Did Snow Really Love Lucy Gray In The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes? I Have Some Thoughts On The Matter

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WARNING: Major spoilers for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes are ahead! If you haven’t seen the highly anticipated book-to-screen adaptation, it’s playing in theaters right now. 

As I walked out of The Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the only thing I could think about was: Did Coriolanus Snow actually love Lucy Gray Baird? Or was this all one big deceptive power play? I saw this project on the 2023 movie schedule days ago, and I’m still baffled by this question. However, I’ve come to a complex conclusion about it, so let’s discuss. 

Before we get into the question posed above, let’s go over the basics first. Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler lead the cast of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as Snow and Lucy Gray, respectively. The two have a complex relationship from the start as the future president of Panem is assigned to be the musician who lives in District 12’s mentor when she’s selected as tribute. The two work together to make Lucy Gray the victor, but they get it because Snow cheated. Their relationship continues as Blyth’s character is sent to the Districts to be a peacekeeper as punishment. He asks to go to her district, and their feelings evolve into something romantic. Eventually, though, things go south, the songstress goes against Snow and runs away from him.

Equally present throughout the film, along with his feelings for the tribute, was Snow’s quest for power. This leads me to believe that while he might have loved the songbird, he loved control and power even more. In the end, when she ran away, that was the final nail in the coffin, and his drive for control and power outweighed whatever feelings he had for Zegler’s free-spirited character. 

A press image from Lionsgate of Sonw leaning forward to talk to Lucy

(Image credit: Photo by: Murray Close)

No Matter How Much Snow Cared for Lucy Gray, He Loved Power More

Snow and Lucy Gray’s relationship begins as a transactional one. They both need something from the other. Snow needed her to win the Plinth Prize and advance. She needed him to literally survive. This created their strong bond, and it’s what ultimately pulled them apart.

It feels like Snow’s love for Lucy was an accident. He never meant for that to happen, my understanding was he wanted to use her and the games to advance at the Capital. However, as he got to know her, I truly believe he cared for her, and even, at one point, loved her. 

As the movie goes on, you can see Snow trying to balance his ambition with his care for Lucy Gray. For a lot of the movie, it feels like those two things are loved equally by him…until the end.

Snow in Songbirds and Snakes

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Why Would Snow Go Through All That Trouble If He Didn’t Love Lucy Gray?

What really trips me up about this whole situation is how much trouble Snow willingly got himself into for Lucy Gray. He cheated in the Hunger Games for her, to both win and save her life. If he were his older cold-hearted self we know from The Hunger Games, I don’t think he would have taken those calculated risks to save his tribute. I think he would have not shown any empathy at all.

However, because this younger Snow defends Lucy Gray and actively works to save her during the games by cheating – which he likely knew he’d be punished for – I do believe he had feelings for her. 

On top of all that, when he is caught, he’s told he’s going to District 8 to serve as a Peacekeeper, but he bribes someone to get placed in 12 instead. Why would he do that for any reason other than to see Lucy Gray and make sure she’s OK?

Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

How The Final Words Of The Movie Impacted My View On Snow And Lucy Gray’s Relationship

When The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ends, the final words are Donald Sutherland’s President Snow saying:

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

I think this statement can be interpreted in two ways. 

The first is that Snow loved Lucy so much, that when she went against him and ran away, it broke him beyond repair. That then led to him leaving District 12, killing Highbottom, and beginning his quest to become president. 

However, you could also interpret this as his love for power is what destroyed him and his relationship. Throughout the film, Snow is constantly battling his darker ambitions. There are moments in the film, like when he keeps hitting an already dead tribute, where it’s clear that there’s an untapped darkness inside of him. In the final moments of the movie, when he is ready to kill Lucy Gray if given the chance, it’s clear that the old version of him is gone. His ambition to get to the highest position of power he can get to, no matter the means, is present and in control.

Snow handing Lucy Gray a white rose in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

(Image credit: Murray Close)

What The Book Says About Snow’s Feelings For Lucy Gray

While the movie leaves Snow’s true feelings a bit ambiguous, the book is much clearer about it all. At the end of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes novel, the future president of Panem reflects on his relationship with Lucy Gray, and fully acknowledges his love for her:

She could fly around District 12 all she liked, but she and her mockingjays could never harm him again. Sometimes he would remember a moment of sweetness and almost wish things ended differently. But it would never have worked out between them. They were simply too different. And he didn’t like love, the way it had made him feel stupid and vulnerable. If he ever married, he’d choose someone incapable of swaying his heart. Someone he hated, even, so they could never manipulate him the way Lucy Gray had. Never make him feel jealous. Or weak.

However, like the movie, Snow’s drive for power and control took priority and overrode whatever love he had for Lucy.

So, I guess, the conclusion here is: yes, Snow did love Lucy, but only temporarily. 

To come to your own conclusions about this complex question surrounding the positively reviewed The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, you can see the movie now in theaters. 

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