Chapter Sixteen: Through the Trapdoor
Better Title: World's Easiest Traps
I love the world of Harry Potter. The following criticism of these final two chapters come from a place of admiration and respect. Honest. That said, these chapters are completely bonkers. I question the security at Hogwarts. Throughout the books, we're told that Hogwarts is the safest place in the world thanks to magic and ingenuity. And yet anyone can seemingly get to the Philosopher's Stone if they have a radio, a match, some free time, and a basic understanding of chess. Is Dumbledore trying to stop the dark lord from destroying all humanity, or is he trying to thwart two bumbling burglars on Christmas eve? I more than expected to read that one of the traps was simply toy cars strewn across the kitchen floor.
The kids (Shark Force Omega) are able to access the most secret and secure place in the world, a place we're told is more secure even than Gringotts vaults. And they're kids! I'm surprised the stone wasn't also protected by two orange traffic cones, a velvet rope, and a sign that read, "Please Do Not Take the Magic Stone of Everlasting Power."
The chapter begins when Harry suddenly realizes that the person who gave Hagrid the dragon egg is probably the same person he saw drinking unicorn blood and is the same person who is trying to grab the Philoscorerer's Stone. Shark Force Omega rushes to Hagrid's house, where the half-giant admits that during a drunken card game he may have let it slip that the three-headed dog can be defeated with music.
Music? That's how you get past the three-headed hell beast? What if Voldemort was absentmindedly humming a tune while trying to break in? Or what if his cell phone rang, and his ring tone was "Mmm Bop" by Hanson? (Mine is.)
Shark Force Omega rushes back to the castle to warn Dumbledore that the Sorcerphil's Stone isn't safe, but Professor McGonagall tells them the headmaster has left on important business and will not be back until the next day. And so it's up to Shark Force Omega to stop the villain on their own!
After some running around, they eventually find the door and walk through to face the beast. Harry uses Hagrid's flute to play some music, which quickly lulls Fluffy to sleep. Shark Force Omega leaps through the trap door and into the abyss. BTW: When did Harry and Hermione learn to play the flute?
They land on something soft which turns out to be a carnivorous plant that wraps its vines around the heroes. Hermione, the bookish one, knows the only way to defeat the plant is with fire, and quickly conjures up some flames. Everyone is freed of the plant's vines and they rush through the door.
So Dumbledore's thinking was that the same person who was able to get past the three-headed dog would not think to use elementary magic on a killer plant? In the real world, this would be like facing a beast that could only be defeated if you multiplied 7 by 14. A beast I call Mrs. Jones, my third grade math teacher.
In the next room they find a bunch of keys flying above their heads and several brooms lined up on the wall. This is Flitwick's chamber. Each of the professors came up with a trap to stop would-be thieves. But I suspect this wasn't Flitwick's original idea for a trap.
DUMBLEDORE: And what will you do to stop the thief?
FLITWICK: Well, I thought I'd get good and drunk, and then just sit in the chamber armed with nothing but a broken bottle and my own passion for hearing the squeals of the guilty.
DUMBLEDORE: Um…what about a bunch of flying keys?
FLITWICK: Pff…whatever, Dumble-bore. [Flitwick slams the door of his trailer]
Shark Force Omega easily use the brooms to catch the correct key, and once again my mouth is agape at the low level of security. This room isn't even a trap. It's a mild inconvenience at best. And any dark lord worth his salt would probably just shout, "Accio the correct key!" And then BAM…problem solved. If this is the most brilliant plan the wizards came up with, then they all deserve to die at the hands of Slit Nose.
The kids rush into the next room, which is filled with a giant chessboard, a trap that would surely snag a dark wizard…if that wizard also happened to be six years old and pathetic. A better trap would have been a long division math problem or a map of the world accompanied by the instruction: Locate the Philippines. That would stop a wizard in his tracks. Heck, I'm not even sure I could locate the Philippines. (It's part of Canada, right?)
Hey! Remember how Ron was good at chess earlier in the book? Strange that the exact skill is required here at the end. Maybe the next trap will be a room that can only be crossed if you have a fat cousin and have been to the zoo exactly once.
Ron uses his chess skills to play the life-sized game, though he must "sacrifice" his own piece in order for Harry and Hermione to move on. In the next chamber there is a riddle and several bottles of liquid.
They must figure out which bottle to drink, because some of the bottles are poison, and only one will gain you access to the last chamber. Hermione easily figures out the riddle and gives Harry the correct potion. A riddle? That's how you keep the world safe? A riddle? A bike lock made of cheese and hungry ants would be more secure than a riddle.
This isn't a cookie jar that must be kept away from hungry toddlers wanting to spoil their dinner. It's the damn Philosorcer's Stone! Buy a wall safe, you loony wizards. Hire a few armed guards. Place it in a treasure chest, and send the chest to the forbidden zone of GoobyGooby. Again I find myself siding more and more with Voldemort.
Harry enters the last room, but he's not alone. Who could it be? I hope it's evil drunk Flitwick holding a rusty chain and whispering, "Charmed….I'm sure."
DUMBELDORE: Along with the Philosopher's Stone, the United States has entrusted us with the protection of their nuclear secrets.
McGONAGALL: What should we do?
DUMBELDORE: Well, I thought we would print them out backwards. That way, the enemy would only be able to read them if he held the pages up to a mirror.
SNAPE: And I will add the word "Not" in front of each sentence. That will surely confuse the terrorists.
McGONAGALL: And I will place the pages in maze that can only be solved if you believe in friendship. Bad guys don't believe in friendship, so they shall be thwarted.
HARRY: Why don't you store the information on a secure external hard drive with a 27-digit pass code and fingerprint identification lock?
DUMBLEDORE: Silly boy.
McGONAGALL: What the hell is a 27?
FLITWICK: I'll grease up my body with horse fat. That way, the bad guys can't get a grip on me, and I'll have the upper hand!
DUMBLEDORE: And we can also place the secrets in a talking box. When someone approaches, the box will ask, "Mississippi. Spell it."
SNAPE: But spelling Mississippi is easy.
DUMBLEDORE: Think again, my friend. What is the box really asking?
SNAPE: It's asking us to spell Mississippi.
DUMBLEDORE: Is it? Is…it?
SNAPE: Yes. I don't understand.
DUMBLEDORE: Don't you get…it?
DUMBLEDORE: We shall also rub dog poop on the secrets. No one would want to touch that.
FLITWICK: Think again, Dumble-sauce.
Chapter Seventeen: The Man With Two Faces
Better Title: Rules are for Suckers
It's Quirrell. Quirrell was behind everything. He was the one who tried to kill Harry during the Quidditch game. He was the one who tried to steal the Philsorcer's Stone. He was the real villain! Well, actually it was Voldemort.
Using some strange magic, Voldemort's face has bonded with the back of Quirrell's head. It's an odd ending, but an ending no one predicted. No little kid reading this book for the first time would read the previous chapter and say, "I bet it's Voldemort stuck on the back of Quirrell's head!" Hats off to J.K. for coming up with such a bizarre twist. Though drunk Flitwick would have been my choice.
Quirrell and Voldemort explain their whole plan because that's what villains do in kids stories and James Bond movies. Voldemort's goal was to get the magic stone and use it to bring himself back to full power and become immortal. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those pesky kids and Scooby Doo!
The stone, however, isn't in the final chamber. In its place is the magic mirror. Quirrell is trying to use the Mirror of Dyslexia to find the stone, but it's not working. Voldemort demands that Harry look into the mirror and tell them where the stone is and how to get it.
When Harry looks into the mirror, his heart's greatest desire is not to use the Philosorcer's stone, but simply to find it so that the bad guys can't get it. While looking into the mirror, the stone plops into Harry's pocket in both the mirror and in real life.
We later learn that this was the final trap created by Dumbledore. If you wanted to use the stone, you wouldn't be able to get it. But if you simply wanted to find it, then it would appear in your pocket. Pretty sneaky.
Harry lies about what he sees, and Voldemort becomes enraged, forcing Quirrell to attack. But when Quirrell touches Harry, Quirrell's hands begin to burn. There is some protective spell on Harry's skin that prevents anyone from harming him.
There's a fight, and Harry blacks out. When he wakes up, he's in the hospital wing, looking up at Dumbledore. Everything is fine and Dumbledore destroyed the stone. Why didn't he destroy the stone in the first place? Because vampires have extra chromosomes, Bella loves Edward, and Harry's parents loved him very much.
I'm not sure what happened to Quirrell. Last we saw him, he was complaining of some minor burns caused by Harry's skin. Dumbledore says something like, "And Voldemort was so angry that he left Quirrell to die." Die where? Is Quirrell still dying in the secret chamber? Should you maybe arrest him, and question him about Voldemort? And if Voldemort is still attached to his head, why not scrape him off? And keep him locked up…in a plain wicker basket with a sign that reads, "Don't let the Dark Lord out of this basket, please."
What I find more bothersome is all the stuff about Harry's skin. Dumbledore says Voldemort has difficulty harming Harry because Harry's mom used a protective magic love spell on him moments before she died.
That's sweet. That also means later, when some of the Weasley kids die, that Molly Weasley didn't really love her sons, because apparently if a mother loves her kids, the kids get super skin. Way to ruin everything, Molls.
All the lovey dovey protection crap is a bit too easy if you ask me. But hey, it's the first book. This book is like the wrapper of a candy bar. It's something you need to get through in order to chew on the good stuff.
Harry gets better and attends the end-of-the-year feast where Slytherin is celebrating winning its 7th House Cup in a row. Of course, Dumbledore gives a grand speech before the feast, and awards Harry, Ron, Hermione, and even Neville a bunch of house points. The points are recalculated and it turns out that Gryffindor wins. Yay.
But if I were in Ravenclaw, and one day I will be, and if I cared about house points, I would file formal complaints with everyone. This isn't fair. Dumbledore is rewarding bad behavior. Surely more and more students will begin to break the rules, and if they are caught burning down hospitals or drowning puppies they can say, "Well, I was just being brave." And Dumbledore would give them points and candy.
The book ends with Shark Force Omega making plans to meet up during the summer and Harry heading back to Privet Drive with his uncle, who is now somewhat afraid of the boy who lived.
Summer At Hogwarts
DUMBLEDORE: Any plans for the summer?
McGONAGALL: I was going to sit alone in my room and think about various teas.
SPROUT: I was going to buy a new hat, and then wait to die alone.
FILCH: Have my cousin's wedding in July. Then I'm goin' to see the Warped Tour.
SNAPE: I was hoping to borrow your pensive and um…have a little "alone time" with a certain memory.
POMFREY: I turn off the lights and cry in the shower, where no one can see my lonely tears.
TRELAWNEY: I dwell on the past, back when I knew what it was like to socialize with people my own age.
HAGRID: I'm gon' be usin' lots a' apostro'phes.
FLITWICK: Um…nothing. And pay no mind to the noises and odors coming from my trailer. It's all good.
DUMBLEDORE: We're really a bunch of sad, lonely adults. Why aren't we married? Why don't we have kids?
SPROUT: Well, should we get on with the kissing orgy? [applies coconut lip balm.]
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