If you watched "The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes" this weekend and have questions about what happens to Rachel Zegler's character, then keep on reading.
Warning, spoilers ahead.
The highly-anticipated The Hunger Games prequel, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" hit theaters across the globe this weekend. Based on the best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" film takes us back to the 10th Annual Hunger Games, through the eyes of the books' most infamous character, President Coriolanus Snow. However, the film introduces us to his young self, a charismatic and struggling student who must stand out as the best mentor of the games in order to earn a scholarship and attend university.
The film is set a decade after the war. Scenes of a half-torn Capitol welcome us from the first scene, starting with the Snow's half-destroyed penthouse apartment. Tom Blyth gives life to Coriolanus Snow, while Hunter Schafer plays his talented and caring cousin, Tigris.
Soon, the students of the Capitol learn they'll be mentoring the tributes from the districts, with the goal of making them a spectacle, not survivors. At first, Coriolanus was dissatisfied with his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, a young girl from District 12 wearing a colorful ruffled skirt. Quickly though, Lucy Gray steals the attention of the Capitol and Coriolanus realizes that he's got the most promising tribute. As he prepares Lucy Gray to win the games, he develops intense feelings for her, which make him cheat in order to help her survive. While he manages to save Lucy Gray, he is banished to the districts as a punishment for cheating in the games. There, he gets a glimpse of a slow life in the countryside, spending long days by the lake with Lucy Gray's chosen family, the Covey.
Trouble finds Coriolanus and Lucy Gray again after he shoots and kills an influential District 12 citizen, and they are force to escape Panem and travel north, which in the universe of The Hunger Games is called "The Wilds."
Why did Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird decide to escape north?
While Tom Blythe is a master of capturing Snow's fall into madness, the books do offer more insight into the ending of the film. It's clear that the games affected Lucy Gray the most, leaving her with trauma and distrust from experiencing the horrors of the arena. But they also affected Coriolanus Snow, who was injured during the rebel bombing, and entered the arena at one point, where he killed a tribute.
After the two lovers decide to escape north, they find a cabin in the woods. Due to a storm they decide to stop and rest. There, Coriolanus finds the gun which he used to kill the mayor's daughter. He feels a sense of relief because it means that he no longer needs to escape north as the last loose end of his crime is in his hands. However, Lucy Gray is quick to point out that she's actually the last loose end because she witnessed the crime.
This is an important detail because it feeds into Coriolanus' paranoia. However, it's also important to note that the books do a better job portraying Coriolanus' fall into madness, while the film can make it seem like it's Lucy Gray who triggered this.
What happens to Lucy Gray Baird at the end of the "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?"
I could write a novel on the amazing casting for this film, but it is Rachel Zegler's last line as Lucy Gray Baird that, in my opinion, proves this the best. As Coriolanus realizes Lucy Gray is in fact the last loose end preventing him from going back to his old life, she announces that she's going outside to harvest "Katniss," a potato-like root they can eat. Coriolanus is quick to point that it's too early in the season to eat them, as Lucy Gray told him days before, but she decides to go out anyway.
The final line is delivered perfectly. As Lucy Gray gets her jacket and opens the door to a raging storm, Coriolanus stops her because it's raining outside.
Lucy Gray looks at him and grins. "Well, I'm not made of sugar."
This last line is a powerful reminder that above all, Lucy Gray is a talented performer. That's both her role and her power. I do believe that Lucy Gray grew to love Coriolanus Snow, but she also knew that he loved The Capitol and his old life more than anything.
Did Coriolanus Snow kill Lucy Gray Baird? Is she alive?
When Coriolanus realizes Lucy Gray has run away, he goes into a rampage. He starts shooting everything in sight, and at one point, his madness makes him believe he even shot Lucy Gray.
The ending of "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" is meant to be ambiguous. While we can assume that Lucy Gray did not die that day, we don't know what happened to her. She could have escaped north to the Wilds, or returned to District 12 and live in hiding. Panem back then wasn't as advanced as the one we see in the other films, where Katniss and Gale couldn't even fathom the idea of running away because there was so much surveillance.
Is Lucy Gray Baird alive when Katniss and Peeta go into The Hunger Games?
I believe this is the most pressing question of the series. We know Coriolanus Snow lived long enough to see Katniss enter the Games. He was also there to see The Capitol fall again. So the biggest question is, where is Lucy Gray Baird during the events of The Hunger Games movies?
If she's still alive, then it's possible Lucy Gray became aware of Katniss. Katniss's memories in the novels suggest that rising sea levels flooded various countries outside of Panem, but the specific countries impacted and those that endured remain uncertain. If you look at the district map of Panem, it seems like Canada was reclaimed by nature. So there's a possibility there are settlements of people who survived. However, Lucy Gray Baird is the only known character in The Hunger Games universe to escape Panem.
The one breadcrumb we get is that Katniss knows Lucy Gray's song, "The Hanging Tree" which becomes an anthem for the resistance. In "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" book, we learn that Lucy Gray Baird wrote the song after witnessing the murder of a man named Arlo Chance, who is hanged at the tree where executions take place.
While we don't know how Katniss learns the song, it's interesting to know that's why it affects President Snow so much, given his history with Lucy Gray.
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