WARNING: All the SPOILERS are ahead for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
The Hunger Games franchise has returned, but instead of experiencing the games from the perspective of Jennifer Lawrence’s legendary Katniss Everdeen role, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the origins of her greatest enemy: President Coriolanus Snow. Now that one of the most highly-anticipated upcoming book adaptations is here, let’s talk about the ending of the prequel and how it ties back to the epic hero’s journey of Katniss Everdeen decades later in Suzanne Collins’ best selling dystopian world.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a teenage Coriolanus Snow while he’s living and doing his studies at the Capitol. When his Academy decides to makes members of its senior class mentors to the tributes for the 10th Hunger Games, Snow gets randomly paired up with the District 12 female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. It’s time to break down how the unlikely pair’s story shakes out and where it leaves the Hunger Games franchise.
What Happens At The End Of The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes
With the help of Snow throughout the games, Lucy Gray Baird becomes the victor of the 10th Hunger Games. This is helped by Snow sneaking her some rat poison in a compact mirror and Lucy winning the affections of Panem with her incredible gift for song. However, it’s not long before the Capitol learns of Snow’s cheating and is told to face a 20-year term with the Peacekeepers or be ousted to the public for his actions. Snow chooses the way of a Peacekeeper and purposefully asks to take up his post in District 12 where he finds his old Academy mate Sejanus, along with Lucy Gray Baird.
When Snow learns of Sejanus’ plot with some other rebels to flee District 12 for some peace up north, he secretly employs the use of the Jabberjays to record Sejanus’ plans and send his findings back to the Capitol. Sejanus and some other rebels are then executed for their treason to the Capitol. Things get more complicated when the mayor’s daughter, Mayfair, learns of the plot and shares that she will spill the beans, leaving Snow to kill her and, in the heat of the moment, another rebel named Spruce kills Lucy’s ex Billy Taupe after Billy shares deep discontent for Snow’s actions. Spruce hides the weapons and Snow is reassigned to District 2, but he is nervous he will be caught.
He and Lucy leave the next day together, but amidst their escape Snow catches on to Lucy perhaps having fleeting trust for him. Shortly after Lucy says she’s heading out to grab some “katniss" (the name of a plant in Panem, along with a future hero’s name), Snow soon realizes Lucy has quietly escaped as the echoes of mockingjays singing familiar The Hunger Games song “The Hanging Tree” haunt him in the trees and a sneaky snake bites him under a piece of clothing Lucy has left behind. While Snow feels betrayed by Lucy, he ends up at the Capitol studying under Gaul, starting his path in becoming the future president of Panem.
Where Did Lucy Gray Baird Go?
While The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes never tells us explicitly, it’s heavily suggested that Lucy Gray Baird realized that Snow was behind the executions of Sejanus and the other rebels, and hatched a plan to gracefully get away from him and leave the sting of her abandonment along her untraceable path between leaving her song with the mockingjays and the snake for him to find.
Throughout The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Lucy shows her good nature of seeing the good in people as she accepts help from Snow as her mentor throughout the games. However, as they reunite in District 12, things change between them as Snow suggests some difference in opinion to Lucy’s hopes to live free amongst the trees as he shares his preference for the comfort of the Capitol. Knowing the good-natured character Lucy is, once she finds out Snow is capable of murder and betrayal, she makes a run for it and doesn’t look back. We imagine she joined her covey and other rebels, and perhaps became part of Panem’s outskirts on District 13.
How Snow’s Ending Ties Back To Katniss Everdeen’s Hero Journey
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes provides an emotional origin story for the tyrannical leader of Panem who goes head-to-head with Katniss Everdeen and the rebellion decades later. The final words of the prequel is a quote Donald Sutherland’s version of President Snow says in the original The Hunger Games movie: “It’s the things we love the most that destroys us.” Snow’s story as a teen highlights his personal experience with a District 12 tribute and how his relationship with Lucy Gray Baird left Snow bitter throughout his lifetime.
While Snow could not control what happens to Lucy, including ever seeing her again, he could control his path to comfort and power, and clearly decided to walk that trail rather than one of love. While Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen is not part of the prequel simply because the character was not part of the president’s life until the 74th Hunger Games, Lucy’s memory clearly reverberates through her, between Katniss doing the same curtsy and then singing “The Hanging Tree” during the events of Mockingjay Part 1 while fronting the rebellion.
How Does It Compare To The Novel?
As we’re happy to report, the ending of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes stays very true to the events of Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel of the same name, give or take some helpful inner dialogue from Coriolanus that may help the moviegoer understand more deeply Snow’s motivations that guide him through his journey to the top of the Capitol. At the end of the novel, Snow has the same falling out with Lucy and ends up at the Capitol with Gaul. Perhaps the main extra takeaway is confirmation that Snow loved Lucy, but decided he “didn’t like love” because it made him feel “jealous” and “weak.”
Other than that, time will tell how the prequel stacks up with among other ranked Hunger Games movies. You can check out what critics think of the movie along with CinemaBlend’s The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review.