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October 26, 2023

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes follows the haunting love story of young President Snow

The+Ballad+of+Songbirds+and+Snakes%2C+a+prequel+to+the+widely+acclaimed+The+Hunger+Games+series%2C+released+in+theaters+on+Nov.+17.+Staff+writer+Taylor+Pham+discusses+the+connections+to+the+original+movies+that+are+shown+in+the+prequel+and+conspiracy+theories+on+what+happened+to+the+characters+after+the+film+takes+place.+Graphic+by+Noor+Fatima.
Noor Fatima
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel to the widely acclaimed The Hunger Games series, released in theaters on Nov. 17. Staff writer Taylor Pham discusses the connections to the original movies that are shown in the prequel and conspiracy theories on what happened to the characters after the film takes place. Graphic by Noor Fatima.

“Now, I don’t love your odds, but may they be ever in your favor.”

These words from Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman mark the start of the 10th annual Hunger Games, in which The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes details.

After eight months of waiting for the highly anticipated prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes released on Nov. 17. The film is an adaptation of the book published in 2020 by Suzanne Collins.

In the film, an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth, is tasked with mentoring the female tribute from District 12, a singer named Lucy Gray Baird, played by Rachel Zegler.

Coriolanus, otherwise known as Coryo throughout the film, must turn Lucy Gray into a spectacle to win a cash prize, which he desperately needs in order to afford university and restore his diminished family name. 

Throughout the Games, Coryo crosses the divide between the Capitol of Panem, where the nation’s elite citizens reside, and the Districts, where the lower class lives, to support his tribute. 

He and Lucy Gray develop an affinity for one another while relying on each other to survive and prosper. 

In the end, though, their beliefs do not align, and Lucy Gray vanishes, never seen or heard from again. Though she is gone, the mystery behind her disappearance torments Coryo for a long time, even after he has stepped into his role as the president of Panem. 

“It’s the things we love most that destroy us.”

This is the last phrase echoed in The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, referring to President Snow’s famous quote in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

After watching the film, viewers can infer that these words are about Lucy Gray and her effect on Coryo. After all, his love for her makes him vulnerable and momentarily causes him to deviate from his goals.

However, power is the thing that truly destroys President Snow. His desire for control and authority outweighs his love for Lucy Gray and causes him to lose sight of humanity.  

Part of the reason why The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is so heart-wrenching are Lucy Gray’s captivating performances. Her love for Coryo is evident through the songs she writes.

One of the verses in Lucy Gray’s song, “Pure As The Driven Snow,” states, “This world goes blind / When children are dying / I turn into dust / But you never stop trying,” referencing her experiences from the Hunger Games.

The Capitol had no remorse for the fact that they were taking innocent lives for the sake of entertainment, while Lucy Gray’s compassion for the other tributes weakened her.

“Pure As the Driven Snow” also reveals why Lucy Gray fell in love with Coryo in the first place. Unlike her, he remained strong and fought relentlessly to keep her alive. When Lucy Gray sang this song, she adored Coryo and believed he was a good person. 

“It’s why I trust you / You’re as pure as the driven snow.”

After seeing Coryo kill Mayfair, Lucy Gray starts to realize how much he changed due to how easily he turned a gun on someone and wonders if he would still choose her over anything.

The song that burdens President Snow the most is “The Hanging Tree.” Sixty-five years after the 10th Hunger Games, “The Hanging Tree” becomes the anthem of the rebellion that occurs in the most recent two movies, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.

It likely shocks President Snow when he hears Lucy Gray’s song, supposedly lost forever, from the lips of Katniss Everdeen, one of the victors of the 74th Hunger Games. 

Because of the parallels between the female victors of District 12, viewers are convinced that Katniss is Lucy Gray’s revenge. Even though the two share similarities, they couldn’t possibly be more different. Lucy Gray is a performer forced to fight, while Katniss is a fighter forced to perform. 

The incident that destroys Coryo and Lucy Gray’s love for one another starts with the lyrics of “The Hanging Tree.”

“Are you, are you coming to the tree / Where they strung up a man / They say who murdered three?” 

In The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Lucy Gray likely knows that Coryo is responsible for Sejanus’s death but wants him to confess it, which is why she asks him who the third person he killed is. When Coryo lies and says he meant his old self, Lucy Gray begins to realize that if he betrayed his friend, Sejanus, he might attempt to kill her as well. 

“Are you, are you coming to the tree / Where I told you to run / So we’d both be free?”

Coryo and Lucy Gray intend to escape District 12 together before they are punished for the murder of Mayfair and Billy Taupe. They plan to meet at the hanging tree at dawn before setting off on their journey.

By taking him to the spot where the weapons are hidden, Lucy Gray is testing Coryo to see if he is truly willing to leave everything behind for a life with her.

Coryo possibly ran away with Lucy Gray because it was the best option at the time, but as soon as he sees the guns, he realizes he can clear his name by discarding them and wouldn’t have to run away. 

Lucy Gray, however, will be suspected either way, because Billy Taupe is her ex-boyfriend that cheated on her for Mayfair. Her estranged relationship with the two suggests that she had a motive for killing them, even though she wasn’t responsible for their deaths. 

Even after seeing Coryo’s hands linger on the weapons, Lucy Gray might still have hope for him, which is why she tests him again with the snake under his mother’s scarf. Coryo’s instant reaction is to take his gun and start firing, which is how Lucy Gray can tell he isn’t trustworthy, so she takes the opportunity to run.

After Coryo returns to District 12, the medic informs him that the snake that bit him wasn’t venomous. He likely second-guesses his actions and realizes Lucy Gray didn’t intend to kill him.

Though Coryo and Lucy Gray are in love, their relationship becomes easily strained when they start having trust issues with each other which leads them to act out of doubt and assumptions.

Regardless of the tragic ending of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird are hopelessly intertwined by fate.

Lucy Gray is his girl, his love and eventually his downfall. 

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About the Contributors
Taylor Pham, Staff Writer
Taylor Pham is a sophomore and staff designer for The Sidekick. In her free time, she plays video games, watches TV, does makeup and skincare and plays the piano. Her favorite subject in school is English because she enjoys writing essays. Her go-to meal is lettuce with Olive Garden dressing, croutons and mozzarella cheese. Her favorite drinks are the Thai tea at 7 Leaves with 70% sugar, less ice and boba and the blue raspberry Nerd slushie at Sonic. This summer, she went on a trip to Japan. She enjoyed shopping at the Japanese convenience stores and visiting the various entertainment districts. Her favorite TV show is LEGO Ninjago and her favorite movie is Spirited Away. She likes listening to Tory Lanez, 21 Savage, Keshi, Chase Atlantic and Lana Del Rey. Her favorite albums are Cry Baby by Melanie Martinez, Starboy by The Weeknd, Alone at Prom by Tory Lanez, Born to Die by Lana Del Rey, and Beatopia by Beabadoobee. When she goes to college, she wants to major in Marketing and Advertising. Her favorite video games are League of Legends, Roblox, Super Smash Bros, and Brawl Stars. Currently, she’s a professional passenger princess and part-time money spender. She’s also a lion dancer on the Pháp Quang lion dance team and a devoted member of her youth group. At Coppell High School, she’s the Vice President of the Coppell EASA (East Asian Student Association). You can contact her at [email protected] or @tayyylorpham on Instagram.
Noor Fatima, Staff Designer

As an excited, wide-eyed Noor walked into D115 for the first time on the first day of her sophomore year, she tilted her head in confusion and thought to herself, “I thought this was an art class, why are there newspaper awards lining the walls?” Despite stumbling into the program by accident, Coppell High School senior and Sidekick graphic designer Noor Fatima found her place in the newspaper.  

Expanding beyond her expectation of designing graphics, Noor has tried a variety of mediums in the program. She enjoys writing stories and drawing graphics.  She grew up in Canada and moved to Texas five years ago, where she joined The Sidekick in her sophomore year of high school.

 She is the secretary of The Coppell Young Writers Association, and has a deep passion for writing. She appreciates the convergence of writing and multimedia that The Sidekick has, and believes that they go together. “People often separate writing, photos, and graphic design, but I think they are amplified and speak for each other when put together,” Noor says. 

Her favorite genre of music is J-pop, and enjoys listening to artists such as  Yoasobi and Kanaria. Noor is fond of rainy weather, and she loves to spend rainy days reading a good book with a warm cup of coffee. She enjoys reading a mix of manga and the occasional novel, and doodling characters from series she likes in her sketchbook. She wishes to pursue writing, and publish a graphic novel in the future. You can contact her at [email protected].

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