This isn't your first rodeo with Harry—you first rodeo was a wild ride called Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone. So, you know the basics—he's a wizard; he's "the boy who lived;" he's got the coolest scar in the history of scars.
However, things are changing big time for our hero at this point in the series—and no, not just his voice. Let's take a look at what this year at Hogwarts brought to him.
Harry didn't grow up knowing he was a wizard, so he was already kind of behind (at least in that respect) when he got to Hogwarts. Sure, he's got a few years under his belt now and—bonus—has smart friends like Hermione who are willing to help, but he's still pretty green when it comes to certain aspects of the wizarding world.
Like, for example, he doesn't know what a Portkey is, even though it's apparently a pretty standard mode of adult wizard travel. So, he's super confused when the Weasleys take him out into a field and want to lay their hands on an old boot:
HARRY: Why are they all standing around that manky old boot?
WEASLEY TWIN #1: That isn't just any manky old boot, mate.
WEASLEY TWIN #2: It's a Portkey.
AMOS: Time to go!
HARRY: What's a Portkey?
This is the kind of knowledge that you learn while growing up, not at school, so it makes sense that Harry missed out on details like that during his upbringing with the Muggles. But still—poor dude hardly has time to say "What's a Portkey?" before being whooshed off into the ether.
Then, later, Hermione has to explain Voldemort's Dark Mark and Death Eaters to Harry when both appear at the Quidditch World Cup:
HERMIONE: It's the Dark Mark, Harry. It's his mark.
HARRY: Voldemort? Those people tonight, in the masks, they're his too, aren't they? His followers?
MR. WEASLEY [nodding]: Death Eaters.
These seem like references that most wizards "get," but Harry still has to catch up a little. Again, we think that's a little mean: shouldn't Moldy Voldy's #1 Victim get briefed on little things like what Voldemort's mark looks like?
Growing Up Too Fast
Unfortunately, Harry's wizarding education gets on the fast track in this film. Also, just in general, Harry has to face things that any kid (wizard or non-wizard) would find challenging. Some highlights of Harry's growing pains:
- He gets entered in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous student competition, without his permission, and despite the fact that he's not old enough according to the rules…which means he's competing against wizards who are older, more physically developed, and much more experienced. Not good.
- This year, hormones—that most magical of potions—come to Hogwarts. Harry (and many of the other students) start struggling with romantic feelings and dynamics, and it gets a little messy when he and Cedric (his fellow Triwizard champion) go after the same girl.
- He experiences the first really big negative consequence of his decisions/actions, with Cedric dying and Voldemort coming back. He didn't intend for that to happen but…it does.
With that last item, Harry gets one of the hardest lessons of adulthood: sometimes even when you're being brave and doing what you think is right, horrible things can happen that you could never even imagine.
See, Harry actually chose to let Cedric share his win in the tournament, which is why he and Cedric both grabbed the cup—and why both ended up face-to-face with Voldemort when the cup turned out to be a Portkey. Harry spent the entire movie being brave and honorable, and it all ended with disastrous consequences.
And the worst part? The fact that Cedric's death isn't the worst thing that came out of that whole situation. As much as we're sad about Cedric, we have to admit that the impact of Voldemort's return is 1,000 times more serious, in terms of how it will affect basically the entire world.
The Challenges to Come
We can't say it enough: this really is a big turning point in Harry's story in terms of tone. With Voldemort back, there's no doubt Harry is about to face some seriously scary stuff. The first few Harry Potter movies have been fairly kid-friendly, but this is the moment where Harry—and the audience—have to wade into the adult world together. This is no longer a kids' story, folks.
And you know what that means: a happy ending ain't necessarily a guarantee.