MuggleCast | The #1 Most-Listened to Harry Potter Podcast

MuggleCast 103 Transcript

Show Intro

[Intro music begins]

Mason: Hey there, MuggleCast listeners! I am back to inform you of some excellent news. is having better deals than ever. For only $3.59 a month for 12 months, you can get's economy package. With 250 gigs of bandwidth, five gigs of storage, and up to 500 e-mail accounts, you can get your own website up and running with success. And as usual, enter code Muggle - that's M-U-G-G-L-E - when you check out and save an additional 10 percent on any order. Some restrictions apply, see site for details. Get your piece of the Internet at

Andrew: Today's MuggleCast podcast is brought to you by Border's. In May, thousands of Harry Potter fans descended upon New Orleans for the Phoenix Rising Conference. Border's was there to take in the sights and share a lively discussion of the series that has bewitched the world with some of Harry's most dedicated fans. Listen in and watch the action yourself. Check out the Phoenix Rising Border's Book Club discussion at, or click on the Border's banner at the top of the MuggleNet page.

[Show music plays]

[Audience cheers]

Andrew: Oh, wow, jeez!

Jamie: Whoo!

[Andrew laughs]

Andrew: Hello, everyone, and welcome to MuggleCast Live in Chicago.

[Audience cheers]

Andrew: Another town, another show. Emerson's joining the panel this week - or, today.

[Audience cheers]

Ben: Finally.

Emerson: Yeah, this is - for me it's a little bit of a coming home because...

[Andrew laughs]

Emerson: ...I actually - well, I live in LaPorte, Indiana, which is about an hour from here, but I actually was born in Hinsdale, and I lived in Oak Park for a short period.

[A few audience members cheer]

Emerson: Yeah, Oak Park. How many of you guys here were at Oak Park and listened to Ben...

[Audience cheers]

Emerson: Oh, wow! So you guys were there to listen to Ben and I talk about what we thought was going to happen in Book 7.

Andrew: How many people were at Waterstone's for Jamie and my event?

Ben: Yeah, right.

Jamie: Yeah, in London.

[Audience laughs]

Andrew: Nobody?

Jamie: Nope.

Mikey: Nobody.

Emerson: That's a shocker.

Ben: Raise your hand if you've finished the book already.

[Audience cheers]

Ben: Okay, by the way, if you haven't, you might want to leave 'cause we'll talk about it...

Jamie: Yeah.

[Audience laughs]

Ben: ...a lot, so...

Jamie: That is a serious warning there.

Mikey: You don't have to - you don't have to leave, but we're probably going to spoil parts of the book for you.

Jamie: Yeah.

Andrew: And by parts you mean...

Emerson: And by parts you mean...

Andrew: ...the whole thing.

Mikey: Yeah, the whole thing, kind of.

Andrew: That shirt is not allowed here, ma'am. Please. All right, I guess no one's leaving! Good...

Mikey: Okay.

Emerson's Thoughts on Book 7

Andrew: Because most events people just walk out of here yelling at us, so - all right, so, Emerson, we want to hear your thoughts on the book first, because we haven't heard them yet. Is this a hands down, best book ever? Or what?

Emerson: It rocked.

[Audience cheers]

Emerson: I was really happy. Really happy. There was so much action, the ending was just incredible. The - like many of you I thought the epilogue was - it did reek a little bit of some cheese...

[Audience laughs]

Emerson: ...but I understand why it had to happen that way. I understand J.K. Rowling said that, you know, she couldn't try to - she originally was going to crowbar every bit of information that we wanted into it, but it didn't read very well. By the way, can everybody in the back hear me okay? Audience: No.

Emerson: Well I - my mic - I need my mic to get a little louder please?

Mikey: A little louder.

Emerson: All right, all right, is that a little bit better?

Ben: Come on, dude, get it together back there.

[Audience laughs]

Emerson: I'm pretty much swallowing the mic right now, so...

[Andrew and Audience laugh]

Emerson: can blame him if it doesn't work.

[Microphone makes loud noise]

Andrew: Oh, see, that's what happens when it gets too loud. Okay, so anyway, Emerson.

Emerson: So I enjoyed the book a lot. I thought it was great, and I also was really, really proud to see that - just by a show of hands who here ever got the chance to pick up a copy of's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7?

[Audience cheers]

Emerson: Okay. Okay, so...

[Andrew laughs}

Ben: We called it, folks, we called it.

Emerson: Like, not to toot our own horn too much, but we were pretty much right.

[Everyone laughs]

Ben: Harry's a Horcrux!

[Audience cheers]

Ben: You have no idea how proud it makes, particularly Emerson and I, to say that because we did probably around 30 or 40 book events this summer. And everywhere we went...

[Andrew laughs]

Ben: ...everyone was just doubting us. They said, you know, there's no way he's a Horcrux, and there are people who supported us, so for those of you who did, thanks a lot. For those who didnít, I hate you.

[Audience cheers]

Emerson: Seriously, every event we did, as soon as the Horcrux theory came up we spent the entire rest of the event just defending it.

[Audience laughs]

Emerson: Every hand went up, tried to prove us wrong, but I can't - Ben and I both did - we had to doubt ourselves a little bit because we got so much - there were so few fans who really bought into the theory, but we were right.

Ben: We even did a poll on MuggleNet, and two-thirds of people thought that Harry was not a Horcrux, so we were definitely the minority.

[Andrew laughs]

Emerson: And at the beginning of the summer it was probably more like ten percent, I would say. Nobody really understood the theory, and nobody really thought that there was much probability of that happening.

Ben: Right, and then of course Emerson and I became more convincing. Then, you know...

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: I think - it was great reading the line right in the book where Dumbledore just straight up said to Harry, "You are the seventh Horcrux." [laughs] It was, like, unreal.

[Everyone laughs]

Ben: I punched the air at that part.

Emerson: Ben was like, "YEEESS!"

Mikey: No debate at all, Harry was, and is, a Horcrux. So, you were right.

Jamie: Should we stop boasting now and talk about Harry Potter?

[Everyone laughs]

Emerson: Because we were talking about the weather right there, Jamie, were we?

Jamie: Oh yeah.

Jamie's Thoughts on Book 7

Andrew: Anyway, Jamie, what did you think about the book?

Jamie: Well, every single person I've spoken to, on the panel here and most other Americans - I donít know if it's an American thing - but they just say one word. You know, when I ask them, "how was the book?" they'll be like - everyone's like, "It was cool, dude." You're like, "That rocked!" No one actually gives an explanation as to what they thought of the book...

[Audience laughs]

Jamie: ...because apparently these words encompass everything.

Emerson: So, Jamie, what did you think of the book?

[Everyone laughs]

Jamie: It rocked, dude! It was cool.

[Everyone laughs]

Jamie: It was good.

Andrew: Emerson, did you cry when you read the book? In parts?

Ben: No, I was there, I was there, and I didn't see any tears. Unless he hid it really well, because I was there as he finished it.

Emerson: Tears of joy, perhaps, but I...

Andrew: How many - how many people - sorry, go ahead.

Harry Didn't Die

Emerson: You know, this actually has nothing to do with anything we're talking about, but I really want to clear something up here: Harry didn't die!

[Audience cheers]

Emerson: Okay, he did not die! And if you don't believe me I encourage you to go back and re-read Dumbledore - when Dumbledore says to Harry, you know, whatís the difference between something that, you know, that's in your head and something that's real.

Jamie and Mikey's Theory

Jamie: Mikey, Mikey, should we tell our theory again? About the...

Mikey: We could.

Jamie: You tell it this time.

Mikey: You want me to tell it this time?

Jamie: Yeah, you tell it this time.

Mikey: Okay. So, speaking about, you know, Harry...

Jamie: Build it up.

Mikey: his head.

Jamie: Build it up. You know with the context.

Mikey: All right, all right.

Andrew: The abridged version, please.

[Audience laughs]

Mikey: All right, the abridged version, according to Andrew Sims. Well, when you read that chapter about King's Cross and it's in Harry's head, and we don't know whether he actually died or lived, but - according to Emerson he didn't die - there's this, like, screaming baby, deformed and crying, we don't know what that is. That's actually Voldemort; that's his Horcrux. That's deformed - you know, it's beyond repair. You can't bring it back. Harry wanted to go and save it, but Dumbledore's like, "No, you can't." Otherwise when he went ahead, and if he did try to save it he would go ahead and die with Voldemort...

Jamie: Yeah.

Mikey: ...or with part of his soul - or come back. And the reason why it's deformed baby - Jamie, you want to finish it off there?

Jamie: Well, we sort of talked about how a baby - a newborn baby is a pure piece of symbolism, you know, it's a pure soul, unadulterated soul, but because it's deformed, and, you know, burning and crying then it's Voldemort's soul.

Mikey: It's been split seven times and it's more than what Harry - or Voldemort can actually have. It's been deformed with malice, everything. And it's kind of deformed, kind of lying down, deformed crying baby thing.

[Audience laughs]

Mikey: It's just like - I can just imagine it being like... [makes a terrible gasping noise]

[Everyone laughs]

Mikey: It's just like a piece of a blob-essence baby thing.

[Audience laughs]

Mikey: And, really, it's part of Voldemort's soul; it's the seventh piece of his soul that was an unintentional Horcrux that was in Harry.

Jamie: Yeah, and Harry needs Dumbledore to tell him that he can't help it, so he has to go back to the world while the baby gets on the train and goes to another world.

Mikey: Yep, and that's when he goes on the train back to Hogwarts, and that's when he separated from the seventh Horcrux, and he's gotten rid of that piece of Voldemort's soul, and then all we need is Neville Longbottom to chop off that snake's head...

[Audience cheers]

Mikey: And then Voldemort can die!

Emerson: Followed by a series of Expelliarmuses, which is how...

[Mikey laughs]

Emerson: ...Harry wins everything.

Mikey: That's an amazing spell, really.

Jamie: Ben, Ben! Are we being mean when we put forward this theory that Harry - we don't really think this, but we think - so we do think this - we think that Harry is - he's an extraordinary boy, but he seems to get a lot of help with a lot of things. Like...

Ben: No, wait.

Jamie: There's always - every single time, you know, he'll faint and then...

Ben: Hermione was the real hero, seriously.

Jamie: Hermione will be next to him.

Emerson: Girl power! Go Hermione, people!

[Audience cheers and Andrew laughs]

Emerson: You guys have got to admit, that in Book 7, like every, like, five pages, Harry would be in another near-death situation and it'd be miraculously saved by Hermione or something or other.

Andrew: Or Dobby!

Mikey: I hear that one.

Ben: But every chapter ends with Hermione waking Harry up.

Jamie: Okay, this is my joke; he's just stolen this!

[Everyone laughs]

Jamie: Yeah, so he'll wake up and he'll be like, "Oh no! Where am I?" and she'll be there, all bushy-haired with ash in her hair, and be like, "Oh my God, Harry! That was a close one, again!"

[Audience laughs]

Jamie: So it's all thanks to her that he won, really.

Why King's Cross?

Emerson: So yesterday I heard something interesting about why Harry was at King's Cross, why of all the places he could have possibly imagined himself to be, he imagined, you know, a train station. I was in Valparaiso yesterday, not too far from here - and some people from Valpo back there - yeah! There was a fan who mentioned that maybe the reason why he was at a train station was because he had to make a choice at that point, whether he would go on living or he would - you know, because trains can go either way: get on the train, don't go on the train. So maybe that is what it was symbolizing. Maybe that's why he was at a train station.

Andrew: Yeah.

Emerson: Something to chew on.

Mikey: Something.

Jamie Cried

Andrew: So, Jamie, I want to tell the story about you. Can we? Because it...

Jamie: Which one, Andrew?

Andrew: ...didn't make the other two recordings. So is that okay?

Jamie: Okay.

Andrew: Okay, so we were doing this event in England, and Jamie - we were at this V.I.P party that wasn't very V.I.P-ish.

Jamie: It wasn't until...

Ben: Andrew was there, so...

Jamie: It was good; it was fun.

Andrew: It was just a party. And anyway - so who here cried? When they got the book?

Jamie: When you got the book.

[Audience murmurs]

Andrew: Okay.

Ben: Note that there are only females are raising their hands at this time.

Andrew: So Jamie - to be fair, Jamie had a - was enjoying himself.

Jamie: I was enjoying myself a lot.

Andrew: With beverages.

[Audience laughs]

Andrew: It was legal! I want to say that.

Jamie: Yes, there was free raspberry champagne.

Andrew: Just champagne. It wasn't anything. But...

Jamie: And yeah, I had two or seven, yeah.

[Andrew and Audience laugh]

Mikey: Before the seventh book, you know, seven. You had to, you know.

Andrew: One for each book.

Jamie: I had three per book.

[Audience laughs]

Andrew: So it was interesting watching Jamie build because as we got to the countdown, you know, we have our hands over each other's, so we're like, "this is it, dude, it's the end. It's going to end!" And Jamie slowly starts - he's starting to get - I like to compare it to a volcano eruption, because, you know, it starts low, you just hear the rumblings, and you can sense something's coming. So we're there, it's like this, and then the book comes out and he gets it and it's just ready to blow. And then he gets it and then he starts walking away and...[makes explosion noise] ...the waterworks come.

Jamie: Yeah, I was bawling all over the place. It was so sad. Seriously, I was hugging everyone. Thank you. [laughs]

Andrew: Laura was in tears too.

Jamie: Yeah, I started her off.

Andrew: [laughs] She was crying while reading the book, too, but then on our way out of the Waterstone's, we were on the fifth floor. We had to work our way down, and Jamie was crying, and I was like, oh great, everyone is going to be taking pictures.

Jamie: Yeah, I was crying. I was literally bawling my eyes out with Andrew, and this guy took a photo, and I just went off on him completely.

[Audience laughs]

Jamie: I was so mean.

Andrew: And then this guy - this one guy from some newspaper, I guess, wanted an interview with you, and I was like, "Oh okay. Let's go. No more." It's like, "Boy cries over Harry Potter."

Jamie: [unintelligible] emotional - yeah. That would be their first question: "Have you found this an emotional night?" I'd be like, just look, just look.

Andrew: All right, so anyway, we've been sort of holding a main discussion at each of the shows we talked about. Actually, Episode 102 is now online. Posted it this morning. Has anyone listened yet? No, don't act like you did. I mean, it just - really?

Audience Member: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. [laughs]

Mikey: We're going to repeat a lot of those jokes. We're sorry.

Main Discussion: Voldemort

Andrew: Yeah. [laughs] But we talked about Dumbledore the first show, Snape the second show, and now we're going to talk about Voldemort, because - Dobby? We could talk about him a little bit later. Anyway, Voldemort, Jamie. Jamie, want to start it off about Voldemort?

Jamie: Yeah, well, Voldemort's been an interesting character, and everyone hates him, obviously, because he kills all these people and he's the one who tried to kill Harry Potter. But I've heard so many people say how much they feel sorry for him with his upbringing and everything he's done, and the fact that his plans - he spends ages planning, and he's thwarted by a boy who can only say, Expelliarmus.

[Audience laughs]

Ben: He's talking about me, by the way. I've been saying this at every event.

Jamie: Yes, he has, he has. Ben's been a strong proponent of the feel sorry for Voldemort camp, and I kind of agree with you until I remember that he's a serial killer, which dampens most people's personalities. But, Ben, do you want to take over this sort of feeling sorry for - or should we just start with a few points about why he's, you know, why everyone hates him, first of all.

Ben: Well, hmm. He killed people.

[Audience laughs]

Ben: Okay, that's why.

Jamie: Yeah, that's probably the main reason. Anyone else?

Emerson: Ben made a very good point.

Jamie: What?

Mikey: No, no, no, I think I got another one. I got another one: he was mean.

[Audience laughs]

Jamie: He was mean. He was a jerk, right, Mikey?

Mikey: He was a jerk, exactly!

[Audience member says something]

Jamie: Yeah. Yeah. Yep. He tried to kill a baby. Yep. Yeah.

Ben: Yeah.

Jamie: It's true.

Andrew: But...

Mikey: He talks to snakes.

Emerson: He probably doesn't say please and thank you.

Ben: That's kind of weird.

Jamie: Yeah.

Andrew: Wait...

Jamie: He doesn't put the seat down after he goes.

Andrew: What do you want to ask here, Jamie, though?

Jamie: Huh?

Andrew: What do you want to ask?

Mikey: Where do you want to go to, Jamie?

Jamie: Okay, so we've established he's not a very nice guy. But, Ben, can you put forward a theory now as to say why he could actually be not too bad, or why we can't blame him...

Mikey: Why we should have sympathy...

Jamie: ...for what he's done?

Mikey: ...maybe, a little bit? A tear for Voldemort.

Jamie: Okay, yeah.

Ben: Okay, given the situation in which Voldemort grew up. You know, didn't have any parents. He never knew what love was, and with someone who doesn't - who can't really comprehend those things, who was born in a manner where it's impossible for them to feel emotion, except hate, and to comprehend things like love, can we really be mad at them when it's out of their control? I mean, should we really be hating Voldemort for what he's done or should we feel sorry for him and wish that he could have a better life?

Jamie: Should we take a couple of points?

Mikey: I think we should have people come up and tell us what they think about it.

Emerson: I think they just - one thing also to keep in mind with that is that you can say childhood, obviously, had - is a big reason for the reason - that's why Voldemort is who he is, but you think that, you know - Saddam Hussein was abused as a kid, but so was Oprah.

[Audience laughs]

Jamie: Yeah.

Emerson: And they turned out a little bit different at that point.

Mikey: And so was someone else in that book series. I think his name was Harry Potter or something like that.

Ben: Right, but at the same time, is it Oprah's fault that she turned out to be this superstar?

Jamie: Ben, it isn't really fate that makes us who we are. It's like something else, and didn't Dumbledore say something about that?

Ben: Something like...

Emerson: There was a quote.

Ben: ... [as Dumbledore] "It is our choices, Harry, far more than our abilities."

[Andrew laughs]

[Audience cheers]

Ben: Thank you.


Jamie: We try and get that in every show somehow.

[Andrew and Audience laugh]

Ben: So who wants to talk about Voldemort? Evil, bad?

Emerson: Anyone have any points?

Ben: Come on up here.

Mikey: We're going to have you guys come on up, say your name, where you're from...

Andrew: Let's go back in...

Ben: Your social security number.

Mikey: card number.

Andrew: MySpace URL.

Mikey: Facebook.

Audience Member: All right. Hi, I'm Suzanne Walker. What else did you want to know? [laughs]

Andrew: MySpace URL. slash...

Mikey: Where you're from.

Audience Member: Oh, I'm from Evanston, Illinois. I don't have a MySpace, so, sorry.

Emerson: Yes!

Andrew: You don't?

Ben: Aww...

Audience Member: Okay, so, like, so I was thinking of a good point in terms of, like - in terms of how he grew up without love, but you have to consider, so did Harry. Like Harry grew up with the Dursleys. Harry never knew love until he was accepted at Hogwarts, and he - at the same time, like, made the choice to - he's good. He's - like he found friends. He has friends. He knows love because he chose to. Voldemort, when he got accepted at Hogwarts, he could've had friends and stuff, but he didn't, and I feel like it's kind of hard to feel sorry for him when you're also confronted with this same character who grew up in a very similar situation but made a different choice than he did. So, yeah. That's what I think.

[Audience applauds]

Ben: Right, but early on in Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore goes back to the orphanage and we see Tom Riddle as a young child, there's one point in time when Dumbledore asks Harry, "Are you actually feeling sorry for Tom Riddle?" Because it seems like early on the evil inside of him manifested itself, and then by the time when he actually got to Hogwarts, the decision was easy that, you know, he never had someone look out for him, he had never had anything like that. I mean, at least Harry had a sort of, you know, semi-normal family situation. Even though they all hated him, he was still with a family. I mean - no, it's different. He went to a normal school. Surely he was picked on, but at the same time, I just think that...

Mikey: Did you live under the stairs too?

Ben: ...Voldemort never made the choice. I mean, Voldemort may have made the choice, but it wasn't his fault. I mean, given his background, would we have all made the same decision as Voldemort?

Mikey: No.

Emerson: Well, do you - I think - no, Ben actually is kind of right about this. You really can't - I mean, you can blame him, but at the same time, you don't know if you would have turned out differently in the same situation that Voldemort was in.

Ben: Yeah.

Mikey: Could we maybe blame Dumbledore for not intervening and helping Tom Riddle out?

Jamie: You mean, like...

Andrew: Maybe.

Ben: Yeah.

Mikey: Maybe take him away from the orphanage...

Jamie: Or killing him when he was younger...

[Audience laughs]

Jamie: he wouldn't have to...

Mikey: If he knew, you know.

Jamie: Yeah.

Mikey: Maybe not - that way James and Lily wouldn't die, maybe.

Jamie: Yeah, exactly. So it's Dumbledore's fault, the entire book...

Mikey: The entire book series is Dumbledore's fault.

[Andrew laughs]

Jamie: We knew there was something strange about him.

Andrew: Fair enough. Thank you. Could we get a differing opinion now? Not...

Mikey: Anybody else have something different? Anybody feel sorry for Voldemort?

Andrew: We'll go back and forth.

Jamie: Anyone feel very sorry for him?

Mikey: If you feel sorry for him...

Andrew: Really sorry. I mean, like...

Mikey: If you feel really sorry that you wish Voldemort had won and Harry Potter had died...

Jamie: Only if you feel very sorry.

Mikey: ...come on up here and talk to us.

Jamie: I hope you feel sorry for him.

Audience Member: [laughs] I was just going to say that I was kind of flip-flopping, actually. What I was going to do, actually, was kind of compare - I do feel sympathetic to Voldemort as a child. I really do. He had a horrible home life, and I think it's very, very sad. But I also think that as you grow older and you learn what's good and evil, you have that choice. And what I was going to do was actually - what I - when I first read it, I compared it in my mind to Severus Snape, because we saw in the fifth book that Severus had a horrible, horrible home life, and he had a horrible childhood, and he got picked on relentlessly by the Marauders for no reason. But in the end we find out that he ends up being probably the most noble character in the book. And think of all he sacrificed for it. I mean, Voldemort could have made the decision to not be as powerful. Snape, I mean face it, he hid everything from the Dark Lord. Like, that's a pretty big achievement. And even with his background, like, to come from a group of friends that hate people that you love, like, I just, like, I do feel sympathetic to Voldemort as a child in the same way I feel sympathetic to Severus. But I think it's all about Voldemort's choices. Like, he made the choice to become more powerful and to find love weak and to find friendship weak, and that's why I...

Ben: But I think you also have to look at why Snape made the choice that he did. Why would Snape all the sudden choose to do the right thing? And it was because he had love and, like, positive emotions enter his life at a very young age, because he met Lily when he was a child. And J.K. Rowling said on the Today Show, had he not been - had it not been for Lily, Snape never would have redeemed himself.

Audience Member: Oh, I...

Ben: So, I mean, I think if Voldemort would have had a Lily-like person meet him when he was younger, perhaps he would have turned out differently.

Audience Member: But how are we to know that he didn't? Maybe he had...

Ben: Because...

Audience Member: ...a close friend like that, but - I mean, because if you look at Bellatrix, Bellatrix always speaks to him like a lover. And he has every opportunity for it, but I think he sees it as, if you're in love, you're weak. And you will never be as powerful as him if you would sacrifice yourself for the sake of love. I mean, I think he sees it as his mother wouldn't live for him, so why should he live for - why should he have love? It was like a decision that he made then. And it's very, very, very sad for Voldemort, but I think it's all about the decision of what's - what he deems weakness.

Andrew: That's a good point.

Ben: I think Voldemort trying to comprehend love is like a two year old trying to comprehend quantum physics. You know, they just don't get it. And I just don't see how you can blame him for not getting it.

Mikey: You've got to understand, also, Dumbledore said in the fifth book that Voldemort - or, sixth book, actually - Voldemort never knew love, and he never actually wanted friends. And at that point he had already decided that instead of love he wanted power, and that kind of became his mistress. And because of that, he didn't have any redeeming factor like Severus Snape.

Andrew: Yeah.

Audience Member: Exactly.

Mikey: Again, Serverus Snape had Lily. You know, he was in love with her. Without her, he would never have redeemed himself. Because Voldemort wanted this power, he even called Dumbledore weak because he had gone further than any other wizard to cheat death, to live, to be the most powerful wizard of all time. And because of that power and that drive for it, he never understood love, never comprehended it. And that's why he made two fatal mistakes: both 14, or back when Harry was a baby, and again at the very end. Because he didn't understand that love and that protection, that sacrificing yourself for someone else is so important.

Andrew: So you can sympathize for Voldemort in that regard.

Mikey: Yeah, I sympathize that all his laid plans never worked out.

Audience Member: [laughs] This is very true.

Andrew: Okay, can we get - thank you for coming up.

Mikey: Somebody else?

Jamie: Thank you.

Andrew: Another differing opinion? Okay, you next.

Audience Member: Hi. I just wanted to make the point that I think one of the reasons why Voldemort could never understand love, is because his mother basically died for her love for his father, who never really returned that love. And I think he thought that that was such a big mistake on his mother's part, and thought that it was so weak of her to do that when she was a witch. That kind of, like, caused him to think that love was worthless, and that's why I think he never could ever understand love. Also, I think one of the reasons why - I mean, ultimately, Harry did decide to be good, but I think that also because Lily died out of love for Harry, that love was already inside of him. So that's why he wouldn't ever turn out like Voldemort, because he was already filled with love, even though he had a bad upbringing.

Ben: Excellent point.

[Audience applauds]

Andrew: Can we - yeah, this girl right here. What's your name? Where are you from?

Audience Member: I'm Faith, and I'm from Oak Forrest, Illinois. They're my cousins!

[Audience laughs]

Audience Member: I kind of feel sorry for Voldemort, like, as a kid. He made bad choices when he grew up, but I kind of pity him. I mean, the whole time his goal in life was to destroy a seventeen year old boy, and that's kind of pathetic, actually. [laughs] He was this big, powerful person trying to get power, trying to rule the world, and he wanted to kill Harry, who's young. And I feel sorry for him, but I really just think that he made a bad choice, and he wasn't - he couldn't love. He didn't know how. He never grew up with it. And - but I think he was also bad at the same time. I'm kind of torn. [laughs]

Mikey: So do you feel sorry for Voldemort?

Audience Member: As a kid.

Mikey: Do you shed a tear? Did you shed a tear when he died?

Audience Member: No, I did not.

Mikey: No?

Audience Member: No, I cried when Harry - when I thought Harry died.

Mikey: Okay. Just checking.

[Audience Member laughs]

Mikey: Ben cried.

Andrew: Good point. Thank you.

[Audience applauds]

Andrew: You want to take one more?

Jamie: Yeah, one more.

Andrew: One more.

Jamie: What about at the back there?

Andrew: Come on up.

Emerson: I think from just what we've heard so far, and I think we can all agree, people are shaped. They're not born good or bad, and they're shaped by their environments growing up, and clearly Voldemort just never had a Lily Potter, or someone to sacrifice themselves to put him, and make him understand that love is powerful and should be valued.

Andrew: Good point, Spartz.

Audience Member: Well, I think that - oh, I'm Abbie [unintelligible] and I'm from Munster, Indiana. And I think that I shed a tear for Tom Riddle. I don't shed a tear, I don't care, about the man Voldemort. Because what he did is wrong, and trying to justify what Voldemort did, because of his childhood, or because of the people he knew, is like trying to justify, like, Hitler, or just these evil people, because he was truly evil. Tom Riddle wasn't evil. Voldemort was evil.

Mikey: You know, in the final battle scene, Harry asks Voldemort to show some type of remorse because he sees what happens to him. I can kind of compare this to, you know, Luke versus Darth Vader. There's still good in you.

[Audience cheers]

Mikey: And in the end, if they make a choice to come back, you know, when you ask for forgiveness, no matter how horrendous your crimes are, you really should be forgiven. I understand you have to make amends for that and Voldemort, by all means, you know, definitely if he apologized and said sorry to everyone, especially to Harry after killing everyone he cared about...

Ben: It will all be okay if he said sorry.

Jamie: It would've been awesome if...

Mikey: He said sorry! He still should go to Azkaban or something like that, but, you know - we saw Grindelwald in Nurmengard, where, like, he did show remorse. And Dumbledore was like, "I think he realized what he had done was wrong." And, you know...

Jamie: That would have been an awesome Star Wars ending to it...

Mikey: I know, it would be great if Voldemort was, like...

Jamie: If he'd shocked him with that stuff...

Mikey: "Harry, I'm your father."

Jamie: ...out of his hands. Yeah.

[Audience laughs]

Mikey: Something along those lines. No, but I think if Voldemort had - because we saw - we saw what was part of his soul, and Dumbledore told him to ask for some type of remorse. And he told Voldemort, if he - you know, I've seen what you've become, and, you know, show some type of remorse. I think if Voldemort had shown some type of remorse in the afterlife, he wouldn't be this deformed blob, baby thing. You know, because he had, you know, if he was truly remorseful, obviously the way the character is set up he can't be remorseful because he's just pure evil. But, you know, if he had, I think things would have ended up a little bit different. Kind of like in Star Wars.

Jamie: But it's because - well, I was going to say that, because he split his soul so many times, that's why he can't show remorse. If he'd been that evil, but still a human being with a full soul, it's going to be your soul that shows the remorse, not your mind, so I'd say that if he hadn't done his Horcruxes he could come back from the dark side.

Andrew: Yeah.

Mikey: Possibly.

Ben: In Radio City Music Hall last August, Jo said that - when someone asked about redemption and characters who could possibly have redemption, and Voldemort came up, and she said he's literally a psychopath, that there - he's the one character that it's impossible for him to redeem himself. And I think - what gets me is if someone's brain is hard-wired to be the way they are, I don't know. I mean, I know he did terrible things. All these ruthless dictators out there did terrible things. But I can't help but think that if we were born in the same circumstances and same situation, that we'd all be the exact same as they are. But - I mean, I'm not calling you all a bunch of Voldemorts...

Emerson: And - and - and we had the same genes. The same genetic make up. That's also important. Some people are just more predisposed for certain types of behavior, so it's obviously a combination of environment and genes. So - but I agree, though. I think anything can happen when you're in a situation like that.

Andrew: Sorry. All right. We're going to move along here?

Emerson: Yeah, it just got really geeky here.

[Everyone laughs]

Mikey: Yeah.

Jamie: It did.

Emerson: Sorry.


Jamie: Should we debate it?

Andrew: Whatever. Yeah.

Emerson: Yeah, let's go.

Jamie: And Voldemort is a - you come up with it.

Mikey: So, we're going to do a debate, and I think Ben's going to come up with a question right now.

Jamie: Yeah, Ben's going to come up with a question. Basically...

Mikey: Put him on the spot.

Jamie: ...for anyone who can't remember, we haven't been on the show for a while. A debate works where half of us will argue one side, half of us will argue the other side.

Andrew: So is half of Emerson going to argue one side and the other half the other?

Jamie: Yeah, he is.

Emerson: I'll pick the better side.

Mikey: I want Emerson on my team.

Jamie: So, basically, you'll have two minutes, we'll have two minutes, and then we're arguing for the question, so we probably don't believe in what we're arguing. But we're arguing vehemently just to make sure we win.

Emerson: Nice work.

Andrew: For the record, though, Mikey and I are two for two.

Mikey: Two for two! Oh yeah!

Jamie: Let's explain this.

Ben: Okay...

Jamie: We had the worse side of the argument twice.

Ben: Just so you know, we were on the hard - we were playing devil's advocate both times because Mikey and Andrew couldn't handle it.

Jamie: Yes.

[Andrew laughs]

Mikey: Really?

Ben: Second of all, there are people coming up to us, half of them whispering to us, "You know, you really did win, it's okay."

Andrew: Oh no, no, no.

Mikey: The five people - even yesterday, someone said, "Give it up, Ben. You lost." And it was just like, yeah.

Ben: That wasn't yesterday. That was like in Vegas, but whatever.

Mikey: We've driven, like, twenty-two hundred miles to get here, so we're a little tired. We don't even know where we are anymore.

Andrew: No excuses. No excuses, Mikey.

Mikey: No excuses, we still won.

Andrew: Jamie's...

Mikey: The question is...

Jamie: Okay, the debate question, and it isn't that good, we don't think. But does Voldemort deserve sympathy?

Ben: We are going to say, "Yes, he does."

Mikey: So, we're saying, "No, he does not deserve sympathy." Correct?

Jamie: You can either pick your side or...

Mikey: Pick your side. Or you can be a judge.

Jamie: Or you can be a judge.

Mikey: Yeah, but now we have to convince him...

Jamie: This is fun, seriously. This is good.

Mikey: Emerson, you want to be a judge? You want to sit this one out?

Jamie: Or choose a side?

Emerson: I will...

Ben: You want to judge it, Emmy?

Mikey: Emmy?

Emerson: I'll keep you honest. That's what I'll do.

Mikey: He'll keep us honest, all right.

Emerson: I'm going to call you guys out if you start - if your logic is bad. I'm going to tell you.

Andrew: Okay, so who wants to...

Ben: You guys can start.

Jamie: Yeah, you guys can start.

Andrew: So, we're defending that Voldemort does not deserve sympathy. Okay, Voldemort does not deserve sympathy because, if we're referring to Voldemort, Voldemort killed thousands of people and that's just cruel. He never - we never saw a specific reason why we should give him sympathy, other than that he never had anyone to love. Mikey?

Mikey: I think we need to differentiate the difference between Tom Riddle and Voldemort, so we can't really talk about...

Ben: Okay, no, no, no...

Andrew: We're looking at Voldemort here, we're looking at Voldemort here! [laughs]

Ben: Let's get this straight. First of all, Tom Riddle became Voldemort, so they are one in the same. So before you start going off about how Voldemort is different from Tom Riddle...

Emerson: Gentlemen, please!

[Audience laughs]

Ben: Let's settle down here.

Mikey: I'm sorry, sir.

Ben: Cut his mic! No, I'm kidding.

Jamie: No, you can't differentiate from them. They're one in the same.

Emerson: See, I'm not sure. I think Mikey...

Jamie: You traitor.

Emerson: allowed to make his point.

Mikey: Well, okay, hold on, hold on, hold on.

Ben: No, if you intend...

Emerson: Wait, when it's your turn, you can talk.

Mikey: No, listen, Ben...

Emerson: When it's your turn, you can talk.

Mikey: [in high-pitched voice] Cut his mic! Cut his mic! Cut it, cut it, cut it!

[Audience laughs]

Mikey: All right, all right, all right, hold on...

Ben: No, okay, if you intended to go this route, we're changing it to Tom Riddle slash Voldemort, because you guys - you're trying to get a cheap victory, Mikey! I'm in on your games.

[Audience and Mikey laugh]

Mikey: All right, all right. Tom Riddle and Voldemort are one in the same, but we are arguing the Voldemort, who has split his soul. So basically I believe, like in Star Wars, once...

Andrew: Why are we arguing this?

Emerson: Children, please.

Mikey: ...once Tom Riddle split his soul and created his first Horcrux, he ceased to become Tom Riddle and became Lord Voldemort, who is this evil killer...

[Audience applauds]

Mikey: ...who had performed a murder by splitting his soul, and because he split his soul, he had no chance of redemption, because his soul is maimed, and he was just a cold-blooded murderer from then on. He does not deserve sympathy because once he split his soul with that first murder and created his first Horcrux, he is nothing but an evil, evil man that deserves to die by Harry Potter!

Andrew: Yeah!

Mikey: Yeah!

[Audience cheers]

[Andrew laughs]

Jamie: Or, rather, by Hermione Granger.

Mikey: Beat that, guys.

[Andrew laughs]

Emerson: I'm going to say something somewhat neutral here. I think what the question is, is what does it mean to be human? Are we animals, or are - is there something...

Jamie: The question is, does Voldemort...

Mikey: We do have a werewolf in there.

Emerson: Hey, hey, hey! I'm the judge here, I'm talking.

[Audience laughs]

Jamie: Sorry, Emerson.

Emerson: Okay. Are we really responsible for our choices? That is the question that you have to answer. How much different are humans than chimps? If you can answer that question, you can answer whether Voldemort is worthy of blame.

Jamie: No, seriously. Okay, I'm going to go on from there and say that can anyone here say a hundred percent that if they were placed in Voldemort's position, with his background, you wouldn't grow up to be the same as him? We understand he's made bad choices, but those bad choices have come as the result of his bad upbringing and his misunderstanding of how things work. Once he started creating his Horcruxes, he made a bad choice. Everyone here has made bad choices, everyone in the world has made bad choices, it's how we're still human. The fact that he stopped himself being human was a dreadful choice. But I can - immortality is a, you know, a prized concept, even in the human world, and there are a lot of people who would - who want immortality. So if you could do Horcruxes, I think there would be a lot of people who'd consider it. It was a very, very bad choice that Voldemort made. However, considering what he'd been through, his upbringing, I'm not going to throw the first stone at him.

Ben: Now also - also, think about - each of you, I want you to stop and consider what has made you who you are today. What things have made you a loving person? What has made you care about others? Has it been your family? Has it been your friends?

[Audience laughs]

Ben: Of course. Now, what was Voldemort lacking when he grew up? Family and friends.

[Audience laughs]

Ben: So the fact that someone - these things are obviously out of their control. Now - out of Voldemort's control. He didn't choose to be born, you know...

Jamie: No one wants to be a serial killer.

Ben: Yeah, nobody wants to be a serial killer.

Mikey: Unless you're Voldemort.

Ben: It just so happened that when he was born, he grew up in an environment where he was conditioned not to love, and that love became something that he simply could not comprehend. And as he grew older, one choice led to another and, you know, what became his main goal was power. And the fact that he didn't have any of these other outside factors, like love, family, and friendship, is what made him make these decisions.

Jamie: Yeah.

Ben: And you have to listen to me here when I say that each and every one of us would be the exact same way...

Jamie: I mean...

Ben: ...had we not been raised the way we were.

Jamie: You have to feel sorry for someone like that, for someone who, when he kills Snape, his most trusted advisor, he thinks at that point that Snape has been loyal the entire time. If you can't feel emotion, if you can't feel remorse at something like that, you're a shell of a human being, and you have to feel sorry for someone like that. You're supposed to pity them.

[Emerson makes a buzzer noise]

Jamie: Don't get us wrong. Don't get us wrong. One last thing, one last thing.

Emerson: I think they've gone over their clock, ladies and gentlemen.

Ben: Don't get us wrong, we're not saying that Voldemort should be completely forgiven, and that what he did wasn't wrong, we're just saying you should have sympathy rather than hating him for it.

Andrew: Voldemort was messed up from the beginning. There are hotlines available to fix this; he didn't call them. That's the problem.

Mikey: [laughs] Again, exactly, the same thing about the hotlines. You know, Dumbledore says it's our choices. We know this is our choices. Voldemort had a devout group of followers while he was at school. He has Bellatrix, who acts like a lover, but he's not close to any of them. Why? Because he doesn't care about them. Severus Snape was probably one of his most trusted Death Eaters, yet he just killed him to have more power. I think that right there shows that Voldemort does not deserve any redemption, does not deserve to be pitied, does not deserve to be cared for, because he killed someone that showed complete loyalty to him just to gain more power. A power hungry killer does not make someone - is not someone who should be...

Ben: Which is all the more reason to feel sorry for him. If we have a person who is incapable of understanding emotion and comprehending true feeling, how could you ever be mad at them? Why shouldn't you feel sorry for them because they're not able to feel the same pleasure, have the same experiences, that you are?

Jamie: Could you imagine that, Mikey? Could you imagine living a half life, a cursed life like that, a shell of your former self, Mikey? Mikey, imagine it, Mikey.

[Andrew and Audience laugh]

Jamie: The thought's horrible.

Mikey: Yeah, I still wouldn't feel sorry for myself even.

Andrew: It doesn't matter, though. Voldemort still lived this corrupted life that was not - he could have corrected this after his childhood.

Ben: Could he, though? Could he, though?

Andrew: He could've!

Ben: How?

Andrew: There's help. I've told you, there's hotlines!

Ben: That is so simple!

Andrew: I don't have the number, but...

Jamie: That's so...

Andrew: It's so simple, you're right!

Ben: That is such a microscopic...

Andrew: We don't have enough backstory on Voldemort to come up with an example of how he could have fixed this. But he could've - he could've fixed this. He wanted to kill Harry Potter. You can't have sympathy for him!

Jamie: Okay, Andrew...

Mikey: Hold on, guys, hold on, guys. So you're saying...

Emerson: We got to wrap it up.

Mikey: Okay, we got to wrap it up in a second, but you're saying after Voldemort was defeated, and everyone's all happy, and Ron, Harry, and Hermione are together, and everyone's happy and joyed, that they should be crying and sad that, you know, Voldemort was dead. And not, you know, feel that they are no longer, you know, being tormented...

Ben: Okay.

Mikey: a dictator, killer.

Ben: Okay, the debate side of me is coming out. You're creating here what we call a strong man fallacy, Mikey. We didn't actually say that at all. What we said was that, okay, Voldemort died. It's a good thing that the Dark Lord has been vanquished. However, we feel sorry for him because the way that he grew up is what conditioned him to be who he was. No hotline could fix Voldemort, believe me.

[Andrew laughs]

Jamie: No, no.

Ben: I'm sure he tried that. Decisions did shape who he was...

Mikey: 1-800-DARK-LORD

Ben: ...but his bad childhood led to the decisions that he made.

Jamie: How can you not feel sorry for someone...

Andrew: We've got to wrap it up.

Emerson: It's time to wrap this up.

Mikey: So, what does the audience think? If you agree with me and Andrew, just scream really loud.

[Audience cheers]

Jamie: You are so heartless.

[Mikey laughs]

Andrew: If you agree with Ben and Emerson - or Ben and Jamie, scream really loud.

[Audience cheers louder]

Andrew: They won!

Mikey: I think they won today.

Ben: Now I want to hear Emerson's opinion.

Emerson: Having heard - having been an impartial observer of the entertaining debate that just occurred, I am actually going to say Voldemort deserves sympathy, not hate.

[Andrew laughs]

[Audience cheers]

Emerson: Oh, well. I believe people are a product of their environments. And while he is obviously - he is a terrible person, I think anybody, like Ben said, who is incapable of feeling love, of feeling emotion, of knowing what it's like to have friends, you should feel sorry for that person, not hate them for it.

Andrew: That's how I felt anyway.

Mikey: You know, Harry even asked him to show remorse because he felt bad and he pitied Voldemort and he pitied the living.

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