The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Ending Explained & Plot Analysis

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes: detailed analysis of the movie. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes: plot summary, meaning, ending explanation, movie description.

Country: USA, Canada

Genre: sci-fi, thriller, drama, action movie

Year of production: 2023

Director: Francis Lawrence

Actors: Tom Blythe, Peter Dinklage, Rachel Zegler, Josh Andres Rivera, Viola Davis.

Tagline: “You’re invited back to the games.”

The plot of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes tells about the events that took place long before the appearance of the protagonist of the dystopian franchise, Kitniss Everdeen, and is devoted to the formation of her main enemy – Coriolanus Snow. It turns out that this character turned into a villain far from immediately. And the fatal role in this was played by his love for the Hunger Games participant Lucy Gray Bird.

What the movie’s about

We will analyze the plot of the movie up to the ending, paying attention to details that at the first viewing could be incomprehensible. To complete the picture, we will sometimes use details from the source material (Susan Collins’ book) in a part that does not contradict the events of the movie.

Tom Blythe of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Tom Blythe performs the role of Coriolanus Snow. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

In the prologue we are shown an episode from the early childhood of the main character named Coriolanus Snow – the future president of the totalitarian state of Panem. This state emerged after a global catastrophe on the territory of North America (probably, we are talking about the nuclear war after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which took place in an alternative history of this world, which explains the “old-fashionedness” of the movie’s entourage).

Three years before the first competition, known as “The Hunger Games”, there is a bloody war between the Districts (administrative units, districts) and the Capitol, the capital of Panem. The Snow family, despite their status, is in great difficulty. They failed financially after investing much of their wealth in nuclear research in the Thirteenth District. It was its inhabitants who were the instigators of the rebellion that turned into war.

Coriolanus and his cousin Tigris run through the dilapidated Capitol in search of food. They dash away when they spot a wild dog. The children then hide as they watch a hungry resident dismember a corpse lying in the plaza to carry home and eat. Back home, Cory learns the sad news that his father, General Crass Snow, has been killed in a rebel ambush in District Twelve. The boy’s mother died even earlier in childbirth of his younger sister, who died with her. Tigris’ parents are also dead.

Years pass. Coriolanus is seventeen. Waking up early in the morning, he looks at his father’s compass, which was delivered to him after his death. Coriolanus lives in an apartment with his grandmother, whom he calls Madame Ba, and Tigris. We see that the Snow’s never gained wealth at the time of the death of the father of the family – they are still living in squalor. Even the beautiful shirt for Coriolanus was made by Tigris (the future stylist of the Hunger Games) by remaking an old one, using improvised materials, including pieces of tiles in the bathroom.

Rachel Zegler of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Rachel Zegler played the role of Lucy-Gray Baird. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Coriolanus is finishing his studies at the Academy and hopes to receive the Plint Prize. It is established by Strabo Plinth, the father of his classmate Sejanus, who became rich through the war. The prize is annual and goes to the best students. Coriolanus is one of them, so his hope is well founded. With the prize money he will be able to pay for further studies at the University.

Before leaving home, the hero recites the motto of his family: “Snow lands on top”. Its literal translation is “Snow lands on top”. It’s a play on words – Snow’s last name sounds like “snow”. The true meaning of the phrase is “Snow always takes the upper hand.”

At the entrance to the school, Coriolanus is greeted by his classmate Clemmie. In front of her, as well as, obviously, in front of everyone else, the guy pretends to be rich, but he explains his zeal in his studies not by his desire to get a prize, but by his patriotism.

His classmates exchange barbs and discuss behind his back about Sejan, who dislikes the Hunger Games, a competition in which children selected by lot in the districts must kill each other in the arena. Because of his humane views, he is known as a white sheep. However, Coriolanus befriends him, or rather, maintains a friendly relationship with the hope of possible benefits, as in the case of all the others.

Behind the pulpit, Dr. Valumnia Gall, the head of the War Ministry, speaks. She invites Dr. Dean Cusk Highbottom, Director of the Academy, to give a speech. He informs her that in order to maintain interest in the Hunger Games, which the people of Panem hardly ever watch, they have decided to make a number of innovations this year. One of them is that the Plint Prize will not go to the best student, but to the best mentor in the Hunger Games. The mentors the students will have to become. They will interact with the participants in the deadly competition – the tributes.

Peter Dinklag of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
The role of Casca Highbottom is played by Peter Dinklage. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

The Harvest ceremony begins – the selection of tributes and the appointment of mentors for them. Sejan Plinth gets a sturdy young man from the second district – a great luck in the opinion of the others. However, Sejan, who is from there himself, is not enthusiastic about it. Coriolanus is given one of the weakest tributes, a girl from the twelfth district, Lucy Gray Baird.

Upon hearing her name at the Harvest Ceremony, Lucy exacts revenge. She plants a small snake in the dress of Mayor Mayfair Lipp’s daughter. After all, the latter was the reason the mayor said Lucy Gray’s name – apparently, the lot was for someone else to go to the Hunger Games. Lucy Gray’s ex-boyfriend Billy Brown, who betrayed her, (now boyfriend Mayfair) screams that he didn’t know anything.

The Mayor beats up Lucy Gray. As she falls on the platform, she hears a song started by a troupe of musicians of which she is a member. It sustains her. Approaching the microphone, the girl picks up the song, shouts invective against her enemies and the Capitol, and, bowing, walks away proudly.

Casca Highbottom gloats in conversation with Coriolanus, realizing that the latter is going to have a hard time. The headmaster was once his father’s best friend, but there has been strife and now he clearly dislikes his son.

In order to win, or at least to prove himself as a mentor, Coriolanus decides to take his cousin’s advice and get close to Lucy Gray. He is the only one of the students who meets the tributes at the train station upon arrival at the Capitol. Moreover, he climbs into a truck carrying captives to the zoo for the amusement of the public. Lucy Gray immediately recognizes him as a rebel like herself and prevents the other tributes from killing him.

Upon arriving at the zoo, the couple is immediately caught in the crosshairs of the video cameras and decide to use this to show themselves to the public in a good light. TV host Lucretius Lucky Flickerman (probably the father of Caesar Flickerman, the host of The Hunger Games starring Kitniss Everdeen) is told by Lucy Gray that she is an orphan and is not a real resident of the Twelfth District. She is a traveling entertainer like the rest of her troupe.

Actress Viola Davis of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Actress Viola Davis as Volumnia Gall. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

In the Academy of Casca Highbottom strictly condemned Coriolanus’ act. Students supported him: it is impossible to show that the tributes are equal to the inhabitants of the Capitol. And only Sejanus supported his friend. Dr. Gall, who suddenly appeared, approved Coriolanus’ improvisation – after all, he brought an element of show. Inspired, the boy continued to develop the idea: it was necessary to draw attention to the tributes. By piquing the public’s interest, it might even be possible to allow betting. Dr. Gall asked Coriolanus to prepare an essay with suggestions for the development of the Hunger Games.

Sejanus admits that the tribune he got, named Mark, is a classmate of his from high school in District 2. In fact, his father bought him for his son to show him that they are no longer the scum of the districts, but the people of the Capitol are the elite.

Coriolanus and Sejanus take food smuggled in from the Academy for their tributes. Mark refuses the “handout.” Lucy Gray, on the other hand, accepts the food gratefully and treats not only Jessup, a guy from her district, but also the giver himself. She realizes that the latter is clearly malnourished as well. Coriolanus notices the wound on Jessup’s neck – he was bitten by a bat on the train. The guy protected Lucy Gray from pesky animals during the trip.

During a meeting at the zoo, mentor Arachne Kane begins to tease his mentee with food. The latter responds by pulling out a hidden knife and killing her mentor. The peacekeepers (Capitol soldiers) fire a machine gun round at the killer. Under the influence of this incident, Madame Ba has another conversation with her grandson about how all the people outside the walls of the Capitol are real savages and should be feared. However, Coriolanus and Lucy Gray grow increasingly fond of each other, although they both realize that their cooperation is primarily pragmatic: the mentor needs money, the tribune needs life.

Coriolanus and Clemmie pay a visit to Dr. Valumnia Gall’s laboratory. It is a place where pererods – genetically modified animals – are raised as weapons. Valumnia asks the students a question: which one of them has written an essay on innovating the Hunger Games? Clemmie gets the idea to trick Dr. Gall. She assigns authorship to herself, even though Coriolanus wrote the essay alone.

hunger games participants of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Valumnia arranges a test: from a huge vessel, swarming with poisonous snakes, one must take out a leaf with an essay. The snakes won’t touch someone whose odor they know. Clemmie didn’t even touch the supposedly collaborative essay. So when she tries to take the worksheet out of the vessel, she immediately gets a bite. Dr. Gall, says that she likes the ideas Coriolanus describes in the essay very much and is going to recommend their full implementation.

The next day, the mentors go with the tributes to tour the arena for the upcoming Hunger Games. The mentors try to draw attention to their mentees, the future players start to make alliances. Suddenly, there is a series of explosions – the rebels have organized a terrorist attack. Coriolanus almost loses his life, but he is saved by Lucy Gray – at the cost of his own freedom. After all, she had the opportunity to escape, taking advantage of the situation. However, four other fugitives were killed, including one shot by peacekeepers. Sejanus’ tribune Marcus escaped.

On TV, Coriolanus sees Lucy Gray performing a song, just as he asked her to do. And for good reason – donations come in from the audience, which the mentor will be able to spend to save his mentee’s life.

Thanks to the explosion, the field of the future battle has changed a lot. Now there are tunnels in the arena, in which you can hide. Coriolanus informs Lucy Gray of this. He also gives her his mother’s powder box with rat poison inside so that she can use it to harm her opponents.

Main characters of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

The first day of the Hunger Games is coming up. The tributes are launched into the arena. Mark, who escaped and was caught, is suspended on a beam for the players’ edification. Sejan is furious at the sight of his half-dead classmate. He calls the organizers monsters and flees from the auditorium where the mentors are.

Lucy Gray nearly dies during the first bloody fight. She finds Jessup weakened by a bat bite disease. Lucy Gray hides with him in a tunnel underground, nearly falling into the hands of her pursuers. Meanwhile, Lamina, a girl from District Seven, climbs a beam and frees Mark, killing him and thus putting him out of his misery. Her mentor sends her water. But the drone flies too fast. Lamina doesn’t have time to intercept it, the water bottle shatters against the wall. Coriolanus learns a lesson: such packages can be used as weapons.

Sejanus manages to sneak into the arena to honor a fallen tribune from the Second District and thus demonstrate his protest against the Hunger Games. Dr. Gall freezes the broadcast for an hour and sends Coriolanus to rescue his comrade. The scheme succeeds. Coriolanus convinces Sejanus that his protest is pointless – no one will see it anyway. He can do much more for the poor people of the districts by using his father’s money and power.

The boys run for the exit, pursued by the tributes. One of them, defending himself, Coriolanus kills. The peacekeepers open the gate and let the friends out. At the sight of his father coming to pick him up, Sejanus ironically utters the phrase “Let the money fall” – a kind of interpretation of the motto of the House of Snow. The same motto is played with by Dr. Gall, reciting a poem about snow at the sight of Coriolanus returning.

Jason Schwartzman of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Dr. Gall summarizes Coriolanus’ experience in the arena: when people’s lives are threatened, the husks of education and morality fall off very quickly. According to her interpretation of the world order, without proper control, people immediately start killing each other and everything turns to chaos.

At home, Coriolanus confesses to Tigris that he has felt power by killing the tribune. His cousin warns him not to aspire to be like his father – in his eyes there has always been only hatred.

By morning, Jessup becomes a real threat to Lucy Gray instead of a protector. Because of a bat bite, he has finally contracted rabies and is now stalking the girl. Coriolanus asks his mentor Lysistrata to send the unfortunate one water. After all, those afflicted with the disease are afraid of water. It works: Jessup falls from the hill, where he climbed in pursuit of Lucy Gray. The boy crashes to his death.

The girl is immediately surrounded by a gang of tributes. Coriolanus uses a proven trick: sending water to the attackers, thus knocking them down. While the gang switches to Lamina, surrounding and killing her, Lucy Gray poisons the water bottle. She leaves it in the arena, pours the contents of the others onto the floor, and hides in a ventilation shaft.

The murders continue. The victim of the water-poisoning stunt suddenly becomes the weak and tubercular Dill from the Eleventh District. Her associate Reaper, grieving, gathered the corpses of the dead in the arena and covered them with a torn Panem flag, causing an outcry from the audience. Dr. Gall interrupted the broadcast to break the news: Felix Ravinstill, mentor to Dill and son of the current president of Panem, had passed away. Valumnia promises revenge – perhaps with the deaths of all the Tribute.

Coriolanus guesses exactly what Dr. Gall’s revenge will be. It seems that for the spectacular death of the tributes in the arena, she plans to unleash her poisonous snakes. Coriolanus rips out the stitches Dr. Gaul has put in the wound he received in the arena and goes to her to sew them up again. As he leaves, he discreetly tosses his handkerchief, soaked with Lucy Gray’s tears, into the snakes’ vessel.

industrial zone of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

In the finale of The Hunger Games, Lucy Gray again escapes from her pursuers. Before that, she manages to poison one. The pursuit is interrupted by the delivery of a vessel to the arena. Its walls burst and numerous snakes crawl out. They kill all the remaining tributes except Lucy Gray, for they know her scent from the handkerchief. Dr. Gall is discouraged: she wanted every last one of them dead, but she decides not to disappoint the public, which was pleased with the girl’s victory. People thought that the salvation was due to the magic song sung by Lucy Gray during the “snake invasion”.

Coriolanus’ mentee won, but her mentor’s cheating was exposed. Casca Highbottom has provided irrefutable evidence of the deception: a powder bottle and a handkerchief. As punishment, the boy is sent to a remote district to serve as a peacekeeper for twenty years. Of course, there’s no question of a Plint prize to pull Coriolanus’ family out of a financial hole. Now Casca Highbottom is ironizing the Snow family motto: “Snow falls like snow.”

With the help of a small bribe, Coriolanus manages to travel instead of the eighth district to the twelfth, where Lucy Gray lives. Suddenly he is joined by Sejan, who has volunteered for service and is thinking of becoming a combat medic.

In the first few days, the friends are confronted with the harshness of Panem’s laws. They are forced to stand guard during the hanging of rebels in the district square. This makes a particularly heavy impression on Sejanus.

The peacekeepers go with the people of the district to a concert to unwind. Lucy Gray and her troupe perform on stage. She notices Coriolanus in the crowd and is delighted to see him. The concert is interrupted by the appearance of Billy Brown and Mayfair, who start a scandal. The event ends in a scuffle.

Coriolanus and Lucy Gray meet outside the city. The girl tells them that Principal Casca Highbottom treated her well, giving her money for the road. He also said the strange thing that Lucy Gray survived Snow and he’s happy about it.

Josh Andres Rivera of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
The movie stars Josh Andres Rivera as Sejanah Plint. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

In town, Coriolanus notices that Sejan is hanging around with the locals, including Billy Brown. They are actively discussing something. Coriolanus expresses his displeasure with this to Sejanus. But he seems to have made up his mind.

Coriolanus continues to meet Lucy Gray in secret. He asks about her namesake, the missing girl, the heroine of one of her songs: where has she disappeared to? Lucy Gray replies that it’s a mystery.

A girl from the company of musicians gives Lucy Gray a edible plant – swamp potato, or kitniss (also the name of the winner of the seventy-fourth Hunger Games – the heroine of the first part of the franchise).

The young people are in love and want to be together. But Coriolanus seeks to return to the Capitol, and Lucy Gray is dear to freedom. The girl also says that she was once betrayed (it’s about Billy Boer), and she puts trust above everything, even above love.

At the military unit Coriolanus is informed that he has passed the qualification tests brilliantly and is waiting for a promotion – preparation for an officer’s position in the second district. He contacts Tigris, learns that things are going rather badly for her and Madame Ba, and promises to make things right.

Coriolanus sees Sejan communicating through the bars with a prisoner. He bluntly asks his friend what he’s up to. After all, if the guy is punished for his association with terrorists, Coriolanus will be punished too. Then Sejan tells him that Spruce, the leader of a small group of rebels, wants to rescue his sister Lil from captivity. She is about to be executed simply because she knew one of the conspirators. They have no goal other than to escape together to the north, away from Panem.

law enforcement officers at games of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

During the conversation, Coriolanus discreetly turns on the tape recorder. And afterward, he scrolls through Sejanus’s recorded monologue to a peregrine bird known as the jay-talker (an ancestor of the mockingbird songbird). They were bred in the Capitol to spy on the enemy. They memorize and reproduce whole phrases very accurately and with original intonations. Coriolanus sends a bird with a “record of the conversation” directly to the War Ministry to Dr. Gall.

During another concert, Coriolanus burrows into the back room, where he witnesses a fierce argument between Sejanus and Billy Brown and Mayfair. It turns out that the naive friend didn’t realize that the rebels would use weapons and there is a risk that people could get hurt during the escape. Spruce appears and points a gun at Coriolanus. Just then, Lucy Gray enters. In an attempt to smooth things over (more people have clearly learned of the escape plan than the conspirators had hoped for), Billy says that Lucy Gray is running with him. This infuriates Mayfair, and she promises to tell about the plot. Then Coriolanus snatches a gun and kills her. In a rage, Billy Brown pounces on the killer. Now an associate is forced to shoot Spruce. The surviving members of the discord quickly return to the main hall before anyone notices anything. Coriolanus tells Spruce to dispose of the weapon, which has traces of both men’s DNA on it.

After the bodies are discovered, all the peacekeepers are thrown into the search for the murder weapon. Lucy Gray informs Coriolanus that the mayor suspects her of killing her daughter, so she is in great danger. The girl plans to flee north. Coriolanus declares that he will run away with her, because if they find a weapon with his DNA, he will be killed immediately.

The peacekeepers catch Spruce. He is executed in the square along with Sejanus, which means Dr. Gall got a jay talker with a “record”. Coriolanus’ hope that Sejanus will be saved from the sentence by his influential father is not justified.

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Explanation of the ending

Let us give a detailed explanation of the ending, especially the part concerning Lucy Gray’s disappearance.

As Coriolanus continues to be threatened with exposure as Mayfair’s murderer, his plan to escape with Lucy Gray remains in place. The lovers walk through the woods, debating the nature of villainy. Lucy Gray believes that people are naturally good and that everyone has the choice to cross the line of evil or not. Coriolanus, on the other hand, doesn’t think so – he seems to have grown closer to Dr. Gall’s view that people without control inevitably become murderers. In the course of the conversation, he says that he has killed three people, considering Sejanus to be the third. On Lucy Gray’s question he answers that the third is himself – supposedly it was a figure of speech: the hero destroyed his former self in order to be reborn and run away with his beloved. The girl immediately realized that the guy is lying – he betrayed Sejanus, which means he can betray her.

In an abandoned hut Coriolanus discovers the very weapon that the peacekeepers are looking for. If he gets rid of it, freedom and promotion await him. Lucy Gray realized this right away. She even reminded him that she was the only surviving witness to the murder who could tell the authorities everything. The couple’s trust is finally breaking down. The relationship comes to an abrupt end. From that moment on, the lovers turn into real enemies. However, Coriolanus realizes it not so quickly.

Lucy Gray runs out of the cabin into the rain on the pretext of collecting edible kitniss. After a while, Coriolanus starts looking for the girl, but finds only his mother’s scarf, which he gave him as a gift, and under which a snake lurks. The snake stings him, but not fatally. Coriolanus is angry. When he hears a rustle in the bushes and sees Lucy Gray’s silhouette, he shoots. There is a scream. But at the site of the supposed fall, Coriolanus finds only the girl’s jewelry, crumpled grass and broken branches.

Coriolanus hears Lucy Gray singing, but it may well be a jay’s “recording” of a jay talker’s earlier song sung by the girl. The melody is picked up by the mocking jays. The hidden meaning of this act was to throw Coriolanus off the scent. It succeeded. True, it is unknown whether it was done right away or the result of a manipulation done a little earlier. It is also unknown whether the trick with the snake was staged or whether the handkerchief was lost by Lucy Gray by accident and Coriolanus also accidentally caught the snake underneath it.

shooting in the forest of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Did the girl escape or was she killed by Coriolanus’ bullet? If we take what is shown at face value, then at least for some time after the shot Lucy Gray was alive. Healthy or wounded, she was obviously hiding. In the second case the girl might have died from loss of blood. But, if there was a wound, it was hardly serious. Coriolanus found no traces of blood.

If you watch the footage of the shooting in slow motion, you can make sure that the bullet hit the tree to the right and above Lucy Gray’s head. And the girl fell down only a moment after the shot, probably, having tripped.

Another explanation is that Coriolanus experienced a paranoid psychosis because of the stress he had experienced. In other words, the clue may be that what happened in the woods could have been a dream. In reality, the girl could have run away while it was still raining.

But what we do know for sure is that Lucy Gray stopped trusting Coriolanus. And given that trust is more important to her than love, the very attempt to run away from her lover as a response to betrayal can be considered a fact. Let’s say that neither the author of the source material nor the director explains the meaning of the ending of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. The writer will likely touch on the fate of the fugitive in future books. The director is making his own speculations. According to his version, Lucy Gray escaped to the Thirteenth District, which, as we know, didn’t really suffer a complete rout after the war. Fans of the franchise in turn have their own theories. According to one of them, Lucy Gray became the ancestor of the heroine Kitniss Everdeen – too much in common between them.

If we refer to the content of the book by Susan Collins, it should be said that the reason for the breakup of Lucy Gray and Coriolanus was not only betrayal and deceit on the part of the latter and not only ideological differences in the couple. Even before leaving for the forest, both realized that they belonged to different worlds. In the movie it is shown with the help of small hints, but in fact the difference in outlook and even banal in habits turned out to be colossal. The escape of both was a forced step, which even without betrayal and deception looked reckless. Besides, it was unlikely that the pair would have been able to live long in the wilderness, away from civilization. Lucy Gray’s words sounded especially naive: “We could live in the wild… Live as we want… Wake up when we want.”

Hunter Schaefer of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Hunter Schaefer played the role of Tigris Snow. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Anyway, at the moment the fugitive goes missing, Coriolanus is furious and confused. He fires a machine gun at the jays, but to no avail. After calming down, he drowns the shotgun with traces of his DNA in the lake and heads back to the District to leave later for a promotion.

Coriolanus takes Sejanus’ belongings with him on his journey. However, it suddenly becomes clear that his destination is not the Second District, but the Capitol. There, Dr. Gall informs Coriolanus of his full pardon. After all, he has passed all of Valumnia’s tests. He has wholeheartedly accepted her point of view (“The whole world is an arena. And we need the Hunger Games to remind us who we are”), sacrificed a friend. Now Coriolanus will study at the University under Dr. Gall and on Sejanus’s father’s money – the Plint Prize goes to him, after all. Coriolanus’ suggestions for innovations in the Hunger Games have been fully accepted and will be implemented next year.

Coriolanus is going to visit the director of the Academy, Casca Highbottom. Before going out, he asks Tigris what he looks like. For the first time, his cousin calls him by his full name (instead of Cory, as before) and says that he looks more and more like his father.

The director tells us that The Hunger Games is mostly a credit to Coriolanus’ father. He was the one who helped realize the delusional ideas that Highbottom told in jest and in a state of intoxication. Subsequently, the director regretted it more than once. This was the reason for the breakup of the best friends at that time. It turns out that the point of Highbottom’s opposition to Coriolanus was, among other things, to stop the development of The Hunger Games as a show. Casca understood that the kid would continue his father’s cause. But it turns out he only added fuel to the fire.

In parting, Coriolanus recites the Snow family motto. After his departure, Haibottom takes a narcotic substance called morphling, delivered to him along with the rest of Sejanus. Moments later, the headmaster dies. The thing is, Snow put rat poison in the substance. It was his revenge for the trouble Highbottom caused him.

Coriolanus Snow of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Coriolanus played by Tom Blythe. A still from the movie The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Is there a scene after the credits

There is no post credits scene in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. During the screen blackout before the jay and snake emblem appears, the words of an adult Coriolanus Snow “It is what we love that destroys us” are heard – a kind of conclusion of the protagonist about the transformation he has undergone.


In addition to background music for the movie (from composer James Newton Howard and Chinese pianist Yuja Wong), compositions were prepared that are played and sung in the story by Lucy Gray (in the story she is also their composer) and her ensemble. Accordingly, in reality they were mostly performed by actress Rachel Zegler herself. These songs are based on lyrics from the novel by Susan Collins. Each is directly or indirectly related to the plot.

For example, the song “Nothing You Can Take From Me” sung at the Harvest and the ballad sung to guitar at Coriolanus’ request before the Hunger Games are addressed to the traitor Billy Burohm (as well as to all those in power). “The Old Therebefore”, sung from Lucy Gray’s mouth during the snake attack in the arena, is essentially a deathbed song. “The Hanging Tree”, sung at the end after Lucy Gray escapes, tells of the three hanged men and the lovers meeting in the square where the execution took place, just as it happened in reality. This song would later be sung by Kitniss Everdeen, another hint of the connection between the two heroines of the franchise.

Flanagan Fionnula of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
The role of Madame Grandma was played by Flanagan Fionnula. A still from the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

The meaning of the movie The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

So, in “The Ballad” we witnessed the formation of Coriolanus Snow as the main villain of the franchise. We are not talking about the final rebirth – the authors “left room” for further transformation of the character. And yet the emergence of dark morality as the basis of personality is evident. It cannot be said that its sprouts were sown by one of the hero’s entourage. Circumstances (poverty, war), heredity (the resemblance to Crassus Snow is emphasized repeatedly), power holders (Dr. Gall, Casca Highbottom), the Hunger Games as a model of controlled chaos and cruelty, and unhappy love on the background of all this made their contribution. But the choice (yes, a hard one) was still always Coriolanus himself.

The authors tried to create an ambiguous character, for whom you want to worry, and they succeeded. In this respect, the prequel partially surpasses the rest of the franchise.

The essence of the movie, if to describe it briefly, is quite simple: despite the circumstances and environment, we ourselves recreate our morality as a life compass, we choose the direction of movement. It is very easy to make a mistake, just as it is easy to be led astray by our own selfishness. And even a blunder, made seemingly impulsively, can cost the lives of several dear people, and in the future – hundreds and even thousands of innocent people.

In conclusion, let’s note the irony intended by the authors, embedded in the title of the movie. On the light side is the “songbird jay” – Lucy Gray. On the dark side eventually becomes a “snake” – Coriolanus. Lucy Gray uses her favorite snakes as “tools”, and Coriolanus uses a jay-talker (in the episode with the betrayal of Sejanus). Good and evil are closely intertwined.

Lucy Grey and Coriolanus of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
A still from the movie The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Related movies

  • The Hunger Games (USA, 2012): the first installment of the franchise;
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (USA, France, Canada, 2014): the penultimate installment of the franchise, similar to the prequel with events taking place outside the arena;
  • The Maze Runner (UK, USA, 2014): another spectacular dystopia with teenage protagonists;
  • Snowpiercer (South Korea, Czech Republic, 2013): a post-apocalyptic dystopia with an interesting concept;
  • Game of Thrones (USA, UK, from 2011): an epic fantasy series with amazing character transformations from heroism to villainy and back again;
  • Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (USA, Italy, Switzerland, Thailand, 2005): part of the famous space saga that tells the story of a positive hero’s transition to the dark side of the force.
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