I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon for anything (unless it’s required by law) as I typically find most fads and “popular” shit are usually overrated. That being said, some things tend to slip through the cracks on occasion and my wife and I sat through all the episodes of Netflix’s Squid Games in the last week. I’m going to provide my thoughts on the series and be warned, there will be significant spoilers herein. Read at your own risk…
I have to say, it contained a number of ups and downs and ultimately didn’t disappoint. To provide a bit of background, the show involves hundreds of people who are in financial strife and facing harsh collectors on their debts, participating as contestants in a contest of children’s games where the losers are killed. The show is based in South Korea but isn’t subtitled. There are only 9 episodes but Netflix shows it as “Season 1,” leading me to believe there may be more episodes in the future.
The series follows the movements of Gi-Hun, a down-on-his-luck Korean man who is heavily in debt and at risk of losing contact with his only child when his ex-wife is threatening to move to the United States with her new husband. Right around the point where Gi-Hun believes there may be no way out, he’s approached by a man on the subway who offers to play a child’s game in exchange for money. When they’ve finished playing, the stranger offers him a business card with a phone number to participate in more games for more money. The show is a bit slow-paced at the start, but once Gi-Hun calls the number and accepts, the real show begins.
Gi-Hun is rendered unconscious and wakes up to find himself in a room with several hundred other people. Masked individuals, armed with weapons come in and explain the rules of a child’s game they must participate in. The first game they play is “red light, green light.” When the people who are still moving after “red light” is called are killed, the horrific reality of the contestants’ situation becomes clear. Over the episodes that follow, the herd is significantly thinned as defeated opponents or losers are shot and killed, with a secretive side business of sending the bodies down to a sun basement to harvest the organs for the black market.
Alliances and partnerships are made, and quasi-friendships are developed. Not least of these include a previous friendship between Gi-Hun and his childhood friend, as well as a connection with an elderly man who appears to be slowly losing his coherence due to a tumour in his head. Emotions run high and heart strings are tugged as the final contestants are all killed, one after another, including the elderly man. The best friend kills himself when the games come down to him and Gi-Hun, crowning Gi-Hun the winner.
Gi-Hun leaves the games, now a wealthy man but burdened with the guilt of all the deaths that were forced upon his soul. this causes Gi-Hun to reject his fortune, which prompts the mastermind behind the games to reach out. It was a bit of a stunner to discover that the old man who had been killed by losing to Gi-Hun turned out to be the one behind the Squid Games. He plays one last cursory game with Gi-Hun, after which he dies in his bed, having succumbed to the tumour in his brain, apparently one of the few actual truths behind the man.
The season ends with Gi-Hun wearing a nice suit and walking through a subway terminal on his way to the airport to see his daughter in the US. He’s stopped short by seeing the same man from the first episode, playing the same game for money and providing a card to a random stranger. Gi-Hun confronts the stranger and takes the card and calls the number, on my to be addressed as “Player 456,” which was his number in the games. He’s told to get on the plane and go, fo this own good. It ends with Gi-Hun turning around and walking back into the airport terminal, which leads me to believe there’ll be another season.
All in all, it was what i would easily describe as a train wreck. Weird and gory, but difficult to peel your eyes away. Once we started watching, we made it through all nine episodes within a week. What’s more is that they’re roughly 1-hour episodes, so they can be a bit long to sit through. But the content keeps you engaged and it has plots and subplots, which makes it more than just a random show about contestants being killed for losing a game. I highly recommend it. ☯️