Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lord Voldemort : The Hits Keep Coming

Last time we discussed the Darkish Lordy fellow, the focus was mostly on his behavior in the fourth book. Now let's see what he got up to for the rest of the series.

(I like it when the red water comes out...)


THE EVIL PLAN - As discussed in Harry’s entry, the plan in this book was to feed Harry false memories in order to lure him to the Ministry of Magic so Harry could retrieve a recorded prophecy about the two of them. Once Harry did so, Voldemort’s men, who had themselves just strolled in, would take it from him.
EVIL GRADE - D-. Voldemort, who tends to be at least medium evil in his everyday life, falls short here by basically going and picking up some paperwork. The prophecy itself was built up as some kind of game-changer, but it turns out kind of useless, stating that “Neither can survive while the other lives.” This sounds ominous at first, but on closer inspection makes no sense at all. They’re both going to be dead if they’re both alive? What? Really all it says is that one of them is going to die before the other. Frankly, that seems likely to begin with.
PLAN GRADE - F+ I discussed this a bit in my last entry, but there are three things I had forgotten that I need to clarify now. For one, he sent Harry because only those who the prophecy was about could take it, though I have no idea why. Harry and his friends certainly have no problem knocking them off the shelves easily enough, and when the glass ball containing them breaks, everyone hears what was said. So his men could have gone in, found the prophecy, (labelled “H. Potter & Dark Lord.”) smashed it, and took notes. And even if we take them at their word on that stipulation, there’s still another issue. I've previously pointed out that if his right-hand woman, a prominent prison escapee, could break in, there’s no reason Voldemort, who’s presumed dead, could not. This proved particularly problematic when I was reminded that he actually did. He was in the building the whole time, hanging around the atrium. The third thing is that his plan actually relied completely on Harry being stupid and the adults in his life being neglectful. Which actually is a pretty safe bet, so well done there. That kind of forethought is what bumped him up from an F-.

(I have no idea why his crotch is glowing. Is FairyWinkles to obscure a toy to make jokes about? Well, I just did, soooo... Yeah.)

THE EVIL PLAN - To have his man on the inside (well, boy on the inside) at Hogwarts kill Albus Dumbledore, after using a forgotten plot device from an earlier book to sneak an army of Death Eaters into the school.
EVIL GRADE - B. It’s hard to argue with the killing Dumbledore for straight-up evil, and having a mentally unstable teenager do it, while it’s going to knock some points off in the planning scores, is the icing on the cake. Draco Malfoy spends the entirety of the sixth book having a slow nervous breakdown, and Harry Potter, being the sensitive soul that he is, spends the entirety of the book ignoring Draco’s transparent cries for help. What a dick.
PLAN GRADE - D+. As evil as it was to make Draco do it, it doesn’t make much sense. Apart from a fairly decent set of potion-making chops, Draco is not the top student in the school. He’s smug and arrogant to the point of overconfidence at the best of times, and now he’s clinically depressed. Not the kind of guy you want running your sensitive black ops. By contrast, Voldemort also has Severus Snape, the potions professor at the school. Snape is, as far as Voldemort knows, a double agent, and more importantly, an extremely competent wizard, and MORE more importantly, a freaking adult. If Voldemort wanted Dumbledore dead, he could have had Snape poison him at any time. He didn’t even need the transportation cabinet, since his army doesn’t do squat while they’re there. They just wait until Dumbledore’s dead and flee. The least they could do is take out Hagrid or something. So yeah, hiring a crazy teenager to do a complex job, not even telling the fully capable adult what that job is, and eventually sending an army on an assassination job. Wow. Usually the Dark Lord relies on coincidence too much. I think this is the first time he’s over planned.
Actually, there’s a coincidence in his favor, anyway. Dumbledore had been away attempting and failing to get a bit of Voldemort’s soul to destroy, and had to drink a hell of a lot of poison to do so. Known side effects of this poison include massive weakness in the short term and gibbering insanity in the long term. So the Death Eaters found him in a position where not only was he unable to defend himself, he was actively seeking death. Hmm… maybe sending an army wasn’t a bad idea. I’m not raising the grade, though.

(Wuh indeed.)

THE EVIL PLAN - Engage in a top-secret takeover of the wizard government through sneakery, propaganda, and mind control. Once done, foster a paranoia and mistrust of the good guys. A sub-evil plan is to make everyone think that muggle-born wizards don’t have internal magic, and they have stolen it from real wizards.
EVIL GRADE - C. Not that conquering the government isn’t evil, it’s just… Well, for one thing, it’s kind of small. I thought bad guys were supposed to conquer the world, not a tiny percentage of the population of one smallish, though prominent, country. Of course, Voldy hates all humans and wants to kill and enslave them eventually - or does he? Maybe he’s smarter than we thought and has realized that in open war, the wizards don’t stand a sulfurous rock’s chance in a snowball factory. But probably not. I do like his plan to discredit muggle-borns, though. You’d think that after 5,000 years or whatever, the wizarding community would have figured out that sometimes, wizards are born to muggles. It’s got to be established fact. Doubting it would be like people in the real world doubting that evolution is real, or thinking vaccines cause diseases, or that 9/11 was a conspiracy - just because some shady people with no sense of logic and immediately obvious ulterior motives told them so! Hey, wait…
PLAN GRADE - C-. From a pure planning perspective, assuming he goes ahead with the smaller scale evil, the underground approach makes sense. Let’s face it, Hitler couldn’t have gotten reelected in 1961. No matter how many followers Voldemort used to have, his name being the ultimate embodiment of evil for the past 16 years is the kind of bad publicity it’s hard to recover from. Despite that, there are some… unusual decisions made in the process. For example, after a tenure of only a year, Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour is secretly assassinated, and a new minister put in his place. Surely you have already guessed that Voldemort orchestrated his removal and put one of his men in charge, or perhaps used polyjuice potion to impersonate him. Well, you're half right. In fact, he simply has the new Minister put under a mind control spell, and assigns his closest men to take high positions in the Ministry to direct and monitor him. Far be it from me to question the Evil Genius, but why not just mind-control the guy who was already there? Or, since you seem to be able to get your guys all the best jobs, put one of them in charge? Or at the very least, make the puppet Minister someone other than the head of Magical Law Enforcement, who is undoubtedly trained to resist such spells.
Voldemort also took control of Hogwarts, making attendance mandatory (not that we ever saw any other options in the first place), and manipulating classes, particularly history and Dark Arts, to suit his views. This is once again a great idea that was executed poorly. For example, Snape is made headmaster, which is right and proper from Voldemort’s perspective. As far as he knew, Snape was a dedicated double agent and knew the school well, and his protection of students from the new, evil teachers went unnoticed because he was though to be above suspicion. So I can blame Voldy for missing that. I can blame him for leaving Minerva McGonnagal in the position of assistant headmaster. What the hell? She was Dumbledore's right hand, and a prominent critic of the Ministry's tactics before, as well as one of the teachers who was closest to Harry Potter. Leaving her in charge is just stupid.
There's some smart stuff here. They put a spell on the very word 'Voldemort' that causes anyone who says the word to be located instantly, knowing that only Potter is saying it frequently. They spread misinformation through the wizard's only radio station and newspaper. They find Ministry officials with similar views and promote them. There's a lot of very solid how-to-take-over-a-country here. It's just the boneheaded evil overlord stuff takes over and knocks a B+ plan down to barely passing.
Of course, maybe Volds would be doing better if he weren't only thinking with a ninth of his brain.