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 five most recent episodes, Binge Mode covered the entirety of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 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 6 (Chamber, Chapters 1-5): The Weasley family
Rubin: All of them! Except for Percy.
Concepcion: Percy is just jacking off. Why can’t he just do that? Not everything goes perfectly, of course, for the Weasleys in this section. There is Percy, who’s just doing shit in his room. No one knows about it. Everybody’s concerned about it. Arthur gets in trouble with his wife and at work and, as we all discover, has kind of fudged the laws so that he can build magical shit in his home. Ron breaks his wand and Ginny inadvertently brings a piece of Tom Riddle’s soul back to Hogwarts.
Rubin: Whoops! That’s a bad one. But they did a lot of good stuff, too. Just put Tom Riddle’s soul aside for a second. Let’s focus on the good work that the Weasleys did. Obviously Fred, George, and Ron successfully rescue Harry from the Dursleys. Should they have been flying the car? Maybe not. Did they show bravery and a stroke of mischievous but well-intentioned friendship to do so? Yeah, and they deserve credit for it. They successfully fly halfway across the country and back, thus proving, by the way, that that shady experiment of Arthur’s that you’re shitting on kind of worked until the Invisibility Booster faltered.
Concepcion: And then the car crashed.
Rubin: Well, but it was a really long journey. It was long enough for them to get thirsty.
Concepcion: The Weasleys showcase a deft ability to mix magic with Muggle skills and technology. Fred and George know how to pick locks without a wand and Arthur creates a vehicle that travels both by magical means and combustion. They still need to use the wheels to steer. It runs out of gas and therefore it crashes even though Arthur doesn’t know what a phone or a parking meter is.
Rubin: They’ve got this delightful Quidditch paddock set up. They’re using apples to play Quidditch. Very charming. Just everything about the Burrow is so homey and warm and welcoming and wonderful. Other than Hogwarts, the Burrow will be the thing that really becomes home for Harry. It is beautiful. Ginny gets sorted into Gryffindor, so shouts to Ginny.
Concepcion: Yeah, keeping it in the family. And they live in the best house Harry has ever seen and, from the book: “His month at the Burrow had been the happiest of his life”—even happier than his first year at Hogwarts. It’s a key point in differentiating Harry from Voldemort. Early in Chamber, Harry sounds a lot like Voldy in how he considers Hogwarts to be his greatest home. But Voldy never had or wanted friends or family. Here, Harry has both, and while he met the Weasleys briefly at King’s Cross the previous year, this month is when he truly gains a family.
Episode 7 (Chapters 6-10): Hermione Granger
Rubin: We should say, lot of people taking L’s in this stretch.
Concepcion: No clear-cut winners in this tranch of chapters.
Rubin: No, lot of misery, a lot of pain, a lot of concern. Everyone’s sad. Literal piles of rotting fish, petrified cats, mucus pouring out of Filch’s nose, McGonagall skirting the rules.
Concepcion: Harry in the wrong place, wrong time. Dumbledore, all manner of things going on in his school, under his nose.
Rubin: The only safe refuge is an out-of-order girls’ bathroom. It’s chaos.
Concepcion: Haunted by a ghost.
Rubin: Named Moaning Myrtle. Agony and despair everywhere, so slim pickings, and yet, our girl, Hermione Jean Granger—naturally she knows all about the mandrakes and she is raking in the points on day one of classes with her insights. Speaking of Hermione in classes, it’s tough to say if this is a credit or demerit, but she earns full marks on the Lockhart pop quiz. The jury is still out, of course, on her ability to discern someone’s character at this point because when Ron and Harry are going after him, she says, “Rubbish. You’ve read his books—look at all those amazing things he’s done.” But she definitely knows how to retain information from books, successfully using a freezing charm to immobilize the pixies after Lockhart’s flight.
Concepcion: Now, [Draco] Malfoy’s slur is hideous, but through that trauma Hermione discovers that she has a lot of love and support from a lot of people here at school. Ron defends her with gallantry. Hagrid steps up and explains to her, hey, you’re as good as any witch at this school, and that’s got to feel great. And when everyone is desperate for information about the Chamber—What’s going on with the chamber? Is it even real?—Hermione gets through to Professor Binns, Mr. Boring Old Binns, and gets him to explain not only about the Chamber but the rip that tore about the founders.
Rubin: I deal with facts, Miss Grant. When Malfoy emerges as the leading suspect in Chambergate, Hermione is the one who comes up with a plan to sneak into the Slytherin common room to question him. How? She’s got an answer for that too, of course: Use Polyjuice Potion to transform into fellow members of his house so that he’ll spill.
Concepcion: She’s not afraid to break rules to see this plan through, and what a change in Hermione’s character. There is an element of learning to what she is doing; she’s getting a chance to make an advanced potion and if she has to break a couple to rules to do it, listen, the experience of learning how to do it is truly worth it. Also, she gets the note from Lockhart to get into the restricted section with a little bit of conning by appealing directly to his pride, which says a lot about Hermione, who is very astute, who at this point has an obvious crush on him. But she is able to identify the weakness: “I’m sure it would help me understand what you say in Gadding with Ghouls about slow-acting venoms.”
Rubin: Incredible. Hermione says that the Polyjuice Potion is the most complicated she’s ever seen, but that doesn’t scare her. She is determined even though proceeding will mean stealing certain supplies and of course bits of the Slytherins they’re changing into. When Harry and Ron balk, it’s Hermione in this stunning little role reversal who’s hellbent on staying the course: “There were bright pink patches on her cheeks and her eyes were brighter than usual. ‘I don’t want to break rules, you know. I think threatening Muggle-borns is far worse than brewing up a difficult potion. But if you don’t want to find out if it’s Malfoy, I’ll go straight to Madam Pince now and hand the book back in.’” Hermione understands there is something more important than following the rules here, which—again, huge change, because remember book one? She’s like, “I’m going to bed before you come up with another plan to get us killed, or worse, expelled.” This is quite a change, but she understands, she’s starting to gain that perspective. What’s the most important thing? It’s fighting, fighting the prejudice that is threatening Muggle-borns.
Concepcion: It’s amazing how easy it is to do what’s right when you have skin in the game, which Hermione now has. Directly threatened by these things that are going on.
Episode 8 (Chapters 11-14): Tom Riddle
Rubin: Listen. A lot of L’s for basically everyone in this stretch of chapters. It’s hard to find someone who’s clearly winning. Hermione turned into a cat briefly—not into a cat, but took on catlike characteristics.
Concepcion: For a few weeks.
Rubin: Eh, a tail and ears and a face full of fur.
Concepcion: Yellow eyes.
Rubin: Petrified now. Harry’s just full of despair and doubt. Not a lot of wins.
Concepcion: Everybody thinks he’s the guy behind all this.
Rubin: Not great for him. Ron’s not really doing much. Hagrid just got shipped off to Azkaban. Dumbledore just got suspended. Where can we find a winner? Perhaps in the pages of T.M. Riddle’s diary?
Concepcion: He successfully catfished both Ginny Weasley and Harry “The Chosen One” Potter. Absolutely catfished young Harry Potter. Never let this be forgotten. He is described, also, as handsome.
Rubin: Quite handsome. Quite a good-looking young man.
Concepcion: That’s how he charmed people.
Rubin: If you had a face like that—
Concepcion: —why would I turn to evil and make my eyes into slits and cut my nose off and all that stuff?
Rubin: Exactly what I was going to ask, yeah. Why?
Concepcion: There is no handsomeness. There’s only power, and those too weak to seek it. He also, as we mentioned, has thrown the scent completely off himself. Successfully framed Hagrid for the crime not once, but twice. Now separated by 50 years, his successful framing of Hagrid.
Rubin: Frame me once—
Concepcion: —shame on me? Shame on you?
Rubin: Frame me twice ...
Concepcion: That’s just how good Tom Riddle is. Bonus points also for getting Dumbledore kicked the fuck out of here. Get out of here, what are you doing anyway, Dumbly?
Rubin: In our next set of chapters, Tom Riddle will say, “Dumbledore’s been driven out of this castle by the mere memory of me.”
Concepcion: That’s right! I got him out of here, I’m not even a full dude! Shouts to Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Concepcion: Getting it done.
Rubin: For now. Tune in to find out when he stops getting it done.
Episode 9 (Chapters 15-18): Fawkes
Rubin: Let’s hear it for the dude without whom Harry would, again, quite literally be dead. Let’s hear it for Fawkes. His arrival fills the Chamber with phoenix song and thus fills Harry with courage, with strength. His presence literally enables Harry to stand up and fight.
Concepcion: Fawkes claws out the serpent’s eyes as it’s trying to kill Harry, thus buying him time to gather his wits, and thereby robbing it of one of its most lethal weapons, that ability to kill just on sight.
Rubin: Fawkes also brings into the Chamber the Sorting Hat, from which Harry pulls the sword of Gryffindor, which Harry then uses to stab and kill the basilisk. This not only kills the beast in that moment, but has massive endgame implications because, as we will learn in time, the goblin-wrought sword imbibes that which makes it stronger. This is huge! Meaning, it imbibed the basilisk venom and is thus able to be used in the future to kill Horcruxes.
Concepcion: Fawkes heals Harry’s mortal wounds with his tears, and as Harry’s recovering, Fawkes grabs the diary and brings it to Harry, inspiring Harry to stab and ruin the book, thus ending the threat of Riddle’s memory returning to earth. And also, as we’ll come to learn, removing a Horcrux from the board. How did Fawkes know?
Rubin: Fawkes could have been like, “I’ve done my part. I’m out.” But instead of leaving, he waits. He waits for Harry and Ginny, and he leads them down the tunnel. He’s this comforting, shining golden guard. And then he presents his tailfeathers to Harry, as Harry and Ron are sitting there like, “How are we going to get out of here?!” Fawkes is like, “I got you.” And he uses his magical powers to carry Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Lockhart up out of the tunnel and through the chamber. He then leads them again to McGonagall’s office. He is a guide. A beacon of hope. And he also teaches Harry a really valuable lesson about faith and loyalty. Because only Harry’s loyalty to Dumbledore called Fawkes to him in the first place. Shouts to Fawkes. What a guy.
Episode 10 (Movie): Harry Potter
Concepcion: He stops Voldemort again; saves his future wife, Ginny; figures out the whole basilisk thing and how the basilisk froze all its victims; shows loyalty to Dumbledore, such that he’s able to call Fawkes to him.
Rubin: Look, he needs help. He gets help from Fawkes to stay alive; he got help from Hermione in piecing together the basilisk mystery. But we should note—less help than he needs in the book, when he is literally screaming aloud multiple times, “Someone help me.” He also frees Dobby, a massive moment both in terms of the plot implications and emotional stakes. He beats Malfoy head-to-head in a Quidditch duel despite the handicap of being terrorized by a rogue bludger and Malfoy’s entire team having better brooms.
Concepcion: Malfoy’s just not good.
Rubin: Long term, Harry goes a long way in this film toward getting to know the Weasley family better, and that’s obviously a big deal in terms of how he comes to view the Burrow as a home and the Weasleys as his family. Shouts to Harry. He didn’t die. Major assist from Fawkes.