THE HUNGER GAMES: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens three years before the start of the Hunger Games, during the initial rebellion in Panem. Young Coriolanus Snow (Dexter Sol Ansell) and his cousin Tigris (Rosa Gotzler) are running through the desolate streets, hiding when they witness a man eating human remains. The children return home to find their grandmother, “Grandma’am” (Fionulla Flanagan), who informs Coriolanus that his father, General Crassus Snow, has been killed, and that the family line now depends on the boy.
Part I: The Mentor
Thirteen years later, the older Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) still lives with Tigris (Hunter Schaefer) and Grandma’am, hoping to restore his family’s name. They are preparing for the tenth annual Hunger Games, for which Coriolanus has been assigned to be a mentor to one of the new tributes. He joins the other mentors, including Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera), who comes from a wealthy family and is vocally disapproving of the Games. Head Gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) arrives to introduce Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), the man responsible for the creation of the Hunger Games. Since viewership on the Games has been struggling, Highbottom tells the mentors to focus on having their tributes entertain the audience rather than win.
The Reaping ceremony begins, and Coriolanus is assigned to District 12, to his dismay. His tribute is Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), who is seen in her district putting a snake down the blouse of Mayfair Lipp (Isobel Jesper Jones), daughter of Mayor Lipp (Marc Aden Gray), after Mayfair made a crude comment. Lucy Gray goes to the stage, where the mayor strikes her for harming his daughter, but Lucy Gray slowly rises back to her feet and begins to sing in defiance, which causes both people in the district and even some of the mentors to begin weeping. Coriolanus suddenly takes an interest.
As the tributes are being hauled off into a truck, Coriolanus sneaks onboard to try and talk to Lucy Gray. The other tributes, including a particularly violent one called Reaper (Dimitri Abold), suggest killing Coriolanus, until he reminds them that they will all be executed for doing so. He speaks to Lucy Gray in an attempt to earn her trust, as he hopes to make her the champion of the Games through his methods.
The tributes are placed in a zoo. Coriolanus talks to Lucy Gray and even offers her some food. He learns that she comes from a group in District 12 called Coveys that sing. She also speaks to the camera crew, led by interviewer Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman (Jason Schwartzmann). As this happens, another tribute, Brandy (Luna Kase), grabs a bottle from her mentor Arachne Crane (Lilly Cooper), who was taunting her with it. Brandy smashes the bottle and stabs Arachne in the throat with the broken neck, leading to the Peacekeepers to shoot Brandy dead.
Coriolanus comes up with a proposal for Gaul to suggest that the mentors send supplies to the tributes during the Games via donations from the viewers. When going to approach Gaul with this, Coriolanus goes with his supposed friend Clemensia Dovecote (Ashley Liao), who claims credit for the proposal to Gaul. Gaul tests this by putting the written proposal into a vat of snakes that she has been breeding, saying that they do not attack when they recognize a particular scent. Gaul makes Clemensia stick her hand in the vat to retrieve the proposal, but she gets bitten and has an antivenom administered before she is taken away. Gaul knows Coriolanus wrote the proposal and accepts it.
Coriolanus joins Lucy Gray and the other mentors and tributes to a tour of the arena where the Games will take place. All of a sudden, multiple explosions ring out as a result of a rebel bombing. Several mentors and tributes are killed, but Lucy Gray saves Coriolanus after he is pinned underneath debris. This causes Coriolanus to view Lucy Gray much differently. While in his home, he takes his mother’s compact mirror and slips some rat poison in it to give to Lucy Gray.
Part II: The Prize
The remaining tributes are brought to the arena as the Games get ready to begin. The mentors watch at their base along with the rest of the world. As the event begins, many of the aggressive tributes, including a young girl named Coral (Mackenzie Lansing), start taking out the smaller, weaker tributes almost immediately. Lucy Gray manages to dodge the attacks and tries to find a place to hide alongside her fellow 12 tribute, Jessup (Nick Benson), who was bitten by a bat on the train ride there.
Gaul allows for Coriolanus’s donation proposal to go in effect, which succeeds in increasing viewership. At night, Sejanus sneaks into the arena to mourn his tribute Marcus (Jerome Lance), whom he knew from school. Gaul orders Coriolanus to get Sejanus out of there. One of the tributes, Tanner (Kjell Brutscheidt), tries to attack them, but Coriolanus beats him to death in order for them to get out. It is later said that footage of Tanner’s death was scrubbed from the cameras, allowing Coriolanus to get away with it.
As the games continue, Coral and his partners team up to kill another girl, Lamina (Irene Bohm). Jessup starts to go delirious from the bat bite and tries to attack Lucy Gray. Coriolanus sends a drone with water to the arena, where the water bottle hits and breaks against Jessup, spooking him and causing him to fall to his death. Lucy Gray sadly mourns her friend. The other tributes proceed to attack her, but Coriolanus sends more water drones to cause a frenzy that will allow Lucy Gray to get out.
Moments later, Gaul takes over to announce to everyone watching that Felix Ravinstill (Aamer Husain), son of the Capitol’s president, has died after the rebel bombing, and in response, the rest of the tributes will be killed. She intends to send her snake vat to the arena, but Coriolanus makes his way to her lab by sneaking past guards and slipping his father’s handkerchief into the vat since it has Lucy Gray’s scent on it.
Lucy Gray continues to hide from the other tributes. She grabs the last unbroken water bottle and slips rat poison in there, hoping for someone like Coral to drink it. It is taken by a smaller girl named Dill (Luna Steeples), who drinks it and dies while Lucy Gray watches with horror and remorse. Reaper comes upon Dill’s body and mourns her before gathering all the deceased tributes and placing the Capitol flag over their bodies to spite everyone watching.
Lucy Gray hides in the vents, where Coral and her fellow tributes try finding her. Lucy Gray slips some of the rat poison through the vents, killing one tribute named Treech (Hiroki Berrecloth). After Lucy Gray gets out, the snake vat arrives and breaks open, releasing thousands of snakes upon everyone. The remaining tributes are killed, and Reaper accepts his fate. Coral tries to go after Lucy Gray one more time, complaining as she dies that she could not have killed all the others for nothing. With only Lucy Gray remaining, she begins to sing powerfully once more as the snakes surround her but do not kill her. Gaul initially refuses to declare her a winner, until viewers, including the other mentors, begin to chant for her victory, and Lucy Gray is deemed the winner of the Hunger Games.
Following the win, Coriolanus is brought to meet with Highbottom, who found out about the rat poison and the handkerchief. Since he had previously stated that cheating would be punishable, Highbottom banishes Snow to the districts as a Peacekeeper for the next 20 years.
Part III: The Peacekeeper
Coriolanus begins his training as a Peacekeeper along with Sejanus. While starting off in District 8, he bribes his way to get to 12 to try and find Lucy Gray. He is thankful to find her with the rest of the Covey singing in peace at a bar called the Hob, and she in turn is happy to see him again. She sings “The Hanging Tree” after witnessing an execution in town where a woman ran in futility to her doomed lover before he is hanged.
Coriolanus and Lucy Gray begin to spend more private time together, giving into their feelings for one another and starting a romantic relationship. She shows him the jabberjays (or “mockingjays”) and also shows him a Sagittaria flower, more commonly known as “Katniss”.
Coriolanus spots Sejanus speaking to some of the rebels, learning that he plans to help some of them escape up north. He records the conversation and then plays it back to a mockingjay before sending it to Gaul.
One night at the Hob, Coriolanus finds Lucy Gray and Sejanus along with Lucy Gray’s former boyfriend Billy Taupe (Dakota Shapiro), plus Mayfair and Sejanus’s friend Spruce (George Somner). They are discussing plans to escape, but Mayfair starts to threaten them by saying she will tell her father about them, using their connections like she did to get Lucy Gray put into the Reaping since they were both seeing Billy. Coriolanus shoots Mayfair dead, and when Billy attempts to retaliate, Spruce kills him. Coriolanus tries to comfort a horrified Lucy Gray before attempting to get rid of the guns.
Later on, Spruce is caught after he is implicated in Mayfair and Billy’s deaths, while Sejanus has also been caught after Gaul heard Coriolanus’s message to her. Sejanus pleads with Coriolanus for help, but both he and Spruce are hanged.
Coriolanus then plans to escape with Lucy Gray up north, until he not-so-subtly lets her know that he may have had something to do with what happened to Sejanus. They stop in a hut as it begins raining, and Lucy Gray tells Coriolanus that she is going to pick some flowers. When Coriolanus goes to look for her, Lucy Gray is nowhere to be found. He finds her shawl and tries to pick it up, only to get bitten by a snake. He then appears to see Lucy Gray running and shoots her with his rifle, but she still manages to disappear from his sight. Coriolanus is further driven mad as the mockingjays start repeating her singing to him, and he begins to wildly fire into the air. Before he gives up and returns to his quarters, he disposes of the guns used to kill Mayfair and Billy.
Coriolanus returns to his duties, preparing to be transferred to District 2 until his commander tells him there has been a change of plans. Coriolanus is sent back to the Capitol since he has received a spot at the university, courtesy of Sejanus’s parents (who have no idea Coriolanus essentially doomed their son). Coriolanus meets with Highbottom, who tells him that Lucy Gray’s fate remains unknown since her body was never found, so she either died somewhere alone or managed to make her escape. Highbottom then tells Coriolanus that he suggested to Coriolanus’s father during a drunken evening the plans for the Games. He never meant for it to become a reality, and it haunts him to this day. After Coriolanus leaves, Highbottom takes a drink, only to die after he has been poisoned by Coriolanus.
Coriolanus then meets with Gaul, who asks him once more what the Hunger Games mean to him. He admits he originally saw it as punishment to the districts for their rebellion, but his views have since changed after all he has gone through. Gaul then begins preparations to turn Coriolanus into a Gamemaker, stating that his influence on this year’s Games have changed it for generations to come.
Coriolanus then steps out into the city square, looking up at the statue in the middle of the city. Before the credits roll, the voice of the elder President Snow (Donald Sutherland) can be heard saying, “It’s the things we love the most that destroy us.”
Before the start of the tenth Hunger Games, a young Coriolanus Snow hopes to restore his family's name after his father is killed during the district rebellions. He is assigned to be a mentor to a tribute from District 12 named Lucy Gray Baird, who earns notoriety after singing in defiance during her reaping. Coriolanus takes an interest in her and vows to help her win. During the Games, he helps Lucy Gray survive by slipping her rat poison to use against the other tributes, as well as putting a handkerchief with her scent on it inside a vat of snakes that kill the remaining tributes but not her. Lucy Gray wins, but Coriolanus is caught for cheating, and is sent to the districts to be a Peacekeeper.
Coriolanus goes to District 12 to reunite with Lucy Gray, where they start a romantic relationship. Coriolanus learns from fellow mentor/Peacekeeper Sejanus Plinth, who openly opposed the Games, that some of the rebels are planning to escape up north. Fearing it may compromise what he has with Lucy Gray, Coriolanus betrays Sejanus and records his plans to send to Head Gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul, who has Sejanus and another Peacekeeper executed after the mayor's daughter and her boyfriend are killed.
Coriolanus attempts to join Lucy Gray in their escape, but after she more or less figures out that he had a hand in Sejanus being executed, she abandons him and disappears, leaving her ultimate fate unknown and driving Coriolanus mad.
Coriolanus is sent back to the Capitol, where he kills Dean Casca Highbottom (the creator of the Games) and is set to become a Gamemaker under Gaul, since she believes his work with Lucy Gray influenced the outcome of the Games for generations to come.