In the third chapter of Mockingjay, Katniss gives her demands to Command regarding her position as the Mockingjay and is surprised by what they have planned for her. And then: room 3809. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Mockingjay.
Hey guys, remember Prim? You know, Katniss’s sister who she is TOTES devoted to and who kept her motivated throughout her first run through the Hunger Games? Oh, right, SHE’S NEVER AROUND. For someone so important to the main character, we sure do get few chances to ever experience what she’s like. Isn’t that strange to you?
During that night’s bout with insomnia, Katniss dresses herself in the district’s custom garb (ALL GREY, JUST LIKE THEIR HEARTS) and accidentally wakes up Prim. And hey! We finally get to see her ACTUALLY TALK when she asks Katniss what’s wrong with her.
“You could tell me, you know. I’m good at keeping secrets. Even from mother.”
She’s really gone, then. The little girl with the back of her shirt sticking out like a duck tail, the one who needed help reaching the dishes, and who begged to see the frosted cakes in the bakery window. Time and tragedy have forced her to grow too quickly, at least for my taste, into a young woman who stitches bleeding wounds and knows our mother can hear only so much.
Not to discount what Katniss is feeling, but…ok. We barely got to see Prim be a child, let alone grow up to an old woman. This feels kind of lazy, as a way to say, HEY BY THE WAY, SHE GREW UP. LOL.
I understand, though, that there really hasn’t been much time for Collins to spend with Prim, especially since Katniss has been in an arena for at least half of the past two books. And maybe this is her way of acknowledging that the rest of Katniss’s life has been on hold, or at least occurring in the background, while we’ve been in the urgency of everything else.
Still, I like Prim. I would have liked to also see more of her, and I’m worried we won’t get much of her in the pages that follow in Mockingjay.
“It’s just…Peeta. I’m afraid if we do win, the rebels will execute him as a traitor.”
Prim thinks this over. “Katniss, I don’t think you understand how important you are to the cause. Important people usually get what they want. If you want to keep Peeta safe from the rebels, you can.”
See? Don’t you want more of Prim? I think she’s entirely underestimated as a character and the conversation they have proves that she’s much more perceptive than we may have realized. She helps Katniss realize she can ask for Peeta’s immunity and also helps her figure out the best way to guarantee they’ll have to live up to their promise is by doing it all in public. But it spawned another thought in me: Does District 13 honestly think Peeta is a traitor? I mean, the guy was kidnapped by the Capitol and probably got tortured. Seriously? A traitor?
At breakfast, we learn more about the system District 13 uses to ration food, a method that has helped keep them alive for so long without the Capitol:
They have nutrition down to a science. You leave with enough calories to take you to the next meal, no more, no less. Serving size is based on your age, height, body type, health, and amount of physical labor required by your schedule.
WHAT. I would starve to death because I REALLY LOVE FOOD. This is an ongoing problem in my life. Still, as Katniss said earlier, I have to give 13 credit: they truly persevered in an otherwise impossible situation.
Katniss asks Gale to accompany her to her meeting that morning with Command and, like a good friend, he obliges without much thought. GALE FOR PRESIDENT. Ok, that’s a stretch, but I love that he supports her without question. It’s probably the best thing she could ask for.
At Command, Katniss is nervous in a way I’d not seen before; she immediately asks for a pencil and a piece of paper and I really feel bad for how hard this is for her. Her headache starts to return and she’s unable to concentrate, as the memories of the past year come rushing back to her. It seems these confrontations trigger her PTSD, but she does have a moment of BADASSERY that I cannot ignore:
The pencil moves across the page on its own. I open my eyes and see the wobbly letters. I KILL SNOW. If he’s captured, I want the privilege.
Oh, Katniss. OH, KATNISS.
What follows I Katniss attempt to remain firm and make her demands if she agrees to be the Mockingjay. She starts off with Buttercup and SERIOUSLY, THEY HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT. Ok, well only the 13 natives, BUT STILL. IT’S A CAT THAT SURVIVED A BOMBING RAID. Surely it will be fine in an underground bunker!!!
If he misses curfew, he will be locked out. If he causes any security problems, he’ll be shot immediately.
IT’S A FUCKING CAT, DISTRICT 13. JESUS CHRIST.
Second on her list, she demands that her and Gale be allowed to hunt. Besides the obvious, of getting to eat more food, Katniss makes it a point to say it will help her mindset to be able to actually go outside. As Plutarch starts to tell them a million reasons why they shouldn’t, Coin surprised me by allowing it.
“Give them two hours a day, deducted from their training time. A quarter-mile radius. With communication units and tracker anklets. What’s next?”
Well, shit. That was easy. Not as easy (nor as confusing) as what happens next. Katniss says that she wants Gale with her in order to pull of being the Mockingjay. Coin replies:
“With you how? Off camera? By your side at all times? Do you want him presented as your new lover?”
Like Katniss, my response is simply: WHAT?
Turns out that a lot of what they have planned for Katniss is very, very public. Plutarch doesn’t think they should contradict the romance that she built up with Peeta, especially since most of Panem believes she is pregnant. While Katniss is disturbed that they were so willing to portray Katniss otherwise if she liked, I was more bothered by the idea that she’ll be on camera. How is she going to do that? Is Collins trying to draw a parallel to what the Capitol did?
When Katniss demands that Peeta, Johanna, and Enobaria be pardoned upon release, she’s met with instant rejection. And Coin says something that makes no sense:
“They’ll be tried with other war criminals and treated as the tribunal sees fit,” she says.
WHAT. Surely, this is a bad joke, right? Do those in charge really see these people as war criminals? THEY WERE KIDNAPPED BY THE CAPITOL. Shouldn’t they be fighting to get them back?
“They’ll be granted immunity!” I feel myself rising from my chair, my voice full and resonant. “You will personally pledge this in front of the entire population of District Thirteen and the remained of Twelve. Soon. Today. It will be recorded for future generations. You will hold yourself and your government responsible for their safety, or you’ll find yourself another Mockingjay!”
HOLY SHIT. Katniss, HIGH FIVE THROUGH THE PAGES.
“Just one more thing. I kill Snow.”
For the first time ever, I see the hint of a smile on the president’s lips. “When the time comes, I’ll flip you for it.”
KJADSL;FKADFSJKLADSJLKDFA HOLY GOD. Oh god, WHAT. Touche, Coin. Touche.
At this point, I would recommend buckling in. Because what the fuck is happening. I was still unsure what it would entail for Katniss to become the Mockingjay and I’m still shocked as to how this all unfolded. Plutarch starts off by handing her a sketchbook, hoping that what’s inside will convince her to accept the role.
I open the cover to find a picture of myself, standing straight and strong, in a black uniform. Only one person could have designed the outfit, at first glance utterly utilitarian, at second a work of art. The swoop of the helmet, the curve of the breastplate, the slight fullness of the sleeves that allows the white folds under the arms to show. In his hands, I am again a mockingjay.
“Cinna,” I whisper.
Somebody hold me. Poor Cinna.
Turns out that Cinna was also in on the plan and sketched Katniss’s outfit in the weeks before the Quarter Quell games began. It also helps to explain why he was so excited and willing to assist her during both sets of games. HE WAS ALWAYS ON HER SIDE.
I use this GIF a lot. It just works, ok?
Ready for more head asplosion?
“But we have Beetee. About ten years ago, he essentially redesigned the underground network that transmits all the programming. He thinks there’s a reasonable chance it can be done. Of course, we’ll need something to air. So, Katniss, the studio awaits your pleasure.”
BEETEE WAS PART OF EVERYTHING ALL ALONG. Well, at least on a grand scale. And the plan is to use the Capitol’s system of entertainment/propaganda against them. I AM EXCITE.
What does strike me as odd, though, is how much all of this resembles what the Capitol did to Katniss as she prepared to enter the Games. Plutarch’s assistant, Fulvia, sounds eerily like the prep teams that tended to Katpee.
“Just how grimy can we make her without disgusting people? At any rate, she has to be something. I mean, obviously this”—Fulvia moves in on me quickly, framing my face with her hands—“won’t cut it.”
YEAH, THIS IS WEIRD. I don’t know, I guess this falls in line with the same thing I felt before: this is not at all what I expected. Maybe since Fulvia is actually from the Capitol, she tends to act this way. I don’t know. I guess I just wanted things to be different for Katniss for once.
Plutarch, Fulvia, Gale, and Katniss all board an elevator and, after Plutarch uses a special key, they head to the thirty-ninth floor. Underground. There are THIRTY NINE FLOORS UNDERNEATH THE SURFACE. Good god. Of course, when people head to a SECRET FLOOR via the elevator, you know shit is about to get real.
And so they head to room 3908 after exiting the elevator and then WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
Something feels very wrong down here. It’s more than the reinforced elevator, or the claustrophobia of being so far underground, or the caustic smell of antiseptic. One look at Gale’s face and I can tell he senses it as well.
WHAT DO YOU SENSE. I DON’T LIKE THIS.
“Good morning, we were just looking for—“ Plutarch begins.
“You have the wrong floor,” says the guard abruptly.
“Really?” Plutarch double-checks his notes. “I’ve got Three-Nine-Oh-Eight written right here. I wonder if you could just give a call up to—“
“I’m afraid I have to ask you to leave now. Assignment discrepancies can be addressed at the Head Office,” says the guard.
What??? But….it’s Plutarch. He had a key. Why would he have a key to the 39th floor if he wasn’t allowed there? I DON’T GET THIS.
It’s right ahead of us. Compartment 3908. Just a few steps away. The door—in fact, all the doors—seem incomplete. No knobs. They must swing free on hinges like the one the guard appeared through.
WHAT??? WHERE ARE THEY? WHO BUILDS ROOMS LIKE THIS.
From behind door 3908 comes a sound. Just a tiny whimper. Like something a cowed dog might make to avoid being struck, only all too human and familiar.
I can’t. I cannot comprehend this. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. Is this District 13’s prison?
Without hesitation (which is a great sign of how close Gale and Katniss are), Katniss drops the sketchbook she is holding and Gale and the guard both bend down to pick it up. When Gale grabs the guards arms “as if to steady himself,” Katniss bolts for the room.
I dart around the distracted guard, push open the door marked 3908, and find them. Half-naked, bruised, and shackled to the wall.
My prep team.
HOW. HOW THE FUCK IS THIS POSSIBLE. Why does District 13 have them??? Are they punishing them? IS CINNA INCLUDED IN THIS OR JUST THE TRIO?
WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK.