The Eighth Story, Whether You Like It Or Not: Act 1, Scenes 1-7

AT LONG LAST, we have arrived! Turn to page 394.

S: All right, welcome to – finally – the first episode of Advanced Muggle Studies! I am Professor Seraphine –

C: And I’m the other one.

S: You’re Professor Creed!

C: Exactly.

S: And today we are tackling, finally, the first act of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

C: For the second time, in fact!

S: Yes, the second time. Because we had some magic-technology interaction issues. On the upside, the first time we did it was really long, so I’m hoping this time it won’t be so bad, although we’ll still be as sparkling and witty and funny as before, right?

C: I’m gonna give it a go, anyway.

S: Okay, let’s do that. And thank you to everyone who was patient and put up with the delay – the few people who were already interested in our website, you’re amazing. And I hope you enjoyed the quotes that we posted the other day as a result of the horror that has descended up on our land, so now we can move on to more lighthearted things.

Act 1 is broken up into a bunch of little bitty scenes, some of which will take very little time to discuss, so that’s a great thing.

ACT 1, SCENE 1: Epilogue, redux

We’re at King’s Cross, and it’s basically a rehash of the Epilogue from the end of Deathly Hallows. We’ve got Harry and his kids, and apparently Ginny had absolutely no input in naming their children, because we have James, Albus, and Lily.

C: Worst names ever.

S: So it takes all of a minute to get through scene 1.

ACT 1, SCENE 2: Epilogue, reduxer

So now we actually get on the platform to the Hogwarts Express, and we’ve conveniently cut out all the other things that were in the Epilogue, talking about Teddy Lupin and all of that stuff – and here we go with Ron and Hermione with their kids. His funniness has increased from the Epilogue, he’s a little more cheery and goofy and certainly seems to have bought in to being part of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.

So we have this conversation between Harry and Albus, which we had at the end of the Epilogue, where Albus is terrified that he might be in Slytherin. And Harry tells him, “You know, hey, even though I named you after a dubious Gryffindor and a very Gryffindor-ish Slytherin, don’t worry about it, because the Hat takes into account what really matters to you.” Which seems to be the first time Harry has told him this, so… yay Harry for being communicative?

And then they get on the train, and there’s sort of a mention of Neville, and we ignore that, and then we get a little bit as they’re leaving between the adults talking about the kids, with Harry worrying about Al being sorted into Slytherin, and Hermione making it pretty clear that Rose is Hermione over again, worrying about how early she can take her OWLs and if she can break the Quidditch scoring record – she’s clearly very ambitious. And so, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Thoughts?

C: Not for this part.

ACT 1, SCENE 3: Don’t fuck Voldemort, it’s unnecessarily complicated

S: We have Albus and Rose walking along the train, and okay – I feel like we need to go ahead and establish this from the outset. We talked about it last time, and let’s be more deliberate about it this time. I have no idea why Albus ends up where he does. He seems very nervous, not sure what to do. Rose on the other hand is very aware of who she is: “Everyone’s going to want to be friends with us because of who we are, and we have to be very careful about who we pick for our friends because this is where our parents’ grand adventure started, so we have to do this right.” Whereas Albus is just like, “Um, I’m just going to pick the first door I come across.”

Which he does, and ends up face to face with the second worst-named child on the train, so of course they’re destined to be friends: Scorpius Malfoy!

C: Yeah, I would love to know the backstory of that name, because it’s ridiculous.

S: And I’m sure that Draco didn’t get enough hell in his lifetime for being named after the Latin name for a dragon, and was like “You know what, I’m going to one-up that and name my kid Scorpius. No one will make fun of that!”

And Scorpius is hands down the nicest child you will ever meet. I just picture him with a little halo of sunlight around his head. He’s got tons of candy and he’s like “Here, come have candy with me, have a seat!” He is super nice, and right up front he establishes who he is. He knows who they are. And it’s a pretty interesting dynamic now post-war, that Scorpius is very aware of who he is and what people might think of him because of his family’s background. And Rose clearly does think that of him, because she’s like, “Uh, your parents are Death Eaters, I’m out.”

C: Which I can’t say that I blame her for, to be quite honest. And it may not be fair to him, but I’m sorry, if I came across the child of – you know, I hate to commit the Godwin’s Law thing already, but I would have second thoughts about wanting to hang out with someone who was the child of a Nazi.

S: Which would be like, Himmler’s child. And even though we haven’t met Scorpius’ mom and we don’t know anything about her. So she wasn’t at Hogwarts, wherever she came from. I don’t really know.

C: Is she younger than them?

S: She could be! She could be a lot younger than Draco, who knows? Maybe she’s not from England – I don’t know. But I do know that we’re about to get into what I consider the most entertaining point upon which this whole thing hinges, and that is – The Plot.

C: Entertaining is one word for it.

S: I’m certain you will share others. So the notion here is that Scorpius is like, “Okay, I know there are rumors about me.” And of all the rumors that could possibly be about this kid, this one takes the cake.

The rumor is that his parents could not have children, that Lucius and Draco Malfoy were desperate for a powerful heir – male heir, which somehow I guess they knew he would be male? – anyway, so they used a Time-Turner to send Scorpius’s mother back to screw Voldemort, and to have his kid. And that that is who Scorpius is. That is the rumor.

C: It’s definitely the easiest and least complicated way to handle infertility problems. For sure.

S: Is it though? Because okay – let’s break this down. Let’s say that it’s years after the war. Draco’s married, happily one would assume. Lucius – who knows if Draco’s mom is still in the picture at this point. But you know, Draco and Lucius always got on so well. So Lucius comes along and he’s like, “Son. Your wife is not getting the job done and we need a kid.” And Draco’s like, “God, I know.” And instead of – is there not fertility potion in this world? Are there truly no other options? Nope. We get a Time-Turner, and we send your wife back to go screw Voldemort.

I feel like there are so many ways this can go wrong! Because this assumes so many things. It assumes that his wife is okay with this. “Yeah, I’m totally fine with going back and dropping my drawers for the most evil wizard ever.” It also assumes that she goes back, and just walks up to Voldemort all, “Hey, you got 5 minutes?” And Voldemort is like, “Yeah, I could put my evil plans on hold.”

Did anyone ever get the impression at any point that Voldemort would be interested in a random attractive woman crossing his path? Like, Bellatrix is practically bodice ripping and throwing herself at him constantly and nothing seems to happen there.

C: Yes, but – would you want to bang Bellatrix?

S: NO! But it’s Voldemort! I have a hard time with the notion that Voldemort – maybe it’s my literary hangup, these kind of all-consuming evil characters tend to not be real interested in sex because they’ve got other things on their minds. I have just a really hard time with Voldemort being like, “You know what, yes, I am very focused and determined to take over the world and destroy everyone, but I could use a night off. Let’s get busy.” It’s awful!

C: It’s like a stress reliever!

S: I’m sure there’s lot of fan fiction out there about it, but…

C: To be the one to break Godwin’s Law again – Hitler had a girlfriend.

S: Yes, but Hitler hadn’t split his soul into 7 or 8 pieces and made himself look like a snake, and one really has to wonder if your libido gets split up in the same way your soul does.

C: You’re talking about men here, so I’m gonna say no.

S: For me this was the biggest hangup about the plot because I had heard a little bit about the plot before I started reading, and I was like, oh my god, Voldemort did not have a kid, NOOO.

But maybe I need to stretch my own ability to imagine a little bit. So let’s say that they enacted this terribly complicated plan and it worked — she got knocked up the one time she managed to get the Dark Lord on his own. And then she came back and had Scorpius, because there’s no easier way to do this. So poor Scorpius has this rumor hanging over his head, that he’s Voldemort’s son. Now, when we talked about this first, you had some thoughts about – could we not prove this somehow?

C: Yeah, I mean with the things that the Wizarding world can do, there must be some sort of DNA test-spell that they can do. You know all of these people who are so obsessed with pure-blooded wizards, they’ve got to have a way to be able to check that, first of all.

And second of all, my biggest problem with the idea that Voldemort could have a kid is not the fact that he could have a kid, it’s the fact that nobody would have checked this particular rumor, for years, when there has got to be a way to check this, one that doesn’t involve the Ministry coming out and making a statement saying that it’s not true. It doesn’t make sense to me.

S: I feel like there as to be some kind of Wizarding paternity test! I mean, come on, you’ve got slightly trashier magazines like Witch Weekly and surely some others; surely they have the equivalent of the Wizarding Maury Povich show, where people go on like, “That’s not my kid!” Right? There’s no way the Muggle world has them beat on this.

C: I can only imagine the pieces that Rita Skeeter would come up with.

S: Oh my god. I’m surprised she hasn’t been all over this. Well, Rose is like, ‘Fine, whatever. I’m out. You’re weird.” But Albus stays, and they decide to hang out and have candy and we’re seeing a sort of Harry and Ron situation all over again, but with much more baggage.

C: And that’s another thing, when Scorpius is like, “Father issues, I have them!” I don’t think there are many 11 year olds that talk like that.

S: Either that, or he watches way too much awkward comedy, like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development. But growing up in the Malfoy house, would you talk like that? Maybe you have to. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism growing up with brooding Draco as your dad.

C: But his mother seems to be pretty awesome, for him to turn out the way he has. And I’m sure that she knew he was going to have a hard time, which is why she sent him with a boatload of candy to entice the other kids.

S: Which is charming, and adorable.

ACT 1, SCENE 4: Good work, Potter, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning

S: This must have been pretty cool to watch, the way they must have staged it, because you’ve got all these – stage directions say there’s no individual scenes. Just all these fragmented scenes all mixed together. We start off at Hogwarts, Great Hall, everybody’s freaking out because Albus Potter is in our year, and so is Rose Granger-Weasley! And Rose is totally glad handing and taking advantage of this. “Hi! Hi, I’m Rose! Here’s my card. Be sure and call me.” So we get the sorting hat, and Rose is a Gryffindor, shock and amazement. And I’m put off a little bit by the fact that at this point people are using Dumbledore’s name as a stand-in for God. Instead of saying “Thank God,” they’re saying “Thank Dumbledore.” I find that odd. That bothers me. I’m not sure why that bothers me but I feel like something has gone a little wrong in the Wizarding world at this time if they’ve deified Dumbledore.

C: What would you have them say instead, then?

S: Well, I guess it’s one of those “Too soon, bro” moments. Because before, they would say things like “Merlin’s beard!” or “Merlin’s pants!” But we’re talking massively ancient historical figures that are integral to our understanding of magical folklore. Whereas Dumbledore has not been gone that long, but at this point we’ve turned him into this: “Oh, thank Dumbledore!” “By Dumbledore!” It feels – maybe it’s just too soon.

C: I can see that.

S: And Dumbledore’s my favorite character, so it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it or anything, but – it’s weird. So Scorpius is a Slytherin, because reasons – even though he’s given us no indication so far that he could be Slytherin-ish. He’s at best a Hufflepuff. And then Albus’s great moment comes, and Albus is sorted intooooooooo………. Slytherin.

C: You and I have differing opinions on this.

S: Yes we do. I feel like this is something that the writers did because it was expedient for the plot. This is where this starts to bug me, because it feels fan-fiction-ish. Now, there’s good fanfiction, there’s great fanfiction, and there’s not so good fanfiction. Some moments of this feel really good, others feel less so. This is one that feels like mediocre fanfiction, because it feels like the writers sat around and were like, “Okay, we’re going to be real subversive with this! We’re going to take the original opening of the Harry Potter series, which everybody knows so well, and we’re going to flip it, we’re going to turn your expectations on their head and you’re going to be like ‘Whoa, oh my god, he’s a Slytherin, I did not see that coming!’”

(Apparently they’re stoners.)

But the problem is they haven’t — and I argue that they don’t – written Albus to seem like a Slytherin. He makes some really stupid decisions, I’m going to grant you that, but all the Gryffindors have done that in the past. Yes, he’s an emo little bitch, which we’re going to see also. But I just do not buy that Albus is a Slytherin! It feels like something they made up for the sake of expediency.

And if they made it up so they could be like, “Ok, we’ve got these characters that everybody knows well, like Harry Potter, he’s like the Heir of Gryffindor, he is the essential Gryffindor, so we’re going to make his son a Slytherin.” Okay, that’s great – but judging by what I’ve met of Scorpius, he should not be a Slytherin. So if we’re going this whole reversal thing, why is Scorpius in Slytherin? Is it just because he’s Draco Malfoy’s kid? Or because you couldn’t think of another way to further the plot without making him seem potentially Voldemort’s kid and therefore in Slytherin? Because he’s like the best natured Slytherin I’ve ever met! How is he in Slytherin? Tell me, someone, please!

C: The other problem too is that the only Slytherins we ever saw up close and personal were total assholes in the actual books, even though some of them did fight for the good guys in the last book. They didn’t come off well, and you have to know intellectually that not every single person who winds up in Slytherin is some kind of monster, literal or otherwise. Because there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. Ambition is actually a good thing, just how far are you willing to go, what are your ambitions?

S: We know Slytherins are cunning, they’re ambitious, they’ll do anything to achieve their ends. That’s what the Sorting Hat tells us.

C: Which is not necessarily bad. Saying that you’re going to do anything doesn’t sound great, but doing anything – does that mean you want to knit the world’s biggest sweater? And you’ll do anything, spend your entire fortune on yarn? I mean, that’s not bad. It’s just depends on what it is you’re trying to do. But that is your “out of universe” argument for Albus. But why do you think he ends up there “in universe?” Because I think he does it deliberately, and you, from what I remember of our last discussion, don’t agree with that.

S: I don’t, because he seems so very confused. Now, it says in the stage directions that when he has the Sorting Hat put on his head, it takes longer, “almost as if he too is confused.” Which seems like either the Hat is confused or Albus is confused, the stage direction isn’t perfectly clear on that. Then, when he gets sorted into Slytherin, it says Albus is unsure, thoroughly discombobulated, and seems very confused and surprised by the fact that he ended up in Slytherin.

So I don’t think it was deliberate, although I will give you this – if what Albus wants more than anything is to be with a friend, if he is feeling insecure and he doesn’t know where he wants to be, and all he knows is that he wants to be with a friend, well — the only friend he’s made at this point other than his relatives is Slytherin, so that could be why he gets sorted into Slytherin, because  maybe he doesn’t care as much about anything else. What do you think?

C: Harry tells him that you can choose, and that’s not a throwaway exchange between the two of them earlier on. They have that conversation for a reason, and I think the reason is so he argues with the Sorting Hat that he wants to be in Slytherin, because as you say, that’s where his friend is. And I think that overrules his nervousness of being in Slytherin in that moment, and he doesn’t realize what a shitstorm it’s going to be. And so he takes the hat off his head, and everyone is staring at him and pointing and whispering, and he thinks, “Oh shit.” It makes his life not so great from there on out, and his attitude just gets worse and worse about things and he makes things harder for himself.

S: If that is the case, it does provide a useful metaphor for his actions later on — that he gets so wrapped up in his own head that he makes a decision without thinking about the fact that it affects everybody else, and it’s only after that moment when he’s like, “Oh wait, people are reacting to this, and I wasn’t really buying into this, I was just doing it because it was what I felt at the time.” You know what I mean?

C: Yeah, and I think if he had known that was how it would have gone, he might have done it anyway, and maybe that’s the way Albus really shows his true Gryffindor-ness, in that he would have done it anyway. Because he does basically tell Rose, “Sorry, I’m not going to play this the way you want to, I’m going to do what I want to.” I think that he’s not thinking of any possible consequences or repercussions, he’s just thinking of Scorpius, and that he feels comfortable with Scorpius, and wants to be with his friend, and then things happen because of that.

S: So then we have to hit all the high points, right? We go through all the quintessential Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone moments. So they’re out with Madam Hooch with the broomsticks, and the dialogue is almost word for word here. Everybody stands by the brooms, and everybody says ‘Up,’ and of course Albus’s doesn’t go anywhere because Albus apparently is not a very good flier, or won’t be.

C: In at least one of the books they talk about the Weasleys playing Quidditch in their back yards when they were kids. So maybe one of their parents just said ‘Up!’ and sat them on the broom, but you mean to tell me that at no point has Albus ridden a broom or anything? Because he’s terrible!

S: Yeah! Wouldn’t Harry have — my goodness, Sirius’s first present to toddler Harry was a toy broomstick that he went flying around on. You mean to tell me that Harry, who loves flying, and Ginny, who is a Quidditch reporter with the Daily Prophet, never once, either of them, took their kids out flying? Like, taught them how to get on a broom before they went to Hogwarts? I find that so hard to believe. And this is again where I go back to my stoner dudes writing this play, who are like, “Dude, it would be so awesome if he just sucked at everything Harry was great at!” Yeah, fine, but that doesn’t make any sense if Harry is your dad! Why? That wouldn’t happen! Continuity, people. You need to think about these things. A little less weed, a little more nerdiness.

C:  That just goes back to the point of valuing plot and beats you want to hit over things that actually make sense for the characters you’re writing.

S: And I’m sorry, I’m making fun of the writers, and I’m sure they’re deeply intellectual and fabulous people and I think they worked with J.K. Rowling in talking about this, so I’m being totally facetious when I talk about them being stoners, but I like the version in my head better, so that’s what I’m going with.

Okay, so now we’re on the second year, and Albus is like, “Ugh, dad, I don’t want to be seen with you,” doesn’t want his dad standing near him, because he’s like, “People are looking at you,” and Harry signs an autograph, and James is already picking on Albus for being a Slytherin, and Harry is at such a loss, which – have  you not talked to your kid over the holidays at all? Over the summer? Because you seem surprised by this. He’s trying to talk to him about making more friends, just trying to be there for him, wanted to be with him, but Albus is, oh my god, Albus.

C: He’s the worst. I get it, he’s a teenager, he’s emo, I remember being there, I remember it is not a great time in life, I get that 100 percent. He is still a total pain in the ass.

S: Now we finally get to a scene I find interesting because seeing these two interact after all this time – I love it. And I think of all the characters in this play Draco is one of the few who is actually written well, so I have to give them this. Draco shows up, stands beside Harry, they don’t really look at each other, just stands beside him and just dives into the conversation, because that’s what you do with your oldest friends and enemies – you pick up where you left off. “I need a favor”—and in my head, I fill in, “Potter.” So Draco is like, “Look, these rumors about my kid – they are not going away, he’s getting teased, and I want the Ministry to release a statement that reaffirms that all the Time Turners were destroyed in the Department of Mysteries so people will quit with this stuff.” And Harry’s like –

C: This would not work at all, by the way.

S: Why? Why wouldn’t it work?

C: Everybody would know that Draco had put them up to it and that would just make them think where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

S: Everyone would know? Come now. You’re acting like the Malfoys have some kind of history of paying off government officials to get what they want.

C: No, that never happens.

S: There’s no history there at all! But that’s Harry’s point – if you answer that, you make it worse. Scorpius is not the first person people have said this about, the Ministry really needs to stay out of it. But Draco is not happy. It seems like his wife is not doing well – Astoria. Scorpius needs support. And Draco is like, “Fine!” and storms off. Which I love, again, because it’s so in character.

C: And can I just point out the description of him? “His robes perfect, his blond ponytail in place.” He is clearly the Dread Pirate Roberts. The Dread Pirate Draco, I guess.

S: Nobody can quite rock a blond ponytail the way Lucius can rock a blond ponytail, but I’ll give Draco a chance if he’s going to be a pirate. So clearly we jump over to see Albus and Rose, and things have really deteriorated between these two. It’s only been a year and they’re standing in front of the train and Albus is like, “You don’t have to talk to me once the train leaves,” and she’s like “Oh, I know, I’m just keeping up a front for the adults.” That’s pretty harsh. I know they’re not siblings, they’re cousins, but still, that’s rough! And then Scorpius runs up super cheery again, and we go back to the Great Hall, Rose has been named the new Chaser on the Quidditch team, which – wasn’t that Ginny’s position also?

C: Yes.

S: And Scorpius is all about fair play and supporting family, because Albus doesn’t want to cheer for her, and Scorpius is like, “Yay! Go Rose!”

C: His crush on her is really funny.

S: Especially since we all know this is not really about Scorpius and Rose.

C:  This is about the burgeoning great gay love story of Albus and Scorpius, and no one and nothing can convince me otherwise.

S: These two are clearly meant to be. So it’s getting worse, with name calling, saying Albus is irrelevant. I have to admit, it’s a sick burn – even the portraits turn the other way when you go up the stairs. We’ve met some of these portraits, they’re insane. So the fact that they would ignore you is rough.

C: Sick burn! I love that.

S: It is! And then there’s struggling through Potions, and this very symbolic line where Scorpius is like, “How do we fix our potion? What do we need to change?” And Albus says, “Everything.”

C: Oh, god.

S: On to year three! Albus is still “an attractive boy but he’s trying not to admit it.” And he and Harry are back on the platform, Harry’s trying to talk to his kid, the one time a year he talks to his kid, apparently, because none of these conversations seem to have happened at all over the summer. Harry, where are you?  Why are you ignoring your children? I don’t understand this.

C: They don’t talk because Albus has locked himself in his room and is listening to – what do emo people listen to?

S: Um.. that would be Dashboard Confessionals and My Bloody Valentine.

C: That’s the emo kids of our generation.

S: Okay, Arcade Fire. And…I’m running dry. We need suggestions, people – what is Albus listening to? But the wizard rock version. Unless he’s being rebellious and going or Muggle music.

C: He found out whatever Vernon and Petunia’s favorite music was and that’s what he’s listening to.

S: Big band standards? Glenn Miller?

C: Just to piss off Harry. Also, Vernon and Petunia are not that old. But I want to say – Draco and Harry and their kids – I was just thinking, this idea that they needed an heir so badly that they sent his wife – who is at least 3-4 years younger than them if she went to Hogwarts – back in time to bang Voldemort. And these people have kids when they’re 20 anyway – so how old was this girl when they sent her back? And how little time do they give people in the Wizarding world before they’re like, it’s time for you to start popping out little witches and wizards? They seem to reproduce at a very early age.

S: For this girl’s sake, I hope that they sent her back to when Tom Riddle was still Tom Riddle, like super hot Tom Riddle, and not evil old ugly Voldemort Tom Riddle, because if you’re going to make her go back in time to screw some random wizard, at least give her the handsome version.

C: That’s interesting. I had not considered the fact that if you’re going to go back in time decades anyway, why not go back a few more years?

S: If you’re going to send her back, the odds of her getting his attention would be better when he was young Tom Riddle, although I still don’t buy it 100 percent, but if you want to increase your odd of success let’s go back to when he was much younger. And hotter. Can we emphasize the hotter? And definitely not fully on his bent of world domination.

So Albus and Harry are arguing about going to Hogsmeade. Albus is like, “I hate Hogsmeade!” And Harry is ilike, “You’ve never been to Hogsmeade!” and Albus is like, “Screw it, I hate it anyway because you liked it!”

C: He is the worst!

S: Harry is like, “Look, I’ve been talking to McGonagall. We’re worried about you.” And Albus throws out the attitude with the magical puns. What the hell? If I talked to my parents this way I would never have gotten on that train. I would have been in so much trouble

C: You and me both. I might have gotten on that train but I wouldn’t have been able to sit down the entire time.

S: And Harry’s not being unreasonable, he’s trying to figure out what’s up with his son, but his son is like, “You’re the worst dad, you want me to be something I’m not, you don’t understand,” and he runs off to be with his true love Scorpius.

C: “You just want me to be able to do something fun! I don’t want to have fun! I want to be emo!”

S: And now he goes to find Scorpius who actually is depressed for a very valid reason – his mother died. And it’s awful! You feel so bad for poor Scorpius. It’s terrible.

So back in the Great Hall, Lily has come to school and is sorted into Gryffindor too. And Albus gets the most emo line of all emo lines to end this scene: “I didn’t choose, you know that? I didn’t choose to be his son.” GAWD.

C: Give me a fucking break.

S: Oh Albus. I want to like you so bad but I’m having such a hard time.

C: I don’t want to like him.

S: Scorpius is a delight though!

C: I greatly enjoy not liking him. Also though, having said that, I know we only see very specific portions of their friendship – we don’t see the whole picture – but there is no reason for Scorpius and Albus to be friends except for the fact that Scorpius is a Malfoy and rumors are going around, and he doesn’t have anybody else. Because if he did? Albus is awful.

S: It’s expediency. It’s because you were in the same carriage, and that’s pretty much it. Both outcasts. At least Ron and Harry – yeah, they were in the same carriage, and it was kind of expedient, but they also had mediocrity in common for a while, and insecurity, and they got along… I don’t know.

ACT 1, SCENE 5: Someone get Harry Potter a fucking intern

We are at the Ministry of Magic to see what the adults do all day. We’re in Harry’s office, and apparently Hermione goes periodically by to clean it up? Harry stumbles in all artfully bleeding from a graze on his cheek, and has just put Theodore Nott into custody, and discovered an important Plot Point, Hermione! A Time-Turner.

C: They were all destroyed – but now not only do we have another one, we have one that’s even more special and powerful.

S: Yes.

C: You know what this is like? And I say this as someone who really, really loves the movie? This is like going from the Death Star to Starkiller Base.

S: It’s bigger! Now in true Harry fashion, he wanted to try the Time Turner immediately when he found it, because of course Harry would want to do something that stupid and bold. But at least they didn’t. And Hermione is like, “No, this isn’t the same thing.”  And Harry makes a sort of we’re old and technology has advanced joke, which is kind of funny.

C: But not so far that they can do DNA tests on children, apparently!

S: What are these people doing? Come on, there aren’t that many jobs in the Wizarding world. Create some! So Hermione showed up to talk to him about Nott and also to get on to him, because in the grand tradition of giving him homework organizers that yell at him, she’s like “Why are you not keeping up with your paperwork, Harry?” Which of course he sucks at. And I’m shocked, SHOCKED to hear that the guy who constantly ditched his homework to go out and play Quidditch would be bad at paperwork. Why can’t he have a secretary? He’s Harry frickin’ Potter. Can we not get him a secretary? An intern? Something?

C: He’d probably just drag that person out on adventures.

S: That’s very very possible. Send someone he doesn’t like to be his secretary!

C: He previously had 5 secretaries, but they now all work under him in the field.

S: That’s so accurate. So Hermione has come to deliver some very important plot information that is so oddly specific to the rest of the story that there’s literally no reason to include it if it’s not going to be important later. Mountain trolls riding graphorns through Hungary, there are giants with winged tattoos on their backs walking through the Greek Seas and the werewolves have gone entirely underground.

C: This brings me to a question: how deep are the Greek Seas?

S: Not deep enough, apparently.

C: If you’re a giant and you’re walking through them, they’ve got to at least have a head above water – how deep are the Greek Seas? And how big are these damn giants?

S: Giants have got to be pretty freaking big. Hagrid said they’re not hard to find. And even Grawp who was huge was a small giant, getting picked on. So we know that they have to be huge. That also does beg the question – is that really what the Ministry does? If the giants are that big and now they’re out wandering around, people are going to see them. So I imagine that’s pretty much what the Ministry does now, which is just chasing a bunch of giants and trying to modify everyone’s memory who comes across them, because how do you stop them? You can’t. All you can do is clean up their mess.

So Hermione is the one person on top of this, saying these things mean something and we need to be on this. And then Hermione breaks my heart and ruins all my hopes and dreams about the Wizarding world, because apparently they’re off sugar. She offers him a toffee and Harry says, “We’re off sugar at the moment.” Why? You’re in the Wizarding world, why are you on a diet? That’s the best thing about the Wizarding world, all the candy and pumpkin juice and butterbeer and everything that’s terribly unhealthy for you! We need a whole branch of Wizarding medicine that can establish paternity and regulate your blood sugar.

But at least we know that Hermione is the Minister for Magic.

C: That’s the interesting thing too. Everybody has kids that are young but nobody seems to have grandparents or old relatives that I can think of. But then we also don’t ever hear of anyone dying of random illness or disease. It’s always like – murder.

S: Hey, Hermione has a secretary named Ethel!

C: She’s the Minister of Magic.

S: She’s not Harry Potter! He’s the single handed savior of the Wizarding world! He deserves a secretary!

ACT 1, SCENE 6: The bargain-bin Tonks, now with zero boundaries

S: Harry and Ginny’s house. Albus apparently can’t sleep and is hanging out at the top of the stairs. And he sees this conversation with Amos Diggory, who is now old, in a wheelchair, and has been trying to speak with Harry for a while and got tired of waiting and decided to show up at his house in the middle of the night. Very unhappy. And he’s here blaming Harry for Cedric dying, which is patently awful. I guess I hoped that by now Mr. Diggory would have understood, or at least come to accept that literally Cedric dying was not Harry’s fault.

C: Yes, Cedric dying was Voldemort’s fault because Voldemort murdered him. And that is how that works.

S: But now that word is getting out about the Time-Turner, he wants to use it to rescue Cedric. His argument is that Voldemort only killed him because he was there. He was in the wrong place, wrong time. If we went back and saved him then everything would play out the way that it did and we still get to where we are now only I get to have Cedric.

C: Amos Diggory has clearly not read any sci-fi or fantasy novels where that sort of thing always goes horribly, horribly wrong.

S: Amos Diggory has clearly not even read the original series. Because I get where he’s coming from, but saving Cedric could have implications. Cedric’s death is the motivating factor for a lot of things. If Cedric hadn’t died, would anyone have been tempted to believe Harry’s story? Dumbledore tells everyone that Voldemort is back at Cedric’s funeral. Because of Cedric, because it would be wrong not to tell what really happened. I know it’s awful that he died the way he did but he really does galvanize a lot of things into action. Without Cedric dying, you lose a lot of that. You just have crazy Harry and Dumbledore with no proof and no reason for anyone to believe what they’re saying. No one is hurt, so Harry comes back and says Voldemort’s back – there’s no weight to that story.

C: And then there’s no reason for the other kids to be so scared and so angry and to form Dumbledore’s Army, and then that changes God knows how much stuff. Bad idea all around. I feel you, Amos Diggory – but no.

S: Meantime, they’re down there arguing about this. Albus is watching Harry and Amos and up pops Delphi, who is your generic knock-off Tonks. Twenty-something and determined. And makes some kind of goofy joke about being a thief, which is supposed to endear her to us, I guess. I get that. But I cannot get past the fact that a.) this is a brand new character we have never met and b) her name is not at all significant and therefore probably trying to tell us something. Her name is Delphini Diggory, Delphi for short. When I hear the name Delphi, what do you think of?

C: The Oracle of Delphi.

S: The famous historical figure of the Oracle, that people went to get their fortunes told and foresee the future.

C: Little did they know that she was just tripping balls.

S: There’s some Oracle related stuff later in the play – we’ll go back to it when we get there. But I have a really hard time trusting characters I’ve never met before who have culturally and historically significant names! How about you?

C: Same.

S: So was she just wandering around the house?

C: That’s not something you would normally do in a stranger’s house in the middle of the night. I guess the argument for that is Amos and Harry are having a very charged conversation, and that’s probably not her business and could be uncomfortable. I guess that could be why she would wander off. But it’s still weird.

S: So Amos is her uncle, she is his caretaker at St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards. And Amos departs angrily with some insulting words for Harry, with Albus watching.

ACT 1, SCENE 7:  Your blanket is a blanket of lies

S: This line: “Albus is sitting on the bed as the world goes on outside his door.” I feel like he’s written that 100 times on his own wall.

Ginny is yelling at James, who has pink hair and is yelling about the Invisibility Cloak, and Lily’s trying to find her Potions book, and she’s got fairy fluttery wings – apparently Ron sent some gifts. Gave Lily farting gnomes, sent Albus a love potion. Ron, come on. That’s really insensitive. First of all, given your own history with love potions I would think this is a bad idea. And second of all, I feel like we need to have a discussion about what consent really means and encouraging this kind of rape culture in the Wizarding world that you feel like a love potion is an appropriate gift for a 14 year old kid. We need to talk, Ron.

So here again is a scene that is interesting. And clearly not at all significant to the plot! So Harry comes in and wanted to give Albus a present. He gave James the cloak. Can I say James seems like a douchey bro? Which is disappointing.

C: He seems like Harry’s dad, frankly.

S: He gives Lily fairy wings. And he gives Albus a blanket. Which is the blanket, apparently, he was wrapped in when Dumbledore left him on the Dursley’s doorstep. And just a couple of things I find strange, and maybe my assessment of the characters is a little bit harsh – he says that he didn’t think it existed, Dudley found it when Petunia died and sent it to Harry. He says that any time since then when he’s wanted luck he holds it. He thinks Petunia wanted him to have it and that’s why she kept it.

Bullshit, Harry. I’m sorry, that is some bullshit.

Petunia would never have kept that blanket. Petunia would have thrown it out. Because it would have been covered in germs and she’s not going to bring a raggedy nasty thing like that into her house, especially not something associated with wizardry. She had to take you because you were alive. The blanket and everything attached to you was not. I have no doubt that she burned it in the fireplace.

C: I guess there’s a part of me that would like to think something nice like that. I don’t know if we’ve made this clear yet – you have reread the books many many times. And I have reread the first one several times, but haven’t re-read the (7:37) rest until a couple of months ago when I reread the first two. So I don’t remember very much. I’d like to think, but I don’t think Petunia would have kept it. It’s a nice thought, it appeals to all of us.

S: But this is where it starts to feel like fanfiction to me again. It’s wish fulfillment. It’s like, “Well, we would really like Petunia to be a better character than she was. And so after the fact we say she kept this thing that she wanted Harry to have.” But I don’t buy that for a second. There were so many opportunities in the original series where Petunia has an opportunity to show some humanity and feeling towards Harry – any feeling. She never does. Never. And I’m sorry, I do not buy that she had some secret little corner of her soul that was harboring some kind of hidden affection or duty for Harry. Whatever duty she felt toward Harry and her sister, she fulfilled by taking him in and feeding him. To her, that was her fulfilling her duty. There was nothing beyond that. And I do not buy this plotline with the blanket. I will go with it for the purposes of this play. But I feel like it’s fanfic-y.

C: Is she maybe just the Muggle version of Snape, though?

S: Ehhhh…..no. More on that later.

The other thing is I look at this scene and I’m thinking, “Oh, Harry, NO.” I understand his heart’s in the right place, he’s trying to give his son something heartfelt so that he will feel his affection coming through this gift, but he could not have picked a worse thing to give his son. Harry, your son is pushing back against you – has been for the past few years. Doesn’t like the fact that you’re famous. Is trying to distance himself from you and your legacy. And as a going away gift on his fourth year, you give him a present that is LITERALLY ALL ABOUT YOU. You’re like, “Son, I understand that we have some issues between us, and you’re struggling to come to terms with who I am. So let me give you a blanket that is a symbol of my entrance into this epic story that is my life.”

It’s such a miss. And that’s a good thing. Parents do this. I buy this moment. Harry’s trying so hard to connect with his kid and he’s trying to do something that would mean something to him, because if his parents had been around to give him something that was significant to them as a kid that would have meant the world to him. So he’s like, “Yes, this is the sort of thing my son will appreciate” because HE would appreciate it. But he’s completely missed what’s going on with his son, and what he’s just given his son is even more like adding insult to injury. It’s the worst possible choice!

And this is good writing. It’s symbolic of the problem that Harry and Albus are having. They’re not connecting.

C: It’s hard to imagine very many situations where a blanket is the right choice to give to a 14-year-old boy. And if Albus was not an emo 14 year old – maybe years later he’s going to look back on that moment and really feel bad. He’s going to look back on that moment when he has kids of his own and feel terrible for his father.

S: I understand Harry losing his temper here: “I’m done being the bad guy, done being responsible for everything wrong in your life, all your unhappiness. I’m trying to be here for you bc I didn’t have that.” Albus: “You think that was unlucky? I don’t.” Harry: “You wish that I was dead?” Albus: “No! I just wish you weren’t my dad.” And Harry says “Well, there are times when I wish you weren’t my son!”

I had such a hard time with that line because that hurt. Maybe that makes it a good line. I struggled to buy that Harry would say this, even if he lost his temper – family and kids and being a dad was so important to him. And maybe that’s why he says this, loses his temper and something like this is so major. I just had a hard time seeing Harry saying something this hurtful. Reading it again now, I think maybe I can buy it. Maybe it’s just that disconnect.

C: As we know now that we are older, our parents are not just our parents. Our parents are people who had lives before we came along, have identities completely separate from us. I think kids really should be your focus and the center of your world but they’re not the entirety of your world, and if they are you’re probably an obsessive helicopter parent who’s not doing your child much good. So Albus said the one thing that would get Harry to respond in that way. To mock and belittle his parents – that would be the thing that would make Harry just snap. So Harry’s an adult, he should know better, he’s got to be more mature than the child he’s having an issue with, but he’s also not perfect. So I get it.

S: So then he leaves, Albus throws the blanket at him, which hits Ron’s love potion, which spills all over everything, Albus runs out of the room, and Harry runs after him.

STAY TUNED: THE REST OF ACT 1 IS SOON TO FOLLOW!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lin says:

    Lovely points. I agree with all of this and I always thought it was sad that Ginny got one person in the six possible names for their kids. I understand wanting to honor his parents but that left four other names that they could have chosen together.

    Like

    1. Agreed!

      I remember reading that J.K. Rowling had originally planned to elaborate much further on a subplot involving Molly Weasley’s brothers, Gideon and Fabian Prewett, one of whom owned the watch that she gives Harry as a coming-of-age gift. Apparently she had planned to cover their backstory, as fierce fighters, who died at the hands of Death Eaters, and who meant a great deal to Molly.

      Feels like Gideon or Fabian would have been a great Ginny name choice! Or heck, why not Fred?

      Like

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