Books and films on fictional dystopias existed way before Suzanne Collins published The Hunger Games trilogy. At the time, books like Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale depicted a world very different from our own that was not impossible if a certain chain of events happened.
But unlike More’s Utopia or Bellamy’s Looking Backward, dystopian literature sees a pessimistic future where humans suffer from the effects of their own folly. However, while I can’t say for certain that The Hunger Games was the first dystopian young adult novel of the late 2000’s, it’s arguably one of the novels that, due to its success, inspired more writers to write along the lines of dystopian fiction. After The Hunger Games, we had The Maze Runner, Divergent, and many other young adult and general dystopian fiction.
So with it source material a notable point in literature, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 had a lot of pressure to end the film series just right. But did it?
District 2 Resistance
After recovering from Peeta’s attack, Katniss is taken to District 2 during District 13’s attempt to assault the Capitol armory and air force within the area. In the last rebellion, District 2 had been the most loyal to the Capitol, which is why most of the Peacekeepers are trained there. They free the civilians, but one turns on Katniss and threatens to kill her. However, while she convinces the survivors to join their side, one shoots her. Fortunately, she is saved by her bulletproof suit.
When President Snow learns of District 2 joining the rebellion, he kills his minister for leaving the Capitol’s best troops there. Knowing the odds are against him, he orders all the Peacekeepers back to the Capitol and calls on his gamemakers to set up defenses similar to that of the Hunger Games.
Preparing the Capitol Invasion
Because of Katniss’s close brush with death, President Coin refuses to let her join their final assault of the Capitol even if Katniss asks for permission to kill Snow herself. However, Coin only wants her remain a figurehead, even if it means keeping her in the headquarters and doing propos within its walls. During Finnick and Annie’s wedding, Katniss receives a tip from Johanna about an aircraft leaving for the Capitol outskirts. There, she convinces the rest of the rebels to let her join the Star Squad, much to Coin’s displeasure. Apart from Katniss and several others, the team includes Finnick, Gale, and leader Boggs.
Katniss soon finds out that their team won’t be a part of the invasion, but rather be behind the real invasion and be used for propos and show progress of the rebellion. They stay in the outer streets of the Capitol cleared by the initial invasion and evade booby traps called “pods” which Boggs’ Holo can detect from a holographic map. Finnick realizes that the traps are similar to the Hunger Games fashion and calls it the 76th Hunger Games.
The team soon find Peeta arriving, saying Coin had assigned him there despite not being fully healed by his brainwashing. Boggs warns Katniss that this is a sign Coin sees her as a threat and may have sent Peeta to try and kill her. The fact that Katniss can override Coin and get into the Star Squad shows that she has certain power and influence that can undermine Coin’s authority, which is why Coin might want her out of the picture and use her as a martyr instead. Katniss acts hostile towards Peeta until she realizes his conditioning makes it hard to determine real memories from memories added by the Capitol.
While filming, the squad is ambushed by an undetected pod that fatally injures Boggs. He gives Katniss control of the Holo before a second pod releases black ooze that surrounds them. While running. Peeta’s conditioning is triggered and he tries to kill Katniss. He ends up killing one of the team members before everyone else finds safety in an abandoned building.
The team, save for a pair of twins, leave to take shelter in another building. Peacekeepers surround the building and kill the twins, and the Capitol announces that they killed everyone – including Katniss. However, Coin introduces herself to Panem and provides a eulogy naming Katniss a martyr to rile up the rebels for their cause.
To avoid activating the pods and to let the Capitol believe they are dead so that they can continue going unnoticed, the Star Squad use the sewers to navigate toward Snow’s mansion. However, this is short-lived as Snow sees them and sends reptile creatures to hunt them down. Plenty of the team are killed during the escape through the sewers and the underground railways, including Finnick. They reach a safe house, the home of a former Hunger Games stylist to recuperate and mourn their losses.
Snow releases an announcement inviting Capitol citizens to seek refuge in his mansion. However, Katniss realizes the ulterior motive behind it: Snow knows the rebels would not attack his mansion if it were filled with innocent citizens, especially the children, and has formed a human shield. With all the pods disabled to allow citizens passage, Katniss and Gale disguise themselves as refugees and head for the mansion.
As the rebels approach the mansion, a hovercraft bearing the Capitol insignias drop packages into the crowd. These packages explode upon contact, killing crowds of Capitol citizens of all ages. Peacekeepers and rebel medics arrive to help the injured, and Katniss sees Prim tending to the wounded. Just as she catches Prim’s attention, a second bomb goes off which kills Prim and seriously injures Katniss.
After the War
When Katniss wakes up, she learns that the war is over, Snow has been imprisoned, and the rebels have won and overtook the Capitol. When Katniss confronts Snow in the greenhouse, Snow offers his condolences over Prim’s death but insists it was not because of his actions. While he’s not above killing children, he wouldn’t do so senselessly and waste life. He points out, however, that Coin masterminded it as she had the most to gain with Snow’s followers and supporters turning against him when it appeared he was the one who did it. He realizes that Coin had been quiet while he and Katniss were trying to destroy each other when, in reality, she had a much longer endgame in mind.
Katniss realizes the bombing resembled a trap Gale and Beetee planned that involved two timed rounds of bombings that killed people who tried helping the first round of victims. Katniss confronts Gale, who cannot deny that the bomb might have been his. Unable to forgive him, Katniss leaves him.
Katniss attends a meeting with Coin, who has made herself President of Panem, and the other surviving victors of the Hunger Games. Because it would be wasteful to execute the Capitol population as punishment, she plans on having one final Hunger Games featuring the children of the powerful Capitol officials (hint: Snow has a granddaughter that had been focused in the movies). Katniss realizes that Coin is going to be another ruthless tyrant and plays along by siding with Coin. This causes Coin to trust her and give her the opportunity to execute Snow in a final symbolic gesture.
At the execution, Katniss aims at Snow but fires her arrow at Coin. The mob proceeds to beat Snow to death, but it’s unclear if he is killed by them or he dies from choking on his blood as he laughs. Katniss attempts to commit suicide before she can be taken, but Peeta stops her before she is arrested and carried away.
Returning to District 12
Katniss is imprisoned, but Plutarch sends her a letter saying she will be pardoned for her crime as many believe she is mentally unwell. However, she should return to District 12 (the homes in Victors’ Village had not been burned down during the bombings). Eventually, Peeta and Haymitch return to District 12 with her.
Meanwhile, Gale has become a military commander in District 2. Annie gives birth to Finnick’s son. Katniss’ mom continues to work in the medical field, but because of her loss of Prim cannot bear to go back to District 12 but keeps in touch with Katniss. Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch develop a symbiotic relationship. Katniss and Peeta develop their relationship until Katniss eventually admits she loves him. Years later, Katniss and Peeta have married and had children of their own.
Some people may think that the ending was a bit boring, considering that they didn’t show how the rebellion ended or the aftermath of Katniss killing Coin. But you have to remember: this is a dystopia, but it’s a dystopia mostly told through Katniss Everdeen’s point of view. If you look back to the beginning of The Hunger Games, had Prim never been chosen, Katniss would not have volunteered in the first place and started the chain of events that would lead down to this movie. Some other District 12 girl would have been picked and both she and Peeta had a fairly low chance of winning the Games.
This story is told through the eyes of a 16-year old girl who is a victim of tyranny. I don’t think the ending is supposed to go out with a bang like your average action film. It’s meant to show the horrors of war and rebellion and the children that are forced to grow up early and suffer because of war.
And if we’re looking at it at a dystopian perspective, perhaps the ending is appropriate. War isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t end with Katniss triumphantly standing over Snow’s dead body. War is Katniss watching her little sister die in an explosion. War is Katniss injured and nearly killed multiple times because of her actions. The movie doesn’t celebrate war; it celebrates peace. And in its own quiet way, it celebrates that Katniss, though never fully healed from the events of the series, learns to cope after the horrors she experienced as she looks forward for the better. And as Katniss says herself in the end, there are much worse games to play.