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 Goblet of Fire, 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.
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The following transcripts have been edited and condensed.
Episode 16 (Goblet of Fire chapters 1-5): Lord Voldemort
Concepcion: It must be said, things are going swimmingly for the lord right now.
Rubin: Yeah, I mean, look, he needs help milking his snake, sure.
Concepcion: And it’s getting milked!
Rubin: We will not discover the full truth of his current hideous form until the book’s conclusion, but we know that he has some form and that it’s enough to repel Wormtail and horrify Frank when he sees it. That’s a big fucking deal. Professor Trelawney’s prophecy from the end of Azkaban is coming true. Wormtail has returned, and the Dark Lord appears poised to rise again.
Concepcion: What’s more, Moldy Voldy seems to be living the high life. He’s at home, the Riddle House. And hey, that’s his actual, real last name, so this is his ancestral home—one that he never got to live in, cast aside to live in an orphanage as he was. It must feel good, a kind of reclamation in a sense, to sit in the home of the father who never wanted him, the father he returned to kill.
Rubin: Now, Frank’s death is a tragedy. As Ronan says in Sorcerer’s Stone, “Always the innocent are the first victims. So it has been for ages past, so it is now.” But from Voldemort’s perspective? Frank’s death, just like Bertha Jorkins’s interrogation and subsequent murder, is a massive moment—a death at his hands. Power coursing through his wand again. Tangible, terrifying proof of the form that he is slowly regaining.
Concepcion: And he’s not done. Part of the unrivaled genius of how this book works is how the nature of his plan reveals itself in the closing pages. So we won’t harp on that now. But there is a plan, it involves Harry, it’s in motion, and that is a big deal. I’d give my right hand to know what it is.
Episode 17 (chapters 6-10): Viktor Krum
Concepcion: He’s got his face plastered all over the Bulgarian tents. My dude is a star. From the book: “The picture was, of course, moving, but all it did was blink and scowl.” Always got his game face on.
Rubin: Hermione may think that he looks grumpy, which is very funny to think about.
Concepcion: Ooh, she likes that. She needs that determination.
Rubin: But Ron’s worship-like whisper of Krum’s name—an explanation of how young and amazingly talented he is—tells us so much. This guy is a legend, a god.
Concepcion: Fred and George’s bet achieved something similar. We’ve heard gushing about Ireland’s ability. But they still believe that Krum will get the snitch. It’s a lot like Jerry West winning the Finals MVP even though the Lakers lost. That’s how good Krum is!
Rubin: Ron buys a miniature figurine, which is a big win for Krum and a big L for Ron in the eventual war for Hermione’s affection, even though no one knows it yet.
Concepcion: You bought an action figure of Hermione’s boyfriend. Krum’s match intro sends Ron into a tizzy. “That’s him! That’s him!” His physical description is half tough stuff, half envy-inducing: “Viktor Krum was thin, dark, and sallow-skinned, with a large curved nose and thick black eyebrows. He looked like an overgrown bird of prey. It was hard to believe he was only 18.” He’s legal, guys!
Rubin: Krum’s Wronski Defensive Feint causes Aidan Lynch, the seeker for Ireland, to crash into the group and sends Harry into a mid-match study session on his omnioculars. Arthur calls Lynch a fool. Charlie notes that Krum was after Lynch getting plowed, and it’s clear even though Krum’s team is getting crushed, that he is something special. Quote: “Harry had never seen anyone fly like that; Krum hardly looked as though he was using a broomstick at all; he moved so easily through the air that he looked unsupported and weightless.”
Concepcion: Savagely but epically, Krum uses the time that Lynch is being evaluated by the medics to look for the snitch. You’ve got to be ruthless when you’re a seeker.
Rubin: Unbelievable stuff. And then a Bludger crushes Krum’s nose: “There was blood everywhere.” But our guy keeps playing.
Concepcion: So after Krum’s injury, Lynch sees the snitch, but Krum fights through the blood, Lynch crashes, Krum grabs the snitch, and the twins, of course, were right. Ireland wins but Krum got the 150-point game-ender. Ron is like, “This guy’s a fucking idiot, what happened?” But Harry’s on Krum side for ... reasons. He knew they were never going to catch up—is that true? Ten points. Can you get 10 points? Can you just score a couple of times and then get it?
Rubin: I guess. It just seems that they can’t stop Ireland from scoring. I think that’s the deduction. Krum enters the top box looking like hell. He’s got two black eyes blooming. But he’s still holding onto the snitch. There’s something cool about that: “Harry noticed that he seemed much less coordinated on the ground. He was slightly duck-footed and distinctly round-shouldered. But when Krum’s name was announced, the whole stadium gave him a resounding, earsplitting roar.” This sort of recalls Michael Phelps. There’s something Phelpsian about this. Like a guy who is a god in his realm, then kind of just an awkward, regular dude outside of it. But people worship him, and he made his fans proud. Ron is even playing with his Krum figurine during the riot.
Episode 18 (chapters 11-15): Mad-Eye Moody
Concepcion: Take yourself back to the point in time, first reading this. Mad-Eye Moody is riding high right now. You’re thinking, man, this guy is great. Finally, a Dark Arts guy outside of Lupin who gets it.
Rubin: It is complicated by the fact that he is abusing children. What he does to Malfoy was not OK, and putting them under the imperius curse is not OK. So we do feel compelled to state that Binge Mode does not endorse his practices. But you can’t deny the impact he’s having.
Concepcion: Cannot deny it. And it’s also pretty tough to be like, you could go to Azkaban for life for doing this. Now, everybody line up. All 30 of you. I’m about it do it to each of you in turn.
Rubin: The real key, the reason ultimately we’re giving the House Cup to Bart-Eye Moody is, well, first of all, if you take the whole story into account, of course Barty’s plan is going swimmingly at this point. But, even absent that knowledge, just purely in the moment, Moody is forcing Harry and his fellow students to change the way they think about the world. His intentions could not be less pure, but that ultimately doesn’t change the fact that his lessons are having this kind of impact. If anything, long-term, once they learn the truth, it might actually enhance the impact. Also, as usual, not a ton of other good choices. Just a lot of L’s.
Concepcion: Ton of L’s. Mad-Eye is to me the clear winner simply because, finally, here is someone in this moment who is saying there is darkness out there. There is evil out there. It can come into your life at any time. Will you be ready or will you be a victim?
Rubin: That is particularly key in light of the constant barriers between Harry and the truth. Even Harry’s truest advisers and mentors and allies are almost always withholding something until it’s a little bit too late. Bart-Eye Moody, it’s quite the opposite. Too much of the opposite. But it is ultimately the opposite. It’s somebody who is clarifying unambiguously what the stakes are, and that’s important.
Episode 19 (chapters 16-20): Harry Potter
Rubin: One of the easier picks we’ve had so far.
Concepcion: My guy beat a dragon.
Rubin: He’s alive.
Concepcion: He beat a dragon. He’s alive.
Rubin: He’s got Ron back in his life. He’s tied for first place.
Concepcion: Flew in a manner that some would say exceeds the abilities of Vik “The Big Dick” Krum.
Rubin: Look, ultimately the fact that Harry performs well on this task is a bad thing because it allows Bart-Eye’s Voldemort-centric plan to continue. But in this moment here, Harry is finally feeling free again. He’s alive, he’s happy, he’s back with his friends, and he hasn’t yet had to start thinking about finding a date for the ball. Great time to be Harry.
Episode 20 (chapters 21-26): Hermione Granger
Rubin: Just gonna say for the record that there’s a case for Dobby.
Concepcion: There’s not a case for Dobby.
Rubin: There’s a case for Dobby in this episode, and I just wanted to say that for the record. And Isaac, if you cut this out, I will just ... I will riot!
Concepcion: Dobby showed up wearing mismatched clothing and was like, “Hey, I got paid now.” And literally, what else? Nothing.
Rubin: Trailblazing is nothing? How about providing gillyweed?
Concepcion: At the behest of the Dark Lord of Evil?
Rubin: While you wanted to award Cedric for telling Harry about the egg. And that’s also at the behest of the Dark Lord of Evil.
Concepcion: No, no, no, no, no. He has a case for winning because he won the task.
Rubin: We landed on Hermione, ultimately, because what a run. What a run for our girl. She dominates these pages.
Concepcion: She’s crusading for elf rights against multiple obstacles, against a lot of entrenched opinion against what she’s doing. And she discovered that Dobby is in the castle in the process.
Rubin: She tricked Madam Pomfrey into shrinking her teeth, free of charge.
Concepcion: That’s huge. Had the massive glow-up at the fucking Yule Ball to the point where everybody’s jaws dropped when she walked in: “I got chills! It’s Hermione!”
Rubin: She absolutely owns Ron in every conversation they have.
Concepcion: Fucking dunks on him.
Rubin: And I think you could say that this is such a crucial moment in Ron’s life that if she hadn’t done this for him, he would never become the person that she marries.
Concepcion: You mean the clerk of a fucking joke shop working for his brother, while she’s minister of magic? Congratulations, Ron. She fucking landed international superstar Vik “The Dick” Krum, who’s basically LeBron James of this world?
Rubin: Yeah, this is big.
Concepcion: And not only that—he’s into her before the teeth. Like, he’s trying to get close to her in the library before Pomfrey shrinks the teeth. He just likes her, legitimately.
Rubin: It’s beautiful. She also shows, as usual, a really nurturing instinct to go comfort Hagrid. And also rational thought to say, “Snap out of it, let’s go. You’re not hiding anymore.”
Concepcion: And then dedicates herself to being like, “Yo, we’re gonna find out how Rita is getting this information.” And guess what? She eventually does just that.
Rubin: Just an incredible showing from our girl.
Episode 21 (chapters 27-30): Sirius Black
Concepcion: He makes his way back into Harry’s life. The letters have been nice, but Sirius is back in Hogsmeade to keep a closer eye on Harry and perform his godfatherly duties.
Rubin: Including providing absolutely crucial information on Barty Crouch’s past during the First Wizarding War.
Concepcion: Goes to eat chicken and bread? Delicious.
Rubin: Love that pumpkin juice. He’s crucially one of the few adults who sees the rising threats, who really is properly concerned about everything that’s happening. And as such, he’s warning Harry to stay close to his friends and practice his defense skills. He’s being, in other words, a really good godfather.
Concepcion: He’s been communicating with Dumbledore, as we’ll learn, and working hard to protect Harry in the background there. He walks around in dog form with a newspaper in his mouth, which is extremely cute. And yes, it’s The Daily Prophet, but the guy’s on the road, and he needs to get information somehow.
Rubin: It’s very sweet. He’s willing to live in filth and squalor for Harry. And then, of course, Sirius drops an important bit of wisdom on the kids. He says, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” It is painful, always painful, to think back on this line in terms of Sirius’s personal shortcomings regarding how he treats Kreacher, a huge part of Order of the Phoenix. But the advice is maybe all the more poignant because of that.
Concepcion: It’s Ned Stark–level poignancy with that line.
Episode 22 (chapters 31-34): Lord Voldemort
Concepcion: Here’s the contrarian take; we’ll give that first. He meant to kill Harry. He monologued a little too much. Was like, “I’ll untie this guy. Watch this.” And now, Harry’s back in the world, running around, trying to tell people that Voldemort’s back. OK, that didn’t work. The other side of that is obvious. He’s back. He’s got a body. He’s got his Death Eaters around him. He’s returned to full power after years as a little, disgusting ball of snot. He’s back. The guy is back and his plot—his extremely meticulous plot—worked.
Rubin: Also, a pretty decent number of Death Eaters returned, considering the amount of time that had passed and them not really knowing what awaited them. He has, instantly, an army at his disposal again. And—this is a small thing, but you know it’s meaningful to him—using his father’s bone like that. Getting still more revenge even long after death against his father. Big deal for young Tom.
Concepcion: Always back up your soul. Don’t make that mistake.
Rubin: Put it on the cloud!
Concepcion: Put it on the cloud and in as many different Horcruxes as you can. You’ve got to back that thing up.
Episode 23 (chapters 35-37): Albus Dumbledore
Concepcion: It is about time! One would say it’s a little late in the series to award him a winner, but listen, when Dumbledore shows up, he shows up. And he showed up!
Rubin: One of the things I love so much about these chapters, but really Goblet in general, is that it’s really the first time that Harry and thus readers understand what makes Dumbledore Dumbledore. That power. That strength. That command. But also the humanity. Those moments, those vulnerable moments, where his voice breaks and you see the gleam, but you don’t understand why. So many clues about the future, so many clues about the past. And it is fair to say that the “Remember Cedric Diggory” speech is one of the most iconic moments in the entire series.
Concepcion: Nailed it with that one.
Rubin: He is not afraid to challenge Fudge, to challenge the Ministry, to speak truth to power.
Concepcion: I agree. And that speech is iconic. That’s why I wish he would speak more. You’ve got to be giving more of these speeches, Dumbledore, because that was great. That set the stakes for what’s to come. We have to band together as people try to divide us with hatred and fear. Look to your friends, find comfort and security in them, and let’s go and fight evil. Listen, when Dumbledore made that speech, I’m ready to go. Let’s go.
Rubin: Let’s go. Let’s go fight some giants.
Concepcion: Thank you, Dumbledore. Finally!