Squid Game has now been available to stream on Netflix since September 17th, with many new subscribers discovering the survival drama. Not only that, but many are now coming to the end of the nine-episode series – and let me tell you, it's been quite the rollercoaster of emotions.
Warning: major spoilers for Squid Game
I leapt into the show soon after launch, previously writing about my experience with the opening episode and how it felt like a battle royale version of the Saw films and how I was not prepared for it whatsoever. Now after finishing the Netflix hit, it's undoubtedly become one of my favourite pieces of media in 2021. While the games were undoubtedly the flashy bits of intrigue designed to get people through the door, it was the character-driven performances that made me see it through to the finish line.
Lee Jung-jae's performance as Seong Gi-hun fantastically portrayed a man down on his luck, only to be pushed to the brink of insanity by ever-increasing blows. The sixth episode, Gganbu, especially broke me. Having to watch the demise of Ali as he is betrayed by Sang-Woo, as well as witnessing the grizzly fate of Il-nam as he accepts the end while dealing with Alzheimer's disease was nothing short of heartbreaking.
Then, we carry on. Three episodes left, and in the finale – titled One Lucky Day – the truth comes out. Remember that adorable, old man Il-nam who made me ugly cry so loud last Tuesday that it potentially ruined my relationship with my new neighbours forever? Yeah, he's alive! Not only is he alive, but he's the mastermind behind the deadly games that saw 454 people die. And why? Because he was bored of being rich and wanted to entertain himself to show that humanity is not innately good.
This is quite the revelation. Now, I feel I'm quite good with guessing twists in stories, much to the displeasure of my long-suffering partner. This, though, I did not see coming. Maybe it was obvious to some but I was not ready for Il-nam to betray me like this. I now know exactly how Ali felt at the end of episode six.
Aside from not being able to trust another human being ever again, I must commend the show for the twist and committing to kill off the majority of its cast. It's hugely refreshing, taking me back to the peak days of Game of Thrones. Maybe that's why the final few minutes have me torn.
During the final segment, the now incredibly wealthy and strikingly red-haired Gi-hun is about to board a plane to visit his daughter in Los Angeles. It's here, that Gi-hun decides enough is enough, and now looks to take down the games once and for all – naturally, fuelling speculation for Squid Game season 2.
It makes all the sense in the world from a business perspective. with the Hwang Dong-hyuk-created showing adding $891.1 million (£648.8 million) worth of value to Netflix, according to internal documents shared by the company. From a story perspective, though, this feels like a one and done. Many series have tried to build off their phenomenal first outing (Big Little Lies, The Walking Dead, Lost, True Detective, etcetera.) but have never rekindled that same magic.
How would you even do Squid Game season 2? You need the games but you can't have Gi-hun go back in to risk his life after the physical and mental trauma he has already endured. So, is that just Gi-hun taking down the games but not actually participating? Or no games at all? That doesn't sound nearly as interesting as what the first season promised in episode one and delivered right up until the finale.
No, some things are better left as they are. Squid Game is superbly written, emotional, inventive, uses great imagery and never outstays its welcome, all while slyly bringing about the issues with modern capitalist society. Doing another season for the hell of it could do a disservice to what the first achieved. By leaving it alone, it could remain as something special. If season 2 does happen, it's probably quite a while off, regardless. So, in the meantime, I'll just say: congrats, Squid Game! It's been a pleasure.