MuggleCast 210 Transcript (continued)
Chapter-by-Chapter: "Mayhem at the Ministry"
Andrew: All right. Well, don't sit back - kick back just yet. It's time now for Chapter-by-Chapter, and you are guiding us through the first chapter.
Micah: Oh, that's right. I didn't even notice. [laughs]
Andrew: Chapter Ten: "Mayhem at the Ministry."
Micah: All right. Well, everybody, remember that when we last left off they were at the Quidditch World Cup, the Death Eaters had their little fun by hanging Muggles in the air, and now everybody is returning back to their homes and the Weasleys return to the Burrow. And the first people that Mrs. Weasley goes for are Fred and George. And remember on 208 we had this whole discussion about why doesn't Mrs. Weasley just leave the two of them alone, give them their space to plan their joke shop, and stop being so hard on them, and it's interesting that she says, "Oh, I can't believe the last thing that I did was essentially yell at you guys and hear you go off to the Quidditch World Cup and you almost get killed." So it seems that events like that always change people's perspectives on silly situations.
Laura: Yep, she'll be regretting that one in three years.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Andrew: Do you think Mrs. Weasley had a major change of heart after this, now that her worst fear had almost come to fruition? Like it sort of made her realize like...
Andrew: "Oh, man, I should stop treating them this way. What if I do lose them? Because we are at war!"
Micah: Yeah, well, it's interesting because later on in the chapter, Fred and George continue to play it up every time Mrs. Weasley might have the opportunity to reprimand them for something they say, "Oh, well, what if we go off to Hogwarts and the train crashes and we both die? Think about the last thing that you'll have said to us."
Andrew: [laughs] That was pretty funny.
Micah: Yeah. They're definitely taking advantage of it. So - but we learn in this chapter about one of our favorite characters, Rita Skeeter.
Micah: We get our first introduction to her because she writes a terrible account of what happened at the Quidditch World Cup, and Percy in particular calls her a terrible woman. I don't remember exactly, but I think his attitude towards her does change a bit as we move towards Order of the Phoenix and she starts writing all those things about Harry and Dumbledore. So it was interesting how when she was attacking the Ministry, Percy thinks she's a terrible woman, but as the books progress and she is supportive of the Ministry and against Dumbledore, he begins to take her side.
Andrew: Yeah, and Rita's intro was actually kind of quick. It wasn't a typical character intro, like one we're going to get a little later on with Mad-Eye Moody, and we'll talk about that major intro when we get there. But Rita's, it sort of just slipped by. There wasn't too much of an introduction. We just heard that Rita Skeeter had written the article and that was it, but of course we learn a lot more about her later on.
Micah: Yeah, and J.K. Rowling has a tendency to do that sometimes, I think.
Andrew: Yeah, we talked about that recently actually.
Micah: Yeah, she did it with Cho Chang, she did it with Cedric Diggory, both during Quidditch and it was kind of just in passing. So she has this way of intro-ing characters that come into play later on in the series. Now Arthur Weasley has this little bit of an argument with Molly, and he decides it is important to put his job above his family, and he spends a lot of time at the Ministry over the course of the week that takes place in the chapter. Now my question was, is he really that valuable to the Ministry or do you think he just feels bad about the statement that he made that Rita used in the paper? Because he's not that high-ranking of an official, he may be within his department, but as far as the hierarchy of the Ministry is concerned, he's not that high up there. So I just wonder if he's doing it more to atone for what he said.
Andrew: Well, I wonder at what point he doesn't put his job above his family. Where is the threshold? Because you should see your kids off to school, though granted I do agree with you the second part of your question, I think he just felt bad about his statement more than anything, and he explained that in this chapter. He said, "I feel so bad, it's all my fault, this wouldn't have happened."
Micah: Now during this conversation, they all eventually head off, and Harry reveals to Ron and Hermione that he kept his scar hurting from both of them and he had written to Sirius. Now I can't remember, but is this the first time he's kept something big from them and he's chosen to go to Sirius instead? He has sort of that godfather figure now, kind of like a parent. Does he feel more comfortable going to Sirius? Or he just thinks Sirius will understand and not overreact?
Laura: Well, I do think it is the first time, Micah. I think you're right about that, and I think also judging based on previous events, like the way we've seen both Ron and Hermione react. Ron is just typical flabbergasted and doesn't really offer much input, and Hermione just flips. So, it's sort of probably a combination of him wanting to retain some amount of normalcy with his friends while at the same time taking advantage of this new father figure he has.
Andrew: Eric is joining us now. Eric, where were you?
Eric: I know this isn't your political podcast, Andrew, but I feel like I need to take this opportunity to lobby for better infrastructure in Chicago. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like highways, by definition, are supposed to be able to handle sort of high volumes of traffic. So, when it's not even rush hour and cars are bumper to bumper, it's kind of an issue.
Andrew: Well, I'm sorry you got stuck in a traffic jam, but - we had to start without you. We just had to record.
Eric: I understand.
Micah: So during this time, we are introduced also to the Weasley's grandfather clock. As Arthur is spending a lot of time at the Ministry, Harry notices this grandfather clock on the wall, and I think it's the first time that it's described. I believe it was mentioned in Chamber of Secrets, but this is the first time we get a full analysis of it. It kind of tells you what the clock does. It points to all the different members of the Weasley family and what they're doing. I was wondering, who would make something like this? [laughs] I don't know...
Micah: Dumbledore I think talks about it later on in the series, how much he likes the clock in the Weasley's kitchen area. So, I don't know... it seems like something cool and useful to have, to know where everybody is and what they're doing.
Laura: I don't know, it seems sort of Big Brother-ish to me. Kind of freaks me out.
Andrew: Yeah, I used to think it was cool, but now I just think it's creepy.
Eric: Like if you had a...
Micah: Well, it's limited in description.
Eric: So do you think you could purchase a clock, for instance, if Laura went into the clock shop - I'm sure it's just some independent clockmaker - and she was like, could you make me a Johnny Depp clock? I need to know exactly where he is at all times.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Eric: Do you think they'd be able to do that?
Laura: I hope so.
Micah: Might be.
Andrew: I could use that for other people.
Laura: Oho! Like who?
Micah: Now, is this clock in the movie?
Laura: Yeah! It's in Chamber of Secrets.
Andrew: Yeah, you see their heads, and their heads sort of react to the hands on the clock moving around. They're sort of looking up and stuff. It was clever. This was actually one of the things that I think Microsoft attempted to make in real life. I remember there was a news article about this a really long time ago.
Micah: In addition to the Invisibility Cloak?
Andrew: Right. I'm going to do a quick Google search just to check, but - yeah. It was back in August 2007. There's an article on Boing Boing dot - sorry, back in 2005, at an internal tech-fest, and Microsoft - [laughs] they tried to make one. So, it's cool!
Eric: [laughs] That's a good memory Andrew.
Andrew: It's one of the cooler items in the Harry Potter world, I think. Albeit, creepy.
Micah: Yeah, definitely.
Eric: It's kind of like Twitter status update for wizards!
Micah: Eric, you put the next point in here. One of the things that Arthur shares with the family is all the Howler trouble that the Ministry is having, and you pointed out that Howlers are one of those things they probably wish they hadn't invented but not enough to do anything about it. Couldn't they stop them somehow? The reason we bring this up though is the Ministry is being bombarded with Howlers after the Quidditch World Cup, and you also ask how many wizards are requesting Ministry compensation for possessions that were lost. I don't know.
Andrew: But isn't that sort of like saying in our world, in the Muggle world, why don't politicians just figure out a way to stop political smear campaigns? Like this is just one of those things you have to deal with in the world. There are these magical items called Howlers, and the Ministry can't keep them out. I mean, maybe they were designed to get anywhere to serve this exact purpose because you want to make sure this person is getting your message. And if the Ministry can't block them...
Eric: So Howlers as pioneers of free speech?
Andrew: Right, yeah! Yeah, it's free speech, and it's getting your message where it belongs.
Eric: I never thought of it like that.
Andrew: So it's like a protest, sort of. You don't have to go out and protest. You just send Howlers.
Micah: The compensation for possessions thing is interesting though. I wonder what would have happened here if everybody affected by Katrina went to our president and asked to be compensated for their lost possessions.
Eric: Weren't they?
Andrew: They did get some money.
Micah: Yeah, but there were nowhere near compensated.
Eric: Percy is going on about this and how people are trying to defraud the Ministry into replacing their items supposedly lost at the Quidditch World Cup fiasco. And that's what this whole chapter is about, is this whole fiasco and how the Ministry deals with it. But I thought it was interesting, and obviously it's slightly humorous, but Percy is ranting here about people who are submitting false reports.
Micah: Yeah, especially Mundungus Fletcher, which you pointed out.
Eric: [laughs] The twelve-bedroom tent with ensuite jacuzzi. But Percy knows for a fact he was sleeping under a cloak propped on sticks. This is J.K. Rowling when - I mean, it's just so enjoyable, reading this.
Andrew: And that happens all the time in the real world too, I'm sure. People try to get more then they've actually lost.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Micah: And what happens during this conversation that they're having at dinner is we get our first look at Percy starting to side with the Ministry over his family. And he says: "Well father feels he's got to make up for his mistake at the match, doesn't he? If truth be told, he was a tad unwise to make a public statement without clearing it with his head of department first." And Mrs. Weasley yells at him for making that statement, "Don't talk about your father that way." But we see the development already of Percy, and...
Andrew: This has sort of been building up, too, hasn't it?
Andrew: I mean, we've seen Percy speak so highly of the Ministry and so he really stands for it - and then now that he sees his family being mad at the Ministry causing - essentially the Ministry causing his family to lose their dad for the day - it's frustrating that they feel frustrated at the Ministry.
Andrew: So there's my convoluted sentence. But my point is...
Micah: No, I know what you're saying.
Andrew: ...my point is he's trying to defend the Ministry, because he loves them so much. He's been saying it this whole book so far.
Micah: Yeah, and this is all happening at dinner before Arthur arrives, and I thought it was ironic that Molly says that: "Arthur hadn't spent this much time at the Ministry since the days of You-Know-Who." And my comment was, "Well, guess what, Molly?"
Eric: [laughs] He's back. He's back.
Micah: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. Well, I mean, it's a little bit ironic I thought that she would say that. But when Arthur does finally arrive home we learn that Rita Skeeter has found out about Bertha Jorkins - that she has gone missing. And I don't know how some big piece of information like that gets leaked, but I guess it's just one of those examples of the press getting hold of information that they shouldn't have. Arthur also mentions Winky during the conversation, and this sets off a huge argument, and you see the beginnings of S.P.E.W. in some of the statements that Hermione makes, because she stands up a lot for Winky throughout the course of the conversation. Did you guys notice that?
Andrew: Yeah. And it's really - and this is one of the first times we see Hermione being a true leader. I mean, there's other examples in the other books, but this is really one of her most ambitious projects yet - or at least, it will be, later in this book.
Micah: Yeah. And just going back to Percy for a second though, I mean - it's interesting that he'll defend the Ministry even though the Minister - or, sorry, Barty Crouch Sr. - can't even remember his name. It just goes to show you how dense of a character he is.
Andrew: Well - and how much he loves the Ministry. He's just delusional about it.
Micah: Someone had sent in an interesting question, though, about this. Do you think Barty Crouch Sr. couldn't remember Percy's name because he was already under the Imperius Curse?
Andrew: Oh, yeah, maybe...
Laura: That's possibly - possible.
Andrew: ...that's what it is.
Micah: So after all this - arguments take place, they go upstairs to pack for school, and Ron finds that he has some second-hand clothing from - I don't know, the Salvation Army of Wizards [laughs] and that he's going to have to be wearing formal attire at some point this year. And you really see how bothered by all this Ron is, because Harry, of course, has these brand new, better-looking, formal clothes to take to school. And you know it's a money issue. And don't you think Mrs. Weasley could be a little bit more - you know what I'm saying? She knows that by doing these types of things or buying something along those lines, it sets Ron up for...
Micah: ...being made fun of.
Andrew: Yeah. But this is the family. The family just can't afford it. If she listened to you and decided to buy him new robes, then the family couldn't eat for a week, so.
Micah: Why couldn't she fix...
Listener Tweet: Dress Robes
Micah: What? I was going to go to the tweet that somebody sent in, "Tstarkeyy" wrote:
"Why can't Mrs. Weasley just fix Ron's dress robes? She's like the queen of all things domestic."
Micah: [laughs] "I'm sure she could make the needle and thread sew themselves."
Andrew: Well, because then Draco couldn't make fun of Ron later on in the book.
Eric: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Everything happens for a reason.
Eric: "Queen of all things domestic." I'm going to use that in something. It's a very, very nice way of saying that she's a stay-at-home mom.
Andrew: And Harry mentions here he wishes he could give the Weasleys half his fortune, but they just wouldn't accept it. I mean, maybe give Ron some money under the table and buy some stuff on his own in Diagon Alley.
Eric: It worked for the Weasley twins.
Eric: Plus, Ron is Harry Potter's friend. What does he possibly have to be sad about? [laughs] He's friends with Harry Potter.
Listener Tweet: Harry's Vault
Micah: Yeah. And the other thing that we can bring up was "LoGiants55" wrote in and asked: "How can the Weasleys get gold out of Harry's vault? It's always bothered me."
Laura: That's like any other bank account. You can put another account holder on there who can access the money.
Micah: I guess that's probably what Harry did. All right, and that wraps up Chapter 10. Andrew.
Chapter-by-Chapter: "Aboard the Hogwarts Express"
Andrew: Okay, now it's time for Chapter 11, "Aboard the Hogwarts Express." This is always one of the chapters I look forward to the most, because heading back to school for another year - at least in the first six books. So, Harry, for the first time sees what it's like to communicate with someone via fireplace, this was right at the beginning - they're talking to Amos Diggory and we see here that Mrs. Weasley is even able to feed Amos a piece of toast through the fire, and I had forgotten this happened, because in the movie you just see Harry talking to Sirius through the fireplace so [laughs] I just thought - imagine all the possibilities you can do - you can transfer items through a fireplace...
Andrew: ...without Floo Powder, and Eric suggested you could even do something else very inappropriate that I won't mention on this show, but I think you're right...
Eric: Through a fireplace.
Andrew: Yeah, there's all these things you can do through the fireplace...
Andrew: ...including feeding someone.
Laura: ...man, that just eliminates the problem of the long distance relationship.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Micah: Yeah, but...
Eric: It's also - Laura, it's also pretty hot, wouldn't you say?
Laura: Ugh. Eric.
[Andrew and Laura laugh]
Andrew: Hey Laura, I'll meet you at our respective fireplaces tonight.
Micah: You don't want the Ministry watching, though, because don't they monitor the network?
Andrew: Oh, right. Darn it.
Eric: Oh, don't tell me you don't want somebody watching. Come on, it adds to the fun, Micah.
Andrew: So, I just - I just thought that was kind of funny that you could feed toast and probably so much more through the fireplace.
Eric: [laughs] Sorry.
Andrew: But I wonder, why couldn't humans just transfer their bodies through it? Does it - is it just because somehow the face makes that open connection and then...
Eric: In the movie - I mean, you can transfer bodies through that's how the Floo Network works, but...
Andrew: But is this the Floo - are they talking through the Floo Network?
Eric: Doesn't - in one of the movies doesn't somebody use Floo Powder just like normal Floo Powder, but only put their head in? Or, actually, that's even in the books - I think Order of the Phoenix, maybe where it's - it works the same way as the Floo Network, but instead of putting your whole body through you just put your head through. I feel like that's Order of the Phoenix the book somewhere where they just do that so...
Micah: Yeah, well...
Eric: ...as a result...
Micah: ...Harry does that...
Eric: ...you're in both places...
Micah: ...in Umbridge's office when he's going to try and find Sirius and he runs into Kreacher.
Eric: So that's how it works.
Micah: Yeah, I mean, that's just one example...
Micah: ...he does it in this movie - this book, too when he talks to Sirius.
Eric: Well Sirius talks to him, he doesn't. Does he go through the fireplace to talk to Sirius?
Micah: Oh yeah, I see what you're saying.
Eric: Yeah, Sirius - but that's what I'm saying, so this is just a thing where Amos Diggory - before he leaves, Molly gives him a piece of toast and he says, "Thanks," and he's obviously chewing it. So, it's just like the regular Floo Network, only you're not actually leaving, you're still kneeling at home. It's just your head is transferring through the fireplace - it's magic.
Andrew: Yeah, okay, I just looked it up quick and according to the Harry Potter Lexicon, which - and they got this information from Goblet of Fire - you can use the Floo Network just to speak with another Floo connection rather than traveling there. So, yes, this is on the Floo Network, very good. All right, so that answers my question. You can transfer your body [laughs].
So, the gang heads to King's Cross and Bill drops a few hints about the Triwizard Tournament, but still doesn't reveal exactly what's going on. And this time it's really bugging - I think it was Ron who said, "What? What? Tell us. Tell us, already!" And while on the Hogwarts Express, Harry - while overhearing a conversation that Draco's having, learns that Durmstrang - learns about Durmstrang for the first time. And of course, we'll be learning much more about them throughout this book thanks to the TriWizard Tournament. As the trio continue talking about Durmstrang on their own, Hermione reveals that Hogwarts cannot be seen by outsiders. It just looks like an old ruin with an old sign that says, "Danger. Do Not Enter. Unsafe." I'm wondering what if someone does try to get in? What happens? Does it push you away?
Eric: [sighs] Yeah, I wonder what kind of ruin it is. Is it a ruin that is exactly shaped? Same walls, same...
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: ...everything as Hogwarts? Because that's a pretty impressive ruin.
Eric: Or if it's just a sign like - then again if there is such a thing as being unplottable, it's very possible that you walk up to the cliff and you're actually nowhere near Hogwarts, so.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, that's sort of what I'm thinking - if Hogwarts is unplottable like Hermione says. So, I wonder if you see the old ruin and if you approach it maybe you can walk into it but it's not Hogwarts. It's just the old ruin.
Laura: I don't know.
Andrew: We don't know for sure.
Micah: What was the one with the appointment? That was the Quidditch World Cup?
Eric: That was - yeah, that was specifically the Quidditch World Cup. So Hermione, having read "Hogwarts, A History" did not make that same connection about Hogwarts, but she said maybe it's like the Quidditch World Cup where you do remember that you've forgotten something important.
Andrew: Yeah, that could be. I'm sure Dumbledore has the right protections in place. I mean, that's for sure. So, moving along - where was I? Draco comes in and asks Harry and Ron if they'll compete. But they don't know what he's talking about. This was the same thing Bill was hinting at. So Draco makes fun of Arthur and Percy's inability to get secret big information because Draco just assumed that Arthur and Percy didn't even know, when in fact [laughs] pretty much the entire Weasley family knew about it except for the trio. Well, all the Hogwarts students didn't know about it in the Weasley family, of course. So this makes Ron push Draco out, and Eric do you want to just go ahead and take this point?
Eric: Yeah. When they walk in on Draco earlier in the train, he's talking about his dad knowing Karkaroff and he's bragging about the event. And then when he comes in and taunts Harry and Ron and Hermione about it, he talks about his father knowing about it weeks and weeks and months ago. He says particularly that Cornelius Fudge himself told Lucius Malfoy about the Triwizard Tournament. Obviously he doesn't mention what it is to them, but he says that Fudge himself told Lucius. So this is - I felt like this was setting Lucius Malfoy up because he's - we find out about Durmstrang in this chapter and Durmstrang is this school where they practice Dark Arts, and the headmaster at this Dark Arts heavy school is good friends with Lucius Malfoy. And it's just setting up - obviously we know that Karkaroff was formally a Death Eater, has the Dark Mark. And so Lucius and Karkaroff are probably BFFs.
Listener Tweet: Foreshadowing
Andrew: And we have a tweet here related to this topic. "BDailey2" writes:
"Doesn't it seem like a little foreshadowing to Voldy's return when Malfoy talks so openly about wanting to practice Dark Arts on the train?"
Micah: Well, I don't know if it's foreshadowing, though. Because now they don't even know that Voldemort is back - even Lucius doesn't know that. He was just as shocked to see the Dark Mark at the Quidditch World Cup as anybody else - we learn that later on. I mean, all the Death Eaters were scared because none of them had conjured it up. So, I don't think it was necessarily foreshadowing because even then, Draco has no idea that Voldemort is back.
Eric: Yeah. It's more like setup and payoff. In Year 4 Malfoy's on the train complaining about how he can't do more Dark Arts, and then in Movie 6 Malfoy is inducted as a Death Eater into Voldemort's inner circle and he's thinking the exact opposite. It's ironic.
Micah: Yeah. He's ready to wet his pants.
Eric: [laughs] While he's on the train. So...
Micah: Yeah. He's so scared.
Eric: It could just be the journey. It's a long journey. On the train.
Andrew: To wrap up this chapter, right before they arrive at a rainy Hogwarts, Eric in all his inappropriateness put down this quote: "'Ron's bad mood continued for the rest of the train journey. He didn't even speak much while they were changing into their robes.' Isn't this because he can see Hermione's underthings?" writes Eric. Oh, Eric. You wished you were Ron.
Eric: She says they changed into their robes, you know. Whatever. It was funny.
Andrew: And Chapter 12, Eric. It's all you. You made it just in time.
[Music plays out the show]
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