Katniss has just shot down a Capitol hovercraft and delivered a stirring speech for the District 8 hospital. Katniss’s hovercraft arrives and picks her up, along with her crew. Katniss is enormously tired from her fighting and speaking, and she falls asleep in the hovercraft before anyone can talk to her.
Katniss’s work for the rebel alliance is strenuous, as evidenced by her physical weariness after the battle. In spite of the apparent glamor of her profession—she is on TV all the time, after all—Katniss has an extremely tough job.
When Katniss wakes up, she is back in the District 13 hospital, and her mother is looking at her. Katniss’s mother explains that she wasn’t informed that Katniss was going out on a mission. Katniss feels guilty for not saying goodbye to her family. She also realizes that she’s sustained shrapnel injuries from the bombing, and possibly a concussion. Finally, Katniss realizes that she and Gale will be punished for violating the rebels’ orders in District 8.
While Katniss broke away from her mission in the interest of helping the people of District 8 (and also perhaps playing her role as stubborn hero), she didn’t do so because she thought President Coin would treat her leniently—she recognizes that Coin could have her killed at any time. Katniss’s work as the Mockingjay starts distancing her from her family.
Katniss’s mother leaves, and guards wheel Katniss to Command, where she finds Coin, Plutarch, Gale, Fulvia, Cressida, Haymitch, and Boggs. Katniss notices that Boggs has broken his nose in the explosions in District 8. Coin explains to Katniss that the rebels have hijacked the Capitol’s TV networks and are broadcasting footage of Katniss’s heroism. Coin shows Katniss the footage, and Katniss is amazed to see herself, speaking bravely in the District 8 hospital. The phrase, “If we burn, you burn with us,” which is based on Katniss’s speech, then appears on the screen—and so is seen by most of the population of Panem.
Boggs’s broken nose echoes Gale’s earlier in the book. This encourages us to view Boggs similarly to Gale—with sympathy and respect, but also some wariness because of his devotion to Coin and the harsh rebel regime. The disconnect between Katniss’s TV personality and Katniss’s ”real” personality comes into focus in this section—even Katniss herself can’t believe that she’s the brave person speaking to a crowd of applauding people—and yet Katniss was “being herself” when she delivered the speech.
Having broadcast hugely successful propaganda throughout Panem, the rebels clap. Coin congratulates Katniss on her heroism, but informs her that she risked her life in order to fight. Plutarch points out that the rebels will never get good footage if Katniss goes into a bunker every time there’s an attack. Katniss agrees with Plutarch, adding that it feels good to “do something for a change.” Cressida tells the group that she’s gotten more excellent footage of Katniss at the hospital, which she’ll broadcast soon.
Coin still doesn’t understand that Katniss disobeyed Haymitch and Plutarch to defend the people of District 8—Coin thinks that she was ordered to act as she did. This suggests Coin’s indifference to placing Katniss in danger, but also implies that Katniss might have been playing into Coin, Haymitch, and Plutarch’s script precisely by going “off-script” as she did.
The guards wheel Katniss back to her room, where she dozes off. Before too long, she wakes up, to find Haymitch standing over her. Haymitch dangles Katniss’s earpiece and reminds her that she is supposed to wear it at all times. He threatens to surgically implant an earpiece on her skull if she disobeys him again—reluctantly, Katniss agrees to wear the earpiece at all times. She notes that neither Haymitch nor Plutarch said anything to Coin about Katniss’s disobedience in District 8—Coin thinks that Katniss was following orders when she defended the hospital.
Haymitch shows his darker side here, as he threatens Katniss—perhaps half-jokingly, but also graphically and with some sinister weight behind his threat. His insistence that Katniss keep her earpiece is also a reminder of just how much of a political “puppet” she is at this point, as the rebels want to stay in control of her every move. Despite this, Haymitch doesn’t betray Katniss’s disobedience to Coin—perhaps out of concern for Katniss, or perhaps because it wasn’t unexpected disobedience at all.
Late in the day, Finnick arrives in Katniss’s wing of the hospital. Finnick has been suffering from mental relapses to his time in the Hunger Games, and he’s very unstable as he talks to Katniss. Together, they watch the television, and are surprised to find that the Capitol is showing a new interview between Caesar Flickerman and Peeta. Katniss notes with horror that Peeta is gaunt and tired-looking, even if the TV producers have tried to make him look healthy.
Katniss sees through the veneer of makeup and recognizes that Peeta is gaunt and tired, as if the government is hurting him. Yet it’s also entirely possible that the government made Peeta look both like he’s been tortured and like they’ve tried to hide that—sending a subtle message to Katniss that they’re hurting her friend, while showing the rest of Panem a “healthy,” government-supporting Peeta.
Flickerman asks Peeta what he thinks of Katniss’s actions in District 8. Peeta replies that the rebels are using Katniss to “whip up” uprisings in the districts, and she probably doesn’t know what she’s doing. When Flickerman asks Peeta if there’s anything he’d like to tell Katniss, Peeta asks Katniss if she really trusts the people she’s working with. He encourages Katniss to use her influence to stop the war, rather than encouraging it. With this, the screen goes black.
Once again, it’s difficult to separate the parts of Peeta’s interview that have clearly been dictated by the government, and the parts that Peeta sincerely believes. It’s plausible, for instance, that Peeta really believes that the war with the Capitol is bloody and ultimately useless, as this point isn’t out of line with what we’ve learned about Coin.
Katniss is shocked and surprised by Peeta’s interview—it seems that he’s cooperating with the Capitol. At the same time, she acknowledges that he has a point—Katniss doesn’t trust Coin, Plutarch, Haymitch, or any of the other rebel leaders. Hurriedly, Finnick turns off the television. He and Katniss must pretend that they didn’t see Peeta’s interview at all, he explains. A moment later, rebel officials enter the hospital. Tactfully, Finnick brings up Katniss’s TV appearances, but not Peeta’s. In response, the officials don’t mention Peeta at all.
Katniss is as confused by Peeta’s interview as we are—for the time being, it’s impossible to tell if Peeta is being his “real” self or not. In this way Katniss and Peeta appear as opposing figureheads for the two sides, both of them being manipulated and also trying to avoid manipulation in their own way. As with Katniss as the Mockingjay, it is difficult to know where the “real” Peeta begins and the TV version ends.