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.
Through its first five episodes, Binge Mode has covered the entirety of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, both the book and film adaptation, and that means there are five House Cups to award. Each of the winners listed below is worthy for a multitude of reasons, and Mallory and Jason wrapped up the podcast episodes by explaining and bantering about their selections.
The following transcripts have been edited and condensed.
Episode 1 (Chapters 1-5): Hagrid
Concepcion: Wonderful man. Delightful man. Not exactly championship material, but a wonderful human being, half giant, and the only thing as big as him is his heart.
Rubin: That’s right. He is really a key part of the soul of the story.
Concepcion: Just the unabashed emotion that you get from him right away. You don’t have to tell him that it was a tragedy that Lily and James died.
Rubin: He’s devastated.
Concepcion: He shows up absolutely weeping. Weeping.
Rubin: We learn that not only does Hagrid have a big heart, he is an important figure for Dumbledore, who trusts him when McGonagall’s like, “Uhhh, you think it wise to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?”—being, transporting Harry. Dumbledore says, “I would trust Hagrid with my life.” Now, that carries weight, right away. Before you know anything else about Dumbledore, you understand that his word and his judgment carries weight.
Concepcion: And his hut entrance is an all-time moment, a meme before memes were a thing. You’re just instantly awed by the sheer spectacle, the enormity of him, but also instantly won over by the gentle way he goes about his business, the crinkly eyes, the twinkle.
Rubin: And then, Hagrid also wins points for being the first character to issue what will become the staple Harry description: “You look a lot like yer dad.”
Concepcion: “Yeh’ve got yer mum’s eyes.”
Rubin: Got. Your mum’s. Eyes. Also, he makes Harry a birthday cake.
Concepcion: Good guy.
Rubin: I also love when he asks for the tea and then, in essence, demands liquor, and then when, of course, the Dursleys, frozen in horror, do nothing, he just pulls a bottle out of his coat. Love the coat.
Concepcion: Also the fact that he snatches a shotgun out of Vernon’s hands, bends it.
Rubin: Truly incredible. The “could you write it down? Nah—can’t spell it” moment when he’s trying to tell Harry about Voldemort is an all-timer. Tells you so much so quickly about Hagrid, it’s really perfection, and even though he doesn’t know he’s doing it, he does get credit from us for laying, really, the foundational groundwork about Horcruxes and Lily’s sacrifice and the prophecy, and all of these crucial things. He’s a gateway for Harry and for us, and he’s also so kind. And he gave Dudley a tail.
Concepcion: He gave Dudley a tail, which was fantastic, and gave Harry Hedwig. Buys him an owl, which is truly one of the great relationships of this story.
Rubin: And, of course, we cannot minimize that when Harry is feeling down, Hagrid offers up words of sincere comfort. He says, “Some o’ the best I ever saw were the only ones with magic in ’em and a long line o’ Muggles—look at your mum! Look what she had fer a sister!”—this is after Harry expressed his concern about his family and his upbringing. And, finally, he shows what an accepting, supportive, nurturing soul he is when he says to Harry, “I know it’s hard. Yeh’ve been singled out, an’ that’s always hard. But yeh’ll have a great time at Hogwarts.”
Episode 2 (Chapters 6-10): Ron Weasley
Rubin: Just from the jump, our boy goes into the compartment, he sits down with Harry, he finds the courage to ask if he can take a seat. Imagine if that had not happened, how different this entire story and their lives would be. I give Ron a lot of credit for bravely sharing literally every single item of food that Harry purchased. Shows courage, I think. And Ron, like Hagrid in the previous set of chapters that we talked about in Episode 1, is continuing this tradition of serving as a vital gateway for Harry into the magical world. He talks about the houses, about Quidditch, about candy, all of these things.
Concepcion: And it’s so important, too, because, you know, Hagrid is however old Hagrid is. Harry needs someone his age that can bring him into this world.
Rubin: That’s right, he needs a peer.
Concepcion: Ron puts Harry on his guard with this bit of insight about the Malfoys: “They were some of the first to come back to our side after You-Know-Who disappeared. Said they’d been bewitched. My dad doesn’t believe it. He says Malfoy’s father didn’t need an excuse to go over to the Dark Side.” True. True. And true.
Rubin: Ron, who easily could have been very jealous about Buddy Garrity McGonagall bending the rules ...
Concepcion: “I’ll tell ya, this kid’s a seeker if I ever saw one!”
Rubin: … Is instead overjoyed for his friend. He’s Harry’s chief cheerleader and that kind of thing counts. It will become increasingly hard over the course of their friendship in these books for Ron to always be that strong, but in this moment he’s just happy for his friend, he’s not jealous. And when Malfoy challenges Harry to a duel, Ron’s there for him.
Concepcion: Ron is, it must be said, extremely mean to Hermione. They’re 11. And we at Binge Mode do not condone this behavior at all, at any age.
Rubin: We do not.
Concepcion: But to Ron’s credit, he showed that he wants to make up for his shortcomings when he goes to warn and then rescue Hermione from the troll. He’s eager to do so. There’s no “I don’t know.” He snaps to it. He knows it’s his fault and he shows us he’s the kind of kid who takes responsibility and he tries to help.
Rubin: He is also not so shabby with a wand! Even a heavily chipped one that didn’t choose him.
Concepcion: Better than Harry at this point.
Rubin: He got that Wingardium Leviosa down when it counted and he knocked out that troll!
Concepcion: Summary: Ron is bold and brave and loyal, fierce, and, crucially, really funny. We need that comedic element.
Episode 3 (Chapters 11-14): Harry Potter
Rubin: Harry, of course, in this span of chapters, receives the invisibility cloak, which belonged to his father and will aid his rule-breaking and exploration more than anything else in his time at Hogwarts other than the Marauder’s Map.
Concepcion: He discovers the Mirror of Erised, getting a taste of his family, seeing his family for the first time in a complete context—not just his mother and father, but people he’s never heard about before. It must have been an incredible moment for him. Crucially, he also gets guidance from Dumbledore that prevents him from wasting away before his parents’ images.
Rubin: He pieces together who [Nicolas] Flamel is, which is a big deal and, by the way, also just a major mark in favor of regularly consuming candy.
Concepcion: As long as it has a trading card involved, it’s fine.
Rubin: If not for his chocolate frog habit—which is getting out of hand—where would he be? Where would we be?
Concepcion: And he dominates Quidditch. He’s like the Penny Hardaway—no, no, he stays healthy; he’s like the LeBron James of Quidditch, winning two matches basically single-handedly in what amounts to an illegal scheme. He should not be even playing. I hope one day, years after his tenure, that these records are stripped, because this is fucking ridiculous.
Rubin: McGonagall called in front of the NCAA, forced to account for basically being the Nevin Shapiro of Hogwarts.
Concepcion: The first one he won while being impeded by an actual assassination attempt, and the second one while breaking the record for fastest snitch catch. We don’t know if it’s a hard-and-fast record; it’s just no one can remember anyone ever doing it that fast. Listen, when you’re ready for the big time, you’re ready for the big time.
Episode 4 (Chapters 15-17): Harry Potter
Rubin: Back-to-back wins here for our dude, stacking up the victories. Very quickly, first here, the case for Neville, who does deserve credit for standing up to the trio and for showing real backbone for one of the first times in his life. Earlier he shows backbone, of course, by trying to warn them about Malfoy, but then that could have been his undoing and it isn’t—he finds even more strength moving forward. And even though his attempt is in vain, it ultimately leads to the Gryffindor House Cup victory and to a shout-out from Dumbledore, which is pretty good stuff for the—spoiler alert—almost chosen one. But the case for Harry, the actual winner …
Concepcion: Yes, now let’s continue with Harry. Harry’s doggedness uncovers the plot to steal the stone, he puts two and two together and realizes, hey! Pretty convenient that Hagrid came by a dragon egg, only the thing he wants perhaps most in the world at the very same time as a highly prized magical object is being safeguarded at the school. Aha! He also discovers that Hagrid, while being all heart and 50 percent giant, is also at least 80 percent mouth. He uses his fastest-snitch-catch-in-recent-memory skills to snatch the flying key in Professor Flitwick’s obstacle chamber. And because he wanted to find the stone but not use it—not use it, crucially—he’s able to release the stone from the Mirror of Erised.
Rubin: And he crucially defeats Quirrell, he defeats Voldemort—in some form at least—and with a timely save from Dumbledore, he saves the day and lives, and discovers the protective charm that his mother’s sacrifice allows to live in his very skin. He also—the importance of this cannot be overstated—gets a ton of candy from his friends and admirers.
Concepcion: So much candy!
Rubin: Harry got 60 points, the House Cup, saves the day. What a time for our young man.
Concepcion: Proud of him.
Rubin: It’s just great to be Harry. Proud of him, too.
Episode 5 (Movie): Warner Bros.
Concepcion: Today’s champion had a brilliant idea: to secure the rights to Harry Potter. Warner Bros. got into a brand-new IP at the ground floor and was able to build it into what it is now. To date, our first four films have made $3.5 billion worldwide. All eight films [based on the original book series] have made $7.7 billion combined.
Rubin: The entire franchise, as of last June, movie sales, book sales, DVDs, digital sales, rentals, toy sales, everything, an estimated franchise worth of $25 billion. And of course, they are still going. They’re still making these movies. The eighth movie came out in 2011, but did they wrap up and say, “No more Galleons, please, we’re content”? They did not. They locked in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, the first film of which dropped in 2016 and has grossed a reported north of $800 million worldwide. And then the second film which is coming this November is the next installment in what is ultimately going to be a five-part film franchise. This is really one of the new poster models for how to continue the expanded universe storytelling. They got in cheap, they have made a ton of money, they have given [J.K. Rowling] a really respectably large amount of creative control and ownership over her product, but they are also in possession of one of the most valuable pieces of IP literally in the known universe.