“Squid Game” offers surprises that keep you on the edge of your seat
By Anna Kleinschnitz, Contributing Writer
It is almost impossible to avoid talk about the hit Netflix series, “Squid Game”; truth is, there is definitely a reason why you keep hearing about it.
“Squid Game” was released in September of this year. In the single month since it’s aired, it has surpassed every other show on Netflix and amassed a viewership of over 111 million. But what has drawn people to this show?
The simplest answer would be the engaging plot. “Squid Game” is a Korean drama series in which 456 people, all struggling with financial issues, compete in childhood games for a monetary prize of ₩45.6 billion ($38,275,101.91).
The main character we follow is Seong Gi-hun, played by Lee Jung-jae. He is a chauffeur with gambling debts who must compete in the games to prove that he can financially care for his daughter.
He is one of the few characters in the show who keeps a sense of optimism and is a good choice for a lead; we can sympathize with his plight and laugh along in the moments of brevity he gives in such an intense show.
Another character, who has proven to be the breakout star of the show, growing an Instagram following of over 19 million since the show dropped, is Kang Sae-byeok, played by Jung Ho-yeon. Her character is a North Korean defector desperate for money in order to bring her parents over the border with her and her brother.
The message of the show, though simple, is quite powerful—the poor are treated like absolute garbage. You see how horrifically they are treated, and how, since they are impoverished and desperate, it is justified by the people orchestrating the games.
The season is full of powerful moments, and you truly connect with each character as you experience their lives and their struggles. The only problem with the show is, unfortunately, the ending. A person Gi-hun connects with in the games is an old man with a brain tumor, Oh Il-nam.
In the episode “Gganbu,” a game is played where you have to pick a partner. At great risk for himself, Gi-hun choses Il-nam as his partner. Unfortunately, in this game, only one of the partners can live.
We know instantly that Il-nam will be dead by the end of this game, as we can’t kill our main character; along with half of the remaining main characters, he is killed. This is one of the most deeply emotional moments in the show and is arguably the best episode up until this point.
In the last episode, after he has won the prize money, Gi-hun refuses to spend his money and lives as a bum. One night, he receives a message from someone who refers to themselves as the nickname him and Il-nam called each other—Gganbu.
He goes to the location mentioned in the message, and it is revealed that Il-nam was the host of the games all along and just wanted to play before he succumbed to his brain-tumor. This is a weird choice because it undercuts one of the most emotional moments in the show and eliminates all tension from earlier scenes when rewatching.
It’s this meeting that inspires Gi-hun to help some of his fellow contestants’ families and what finally gets him to see his daughter. At the last moment, he decides to try and single-handedly take out the entire Squid Game operation instead of seeing his daughter.
The ending is confusing and a bit farfetched. It takes the bite away from the major message of the show and undercuts some of the best emotional moments.
That being said, it is still a wonderfully filmed piece of media with an intelligent script and extremely talented actors.
The tension maintains throughout, and it is understandable why this show has caught the attention of so many people; in a time of socioeconomic unrest, the message of the show seems pertinent and relatable, no matter where they might be.