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Who Won ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’?

As the ‘Binge Mode’ podcast wraps up its discussion of the sixth ‘Potter’ book, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion award the House Cup to a group of worthy recipients

Warner Bros./Ringer illustration

The wizarding world can be a scary place. Giant spiders roam the Forbidden Forest, soul-sucking prison guards steal happiness from everyone nearby, and an evil wizard known as the Dark Lord is intent on ruling as an immortal tyrant. But not all is dark around Hogwarts, and in every episode of Binge Mode: Harry Potter, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion are going to honor the person or creature that compelled them the most with the prized House Cup.

In its most recent set of episodes, Binge Mode covered the entirety of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and that means there were a number of House Cups to award. Each of the winners listed below is worthy for a multitude of reasons, and Mallory and Jason wrapped up each podcast episode by explaining their selections.

For the full podcast episodes, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts, and follow along for a full schedule of future episodes on Twitter and Facebook.

The following transcripts have been edited and condensed.


Episode 35 (Half-Blood Prince chapters 1 and 2): Severus Snape

Concepcion: First Binge Mode win.

Rubin: It’s kinda shocking that it’s his first Binge Mode win given how much time we devote to talking about Snape, but it is. We’re only talking about two chapters here, and he just dominates this stretch! He repeatedly dunks on Wormtail, always good for a few points.

Concepcion: Love it.

Rubin: He shows an unexpected appreciation for fine wine, which is, you know, listen—I like a winner with a refined palate.

Concepcion: Literally has walls of books, which we love of course.

Rubin: Fabulous.

Concepcion: Managed to run through years of “OK, but what about this?” And he’s like, “Yeah, I got that. Oh, that? Oh, you mean that also?” Proving once again that he’s one of Rowling’s best-written characters and one of the greatest literary tools. I mean, an incredible accomplishment with Snape.

Rubin: He convinces Narcissa and Bellatrix by making the Unbreakable Vow, which costs him, on the one hand, supreme emotional and moral agony—we do not want to discount that—but also in some senses, nothing. Because, by this point he already knows that Dumbledore’s on borrowed time. They have already struck an agreement.

Rubin: He secures their trust; he embeds himself further in Voldemort’s camp; it’s masterful in every respect. Snape for the win!

Episode 36 (chapters 3-7): Draco Malfoy

Concepcion: It’s very tough.

Rubin: Don’t feel good about this!

Concepcion: But, you have to respect the hustle.

Rubin: Of?

Concepcion: Draco “Why is he free?” Malfoy.

Rubin: Tough look for your guys, Mallory and Jason.

Concepcion: Draco Malfoy is out here on the streets basically telling everyone he’s a fucking Death Eater.

Rubin: And getting away with it!

Concepcion: Showing people the fucking Dark Mark. His dad is in jail. And he’s out there being like, “Yo, I’m also in the Voldemort gang,” and people are just like, “Well, there’s nothing we can do, very little we can do about this without any kind of real proof. Roll up his sleeve? Well, we can’t do that.” Anyway, first Binge Mode win for Draco Malfoy.

Rubin: First and—fuck, hopefully last.

Concepcion: Scares the fucking pants off Borgin, which is no small feat. This is a guy trafficking some dark shit, and he’s like, terrified of this little shit.

Rubin: He literally employed Tom Riddle.

Concepcion: Yeah, think about the kind of scum this man has dealt with. And also like, name-drops Greyback? I mean, Slughorn would be like, “Oh! My boy! I’m sorry I didn’t invite you before!”

Rubin: Yeah, I mean it’s gross, but it’s a flex. He’s obviously working with great success so far to implement his plan, and though we do not have all the details here at this point, we will learn it’s the Vanishing Cabinet plot, which, listen! We try to stay in the moment with our wins, but taking the full Vanishing Cabinet plan into account, we have to say, this is a genius plan. Not even Dumbledore anticipated that as a weakness in the castle’s defenses.

Concepcion: The whole thing is actually very, very smart. He outsmarts Harry and literally stomps on the Chosen One’s face, which again we don’t condone, but that’s how you win.

Rubin: It is.

Concepcion: That’s how you get a win!

Rubin: Man, tough stuff.

Episode 37 (chapters 8-11): Harry Potter

Concepcion: Potions master and stink lord and thirst trap: Harry James Potter.

Rubin: Thanks to corruption, rampant corruption, he is Quidditch captain now, and he is more fanciable than ever. Also, much more importantly, Dumbledore’s finally making good on his word, in his way at least, to tell Harry what he knows, to share with him, to illuminate, to bring him in. And in their first lesson, Harry learns an incredible amount of information about Voldemort’s history and, though he doesn’t yet know where it’s heading, starts to learn about the Horcruxes.

Concepcion: He’s great at potions now. How about that? It’s due in no small part because of the Half-Blood Prince’s book and the fact that Sluggy’s being super supportive about everything, but listen. This is a real development in Harry’s school career. And, because he’s now good at it, he’s actually appreciating potions too.

Rubin: Yeah. And he’s gaining his confidence.

Concepcion: And, we should note, wins the Felix Felicis!

Rubin: Absolutely essential. Literally allows him to retrieve the key memory from Slughorn.

Episode 38 (chapters 12-15): Ginny Weasley

Rubin: Just an incredible stretch for Ginny in every respect.

Concepcion: Yeah, just absolutely puts Ron in his fucking place for daring to try and shame her for living her best life.

Rubin: Completely owns him, she has just an exceptional showing on the Quidditch pitch, and what’s more, she has embedded herself fully in the heart, mind, and groin of the Chosen One.

Concepcion: Love her so much.

Rubin: Great work from Ginevra.

Episode 39 (chapters 16-19): Harry Potter

Rubin: Rapid-fire highlights here. Ginny pulled a maggot out of his hair, and it gave Harry goosebumps. If a girl is willing to pull a maggot out of your hair, what won’t she pull?

Concepcion: Right, then he took the package and dumped the maggots all down his chest, and was like “Ginny, help.” He stands toe to toe with Scrimgeour and owns him, showing a real moral fiber and a backbone that is just incredible to see. It’s one of those moments where you just take the measure of Harry and go, “Wow, I’ve been with this guy since he was a kid and look at how far he’s come.”

Rubin: That’s an incredible moment. He makes some headway, finally, with Hermione regarding Malfoy, given the Fenrir nugget, and this is big because he has been just absolutely running up against a wall trying to get any indulgence here into this theory. This is a door that opens.

Concepcion: He sees the memory Dumbledore says is the most important, though as stated he fails miserably to fulfill his homework assignment, though he gives it the college try.

Rubin: Ish. The college try in that you didn’t do your course reading or coursework and then showed up for the exam anyway—that kind of college try?

Concepcion: I mean, he should have. It’s just you wish he would have talked it out with Hermione a little bit more and figured out a better way to do it.

Rubin: He manages to finish tops in Potions again though, even the one time the Prince can’t tell him how to brew specifically the right potion, thanks to the bezoar tip.

Concepcion: He avoids ingesting Romilda’s overly ripe love potion.

Rubin: Can’t really overstate the fact that he literally saves Ron Weasley’s life. Ron would be dead.

Concepcion: Re-reading it, it’s truly one of the more harrowing passages. It really seems like, “Oh my god, are we going to lose Ron here?”

Rubin: It’s horrifying. We’ve mentioned this many times, but let’s not forget that Rowling has said she did consider killing Ron in the middle of the series, so it wasn’t impossible.

Concepcion: Harry goes through concussion protocol, survives a cracked skull, and is allowed back on the streets right afterwards.

Rubin: And of course, he lands on the plan to tail Malfoy with not one but two elves.

Concepcion: Love it.

Episode 40 (chapters 20-23): Albus Dumbledore

Concepcion: Small but extremely significant point: He keeps Trelawney from leaving. Keeps that information in her head from falling into Death Eater hands.

Rubin: In the past, in the “Lord Voldemort’s request” memory, he once again gets the best of Tom Riddle in a chilly reaction, denying him the DADA post and showing knowledge about details of Riddle’s life that Riddle didn’t think were known.

Concepcion: Meanwhile, in the present, he ably navigates his way around Harry’s emotions and impresses upon him how important it is that he collect Slughorn’s memory.

Rubin: Makes Harry feel real bad.

Concepcion: Pretty bad.

Rubin: His long-term plan—to recruit Slughorn back to Hogwarts so that he could set Harry on him and obtain the memory at last—pays off! Showing again Dumbledore’s keen understanding of people and their motivations.

Concepcion: And then, of course, he sees that memory. Discovers “Hey, you know what? I’ve been right.” All this theorizing, all the research that he’s been doing, waiting for this one last jigsaw puzzle piece, he finds it and realizes “I was right all along. Looks like I am a smart guy.”

Rubin: Even without the aid of LexisNexis. And of course, most crucially of all, he breaks through to Harry about why they’re fighting, what this really is all about, and why love is truly the most important factor in this battle. Great showing for our guy Albus Dumbledore. And he doesn’t have a lot of showings left.

Episode 41 (chapters 24-26): Harry and Dumbledore

Rubin: Who else could it be? Signature moment in the series and in their lives.

Concepcion: I agree. First things first: Harry becomes a man. Harry becomes a true man down by the lake.

Rubin: A different lake! He becomes a man by a lake in more than one way.

Concepcion: There’s a lot of lakes, lot of wet, moist caves being entered.

Rubin: Dumbledore discovers at last, of course, the location of the cave containing—they think, they will be proven wrong, but they think—one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes.

Concepcion: Moreover, Dumbledore manages to gain entry, bypassing Voldemort’s complex enchantments, something only an accomplished wizard could do.

Rubin: And Dumbledore guzzles those goblets, revealing—again, what will prove to be a fake—the locket beneath the potion.

Concepcion: And they both survive. This is no small feat; they escape the cave, slipping past the hordes of Inferi with Dumbledore bravely resisting the potion in order to conjure the flaming lasso.

Rubin: And Harry disapparates.

Concepcion: Good for him. No license, but he does it.

Rubin: Look, the locket will prove to be a fake. They both endured unimaginable pain and horror in there. It’s not like it was a happy time. But it was an incomparable achievement and a beautiful, beautiful moment in their relationship. It’s incredible.

Episode 41 (chapters 27 and 28): Severus Snape

Rubin: Of course, come on. Who else was it going to be? This is actually the rare win on Binge Mode that we award both for how it plays in the here and now and for what it really means in the long run. In either view, Snape clearly wins.

Concepcion: He murders Albus Dumbledore in Draco’s stead—which is a tough look, on one level. But this simultaneously fulfills his Unbreakable Vow to help Draco, as well as accomplishing Dumbledore’s plan.

Rubin: It’s just amazing. When you don’t know everything, it’s like, “Wow, they won, they beat Dumbledore, they did it, that’s incredible.” And then when you realize what it’s all actually about, he and Dumbledore were playing a chess game nobody even knew they were on that board.

Concepcion: It was a game above the game, a game beyond the game.

Rubin: Snape also absolutely owns Harry in one-on-one combat. He’s just doing the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag, over and over again atop the Chosen One.

Concepcion: He doesn’t even duel him, that’s how much he owns him. He’s just like, “I’m not even going to do anything.” During his duel with Harry, he reveals his identity as the Half-Blood Prince, emotionally devastating Harry, who trusted and defended the Prince’s textbook.

Rubin: And as a result of the Death Eaters’ takeover, Snape cements his place in Voldemort’s camp more firmly and more assuredly than ever before. And this sets him on the path to ascend to headmaster of Hogwarts—again, if he’s really bad, that’s a position of power; if he’s really good, he’s able to honor the promise that we will learn in Hallows he made to Dumbledore to always keep Hogwarts students safe. He will use his position as Voldemort’s deputy and the head of Hogwarts to carry out the rest of that mission: to protect Harry and defeat the Dark Lord.

Episode 42 (chapters 29 and 30): Fleur Delacour

Rubin: What a time for Fleur. Very sad chapters, and she provides not only humor and levity, but a reminder of the power of love. She displays her true affection for Bill while also dishing out the iconic “I am good-looking enough for both of us, I think” line, which is an all-timer.

Concepcion: Let me just fact-check that. Uh, true! She reconciles with Molly Weasley after their brief, heated exchange and obtains Molly’s acceptance in the form of Muriel’s tiara. She really proves herself to Molly in that moment.

Rubin: She also inspires Tonks and Lupin to revisit their deliberations on romantic entanglement, which eventually leads to their marriage and Teddy Lupin’s birth, a legacy of their love after their deaths.

Concepcion: And she declares to cook the newly wolfish Bill some rare steaks because “the British overcook their meat.”

Rubin: Delicious.