Welcome back to Advanced Muggle Studies! This week, we discuss: legitimate prophecies, how to ruin a classic movie moment, dwindling bitchiness, this play making us numb to all feeling, what Scorpius named his penis, the possible Confunding of J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Pessimist Dumbledore fortune cookies, Harry and Draco’s forbidden love, the ethics of Azkaban, why doors just won’t stay locked, and the anger generated by far-fetched plot engineering that isn’t even 1% convincing.
S: All right, welcome back to Advanced Muggle Studies. We are in the final stretch.
C: Thank God.
S: This is Act 4. It is almost over! We’ve made it this far, we can’t go back. So here we go.
Act 4, Scene 1: Your ministry believes in small government and miniscule intelligence
S: We are in the Ministry of Magic grand meeting room. We are having a second Extraordinary general meeting. And poor Craig, poor Craig Bowker, is the reason we are having this meeting. He is dead.
C: Poor Craig, we hardly knew ye.
S: We hope you were good at homework, at least.
C: Now we have confirmation that he was a student.
S: Yeah, I guess that’s that.
C: Because I wasn’t sure about that last time.
S: That’s true! “His name was Craig Bowker. He was a good boy.” Eh—you don’t actually know that. But it’s nice of you to say. They don’t know who did it, they searched St. Oswald’s and found a prophecy that promised the return of darkness and a proclamation that Voldemort had a child. So they’re investigating. And they’re saying no record has been found either of the child or of the prophecy, but it does look like there’s some truth to it. The child was kept hidden from the Wizarding world.
And again Prof. McGonagall is the only one asking questions. I guess we didn’t have the budget for any other professors? Or other people in general, for this play?
C: Well, we certainly didn’t have the budget for Hot Neville, which is a shame.
S: It is a shame. Literally no one else in the entire government has a question. Professor McGonagall is the only person in this universe who gets shit done. You notice that?
C: She’s a badass, though.
S: Yeah, clearly. So they know that it’s Delphi, and at the very least Prof. McGonagall is the person who is like – “You kept it? You kept the Time Turner? Even after you know how dangerous it was?”
No, she didn’t. Because Scorpius is the worst now. He’s pulling even with Albus. Harry: “It’s probably our kids’ fault, but we’re not really sure.”
C: Okay, but I have a question. Why is everybody taking this prophecy as a legitimate thing? Because they’re all treating it like it’s set in stone, it’s a real prophecy like everything in the Ministry in Book 5. And from what I can tell, there’s no truth to that at all.
S: No, it’s graffiti that they found on a random girl’s walls. With a black light.
C: And they’re buying it. This is jumping ahead, but I don’t know that there’s anything about who Delphi is or what she does that makes it likely that she’s Voldemort’s kid. That’s not to say that she isn’t, but there’s nothing that proves it. She could just be some poor kid who was held in captivity and twisted by a Dark Wizard and knows Dark Magic.
S: She could have, yeah. Whoever raised her could have convinced her that she was. Or hell, she could just be that much off her rocker that she formed some kind of mental connection with Voldemort and convinced herself that she’s his kid, given that she’s an orphan and doesn’t know who her parents are. All of these things are possible. And the fact that there is “a prophecy” and yet no one does the obvious thing – which is to say, “Okay, Hermione being the Minister, can’t you have an Unspeakable go to the Hall of Prophecy and check if such a prophecy has indeed been made?” Because even though the prophecies were destroyed in the Battle at the Ministry, I doubt that they’ve completely stopped the practice of cataloguing any prophecies given by Seers. Next question: who gave the prophecy? Is Delphi the one who gave it, or someone else? All they’re going with at this point is that there were rumors that Voldemort had a kid, and now oh look, some kid wrote on the wall, “I’m Voldemort’s daughter!” So that must be it. There’s our problem solved.
C: There’s just not a whole lot of critical thought in this play.
S: No, and for the amount of investigating and thought these characters put into unraveling mysteries in the past, they’ve gotten extremely lazy – or else, the writers aren’t that good at constructing plots. That’s possible too. I’m willing to bet that it’s the latter. And then the fanfiction again! Apparently there’s a whole audience of people in here, but they might as well not be here, because our main characters seem worried about facing some kind of disapproval or retribution for their actions, but really they’re not going to because no one else is going to speak. No one. They’re going to stand and watch as this little drama unfolds – as Draco steps up to join Hermione and Harry, and say “If we’ve been negligent, then it’s a negligence that I too should face.”
C: That’s not very Draco Malfoy-ish.
S: It’s not. And I get that it’s supposed to be a redemption moment for Draco, again, for all the people who are secretly crushing on the character and can say, “Oh! He really was good after all!”
The stage direction: “This is almost a Spartacus moment.”
C: I told you when I was reading this that I scribbled a lot of angry thoughts on the pages? I underlined that. A Spartacus moment? Really?
C: I understand that reference, but it seems – it’s a classic for a reason, but it’s also ancient. And that’s what you’re using to describe this to the people reading this play? I’m thinking of 20, 25 year olds all, “The fuck is Spartacus?”
S: I know. Aside from the fact that it cheapens Spartacus – if you haven’t watched it, please go rent it, check it out. It’s an amazing movie. And by the time you get to the “Spartacus moment,” it packs a punch. It’s extremely powerful. And this is a couple of fanboys –
C: This is like the bare minimum of trying to take responsibility for something. It is not a Spartacus moment.
S: Yeah. It is not. It is “Oh, I’m an adult and my kid fucked up. I guess I should take responsibility for that, and we should get this fixed. And maybe now is not the time for me to nitpick at Harry Potter, who I hate, again.” That is not a Spartacus moment. That’s just rational thinking.
Although at this point, any rational thought in this play is equivalent to a Spartacus moment. It’s heroic, even.
Again – I feel like I’m saying the same things over and over again, but they’re DOING the same things over and over again with Ron.
C: At least they’re consistent? Their characterization may be terrible, but at least it’s consistently terrible.
S: Consistently terrible? That doesn’t make me feel better.
C: The comparison that I would make would be to Glee, which had zero consistency in characterization from episode to episode, just like, Oh, we want to use these songs, let’s build episodes around this stuff without any regard for what we just did, and that was what ended up chasing off the audience so prematurely after they came out of the gate the first two seasons with such great ratings. Because the audience was smarter than the writers, and were like, “Fuck this shit, these characters are not acting the way they should be acting, and we’re done.”
S: Right. I feel like this play is kind of insulting to the fandom. Either you vastly underestimated this fandom, or you really are just that shallow in your understanding of the world. This fandom has been obsessive over this series for how long now? Yes, you’ve got casual fans, but you’ve got many who grew up on these books, who have a strong, deep love for these characters and the world building, the consistency and brilliance of the plotting. It’s not just “Oh, Draco Malfoy was a dreamy bad boy.” That’s not really what drives people’s love for the character. But I feel like they got their character ideas from Tumblr. Is that what happened?
C: If so, they looked at some interesting tags.
S: Yeah, that’s true. Lots o’ slash fic.
C: I have a problem with Ginny’s line here. “No one can know where they are. Whether they’re together or apart, I trust that our sons will be doing all that they can to stop her.” Really Ginny? Do you really trust that? At this point I wouldn’t trust either of those two dipshits to do anything.
S: It’s very hopeful thinking at this point. Kind of like, “I hope my son isn’t actually as stupid as all of his behavior up to this point has led me to believe.”
Ugh, Harry: “There’s one truth we can’t evade – that somewhere in our past a witch is trying to rewrite everything we ever knew, and all we can do is wait for the moment she either succeeds or fails.” At this point I feel like it’s a wasted effort to criticize these characters’ willful inaction and complete inability to behave in the way they normally would. Everything’s awful and I need to accept that.
C: You do. But if you don’t criticize things, we’re not going to have much of an episode.
S: That is true. All right, I’ll get my bitchiness back up to the appropriate level.
Act 4, Scene 2: All we have is our memories of when this world made sense
S: Scottish highlands.
C: Ooh, that’s sexy.
S: Aveymore train station, 1981. So Albus and Scorpius are looking at a station master.
C: He better be wearing a plaid kilt.
S: Has Scorpius never been outside to talk to people who are not wizards…ever?
C: I don’t know, but his shtick did wear thin with me in this act.
S: It really did. Charming is charming, but is Scorpius really that idiotic and inept? “Hello, Mr. Stationmaster. Mr. Muggle. Did you see a flying witch passing here? And by the way, what year is it? We ran away from Hogwarts because we were frightened of upsetting things.” What? What? What? AUGH. I hate you all. I hate everything at this point.
They’re trapped in the 80s, which to be fair, that would be pretty bad. I was there. It’s not the best place in the world. And at least Scorpius calls Albus out on the carpet: “Not to question your taste in women, but you fancied…ummm….”
C: Hold on, back up a couple lines. Albus: “You know what annoys me most of all? Dad will think we did it deliberately.” That is what annoys you most in this situation? THAT is what bothers you most?
S: Not the fact that literally hundreds of people are going to die because of what you did?
C: OH MY GOD HE IS JUST THE WORST.
S: “But my daaaaaaad. My dad is such a jerrrrrrk! GAWD.”
C: And he would have very good reason to think you did it deliberately, you little shit.
S: Because more or less, you kinda did. I mean, maybe you didn’t do this exact thing deliberately, but the rest of it? None of this would be happening if it wasn’t for you. And we’re back to the Scorpius/Albus dynamic, where Albus is obsessing about his dad, while Scorpius is obsessing like, “Well, you may be upset about your dad, but I’m upset about you flirting with that girl…in front of me, even… It was very inconsiderate of my feelings. Don’t you care about me at all?”
C: Another thing I thought was interesting was Albus’ line right before that: “You don’t understand. Dad’s pretty complicated.” Since when does he think Harry is complicated? He thinks Harry is a big emotionless block who doesn’t understand anything. He has the exact opposite problem of thinking his father is complicated.
S: Yeah. He thinks he’s way more complicated than his dad is. Maybe I would feel better about this play if I could imagine that Albus is struggling with some kind of internal issues affecting his mental consistency. Because if he’s completely sane of mind and body, I cannot countenance this ridiculousness.
C: I was definitely an emo pain in the ass when I was 14, but oh god, I hope I wasn’t this bad.
S: God, I hope not. I’m trying to remember. I know we were bad. I know I was awful to my parents a lot of times. But in my defense, I never turned back time and completely rewrote history just to get back at my dad. So.
C: You know what would save this play? Is at the end when the cast comes out to take their bows, they start a choreographed sing-along to Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.”
S: That would be amazing. So I guess you’ve heard in the news that they’re in talks to bring this play to New York.
C: Well, guess whose ass is not going to New York?
S: Yeah, definitely not. But all I could think was, oh, you’ve disappointed all the Harry Potter fans you could in London, and now you’ve decided to come destroy America as well. Thank you.
C: It’ll still make beaucoup money.
S: Ugh, yes, I know. Broadway. So again, Scorpius: “We have no wands, no brooms. No means of returning to our time. All we have is our wits.”
Oh my god, we’re fucked. If all they have is their wits, we might as well just quit now, lie down, curl into a ball and wait for Delphi to come kill them, because there is no hope for any of us.
C: Yeah, and the plan they come up with later? No fucking way they think of that.
S: We’re going to get there. Ahhhh the words, I don’t have them! All right, terribly written accent for stationmaster, which I can’t make sense of. But they finally look at where they are. It’s Oct. 30, day before All Hallows’ Eve, 39 years ago. Scorpius: “But why is she…..ohhhhhh.” So these fools thought they were going to make everything better by saving Cedric Diggory. That didn’t work. So then their solution was to go humiliate Cedric a bunch of times to fix it. Now, Delphi’s own end game has been to resurrect Voldemort, return him to power, create a timeline in which he lives and she rules with him. So being the intelligent person that she is, she at least has the forethought to ask “Where did Voldemort’s problem start? Hmm. When he attacked Harry Potter. So I’ll just go stop him from doing that, and he can go about his merry way.” So that’s the smartest thing anyone has thought of in this play, because that would be the place to go. That would work. Voldemort would never accidentally make Harry a Horcrux. Even if he killed Harry another time, there’s no guarantee that Lily would be there to protect him, and that is the thing that made all of this possible – so that’s pretty smart.
C: Oh yeah.
S: But really, that’s just an excuse to repeat the prophecy, don’t you think? They just wanted the actors at the end of the scene to recite the prophecy in an ominous tone.
C: And we’ve had issues with people using first names at inappropriate times. Albus: “Voldemort cursed himself trying to kill the baby Harry Potter. Delphi is trying to prevent that curse. She’s going to try to kill Harry herself.” He would be saying “my dad.”
S: Yeah! “Trying to kill my dad”! Whatever. I feel like this is the episode where we give up, and everybody just gets to revel in the fact that we don’t give a fuck anymore. Just enjoy it, people, because this is us having resigned ourselves.
C: I find it so dumb at this point, and I’m looking forward to getting back to good stuff.
S: Yeah, you put yourself through enough punishment… It’s like having to go to the doctor. And you’ve got to get bloodwork done, a lot of it, because you’ve got health issues. The first couple of times you cringe, you don’t want to do this, it’s uncomfortable. After the 4th or 5th time you go in, you roll up your sleeve, and you’re like “What? Stick it.” That’s how I feel. Like I’ve been stabbed so many times by this play that I don’t care anymore.
Act 4, Scene 3: You named your dick “Geekness?
C: I just want to point out the beginning of this scene. Albus: “This is Godric’s Hollow?” Scorpius: “Your dad’s never taken you?” Albus: “No, he tried a few times but I refused.” You’re a dick, Albus.
Oh, Albus is a DICK. Which means he’s been a dick his entire life, not just when he got all hormonal and pubescent and annoying. How many times do you think Harry’s tried to take his family there? How old would Albus have been? Was Albus a 7-year-old like, “Nuh-uh, I’m going to wait in the car, dad.” What the hell?
C: He’s older than Lily, so they would have waited to go until Lily was old enough to understand what had happened, what death and murder were, and not be traumatized by it. My guess is he would have been 8 to 10?
S: He’s the worst.
All right, there’s the statue. Again, Scorpius knows way more about Harry than Albus does, because Albus has apparently tuned out everything his father has ever said.
C: I hate this line of Scorpius’s – I actually wrote in the book, just a giant “UGH.” Talking about Bathilda Bagshot: “Oh my, that’s her! Squeak! My geekiness is a-quivering!” Shut the fuck up.
S: Well, something’s a quivering, Scorpius… And here we go. There’s the statue, the house, and you see James and Lily leaving the house with Harry in a stroller. So Scorpius is like – what exactly are we going to do? Fight her? Albus: “Yes, we haven’t really thought this one through, have we?” NO SHIT. Is this the point where the writers sat down and said, “We’re going to be completely open and transparent about how useless our two main characters are? If the audience hasn’t picked up on it yet, we want to bludgeon them with the fact that these fools do not deserve to have a play written about them, because they are that useless.”
C: They really are.
S: “What do we do? How do we protect my dad?” Who I suddenly care about, because reasons?
C: Yeah, you know the reason he cares? Is because if Harry dies, he doesn’t exist and he doesn’t get to be boyfriends with Scorpius.
S: That’s basically it. As most children in this phase in his life, he’s completely self-serving and all “what’s in it for me?”
Act 4, Scene 4: Ssshhh, Potter, we’ll just turn Dumbledore’s portrait to the wall and no one will ever know
C: This scene.
S: Harry is in his office, and Dumbledore’s portrait shows up to chat. And Harry’s going through papers, because I guess it occurred to him that he should have been paying attention to his paperwork this whole time – maybe he missed something. And he asks Dumbledore: “Where have you been?” Oh, dead. You know how that goes. Dumbledore: “I’m here now.” Harry: “Here just as the battle is lost. Or are you denying that Voldemort is going to return?” And now Harry’s pitching a temper tantrum, yelling at Dumbledore.
C: Dumbledore has jack shit to do with this situation. This is all your dumbass son, Harry.
Yeah. And you don’t get to be a fully grown adult and throw this on Dumbledore. “Why would you let this happen?” Dude’s been dead for over 20 years, and you’re talking to his portrait, Harry. I think the adult Harry would have a grasp of that – would understand that he can’t sit around and blame Dumbledore for something 20 years later that’s his kid’s fault.
C: I think 17-year-old Harry figured that out.
S: I think so too. I think 17-year-old Harry had a pretty good grasp of what Dumbledore could and could not do.
C: And why he did things the way that he did.
S: Yeah, this is so petulant. “You were absent every time it really counted.” No he fucking wasn’t, Harry, and you know it. You know exactly why that statement is complete bullshit. “I fought him three times without you.” Big whoop! You want a cookie? How many times did you fight him with people standing in between to protect you? Which, again, real Harry Potter is extremely aware of.
C: And he brings it up later in the church – he tells Delphi, “I never fight alone.”
S: We’ll get there.
C: I’m sure that this is meant to be Harry at his breaking point, desperate, blah blah blah blah blah…
S: It’s lazy and bad characterization again. “How do we show that Harry Potter is desperate and at his breaking point? Let’s have him argue with a portrait of Dumbledore for no reason!”
C: “You were absent every time it really counted. I fought him three times without you.” I know off the top of my head that Harry would not have survived Chamber of Secrets if he had not been loyal to Dumbledore. Without Fawkes —
S: Yeah, he dies. Harry would not have survived Sorcerer’s Stone if Dumbledore had not made the precaution of putting the Stone in the mirror in the way that only Harry could get it. Let’s see, how many other times?
Yeah, you faced him alone in Goblet of Fire, which nobody else could have anticipated. In 5, Dumbledore shows up, completely saves your ass and everyone else’s. In 6, Dumbledore again saves your ass when he’s half dead trying to get that Horcrux out of the basin, and gives up his life in front of you, protecting you the entire time so that you don’t just get killed on the staircase in the middle of this confrontation. So yeah, every time you faced him after that, you were by yourself. But yet again I feel like you had some help…. Why do I feel like you had help? OH WAIT. Because Dumbledore left you extremely powerful and significant items in his will so that you would be able to face Voldemort and POSSIBLY NOT DIE. So you get to blame absolutely ZERO on Dumbledore, because he is literally the only reason you are alive right now! All right, I’m done, go ahead.
C: I hate this line from Harry. “My son is fighting battles for us just as I had to for you.” NO. Your son has fucked up at every turn and created his own set of stupid ass problems that should not exist. Do not compare your situation to what Albus has gotten himself and the rest of the world into, because it’s completely apples and oranges and I hate it.
S: And on top of that: “My son is fighting battles for us just as I had to for you.” NO. Book 6, when they’re really breaking down the prophecy and Harry is getting freaked out about the fact that the prophecy means he might have to face Voldemort, and might have to die:
“But sir,” said Harry, making valiant efforts not to sound argumentative, “it all comes to the same thing, doesn’t it? I’ve got to try and kill him, or—“
“Got to?” said Dumbledore. “Of course you’ve got to! But not because of the prophecy! Because you, yourself, will never rest until you’ve tried! We both know it! Imagine, please, just for a moment, that you had never heard that prophecy! How would you feel about Voldemort now? Think!”
Harry watched Dumbledore striding up and down in front of him, and thought. He thought of his mother, his father and Sirius. He thought of Cedric Diggory. He thought of all the terrible deeds he knew Lord Voldemort had done. A flame seemed to leap inside his chest, searing his throat.
“I’d want him finished,” said Harry quietly. “And I’d want to do it.”
But he understood finally what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew – and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents – that there was all the difference in the world.
Maybe you’re destined to have to deal with this on a certain level – yeah, maybe. But you’re not doing this for Dumbledore. You’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do. Because you’re trying to take down an evil person who does nothing but destroy. Harry understood that. He wasn’t doing this for Dumbledore. So yeah, he struggles with his understanding of Dumbledore in Book 7, but this is a complete misunderstanding of what that struggle was about. It wasn’t about Harry questioning the mission itself, it was him questioning why Dumbledore didn’t tell him certain things, confide in him, why they didn’t have a closer relationship. But Harry never questioned the fact that this battle needed to be fought.
So authors – I really, truly, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart want to tell you to go find a tall, tall cliff and jump off of it. Because you are insulting everyone who loves this series with your horrible characterization. And Jo – were you Confunded when you consulted on this play? Or did you just say “great, sure it’s fine,” and just move on? Because this all flies in the face of everything you have written. Did what George Lucas have – is it catching?
C: HEY. You’ve crossed a line. Our friendship can never recover.
S: I’m sorry! You know it’s true! To be fair, though, I will say – you know the amazing William Shakespeare’s Star Wars? Well, it’s no secret to you that I struggled with the prequels. I felt that they were badly acted and badly directed. And for a long time I felt they were awful. Then I went back and read the Shakespeare Star Wars. And I thought, “Wow, this plot is actually really good! There’s nothing wrong with the plot. It’s actually great.” And the turn of events as it goes on is excellent. It wasn’t the plot’s fault. It definitely wasn’t the actors’ fault, because we’ve seen them act in other things well. So it was bad directing, with some other stuff. I had a new appreciation for the prequels after that, because the story is solid.
C: If you want to do a Star Wars podcast, I am so down for that.
S: Oh my god, I know. I know. We may have to do that. Maybe when Rogue One comes out.
C: We can’t talk about it right now, though.
S: No, and then we’ll never get back to the rest of the play. And it would be a mistake to get happy and then go back to this play.
C: I do have some complaints. Harry: “Years. Years I lived there alone, without knowing what I was or why I was there, without knowing that anybody cared.” Dumbledore: “I did not wish to become attached to you.” Harry: “Protecting yourself! Even then!” No, you dumbass, he was protecting you! There was a reason he sent you back there every summer, even though they were horrible to you, and that was because something-something-your-mother’s-magic-protection-of-love-blood-because-Petunia-whatever-whatever.
S: Absolutely why. And I know this line refers to all the time before he knew he was a wizard. “Why did you leave me there, not knowing who I was?” Number 1, you were a kid. Explaining all of that is a challenge. Number 2, it’s extremely important that you live there with your family because you were 100% safe there, and as a child unable to defend yourself, that makes a lot of sense to put you somewhere you were absolutely untouchable until you are able to begin to understand and defend yourself. Third, Dumbledore said – and he had an excellent reason for it – he wanted Harry to grow up away from the magical world because he knew that that much pressure, as we’ve seen, would turn Harry into a complete twat! Because Albus is a twat! So maybe that’s the point.
C: Although, I have to say this is proof that the Dark wizards’ insistence on being pureblood really fails them, because if they’d had some Muggle-borns in their ranks they’d realize, okay, we can’t kill Harry magically, but if someone wants to run him over with a bus that would probably work just fine.
S: Yeah, that’s totally fine. Or get a gun, do some creative shooting. This is also a series in which a lot of problems would be solved by people having cell phones.
C: It’s a good thing it was set further back before cell phones were everywhere.
S: Yeah. It is smart, in terms of plotting, creating these world where these easy outs aren’t there – where messages can miss each other. It’s such a great plot device, and as we get further developed technologically, the audience’s credulity gets strained more and more. “Oh really? We’re in the one point in this entire story where we DON’T have cell service, so things can happen?” You created a world where you don’t have to create EXTREMELY contrived reasons for things to happen – unlike these fools, which we’re about to get to.
Yeah, Harry’s being a bitch. Blaming everything on Dumbledore. This is where I come back to thinking these authors have some daddy issues, or something. I don’t know.
C: This scene direction: “A pause. The two men are overcome with emotion.” If there is something I am less interested in than two men overcome with emotion, I don’t know what it is.
S: You know, barring the idiocy of the content of this scene – if I was watching Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Gambon acting out a scene where Harry is talking to Dumbledore’s portrait and they both get emotional – sign me up. I’d watch it a million times, and be touched and moved by that. Because you’ve got excellent actors and they both know how to carry that scene. But this is, again, heavily laden with fan service. “Oh, we had an emotionally repressed character who struggled with forming attachments. In our version, he’s gonna say everything! And then they’re gonna cry together!”
C: Pretty much.
S: And why does Dumbledore sound like this? “Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind.” “In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison.” Dumbledore is a fortune cookie in this play and I hate it.
C: It’s funny you say that, because the last part of that section of lines is “To suffer is as human as to breathe.” That reminds me a lot of what Padme says to Anakin in Attack of the Clones after he confesses to slaughtering the Tuskans. Her response to his mass murder and incredibly emotional outburst he has where he blames all of it on Obi-Wan – he collapses, she kneels by him and says, “To be angry is to be human.” What?? Yes, to be angry is to be human. To commit mass murder, not so much!
C: The phrasing of those lines made me think of each other. Also, Star Wars, why not?
S: I understand – I don’t know why I’m expecting a subtle understanding or deft touch with Dumbledore here. There’s no way I was going to get it. But as someone who loves the character, I’m going to talk about it anyway. This: “To suffer is as human as to breathe.” Yes, that is something that Dumbledore believed. But this is also the Dumbledore who believed in the overwhelming power of things like love, joy, happiness to surpass pain. That yes, it’s human, but Dumbledore was always an optimist. He felt very deep pain and knew many things were inescapable, but he never accepted that was all there was. This ignores so much of who Dumbledore was. This is such a pessimistic speech: “There’s never a perfect answer.” “Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind.” I feel like Dumbledore would have said, “Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this world. But in every moment of pain, there can be happiness.” The reverse. Do you understand what I mean?
C: Yeah. It’s a pretty downer little soliloquy here.
S: It really is. And then they give Dumbledore Sirius’s line – ugh, fuck you – “Those who we love never really leave us.” Fuck you. Harry: “I loved you, too, Dumbledore.” OH.
C: Thanks, Han/Dumbledore. “I know.”
S: The amount of fan wankage that is happening here is making my head spin. “Fanwank” is going to be my word for the rest of this play. We should take shots every time there’s a fanwank.
C: I would like to survive the rest of this play, so no.
S: That is true. I don’t want to die of alcohol poisoning. It’s too early in the day. So then Draco shows up.
C: And it doesn’t get any better!
S: No it doesn’t! “In the other reality I was head of magical law enforcement. Maybe this room will be mine.” That’s good. He would be snarky. It’s a good moment: “You know, Potter, in the other reality I had your job. And I bet I did it better than you ever could.”
C: I don’t think he’d be any more likely to look through his paperwork than Harry would.
S: No, I don’t think he would. But Draco Malfoy would get a fucking intern!
C: And he would not take them out on joyrides, and he’d probably get someone competent who doesn’t make him look bad.
S: Yeah, he actually probably would do the job pretty well!
C: Oh god, these lines. Draco: “Quidditch. But I wasn’t good enough. Mainly I wanted to be happy.” UUUUGGGGGHHHHH. Again, these confessions that are unrealistic. Most people have that reading of Malfoy as we got older and learned to parse text a little more. “Sorry, I’m not very good at small talk. Can we get to the serious business?” Harry: “Of course. What serious business?” Really? Is there a question about what we could possibly be talking about?
S: “You know, the fact that our children are missing and lost in time, and we might be facing the resurgence of the most evil wizard that ever existed.” But no, there’s no serious business here, Harry, please do carry on talking about Draco’s feelings.
C: It’s so dumb.
S: Again – the Slytherins are the only people in this play who seem to have any sort of brains. I feel like we get a very clear sense – if we assume that the authors of this play were fans themselves, we’re getting a clear sense of which characters they were the biggest fans of and which ones they had crushy feelings about. Draco was clearly one of them.
C: They made him the Dread Pirate Draco, so…
S: I feel like these guys were a little hot for Draco.
C: I do think the actor who played him in this play is rather handsome.
S: Yeah, he is pretty handsome. The little goatee thing was weird. But again, Draco being the only one thinking: “Did it ever occur to you that there might be more than one Time Turner?” Because the one they used was a prototype. Moments like this piss me off, because you’re not that bad of writers. You have the capacity to write something that makes sense, true to the character, and is an intelligent reference to the original series. Draco: “But only being able to go back in time for five minutes? That’s a serious flaw. It isn’t something you’d sell to true collectors of Dark Magic.” Yes, thank you – Draco would know this! He has an understanding of this that none of them do. Why has no one asked him for his expertise before?
But then he goes on to say that he thinks Nott was working for his father. “The Ministry’s Time Turners were always a little vanilla for him.” Dude, the writers are so hot for Draco, in like a tie-him-up sort of sense.
C: I was just thinking, what is that line from 50 Shades?
S: “My tastes are very — singular.”
C: That’s what it is.
S: “He wanted the ability to travel back years. He’d never have used it – secretly I think he preferred a world without Voldemort” – I think we all think so – “But yes, the Time Turner was built for him.”
C: Isn’t that fucking convenient?
S: You know what, Draco? I take it ALL BACK. If you knew this the whole time, what the fuck.
C: Just seems like a massive Macguffin.
S: I had one brief shining moment where I was like, yes, this is brilliant, Draco’s using his powers of reasoning and thinking things out. No, he’s not. He knew stuff all along and is just getting around to telling you. And we’re back to me being hopelessly disillusioned.
C: So a little bit later on, Harry says: “Having this, you could have been sent to Azkaban.” So my question is, we know the Dementors aren’t at Azkaban any more. And we also know that every goddamned lock in this world can be opened with Alohomora, and that some wizards when older and more powerful don’t even need a wand, so how the fuck to they keep evil wizards locked up?
S: That is an excellent question. I guess you’ve got to hope all the evil wizards aren’t that good. Also, I always felt like the idea being conveyed in the original series is that Azkaban is seriously problematic. Dumbledore was always against the Dementors being used to guard Azkaban. He said that a society willing to ally itself with such foul creatures deserved what it got. So Azkaban is a kind of proxy for Guantanamo. So why, after all this – Hermione is Minister, Harry’s high up in government – why have they allowed this to continue?
C: You have to put the bad guys somewhere.
S: Yeah, but they also have things like Permanent Sticking Charms that no one can undo. You can’t tell me there’s not a way to lock up these people that doesn’t rely on an easily wielded spell like Alohomora.
C: So we’re going to “Cask of Amontillado” all these people?
S: Yeah. Maybe not. I need to think about this. Either way, this is stupid, and Draco has had another Time Turner this whole FUCKING TIME. Draco, go to hell. And the only reason he didn’t want to tell anyone was he didn’t want people thinking he could travel in time because of the rumors about his kid.
C: Okay, well we learn what happened to his wife. She was frail – a blood curse skipped a bunch of generations and showed up with her, which is unfortunate. But Astoria “didn’t want a baby for the Malfoy name, the pureblood glory, but for us.” First of all, surrogates. Have they not heard of them? She’s dying because of a blood curse in her line. Are they not concerned about passing that on?
S: Yeah. I guess we’re okay with that. Because it’s about us having our kids, not anything else.
C: You can’t have kids that are genetically yours, that’s not a thing that is done.
S: They can’t even do paternity tests! “Astoria always knew she was not destined for old age. She wanted me to have somebody when she left because it is exceptionally lonely, being Draco Malfoy. And I shall now begin referring to myself in the third person. Because Draco Malfoy is just that cool.”
C: That’s a great reason to bring a child into the world – “I don’t want to be lonely.”
S: Yes, because as we all know, children are like pets, but human. Bring them into the world to serve the function you need them to and to fulfill you emotionally. That works every time.
It’s not like they’re people or anything. So now – FANWANK! Harry and Draco are having a deep conversation about being fathers and what they’ve tried to give their sons, who have been so busy trying to rewrite their pasts that they’ve blighted the present. And I’m sorry. These guys – I will go to my grave insisting these guys are into some serious slashfic. Harry: “Oh, Draco, we can’t!”
“Shh. It’s all right, Potter. I’ll be your light in the darkness.”
C: “Bite down on your wand.”
S: You just made it worse!
C: The note I wrote on this page is “This dialogue is the worst.” Although we have made it much better, I think.
S: Harry Potter Porn Parody: coming to a theater near you.
C: We just need to write it.
S: This IS it. There is so much homoerotic and Freudian tension in this play, I feel like I could diagnose the authors from here.
But now we are stuck in the same boat as Harry and Draco. For some reason, we must put our faith in the two dipshittiest sons that ever walked the earth. “It’s up to our sons now. They’re the only ones who can save us.” That’s a dire statement of the state of affairs.
Act 4, Scene 5: Yeah, those are definitely fuckwit burrows
S: Are they actually considering going in there and telling James and Lily? “We tell my granddad and grandma that they’ll never get to see their son grow up?” Why would you tell them that? The entire fate of the Wizarding world hinges on Lily Potter at the last second being willing to give up her life in desperation to protect her son. Why would you tell her this? You have the potential to undo everything she did. Why would you tell her this? I’m going to keep asking it. Why would you tell her this?
C: It’s a dumb bit of dialogue to have, because they’ve already learned from the Cedric situation that they just have to let history take its course. They can’t fuck around with it.
S: No, they clearly haven’t learned, because they’re still talking about fucking around with stuff.
C: They learned it for that scene in Act 4 —
S: And then they promptly forgot it!
C: And we’re hitting the same emotional beat right now.
S: Albus: “Let’s get Dumbledore involved!” NO. NOOOOOOO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. At least Scorpius is like, “I have read books, I am not messing with Dumbledore, that is way out of my league.” And he does have a point: “We’re in the past, we’re not in an alternate reality.” But at least – “We can’t fix time only to create more problems. If our adventures have taught us anything, they’ve taught us that. The dangers of talking to anyone, infecting time, are too great.” I feel like that line needs to be corrected. “The dangers of talking are too great.”
So this is the first point where – I didn’t throw my book at the wall at this point – I slammed it shut and beat it on the couch. So they need to send Harry a message and are trying to figure out how. “Maybe if we stand over baby Harry and shout ‘Help!’ I mean, it might traumatize the baby, but you know, maybe he’ll remember us.” No… he won’t. Because apparently since you know everything that ever happened in Harry’s life because Harry can’t keep his mouth shut, you would also know that Harry couldn’t even remember the night his parents died after the fact. He couldn’t remember anyone’s faces. All he remembered was a flash of green light. I don’t think you standing over him and saying “Help!” really loudly is going to change that. And then Scorpius: “We’ll deliver the message ourselves! We’ll just wait 40 years to do it!”
C: How would that even work?
It wouldn’t. It all would have gone belly up.
C: Even if it worked out perfectly, at that point wouldn’t there be an Albus and Scorpius of the correct age?
S: Yes. But at least we have some time for a little one-on-one. Scorpius: “So we hide in a hole?” Albus: “As pleasurable as it would be to hide in a hole with you for the next 40 years…” Maybe you guys should just go do that.
C: I think we know what holes they want to hide in.
S: Yeah, I think so. “And we’ll die, and time will be stuck in the wrong position.” Scorpius: “Still, if I had to choose a companion to be at the return of eternal darkness with – I’d choose you.” Albus is the worst! Scorpius is confessing his love right here, and Albus is all, “No offense, but I’d choose someone massive and really good at magic.” First of all, massive in what sense, Albus? Are you suggesting something? Because that’s really hurtful. And you just implied he’s not good at magic too. Do you not love him at all?
C: It does reiterate the point of how terrible these kids are, if it’s going to be the end of the world and everyone is going to die, and they want to be with each other and not with the families who love them.
S: Yeah, but you can’t have obliquely homoerotic funtimes with your family. Or at least you shouldn’t.
C: You shouldn’t, let’s leave it there.
S: I know some Lannisters who might disagree with me, but – you know. So this is where I started beating the book on the couch cushions: the blanket.
C: Because at no point has Albus shown the slightest sense of intellectual wherewithal it would take to make this connection and this plan.
S: Oh, that’s not what upset me about it! But I like that that’s what upset you about it. So they see Lily wrapping Harry in the blanket, and Albus is like, wait a minute. My dad still has the blanket. And all of a sudden Albus is very good at Potions! “What do you know about love potions? What’s the ingredient they all contain?” “Amongst other things, pearl dust.” “But pearl dust is a relatively rare ingredient, isn’t it?” Okay, so all of that completely ridiculous setup that made zero sense:
- Harry having a blanket from Aunt Petunia, that Petunia absolutely never kept
- Ron giving Albus a love potion, which makes absolutely no sense given Ron’s own history with love potions and given that it’s an entirely inappropriate gift to give a 14 year old
- Albus having a pissy tantrum and spilling said love potion all over said blanket and then storming out of his room
ALL OF THAT was a setup for THIS BULLSHIT?
C: And let’s not forget that Ginny has not let Harry enter Albus’s room. So they just left a complete mess in all the time they’ve been at school. They’ve just left that blanket covered with this love potion. I don’t know about you, but my parents would have picked it up, thrown it in the wash, and kept cleaning.
S: She’d have been straightening. That’s what my mother does too. All of that ridiculously out of character stuff, that felt wrong at the time. All those elements that were jarring because they didn’t fit and it made no sense for them to be happening. Objects that made no sense in terms of the characters’ backstories. You’re telling me that you inserted that crap because you wanted to have this equally ludicrous payoff at the end, where all of a sudden Albus and Scorpius turn into Hermione and know all of these facts about the makeup of love potions, and are suddenly frickin chemists. “The blanket is covered in potion! What reacts with pearl dust?” Scorpius: “Well, it is said that if tincture of Demiguise and pearl dust meet, they burn.” “And is tincture of Demiguise visible to the naked eye?” “No.” “So if we were able to get that blanket and write on it in tincture of Demiguise, then—“ Scorpius: (eureka) “Nothing would react to it until it came in contact with the love potion. In your room. In the present. By Dumbledore, I love it!” This is the point where I, I, I just…..NO.
C: It is extremely ludicrous. And to put the stinking cherry on the crap pie of this scene: Scorpius: “Rumor has it Bathilda Bagshot never saw the point in witches and wizards locking their doors.” The door swings open. “Rumor was right!”
S: “Time to steal some wands and get potioning!”
C: All you have to do is say Alohomora and it will open, locked or not.
S: They don’t have their wands. Delphi snapped theirs.
C: They do not have their wands, but do you honestly think at this point –
S: That any lock in this world is secure? No. Even if she had locked her door I don’t think it would matter.
Demiguise – now we know Demiguise from, I believe, Book 7 when they’re talking about Invisibility Cloaks. Invisibility Cloaks are often woven from Demiguise hair. I think it’s in Book 7, because that’s the point where Harry begins to understand that his cloak is very different from other invisibility cloaks. I think it’s Xenophilius Lovegood who says that the Cloak would be different, because most cloaks wear out or aren’t true cloaks of invisibility, they’re woven from Demiguise hair, which is chameleon-like and blends you into the scenery. So that’s where we’ve seen that before. So now they’re going to go get tincture of Demiguise, which you really better hope is a common ingredient, you morons.
C: Yeah, who’s got that just laying around in Godric’s Hollow?
S: Bathilda Bagshot, because she’s the answer to everything, alive or stuffed with a snake. I’m running out of ways to call these guys idiots. Do you have anything?
C: I feel like I repeat dipshit a lot.
S: I haven’t used fuckwit very much. I’ll use that.
We’ll be back next week with the final half of this discussion!