Squid Game Review

Live Wire reporter Chloe Oppelt shares her opinions on the hit Netflix series ‘Squid Game’.

Image+from+the+original+series+Squid+Game+now+streaming+on+Netflix

Polygon

Image from the original series ‘Squid Game’ now streaming on Netflix

On September 17th, 2021 the Netflix original series Squid Game was released. This show is about a father, Seong Gi-hun, who was an all around loser and had a lot of debt. He receives a mysterious invitation to participate in a game with 455 other players. The players soon find out that the games are deadly and they are competing for a 45.6 billion won (38 million USD) prize. Squid Game received a lot of backlash. This series has drawn many mixed emotions from viewers. I found this series very interesting as well as complicated. Please note that spoilers will be mentioned throughout this review.

 

Squid Game was directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and had a budget of 21.4 million dollars. The series overall generated $891.1 million in impact value and had 111 million viewers in its first 17 days. The series starred Lee Jung-jae (Seong Gi-hun); Park Hae-soo (Cho Sang-woo); Wi Ha-joon (Hwang Jun-ho); Ho-yeon Jung (Kang Sae-byeok); O Yeong-su (Oh Il-nam). The series has a total of 9 episodes, runtimes ranging between 30-65 minutes.

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In the first episode, “Red Light, Green Light,” we meet our main character Gi-hun. For the first 20 minutes or so, we soon come to the realization that Gi-hun doesnt have alot of money and isn’t a very good father. While he’s waiting for a train home, a man in a suit approaches him and asks to play a game. If Gi-hun wins the game, he’d earn 100,000 won, if the suited man wins, he’d get to slap Gi-Huh. After many rounds of getting slapped in the face, Gi-hun eventually wins. The man hands him a business card and tells him to call the number if he wants to win more. Later that night, he calls. He eventually wakes up to find he is in a giant room with 455 other people. The players are then led to a big room, and are told that the first game they’ll play is red light, green light. After the first round, the players discover the game’s method of elimination is deadly. Majority of the players go into a blind panic and try to escape, leading them to be eliminated. Those who didn’t managed to make it to the other side of the field, winning the first game. I think that this episode was a good way to start off the show because it gives us a preview of what the show is going to be like.

 

The second episode starts with the remaining players back in the big room. It is announced that 255 players were eliminated during the first game and then half the group say they want the games to stop, and the other half say they want them to continue. It’s put to a vote and by just one vote, the games are stopped. We see our characters return to their lives and meet Hwang Jun-ho, a korean police officer looking for his brother. Gi-hun tries to report what happened to the police but they don’t believe him, but Jun-ho does. We ultimately see the characters continue to struggle with money and make the decision to resume playing the game. I thought this episode was a little slow and hard to get through but I found it interesting how they showed that the characters were willing to risk their lives for money.

 

Episode 3 reveals that 187 of the players came back to continue the games. We see the returning players starting to form teams. Gi-hun decides to form with Sang-woo, his childhood friend, Il-nam, an old man with a brain tumor, and Ali, a middle eastern man. Sang-woo realizes what the next game is but ultimately decides to keep this information to himself. Gi-hun’s team decided to split up for the game and the game is revealed to be dalagona (where a pattern is stamped on a honeycomb and you must carve it out without breaking it). Everyone on Gi-hun’s team survives and makes it to the next game. 

In episode 4, tensions between the players are high and when the lights turn off for the night, some of the players attack the others. After the night-time chaos is under control, we are introduced to the next game, tug of war. The players are told they have 10 minutes to form a team of 10. Gi-hun’s team argues on who they should have on the team. Sae-byeok, introduced in the first episode, is recruited to Gi-huns team. There are 8 different teams of 10 at the beginning of this game. By the end, 4 teams remain. Gi-huns team works together and manages to survive the third game. I thought that both these episodes were entertaining and I liked how we got to learn more about the characters and learn to like them.

 

In episode 5, Jun-ho, the korean police officer from episode 2, impersonates a guard and finds out more information about the game. He finds out more about the frontman and some mention of V.I.P.s coming to watch the games. Gi-huns team makes it back to the main room and the game now has 40 players left.

Episode 6 picks up with the 4th game beginning. I think that this game is probably the worst because it’s basically a trick by whoever created the game when the players are told to pick a partner for the game. When you’re told to pick a partner, most go pair up with someone they know or want to work with, the main characters are no different. Our main characters get into pairs. (Gi-hun and Il-nam, Sang-woo and Ali, Sae-byeok and player 240, Ji Yeong) It is then announced that the pairs must compete against each other by playing a game that involves marbles. Gi-hun eventually gets Il-nam to play but then cheats himself out of losing by lying about what he said during the game. Il-nam catches on and in the end sacrifices himself for Gi-hun. Sae-byeok and Ji Yeong talk about their lives and learn more about each other. In the last minute of the game, they decide to see who can throw the marble the furthest, and that’s who would win the game. Ji Yeong loses the game on purpose, therefore sacrificing herself for Sae-Byeok, and is eliminated. Sang-woo is losing to Ali but tricks him by saying they can both win. Sang-woo stole Ali’s marbles, making Sang-woo the winner. When Ali realizes his marbles were stolen, we get one more shot of him crying and then flashes to Sang-woo leaving the game room. This episode was really really sad and I cried like three times. This episode showed the friendships that the characters have made and I think that the show made these characters likeable so when they did kill them off, it would be emotional.

 

The so-called V.I.P.s arrive in episode 7, all wearing masks. The frontman is narrowing in on Jun-ho and he disguises himself as a servant for the V.I.Ps while they watch the 5th game take place. The 16 remaining players are told to number themselves 1-16. After they number themselves, they find out that that is the order they will be participating in for the next game. The next game is a bridge of glass stepping stones, some made of tempered glass and some of regular. The players have to guess which tiles to step on to get to the other side. The players 1-12 choose the wrong path and end up being eliminated. Player 13 has one more stepping stone until the end and Sang-woo, who was getting impatient, pushed him onto the glass, which ended up being the wrong one, and the man was eliminated. Sang-woo, Sae-byeok, and Gi-hun are the final three players and Jun-ho gets caught by the frontman, who is revealed to be his brother, who then shoots him and Jun-ho falls into the water as we assume he is dead. This episode is very interesting and we kind of already knew that Sang-woo was a bad person but this just gives us more of a reason not to like him. I think what he did was wrong and we know all he’s after is the money and he’s willing to do anything to get it.

 

Gi-hun tries to convince Sae-byeok to team up for the final challenge. He realizes that Sae-byeok is bleeding badly and tries to get her help. While he’s gone, Sang-woo took it upon himself to make the last game 1v1. Gi-hun returns to her side only to find out Sang-woo had killed her. The two men are led to a room for the last game, the squid game. The rules are explained and the men start playing. They basically just attack each other however they can for ten minutes. Gi-hun finally manages to knock Sang-woo to the ground and says he wants the game to end. Sang-woo makes a split second decision and decides to sacrifice himself, making Gi-hun the winner.

Gi-hun is taken to the mainland and given a credit card with all the money he won on it. Although he has this money, he doesn’t use it. A year after the games ended, he gets a note from his gganbu, which is what Il-nam referred to himself as in episode 6. Gi-hun meets with him and it is revealed that the old man was the host the whole time. Il-nam passes away and Gi-hun buys a ticket to visit his daughter in the US. As Gi-hun is going to the airport, he sees the suited man playing the same game he played with another person. He takes the card that was given to the man by the guy in the suit and calls the number on the way to the plane. He tells the man on the other end that he’s going to avenge the lost players and the series ends with him not boarding the plane. 

 

I’m conflicted with my feelings about the ending. I wanted him to get on the plane so that he could see his daughter and step up to support his daughter, but I also do like the revenge angle and this ending sets up the beginning to a possible second season. Overall, the series was very successful. In my opinion, I liked the series and how it basically showed how far people were willing to go for money. I liked a lot of the characters and thought they had good storylines which made me, as well as many other viewers, upset when they were eliminated from the games. I recommend watching this series because I thought it was very interesting and it had some good twists as well.