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On That Hunger Games Teaser: Wait, Why Is Peeta Evil Now?

If you’ve clicked your way here, then you’ve likely seen the brand-new teaser for the first half of The Hunger Games two-part finale. (If you haven't, then you're gonna need to watch it to have any idea what I'm talking about.) Mockingjay Part 1 will not be be out until November, which gives us way too much time to overanalyze every piece of the marketing material that Lionsgate spits out. So let's do that! Starting now! 


Just in case you’ve confused your Divergents with your Hunger Games (totally understandable), let’s go ahead rehash the ending of Catching Fire. Katniss and Peeta and their crew of violent misfits figured out the game (it was a clock, see?) and shut it down entirely. Then there was an explosion. Then Katniss woke up in some sort of plane and learned that Peeta was captured by the Capitol — but she was rescued, along with some rebel leaders. Gale, who's on the plane, tells her that District 12 is gone. They’re heading for District 13, which exists! Katniss has some feelings about all this, as explained in the book:

What I want ... what I want is to have him back. But I'll never get him back now. Even if the rebel forces could somehow overthrow the Capitol, you can be sure President Snow's last act would be to cut Peeta's throat. No. I will never get him back. So then dead is best. But will Peeta know that or will he keep fighting? He's so strong and such a good liar. Does he think he has a chance of surviving? Does he even care if he does? He wasn't planning on it, anyway. He had already signed off on life. Maybe, if he knows I was rescued, he's even happy. Feels he fulfilled his mission to keep me alive.

Here’s where the teaser begins. We see Peeta and he looks ... evil! Why so evil, Peeta? Well, as we learn at the beginning of Mockingjay (spoilers, obv), he’s been brainwashed by a method called “hijacking," in which Tracker Jacker venom is injected to create hallucinations. In this particular case, he's been brainwashed to hate Katniss. He spends most of the book trying to kill her:

Peeta's awake already, sitting on the side of the bed, looking bewildered as a trio of doctors reassure him, flash lights in his eyes, check his pulse. I'm disappointed that mine was not the first face he saw when he woke, but he sees it now. His features register disbelief and something more intense that I can't quite place. Desire? Desperation? Surely both, for he sweeps the doctors aside, leaps to his feet, and moves toward me. I run to meet him, my arms extended to embrace him. His hands are reaching for me, too, to caress my face, I think. My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat.

So, that small but creepy turn toward the camera that Peeta does at the end? It's because he's a bad guy. Hooray for Josh Hutcherson! He finally gets to do something other than moon over Katniss.

Photo: Weber, Lindsey