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 Prisoner of Azkaban, and that means there are 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 the podcast episodes by explaining and bantering about their selections.
The following transcripts have been edited and condensed.
Episode 11 (Azkaban chapters 1-5): Sirius Black
Concepcion: Listen, number one, topline, headline: Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban.
Rubin: Big deal.
Concepcion: First guy or gal or anybody ever to do it.
Rubin: That they know of.
Concepcion: Sure. But still.
Rubin: It’s a big deal.
Concepcion: This is a huge deal!
Rubin: It’s a big deal. There are not a lot of other winners in this section. The main reason we landed on Sirius is because whether you read it just based on the information we have in the moment, or based on the full clarity that we’ll come to have in time, it’s a great thing for our guy. In the moment, just based on what we know and we still think he’s bad, he’s got the escape to his name—that’s huge. It cannot be overstated how big of a deal that is. And he’s not only gotten out, he’s successfully evaded Ministry pursuit for a month at this point. They have absolutely no idea where he is. And then ultimately, if we take the full scope of our knowledge into account—why did he break out? Because he’s discovered where Pettigrew is, that he’s posing as Ron’s rat. He found that information out. He’s been waiting more than a decade to learn that. He gets to ultimately reunite with Lupin; he gets to find and meet Harry.
Concepcion: And also, everybody else in Azkaban, their head is a pile of goo from being around the dementors. And, by all accounts, Sirius Black is like, “I could do this all day. I’m fine.”
Rubin: Hanging out as a dog.
Concepcion: “I’m just good.”
Episode 12 (Azkaban chapters 6-10): Remus “R.J.” Lupin
Rubin: R.J. Lupin for now, since we don’t yet know the etymological significance of that loaded first name, but what a stretch of chapters of Lupin. First of all, he shoots a lot of chewing gum into Peeves’s nose, eliciting a “Cool, sir!” from Dean. When Snape bullies Neville, Lupin rallies to Neville’s side, says he believes in him. He guides Neville, he gives him confidence, and Neville ultimately succeeds. That’s a big deal. This is a key moment in Neville’s arc, and Lupin’s responsible for it.
Concepcion: His boggart lesson is so good he earns “best Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson” label from Ron and “seems like a very good teacher” from Hermione, who’s a tough grader. Huge praise then, after two years of basically absolutely useless Defense Against the Dark Arts tutelage. Quiets Harry’s doubts—making him tea, giving him time and attention, explaining, very thoughtfully, the thinking behind the various decisions he made, which you forgot about when you’re an adult. But as a child, that is very helpful, to have an adult explain, very calmly, how they came to a certain decision. And he’s honest with Harry about why he didn’t let him face the boggart.
Rubin: When Snape attempts to dunk on him, in his own classroom, the students all rally to Lupin’s defense. Dean says he’s the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we’ve ever had. Everyone is already on his side, basically overnight. When he returns to health, he comforts Harry about what happened in the match, and promises to teach Harry how to defend himself. He is, in total, an excellent teacher, an increasingly trusted confidant, and deft at making these pretty fragile youngsters feel supported and understood. Shouts to Lupin.
Episode 13 (Azkaban chapters 11-15): Harry Potter
Rubin: Look, it’s admittedly not great that in these chapters, Harry doesn’t follow through on helping Hagrid with Buckbeak’s case like he promises he would. Repeatedly feuds with Hermione or takes Ron’s side in Ron’s feuds with Hermione. Keeps breaking the rules and kind of-ish, sort of-ish gets caught. Again has to leave the invisibility cloak behind. And disappoints Lupin, also losing to Lupin the Marauder’s Map. But, it is great that he got a Firebolt, the best racing broom in the world.
Concepcion: That’s an incredible, incredible thing. Faced his fears about the dementors. Worked diligently to learn the Patronus charm. Once you start learning the Patronus charm, very difficult to stop. Blasts Malfoy with the Patronus and then, of course, with some stanky mud. Manages to avoid getting into huge trouble—minor trouble only with Snape regarding sneaking into Hogsmeade and, even more importantly, manages to avoid Snape figuring out that he has a map. And he wins the Quidditch Cup! Wood and McGonagall are absolutely sobbing because of what Harry has accomplished. And the bonus of beating Malfoy head-to-head makes the whole thing even sweeter.
Episode 14 (Azkaban chapters 16-22): Hermione Granger
Concepcion: Now, you think it’s Crookshanks, but that’s fucking nuts. Crookshanks pushed a knot in a tree, but he doesn’t have hands. He can’t do anything.
Rubin: He has paws.
Concepcion: Great, he can’t do anything.
Rubin: And daring and commitment to pursuing truth and justice. And he was one of the only warriors throughout this entire story who knew what was what. Shouts to my dude Crookshanks; I believe in you no matter what. Protect Crookshanks!
Concepcion: Anyway, Hermione continues to display her burgeoning rule-breaking spirit, breaking into the one-eyed witch’s tunnel to recover the cloak and then later attacking a teacher. Listen, when her friends require her to do this, she will do it. She just doesn’t do it all the time. But she’ll do it when she needs to.
Rubin: We’re just going to ignore, by the way, that Hermione totally lost it when facing a boggart during her Defense Against the Dark Arts exam.
Concepcion: I mean, that was a tough look, but otherwise she did great.
Rubin: She did do great following through on Dumbledore’s “We need more time.”
Concepcion: Yeah, but she actually had to execute it. It’s one thing to be like, here’s what you do. But she actually had to do it. And the other thing is she’s got the Chosen One in her ear the whole time like, “Why don’t we just run in there and freaking grab Pettigrew now?”
Rubin: Lot of backseat driving from Harry.
Concepcion: Harry, could you shut the fuck up?
Rubin: Very annoying.
Concepcion: “Why don’t we just run in there? We could take care of this whole thing!” Yeah, but did you not hear what I said? You can’t be seen or fuck up the timeline, Harry! Harry was basically almost like a modern-day Eloise Mintumble if not for Hermione keeping him in check.
Rubin: Amazing. Long before that, just an incredible performance by her in the Shrieking Shack. She really keeps her head. She acts so logically. She’s thinking clearly and actually saying, “Hey what about this? OK, well can you explain that? I’m hearing what you’re saying, but can you clarify this?” Asking these questions about Sirius and Pettigrew when everything surrounding her is just crumbling into madness.
Concepcion: She also had faith in Crookshanks all the while.
Rubin: The bond between a cat and his human—it’s the truest, purest magic.