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 Order of the Phoenix, 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 25 (Order of the Phoenix chapters 1-5): Sirius Black
Jason Concepcion: He’s been keeping tabs on Harry despite not having direct links to him. He manages to get a letter off warning him not to leave Privet Drive. And you have to think—Harry loves and respects Arthur, but it’s probably Sirius’s warning not to leave the house that Harry actually listens to.
Mallory Rubin: Yeah, Sirius knows he needs to get through to Harry immediately. He also clearly wants to tell Harry more than other people and he goes toe-to-toe with Molly Weasley. And Sirius standing up for Harry’s right to be brought in and informed, at least to a certain extent, really means a lot in a moment in time when Harry feels like nobody is coming to his aid. It’s huge.
Concepcion: Also, while he’s confined to the house, the fact that he’s among other members of the Order means that more people now know that he is innocent, which is no small thing.
Rubin: Yes. Kingsley Shacklebolt not actually looking for him anymore is a big deal.
Concepcion: That’s a huge deal.
Rubin: Also, listen. Crookshanks jumps into that lap. Curls up. Sirius pets that little cat. They’re best friends still. It’s really beautiful.
Concepcion: They’ve been through a lot. They know a lot about each other.
Episode 26 (chapters 6-9): Albus Dumbledore
Concepcion: Very uncool of Dumbledore to not comfort Harry at Grimmauld Place on the eve of the trial. He didn’t even look at him while they’re at the trial itself. But, you know, he had his reasons.
Rubin: And there’s no denying that Dumbledore is the reason why Harry’s charges were cleared. Dumbledore absolutely shredded Fudge’s prosecution. And it’s thanks to Dumbledore that Harry is going back to Hogwarts, has his wand, has his freedom.
Concepcion: Also, this display was a key installment in the growing case of Dumbledore’s superiority. We’ve heard so many stories of his legendary prowess in scenes like the one that unfolded in Courtroom 10. They give us and Harry alike a key front-row seat in witnessing that prowess at work. Dumbledore went toe-to-toe with the minister and won.
Episode 27 (chapters 10-14): The Sorting Hat
Concepcion: The Sorting Hat with a banger!
Rubin: Real talk here: The Sorting Hat is doing more than most witches and wizards to rally the troops and to strengthen the war effort against Voldemort.
Concepcion: In a story often defined by stubbornness and willful behavior, the hat shows a really remarkable self-awareness, questioning the wisdom of the system from which it draws its entire purpose. How startling to hear the Sorting Hat be like, “What am I doing?”
Rubin: Also, look, the hat has bars.
Concepcion: Really fire bars.
Rubin: This is just fabulous work here. Grammy-worthy? Maybe even Pulitzer-worthy? Maybe even Nobel Prize–worthy? I mean, this is about war.
Concepcion: Also, the response to the hat was very “Oooo.”
Rubin: “We just witnessed an advancement to the art form.” Shouts to the hat. Truly, if members of the Ministry had even an iota of sense to match the hat, Voldemort might not have returned in the first place.
Episode 28 (chapters 15-19): Hermione Granger
Concepcion: Runaway winner!
Rubin: Easy. Fabulous book for Hermione.
Concepcion: Really, really great book for Hermione.
Rubin: She conceives of the idea to start the student defense group, which will ultimately become Dumbledore’s Army. She convinces Harry—who was so uncomfortable, almost allergic to this idea—that he should teach the students defense.
Concepcion: And she shows that she can evolve, too, by understanding that there are things more important than schoolwork. She says Voldemort’s name, which lets you know she is serious.
Rubin: She also just dunks on Umbridge when she flawlessly, effortlessly reveals that she has memorized the entire textbook before their second Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson.
Concepcion: Impresses the entire Dumbledore’s Army by performing a protean charm, which is N.E.W.T.-level magic, and allows the group to maintain its secrecy.
Rubin: If you can take inspiration from the Dark Mark, you have to do it.
Concepcion: Again, I know she deformed somebody, but, like, we’re signing up to join a secret society to fight evil.
Rubin: It’s true. Jinxing the paper to wash out the rat: brilliant. The nature of the washing out was tough stuff.
Concepcion: Listen, you’re joining this to fight Voldemort and perhaps die. So, if you don’t want to do that, just don’t come to the Hog’s Head. That’s fine. But if you come and you sign the paper, that’s it! You’re in!
Rubin: You’re in or you’re disfigured for life. Those are the only choices Hermione left people.
Episode 29 (chapters 20-23): Ginny Weasley
Rubin: Great book for Ginny. Great book for Ginny and Hermione. No one’s happy about the reason why, but she does replace Harry as seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, which is a big deal.
Concepcion: It’s kind of a big deal. Bathtub Gin Weasley. She dunks on Harry, who is in his “Nobody understands what I’m going through!” phase. And she’s like, “Whoa, whoa whoa whoa. Tom was my good friend before he was your good friend.” But just the fact that she can even bring that up in those circumstances show how far she’s come, how she’s healed from that experience.
Rubin: Yeah, the fact that she is the one who finally breaks through to Harry when he is in this funk is so notable and also, of course, speaks to their budding connection, which we get another small hint about even though this is a heavy Harry-and-Cho section. There’s this line when they’re all waiting in the kitchen: “Ginny was curled like a cat on her chair, but her eyes were open. Harry could see them reflecting the firelight.”
You know the only reason why you notice what somebody’s eyes are reflecting? If you’re gazing into that person’s eyes.
Concepcion: That’s right. She’s also the first to realize that Sirius is right and they can’t just rush off to the hospital even though rushing off to the hospital was her idea. And she’s also kicking ass in Dumbly’s Army.
Rubin: Just a great stretch. Poor Michael, he’s not going to last long.
Episode 30 (chapters 24-28): Hermione
Concepcion: She’s dominating this book.
Rubin: Crushing it. Setting up the Rita Quibbler article is huge. Now, granted, she is holding all the cards with Rita because she is still leveraging the fact that she can out her for being an unregistered Animagus, but, hey, put that to good use! Put Harry’s story out there.
Concepcion: Incredible sequence in which Hermione explains why you shouldn’t talk about hanging out with another girl to the girl you’re trying to date: “You should’ve told her differently. Yes, you dummy! And it might have been a good idea to mention how ugly you think I am, too.”
Rubin: So advanced is Hermione’s romantic advice that Ron actually tells her she should write a book.
Concepcion: That’s like knowing three numbers and fucking Arthur Weasley being amazed—it’s not that big a deal. When Fred and George express puzzlement over how Ginny got so good at Quidditch, Hermione’s like, “She’s been stealing your brooms. All her life. What are you talking about, you idiots?”
Rubin: That moment is actually a big deal because it just shows how astute she is. She knows so much about all these people and their relationships. It’s amazing. Also, she gets shit about it from Harry, but she rightly notes that Quidditch is prohibiting House unity. That is an important point to be making and she makes it.
Concepcion: She even inadvertently helps the Skiving Snackboxes! The twins say they’ve figured out how to cure the boils once Lee put them on to murtlap essence. Well, how did they find out about murtlap essence? Harry told Lee about the liquid because, of course, Harry knew about it because Hermione gave it to him to help with his hand.
Rubin: I also like all the moments in this stretch where Hermione’s like, “That’s pretty good magic from Fred and George.” She doesn’t want to support it but she’s like, “That’s pretty good.” Those fireworks are good, the invisibility field extending from the headless hats.
Concepcion: A good thing to pay attention to throughout this book is that all of Harry’s big mistakes happen when he does the thing where Hermione is like, “Don’t do that.”
Rubin: Yeah, as we will see in the rest of the way here. Also, she kind of finally pieces together all of it about Bode and Sturgis and what happened. She’s paying attention so specifically to all the details that she is really piecing this together in a way that no one else is. Now, I will note two demerits here. I feel compelled. We’ve already talked about the “SNEAK” thing time and time again, so we won’t linger on that. Though, this is a credit to Hermione—the magic is so good that Ministry officials can’t reverse it. Here’s another demerit: I don’t like that she says of Firenze, “I’ve never really liked horses.”
Concepcion: That’s an insult.
Rubin: That doesn’t sound like the way Hermione would talk. That’s like an Umbridge line.
Concepcion: Yeah. That’s like when—who was it that said, “Oh, is Hagrid training you like a herd?”
Rubin: Tough look for Dean. “Did Hagrid breed you?”
Concepcion: Tough look for Dean.
Rubin: Tough look for our guy Dean Thomas. Finally, one upshot of Hermione’s “SNEAK” magic: last straw for Harry and Cho. Thank you, Hermione, for finally ending this failed, doomed romance.
Episode 31 (chapters 29-33): Minerva McGonagall
Rubin: Just an incredible showing for our girl. We’ve gotta say first that we need to give proper credit to Fred and George for their iconic, all-time, legendary exit. This was one of the tougher House Cup debates we’ve had because we love that moment for Fred and George so much. But, ultimately, the volume in this stretch of chapters is just incredible.
Concepcion: She is incredible. How about the way she closes her eyes to give her strength when Umbridge is coughing during the consultation and she’s just like, “May I offer you a cough drop, Dolores?” And the “competent teacher” line. Also, “I will assist you to become an Auror if it is the last thing I do. If I have to coach you nightly, I will make sure you achieve the required results.”
Rubin: And the moment with Peeves is small and subtle, but really so telling. She is ready to shift with the changing tides. She will do whatever is necessary to honor Dumbledore and to protect Hogwarts.
Concepcion: Pre-O.W.L.s: “However, there is no reason not to do your best. You have your own futures to think about,” she says.
Rubin: So many zingers from her. Also, she shows incomparable courage when she runs out after Umbridge and the five armed agents. We know Dawlish is there, so presumably these are all highly qualified Ministry officials. Maybe even Aurors, all of them. And McGonagall’s just like, “I’m coming for you!” She is a warrior. She takes four stunners in her chest and she survives.
Concepcion: Also, the respect of her peers. How about this from Madam Pomfrey: “As if one of them could have stunned Minerva McGonagall face-on by daylight. Cowardice! That’s what it was. Despicable cowardice. If I wasn’t worried what would happen to you students without me I’d resign in protest.”
Episode 32 (chapters 34-36): Dumbledore
Concepcion: Everybody comes away with a bloody nose here. Everyone.
Rubin: We should also say that in the next set of chapters—the final two chapters in the book—Dumbledore will take one of the biggest Ls in the entire series.
Concepcion: Well, he’s going to give one of the greatest “This loss was on me, guys” speeches in sports history.
Rubin: This book in many ways is a giant L for Dumbledore, but, right here, this is a win. Think about how Bellatrix speaks about his presence with such fear in her voice: “Master, he is here. He’s below.” Even Voldemort’s most trusted lieutenants know that Dumbledore is Voldemort’s foe—the thing that he fears, the only thing that he fears.
Concepcion: Voldy does not get the prophecy. I mean, the good guys didn’t get it either, but if you have to weigh those things …
Rubin: Dumbledore’s got a copy stored in the old Pensieve.
Concepcion: And he was there at the original recording.
Rubin: He was in the studio.
Concepcion: He was in the studio when that track got laid down. It was a hot track. Sybill had never spit bars like that before, and he was there for that. And, crucially, Voldemort did not get his hands on it. Also, “It was foolish to come here tonight, Tom” is an all-time flex. Like, “Yeah, I knew you when you were Tom.” It’s like calling Sting “Gordon.”
Rubin: I know that I say this like six times an episode, but this is really one of my favorite lines in the entire series. It’s one of those moments when you understand why Dumbledore is Dumbledore. The source of his power, the source of this reverence. He just is not fucking around. He, along those lines, defeats numerous Death Eaters with ease. We keep saying that Lucius Malfoy belongs in Azkaban, here you go.
Concepcion: And then there’s people running away from him and he’s like, “No, you’re coming back. I’ve got you all tied up.” It’s ridiculous.
Rubin: Obviously, he protects Harry.
Rubin: Handy little statue employment there.
Concepcion: And that’s the other thing. He fights Voldemort and you might call it a draw. But he’s fighting while protecting Harry. Voldemort can just go all-out; Dumbledore is like, “I have another thing that I have to also do while fighting you with numerous statues and also my skills.”
Rubin: The only time we see panic from Dumbledore is after Voldemort vanishes because he’s possessing Harry. But we sense fear from Voldemort many other times throughout that duel—when he first sees Dumbledore, when the suffocating mass of water is over him. I think that if Voldemort doesn’t play the “I’m gonna try to possess Harry” card and they just go toe-to-toe, Dumbledore wins that duel.
Concepcion: I agree with you.
Rubin: Obviously, also we get another Fawkes showing here, and we just continue to marvel at the loyalty that Dumbledore has earned from Fawkes, who is a beautiful magical creature and a lord. And then, finally, Dumbledore dunks on Cornelius Fudge.
Concepcion: At that point you kind of have to. Like, “Please stand under the rim, my guy.” Literally Fudge has been saying the whole book, “Voldemort’s not back.” And then he sees him and he’s like, “Oh, was that him? Oh my God! Hold on a second! Dumbledore, was that Voldemort?”
Episode 33 (chapters 37-38): Luna Lovegood
Rubin: Only a few pages of work here, but she manages to make an impact on Harry and on readers that is sincerely life-altering.
Concepcion: She’s just a very peaceful and warm spirit.
Rubin: She has an open mind and an open heart in a way that few do, you know? JKR has explained that the reason that the kids who can hear the voices can hear them and the ones who can’t is about do you believe in the afterlife? Are you open to concepts like that? She brings Harry such comfort and it’s an amazing thing because the nature of their exchange is really so sad, just like the exchange with Nick is so sad and Harry finding the mirror is so sad. It’s just a sequence of despair and hopelessness, and then somehow she leaves him feeling not happy, not OK, but with some sense of comfort and peace. That this is part of life and that if you find other people who understand, they can help you get through it. It’s wonderful.