In an elaborate ballgown, Mare meets Maven. She can only think of how she kissed Cal last night. She wishes everything were over, and Maven says that it is just getting started. They confess their mutual fear. Maven says that more than dying, he is afraid of failing to change the world.
Mare is performing the role of Lady Mareena Titanos in the ballgown. Whereas in past interactions, Cal has been helping her perform this role, she now meets Maven with a greater sense of performativity than she had the previous night with Cal. She is not fully herself with either brother, but both appeal to aspects of her personality.
They see the rest of Maven’s family. As Elara fusses over Maven, Mare realizes that the evil queen is redeemed by her love for her son. The king tells Maven he needs a cause, like Cal. Mare remembers all the times she felt inadequate compared to Gisa. Mare suggests that reforming her is Maven’s cause. She pretends cordiality with the king despite knowing that he must still want to kill her. Cal enters, and Mare notices his resemblance to the king. He barely meets Mare’s eyes, and she reflects that “it’s the only greeting I deserve.”
Mare had a very personal interaction with Cal the previous evening, but they both must now pretend that they are indifferent toward one another. What is more, Mare now identifies more strongly with Maven because he is the “disappointing” son to the king. Mare, who feels a great sense of animosity toward the king, is demoralized by having to fake friendship with both him and the prince who reminds her of him. With Maven, Mare is able to be more unapologetically Red.
Mare looks around at the four people she knows will be assassinated tonight. One of them is Evangeline’s brother. Mare thinks that she ought to feel sympathy for Evangeline, having recently lost a brother herself, but what with the way Evangeline hangs on Cal, Mare can only think, “I want to kill her, I want to be her.”
Mare’s conflicted feelings toward Evangeline betray that Mare has trouble distinguishing the boundaries between personal and political desires. Her feelings for Cal help her justify the killings in which she is about to participate, suggesting that she may not have thought through the moral and political consequences of her actions.
One of the targets, Colonel Macanthos, wishes Mare happiness and remarks that Evangeline will “make a sad queen.” Mare reminds herself that the colonel’s life will be worth the outcome of the plot. After greeting the next target, a father, Mare reminds herself of Kilorn crying after his father died. Maven takes Mare aside. She tries to back out of the plan, but he talks her back into it.
Mare has put herself in the position of trading some lives for others. She realizes that she has signed onto a political strategy with which she is not entirely comfortable and attempts to back out of it. However, there is no time to deliberate further, because the opportunity is here. Maven reveals that when it comes down to it, his loyalties lie with political schemes ahead of Mare’s comfort.
Maven and Mare return to the crowd. They take the dance floor along with Cal and Evangeline. Mare watches Cal and remembers dancing with him. She thinks of the juxtaposition between the future the crowd sees in the four of them dancing and the future she is trying to bring about tonight. She thanks Maven for his bravery to do what is right. She thinks that Julian must be wrong about Maven being “his mother’s son.”
Mare tries to quickly think through the logic that justifies her decision to help the Scarlet Guard with the assassination. Because Maven is the one who has assured her that the morally dubious plan will bring about the desired outcome, Mare has no choice but to believe Maven and trust that he is leading her to the right decision.
Maven and Mare inch to the edge of the dance floor, where they communicate with Kilorn under the guise of a servant. The assassination plot is ready to go. Kilorn runs to give the rest of the Guard Maven and Mare’s go-ahead. Mare finds awareness of all the lights and cameras. Just as Cal is smiling and coming toward her, four shots and four flashes of light go off. People begin screaming.
Mare does not directly assassinate anyone, but cuts the lights so that the assassins have a chance of getting away. She thus indirectly participates in the murder attempt. The fact that Cal walks toward Mare as she cuts the lights foreshadows the fact that Mare will have to reckon with the extent to which she has betrayed the targets, and also Cal, by helping the assassins.