Let’s Watch Mockingjay Pt. 2

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Last time: District 13 or whatever.

This time:

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Oh it’s this dude again, doing his best Jedward impression. Is anyone else bothered by the weird pointy shirt collar thing that’s sticking into his chin? That seems like it would be really uncomfortable and annoying.

OHD sits down for an interview with Mr. Blue Hair, who asks him about the “rumours” that him and Katniss were deliberately part of a rebel plot, which he stridently denies. When it comes to the subject of the unrest, he asks everyone to put down their weapons and play nice. This goes over very well, as you can imagine.

A few questions:

  1. Why is Capital propaganda being broadcast in the District 13 cafeteria?
  2. The tone of the questions makes it clear that both Blue Hair and OHD know (or at least assume) that Katniss is alive, even though the last anyone in the Capital saw of her was her lifeless body being hoisted out of the arena after sustaining a massive electrical shock (actually that would have been a great opportunity for some spin doctoring– “no that wasn’t a rebel ship, that was just one of ours picking up her corpse, she’s totes dead now”)
  3. Doesn’t OHD’s survival hugely compromise the Games? Think about the message this sends– that if you just manage to fuck up the proceedings enough, you’ll get to escape with your life

For whatever reason the actor playing OHD is way better in this scene than he has been in the previous two movies.

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God I fucking hate this dude. It’s not like his character is hugely unlikeable or anything, he’s just boring.

On the other hand, I am glad that he doesn’t do the whole jealous suitor thing by trying to turn Katniss against OHD, but instead reasons that OHD was either forced into saying what he did or made some kind of deal with the Capital to try to protect Katniss.

(Close, but the actual answer is way stupider)

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The movie once again takes some time out to remind us that Katniss has a sister, just in case you forgot. It’s almost like they’re preparing for something to happen later.

Anyway Prim says that Katniss is extremely important to the resistance, so she shouldn’t be afraid to throw her weight around a bit and make some demands in return for her cooperation. Which leads to…

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Katniss demands that Coin rescue OHD and the other captive Tributes and pardon them for collaborating with the Capital. Coin is like “NOPE” but Katniss refuses to be the Mockingjay otherwise and uuuuurrgghh

Look, I get that she’s torn up about losing her boyfriend, but come on. She’s asking them to take a pretty huge fucking risk to extract three people, one of whom has appeared on live TV as the Capital’s mouthpiece. And she’s still acting as if District 13 could have easily rescued OHD and the others but just callously chose not to, even though there’s no evidence for that. They rescued Katniss, Tech Bro and Finnick– the three who were directly beneath the hole in the arena dome– and presumably had to get out of there immediately or risk being trapped. For all they knew, everyone else was dead. Katniss’ weird attribution of blame makes her come across as completely irrational and needlessly hostile toward the people who saved her life.

Now, I can understand the “no show trials pls” request, and if she had offered that as her sole condition I’d think it would be perfectly reasonable and sympathetic that she wouldn’t want her friends and lover executed or imprisoned for trying to save their own lives.

After a bit of arguing Plutarch convinces Coin that having Katniss on their side is worth the risk. Katniss’ last condition is that Prim gets to keep her cat, which, okay, is kind of funny.

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Yay it’s Effie! And she’s not wearing a hideous outfit! Plutarch convinces her to come on board Team Mockingjay, basically to be Katniss’ publicist/advisor. If there’s one positive change the movies make it’s that they drive home the fact that Effie does legitimately care about Katniss a lot, something that often felt obfuscated in the books.

I’d like some more information about how and why she ended up here; presumably she got out of the Capital through the same mean as Woodie Harrelson, but was that always part of the plan? Did she intend to fully join the rebels from the start? The dialogue here makes it sound like they basically kidnapped her.

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Coin gets back at Katniss by making it clear in a public address that rescuing OHD and pardoning him (neither of which are popular) were conditions imposed by Katniss in exchange for representing the rebellion, and throws in the unexpected wrinkle that if she stops co-operating the deal will be null and void, essentially holding OHD hostage.

On one hand this shows that Coin is a smooth political operator, but on the other if the point of all of this is for Katniss to be a symbol then turning the people against her like this is kind of shooting herself in the foot. The whole thing just makes her look petty, as if she’s willing to sabotage the rebellion just get back at Katniss for questioning her authority.

Maybe that was the point? Introducing a power struggle between the two characters is an interesting move, but having Coin act in such an irrational way diminishes her character. A better way to do it would have been to stage the rescue first, then tell Katniss, in private, that she’ll put OHD on trial if she doesn’t toe the party line.

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Effie tells Katniss that Cinna is dead. I could have sworn this was a change from the book, but I looked it up and no, he apparently died in the source material as well.

But at least he left a folder full of concept art behind, revealing that he was secretly supporting the revolution the whole time and wanted Katniss to be the Mockingjay. Becase Cinna has a magical plot morality shield Katniss goes all emotional and gooey at this, even though she didn’t bat an eyelid at Woodie Harrelson, Effie and the other Tributes also putting their lives on the line for the same reason.

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This director’s cut of The King’s Speech is kind of weird.

Plutarch stages a big dramatic propaganda video with Katniss delivering a totally inspiring as fuck speech in front of a fake battle scene. She totally flubs it (the scene is actually pretty funny) because her non-combat skillset is exclusively in losing her temper and engaging in impromptu acts of defiance during poorly timed moments and not, you know, acting. The speech and the whole video come across as kind of stupid and cheesy; I’m not sure if we’re supposed to read them like that or what.

After the screening for Coin where it becomes abundantly clear that the video is a spectacular failure Woodie Harrelson comes up with a better alternative. He asks people to think of “moments where Katniss genuinely moved them”, which in the book came across as more Katniss ego stroking but here seems a lot more sensible, mostly due to Harrelson’s delivery.

They come up with the idea to send Katniss to a District where shit’s going down so she can be spontaneous and do sick inspiring shit. Coin initially balks at this since Katniss could get killed, but Katniss shuts her down in one of the few genuinely badass moments in the series (“And if you’re killed?” “Make sure you get it on camera.”)

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The violence breaking out has been consistently described as “unrest”, but when Katniss and her team of militarized documentarians (Capital citizen who defected to the rebel cause) jet down to District 8 it’s clear that the situation has descended into open warfare and that the Capital is no longer in control.

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This leads into easily the best moment in the entire series so far: a (totally awesome) rebel leader woman brings Katniss and her team to a nightmarish field hospital full of wounded people. Katniss almost breaks down at the entrance and doesn’t want to go inside, believing that she can’t do anything for them, but then they get super hella inspired by her presence and she promises to fight beside them.

Here’s why I love this scene:

  • Katniss is acting completely sympathetically here and clearly believes in the cause instead of going along with it for OHD’s sake
  • All the reality TV shite pays off with tangible results and we see (rather than are told) that Katniss has become a symbol of the resistance who can have an active role in bolstering the rebellion
  • For the first time she seems to break out of the deliberately manufactured role that she’s been put into and acts genuinely in front of the cameras… but, in keeping with the story’s central themes, she doesn’t drop the act entirely: when asked about the baby she was suppose to be having she claims that she “lost it” rather than admitting the truth, as this will make a better narrative

I think you could pick out certain moments from the franchise as a whole– Katniss giving the Mockingjay sign after Rue’s death, her speech in front of the people of District 11 and this scene– and rewrite the story keeping them in mind, and you’d end up with a really awesome main character and a nuanced tale about the ways cultural and historical hero figures are born and operate.

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Meanwhile, President Snow is Snowing it up. One of the all-seeing invisible cameras that the Capital apparently has everywhere spotted Katniss going into the hospital, and his aide suggests that they might be able to take her out with a quick bomber attack. Snow instead tells them to kill the wounded to send the message that associating with Katniss is dangerous.

Gee whiz that sure is despicable! I mean, blowing up a hospital with devastating aerial weapons just to further your military goals, what kind of evil regime would oh my what is this link doing here, how did that happen? Anyway check back next week for part 3.

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