To a certain extent, most Hunger Games fans knew roughly how new prequel The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes was going to end: with Coriolanus Snow having begun his journey to becoming the antagonist we know from the other films.


What would have been less clear, however, is the fate of some of the other characters, most notably Lucy Gray Baird (played by West Side Story star Rachel Zegler).

Indeed, even after watching the film, some audience members might be slightly in the dark as to what happened to Lucy Gray, with a key scene towards the end having been left deliberately vague.

With that in mind, spoke exclusively with producer Nina Jacobson and director Francis Lawrence ahead of the release to find out their own theories about the ending.

Read on for a recap of the key scenes, and to find out what Jacobson and Lawrence had to say – but be warned that there are naturally major spoilers ahead.

Hunger Games prequel ending explained: What happens to Lucy Gray Baird?

The very end of the film sees Coriolanus pay a visit to the co-creator of the Hunger Games Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage).

After a discussion during which Highbottom both expresses his regret at his idea being made a reality and explains his hatred for Snow's late father, Coriolanus slips him some poison, murdering him.

This is all fairly clear cut, and can be seen as truly marking Snow's descent into villainy - but before that, there is a moment that is far more ambiguous.

Earlier, Coriolanus had agreed to run away with Lucy Gray Baird to the North after they were both implicated in the deaths of Lucy's ex-boyfriend Billy Taupe and the daughter of District 12's mayor Mayfair Lipp.

However, during their escape, Coriolanus stumbled upon the guns that would have implicated them, and realised that if he could dispose of them he no would no longer have any need to become a runaway.

Soon afterwards, he appears to accidentally let slip that he was directly responsible for his old friend Sejanus being hanged, and begins to believe he can no longer trust Lucy Gray knowing she may be aware of this information.

He therefore decides to get rid of her and pursues her with the gun. But shortly after firing he is bitten by a snake and becomes delirious – and is therefore unable to tell if he actually struck Lucy Gray or whether she managed to get away.

We later learn that Lucy Gray was never heard from again, but it is not clear if this is because she died or simply that she lived in exile for the rest of her life.

Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes embracing in the woods
Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

Speaking to, Jacobson suggested that while she was glad the character's fate was left a mystery, she leaned more one way than the other when it came to the question of her survival.

"First of all, I love the line from Highbottom that mysteries have a way of driving people mad," Jacobson explained. "Which is true, and I think that's true for audiences, too.

"You know, everybody wants everything to be so certain. But what I love about this story is, I actually think there are a lot of places where people can bring their own ideas that might be very different than somebody else's – about the romance and is it real or performed, you know?

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"And at what point is either one of them truly, like, in love with the other? Are they just working it? I think you could take 20 people and they might have 20 different ideas.

"And I think the same is true of the ending. So, yes, I do have my own notions, and I'm probably an optimist, I'll just say that much about my ideas of what happened.

"But I think the most important thing is that line, like I say, from Highbottom that mysteries have a way of driving people mad."

While that reference to optimism seems to suggest that Jacobson reckons Lucy Gray did survive, Lawrence was rather more reluctant to divulge his own opinion.

"I definitely think it is best left as a mystery - but, I mean, I have my theories," he said. "It's supposed to be a mystery. I think it's supposed to get people thinking. And so it's best left that way."

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is released on 17th November 2023. Check out more of our Film and Sci-Fi coverage, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what’s on tonight.


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