Gale or Not Gale? Mockingjay Part 1 and RAAAAAAAGE

When we saw the first promo spot that featured Gale talking smack about Peeta, there was a sense of foreboding. We actually asked “If there were a richter scale for asshole behavior, how far are we pushing Gale here?”

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y'ALL!

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y’ALL!

The answer? Pretty damn far, it seems.

First, let’s establish something. On the whole, Gale was never incredibly nice in Mockingjay. His thoughts on warfare were full-on destructive and awful like…

“If I could hit a button and kill every living soul working for the Capitol, I would do it. Without Hesitation.”

Or this gem regarding his plan to implode The Nut, block off the only exit, and let the people inside, including many innocents, slowly suffocate:

“Is that everyone’s problem? That our enemies might have a few hour to reflect on the fact that they’re dying, instead of just blowing them to bits?”

Or ya know… developing a double-exploding bomb identical to the one that killed Prim meant to target rescue workers, though those bombs that fell on THE DAY may or may not have been his.

Gale has some rage. He’s a fiery one, as Suzanne Collins pointed out on a number of occasions in the novels. BUT Book!Gale usually has a halting point: Katniss, namely in discussing her relationship with Peeta.

As long as he doesn't turn into this, plzkthx

As long as he doesn’t turn into this, plzkthx

In the beginning of Mockingjay, Gale is surprisingly patient with Katniss. He wants her to be the Mockingjay as much as everyone else, but he knows the method isn’t peer pressure and constantly prodding her. It may be manipulative underneath at all, but he does come off like he’s trying to be supportive. After the Peeta videos, he has his infamous “He’s still trying to protect you” line and generally seems sympathetic to Peeta’s plight.

Movie!Gale’s hate, thusfar, seems mainly directed toward Peeta. All that stuff about how he’d rather Peeta die than do what he did? Those veiled accusations of betrayal? IT’S NOT COOL. After everything he’s been through, Gale does have the right to be angry about a lot of things. The idea that he’d project that anger toward Peeta’s forced attempts to “support” The Capitol isn’t even all that implausible, if it was one outburst. We’ve only seen a couple instances, but when that’s all your see of Gale, it comes off like he’s just one uber-jealous mofo.

My least favorite book of 2014 (lest I should read something worst in the next six weeks or so) was one that solved a half-baked love triangle by having one character suddenly become a crazed verbally-abusive control freak in order to make the other more favorable. The sudden change was totally out of character and left me angry, hating the book and all its lazy, convenient writing. We just never ever ever want to feel that way about Mockingjay. We don’t want Gale to become some ANGRY RAAAAAAGE MONSTER that the audience is quick to hate.

What we want– No, NEEEEEEED— in this movie is to see that Gale is angry, but his anger is mostly at The Capitol and sometimes misdirected elsewhere. We need to see that underneath it all, he doesn’t hate or blame Peeta for doing what he did and Katniss for feeling what she does.

Thankfully, the full clip Liam Hemsworth has been taking around the late night TV circuit shows that Gale is seriously scarred by everything that went down in District 12 on the day of the firebombing. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that teasers just don’t give you the full picture. Gale could be remorseful or admit to anger issues, we’re just not seeing it in the spots. He can be angry, but it has to be balanced.

So on a scale of 1 to asshole, let’s give Gale another few days before we assign any numbers for sure, okay?

He’s Normally A 6. Way Higher In District 2. But About Peeta? Naaaaaaw!
The Girl With The Pearl

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12 comments

  1. Well, somebody has to stand up for the guy, and it may as well be me. I love Gale. He is my hero, and in a lot of ways more heroic than Katniss. That scene you quote before they’re blowing up the nut? He was just calling them on their bull, because everybody else in that room wanted to blow up all the capitol soldiers too, including Katniss. I love that quote from the teaser where he is talking about Peeta. At that point, he doesn’t know Peeta’s been hijacked or under coersion. And he knows Peeta is hurting the rebel cause. Gale WOULD rather die than hurt the rebel cause. It is a very brave thing for him to say. I hope we get to see him on screen risking his own life to save Peeta. Maybe people have to see it on screen before he gets some credit for it, because Peeta lovers always forget it, probably since Katniss doesn’t “see” it in the book. Gale isn’t sentimental, and he doesn’t say much but he is brave as hell and willing to risk it all to save Panem from the capitol long before anybody else in the book, including Katniss. My two cents.

    1. No, they didn’t all want to blow up the people in the Nut. Katniss certainly didn’t. She thinks that just a for a moment, but she doesn’t want all those people to die. She remembers how her father died and can’t understand why Gale doesn’t have the same empathy she does.

      Wanting to kill people indiscriminately is not being more heroic than people who don’t want to kill people indiscriminately. And it’s also easier when you do it with bombs and from the distance, so you can imagine they’re not people. Katniss had to kill people at close range, people whose faces she knew and could not pretend they were not people but some abstractions.

      And defending one’s ruthlessness and indiscriminate hatred by acting as if everyone who doesn’t want to blow up people really secretly wants to do it and that their non-killing wishes are just “bull”, in order to make that ruthlessness and indiscriminate hatred look better, is, well, bull.

    2. There’s just a slight distinction that’s supported by a simple quote: “Not if we blow it up.”
      There are reason that the sealing of the Nut could be considered a valid strategy (like many other controversial real-world decisions), but all that becomes moot when he desired to prevent any escape and pick off the survivors.
      That goes past any strategy and into plain spite, Freudian excuse be damned.

      Also, considering the practices of certain real-life factions in history and today, anybody who promotes the idea of deliberately targeting medics loses hero status in my book, regardless of any heroics they may have done prior. Prim is completely irrelevant on that subject.

      Sure, Gale may have been wanting to save Panem from the Capitol… but let’s say he’s the one to set the tone for the Rebellion, who would save Panem from them?

      As for the teaser, the extended version shows that he knows full well Peeta’s being tortured and said that he doesn’t care.
      Seriously, this goes beyond that bull love-triangle; it’s like crapping on those beheaded by ISIS for saying those canned statements.

      And no, this doesn’t mean I hate Gale. In fact, having him face his wartime actions and mentality is the one way that I think he could move one and have a happy life.

      1. Wow, I think your point about the ISIS hostages is spot on. Of course the books were written long before they came on the scene, but certainly, many armed conflicts have featured soldiers or even civilians captured by the other side and coerced into making propaganda statements in support of them. And I’m sure that armchair warriors have been making statements similar to movie!Gale, that “I’d never do that, I’d rather die than betray my country, I’d never let torture break me”, for a long time as well.

        It also occurs to me that his comments re Peeta aren’t too different in tone compared to what he says in D2, that if he were a spy assigned to D2 and trapped in the Nut, he’d be happy to die in service of the cause. For all we know, he DID have such thoughts about Peeta, but he was smart enough NOT to share them with Katniss.

        I don’t hate Gale either, he’s certainly not the first wartime combatant who finds the atrocities committed by the other side to be ample justification to commit atrocities in retaliation. Perhaps if D12 hadn’t been bombed, Gale wouldn’t have been quite as eager to kill off EVERYONE in D2. And assuming that Part 2 will show us more about the fates of Gale and others than the book itself did, I do hope his going to D2 is shown as an attempt to come to terms with his wartime actions and to atone for them in some way.

  2. Wow TTB, long-time no see! *waves*

    Anyway, as to the possible Angry Young Man take on Movie!Gale, I think the evidence is mixed as to whether the movies are going too make Gale even more angry and extreme than the books, or not. Sure, we have that comment about Peeta that is very different than the book, in which Gale, far from assuming Peeta was a traitor, reassured Katniss that “he’s still trying to keep you alive”.

    But there’s also the clip where Gale tells Cressida, in his own words, what happened during the District 12 bombing. (As opposed to the book, where the narrator/Katniss tells us). Even though the movie numbers aren’t that different from the book — now the audio I accessed wasn’t great, but it seemed that Gale says he saved 950 out of 10,000 people, and that’s not too far off from the book numbers of 850 out of 8000. But the death toll certainly felt more significant to me when I heard it out of Gale’s own mouth.

    Also note that Gale was pretty low-key in THG and didn’t make too many harsh comments about the Capitol compared to the book, and his punishment in the CF movie was a tad more understandable since he did actually attack a PK, while in the book, he’s just unlucky enough to run into the new sh-er, Head Peacekeeper in town who’s sent in specifically to harshly punish petty crimes that Cray had been winking at. That struck me as MUCH more of an injustice, and my headcanon is that the whipping is what made Gale “snap”.

    However, it seems the movie is going with the idea that the bombing of D12 was truly the point of no return for Gale.

    As for the idea that Katniss wanted to kill everyone in the Nut too, as I recall, she doesn’t go there thinking that, she only does so for a few moments when Gale is egging her on by bringing up the fact that Peacekeepers from D2 took part in the D12 bombing. She pretty much has to force herself to think the way Gale is thinking, and she still can’t convince herself for long.

    Also, IMHO, Katniss’s approach to D2 actually winds up being superior to Gale’s approach. Her plea to the D2 people does get her shot, but it also actually inspires them to finally join the rebellion. If Gale’s plan had gone forward and killed not just armed Peacekeepers but civilians as well, I doubt the general populace would have been that eager to join the rebels.

    1. *waves back*

      I haven’t found the time to comments on many VV posts, I guess. I’ve also been very disappointed with the fact that The Hob doesn’t seem to function anymore, the HG Fireside chat had been on a long hiatus, and I’ve only recently discovered the Jabberjays website – I was wondering why Mockingjay.net had been sucking so much for months and why no one was there! It’s an odd coincidence that something similar happened with the main GoT/ASOAIF news website Winter is Coming and its spiritual successor Watchers on the Wall.

      Speaking of which, you haven’t been on the Westeros forum for a long time, I guess because of the hiatus between seasons?

      Great point about D2 – I really hope they do justice to it and Katniss’ speech – one of her best moments ever in the series, IMO. I was hoping it would be at the end of part 1, which is clearly not the case going by the fact Gwendoline Christie is in part 2, but on the other hand, I guess it makes sense since it puts Gale’s development of bombs and his and Katniss confrontation over war ethics in the same movie, which works thematically, and it’s an arc that gets resolved later with what happens with Prim, so it probably works better that way.

      1. TTB, glad you found JJ.net, I only came across it a few months ago myself when a V.V. post mentioned it. And the HG Fireside Chat has returned, though it’s not a weekly show anymore.

        As for Westeros.org, the main reason I haven’t posted recently (I do lurk at times) is just because I got tired of dealing with some of the weirder posters there, both the misogynists and the types who’d probably find Gale’s war tactics way too timid. 😉

        I also really did not enjoy S4 of the show, I think they made way too many deviations from the source material, to the point that they betrayed the spirit of it. Of course as you know, I’m no book purist, but that is where I draw the line. (Much as I’d draw the line at a THG adaptation that glorified the Games and/or war violence.)

        Now, I do realize that where GOT is concerned, the show will likely overtake the book, and it seems even GRRM is resigned to that, his recent comments, such as saying Jeyne W. will be featured in the WOW Prologue and hinting that Willas will finally appear in person, make me think he WANTS the two versions to have no resemblance to each other going forward, much as, say, True Blood went in a completely different direction.

        I’m lucky that we don’t see SC making such statements or raising objections to the tweaks LG has made to her story, such as the idea that Snow tried to cover up the rebel disruption of the QQ and proclaimed Peeta and Johanna the Victors, or even the tweaking of Peeta’s warning to make it much more obvious as such, etc. Of course she usually avoids making any statements, but certainly as GRRM shows, authors can make subtle jabs at adaptations even if they’re subject to an agreement to promote that adaptation.

        As for Gale, I think we’re mostly in agreement on him. I do think the movie MIGHT highlight the Gale-Peeta conflict, not just because of the love triangle, but to really make it clear that they represent two different approaches to war, killing, and life in general. I guess we’ll find out soon!

        1. I know THG fireside chat has returned, but it’s been a long time! I’m not sure how often they record podcasts now?

          I know what you mean by Westeros.org! The moral relativists with their “it’s not ____ in their world” particularly drive me nuts. I also can’t stand all the crazy crackpot theories, though they’re good to have a laugh at sometimes. However, there are still some great posters and a lot of great analysis, but the most secure thing would be to avoid the General sections and just stick to the re-read section and the games, one for the great in-depth analyses and the other for sheer fun.

          How about Tumblr? Do you still read ASOAIF University? Race for the Iron Throne is also a great blog with in-depth political analysis, particularly of the books, chapter by chapter. I’m re-reading the books – I’m in the first third of ASOS now – and I’ve discovered tons of ASOAIF and GOT podcasts, so I listen to their chapter analyses while I’m walking my dog. 😉

          Game of Thrones hasn’t been faithful to the books, especially to their spirit, since season 2, at least. And I even had problems with their mostly faithful/OK adaptation of book 1 in season 1, which was marred by things like sexposition (which, I’ll say this, was less annoying in season 4 than before). I’ve learned not to expect too much of the writing on the show. Season 4, like th previous two, did some things well, some things OK and some things terribly wrong. I had tons of issues with season 4, but I probably liked it better than season 3, and definitely better than season 2. Do you really think that the show was faithful, especially to the spirit of the books in seasons 2 and 3? They may not have made as many plot changes, but they always changed characterizations.

          However, GoT will never go into a completely different direction from the books. D&D already know the ending and the arcs of the major characters, since GRRM told them in the meeting held before they started working on season 4 scripts, and they’ve said in interviews that the ending is great and satisfactory. They are not going to diverge in the overall plot and the ending, that much is sure. However, the details, the characterizations, the spirit, can be incredibly different – as the previous seasons have shown, when they were working off published books and still made many of those little changes that may seem minor but that pile up and result in completely changed characters, themes and spirit. Even season 1, which was the easiest to adapt and the most straightforward, made some little changes that simplified the characters and played into stereotypes.

          On the other hand, the changes made for the THG movies, especially Catching Fire and (by what we’ve seen so far) Mockingjay part 1, seem really minor and understandable, or even something I wish SC had done (having Effie in D13 with more of a role, rather than have her disappear and pop up in the end; develop the new characters more). I think this may end up being one of the most faithful book to screen adaptations.

          1. Hi again! (BTW I probably will be taking a break from/hiding from the fandom for the next couple days until I get to see the movie). Anyway, yes I do still check out GOT-related sites on tumblr and elsewhere, but RL is so busy these days I really only have time to focus on one fandom at a time. I’m definitely more focused on THG fandom now. And IMHO, I don’t know if I’ll even be as involved with GOT fandom next year. The spark seems to have died for now.

            Anyway, I realize the GOT talk is a little OOC but just to explain my main beef with S4; it’s not even that they made changes, I know they’ve been making little changes since S1, certainly Show!Tyrion has always been more sympathetic than Book!Tyrion, BUT at least the show had its own internal consistency even if characters were different from the books in many ways.

            That wasn’t the case in S4. In order to remain faithful to the overall plot, they made many characters completely inconsistent with their established show versions. It was really awkward.

            For example, Show!Shae, the wordly-wise Essosi woman who sincerely loves Tyrion, is nothing like Book!Shae, the immature teenage girl who saw him only as a patron who could give her access to the finer things in life. But when it comes to S4, they suddenly have Show!Shae acting exactly the same way as Book!Shae. Her actions made total sense for Book!Shae, but NOT for Show!Shae, and even the actress found that she couldn’t make sense of her own character at that point.

            Tyrion, too, pretty much continued to be his more benign show self for most of S4, except for two pivotal scenes in which Dinklage channeled his book version, because, again, the plot demanded it, but I certainly didn’t get the sense that he was in the total downward spiral that the book version seemed to be in.

            I agree, though, that the THG adaptation will never be as problematic. Although it seems Coin will be a more well-rounded character in the movies compared to the books, I doubt that they’ll make her so sympathetic in MJ Part 1, that her actions in MJ Part 2 didn’t make sense to movie-only fans at all. After all, they actually showed Snow with his grand-daughter in the CF movie, but I don’t think this domestic scene really detracted from his overall Big Bad status.

    2. Slight quibble: other than that moment when the crowd goes berserk, I honestly doubt that most D2 would still join the Rebellion in full military capacity, even if they took Katniss’ words to heart about the value of going against Snow.
      The reason would be that many of them would still have friends or family among the Peacekeepers. Also, considering how things like such accidents go, more likely than not, the majority of people (Peacekeeper and civilian alike) did not make it out and were consigned to a protracted agonizing death via suffocation and air poisoning.
      So besides the ones already rebelling, the district as a whole would more likely go for a path of neutrality and acquiescence as the rebels push on.

      In any case, I do think that Gale being sent to that district is a healthy thing for him. Because if he doesn’t face his role and redeem himself, most likely he’d end up pissing off the wrong person there or live his life looking over his shoulder.

  3. Interesting. In Catching Fire, we don’t see the events that lead to Gale getting whipped. Katniss sees him in the woods, and then sees him in the square. Somebody tells him it was because he got caught with a turkey, but I always assumed he resisted in some way, and that is what got him tied up in the square with lashes on his back. He understood the same thing lots of martyrs understand, that the best way to show the cruelty of your oppressor is to have them inflict it as badly as possible on your own body and then show it to as many people as you can. He had just heard from Katniss about the uprising in 8, and wanted to start it in 12, keeping Katniss there with him to fight, so he did it on purpose. He intentionally walked into torture to finally give the districts the hope to be free from their oppressors. That makes him a hero to me. Suzanne Collins writes such stark and efficient prose that much of it is left to interpretation, inspiring the reader to come to his/her own conclusions. Each reading is valid, and this discussion is part of the thought process we are invited to take as readers.

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