charm.

Dan: Well…

Laura: The thing honestly just became a matter of the Patronus Charm was just the most severe…

Eric: Egregious, yeah.

[Dan laughs]

Laura: Yeah, egregious – exactly – of all of them that it became a matter of not caring about Apparating or [the Wand-Lighting Charm] because that was certainly not the best…

Eric: Well, they wouldn’t detect the Apparition, right? Because Mundungus is an adult. So that wouldn’t…

Laura: Oh.

Eric: … because the track is only on underage wizards, right?

Michael: Well, they can’t tell who did the magic.

Eric: That’s true.

Michael: They can only tell that the magic has been done in a household.

Eric: Yeah, that’s right.

Michael Or near a household, I guess, as you were saying because this occurred in Wisteria Walk or whatever.

Laura: Right, because I remember reading…

Dan: Do you think maybe Dumbledore could have had something to do with blocking it?

Eric: Well…

Dan: When the Order goes on patrol, watching Harry?

Eric: Oh, that’s true.

Michael: That could be it, yeah.

Eric: There might be a covert way to do it or something like that, so it doesn’t interfere with the Ministry, but at the same time they’re able to keep an adequate watch over Harry.

Michael: That’s a good point. I didn’t think about that.

Eric: [The Wand-Lighting Charm], though, makes sense to me as something that the Ministry would not get in a kerfuffle about.

[Michael laughs]

Laura: I think by the opening scene of the Prisoner of Azkaban movie..

Michael: Yeah, just be like, [in a British accent] “Oh, it’s a glow stick. It’s my glow stick.”

Eric: Yeah.

Dan: Well, I think they’re gunning for Harry, and you can’t really put him on trial for [the Wand-Lighting Charm].

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Well, maybe it’s… you know what? You’re right, Dan. I think it’s like the Muggle world, right? You put the charges on that you think are going to most stick.

Dan: Yeah.

Eric: And the Patronus Charm is… so that’s an interesting comment. We got another comment that has a few replies to it. I’m going to read them all here just quickly, but the first comment comes from Efthymia, who says that

“I have a theory that how people feel towards [Order of the Phoenix] has to do with how old they were when they first read it.”

This relates to our comments on whether we like the book or not on last episode.

“My sister and I…”

This is Efthymia speaking.

“… are around Kat’s age, and we both agree with her that it’s a great book. But maybe people who were younger don’t love it as much because (a) it’s a very political book (It has a lot more to do with what sucks in the real world than with more clearly magical issues, various characters become more ambiguous, and it’s a slow burner that is actually trying to make you angry and frustrated.) and (b) Harry is pretty annoying/obnoxious in this one, and I assume that younger readers associated with and favoured him more up to this point, and it must have sucked to see their hero like this (then again, I never favoured the protagonist in anything I read/watched when I was a kid, so I probably have no idea what I’m talking about).”

Laura: Well, as the resident youngest person on the podcast…

[Michael laughs]

Laura: … I’m going to have to disagree a little bit with this just because the first couple reasons about it being political and about characters becoming more gray and steering away from typical fantasy… those are the three reasons I like this book.

Michael: Ooh.

Laura: And… but when I say “the reasons I like this book”… the only reasons I like this book.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: I don’t like this book, and yes, I am young, but the thing is is that that latter part is what gets me, is Harry is really annoying in this book – actively tries to make you frustrated – and that’s not an enjoyable experience to me as a reader who’s seeking a bit of escapism, so I don’t think that that has to do with your age, though, that second part. The first part I would imagine would have to do with age, but I don’t know. Me personally, my age didn’t play a factor in not liking the political issues of it.

Eric: Well, Maureen has a response to that comment as well. Maureen says,

“I was seven years old when I first read this book, and it’s my favorite in the series, so I don’t [know] how much [how old you are] is related to [whether you like it] – Harry – [as well as] understand the political aspects of [this] book. I certainly love those things now, but at the time, I [don’t actually] even remember why I liked it. I think I was just so excited by the prospect of a new Harry Potter book, and I wasn’t even old enough to see this book’s flaws (which I still consider to be few and far between). [And] I also think Harry’s sassiness was particularly funny to my seven-year-old sense of humor.”

Eric: So there’s that. Of course, the episode title last week was “Sassy Harry.” We were talking about whether or not his funniness, as relates to insulting the Dursleys and them, is actually endearing. And we have a third comment from…

Michael: Before we go on, Eric, I want to ask Dan what his opinion is on Order because everybody knows our opinions. [laughs]

Eric: Oh, yeah.

Dan: My opinion on Order is that I always equate it to you’re drinking a soda, and you take a couple sips, and you put your glass down, and you pick it back up, and you take a sip, and you find out you grabbed the wrong cup, and it’s milk, and it’s not that you don’t like milk. It’s just jarring because you were expecting soda.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Dan: You were used to this happy, whimsical, magical adventure, and all of a sudden you’re smacked in the face with this angsty teenager, and it’s just different. It’s just a different taste in your mouth, I guess.

Laura: That was very eloquent on the spot. [laughs]

Michael: I like that metaphor. [laughs]

Eric: There’s a comment here about grayness, actually, of all things, from RoseLumos, who says,

“I was 12 [when this book came out] and a little too young to understand all the political stuff. In fact, after finishing [Goblet], I was barely aware that another war was starting. I did have a weird connection with the book, though. I was going through a very dark time when it came out. I switched schools and left a lot of friends behind without connecting to any new ones. I connected to Harry a lot in this book because he too had difficulty with his friends and hated going to school, just like me (especially since I used to love it, like him). Another weird connection was the weather. It took me three days [to] read the whole book (which I think is an accomplishment for such a long book), during which we had grey and rainy weather. I don’t know why, but it felt like it gave the whole reading experience a perfect mood, and to this day I prefer to read this book on wet, cloudy days.”

Laura: I actually agree with that.

Michael: I love that. I think that’s actually a really fitting… I think wet, cloudy days are a perfect matchup for this book. For cloudy Harry.

Eric: Yeah, well, you look at the book, and I mean, if you’re an American reader, and you look at the book, and you get that blue, everything-is-blue cover, and it puts you in the mind of that. I think that’s a perfect way to describe it. We have two more comments to get to on last week’s discussion. This one comes from thegiantsquid in response to a comment from DolphinPatronus. Thegiantsquid says,

“I remember when I first read the book, I was a little upset with Harry provoking and teasing Dudley. I was twelve at the time, so I hadn’t gone through the melancholy of puberty yet and had certainly never witnessed a tragic event like Harry, so I wasn’t entirely connecting with why he was lashing out in the ways he was. I do[, however], have a younger sister […], who I shared (and continue to share) a very snarky relationship with. When the Dementors come, Harry protects his cousin immediately. He tells him what to do and how to stay safe, even if it’s a bit vague. This reminded me a lot of my relationship with my sister because we [will] pick on each other constantly, but when the going gets rough, we [are] on each other’s side. Harry was redeemed for me there because I could see that he wasn’t just being a mean guy[;] he was just upset about something and taking it out on other people, but his character hadn’t changed.”

And that’s the end of that comment.

Michael: I like that comment, actually, because I know the big debate last week, too, was about Harry’s behavior in this particular chapter and his… the things he says to Dudley and whether Harry is in the right, or Dudley is in the right, and while I was listening to it, I was thinking, “They’re both on a level playing field for once” is what it is to me when I read that chapter. It’s the first time you really do see Harry actively standing up for himself. He’s been snarky with Dudley before, but I do think that both of them push each other a little too far, and they’re both at fault. But in the end, Harry does try to help Dudley when things get severe. He at least tries to keep him safe, so that’s his first instinct, and he’s not… the narration makes it clear that he’s not just protecting himself. He’s actively trying to protect Dudley as well, so which is something we’ve really not seen before.

Dan: But was it that crucial to protect Dudley? I mean, I don’t think that Dementors can take Muggle souls.

Eric: Yeah, they can.

Michael: I think they can.

Eric: They clearly can. I think just because of the way that the Dementor is… well, Dementors, I guess, I’ve always seen as an allegory for depression, or they cause it, and that’s why people commit suicide and that sort of thing. I’ve always associated Dementors with the Muggle world, I guess, and so I wouldn’t see why the Dementors could just take wizard souls.

Dan: All right. Well, see, in the next book, what’s that first chapter? Was it “The Other Minister”?

Eric: “The Other Minister.”

Dan: Fudge mentions that Dementors are being born all over the country and swooping all over, and he doesn’t throw out another warning saying, “Oh, by the way, they can eat your soul.”

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Dan: I just assumed that they couldn’t.

Michael: Well, the interesting thing is that… and we’ll maybe perhaps go a little bit more into this in this week’s chapter discussion, but Harry is surprised that the Dementors… everybody’s actually surprised that the Dementors showed up in Little Whinging, so it seems to be that they actually have just a preference for being around wizards as opposed to Muggles, which is interesting because Muggles can’t see them, so you would think it would be better prey…

Eric: Right.

Michael: … but they seem to actively go after witches and wizards, and I don’t know if that has something to do with the history of when they came into being or if they actually do obey certain restrictions that the Ministry puts on them. I mean, the majority of them seem to just automatically swarm over to Azkaban at the moment.

Eric: Well, that’s just so weird of a thought. I mean, Dan, you may change my mind here.

[Dan laughs]

Eric: But I think it was said that the Dementor was within an inch of Dudley’s mouth last chapter.

Michael: Oh, yeah, it was actively trying to suck his soul out, so…

Dan: Right. Maybe he didn’t know.

[Eric laughs]

Dan: Maybe he didn’t know he was a Muggle.

Eric: What the Dementor doesn’t know, can’t kill it. And we do have, again, our final comment from stonehallows over on the Alohomora! forum. And this is relating to Harry’s attitude in the overall book:

“I’m torn about Harry’s attitude. While I think his remarks are hilarious, I am always a little… fed up? … by his anger. I feel it’s too much. Maybe it’s because I never went through the whole I’m-an-angry-teenager-I-hate-my-parents phase or maybe […] because I didn’t go through the trauma that he just endured, but I have a hard time relating to the anger and the rudeness that comes of it. And while I understand WHY he’s mad at Ron and Hermione, as soon as he realizes that they are telling the truth and are sorry for any misery they caused [him], I feel like he should have been able to get past it and [begin] confiding in them again. He doesn’t even apologize to them… I think ever. I would be more understanding about it if he blew up out of anger and frustration, realized what he [had] done, and apologized, but I don’t think he ever does. He usually just walks away, and when he comes back, they [have] moved on.”

And then there’s a sidenote here:

“(Note: that’s the mark of true friendship right there. They know he’s in a tight spot and are letting things slide that I don’t think should have been allowable. Again, I’m not saying he shouldn’t be angry. I’m saying he should apologize for being rude and mean to the three people sticking by his side).”

Michael: We kind of get that apology a few chapters down. It’s not…

Eric: Well, I’ll wait for it with open arms.

Michael: It’s not explicitly… Harry doesn’t… I don’t know if he flat out says, “I’m sorry,” but I think it’s somewhere around the chapter where Ron becomes a prefect…

Eric: Ooh.

Michael: … and there’s all of that jazz. And I think there'[re] some apologies made there. Not outright, but… because Harry and Ron never tend to actually flat-out apologize to each other, so it’s like that scene in Goblet of Fire where they’re like, “Oh, well, took you long enough to come around, didn’t it?”

Eric: Right.

Michael: But… and Hermione just cries and runs off. [laughs]

Eric: I think what it comes down to is understanding why he’s so angry, which may not dawn on Harry until the very end of the book after it’s clear just how much Voldemort was inside his head throughout the whole year, and so it’s put off and put off until the end of the year, and when that final understanding happens, they have just survived a traumatic event together, and they’re all in different hospital wings recovering from it, so perhaps it doesn’t… this “sorry,” the apology doesn’t really happen just because there is so much else going on.

Michael: Yeah. I think that. Well, and I think certain… I think there'[re] certain times to apologize, and I think there’s… mostly through these beginning chapters Harry is not in a place to apologize sincerely. Because you get so much back and forth on his feelings for the next probably four or five chapters until he gets to Hogwarts, and he starts feeling a little more secure and comfortable, at least until Umbridge shows up.

Dan: I think the trio foregoes apologies. They just keep going, but they never really say sorry to each other, do they?

Eric: Well, Harry makes it difficult.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Dan: No, I mean with whatever. Even with Hermione and Krum or Ron and Lavender, they never really apologize to each other.

Eric: Right.

Dan: They just keep on rolling on.

Michael: Okay, so yeah, maybe…

Eric: Do you think that, had Harry apologized, it would have made you think better of him or made you sleep easier, knowing that this character is going around in this wizarding world, if he had been a more apologetic character for his actions? Would you like him more?

Michael: I would have when I was 15.

Dan and Laura: Yeah.

Michael: Not now.

Dan: What he did to Dudley didn’t really sit well with me.

Eric and Michael : Yeah.

Laura: I didn’t really care much, but…

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Dan: Well, I mean, he’s been bullied. He’s been there, so I guess I just hoped he’d just be a little more empathetic.

Laura: I don’t know. I feel like – speaking as someone who was bullied for a very long time – you always dream of that moment in your head where you…

Eric: But should you go for it?

Laura: … get revenge a little bit and toss it back.

Eric: But should you go for it?

Laura: I don’t know.

Dan: No, because then you’re just as bad.

Eric: Yeah. I agree.

Dan: Just because you got the power if you lift the proverbial stick against him – like he was – then no, that’s not cool.

Eric: Yeah, but for more comments we would urge you to go check out the Alohomora! forum and the comments page on the main Alohomora! site, Of course, there are always so many comments that we just don’t have time to read on the show, and we do appreciate… I think this episode’s post had over ninety comments just on the main page.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: And that wasn’t including all the forum comments, so thank you, everybody who has sent in comments about that.

Laura: And we also have your comments from the Podcast Question of the Week from last week. We asked, “In this chapter, the Dementors arrive, and both Harry and Dudley are attacked. Dudley, obviously, has this big reaction from the Dementors attacking him. We wanted to know, does Dudley relive a moment of terror from his own life, and if so, what was it?” So the first comment is actually what my answer would have been. I didn’t write it, I’m just agreeing. From LeslieLovegood, it says,

“Dudley tells us that he felt cold and that he heard things in his head and that he felt like he’d never be happy again. So, to me it sounds like the reacts to the Dementors much like wizards would. As for what Dudley felt at that time. We know from the books, that not everyone relives a specific moment the way Harry does. Lupin tells him that the Dementors affect him differently because he has dealt with truly traumatic events. Dudley, who would probably react similarly to Ron and Hermione on the train in Prisoner. He would have felt very depressed and scared, but I do not think he would be relive a specific event the way Harry does.”

That’s exactly what my thoughts were, reading the question, which was he’d just have general Dementor side effects.

Eric: Yeah, I didn’t think about that scene in Prisoner and about Harry being special in that way that he so clearly relives a specific moment…

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: … of his mother dying in front of him. That’s cool to point out. I like reading about that.

Laura: Yeah. I just always thought it was the general displeasure of having your soul sucked out.

Eric: Yeah. [laughs]

Laura: But this next comment, though, does offer an example which is from hallowsmaster97 and says,

“Dementors force you to relive your worst memories and those memories don’t have to be terrifying. I believe Dudley’s worst memories consist of humiliation. He is obese and although others at school are frightened of him, that won’t stop them from whispering behind his back and making fun of him. I’m sure he’s heard people calling him fat and stupid at school, he’s heard Harry making all of those comments to his face. Dudley said he heard voices, could the voices be of those who mock him? Did the Dementor send all those insults to flood Dudley’s mind at once? I believe that is extremely terrifying, it certainly terrified Dudley to the scared, helpless state that we see in the next chapter.”

Eric: This is an interesting child psychology lesson. The bullies are most likely bullied themselves kind of thought process there, which I think is definitely interesting to think of Dudley being picked on at school, or to have…

Laura: I don’t really think that he necessarily… I think people would be too afraid of him.

Eric: He seems to be formidable, I mean, he’s what, a heavy weight boxing champ or whatever it is at school so…

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: … there’s that, but yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s too wrong to maybe hear people insulting him.

Laura: But of course, everyone actually is wrong because Rowling herself…

[Eric laughs]

Laura: … she commented on our main page. No, centaurseaker121 pulled up an exact quote from her that said,

“‘People usually ask me, what is it that Dudley saw during the Dementor attack?’ Rowling said. ‘My feeling is that he saw himself, exactly for what he was, and for a boy that spoiled, it would be terrifying. So he was jolted out of it. Dementor attacks aren’t usually good for people, but this one was.’ – J.K Rowling”

And then the comment continues after J.K. Rowling’s comment:

“If this was Dudley’s reaction, I think think the only way it could have happened was for him to see himself the way others saw him, and that he saw that the world wasn’t all about him the way he thought it was. He also may have come to the realization later that after all he had put Harry through, Harry still saved his life and that’s not something that one easily forgets about.”

Eric: There are some things that you can go through together without being friends.

Dan and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: Dementor attacks are not one of them. [laughs]

Dan: Yeah, my thought process was around the same lines as Laura, but I came up with one just in case you guys put a gun to my head or something.

Michael: Okay, there…

Eric: [laughs] We do that on this podcast. It’s very high stakes.

Michael: There’s a wand to your head. [laughs]

Eric: So what was your just-in-case reaction?

Dan: My parachute answer would be the day that Hagrid came to them on the rock and told Harry that he was a wizard, because not only was that terrifying for him, but the underlying feelings of jealously that he’s probably harbored for the last five years just like Petunia did with Lily…

Eric: Aww.

Dan: … can be personified and rolled up in that one moment that somebody from outside of the family came in and told them that Harry was more special than Dudley, at least in one way. And there’s nothing his parents can do about it.

Eric: Wow. I love that parallel between…

Laura: And he got a pig’s tail to boot.

Eric: And he got a pig’s tail. Hagrid ruined Dudley’s life that day. [laughs]

Dan: You’re right. Right.

Michael: That would have been… that certainly would have changed how Dudley behaves at the beginning of Deathly Hallows if he felt that… If his biggest fear, his worst moment was that Harry was actually legitimately more important than him.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Dan: If you think about it that must have been so awkward in the hospital because he’s all, “Why did he give me a pig’s tail?” and everyone’s all, “Because you’re fat, Dudley.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Yeah. But no, I think that’s very interesting. We hear that Dudley is abused – as we say – because he’s spoiled – and that’s what Jo said even in these quotes, that he’s a spoiled child – and so I think that once Harry was taken away, his parents were able to just devote full time to him and full attention, telling him that he’s special.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: And that Harry was a freak.

Michael: [laughs] Those were some excellent responses to the Podcast Question of the Week and actually, some of that discussion is going to bleed over into our discussion of this week’s chapter which is Chapter 2, “A Peck of Owls.”

[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2 intro begins]

[Sound of an owl flying into a window]

Mad-Eye Moody: Chapter 2: “A Peck of Owls.”

[Sound of an owl falling and then making a strangled hooting noise]

[Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2 intro ends]

Michael: All right. So here we are with “A Peck of Owls” on our hands and not only a peck of owls but also a lot of new characters. Actually not necessarily new, but a lot of characters who have been mentioned before and we’re going to find out a lot about them. Just as a side note, Noah was originally scheduled for this episode and I will be dropping in a few of his points every now and then so Noah is here in spirit, everyone.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Michael: So we start off right where we left off with Mrs. Figg revealing a lot of information about herself very, very quickly and we get a lot of information about her as well as Mundungus Fletcher immediately. This chapter wastes no time. Mrs. Figg first confirms that it was, in fact, Mundungus Fletcher who was watching Harry and who apparated away and made the loud apparition noise that Harry heard. There was some discussion, actually, in the forums this past week about whether perhaps the person who apparated was actually Umbridge as she’s the person later confirmed to have sent the Dementors to Little Whinging. But this pretty clearly indicates that it was Mundungus who left. Now Mrs. Figg has a really impressive knowledge of the wizarding world after revealing that she is a Squib. And she has some very interesting sayings that she employs to get her points across.

Eric: Yes.

Michael: I listed them all here. They are the loveliest, silliest little sayings. She says things like, “We might as well be hanged for a dragon as an egg.”

[Laura laughs]

Michael: As well as, “You worthless pile of bat droppings.” And, “It’s no good crying over spilled potion.”

[Laura laughs]

Michael: And finally my favorite, “The cat’s among the pixies now.” [laughs] So it’s really interesting to see actually how steeped into the wizarding world Mrs. Figg seems to be for a Squib.

Eric: Right.

Laura: Yeah.

Michael: Considering she didn’t have any magical abilities. The other puzzling thing about Mrs. Figg is that she reveals that one of her many cats, Mr. Tibbles, was stationed as a backup to make sure that Mundungus was doing what he was supposed to do and Mr. Tibbles came and warned her of what happened when Mundungus left. Now, how exactly did that work? How does a cat – does a half kneazle/half cat – warn a squib that Mundungus Fletcher has left his post?

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: I imagine it was like an Abbott and Costello gig. “Meow.”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: “What? Who? What? Who is it? What’s it…”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Or like an episode of Lassie. “Woof woof woof woof.” “What? Timmy’s in the well, what?”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: “Mundungus left his post again?” “Meow.”

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Laura: See, I had always assumed – because of Filch being the only other Squib we know and his connection to Mrs. Norris – I always assumed it was just like… a Squib’s only power was that they could talk to cats but I’m pretty sure that we found out that Mrs. Norris is not a Kneazle.

Michael: No. Yes.

Laura: She’s just a smart cat and I don’t really think that there’s much of a connection. So I don’t know…

Eric: Yeah, it’s…

Laura: … the actual, physical magical connection and not just something cute J.K. Rowling did. But…

Michael: That was a question I had about this is… Why are cats so connected to wizards? Because we do see that with Filch and Mrs. Norris – as you mentioned, Laura – as well as Hermione and Crookshanks, and of course Umbridge in this book with her somewhat insane cat affinity that has…

Eric: Well that… oh, wow. I didn’t think about that.

Laura: Is that a movie-ism? Or is that actually in the book?

Dan and Eric: No, it’s in the book.

Dan: There are the plates all over her office so, yeah…

Michael: And her Patronus is a cat so…

Eric: Well, I think that’s more for historical witchcraft as well. In the actual world, people who would claim to be witches had familiars which are…

Michael: That is true.

Eric: … animals or cats – black cats in superstition – so it’s Jo’s way of tying that in to what was supposedly witchcraft in the real world which, I think, is…

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: … part of why that is the way it is. But I think Mrs. Figg suspected that Dung would leave and she knew that he would and knew that he did and she knew why he did.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: It was to get some fell off the back of a broom merchandise.

Dan: Yeah, the cauldrons, which can’t be the best means of conveyance for the cauldrons…

Michael: [laughs] Toting them around on broomsticks.

Eric: Well, that in itself… and here’s something about this chapter. Just that saying, “Fell off the back of a broom” it’s the equivalent of saying something fell off the back of a truck.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: And it doesn’t actually – as I learned – using this in speaking, it doesn’t actually mean something fell off a truck, it means it was stolen. That’s an expression. Fell off the back of the truck means it’s stolen.

Dan: Sure.

Eric: So it’s just stolen merchandise, it’s fell off the back of the broom. Although that does make you question, were they transporting something by broom? Because I think, as a kid, that was what I would have suspected as well.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: But it’s just a saying, it’s another one of these sayings that Mrs. Figg has.

Dan: Well, I was just saying that the fell off the back of the truck saying makes sense because things are transported by trucks but a batch of cauldrons can’t be transported by just a broomstick so it must have been modified from Muggle-speech and just kind of fit in to the wizarding world.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yeah, well, kind of like a lot of the things that Mrs. Figg is saying in this chapter. It’s just another one of those little things that kind of pulls you into the wizarding world a little more. I just find it fascinating that these are all coming out of Mrs. Figg and I don’t think… Rowling has dropped these kinds of altered sayings to fit wizards before in the books but never in such quick succession.

Eric: Oh, agreed.

Michael: So many.

Eric: We don’t know enough about her to know… we suspected on the last episode, we speculated if her husband had been a Muggle and that allowed her to… basically it would have taken her out of the wizarding world…

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: … a little bit, but she seems to be totally steeped in it with these things, you’re right, Michael. And as from what Mr. Tibbles was doing, because she suspected that Mr… that Mundungus was going to do what he ended up doing, then she knows that if Mr. Tibbles came running to her that that must have been…

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: … what happened. You know what I’m saying…

Michael: So it’s not necessarily that she was talking to the cat as that the cat coming back was a signal.

Eric: Yes, not…

Laura: Charades.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Exactly. She’s just, “Well, you come back to me if Dung leaves the way he’s going to.” And so going back to that saying in the first chapter when he hears the crack, it’s rapid succession. As soon as Dung leaves, the cat runs out from under the parked car. So it’s like you… I guess if you’re reading it, you think that the loud bang startled a cat if it were a normal cat. But no, that cat is running to go tell Figg.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: And it just maybe… its presence is what tells Mrs. Figg that Dung left Harry unattended.

Dan: She seemed to be pretty well-informed of what was going on when she came upon the scene, though.

Michael: Oh, yeah. She was incredibly informed. That’s was the other… that’s why I find Mrs. Figg so fascinating as a character because she does pop up and unlike other Squibs we have met, she does just seem to be so steeped and knowledgeable on the wizarding world in the way that we haven’t expected from a Squib up to this point. So it is… it’s really interesting thing to have her pop up and just start spitting wizard stuff at you, just really fast and lots of information. And then of course the other character who is a major point here is Mundungus Fletcher, who has previously been referenced in the series. He was referenced once in Chamber of Secrets as well as Goblet of Fire. Mostly mentioned as a trouble maker in Chamber of Secrets. He’s mentioned as attacking Mr. Weasley during a job and trying to hex him. And in Goblet of Fire he’s mentioned as squatting at the Quidditch World Cup with a… under a cloak with two poles that he’s made into a makeshift tent. [laughs]

Eric: Right.

Michael: So he’s been around but of course this is the first time we get to meet him, and he’s most certainly an unusual character for… he’s a drunk, first and foremost, and he’s… I believe he smells of drink and, what was it, tobacco or something of the like?

Eric: Tobacco I think it is.

Michael: Yeah. So he’s unpleasant.

[Laura and Michael laugh]

Michael: But interestingly enough, as Noah wished to point out, he has an invisibility cloak. Harry immediately notices that that’s something he is holding. Noah wanted to know if it was a knock-off.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Laura: Probably.

Eric: Well, guys… no, we know.

Laura: No, Mundungus Fletcher is the master of death.

[Dan, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Michael: He was just previously in Privet Drive stealing Harry’s invisibility cloak. He was just upstairs just then.

Eric: Yeah, exactly. That’s what it is. You know, guys, I’ve never thought about this. We of course know that Harry’s cloak is unlike all other cloaks because they fade over time, but wouldn’t it stink to be under one of those knock-off invisibility cloaks performing some tasks stealthily and have the cloak fade and be able to be visible under it?

Michael: Very unfortunate.

Laura: A bit awkward.

Michael: But yes, that’s one of the… some of the interesting things about Mundungus. And Mrs. Figg decides to take out her anger on him by smacking him in the face with her bag, which apparently is full of cat food tins.

[Eric laughs]

Dan: That was awesome.

Michael: So… and the thing I wanted to ask too about Mundungus, and this is something we can perhaps ponder throughout the series because he’s obviously going to pop up quite a bit from now on, but would you guys say that perhaps this is one of the few, if only, cases where Dumbledore’s trust in somebody is grossly misplaced?

Dan: Well, he liked Grindelwald for a little bit, so that was bad.

Michael: [laughs] True.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: True.

Eric: Doesn’t quite get as bad as Grindelwald again, does it?

Michael: That’s very true.

Laura: Yeah.

Michael: Perhaps we’ll quantify with Order of the Phoenix years.

Laura: Honestly, I don’t know. I… it always struck me odd that Mundungus was part of the Order. I don’t see what would’ve ever made him join particularly, but I don’t know. Perhaps…

Michael: Yeah.

Laura: … they almost needed a weasel to…

Michael: Yeah.

Laura: … do anything. If they needed anything nefarious without getting anyone else’s hands dirty. Besides Snape.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I guess they needed a thief to infiltrate other thieves perhaps. He’s like a Pettigrew character as well in the way that he’s a weak… he’s easily intimidated, I should say.

Michael: And well, in the end, he ends up being very self-serving. He does chicken out when he’s most needed in much more dire situations in the end. And we do find out later he is brought on because apparently Dumbledore saved him. We can only guess from some shady deal gone wrong, because there’s no…

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: There’s no definitive story on that…

Eric: He is a good-for-nothing. People like this exist in the world. I think it’s one of Jo’s tasks in writing this character that really seems like slim pickings for the Order. So maybe it’s in reference to that, that they’ll take anyone they can get. But I think it generally represents the inner struggle of people, right? He has a good side and a bad side. He’s, on one hand he has said yes to this extremely dangerous job, and on the other hand he leaves on a whim when he’s able to get some stolen merchandise for cheap. So it is… I never liked him. The less you know about Mundungus Fletcher, the more you like him.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: And unfortunately we’re just shown who he is and what he’s all about time and time and time again the next couple books. And you really don’t like him for it but…

Michael: Yeah, because…

Eric: I think as a character…

Michael: Right.

Eric: He needs to be there…

Dan: Sure.

Eric: As kind of this dope.

Dan: I think it’s Dumbledore’s…

Michael: Mhm.

Dan: … invisibility cloak, by the way. Because I know that people are lending them out. Because I think somebody got arrested using a borrowed invisibility cloak guarding the Prophecy. Right?

Eric: You’re sharp. That’s right.

Michael: I didn’t remember that Dumbledore had one. So…

Dan: I know he doesn’t need it. But…

Eric: Yeah. But he…

Dan: Uh. I forget the guys name. [laughs]

Michael: There’s lots of characters. [laughs]

Eric: I think I do remember that from later in the book. And it’s different because Dumbledore was borrowing James’s invisibility cloak at one point too.

Michael: So…

Eric: But he gave that back to Harry in his first year.

Michael: Yeah. But Mundungus doesn’t stick around for long after being thoroughly abused by Mrs. Figg. He departs immediately to take word to Dumbledore because Mrs. Figg has just previously fretted that she doesn’t have a way to get word to Dumbledore very quickly. So Mundungus takes the word to him. Meanwhile, Harry finally gets back to Number Four Privet Drive. Mrs. Figg says peace out and heads back home without particularly giving any answers to all the questions she has raised and Harry is left a bit dumbfounded on the doorstep. And the conversation we were having with the Podcast Question of the Week kind of bleeds in here because I did note that Dudley certainly does seem to have a very severe reaction to the Dementors, I would say almost similar to Harry. Because, as you guys were discussing, that previous comment had mentioned that perhaps Dudley would have a reaction akin more to Hermione and Ron. But Dudley becomes severely sick, on the point of fading. And he becomes practically immobile, Harry can’t figure out if he’s not moving because he can’t or doesn’t want to.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: I have a thought here. How many… we’ve seen three rare occurrences, which is people coming out of a Dementor’s kiss on the better end?

Michael: Mhm.

Laura: I feel like it’s not something that pretty much happens ever outside of that.

Michael: Hmm.

Laura: So we don’t get to see something having a physically sick reaction because they would just be soulless. We don’t get to see what really happens to Sirius and Harry is all like time traveling when this happens so God knows what is happening with him. But Dudley who is someone who is not accustomed to magic, doesn’t know what’s anything that is happening. I would be nauseous, just if something… big scary. Picture real life that thing approaching you in the street. I would die.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: So I don’t think it’s an unwarranted reaction. And I also think that there must be some kind physical effect.

Michael: Mhm.

Laura: Because it’s just not in any book or whatever like of symptoms because who survives a Dementor’s kiss.

Eric: The brilliance lies in the ambiguity. Because Dudley could be sick because he almost had his soul was sucked out and he had stuff sucked out of his mouth, like happy thoughts and stuff. Or he could be sick because he’s sick at himself at who he’s been. Maybe he relived a scene where he tortured a kid. And now he sees himself for what truly he is and it makes him want to throw up because he’s a terrible person…

Michael: Well…

Eric: And he finally realizes it.

Michael: And actually I wanted to, I did want to discuss a little bit about what Dudley saw and I had the quotes here. But our listeners were really on point and pointed it out before we could get to it. But it is that Rowling said that Dudley saw himself exactly as he was. And for a boy that spoiled it would be terrifying. Interestingly in 2004, in a World Day Book Chat, Rowling was asked the same question about what Dudley saw. And she said, “Ah, good question, you’ll find out.” Which, of course we never did in the book. And this point ends up coming up again in Deathly Hallows but we don’t really know why. It’s kind of interesting because in the narration in Deathly Hallows it’s pretty vague about why Dudley has come around. And it’s this specific turning point is never referenced. And what I thought was so interesting about this is that later on we see that Dudley turns the whole thing on Harry. Once asked by his parents what happened, he immediately blames Harry for what happened. And I assumed that was because Dudley couldn’t see the Dementor.

Eric: Right.

Michael: So he had to blame somebody, so he blamed Harry. But I thought was interesting for Rowling to say that Dudley kind of immediately went through this transformation. But he went back to his old standby of blaming Harry anyway. And then of course…

Eric: Like Jo said, that’s all he knows. He was pointing his wand at him and then all the stars went out of the sky.

Michael: Mhm. That’s true.

Eric: And it looked, anybody else would have seen, an eyewitness standing on the corner would have also seen Harry cast it. The only one that doesn’t know, the only one who knows that Harry didn’t do anything is Harry.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: And he is not in a position to be very believable right now.

Dan: Well plus, he’s pointing at Harry because Harry’s got to be the mouthpiece, he can’t talk.

Eric: Yeah and he say only a few words.

Dan: And it could be a total misunderstanding. He could just be inferring that it’s his fault when he’s really just saying, “Ask him.”

Michael: That’s true. That’s very true. Well, the only reason I was thinking about this was because I’ve felt in my read-throughs of the series that in a way almost Dudley kind of suffers in his character development at this point since we don’t really get to see him at all in Half-Blood Prince, he makes a brief appearance. But unfortunately we don’t get any more development on that front from him until Deathly Hallows.

Dan: And I think that Jo said that Harry never saw the Dursleys again, which hit me right in the feels because I really wanted to see him and Dudley get along eventually.

Laura: Well, I mean did he really never, I feel like…

Michael: No he doesn’t see Petunia and Vernon, I don’t believe, frequently. But he does see Dudley.

Dan: Really?

Michael: Yeah according to Rowling, Dudley has kids who are not magical because Uncle Vernon’s non-magic genes stomp that out.

[Eric laughs]

Michael: And Harry takes his kids begrudgingly to go visit Dudley every once in awhile. [laughs] So…

Dan: Well, you guys just made my day.

Eric: [laughs] Yeah.

Laura: Yeah, she said they’re on “Christmas card terms.” That was the word she used.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: Aww. Right in the feels.

Dan: Oh, perfect! Maybe I’m just getting confused with all the fan fiction. I love it.

Laura: Fan fic, yeah.

[Michael laughs]

Laura: But yeah, I do believe his relationship with Petunia and Vernon is pretty done for.

Eric: That ship has sailed.

Michael: So from this point onwards, I thought it was interesting to note that the scene actually plays out like a somewhat darker version of “The Letters From No One” chapter in Sorcerer’s Stone. This overall really… the new darker adult tone of Harry Potter really goes, in my opinion, full throttle in this chapter. We see it starting in the first chapter but it really hits its head here. We’ve got little old ladies saying there will be hell to pay, we’ve got Dudley vomiting all over the place, and I think the topper is Uncle Vernon saying, “Enough effing owls!”

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: Which is the first time that term has come up. And we even get things as extreme as Uncle Vernon advocating the death penalty in regards to Harry, sincerely hoping that Harry will be killed!

Laura: Is that really in there? I don’t remember. [laughs]

Michael: Yes! Uncle Vernon asks if the Ministry of Magic advocates for the death penalty. [laughs]

Laura: Oh my God.

Michael: And Harry says, “No…” Harry says, “Oh, I have to have a trial first.” And Vernon says, “Oh, well, I’ll keep holding out hope then.” There are also of course lots of italics and bold letters in this chapter, for the first time. We will be seeing a lot of that in this book.

Eric: This book scares me, guys.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: It really does! It scares me! People wonder why I was so flipping out on the last episode of the show where we did Chapter 1, but I don’t like all these things you’re saying. Yeah, I don’t like it. This book scares me.

Michael: By putting all those pieces out there, I was almost for myself trying to break down why this chapter really does hit you so hard as a reader the first time. Because I do remember being this bright-eyed fourteen-year-old… get this huge Harry Potter book, so excited, go home, start reading it, and being…

Laura: It breaks your heart immediately.

[Dan and Laura laugh]

Michael: … yeah, on the verge of tears like, “This isn’t what I wanted!” As I sit on my bed in my Harry Potter cloak.

Eric: Did I accidentally pick up a Twilight book? What happened?

Michael: [laughs] It just gets pretty intense pretty fast, and this chapter continues at top speed because before Harry really has a chance to explain anything, we get a letter from Miss Mafalda Hopkirk. Yet another character who is going to be quite a bit more important later in the series. We have a lot of letters, in fact, coming through in this chapter, and so if you guys are willing, I feel that everybody needs to claim a letter and read it aloud.

Eric: Ooh!

Michael: Who wants…? We have…

Eric: I’ll do the first one.

Michael: You want to do…? I was going to assign Mafalda to Laura because she is the only girl. [laughs]

Eric: Oh, Laura! Do it, do it, do it.

Laura: What? Oh, dear.

Michael: Laura, put on your best Mafalda Hopkirk voice.

Laura: I can’t… I’ve avoided doing a British accent on this show, though, for a year.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: It’s time to break that.

Eric: You must! You must.

Laura: “Dear Mr. Potter…”

Michael: Perfect! That was perfect the perfect start.

Laura: I’m going to be offensive!

Eric: Laura, prim and proper. Come on.

Michael: Here we go.

Laura: Okay. Oh my God. I feel like I’m auditioning for something.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Dan: You are!

Laura: [laughs] Okay.

“Dear Mr Potter,

We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past nine this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle.

The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand.

As you have already received an official warning for a previous offense under Section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic at 9 a.m. on the twelfth of August.

Hoping you are well,

Yours sincerely,

Mafalda Hopkirk”

Michael: Can we just take a moment to applaud Laura’s performance?

[Laura laughs]

Dan: Very nice.

Eric: Yay!

[Everyone applauds]

Michael: That was an excellent Mafalda Hopkirk. Well done.

Eric: We should also applaud the “Hoping you are well” at the end.

[Dan and Laura laugh]

Michael: I do love that. This is one of those… maybe too far ahead to mention, but I did love this scene in the movie. It’s done very nicely. The voice actress for Mafalda – whoever did that in the movie – was excellent. But this letter… it was funny; reading this this time over, the thing that really struck me was, “We will be sending Ministry representatives to destroy your wand.”

Eric: Huh?

Michael: [laughs] Seems a bit extreme. And I do love that afterwards, it’s like, “And then you’ll have a trial. But first we’re going to snap your wand in half.” [laughs]

Laura: Yeah, really.

Eric: The trial is to determine whether or not he is going to Azkaban to do time.

Laura: I guess it’s the equivalent of taking away a potential murderer’s weapon before you’ve actually convicted them of the murder. I mean, it makes sense, but at the same time it’s heartbreaking, and it’s also… for how important Harry’s wand is specifically…

Eric: Yeah.

Dan: Yeah, but why would they snap it?

Laura: Just take it away!

Michael: That’s what surprised me, is that they specifically say they’re going to destroy the wand.

Eric: It’s like, “You fail as a wizard, Harry Potter.”

Laura: And then he turns out to be innocent and they’re like, “Ooh, real sorry about that.”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Well, that’s the thing…

Michael: Well, it’s… oh, go ahead, Eric.

Eric: It’s a summary judgement. It’s “You are guilty.” This, that, and the other thing. You’ve been guilty. You’ve been threatened before, you’ve been warned before, and now that you’ve done this, you’re expelled from school. And furthermore, we’re going to destroy your wand so you can’t do any more underage magic. And furthermore, you may be going to jail. We don’t know. We’re going to give you a hearing. Here you go.

Michael: I was going to say that we have seen this situation before in the form of Hagrid. Of course, he was accused of something a bit more heinous, which of course was murder…

Laura: A bit.

Michael: … but there was no substantial evidence and he of course was innocent in the end. And his wand got snapped, and of course they never returned it. He put it in his umbrella, but they never said, “Oh, well, we’ll pay for you to go to Ollivander’s and get a new one.” [laughs]

Eric: Right. Isn’t it seven Galleons though? Come on! He can afford that.

Michael: [laughs] So that’s the first letter. And the other question I actually had about that was in regards to what you were saying, Eric, about how accusatory the letter is and how far it jumps in its conclusions. And we don’t really know much about Mafalda, but I’m wondering, is this something…? Is this a letter that Mafalda would usually send out to somebody who has done magic a second time, or is this an extreme case under Fudge’s orders? Is this letter specifically something Fudge has perhaps been waiting for just on pins and needles, and Umbridge made it happen?

Laura: I think definitely… unfortunately, I’ve seen this movie more than I’ve read the book.

[Michael laughs]

Laura: Just because… thank ABC Family.

Michael: [laughs] “Harry Potter Weekend.”

Laura: When Dumbledore says something along the lines of, “Since when do we have a full-blown trial for a little bit of underage magic?”

Michael: Mhm.

Laura: So short answer: No. This is certainly a targeted case.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: That’s what we’ve seen in their letters to him before, about: “Sit tight. Don’t do magic.” I think that Dumbledore… everybody else is certainly expecting that Fudge is waiting for something like this to happen.

Michael: Mhm. Well, and as you mentioned, yes, we get yet another letter in pretty quick succession. The next one comes from Arthur Weasley. Is anybody dying to read Arthur Weasley?

Dan: Oh, I am because it’s the shortest. It’s the shortest of the letters.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: It’s all you, Dan.

Dan: Except for… spoiler alert…

[Eric laughs]

Michael: I was going to say, that’s the shortest one. But you go for it, Dan.

Dan: [continues]


Dumbledore’s just arrived at the Ministry and he’s trying to sort it all out. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR AUNT AND UNCLE’S HOUSE. DO NOT DO ANY MORE MAGIC. DO NOT SURRENDER YOUR WAND.

Arthur Weasley”

Michael: So we get our first warning. [laughs] Was that your British accent?

Eric: Very nice.

Dan: That was my British accent. That was the best I could do.

Michael: We’ll say it was Irish.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: What?

Dan: I guess I’m just a visitor at this point. [laughs]

Laura: He’s an expert, yeah.

[Dan and Michael laugh]

Michael: So we get our first warning. So we do at least have confirmation that Mundungus did what he needed to do, and Dumbledore is on the case immediately.

Eric: See, that’s what I’m talking about.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: He redeemed himself. Yes, he’s the jerk who ran away but now they were in this situation where Figg couldn’t… or Figgy, I’m going to call her…

[Michael laughs]

Eric and Michael: “‘Sup, Figgy?”

Laura: Figgy pudding.

Eric: Figgy couldn’t do anything. Figgy pudding was there…

[Dan and Michael laugh]

Eric: … without means of contacting Dumbledore.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: And who knows how far away Dumbledore was at the moment? So only somebody who could Apparate, i.e., Mundungus Fletcher, could actually get the ball rolling and we see that whether he was grudged into it or strong-armed into doing it, he does do it, and he is able to cause Dumbledore to save the day here.

Michael: And then he immediately went to the Hospital Wing to get patched up after being hit with a thousand tons of cat food.

Eric: Cat food.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: So after receiving these two letters, Harry’s Gryffindor mentality goes into overdrive. He starts thinking along the same lines that he was thinking in Prisoner of Azkaban, interestingly enough, as we’ve mentioned before with the Ring Composition. I believe “5” and “3” would be the ones to link up, correct? Am I off on that?

Eric: That stuff is lost on me.

[Michael laughs]

Laura: Yeah, me too. I’m pretty sure, yeah, that’s correct. I think it is “5” and “3” for people that follow that. I’m not one of them.

Michael: But yes, Harry believes that his options are that he should leave Privet Drive, which Mr. Weasley’s letter essentially convinces him not to do because he does believe that at least Mr. Weasley has best interests in heart. He’s a little doubtful of Dumbledore at the moment. His other option, he feels, is that he’s going to have to fight off the Ministry representatives when they show up but he’s terrified to do that because he’s worried that’ll just get him in more trouble. So he’s not quite sure what he’s going to do but he decides that after initially thinking he’s going to leave and being ready to do so, he sits back down and says, “All right, I’m staying,” leaving the Dursleys quite befuddled. And he begins to explain again what happened in the alleyway and what the previous letters were. And as he’s explaining what Dementors are, Aunt Petunia drops a bombshell.

[Eric imitates bomb exploding]

Michael: “They guard the Wizard prison, Azkaban!”

Eric: Jo. What is she doing? What is she doing knowing this?

[Michael laughs]

Eric: What, what, what?

Laura: Say what?

Michael: Now this is exactly what I wanted to ask. I have my own answer for this but did want to ask… knowledge of the Dementors: Why this knowledge, and why now? Anybody have some thoughts? [laughs]

Dan: Well, I mean, yeah, this Dementor attacked him…

Laura: What do you mean by what?

Michael: Why this…? Why now? I wanted to leave it up for discussion so you could say what you want to say.

Laura: I think she does know a good deal of… I think she does know more than she lets on, and I think that manifests itself in the most dangerous things because those are the only things that force her to talk about them.

Michael: Mhm.

Laura: So the only other time we see her is with Voldemort… toward the end, she knows who Voldemort is and she knows what they did to her sister, so…

Dan and Eric: Yeah.

Michael: Yes, she did, interestingly enough, because as the quote goes… Aunt Petunia says, “I heard that awful boy telling her about them years ago.” And Harry responds, “If you mean my mum and dad, why don’t you use their names?”

Eric: But she doesn’t mean his mum and dad.

Michael: She doesn’t. Of course, we know now that Harry was only half-right in that.

Eric: She means Snape because Snape and Lily were childhood friends and Snape, wanting to impress Lily, would have brought up the Dementors while Petunia was doing what Petunia does best: eavesdropping.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: So that’s where it is, right there. It’s repression, all of it.

Dan: Well, thank God she didn’t drop Snape’s name because I think my book would have exploded at this point.

[Everyone laughs]

Dan: I would have been stuck with this chapter.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Laura: This is too much for Chapter 2.

Dan: She would have said, “I heard that boy Snape talking about it.” And then, I would have just been like, “Snape!”

Eric: Yeah.

Laura: Too much for Chapter 2.

Michael: I almost think that would have been…

Eric: In… it really could have gotten to… I mean, that’s the biggest reveal, right? In “7.”

Michael: Yes.

Eric: It happens in a Pensieve, that Snape loved Lily or Snape and Lily even knew each other or had anything to do with each other, would have put Harry on a very different kind of path.

Laura: Well, no. That is revealed in this book in “Snape’s Worst Memory.”

Eric: Oh. Okay. There you go.

Laura: Not that they loved each other, that he loved her, but that they were friends, or…

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: Yeah. So it does put it into…

Michael: Well, and that’s an interesting… it’s a… this is… I don’t know if I’m mistaken in saying – this is the first book where we’re really getting – we’re starting to get more overt hints of Snape’s involvement in Petunia and Lily’s history, correct?

Laura: I mean, not so much. I don’t think it’s very overt, the Petunia history, but I think this book is probably the… because I wouldn’t even count Prisoner, really because we don’t really get that much background info.

Michael: Yeah.

Laura: This is really the book where we start to flesh out his parents a bit and not have them just be these haloed martyrs.

Michael: Yeah.

Laura: Well, I mean, Lily always is still, but…

Dan: [laughs] Yeah. Though in “Snape’s Worst Memory,” I didn’t get the impression that he and Lily were technically friends.

Michael: No, I didn’t either.

Dan: Just that she was… I thought she was a good person and better than James.

Michael: Yeah, right. That’s what I thought, too, when I first read it.

Laura: Right. Yeah. I would agree. I’ll rephrase. I’ll take back what I said. It was more just they weren’t directly involved in each other’s lives.

Michael: Mhm. So…

Laura: Their timelines match up and whatnot.

Michael: I do have to drop what Noah said here. Noah said, “Yo, it’s clearly Snape.”

[Dan and Michael laugh]

Michael: “Jo makes Harry jump in to distract us from the truth. Cheeky Jo!” [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, okay.

Michael: So he’s here in spirit for you guys. So Harry finally gets the chance – with some help from Aunt Petunia – to explain what the Dementors are and actually, I just had to point out this line because I do think it is probably one of the funniest lines, for me, in the chapter, which is that “Aunt Petunia seized Dudley by the shoulders and shook him, as though testing to see whether she could hear his soul rattling around inside him.”

[Dan and Michael laugh]

Eric: You do a lot of things when you’re desperate.

Michael: Yes, yes.

Laura: Yeah.

Michael: It’s similar to her trying to pull his tongue out last year with the Ton-Tongue Toffees, which also wasn’t particularly effective. So after we get a little more history on Dementors from Harry, Sirius’s letter arrives. And, Eric…

Laura: Eric, want to be Sirius?

Michael: Yes, would you like to read for Sirius? Or would you like to read for Dumbledore?

Eric: I would be honored to read… Dumbledore’s a spoiler, man. Don’t do that!

Michael: Eric, really? Stop. [laughs]

Eric: Sirius says, “Arthur just told us what happened. Don’t leave the house again, whatever you do.”

Michael: And Harry has…

Laura: Am I the only one that did British? Shut up, both of you.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: Don’t worry, Laura. I’ll be there in a minute.

Laura: I put myself on the line. [laughs]

Dan: Why we wanted you to go first.

Michael: No, that makes you more awesome, Laura. That’s all it is.

Laura: Yep. Thank you.

Michael: [laughs] So the interesting thing about this letter, to me, was actually Harry’s reaction. The typical expectation is that he is angry at the lack of information because he was actually hoping that this letter would be from Dumbledore, and he’s actually disappointed that it’s Sirius who’s writing to him. The interesting bit though, to me, was that he’s very upset that he’s not getting praised. At this point, the narration mentions that he wishes – that he was expecting some kind of accolades for defeating two Dementors in an alley and why hasn’t anybody congratulated him and why is everybody treating him like a child?

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Dude, Harry, your priorities are wrong, man. I’m going to snap you…

[Michael laughs]

Laura: No. I feel it a little bit. He just saved his… it’s not like it was just… he didn’t just, “Oh, I’m doing underage magic.” He freaking saved someone’s life!

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: Yeah.

Laura: He saved his own life and he saved someone else’s life and he does deserve a pat on the back.

Eric: He gets no respect.

Michael: Well, and normally he would receive a pat on the back and I think what, perhaps, is interesting from what Laura is saying is that, I’d say we as the reader are used to Harry getting a pat on the back.Eric: Because that just goes to show how detached he is from everybody.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: The fact that this has to happen in a succession of letters, of owls. How long did it take to write these letters and then fly them there? It…

Michael: Mhm.

Laura: Clearly not long.

Eric: It feels very disconnected. It feels very detached. He doesn’t have anybody there to pat him on the back because the Order has been given instructions to ignore him, or stay away. So it is the detached, “Why doesn’t anybody praise me?” But there’s just… they have other things to worry about.

Laura: [in a whiny voice] “Why doesn’t anyone like me?”

Michael: [laughs] But I do… I just thought to point that out really because it just brings to my mind how we feel about Harry throughout really this whole book, but especially in these beginning chapters. And I think a lot of people have pointed it out with our comments from the previous week. And I continuously say this with this read-through, and I feel like it’s going to impact me the most with this book, but Order of the Phoenix really, I do feel, is a book that you view and appreciate differently depending on your age. Because I was 14 when I read it and now being 25, when I first read it, I was in that space. I wouldn’t say I was quite as testy as Harry, but I could get in those moods. I will happily admit that I was a bit testy back then, but I now, being 25, I can appreciate that, not being in it, but having gone through it.

Eric: Mhm.

Michael: I feel like all of Harry’s reactions here, while perhaps maybe not the most – maybe not kind or maybe not what we want from our hero, are certainly realistic and justified, based on his past experience.

Eric: Right.

Michael: So Vernon raises the question of where these Dementors come from and why are they here in Little Whinging. As we were discussing before, it is apparently unusual that Dementors hang out in Muggle inhabited areas. And Harry begins to question who sent the Dementors as well and believes that they have already allied with Voldemort. Of course that… the interesting thing on that point for me is that Order of the Phoenix, unlike the other Harry Potter novels, doesn’t quite play out as a mystery in the same way. The big questions we have in Order are “What is the weapon?”, which of course we find out ends up being a weapon that tells us everything we already knew. [laughs] And “Who sent the dementors?” is the other big overarching – that’s the subquestion.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: And when the answer to that question is revealed, it’s not really a big reveal and it doesn’t really have perhaps the same impact I think as the other mysteries in the series do.

Eric: I think she’s being carried away by a bunch of horses, by centaurs, when she says it, right? This is of course being Umbridge.

Michael: Yeah, it’s just a throwaway mention…

Eric: It feels like a throwaway, you’re right! You’re so right. That’s how I feel about the reveals of this book. And the weapon is not a weapon.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: I mean, it’s a prophecy. You can make that… the knowledge is power, knowledge is the weapon. I just…

Dan: But I mean, as readers, I think when they finally did drop the prophecy, we were all like, “Yeah, of course.”

Michael: [laughs] As was I.

Dan: Of course he has to.

Michael: Well, and that’s kind of how I felt when it’s, when we do find out who sent the Dementors. I was like, yeah, well, there’s a surprise. It’s just this book is full of… perhaps it’s because we’ve gotten used to this pattern in Harry Potter. We’re very used to certain expectations that should be fullilled by the narrative and Order of the Phoenix really doesn’t serve up, living up to our preconceived expectations in a lot of ways and I think this chapter is the beginning of a lot of that because this chapter is just full of unanswered questions. And then after mulling a little bit more on Dementors Harry reflects on that, as the narration writes, “His two lives had somehow become fused and everything had turned upside down.” Which I think is a fantastic little line in there and why I found it so interesting looking back on it is because I was thinking in terms of actually the movies and how Half-Blood Prince really pushes that point, that the wizard and Muggle worlds are colliding.

Eric: Right.

Michael: But really in the books it starts right here! It started a little earlier than that.

Eric: Well, I wish that it had paid off more. It feels like his worlds are colliding because Ms. Figg, this crazy old cat lady is as ensconced in the wizarding world as most full-blown wizards are. And Petunia knows about Dementors…

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: … and is suddenly talking about his mom again after all these decades long of repression. And so it seems that way, but this is the last we hear about Petunia and all that junk right now. So it feels that way, but it’s not taken to any satisfying conclusion.

Michael: Yeah, it’s interesting in this chapter as far as Petunia goes. We’re really set up to perhaps have some answers about her at least by the end of the book and we don’t get any. There are a lot of questions about her specifically that addressed and one of the most interesting things as far as Harry’s conversation with aunt Petunia is when Harry mentions that Voldemort has returned and he and aunt Petunia connect over the implications of Voldemort coming back, with a look. And Harry notes that it’s the first time that aunt Petunia has ever looked at him in that way, she’s not scowling or angry. She’s actually… she has fear in her eyes and of course, that comes from the realization that the guy who killed her sister is coming back. And the other thing I – the movie reference I wanted to make is actually from a deleted scene in Deathly Hallows – Part 1. There was a fantastic deleted scene that I really wish had been kept in but it would have ruined the pacing of the scene it was inm but…

Eric: Pacing, pacing, it’s always about the pacing.

Michael: It is always about pacing, but it’s a lovely scene where Harry walks into the empty living room and talks about what he’s about face. And Aunt Petunia turns to him and reminds him that she lost somebody too, to Voldemort.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: And it’s this moment in Order of the Phoenix getting translated over to Deathly Hallows. And I almost wish that that dialogue from Aunt Petunia had been what was included in this book because it’s the thing that’s underlying this conversation, but it’s never flat out said.

Eric: Well, the interesting thing to think about, I think, and I thought about it when I was going through this chapter, was Uncle Vernon’s position here.

Michael: Yeah, I was thinking about that too.

Eric: And I recently had to read aloud at an event, the first chapter of the first book. We’re talking about uncle Vernon not wanting to bring up the Potters. He’s been conditioned to never mention Petunia’s family in front of her because she will go ballistic. And when he does eventually out of necessity bring it up – this is years and years and years ago – she does flip out and feel terrible and makes him feel terrible about it. So all this time when he’s just trying to do what’s right in this chapter by squashing Harry and eventually kicking him out, full-blown kicking him out, he’s doing it for Petunia. But then she comes back with this foreknowledge of Dementors and of Voldemort and who he is, and it just throws everyone for a whim, or just the record is on its side. It’s just crooked because she’s suddenly talking about it and suddenly having emotions over Harry.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: It’s just…

Dan: Well, I think the thing to remember is that Vernon doesn’t actually like the wizarding world, he can take it or leave it, but Petunia actually loves it. She just had to put it away because she can’t be a part of it.

Eric: Right.

Michael: Yeah, it’s interesting to note Uncle Vernon’s position because what I had actually thought about was that he’s… out of the three Dursleys and even Harry in the room, he was the one who continues to remain most out of the loop in this chapter. He can never actually pronounce “Dementors” correctly. He…

Eric: Now, is this because he doesn’t listen?

[Michael laughs]

Eric: He was really frustrating. “Dementoids.” “Der-mer-ner-ner-ners.”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: He’s like… come on, dude!

Laura: “Di-ah-gan Alley!”

Eric: “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” Come on.

[Michael laughs]

Dan: I always get the impression that he’s just one of those people who waits for his turn to talk, but he’s not actually listening.

Michael: I think that’s most certainly the case. And as I mentioned before, this is plain – this scene is, especially for Vernon, I feel, is playing out, just like I said, like a dark, twisted version of “The Letters from No One” chapter. It’s not really that funny, as funny as it was, perhaps, anymore. It’s taken a much more serious turn and there’s a lot more darker implications and punishments for everybody in this situation. But yes, poor Vernon continues to remain the most disconnected because, of course, Dudley has encountered a Dementor and Petunia has foreknowledge of the world and poor Vernon is just completely distanced from everybody and he even references all of the disasters from every single year that we have kept up with Harry that have happened pretty much in his kitchen and/or living room. [laughs]

Eric: This is brilliant. I enjoyed this.

Michael: So.. and finally, though, the last owl arrives after Mafalda Hopkirk sends another slightly more apologetic letter saying that Harry’s wand will not be snapped, but he still will have to go to a hearing. We get a final letter, which is interestingly a Howler and Harry believes it’s addressed to him, but it’s actually for Aunt Petunia. As if it wasn’t enough that Aunt Petunia’s dropping knowledge about the wizarding world left and right here, now she’s getting mail from them. [laughs] And the letter opens up because she refuses to do it on her own. It bursts into flame and screams, “Remember my last, Petunia!” And that’s that. And we are left with no explanation as to what just happened. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. Well, Harry has to. He’s like, “Last what?”

[Michael laughs]

Daniel: Well, yeah, I didn’t get that, either because how is she supposed to know? Because, obviously, the voice is so screeched up that Harry doesn’t even recognize Dumbledore.

Michael: That was what I was… these were the two points I was most fascinated by, actually … in that scene, Dan, was one, is Dumbledore’s voice really that unrecognizable? We’ve heard a Howler scream before and it was Mrs. Weasley and Harry knew exactly who it was.

Eric: Yeah.

[Michael laughs]

Daniel: And that was open all the time, wasn’t it?

Michael: Say again? Oh, the letter was open?

Daniel: Ron opened it. It didn’t burst forth. Neville mentioned that he had one that did that.

Michael: Yeah, with his grandmother’s one, yeah. That’s correct.

Daniel: But…

Laura: I mean…

Daniel: … maybe Dumbledore sends her a Howler last time, like who is, “Remember my last Howler.”

Laura: Actually, I think, no. I think J.K. Rowling, I believe, explained that.

Michael: Yes, she does.

Laura: And was saying that it was literally just the letter, I guess, that accompanied Harry on the doorstep of that… this whole situation you need to take care of him and whatnot. I do think that it’s ridiculous that Harry wouldn’t recognize, not even just the voice, but whose even the only wizard in the entire wizarding world that has any connection to the Dursleys.

[Michael laughs]

Laura: It’s Dumbledore. So…

Michael: Well, as Mrs. Figg pointed out earlier in the chapter, she heard that he was intelligent, but she’s not seeing any evidence of it. And Harry, granted, Harry is a bit overwhelmed at this moment, with all the information that’s coming at him. But yeah, I personally was surprised that he didn’t recognize Dumbledore’s voice and the other thing that I thought was interesting about the letter was that Dumbledore chose his words very, very carefully.

Eric: It’s too carefully. It’s too vague, here.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: This is almost as bad as “I open at the close.”

[Michael laughs]

Eric: But it may be worse.

Laura: It is worse.

Eric: I really, strongly dislike Book 5, but I actually hate Book 7. I don’t want to play all my cards right now, but…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: …these books are both very, very, very bad and…

[Daniel laughs]

Laura: Oh my God! That went intense real fast..

Eric: “Remember my last” is so over our heads.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: And it’s so indecipherable, it’s absolutely – you can’t do anything with it.

Michael: Yeah, no, that’s…

Eric: So why have these clues you can’t…

Laura: But we just did. [laughs]

Michael: Well, we did because we have knowledge now, but I remember… and I agree with you, Eric, on that, just looking back on when I read it the first time. I… obviously, it’s clearly calculated by Dumbledore, the wording, because I think he knew Harry, or at least suspected that Harry would be in the vicinity of the letter, so he didn’t want to give anything away. But at the same time, this feels, to me, like one of those hidden clue issues that Rowling – it’s almost too careful. It’s just too crafty in the way that we can’t even glean a thing from it. There’s just nothing to go off of.

Daniel: Well, in my never-ending quest to explain things to myself…

[Michael laughs]

Daniel: … when I come across stuff like this, I rationalize it like maybet the last letter that he sent to her said, “Don’t worry about any more correspondents. This will be the last.” And then he sends her the Howler that says, “Remember my last.”

Michael: Well, because the “Remember my last” is basically saying, “Remember the promise you made or the commitment you’ve made,” correct? Is that what he’s…

Eric: Like fifteen years ago.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: It’s the reason that this doesn’t work, and I can stick it to this chapter and this book. I don’t need to go on about Book 7 to prove my points here.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: It doesn’t work because it’s an auditory clue. It’s an audio clue and Petunia’s supposed to recognize the voice that Harry has heard much more recently and she does. She does recognize who it is. Harry…

Laura: But Petunia only knows one wizard in the entire wizarding world besides Snape, I guess, and I think the other thing is that the… I think the important things that [were] probably explained in the letter, not just like, “Oh, this person died and here’s the child.”

[Michael laughs]

Laura: It’s also the whole idea of the protective bond. I’m sure Dumbledore had to explain that to them to force them to do it and be like, “The only way this child won’t be killed and that the whole wizarding world won’t be killed and whatnot is if he stays here with you specifically.”

Eric: Right. Well, he could have…

Laura: I’m pretty sure that had to have been explained, at least to her.

Eric: I’m sure it was hinted at but never fully explained because you can’t just tell the Dursleys that they are holding this kid’s life in their hands. I don’t think…

Laura: I think they would have needed to because otherwise they would have just rejected it.

Dan: Oh, I think they have to know.

Michael: Yeah, I think they knew.

Dan: Because [Petunia] said, “No, he can’t leave. He has to…”

Eric: I think this was answered by Jo at one point, that the letter did say he needs to be able to call this place “home.”

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: You need to accept him here, and then and only then will the blood protection work.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: Otherwise he can be found. But I kind of wonder what inspired Dumbledore to send this letter if he knew, how he knew either the protection was faltering because Vernon kicked him out – that’s very quick acting.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: Dumbledore just has this Howler in his pocket that can be programmed and sent away. Or it’s…

Laura: I think that’s exactly it.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: If he just knew that… but if he just knew that… because Dudley had been attacked that the stakes would be higher than ever, and Harry would be the closest he’s ever been to being actually forcibly removed by the Dursleys.

Michael: I suppose…

Dan: I think he said that at the end of the book.

Michael: Yeah.

Dan: I think that when Dumbledore and Harry were talking, Harry says that, “You were the one who sent that Howler,” and Dumbledore said, “Yeah.”

[Michael laughs]

Laura: “Took you long enough.”

Michael: I figured that makes sense in terms of the actions [that] Harry has taken in the past when the Dursleys and him come to a head. Especially Prisoner where he actually does leave the house, which I assume must have caused quite a few heart attacks around the wizarding world. [laughs] So… because there is that interesting issue, too, of when Harry is allowed to leave the Dursleys during the summer and how long the protective charm works for and where he is allowed to go and… by a certain time that has never fully been fleshed out. But yes, Aunt Petunia… regardless of what we perceive at this point, Aunt Petunia has enough knowledge to tell Harry that he has to stay, he has to go to his room, he’s not allowed to leave the house. Harry tries to ask for answers. He is left with many, many questions, as are we, the readers. We haven’t really been given so many answers as much as we have just been filled with just a heck of a load of questions. And that…

Laura: Also…

Michael: Yes, what…

Laura: Every other book pretty much up until now…

Michael: Mhm.

Laura: … I think has been much more chapters of set-up…

Michael: Yes.

Laura: … before the action happens.

Michael: Yeah.

Laura: We have never gotten action this heavy in Chapter[s] 1 and 2, I don’t really think, so that was so direct. Obviously you see the whole Riddle house thing, and that’s pretty intense. And Dobby and obviously everything that happens, but nothing is this acutely related to Harry this intense, this fast…

Michael: Mhm. Well, yeah…

Laura: … for us.

Michael: That’s kind of a perfect point with what we were discussing earlier in that Order of the Phoenix I think more so than any other previous book in the series begins right away with defying your expectations as a reader. I think…

Laura: It gets right into it.

Michael: Yeah, it doesn’t waste time and… because I think there is this joke around the fandom that… there’s this pattern that Harry goes to… Harry is at the Dursleys and he goes to school and he has a lovely school year and Voldemort waits until the end to do what he needs to do so that…

Eric: Right.

Michael: [laughs] Because he’s considerate of Harry’s lesson time.

Eric: Learning.

Michael: Yes, Harry has got to learn, and Voldemort knows that. But yeah, this right away has already kind of forgone that set-up that Rowling so commonly does in the previous four books, that perhaps this is part of the reason we as readers were initially a bit put off and shocked as this was not… these were not the first two chapters I don’t think anybody was expecting.

Eric: Right. She broke the mold.

[Dan laughs]

Michael: She did indeed. And that is where we end Chapter 2, “A Peck of Owls.”

Laura: All right, so the Podcast Question of the Week. First, I want to thank Dan for helping us out on this.

Eric: Woo!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Thank you, Dan.

Laura: Yeah. So Petunia, she has a pretty heavy involvement in this chapter, but she gives Harry this look and then immediately following that pretty much changes her whole idea and says we need to protect him, essentially. So what is, I guess, the chief motivation behind doing this? Is it just Dumbledore’s order? Is she just acting on orders? Is it an actual protective feeling she has towards a relative? Is it… is she being resentful? Just what [are] her motivations, what is she feeling in this moment that she decides that she is going to jeopardize her own family by putting Harry in a protective state?

Eric: That is a very good question.

Michael: Excellent.

Eric: Of course, you can respond to the Question of the Week on our Alohomora! main page at There will be a post that says “Podcast Question of the Week: Episode 79.”

Michael: And thank goodness we had Dan here to formulate, help us formulate, such an excellent question.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I take no credit for that.

Dan: My pleasure.

Michael: Thank you so much, Dan. You were an excellent guest.

Dan: Oh, please. Can you say that on my voicemail? I just…

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Well, Dan, actually…

Laura: Seriously, you were so much fun. Really great thoughts. Very, very fun to have you.

Michael: Yeah, and I actually wanted to ask you: For the listeners, where can they go to listen to your awesome podcast?

Dan: Yeah, my kickass podcast is on iTunes.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: Your effing podcast. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, my effing superlative show.

[Michael laughs]

Dan: We’re on iTunes and and we’re under “A Squad” and we’re also on Facebook under “A-Squad Podcast.” I just throw up a little video game memes and I’m not going to bother your Facebook too much, but yeah, one a day. Yeah, I would love to ask questions and have them actually answered on the Facebook because the Harry Potter fandom is really the most supportive fandom there is. I mean, as opposed to the gaming fandom, which is a ravenous shark tank.

[Everyone laughs]

Dan: So, if I can get some people who live in both worlds, such as myself, to listen… I mean, I’d set up a video game community. That would be…

Eric: Man, I’d love to say, if only I played half the games that kids these days are playing. [laughs]

Michael: [as an elderly person] “The kids these days.” [laughs]

Eric: Everybody is talking about…

Dan: Yeah, I’m RiseLikeFenix, by the way, on the show. We go by our gamertags, and mine is RiseLikeFenix. And that’s true in PlayStation and Xbox, so if you want to send me your friend requests then we can play Titanfall on Xbox One or just private chat and talk about Harry Potter or just kick ass, you know, [laughs] whatever.

Michael: I was going to say, do you have a PlayStation 3?

Dan: I do!

Michael: Oh, good! Well, we should play on Pottermore PlayStation Home sometime [laughs] because it’s empty.

Dan: Nice. Yeah, yeah.

Michael: So we’d have the whole thing to ourselves.

Laura: It’s just Michael roaming.

Eric: Guys, we could get on there and we could be three people in the Hufflepuff common room.

Michael: Yes, we can.

Dan: I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.

[Michael laughs]

Laura: Not for Laura.

Eric: I’ve never been in there with three people before.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: Michael and I went and sat in some of the poufs one day.

Michael: We didn’t sit in some of the poufs – we sat in every single pouf.

[Laura and Michael laugh]

Eric: Every pouf! We wanted to see if there was a secret to be unlocked. We went and sat in all of the poufs.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: We actually need to get like a hundred more Hufflepuffs in there so that we can… if everybody is sitting on each pouf, I think a special door will open…

[Laura and Michael laugh]

Eric: … and we’ll all get a special gift from Helga.

[Michael laughs]

Dan: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.

Laura: She’ll just descend down from the sky.

Eric: The joke is that nobody has ever done it…

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: … because it’s too empty.

Michael: But thank you very much, Dan, for joining us on this episode. We really appreciate you being here. You were a great guest.

Dan: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you.

Eric: To find out how you can be on the show, head over to our website [and] check out the “Be on the Show” page over at You do need some equipment, nothing too fancy. For instance, if you happen to be one of the lucky few who has Apple headphones, that’s apparently all you need. I don’t know why that’s in this doc – it’s a shameless plug for Apple.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Regardless, all of the information you need is over on our website.

Laura: And in the meantime, feel free to contact us on our many, many channels, which include Twitter at @AlohomoraMN,, Tumblr… The Tumblr is… I don’t know how you say it. The Tumblr address? The Tumblr at?

[Laura and Michael laugh]

Eric: Yes,

Laura: mnalohomorapodcast, yes. You can call us to leave us a message at 206-GO-ALBUS, which is 206-462-5287. You can subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes – we love reading those. Follow us on Snapchat at mn_alohomora. I’ve been secretly looking at those Snapchats during this recording. [laughs] And of course, leave us a message on Audioboo directly on It will be played on the show. It’s free – all you need is a microphone. So do all of that right now.

Michael: Ironically, the one way they can’t contact us is by peck – or perhaps a pack – of owls. [laughs]

Laura: Challenge accepted.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: So far!

Michael: So far. Yet.

Eric: Oh man, I can imagine for the bonus content just one of us has a video… I think it’s Noah this week, right?

Michael: Yes.

Eric: It’s a video of him getting pecked by owls.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: That would be terrible.

Michael: I have actually gotten owl deliveries from friends before. I’ve kept the owls…

Eric: Really?

Michael: Yes. Not like owls, but they’ve cut out owls and left them on my car with messages. It’s pretty awesome.

Eric: Aww. Your friends know you, man.

Michael: [laughs] They do. So, of course, you’ve just gotten a letter of reprimandation from the Ministry and you have to come in for a hearing. What better way to go in in style but with some Alohomora! merchandise.

Eric: Wow.

Michael: Get yourself an Alohomora! T-shirt, a tote bag, we have sweatshirts… Maybe don’t be wearing flip-flops to the Ministry, but we have flip-flops.

Laura: Flip-flops are appropriate for everything.

[Dan and Michael laugh]

Dan: So comfortable.

Michael: [laughs] We also have water bottles, travel mugs, and more coming soon, with over 80 products to choose from in our store. We also have ringtones that are free and available on the website. So once you are cleared of that hearing, you can give your parents a ring and tell them you’re not in trouble.

Eric: Of course, ringtones happen on your phone, and also on the phone we have the Alohomora! app. The Alohomora! app – which is available for iOS and Android devices, both – [is] available seemingly worldwide. Prices vary. On this phone app, you can find transcripts, bloopers, alternate episode endings, host vlogs, and more. This week’s special content will be coming to you from Noah. Check that out. The information is all on our website at

Laura: All right.

Eric: And I believe that does it for this episode of Alohomora! I’ll try [to] be a little bit more optimistic on future episodes of these books.

[Michael laughs]

[Show music begins]

Eric: Thank you for bearing with me. I’m Eric Scull.

Michael: I’m Michael Harle.

Laura: I’m Laura Reilly. Thank you for listening to Episode 79 of Alohomora!

Michael: [as Mafalda Hopkirk] “Hoping you are well. Open the Dumbledore!”

[Show music continues]

Laura: “I’m free, Ma!”

Michael: [as Dobby] “I’m free!”

[Eric laughs]

Michael: [as Dobby] “Dobby is free!”

[Laura and Michael laugh]

Michael: Eric!

Eric: Fly away, little birdie.

[Michael laughs]

Laura: Wrap it up.

Michael: Line.

[Laura and Michael laugh]

Eric: Of course… Michael, you have such a cool chick voice.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: You’re going to have to teach me how to do it.

Michael: I don’t… I wouldn’t know how to teach that. [laughs] I don’t know if it can be taught.

Eric: Well, we sound so alike normally, right?

Michael: We do, yes. Apparently.

Eric: I probably have a hot chick voice.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I don’t know how to activate it. Go, go, gadget hot chick voice.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I can’t do it, so whatever.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Michael: Do you have a hot chick voice, Dan?

Dan: No, obviously I don’t.

[Michael laughs]

Dan: But in my…

Michael: Because your British accent was excellent. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, that was a super cool British accent.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Michael, you need to teach classes…

Laura: Nothing beats my hot British accent. [laughs]

Eric: Oh yeah, Laura. Another props to Laura for actually doing a British accent.

[Laura laughs]

Michael: Heck yeah, that was awesome.

Laura: You all suck. [laughs]

Michael: That was effing awesome.

Eric: Just coming out of your shell there, Laura.

Michael: Effing, effing, effing…

Laura: Thanks. [laughs]

Michael: That’s the word for this book, is “effing.” [laughs]

Eric: Effing…

Laura: This is called the… What’s the podcast title? I mean… [laughs] What are we? No. The episode title?

Michael: “Effing.” [laughs] “Hoping you are well.” [laughs]

Eric: How about “Enough Effing Scowls?”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: All right, everybody. Stop your recording.

Laura: [laughs] Stop recording.