‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Ending Explained: War Is Brewing

The Big Picture

  • The ending of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire marks the beginning of the long-awaited war between the districts and the Capitol.
  • Katniss’s defiance and escape from the Quarter Quell show the rebellion’s growing support, even within the Capitol.
  • The revelation of District 13’s existence raises many questions about their role in the rebellion and their survival strategies.

Beginning nearly six months after the events of The Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), and Effie (Elizabeth Banks) prepare for the nationwide Victory Tour that occurs each year at the midway point between the games to start The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, all while Katniss and Peeta try to cope with the horrific time they spent in the arena. An unexpected visit in District 12 from President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) causes Katniss to shoulder even more anxiety, as he explains how her act with the nightlock berries is being viewed as a form of rebellion throughout the districts that make up Panem, their bleak and dystopian country. As such, Katniss must try to convince those in the districts that what she did was purely out of love for Peeta. It’s a task she is eager to accept because she is desperate to keep those she loves, particularly her sister Prim (Willow Shields), safe from the Capitol’s ever-powerful forces. That said, Katniss isn’t very good at being told what to do, and her confusing feelings for best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) further complicate matters.

When Katniss inevitably fails to convince the districts, especially after a horrific visit to District 11 — home of Rue (Amandla Stenberg) and Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) — a new threat is thrust upon them: The Quarter Quell, which is a special version of the Hunger Games event that occurs on the anniversary of the rebellion every 25 years with a new set of parameters. The last one, which Haymitch won, included twice the number of tributes from each district. This time, Snow and Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) rig the games to bring the existing pool of victors back as tributes for these games, meaning Katniss will have no choice but to compete once more as the only girl to choose in District 12. When Haymitch’s name is drawn, Peeta volunteers, bringing our star-crossed lovers to death’s door once again. When they get into the arena, hell breaks loose and the tribute number dwindles rapidly. However, Katniss and Peeta work as hard as possible to keep each other safe and alive, yet they know there can only be one victor this time around.

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Poster

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

Release Date
November 22, 2013

Francis Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Jack Quaid, Taylor St. Clair, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Woody Harrelson

146 minutes

How Does ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ End?

After the jabberjay attack, Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) informs the group of his plan with the wire. At dusk, they will connect the wire to the lightning tree and bring it back down to the beach, electrifying the water and the damp surrounding area, killing the District 2 tributes Brutus (Bruno Gunn) and Enobaria (Meta Golding) when they, inevitably, come out of the jungle to reclaim the beach. Just before dusk, Katniss pleads with Peeta to leave the group as the number of tributes continues to dwindle, but he convinces her to see out this plan and escape as soon as they hear the cannon fire. So, as planned, the group makes their way to the lightning tree to enact Beetee’s plan. After wrapping the wire around the tree, Beetee tasks Katniss and Johanna (Jena Malone) with bringing the wire down to the beach. Katniss and Peeta protest, wanting to stick together, but the others are suspicious of why they are fighting back. Reluctantly, they give in, and Peeta stays behind to guard Beetee with Finnick (Sam Claflin).

On their way through the jungle, the wire seemingly gets caught, but then it’s clearly cut. Brutus and Enobaria are after them, so Katniss tosses the wire aside to prep an arrow, but Johanna bashes her in the head with the spool of wire. Johanna cuts her arm, removes her tracker (though Katniss doesn’t know this yet), puts blood on her neck, and tells her to stay down. Thinking she’s dead, the Careers chase after Johanna. Shortly thereafter, Finnick runs through the trees, calling out Johanna’s name. Not knowing who she can trust, aside from Peeta, Katniss hides in the forest.

How Do the Tributes Escape the 75th Hunger Games?


Worried for Peeta after this turn of events, Katniss slowly makes her way back to the lightning tree, in a daze from her head wound. When she arrives, she witnesses Beetee hit the force field. She runs over, confused, and Beetee is twitching on the ground. Nearby, there is a stick with a knife and the wire (connected to the tree) tied to the end. Unsure of what is going on, Katniss calls out for Peeta, but she doesn’t get an answer. She sees Finnick once more and crouches down, aiming an arrow at his heart while, back in the Capitol, Snow cheers her on to release the arrow and utterly destroy her public image. Finnick sees Katniss after a moment, pleading with her to remember who the real enemy is, which is what Haymitch said to her before they entered the arena. Piecing together Beetee’s ingenious real plan, Katniss ties the wire around an arrow as the sky signals that the lightning is about to strike. As the bolt reaches the tree, Katniss aims her arrow at the force field surrounding the arena, causing everything to explode and the arena to fall apart as she’s knocked to the ground, unable to move.

As the arena crumbles around her, a hovercraft appears and lifts her into the sky, but she passes out before she makes it inside. When she wakes, Beetee is unconscious next to her on the floor. She gets up, grabs a syringe, and makes her way to the door down the hall. She pauses, listening to the voices inside, before heading in and seeing Haymitch, Finnick, and Plutarch inside. She lunges at Haymitch, questioning why he’s talking with the others — in her mind, they are the enemy. Haymitch grabs the syringe, blocking her attack, while Finnick begs for her to listen. Plutarch then explains that the plan was always to get her out of the arena and half of the tributes were in on it. She is the Mockingjay, and the revolution has begun. They’re headed to District 13 (which everyone believed to have been destroyed in the rebellion 75 years prior). But, Katniss only cares about one thing: Peeta, and how they failed him. She questions where he is, and Haymitch reluctantly tells her that the Capitol got him before they could free him from the arena. Once again, Katniss lunges at Haymitch, this time delivering a (well-deserved) slap before Plutarch injects her with a sedative.

When Katniss wakes up, Gale is watching over her. He says that she’s been asleep for a few days, but when Katniss asks if they’re home in District 12, he pauses. Something is wrong and Katniss knows it, so she asks about Prim, and Gale assures her that their families are safe. Katniss asks Gale what happened, and he explains that the Capitol sent in hovercrafts after the Quarter Quell unceremoniously ended and fire-bombed it. He managed to get some people out but painfully informs her that there’s nothing left of District 12. Before the credits roll, we see Katniss take in this information as her emotional state shifts from shock to sadness to pure rage.

What Does the Ending of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Mean?

Image via Lionsgate

In short, the end of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire means the war between the districts and the Capitol that has been brewing for a long, long time — since even before the events of the prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes — is finally upon them. Once again, Katniss has shown up the Capitol. Her stunt with the berries in The Hunger Games is nothing compared to cutting the Quarter Quell short, allowing multiple victors to live, and escaping the seemingly never-ending reach of the Capitol. Plutarch turning out to be a rebel is also quite a shock, but it shows Katniss and the audience just how much support there is for this fight, even within the ranks of the Capitol. However, Peeta being in the clutches of her worst enemy is not something Katniss will be able to handle well, as we see from her lashing out at Haymitch when she discovers the news. Between that and her rage over Snow destroying her home and killing thousands just to punish her (something seemingly tied to his story in the prequel book), she is thirsting for his blood. This drives many of her actions moving forward.

Plus, the reveal that District 13 has been alive for the last 75 years changes everything. How have they managed to stay out of the Capitol’s reach? How did they survive? What has life been like for them? And, above all, why are Katniss and the others there? It’s clear they’re planning a big role in the rebellion, but to what extent? Just about everything regarding District 13 is a major question heading into The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Showcases How the Games Grew Into the Quarter Quell

As we see with Plutarch and Snow changing the rules for the Quarter Quell in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the Capitol has no reluctance to change the rules to make it the biggest spectacle possible. This is exactly where the prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, begins. Taking us back in time to the early days of the new Panem, after the first (failed) attempt at a rebellion from the districts, the Capitol is nothing like we anticipated and know it will come to be. They’re struggling to recover from the war, which we see directly from the eyes of a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth). As the tenth anniversary of the games approaches, they aren’t nearly as beloved as you’d expect, as many in the Capitol have a problem with killing children like this. As such, the rules are changed (for the first time) and students from the Capitol’s school, including Snow, are brought in to liven up the games and get more people invested. They are each assigned a tribute to guide through the games, and Snow is dismayed to be assigned to District 12’s Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), the so-called weakest of the bunch and (historically) the least likely to win. However, we won’t spoil where the story leads. Let’s just say that Lucy Gray has an influence on Snow that nobody could predict, and this becomes a crucial point in his life that leads to him becoming the nation’s leader and committing decades’ worth of unspeakable atrocities.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in theaters. The Hunger Games movies are streaming on Peacock.

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