On Tuesday morning, after Entertainment Weekly published an excerpt of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Twitter lit up, and for all the wrong reasons. Fans were devastated and infuriated to find out that the "hero" of this installment would be a young President Snow—Katniss Everdeen's archenemy in the original trilogy.
A 'Hunger Games' Prequel About President Snow Could Work—Here's How
The excerpt published by Entertainment Weekly gives us a teenage Coriolanus Snow on the verge of graduation, popular with his classmates at the "Academy" and scholastically impressive. One of his final tasks before heading off to university is acting as a mentor to a tribute from District 12, in an early, less ostentatious version of the Hunger Games. He feels "horror" over being assigned a tribute from the poorest district.
This is all, for sure, a strange and disappointing creative direction from Collins that's going to be incredibly difficult for fans to get over. After all, how are we supposed to root for a guy we know will to turn into a ruthless dictator who sends victors back into the Hunger Games for a second time, murders some of their families and destroys District 12?
There is only one way to make it work, and here it is.
What if Snow's mentee from District 12 is Haymitch Abernathy's future mother? (Haymitch is, far and away, the character fans most wanted a backstory about, so this would at least be Haymitch-adjacent.) In the course of Mama Abernathy's training with Snow, the two fall in love; she ultimately wins the Hunger Games, propelled by a desire to be with him again. Once she is back at home, they conduct a secret affair for many years. The relationship ultimately results in the birth of Haymitch and his brother. When the children are born, Snow's parents, ashamed of their son's offspring, (along with the highest echelons of Panem society) intervene and tear the happy couple apart. Haymitch and his brother never learn their father's true identity.
Once isolated back in the capital, Snow's heartbreak twists into vengeance. He decides that if he can't have his sons, nobody can. He fixes it so Haymitch is selected for the 50th Hunger Games, sending his son to an almost certain death. When Haymitch wins against all odds, in a fit of rage, Snow murders Mama Abernathy, her other son and Haymitch's girlfriend. (The original trilogy says these murders take place because Haymitch's victory made the capital look foolish. The extremity of Snow's rage actually makes more sense with the love story as a backdrop.) Later, Snow's hatred of Katniss is compounded by the fact that Haymitch is her mentor.
In much the same way that Star Wars fans only started to care about Darth Vader once they found out he was father to Luke and Leia, it would be much easier to engage with a President Snow prequel if he turns out to be Haymitch's secret dad. Is it unlikely that I've just accidentally guessed the entire plot of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? Of course! Only one thing's for sure right now—if there's no Haymitch in this thing, the fans will riot.