Squid Game Review: That Was Unexpected

I saw the Netflix trailer for Squid Game a month ago and figured I’d check it out. Initially thought it was a movie, but discovered it was a nine-episode season. First thought, “Ah man, I don’t feel like getting into a series. Pass!” Nine hours later… didn’t regret a thing, but I have so many questions.

Little backstory if you haven’t watched and please note, this post will contain major spoilers.

Squid Game is about a group of 456 people, in some form of debt and/or legal problems, from all walks of life invited to play a series of Korean children’s games with life-threatening consequences for a chance to win a ₩45.6 billion (US$38.7 million) prize.

The players are unaware of the game they signed up for until the first game of Red Light Green Light resulted in massive causalities. Once the reality of the game kicked in, players decided to vote whether or not they wanted to stay in the game or leave. After all votes were counted, players were allowed to be dismissed from the game with the invitation to come back whenever they chose. Many players decided to return to the game after realizing life outside was harsher than the game and they couldn’t give up the chance to win the money.

Let’s start with some of the characters. ***SPOILERS***

Seong Gi-hun

I hated this guy SOOO much when he was introduced. He’s an obsessive gambler who lived and stole from his sick mother. He’s also a deadbeat dad to his daughter from a previous marriage. I hated him so much, I was ready to cut the first two episodes off because I felt he was the wrong character to follow. THANKFULLY, by mid-second episode, I decided to keep watching. I can’t say he went through much of a journey in season one, but he did care about his crew and wanted everyone to make it to the end despite knowing only one could win. It was a bit naïve on his part, but he had hope.

**Spoiler alert!**

He won the game, and as promised, received the winnings. He left the game mentally broken. To add to his misery, while he was away, his mother passed away. Despite winning a fortune, he lived as if he was poor. After a series of events outside of the game, he started to get his life together, but saw the same game recruiter inciting another victim. At the end of season one, instead of going to visit his daughter, he chooses to hunt down those responsible for the game.

Jang Deok-su and Han Mi-nyeo

These two got on my nerves. The character Jang Deok-su was a ruthless gang member who wanted to make the game easier and purposely kill everyone while Han Mi-neyo schemed her way into his group. Nobody liked her. Deok-su only used her. I don’t have much to say about these two, but the best moment was when Mi-neyo got her revenge by killing herself and taking Deok-su with her. I laughed when it happened.

Cho Sang-woo

I was hoping he wouldn’t be an asshole, but dammit, he ended up being an asshole. Cho Sang-woo, if I remember correctly, was a former businessman who owed ₩6 billion after committing financial fraud and the childhood friend of Gi-hun. He was a productive member of the team, but as the body count increased and he was closer to winning the money, his vicious side was unleashed. This was a good guy but desperate to clear his debt. In the end, he didn’t win and sacrificed himself so Gi-hun would be the sole winner.

Kang Sae-byeok

This is one character I liked from the start and was more interested in following her story instead of Gi-hun. She was the mysterious type who didn’t trust anyone. He goal was to get enough money to run off with her little brother. I wished she made it to the end as she would have been an interesting character to follow in season two. Unfortunately, she met her end after getting injured and weakened then killed by Sang-woo.

Ji-yeong and Ali (I cried for both of these characters)

I didn’t expect to cry when these two were eliminated! Ji-yeong was a mysterious girl who partnered with Say-byeok in a game of marbles. They knew one would have to die after 30 mins, so they shared stories about their life instead of playing the game. When time was up, Ji-yeong decided she didn’t want to play and let Say-byeok win. The reason was, Say-byeok had a dream to live a beautiful life outside of the game with her brother. Ji-yeong admitted she didn’t have anyone outside of the game and wouldn’t have anything to live for. Ugh, it was so touching.

Ali teamed up with Sang-woo in the same game and was deceived. Ali fully trusted Sang-woo. The look on his face when he realized he was betrayed was heartbreaking. Ali didn’t get much screen time, but he was a lovable character who didn’t backstab anyone on the team.

Hwang Jun-ho

Hwang Jun-ho was a detective who snuck into the game as a guard (red costume with the PlayStation controller shapes lol ) to find out what happened to his brother. They didn’t show his character much, but he discovered some of the guards were underground organ smugglers. He discovered his brother entered the game in 2015 and was a victor.

The Front Man

The Front Man was the game leader and the missing brother of Jun-ho. The reveal was made to Jun-ho while on the edge of a cliff. All this time, he thought was brother was missing. The Front Man extended a hand to his brother, but Jun-ho rejected it while in disbelief. The Front Man shot his brother and watched him fall off the cliff. Many people online seem to believe The Front Man killed his brother, but he only shot Jun-ho in the shoulder. In comparison, whenever someone disobeyed or broke the rules during the game, The Front Man had no problem shooting people in the head. If he wanted to kill his brother, he wouldn’t have shot him in the shoulder. It’s unknown if his brother survived the fall, but I don’t think he’s dead. It’s unknown how Jun-ho’s brother became The Front Man. I think he was so impressive in the game, the game’s leader offered him a job OR he volunteered as tribute :D.

 Oh Il-nam

Honestly, I was skeptical of this old man from the start. He ended up being the mastermind behind the competition. He admitted during the game he had a brain tumor that was going to kill him. In the end, the man created this game for the love of entertainment. He knew he was going to die, so he inserted himself into the game for one last ride. Of course, he didn’t die during the game, but a year after the game was over. He revealed the truth to Gi-hun on his death bed.

I Have Questions

Squid Game was a good show but there were so many questions left unanswered. I want to know who the red guards were and how they got involved in the game. In order for them to seamlessly kill those who failed the game, they had to be murders and criminals who didn’t care about killing people. I also want to know how long they stay in the game. They were like prisoners with a strict schedule and ranking. They weren’t safe from being killed if they broke the rules.

To massively recruit 455 players (not counting Oh Il-nam) took effort. How did they know who to recruit and their financial status? Is someone in the government connected to the game? The recruitment was too specific.

Near the end of the competition, VIPs entered a viewing room to watch the remaining contestants. They wore gold animal masks and had various accents. Who are they? There’s speculation each VIP is in charge of their own regional game because one VIP said, “Koreans always have the best games.” People are wondering if there are similar games around the world. The VIPs were wealthy individuals who bet on the players like horses.

A second season of Squid Game hasn’t officially been announced. Some K-dramas tend to have one season with the exception of some that have gained popularity. This is also Netflix, so if they want a season two, it may happen. I’m fine with it only being one season as ambiguous endings are sometimes better than a new season that ruins the essence of the first.

Did you watch Squid Game and what are your thoughts?

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