Violent, bloody, scary. When deciding if I should watch this show, an Netflix show that is actually good, those are the words that most reviews or view reactions had. There is blood, but not really all that much, compared to something like Elfen Lied. There is violence and bodies are deformed, broken, beaten etc, but is it as scary as something David Cronenberg would make? No. But, what I like about this show is that it has shown a side of South Korea that I have never seen before. Gutters exist everywhere, no matter how much industry, technology, and pop music you layer on top of them. The gutter is still there and everyone can fall into it. A step separates us all from the abyss. Squid game is a story of those people, mostly Koreans, but also some immigrants.
Every one of these characters, and this is what really gave me hope that the show will be good, had a taste of this deadly game which promises a new life of luxury, a life without financial worry. And they gave up, returned to their old life. But they only find an ever-growing despair in their life. Hopelessness makes them come back. The game is like climbing a tall mountain holding onto a tiny spider’s thread. The participants know, and we, the audience, know it too. And we understand and accept their choice, the only possible choice the society they live in left them with. Naturally some of them are to blame as well.
The Korean society exploits different layers of people. Factory workers who gave their life and health to a business for years, have to suffer despair because the directors screwed around and made the company go bankrupt. The workers get a new, desperate reality, the managers, CEOs get a big severance package.
Immigrants and North Korean defectors don’t have it any easier. Both sacrificed everything they had, both emotionally and materially to get there. But there, in this land that they thought was the “Promised Land”, the exploitation doesn’t stop, the pain and suffering don’t stop. This new world and the people in it will drain everything out of them, if they are not careful. There is a saying “Everyone has a price”. Squid Game shows that most people don’t have it, they just have circumstances that push them to put a price on their life.
Finally want to touch upon two things, the ending and the VIPs.
Lets start with the VIPs. Immense boredom makes people really bored and isolated. That group of people, so bored and isolated created social norms and structures different to what the average person has. And the average person is infinitely morally superior to them in this case. Not man, but people, become a means to a end to them (Cut to Immanuel Kant shaking his head disapprovingly). How much would you sacrifice for a fun weekend? About 500 people? Maybe? How bored would you have to be? Did they go from watching Netflix to creating a private island torture death colony? Still a lot of mysteries surrounding them. Still so many answers to find. And our protagonist 456 agrees.
That is why he vows to return and deal with them. People are mixed on the ending. I like it a lot. For two reasons. Once you have gone through something as exhausting mentally and physically as he did, it is no wonder that he barely even exists as a person. The money stays in the bank, and he keeps looking disheveled. I bet every single time he has to take a sum of money the face of every single person who went through what he did will flash before his eyes. He can’t live without settling scores with them.
Questions for season two. Are there any parallels between 456 and 1 in terms of their life stories? Is the Cop really dead? We didn’t see the body? Does the Masked person make a step up in his career?