Order of the Golden Phoenix

The holiday season often begets a Harry Potter mood in me, so I’ve been on a kick going back to my blogcat about Lockhart. Since then, I’ve continued a half-assed binge, which among other things has included watching all of, and reading most of, The Order of the Phoenix. I have some thoughts – on that tale, and HP as a whole.

Before we start, though: I didn’t really have any relevant pun to use as a title, so I just went with a reference to the Golden Phoenix – the name of the Chinese buffet / Mongolian grill back home in Niskayuna that I used to frequent. Regrettably, it is now closed. Let’s hope, like Fawkes, it one day will rise from the ashes.

Anyway, in no particular order:

The Room of Requirement

This concept is an awesome idea, but a bit deus ex machina as well. Dumbledore “alludes” to it in Goblet of Fire, mentioning to Karkaroff he once discovered, but has never found again, a room full of chamber pots one time when he had to use one. First, Dumbledore would have definitely known about this room; second, and more relevant, this comment applying to the Room could easily be a retcon once the next book came out.

Whether or not my theory’s valid, I recently realized the entire concept is incredibly Meta. What I mean is, Rowling was probably like, Shit, where could the D.A. realistically meet and not get caught? What I really need is a room they can go to that will allow them to stay hidden.

Basically, she created “a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it” because SHE was in real need of it.

Homing In

The movies make it seem like half of what makes a good wizard is the ability to aim. Whether its the fight in the Department of Mysteries, or Harry and Malfoy winging spells back and forth in the Sectumsempra bathroom, it feels like wizards miss their targets more than they hit them. If they just got a bit more accurate, they’d be unstoppable.

Or, on the flip side: why don’t wizards invent some homing spell they can attach to all their other spells?

Wizarding Population

A lot of things in the series don’t hold up under close scrutiny, but the one I can’t seem to get over is how few students there are at Hogwarts, in contrast to how big the entire population is supposed to be. It just doesn’t compute.

There are only five named boys in Harry’s year in Gryffindor: Harry, Ron, Neville, Dean,and Seamus.. Assuming there are roughly the same number of girls, and then the same number in each house, that puts things at about 40 students per year overall. Let’s be generous, and double that.

Hogwarts, then – Britain’s “best” (aka ONLY) school – is spitting out AT MOST 80 wizards a year. Even factoring in internationals, that’s definitely not enough to roster a full professional quidditch league.

You Fly like a… Girl!

Despite the issues (e.g., the scoring system) built into Quidditch, Rowling did a dope job with the sport overall. One of the best – and by far the most underrated – aspects to the game is that it’s perfectly coed. Madame Hooch is the gym teacher. Ginny, Alicia, Cho and Angelina more than hold their own on the same playing field as the boys. Beyond that, two of Ireland’s World Cup-winning Chasers, Mullet and Moran, are women.

No real sport represents gender equality like Quidditch does, to the point that this coed dynamic doesn’t even get addressed. That’s really cool.

Umbridge is the Fucking Worst

Even with both Bellatrix as well as You Know Who, Umbridge is the most loathsome character in all the HP canon. She’s just so unfair, and delights in being so, that it makes your blood boil.

Rowling created a real bitch with this one.

Molly Weasley is the Best

What a queen, this woman is! She’s nice. Clearly loves her husband. She loves her children, too, and is adorable in how much she worries about them.

Can you imagine what it must be like for her as a mother to have her clock read “Mortal Peril” for all her children? Brutal. Someone give that sainted woman a hug!

Goyem

Are there no Jewish wizards? The tribe needs better representation here, for sure.

Grandpa Weasley

The Weasleys are such a great family, with each bringing his/her own unique, lovable flavor. You know who would have been a great addition to this oddball clan? Arthur’s dad.

Can you imagine how hilarious this old guy would have been? Maybe that’s where Arthur got his love of Muggle stuff from, or maybe he’s always slipping a silver sickle to the twins for their shop when Molly’s not looking. It just would have been super fun to add one more kind, plucky generation to the Weasley family. Seems like a missed opportunity for a great character.

Literal Trolling

The books spell out pretty clearly that Umbridge is a known hater of half-breeds, with her even attempting to enact legislation on the matter. This makes Dumbledore’s surprise, in-her-face appointment of Firenze as Trelawney’s replacement all the better.

Just a spectacular troll job by Dumbledore.

Smooth Criminal

Dumbledore is a badass from the series’ first Chapter, and painted as a savant from then on out throughout the story. He was Supreme Mugwump, and had everybody clamoring for him to become Minister of Magic. He beat Grindelwald, and is the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. He masterminded the Dark Lord’s downfall.

At no point, though, is he ever more in command, more of a boss, than when he foils Fudge’s attempt to arrest him in his office in connection with the D.A.. Cornelius comes in hot, first threatening to expel Harry before shifting and telling Albus he’s going to Azkaban. At that point, the Headmaster:

  • Gives Fudge a truly savage lolllll (“Ah, yes. Yes, I thought we might hit that little snag”)
  • Drops a ruthless, I-just-can’t-be-bothered brag (“I have absolutely no intention of being sent to Azkaban. I could break out, of course – but what a waste of time”)
  • Frustrates the hell out of Umbridge with technicalities (“I am merely pointing out that Dolores is quite wrong to suggest that such a group was, at that time, illegal”)
  • Responds to Fudge’s challenge of “You intend to take on Dawlish, Shacklebolt, Dolor and myself single-handed?” by doing just that, stupefying all four of them with ease
  • Immediately takes charge, handing out marching orders for everyone else to act on in his absence
  • Vanishes in a flash, giving us the first indication that he’s such a baller that Hogwarts’ legendary enchantments (“he can’t have disapparated!” cried Umbridge. “You can’t inside this school”) don’t apply to him

Patronizing Voldemort while nonchalantly dueling him at the Ministry is pretty legendary, too, but I still think this flourish in his office takes the cake.

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