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‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Ending, explained

The cast and crew of the "Hunger Games" unpack their thoughts on the fate of one character, whose future hangs in the balance.
Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow
in "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes."
Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes."Murray Close / Lionsgate
/ Source: TODAY

Warning: The story contains spoilers for "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes."

"The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" film is a faithful adaptation of Suzanne Collins' 2020 book, which follows the origin story of Coriolanus Snow.

Fans hoping the movie might clear up the fate of one character will leave disappointed. Lucy Gray Baird's future remains just as mysterious as it was in the book — down to her last ominous line.

Rachel Zegler in "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes."
Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird and Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow.Murray Close / Lionsgate

After deciding to leave District 12 with Coriolanus due to the possibility of being charged with murder, the two stop at a cabin near the district's outskirts. He accidentally reveals that he was responsible for the murder of three people — a tribute in the games, the daughter of District 12's mayor, and his friend Sejanus Plith — even though she only knew of two. Despite his attempts to cover his tracks, she remains suspicious.

At the cabin, Coriolanus finds the guns used in the murder, which, if destroyed, would essentially clear Coriolanus' name. After this reveal, Lucy Gray announces that she's going to go collect "katniss," her name for a swamp potato. After Coriolanus protests due to the rain, she remarks, "I'm not made of sugar."

The character is never seen or heard from again, just like in the book.

It's unclear how long the character is gone from the cabin before Coriolanus also starts to get suspicious. Grabbing a gun, he goes to look for her, though the scene appears more like a hunt. He finds her scarf, under which he finds a snake, which bites him. When he hears her voice singing from the mockingjays overhead, he begins shooting at the sky.

Coriolanus ends up disposing of the murder weapon, leaving District 12 and returning to the Capitol, where he launches on the fast track to his future depicted in the "Hunger Games": President Snow, tyrant.

Josh Andrés Rivera, who appears in the film as Sejanus, tells as soon as he finished the book, he called Rachel Zegler, his girlfriend of two years and the actor who plays Lucy Gray.

"I was like, 'Well, did you die? What happened?' Because it's not really resolved, so that was my feeling, like c'mon, spoon feed to me," he says.

Francis Lawrence, the director of the film, says while he has his own idea of what happens to Lucy Gray, he'd "hate to share that."

"What I like is the mystery of her," he says. "So I would love people to interpret it the way they want to interpret it."

Each member of the cast and crew have their own take on the ending. Here's what they shared.

Lucy Gray's disappearing footsteps

Tom Blyth, who stars as Coriolanus Snow, and Zegler, both say they like to think Lucy Gray escaped.

"I like that it's unclear," Zegler says. "I do like to believe that Lucy Gray gets away, but the way her footsteps disappear is just — "

"That's the strange part, that's the bit that always flummoxes me," Blyth says.

The character's name comes from the real-life poem by William Wordsworth titled "Lucy Gray," about a girl who goes out into a snow storm and disappears. Her parents find her footprints and track them to a bridge, where they suddenly stop.

In the book "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," Lucy Gray and Coriolanus talk about her namesake. Other members of her family within the Covey — a traveling troupe of performers — suggest the girl turned into a bird and flew away. Others say she died and became a ghost.

Lucy Gray simply says, "It's a mystery, sweetheart. Just like me. That's why it's my song."

But Blyth's theory is simple.

"You know what, for the purposes of us getting more work, I think she's alive and well," Blyth says.

Lucy Gray's last few lines

Before Lucy Gray disappears, she says she's going to collect katniss — a clear reference to the "Hunger Games" books set 60 years in the future, which follow the rise of Katniss Everdeen as she leads a revolution against Snow and the Capitol.

It's a mystery how the word katniss, Lucy Gray's preferred name for a swamp potato, becomes a hero's name.

“We wonder, ‘How does that become a name that we know years later?’” producer Nina Jacobson says. “I still don’t know the answer to that, Suzanne (Collins) hasn’t told me what the connection is. But I love wondering about it. Have I met the character who’s related? Who is it? Which one is it? And how did it come to be?”

Lucy Gray's very last words are: "Well, I'm not made of sugar."

Jacobson says this last line reminds audiences that Lucy Gray is first and foremost a performer, similar to Snow.

"They meet and connect through performance," she tells "They are each able to don the mask and to be who they need to be in a moment, and that's how they first meet."

Another key question also develops: Are they actually in love?

"There's a constant tension, and I think audiences will have different ideas about real, or not real," she says. "Are they just using each other? Are they actually connecting?"

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Real, or not real?Lionsgate

"I'm not made of sugar" also suggests resilience, Jacobson says.

"It's about that, 'I will not be washed away. I will not just disappear,'" Jacobson says. "And yet, she is also playing a role. Does Snow forget that for a moment, or does he not?"

It could be suggested by the films’ final line that Snow truly thought he loved Lucy Gray.

As the screen fades to black, the voice of Donald Sutherland, the original actor for President Snow, is heard, saying, “It’s the things we love most that destroy us.”

What happened next to Snow?

After Lucy Gray leaves to collect katniss, Snow seems to go manic, overthinking his every interaction with her and questioning their feelings for each other.

Zegler points out that it's hard to know the fate of Lucy Gray because the book and film are told through Coriolanus' eyes.

"I do wonder how much is imagined by the mania that you're experiencing at the end. Like do her footsteps really disappear? Or do you just not know?" she tells Blyth. "The reality is that she haunts you for the rest of your life."

After Snow returns to the Capitol, he tells the head gamemaker Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) that he understands the purpose of the Hunger Games. He begins his university studies under her and takes revenge on Dean Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), who had expelled him in the first place.

Snow poisons Highbottom, marking his first political assassination, something he becomes known for in his rise to the presidency.

Snow returns home polished and on track to reacquire his family's lost wealth. His cousin, Tigris (Hunter Schafer), notes his new appearance and looks at him differently, like she doesn't recognize him.

Schafer says the book makes "tragic sense." Her character, Tigris, is eventually seen again in "Mockingjay," dramatically altered to physically look like a tiger with stripes and whiskers. She sympathizes with the rebels, housing them as they fight in the Capitol.

"I think you feel this impending doom at times in the movie and in the book," Schafer tells "It's kind of like, 'Oh, is it happening? Is it happening?' I was anticipating it."

Sixty years later, Snow is confronted by someone who reminds him of Lucy Gray, Blyth suggests: Katniss Everdeen.