In Act II of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we discuss: psychosexual hangups, Hogwarts the Failed Security State, first name issues, maudlin staircases, Scorpius Malfoy as Final Girl, when bad sexism happens to good characters, the inevitable Cursed Child porn parody in one scene, and our plans for Voldemort Day.
(And hey — I know it’s long, but consider it a gift to help you through a long Thanksgiving weekend.)
S: All right, welcome back to Advanced Muggle Studies, where we now attempt to find a small glimmer of hope in Act 2 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I am Professor Seraphine.
C: And I am Professor Creed. And I remembered my name.
S: Before we get started, I did see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last night, and I’m thinking we need to do a mini-episode on it once you see it.
C: I’ll go sometime this week!
S: Before we get started, shout out to people commenting and responding to what we’ve put up so far. Special shout out to St. Ridley Santos, who opened their soul and told me about their HP fanfiction from back in the day. I hope you will all join with me in begging – please let us read it. And we’ve gotten lots of great comments, mostly about how Albus is the worst!
C: He is.
S: Here we go!
Act 2, Scene 1: Psychosexual Dumbening
S: Again with Harry’s dreams. Harry’s dreams used to be so interesting. Whenever he dreamed in the original series it was fascinating. This is less so. Harry is dreaming he is back on Privet Drive, in the cupboard under the stairs, and Aunt Petunia is yelling at him for not cleaning pots correctly. Harry is not a very good Potter, apparently.
AAAAAAA. Bad joke.
Aunt Petunia tells him when they took him in they hoped they could build him into a decent human being, and that instead he’s turned into a limp disappointment.
C: All I could think when I read that was limp dick.
S: Me too. I was thinking, “Harry, are we having a psychosexual sort of crisis here? A little Freudian?” And so, he gets out of bed and he has wet the bed, had a nightmare – this does feel very Freudian! Petunia telling him he’s disgusting, and only animals and disgusting little boys wet themselves. It feels like the start to an episode of Law and Order: Special Wizards Unit.
C: I feel like Dudley wet the bed until he was 10.
S: And then Harry remembers Voldemort using Avada Kedavra on his parents, a snake hissing, his mom screaming, which is out of canon, and Petunia reiterates the car crash idea. And in the very last thing, his dream twists to seeing Albus, and then again with ominously hissing Parseltongue and Voldemort. And that’s about it. Anything jump out at you, other than the weird dynamic?
C: I think all kids wet the bed some time or other, and Petunia is awful. And would NOT have kept that scrap of a blanket.
S: Thank you!
Act 2, Scene 2: Why bother?
S: Harry wakes up, lights his wand and realizes he’s dreaming of Voldemort. Says he sees Albus wearing Durmstrang robes in his dream, and thinks he knows where he is.
C: How did he know Albus was in the Forbidden Forest?
S: Well, let’s go back and look at the stage directions. At the end of Scene 1, it says the “stage contorts and trees rise as the dream twists into something else entirely.” So, he saw him in trees and Durmstrang robes.
Act 2, Scene 3: Maybe they got on first name terms hanging out with Invisible Neville
S: Now Harry and Ginny are In Professor McGonagall’s office, saying, “We need to search.” And Professor McGonagall teases us, saying, “I can give you Professor Longbottom’s help.” And then we never see Neville! Why? I hate you people! Stop teasing me.
C: Show us hot Neville, dammit!
S: Hermione comes tumbling out of the chimney, then comes Ron, who couldn’t work out which Floo network to travel through – and then there’s Draco! It’s a frickin family reunion in here, I love it! Although, poor Professor McGonagall. I love her line: “I daresay it’s my fault for owning a chimney,” that you people just come tumbling into my office.
C: I think it’s very weird that Draco calls her Minerva.
S: I’m glad you brought this up! In the original series, more often than not, if you’re not close friends, people referred to each other by last names. The number of times Harry called Draco “Draco” – he more often called him Malfoy, and Malfoy called Harry “Potter.” And now even Professor McGonagall refers to the kids by their first name. Maybe it’s meant to indicate that a dynamic has shifted, they’re all adults now?
C: I still live in our hometown, so I come into contact with adults we knew as children – family friends, our teachers. I don’t call them by their first names.
S: And there’s an out here – just use Professor. A lot of times they’d use that. Seems more likely than Draco being on first name terms with Professor McGonagall.
C: He and McGonagall were not very close as student and teacher.
S: We don’t know what’s happened in the years since, but I struggle to imagine a plotline where they became close friends. So thanks to Ginny pushing out a special edition of the Daily Prophet, everyone knows the kids are missing, and I guess they sent Draco a message about the dream – he says he trusts Harry’s luck, that Harry is always where the action is and he needs to get his son back.
I guess, Draco. I guess.
So, they’re going into the Forbidden Forest.
C: DUN DUN DUN.
Act 2, Scene 4: The Forbidden Forest has cooties
S; Edge of the Forbidden Forest! We have Albus and Delphi practicing disarming each other, and stage directions: “Scorpius appears at the back of the stage. He looks at his friend talking to a girl, and part of him likes it, and part of him doesn’t.”
I know which part of you doesn’t, Scorpius. I think we all do.
C: You beat me to the joke!
S: This may be irrelevant. When I was talking to my husband about the play, one of the questions he asked me was whether or not the authors were gay. At first, I was like, “That’s kind of irrelevant.” And then he said, maybe it is, but he felt like the dynamics surrounding the heterosexual relationships were kind of off, and the dynamics around the same sex relationships felt better and stronger. He wondered if that had something to do with it. What do you think?
C: First of all, it never occurred to me to ask that question.
S: Me either, and I don’t know what it was that made him think that. Something in the plot lines, it struck him that way. It’s an odd comment to make.
C: I don’t know what the answer is.
S: There’s always discussion about how an author’s own personal identity informs their work. There are some male authors, ahem, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer, who have no idea how to write women.
C: Can we have a separate podcast where we bitch about white middle aged straight literary fiction novelists?
S: We should. So sometimes it comes through more clearly than others, you can tell that an author is male, or female…. I don’t know.
C: It’s an interesting question, but I don’t know.
S: Well, we at least know that Scorpius is upset because Albus is his one true love, and they’re going to ride off into the sunset together.
C: Okay, that leads me to an interesting question. I would tend to say that when it comes to fan fiction and slash fiction, the majority probably – this is my own impression – of people who write, read and enjoy it is women writing and reading about male characters. And if you ever look at the gay/lesbian section of books on Amazon, the Kindle books, how they sell – the percentage of gay male fiction vs. lesbian fiction is off the charts. Tons of M/M romance that sells. Not that lesbian fiction doesn’t, but one of them greatly outsells the other. So the fact that you and I read this, and I immediately think “They’re totally gay” – did you have that impression?
S: I did.
C: Is it a girl thing? Do we just see that and it’s not there?
S: I think part of it is recognizing a weakness in the writing. The friendship between Albus and Scorpius is very strong, and it comes through. Have they given us valid reason why that should be true? Not really. But that’s beside the point. Albus and Scorpius’s closeness comes through in a genuine way. Which is problematic, because the rest of the relationships in the play don’t feel very real or strong, even the ones that are supposed to. A lot of that may be down to the difference between reading and seeing a performance. But I think part of that is us picking up on the fact that this relationship is way stronger than anything else we’re reading, so it feels more intense as a result.
But, you know, I don’t know! Sometimes I wonder if it’s reading into things or picking up on undertones. I never got that vibe from any of the friends in the original series, really – this is different. And I’m not sure why it’s different. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on what we’re struggling with here. We may be missing something huge or coming from the wrong place. I would love to hear more perspectives. Because I don’t think we’re imagining things. I get the sense that a lot of people read this and thought, “Huh…”
C: What did your husband think? Did he think they seemed like platonic friends?
S: Like I said – he didn’t read it. I basically summarized the play for him, with commentary, because it’s me. But I didn’t say anything to him – make any jokes at all – about Albus and Scorpius being gay. I completely left that out. So him coming out with that comment, asking if they authors were gay, it felt like it came out of nowhere. And his response was like, from what you’ve told me, from the plot – it feels different. He got a vibe that it felt very different to him that the dynamic had changed.
And maybe it’s just switching from a female to a male author!
C: I don’t know. We’re super insightful tonight.
S: Scene 4 got a lot more interesting, right?
Anyway, back in the forest, Delphi is getting a lot more chummy with them – “We’re friends, aren’t we?” Everybody’s happy, they’ve learned to Expelliarmus each other. So Albus has decided what the plan is: if they’re going to save Cedric, they have to stop him from getting the trophy. So he thinks we need to mess up his chances in the first task. If he screws up really badly, he won’t be in the running to win. Which I thought was goofy – if you really want to stop him dying in the Triwizard Tournament, don’t you just go stop him from entering?
C: That would make more sense, yeah.
S: I don’t know how you would do that… but it seems the thing that would work… Apparently Albus and Dephi are hitting it off. And they remember how Cedric won – he Transfigured a stone into a dog to distract the dragon, and then went for the egg. Their idea is to Disarm him – take his wand at the beginning of the task so he won’t be able to transfigure the dog, and then what? He’s gonna get eaten if you do that!
And Delphi says, “This is Hogwarts! They won’t let damage happen to any of the champions.” NO! That is categorically not true! Because everyone has said, all through the original Book 4, that people die in this tournament! That’s a thing that is accepted to happen!
C: What I don’t understand about this is: let’s say she’s right, no one will die. How do they have this set up where some random in the stands can point, say “Expelliarmus,” and he loses his wand? Don’t you think that Malfoy would have done that to Harry during every task?
S: Once again, we return to the issue of Hogwarts – A Failed Security State. Why would you not have, for example, some kind of boundary set up around the arena in which the contestants are participating? You have a fucking dragon in there. If the dragon, like he did in the stupid Goblet of Fire movie, decides to get loose and start flying around – oh, look, you’ve now endangered everyone who was watching! So put up some kind of force field that stops people from, say, taking other people’s wands in the middle of a task, stops the dragon from flying out, stops things from getting in. This seems to me like a very basic security measure.
C: That’s true, but at the same time they don’t do any of that for Quidditch matches.
S: Yeah, but there are no fire-breathing animals that are going to eat you!
C: But they seem to have the same mindset – you’ve got an actual freaking Professor trying to knock Harry off his broom by cursing him, and nobody does anything.
S: Yeah, it’s like once you’re out in a field in some competition, all bets are off, nobody is going to help you, because apparently the Wizarding world prizes competition to the death over anything else. I guess they figure, we have magic, if your face gets burned off, we can fix it.
C: Maybe that’s why the Wizarding community is so small compared to the Muggle community.
S: Because they’re constantly dying from stupidity?
S; The entire Wizarding community, or half of it, is too stupid to live! This is bad! Scorpius once again has the only common sense and is raising some objections. “First of all, are we sure the dragon won’t kill him?” Delphi: “Hogwarts won’t do that!” Scorpius: “Okay. We’re going back and don’t know how we get back to our time afterwards. Maybe we should test this first?” Delphi: “No, I’m sorry, Scorpius, we don’t have any time to waste. We have a Time-Turner, which means we … literally…. Have time to waste… but we don’t have time.”
C: You put it so well.
S: Poor Scorpius, he’s trying! Of all people, he would be the Final Girl in this story. So now Delphi has Durmstrang robes, a convenient thing she has conveniently –
C: She just happens to have these things on her!
S: She keeps writing it off as her uncle’s idea – “Oh, it was my uncle’s idea to use Veritaserum on that Ministry official! That totally explains why I had it, why we used it, and where I got it!” Did your uncle happen to have Durmstrang robes lying around the house? Sized for two adolescent boys? Because if so, what does your uncle do on his off time?
C: Oh… we might not want to know.
S: These are questions we should be asking. No one is asking them. So the plan is to wear the Durmstrang robes, fade into the scenery, and Delphi feels like she’s too old to play a student so she’ll hang out elsewhere.
C: Too old to pretend to be a student – you’re 17 or 18 when you graduate – and neither of these boys think, “Man, is it weird that this mid-20s chick is hanging out with us?
S: No! BOOBS! She’s cute, and she likes me!
C: Before we move on – the fact that the can suddenly do Expelliarmus now, is not because she is some kind of great teacher, it’s because he is not moping around feeling sorry for himself like he’s the center of attention.
S: The pressure’s off. And his emo-ness has calmed down since they defeated the Trolley Witch in the epic Battle of the Hogwarts Express.
Now, when I read this scene where Delphi talks them out of leaving her – it feels like she’s faking. “I’m going to pretend that this idea I’ve put in your head is your idea, and when you propose it, I’m going to say, ‘No, we can’t do that!’ knowing perfectly well I’m going to give in.”
C: You mean she doth protest too much?
S: Yes. “He’s my cousin! You can’t work the Time Turner! You can’t go without me?” “No, we’re going to go without you!” “Okay.” And she walks away into the woods.
C: But first she kisses Albus –
S: On BOTH cheeks! That’s, like, half a base. Yeah, Albus gets two kisses, Scorpius is like, I didn’t get any.
C: You don’t want kisses from Delphi, Scorpius.
Act 2, Scene 5: But I thought we were friends?
S: We now are back with the adults. Harry in the forest, and here comes Bane the centaur, who recognizes Harry immediately. Harry tries to remind them that they’re friends. Bane: “We were friends for expediency’s sake, and because Hagrid challenged our honor. Other than that, we weren’t really fighting for you, and if you’re on our land, you’re trespassing.” I like how Bane is so straight to the point.
C: Makes me miss the one who was actually nice to them.
S: Firenze! So here’s the greatest setup ever. Harry tells Bane his son is missing. Bane: “He’s here? In the forest?” Harry: “Yes.” Bane: “Then he is as stupid as you are.”
C: Which, little does he know, is actually 100% correct.
S: So Bane tells him that he’s seen his son in the stars, but can’t tell you where he is or how to find him – but there’s a black cloud around him!
C: Very helpful.
Act 2, Scene 6: The Forbidden Forest, now with more Edge
S: Scorpius and Albus are on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Interesting what Scorpius says, talking about how desperate he was to go to Hogwarts and “have a mate to get up to mayhem with, just like Harry Potter.” Draco, if your son idolizes Harry Potter, you’ve failed somehow. So Scorpius reminds us why he is the best character.
C: Emo-ass Albus: “And then you got there, and it turned out to be terrible after all.”
S: Scorpius: “It’s not, and I’ve had a much worse year than you have.”
C: Stop projecting your bullshit onto everyone else, Albus, God.
S: Now Ron is getting close to them, so they use the Time Turner immediately, and get the hell out of there.
Act 2, Scene 7: Can Oliver Wood compete against Delicious Diggors?
S: We arrive to the sound of Ludo Bagman.
C: I’d forgotten he existed.
S: This “give me a cheer thing,” happens over and over again.
C: Slightly less enthusiastic from the French! Feels accurate.
S: So many things that are not what Ludo said. He wasn’t giving them random nicknames for one thing—
C: Speaking of the boys in this play being gay – Ludo Bagman calling him “Delicious Diggory” – okay, Ludo, you are a grown-ass man, you are overstepping your bounds a little bit there.
S: Yeah! I’m starting to worry about this play. And Harry Plucky Potter. That’s what we’re going with? Okay, the first task. Shout out to Charlie Weasley.
Scorpius and Albus are standing next to actual Hermione, who thinks they’re mouth-breathing Durmstrangs. Cedric comes out to face his Swedish Short-Snout. “Don’t damage our Diggory, Mr. Dragon!” Ludo has gotten considerably less good at his job since we saw him last.
So the Time Turner starts ticking, like it’s counting down to something, and Albus has to act fast. So he summons Cedric’s wand, and Ludo Bagman says, “It’s all wrong for Diggors!” Oh my God, Bagman has a crush on Diggory.
C: We are talking about the dreamy R-Patz. But give me Oliver Wood any day.
S: Oliver Wood. Yes. So the Time Turner ticks louder and louder, and then they’re back, so it seems it has a time limit. You can only go back for so long before you’re shot forward again. Useful device for this particular plot. And just in time, they are surrounded by Harry, Ron, Ginny and Draco. And Albus is the biggest dick I have ever met: “Hello, Dad. Is something wrong?”
Albus, go jump in a lake. Go kiss a grindylow. You ass, Albus! You’re standing in the middle of the Forbidden Forest, your parents and everyone is out looking for you, and you say, “Is something wrong?” He is the worst!
C: The worst.
Act 2, Scene 8: Does that make Dumbledore Yoda?
S: Hospital wing. Albus is in a hospital bed, Harry is pacing, and he notices who is in the portrait above Albus’s head and it’s Dumbledore. What did you think about this scene?
C: It reminded me – he says, “You ask me of all people how to protect a boy in terrible danger. We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.” And Harry says, “So I’m supposed to stand and watch?” And this will not surprise you that this reminded me of Star Wars, the scene in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin goes to Yoda and is telling him, not all of the details of his vision, but somebody he cares about dying. And Yoda basically tells him to suck it up, buttercup. And it’s totally the wrong advice. I get it, I understand it, and it’s true – but it’s not delivered the ideal way or at the ideal time.
S: I do appreciate that Dumbledore is at least very honest: “Candidly, naming your son after me is a lot of pressure.” And he points out, “You’re not seeing him as he is. You’re seeing the son you want to have, not what’s actually happening with Albus.” And I really do like this line from Dumbledore: “Ah, really, what does my opinion matter anymore? I am paint and memory, Harry. Paint and memory. And I never had a son.” That was very Dumbledore. It’ was nice to have that little touch. At least the characterization was on point.
So Albus wakes up, and Harry’s got to tell Albus something. Asks him where they went. And Albus makes up this ridiculous story, saying they decided they wanted to start over in the Muggle world – in Durmstrang robes –
C: In the Forbidden Forest –
S: Because that’s where you go to run to the Muggle world! And Harry tells Albus to stay away from Scorpius. He’s fixated on this ‘black cloud’ that Bane told him is hanging around his son, and he thinks it might be connected to this Dark Magic resurgence. (There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?) And he needs to keep Albus safe. Albus: “If I don’t?” Harry: “I’m giving McGonagall the Marauder’s Map to watch you, and if she sees you doing something not approved, you’re busted.”
C: Professor McGonagall doesn’t have other things to do with her time. She’s just going to watch Albus Potter on a map.
S: Then he tells him that between lessons he will stay in the Gryffindor common room, which — he’s a Slytherin! No one is going to let him in the Gryffindor common room.
C: DUN DUN DUN.
S: Albus is like, wait. Something’s off. I’m in Slytherin. Harry says, don’t play games, you know what house you are. So in this reality, since he’s changed Cedric’s outcome, he’s a Gryffindor. So now we have to figure out what else has changed.
Act 2 Scene 9: Heartbreak Hogwarts
S: Albus is threatening to run. Ron shows up. Albus is grateful: “If we ever needed jokes, now’s the time!” Ron: “I don’t do jokes, what are you talking about?” Ron doesn’t work at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and he’s married to Padma Patil.
C: He’s turned into Percy, basically.
S: Henpecked husband, really. And he talks about his son, Panju. Albus is trying to tell him, “You’re married to Hermione!” Ron: “Noooo I’m not. And when you were Sorted, Panju bet you that you couldn’t get into Gryffindor if your life depended on it and you chose Gryffindor to spite him.”
C: I think that’s interesting, because my argument from last time was Albus deliberately chose Slytherin.
S: You know, it lends much more credence to your theory. In this reality, he chose Gryffindor to spite people who thought he couldn’t do it.
So then they pass Scorpius, and Albus is like, “We’re better off not friends, that’s it, we’re done.”
C: Can I just say there’s a lot of heartbreak going on for two straight guys?
Act 2, Scene 10: Actually, Harry is just full of shit
S: Professor McGonagall is full of unhappiness, Harry is full of purpose, Ginny is not sure what she’s supposed to be. Harry is handing over the Map. McGonagall: “I’m not sure this is what this was intended for.” Well, Professor, it was intended so that four young men could sneak in and around the castle whenever they felt like it. The original intentions weren’t necessarily noble.
C: Okay, Harry in this scene is weird. Scorpius and Albus seem to think that Harry hasn’t changed at all, but this Harry seems like a dick.
S: This Harry is a little more authoritarian, a lot less willing to listen to anyone.
C: Maybe they haven’t changed, which doesn’t make sense – but I don’t think this is the Earth-616 Harry.
S: I don’t think so either. He shuts Ginny down, snapping, not listening. McGonagall tells him not to take the portrait too seriously: “I was advised when I took this job not to mistake the painting for the person, and you’d be well advised to do the same.” But Harry’s being an ass – he even Goes There: “With the greatest respect, Minerva, you don’t have children. You don’t understand.”
C: And that doesn’t make sense. He was practically begging Dumbledore to tell him what to do, and Dumbledore pointed out, “Well, I don’t have a son.”
S: And then he turns around and throws that at McGonagall, who has spent her entire life teaching children, as did Dumbledore. This is a different Harry – the last thing he says is to threaten Hogwarts with the full force of the Ministry.
C: That’s very Malfoy-ian.
S; That is not Harry as we know him.
C: And that’s why McGonagall is bewildered by it.
Act 2, Scene 11: Turn to page 394. Honestly, am I the only one who has read Hogwarts: A History?
S: Albus goes into Defense Against the Dark Arts to find Professor Granger. And what is this response here? Albus: “What are you doing here?” Hermione: “Teaching. For my sins.”
C: I don’t know how literally we’re supposed to take that, if she thinks in some way she’s being punished, or if it’s an off the cuff remark, because being stuck at Hogwarts is being punished in some way.
S: It’s like they’ve tried to turn Hermione into Snape. She picks on Albus, takes points from Gryffindor, makes fun of his limited popularity, tells the class they’re disappointing.
C: I don’t know if we want to get in the background of this right now, but I don’t think it makes sense for her to be this way, regardless of the difference between this version and the real reality.
S: We’ll get back to it. Rose doesn’t exist, because Hermione isn’t married to Ron, and Hermione starts talking about Patronuses, and it’s very unsettling. And I imagine that would be part of the fun of this play too, would be seeing the actors play the character differently. That might have been one of the things that made this play worth seeing.
Act 2, Scene 12: As The Staircase Turns
S: Albus is going up staircases, they’re missing each other, passing each other, and finally the staircases they’re on meet – “lost and hopeful, all at once. Then Albus looks away, and the moment is broken, and with it, possibly the friendship.” I try to be sensitive to this relationship, but I feel like we should cue the sad violins in the back and start the rain.
C: I don’t know what direction to take my jokes.
S: Any joke is going to be inappropriate!
C: Let’s just say that it is cheesy, and it seems more suited to – actually, you know what I think it would be great in? Ever see the movie Soap Dish? You should see it. It’s got Sally Field in it. It’s a movie about soap opera actors. In the movie, they all are on this one soap opera, and it’s hysterical. It may not be quite as good if you didn’t grow up on soap operas, but that is a scene straight out of soap operas, when you have these two characters who can’t be together for a stupid, made up reason, giving each other “smell the fart” acting looks, and I want a crescendo of moody 80s music to swell up –
S: And lots of zoomed in shots of their eyes, and trembling lips –
C: Yes! Exactly. You always know what I go for.
Act 2, Scene 13: Might as well be a pillow fight
S: Back at Harry and Ginny’s, they’re facing off in the kitchen and Ginny is ready to knock Harry’s head off his shoulders. Harry: “This is the right decision.” Which is the thing people always do when they’ve made the right decision – they feel the need to defend it, with no one asking. “I did the right thing!” And I truly love this line from Ginny. Harry says, “You told me to be honest with him, but actually, I needed to be honest with myself and trust what my heart was telling me.” Ginny: “Harry, you have one of the greatest hearts of any wizard who ever lived, and I do not believe your heart told you to do this.” Love that line. Very in-character, that is absolutely the sort of thing she would say.
C: That’s what I like about Ginny, even though we don’t get enough of her in that role – she is not going to take any of Harry’s bullshit without pushing back.
S: And I love that about her. Harry can try and smokescreen her all he wants, she’s not going to fall for it. So Draco shows up, and now Draco is here to ask why Harry is not letting the two lovers be together! Scorpius is at home crying! And who are you to stand in the way of true love, Harry Potter? WHO ARE YOU?
C: I love how progressive Draco is.
S: Harry has gone full Malfoy at this point, and tells Draco: “Bane told me he senses a darkness around my son. NEAR my son.” Draco: “What are you implying, Potter!” Harry drop the mic: “Are you sure he’s really yours, Draco?” OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PATERNITY BURN. It’s on. Out come the wands, in a significant symbol of a dick measuring contest! And I enjoy this. Harry: “I don’t want to hurt you, Draco.” Draco: “How interesting. Because I do want to hurt you.”
C: I wish honestly that Draco would have just punched him.
S: Right? Come on, Draco, haul off and punch this version of Harry, who is a jackass.
C: Because Harry knows that’s bullshit, that it couldn’t possibly be true.
S: So these two start dueling, and clearly they don’t want to hurt each other, because if you look at the spells they’re using?
C: Isn’t Rictusempra the one he used that made him bleed so much?
S: No, that was Sectumsempra. Rictusempra shows up in, I think, Chamber of Secrets, and it’s a Tickling Curse. Densaugeo is the spell that made Hermione’s teeth grow overly long. Tarantallegra makes you dance uncontrollably. Incarcerous – would have put ropes around Harry.
C: Brachiobendo – that would turn you into a Brachiosaurus.
S: Flipendo is totally new, just Harry flipping through the year. And then Brachiobendo, binding Draco, who uses Emancipare to let himself out. And then Levicorpus, Mobilicorpus – they’re just lifting Harry in the air and dropping him. And then Harry puts a blindfold on Draco, which, Harry, if this is what you were going for the whole time all you had to do was ask. You don’t have to play coy.
They do not want to hurt each other, or they are reverting to two 12-year-olds throwing basic spells at each other to just piss each other off.
C: I would be curious to see how this played on stage. From what I remember of the movies, no matter what they said a bolt of light hit you and blasted you.
S: Because the movies were terribly inconsistent in portraying the magic. Snape disarms Lockhart in Chamber using Expelliarmus, and Lockhart is just blasted across the room, which makes no sense. So yeah, I would be curious – but the way they get around it is most of the spells miss. So the ones they could do with wire work, they did. And Ginny comes back in, and is like, “Okay, what did I miss? Oh, right. My husband being a giant man-baby.”
Act 2, Scene 14: Flurry goes skewwiff
S: Back in the saddest place in the world: The Hogwarts staircases.
C: I can hear the sad saxophone solo in the background.
S: I’m picturing it in monochrome, dull, single color, no hope or joy left in the world. These staircases…it’s like we never get off them… we just keep going and going… we never get anywhere… it’s like life, you know? I should have written this.
So Delphi shows up. “Technically I shouldn’t be here.” NO SHIT. She goes on. “I’ve never been here, they have pretty lax security.” Can’t believe I’m saying it, but yes, Delphi, I agree with you on something – there is TERRIBLE security at Hogwarts.
C: Actually, she has been to Hogwarts, because she stole the Polyjuice ingredients.
S: Yes, so she’s lying to Scorpius. And Delphi didn’t go to Hogwarts because she was “unwell.” So Albus sent her an owl – history books changed, but not enough. Cedric still died, because failing at task 1 made him more determined to succeed at task 2. And Ron and Hermione have gone – what is this word – skewwiff?
C: I’ve never heard that. Don’t know if it’s a real Britishism or what.
S: So we’ve got a little of Delphi’s backstory. And we know that Delphi is saying that Cedric has to wait – we have to fix Albus and Scorpius. Because Delphi is Cupid, I guess. She didn’t have a best friend. She had an imaginary one. And Scorpius had one too! Flurry! They fell out over the correct rules of Gobstones. And now I have a wonderful mental image of a little Scorpius arguing with nothing over how to play Gobstones right.
Delphi: “Albus needs you. You belong together.”
C: Know what I’m picturing here? Love Actually. In Love Actually when the little boy sprints through the airport to get to that chick, that is what I feel like should happen after Delphi says, “Find him, Scorpius. You two – you belong together.” We should just have a montage of him racing down the staircases looking for Albus.
S: And now the staircases are happy staircases!
C: It’s perfect! Why isn’t this a romantic comedy?
S: Maybe it is.
Act 2, Scene 15: Draco, Dr. Phil fan
S: Back in Harry and Ginny’s kitchen, which is the most happening place, Ginny got between Harry and Draco finally. And Draco opens up and vents about his family, how he can’t talk to his son since his wife died, and saying it’s about the fact that they can’t talk to their kids. How do you feel about this confession Draco throws out, that he always envied Harry having friends like Hermione and Ron? Because Crabbe and Goyle were idiots–
C: Wouldn’t be surprised if it were actually true, but don’t think it’s something he would ever admit out loud. And if he did, it would be 20 years from now long after they’ve been friends, if they became friends. Not something that would come out in this situation, right here, right now. And he would not phrase it as “You shone, you know?” We’re back to our soap opera dialogue.
S: I agree. I don’t see Draco making this confession in a situation where he is still angry — and if he is the kind of person who in this situation can be emotionally open and vulnerable, and share his feelings, then he is not Draco Malfoy anymore. Now this is alternate universe Draco Malfoy, so maybe he’s really grown, but again, we’re in the situation of the Slytherins in this play being better than everyone else.
C: True. It’s weird.
S: I like the observation that Ginny says, I envied them too, but I don’t know about that either! Because Ginny did have her own friends. She had her own life at Hogwarts. I feel if we reduce Draco and Ginny and all these others to “oh, we always envied you!” then you are just trying to re-center this world where everything is about Harry, Ron and Hermione, and that wasn’t always the case! In fact, that’s a lot of what Harry liked about Ginny – she had her own life and friends, and it wasn’t until Harry realized that he liked her that he was like, “Hey, she doesn’t hang out with us, I gotta fix that.” You know?
C: I’m sure she always carried a torch for him throughout those years, but she dated other guys. She had friends in her own year. She didn’t sit around staring and mooning at them. Ginny was popular. That being said, to our knowledge, she didn’t have a particular best friend like Harry, Ron and Hermione, and they are unique in that way because most people, if you have a best friend, only have 1, and frequently the person you see as your best friend doesn’t feel the same way about you. I do think it is very unique to have 3 people who get along so well. And for the most part, though, Hermione and Ron had their unspoken crap going on for several years, it didn’t very often get in the way of their friendship.
S: Yes, because fortunately for all of our sanities, JK Rowling did not make the three a love triangle. So by the time that sort of thing happened, Harry is like, “Yeah, I kind of always wondered when this would happen.” It doesn’t really interfere with how they operate as friends.
And then Draco brings up Tom Riddle. “Being alone is hard. I was alone for a long time and it sent me to a truly dark place. Tom Riddle was also a lonely child. You may not understand that, Harry, but I do, and I think Ginny does too.”
C: Okay, hold on. Pump the brakes. I’m pretty sure that Harry Potter, who lived in a cupboard for 10 of the first 11 years of his life, understands what it’s like to be alone.
S: Yes. And I find it weirder that Draco is lecturing Harry about Tom Riddle.
C: Is this one of those things that everybody knows now? Because most people didn’t, and that’s why they still had the Tom Riddle trophy in Hogwarts – because very few people knew that Tom Riddle was Voldemort. But now all of a sudden everybody knows?
S: And not only that, but they all know all the backstory and history? Did Harry sit down and write a tell-all book? Harry has a lot of information no one else had. He shared it with Ron and Hermione, but that’s it. I feel like this world assumes that everyone knows everything that happened in the previous series, while simultaneously ignoring everything that happened in the previous series.
C: It reminds me – back to Star Wars again, because that’s what I do. The old version of the Expanded Universe that came after Return of the Jedi – at a certain point all the characters in universe knew that Luke and Leia were twins and that Darth Vader was their father, and it was fine. It was not a problem. And I always thought that was very odd. And thankfully now that they have done away with that and are planning things in a more structured way, people know that Luke and Leia are brother and sister, and that their parents were Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, but people did not know that Anakin Skywalker was Darth Vader. And when that comes out in one of the books set a few years before The Force Awakens, it is a huge bomb. It costs Leia her position in the Senate, and probably is one of the things that drives Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren, because they kept the truth from him his entire life. So everybody just automatically knowing that Tom Riddle was Voldemort doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
S: And seeming to know so much about Tom Riddle. I just have a hard time believing that Harry would have shared so very much after all of this. Maybe he would have, maybe I’m wrong.
C: I can’t see him sitting down and giving an interview or writing a book –
S: Because it’s more unwanted publicity.
C: Yeah, it’s weird.
S: After Draco’s speech, they get the Floo powder and – are going to talk to the kids at Hogwarts.
Act 2, Scene 16: Awkward fumbling in a sexist timeline
S: Albus and Scorpius are meeting up in the library. Scorpius: “I know, you’re in Gryffindor now, you don’t want to see me, but I’m talking to you anyway.” Because stuff is weird now, you noticed? Ron’s weird, Hermione’s teaching, Rose wasn’t even born – now we’re getting to see how it played out after they did what they did. So in this version, Ron DID take Hermione to the Yule Ball. “They went as friends, and danced in a friendly way, and it was nice. And then he danced with Padma Patil, and that was nicer, and they started dating, and he changed a bit, and then they got married.” Meanwhile, Hermione became a psychopath. WHAT?
C: I find that weird – every other phrase out of my mouth is “I find that weird” – they went as friends, it was nice. Hermione at that dance would not have been nice. She already liked him at the time. Maybe deep down Ron liked her and didn’t know, or maybe this started him on the slow realization process, but Hermione already knew she liked him.
S: So this is what pisses me off. Hermione doesn’t go to the ball with Krum because she suspects the two Durmstrang boys of being involved in taking Cedric’s wand, costing them the first task because Victor told them to. So she believed Krum was cheating, and therefore didn’t go to the ball with him. I can maybe get behind that –
C: I think Hermione would have been more determined to go to the ball with him to see if he was cheating or not.
S: I could see that too. I can see her going and demanding to know what he knows – you know, communicating, like people don’t do in this play. But they dance, and it’s nice. Does Ron then have the self confidence to go start asking other girls to dance too? I doubt he’s wearing different robes.
C: He never liked Padma Patil. And she was not thrilled, like you say, the whole robe situation. And if he was going to marry anyone, it would have been Lavender Brown.
S: Even given Ron’s consuming jealousy over Viktor Krum – if Ron gets to take Hermione to that dance, he’s not leaving her alone. He’s not going to wander off to dance with other girls. None of this plays out well. And then I get SUPER pissed off, because this is that whole “woman scorned turns into a bitter witch” trope. So Ron doesn’t go for Hermione, and she turns into Severus Snape – a bitter, mean, old woman who became a teacher – that’s not fucking Hermione!
C: It’s not. Later on in some of these scenes it feels like they have longing for each other, feel like things had turned out differently. But even had she carried a torch for him there’s an excellent chance she would have married somebody else and been reasonably happy, because even though it may be settling, people settle, and they’re fine. People have done it through human history, and still do it today, and they’re okay. Maybe they’re not living their best lives, but she would be okay. Number 2, even it that hadn’t happened – why would she become a teacher at Hogwarts instead of going into politics? That doesn’t make any sense, because she and Ron would still be Harry’s best friends and help him save the world, and she still would have gotten the Harry Potter bump to become the Minister of Magic. She wouldn’t have been bitter about being a teacher.
S: Either way that doesn’t change her future. She still has the integrity, drive and ambition to be who she is. And okay, Ron didn’t love her the way she wanted him to — Hermione would get over that and move on! She’s not the kind of person to let that stop her.
C: And throughout several of the books, I don’t think she ever thought they would get together, and she was okay.
S: And it’s not like Hermione never had any other guys interested. I’m sure she would have been just find finding someone if she wanted. This makes me MAD. And this is where I really, truly feel the difference of men writing this story rather than JK Rowling writing this story. Because JK Rowling would never do that to Hermione.
C: They make the loss of a man diminish her as a person.
S: And this is where I feel the difference in authorship, because for the women in the play it’s all about the men in their lives. Except for the Trolley Witch.
C: I still want to know more about Ottaline Gambol, and I’m not going to let that go.
S: So they created ripples, and they’re thinking, let’s fix it. Albus: “Let’s fix it and get Cedric and Rose back!” Scorpius: “That’s the wrong answer! Because things could get bad if we try to do that.” Albus takes the Time Turner, they “wrestle inexpertly” in the library –
C: Mmmm. What kind of wrestling are we doing here? Is that a Time-Turner in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
S: Albus: “We have to fix it, and we’ll get it right.” Scorpius: “No! We are not good at this! We are bad at this, we will get it wrong! We will mess this up!” Yes, Scorpius, you have, and you will.
And at least Scorpius stands up to Albus: “Poor Albus, with his chip on his shoulder. Try my life. Everyone thinks my dad is Voldemort. My mom is dead. I am living a horrible miserable life, and still no one cares about me, and I’m so sorry you have a wonderful family and are the son of the most revered wizard around. Poor you.”
C: I love a little bit before this. Albus: “I wasn’t a loser before I met you.” That sounds pretty similar in tone to “Sometimes I wish you weren’t my son.” It’s hilarious because he basically pulls a Harry as Albus sees Harry, and he is so self-absorbed he doesn’t see it, because it’s all about him.
S: At least Scorpius tells him, “You are the most terrible friend.”
C: It’s true.
S: Albus has the Invisibility Cloak –
C: Since he’s in Gryffindor Tower, it’s easier to steal from James.
S: And he says, “If she finds us, we’ll be forced to part forever.”
C: Exchange locks of hair. Just in case.
S: McGonagall comes in, sees them on the map, sees they’re under the Cloak, and lets it go.
C: She doesn’t want to interrupt the intimate moment.
S: If I were her I wouldn’t want to know what’s going on under that Cloak either. Now the other thing we find out is Harry is actively investigating the Voldemort’s son rumors. Alt-universe Harry is messed up. Albus: “He knows the rumors aren’t true. Because I don’t think Voldemort is capable of having a kind son. And you’re kind, Scorpius. From the depths of your belly to the tips of your fingers. I truly believe Voldemort couldn’t have a child like you.”
C: And Albus knows that, because he has explored Scorpius’ body from the depths of his belly to the tips of his fingers.
S: It is a very physical description.
C: Nobody talks like that. And is it set in literally present day? Nobody!
S: Especially not two 14-year-olds to each other.
C: And you would think Harry Potter couldn’t have such a dipshit of a son, but that happened, which blows up your argument, Albus.
S: This is the darkest timeline. So now because they are such losers, Albus says, “Let’s use that and humiliate Cedric.” If they humiliate Cedric in the second task, what do they think will happen? That he will drop out? They don’t seem to know anything about Cedric! All that means is that once again, the third task, he will do everything he can to win. Cedric is a Hufflepuff! They’re stubborn and determined! All the wrong strategies.
Act 2, Scene 17: Wait, that’s NOT all it takes?
S: Back on the Staircases of Sadness, Ron and Hermione see each other, and Ron’s expression changes, and Hermione’s heart leaps too though she won’t admit it. Yes, because she’s the proud bitter woman who just won’t admit that she needs love to be happy. Screw you, authors. Seriously, fuck this. Yes, it’s touching that even in an alternative universe Ron and Hermione are drawn to each other. But seriously, this is bullshit.
C: They should be drawn to each other, since they’ve been friends for years! And Ron, you just need to tell Padma, “I would like a divorce.”
S: And for being Gryffindors, they both seem to lack the courage that has defined both of them in the past. Gryffindors are brave people. Hermione would work up the courage to tell Ron what she needed to tell her, if that was the case. So again, authors, your lack of understanding of this world disturbs me.
C: This is not even remotely subtle. Ron: “He even thought we had a daughter. That would be strange, wouldn’t it?” Hermione: “More than strange.” Ron: “Because we’re friends, and that’s all.” Hermione: “Absolutely. Only friends.” Now, I know for a fact that you and I went to high school that we had crushes on that we were friends with or friendly with, but we did not tell and they did not know, and we weren’t having conversations with them like, “Hey, wouldn’t it be weird if we….dated? But we’re just….friends.” Nobody talks like that!
S: Especially not two adults midway through their lives, so far past the point that it’s silly.
C: It’s not past, because this is why you have divorces.
S: So Ron goes off to find his son, and compliments Hermione’s hair, because that’s all it takes to win a woman’s heart. Tell her she has nice hair. Men so wrote this play.
C: I wonder if she smelled of bread and flowers.
Act 2, Scene 18: EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING
S: Back in McGonagall’s office and Ginny and Harry tumble through the fireplace. McGonagall: “Potter. You’re back. And you seem to have finally ruined my carpet.” Then we’re back to first names. Stop it.
C: I never even call you by your first name.
S: I don’t call you by yours either! Anyway – Ginny tumbles in. Harry tumbles in. Draco tumbles in. Poor Professor McGonagall, she needs to get tile. Harry: “I’m an ass but I want to help my kid. Can we look at the map and see where they are?” And they are together – in the girls’ bathroom on the first floor. “What on earth would they be doing in there?” What on earth would they be doing? In an abandoned bathroom on the first floor that no one else goes into, where two young men could just go if they wanted some privacy.
C: I believe what you’re looking for is they would be doing it.
S: What I’m looking for is that this play should be about Draco and Harry coming to terms with the fact that they’re going to have a family wedding one day and they need to get used to it.
C: Somebody please write me an amazing gay love story fanfic. Although I’m also okay with Scorpius and Rose, because I find his crush on her so funny. When she calms down a smidge, matures a bit and is not quite so, “Hi, I’m Rose Granger-Weasley, I’m politicking for your vote,” she would really like somebody like him.
Act 2, Scene 19: Harry Potter and the One-Scene Porn Parody
S: We get to see what they’re doing in the bathroom –
C: You know what they’re doing? Practicing Engorgement.
S: The first line does not help!
C: This is the greatest thing! It’s awful, but so inadvertently amazing. Really impressive.
S: It is impressive! Because Scorpius says, “Consider me Engorgimpressed.”
C: How many inches? I’m thinking at least 9.
S: So they’re practicing an Engorgement Charm. This is a weird solution to Cedric using the Bubble-Head Charm. Their plan is to follow Cedric through the lake, use the Engorgement Charm to turn him into something larger, Engorgio his head, basically, and watch him float out of the lake. Are they Engorgioing the Bubble? Or his head??
C: And why couldn’t they just do Expelliarmus and knock his wand away again?
S: And then Moaning Myrtle shows up, seeming to have enjoyed her trip up the jet of water a little too much. I’m sorry – the subtext in this play is really worrisome! “And then suddenly, a jet of water emerges from the sink, and after it ascends a very wet Moaning Myrtle.”
C: AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Once again I find myself at a loss for which joke I want to pursue.
S: Especially because then they start talking about her moaning!
C: When the inevitable porn parody of this comes out, they’re not going to have to change very much. Maybe that’s something we should review.
S: And now apparently all of Moaning Myrtle’s fantasies have come true, because she says, “I always did have a soft spot for Potters, and was moderately partial to a Malfoy too.” And now she’s got a Potter and a Malfoy in her bathroom practicing Engorgement Charms –
C: Threesome? I’m thinking threesome. We could take this places.
S: So they’re asking about Cedric, and they want her to help them get in the lake. They’re going to travel in time, and they want Myrtle to move them through the pipes into the lake, and they’re going to use Gillyweed.
C: I don’t understand how this works.
S: Apparently the pipes from the sink empty directly into the lake. Because not only do we have bad security, but we have terrible sanitation.
C: Okay, but like – do they go back in time, and then she moves them? What are the logistics of this? It’s just not well thought out.
S: And of course, too late, Harry, Ginny, Draco, McGonagall show up, the boys have gone, Moaning Myrtle says “He’s using a rather pretty trinket thingy,” and she’s still hitting on Harry and Draco, posing questions like, “Have you been bad boys again?” And telling Harry he’s grown handsomer and handsomer. Myrtle is seriously horny, but this whole scene is underwritten with disturbing sexual tensions. Because then! Then – McGonagall: “The Ministry has a Time-Turner? I thought they were destroyed.” Moaning Myrtle: “Isn’t everyone so naughty?”
C: This whole scene – this whole scene. You could legitimately get, like, 2-3 20 minute porn scenes out of that! For real – if they do a porn parody of this, do we do a Drunk Potterwatch of the porn?
S: You’re going to have to get me really drunk to watch PotterPorn. I mean, possibly drunk combination high on something. But you’ve also convinced me to do terrible things in the past. I read all the Twilight books because you told me they were hilariously bad, so….
C: Was I right?
S: You were so right. So… Pray for us, listeners.
Act 2, Scene 20: Glimpsing the future under the president-elect
S: Back in 1995, Triwizard Tournament, Bagman is still trying his “Give me a cheer!” thing and no one cares. He’s commentating on the match, Cedric has his Bubble-Head charm, the boys are in the water, they fire an Engorgement Charm through the water and it hits Cedric, and he starts to grow massively and – who is writing this dialogue for Ludo Bagman? “Cedric Diggory is turning into a balloon, and this balloon wants to fly!” And then some fireworks start exploding that say “Ron loves Hermione.”
C: What the hell is that?
S: It’s useless! You realize those fireworks are useless?? Because where is Hermione right now?
S: She’s in the lake! She’s unconscious in the lake!
C: Okay, wait. Let’s think.
S: If she didn’t go with Krum to the ball, maybe.
C: So when they went back in time, they’ve gone back to the second task – are they still in the timeline where he was Expelliarmused in the first task?
S: It seems like it.
C: So who is sending that to her? If they didn’t go to the ball together – he asked her because he liked her, and they struck up a friendship in the library. She would still be his most precious thing there at Hogwarts and be in the lake. So who set those off?
S: I kind of got the impression the boys did, or maybe Delphi. But it’s never said, so either the boys have engineered this without talking about it to fix the Ron-Hermione situation, because the whole point of going back is to fix things – it says here, “Albus smiles widely and high-fives Scorpius in the water.” And I don’t know if they’re high-fiving over Cedric’s humiliation, or – and Bagman would not say this about a kid who screwed up a task! “It’s quite some tragedy, this is a humiliation, there’s no other word for it.” You would not say that!
C: Yeah, and also even if Scorpius and Albus put “Ron loves Hermione” up in the sky, that wouldn’t matter because at this point Ron did not love Hermione.
S: So when she confronts him about it, he’s going to say, “Hey, I didn’t do that, someone is messing with you,” and she’s going to get mad, and it’s going to be undone anyway.
C: What is wrong with this play?
C: Oh god, that made you sound like Albus.
S: So Time-Turner ticks to a stop, they’re back in the present, Scorpius is cheering, Albus is—nowhere. And now there’s a whisper in Parseltongue saying “He’s coming.” And there’s Dolores freaking Umbridge, Headmistress of the school, telling him to get out of the lake – why is she by the lake? And – wow. So there is no Potter. Harry Potter is dead. Umbridge is Headmistress. And there are dementors all over the place.
C: Talk about a nightmare. This IS the darkest place.
S: So Harry Potter died over 20 years ago as part of a failed coup on the school. He was one of those “terrorists we bravely overthrew at the Battle of Hogwarts. And I don’t know what game you’re playing, but you’re upsetting the Dementors and entirely ruining Voldemort Day.”
C: That sounds like they really fixed things.
S: Upsetting the dementors, and ruining Voldemort Day. That seems so pedestrian for Voldemort, doesn’t it? “Voldemort Day?”
C: How can the dementors be upset?
S: Agitated, if they want to suck out someone’s soul, but…
C: I can see Voldemort Day. Every day would be a Voldemort Day. You’d have to genuflect to Voldemort in some way I suppose. He’s doing this because he wants power, and he doesn’t just want power so he can sit around in a dark room by himself – he wants to flout it and humiliate people and force people to treat them they way he feels he should be treated. He wants to be a dictator, and they all love to have—
S: Their names on things?
C: Yeah, and their rallies.
S: Dictators really do love those rallies, and buildings with their names in gold at the top. Yeah. Those.
All right, well, this is the darkest timeline. By humiliating Cedric, we are in a timeline where Harry is dead, Albus is never born, Scorpius murdered the love of his life, Dolores Umbridge is still around, and we have to celebrate Voldemort Day. I cannot picture this getting any worse.
C: I am fascinated to find out how humiliating Cedric in Task 2 of the Triwizard Tournament eventually led to Harry’s death and Voldemort Day.
S: So that’s it for us with Act 2, we will continue with Act 3 hopefully next week. Please weigh in with your comments on the true romance between Albus and Scorpius, and what you would do to celebrate Voldemort Day.
C: And let us know if there is already a porn parody of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
S: I am Professor Seraphine –
C: I am Professor Creed –
S: And we’ll see you next week on Advanced Muggle Studies!