Hwang Dong-hyuk, the writer and director of Netflix’s South Korean sensation Squid Game, has finally confirmed that the bloody drama is to return for a second season.
This news should have come as a surprise to precisely no one. The series, about a grisly game show that gives debt-ridden South Koreans the opportunity to win mind-boggling riches in exchange for brutally dispatching their competitors in a variety of graphic ways, became Netflix's most-watched show ever in September. It hit the No 1 slot in 94 countries and was viewed by 142 million households, according to the streaming platform's official figures. Internal documents leaked to Bloomberg, meanwhile, suggest the show has earned about $900m for Netflix.
So, while we wait for the second season, it means that we can also expect answers to some of the burning questions that were left hanging at the end of season one:
Warning: season one spoilers ahead.
What’s the story with the guards?
We know the guards are just ordinary people because a contestant in the honeycomb game forces one to remove his mask after stealing his gun, exclaiming: “You’re just a kid,” before shooting himself. So how are the workers recruited? And what makes them agree to take part in such a sadistic enterprise?
One theory goes that the colour of the card you pick during the selection process could determine whether you become a player or a guard. Gi-hun picked a blue card, and woke up as a player wearing a blue tracksuit. If he’d picked red, would he have woken up as a guard in a red boiler suit and PlayStation-themed mask?
Also, how are the career progression opportunities? We know that the guards, just like the players, are at risk of death if they don’t fulfil their roles, but how do they progress through the ranks from lowly circle, to triangle, to the coveted square – the Squid Game equivalent of a comfortable middle management position, albeit one involving unusual amounts of carnage.
Where are all the other winners?
The files that infiltrating police officer Jun-ho finds reveal that the games have been running since at least 1988, and we know that the 2015 winner, In-ho, is now the 2020 Front Man. That leaves a lot of winners unaccounted for. They, too, could have joined the game staff, like In-ho, but why would they? In-ho has clearly taken the top job, and if you’d just won about $40 million, the value of Squid Game’s top prize, you’d be unlikely to sign up to serve soup to new players and get bossed around as a circle.
That suggests that somewhere in the world there must be at least 32 multimillionaires from the game roaming around, and not one of them has thought to lift the lid on the gruesome game, regardless of how much money they’ve made from it, is a pretty horrific practice. These 32 people have all watched 455 people brutally killed, probably killing several themselves. Surely, in 33 years one would have spoken up, whether through moral compunction or a complete mental breakdown?
What about those missing 14 players?
Come to think of it, what about the 14 players we know didn’t return to the game when it was halted after the initial vote? These 14 players have seen the true horrors of the game – about 200 people died in the opening salvo of Red Light, Green Light – and decided that all of the filthy lucre on offer isn’t enough to turn them into murderers. So why hasn’t a single one of them reported their experiences to the police?
Even the morally ambiguous Gi-hun tries to report the games while he’s free. Of course, when one man with a somewhat chaotic history makes such a report, the police are understandably skeptical, but 15 separate reports? The games would surely be over before the returning players even made it back.
Who is really running the show?
We know by the end of Squid Game that Player No 1, Oh Il-nam, created the game, and we’re led to believe that he’s in charge. So why is the game still continuing after its creator dies in the finale’s closing scenes? It certainly is continuing, however, and we knew this before the inevitable confirmation of season two when Gi-hun saw the game’s recruiter plying his wicked trade once more. This caused Gi-hun to abandon his trip to the US, vowing revenge, right at the season’s close.
So how deep does Squid Game really run? The VIPs who arrive to watch the game’s final rounds in person appear to reveal that the games are an international affair when one states that “the contest in Korea is the best”, so how many contests are there? Who’s the real No 1? And is Gi-hun going to bring the whole rotten house tumbling down?
Is Oh Il-nam actually Gi-hun’s father?
This could tie up a lot of the questions already posed – when Gi-hun seemingly randomly dyes his hair red at the season close, is this the equivalent of picking a red card and heading back into the game as staff, this time to take over from his father as the game’s chief in the family business?
Gi-hun’s father is never mentioned, but when the pair head into the fake neighbourhood in the marble game, both say they grew up in a neighbourhood “just like this.” When Gi-hun reveals he only likes chocolate milk, Oh Il-nam says that his own son was “just like you.” And when Gi-hun seems to have left the game for good it is Oh Il-nam who personally goes out to find him and bring him back, perhaps creating the opportunity for a few more days of belated father-son bonding before his own imminent demise?
Also, we learn little of Oh Il-nam’s backstory, but we do know for sure that he has a son. Surely the one person he might expect to be at his bedside as he draws his last breath would be his son, yet the only person who is in the room to witness this event is Gi-hun.
Finally, crunching the numbers, there seems a certain convenient symmetry to the pair’s player numbers – No 1, the first, and No 456, the last. Could these two be the first and last members of their family as well as of the game’s players?