Sorry to be a little bit behind, but I finally binged Squid Game, or at least the first six episodes yesterday. But here are my first round thoughts of this new foreign hit show that is now on track to be Netflix’s most popular original series EVER. This will be shorter, and more of a “thoughts on the general story” and how the story has been progressing along with the characterization.
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If you wanted me to describe the plot in one phrase, I would call it “Hunger Games but better.” While it is clearly inspired by the now-famous battle royale creator, the show goes off its predecessor’s script and creates a brutal representation of what humans will do when forced to fight for survival… in kids’ games. Basically, Squid Game is about a bunch of guys in masks who rounded up people who were in major debt and gave them the opportunity to call a number if they wanted to participate and win money in a game. Then, after everyone who chose to participate wakes up in a warehouse, they are forced to play games like Red Light, Green Light, however, their lives are all on the line. The more people that die, though, the more cash in the jackpot, and that’s the story.
While not entirely unique in premise, Squid Game manages to make its story feel unique and fresh in a market that seems so oversaturated with seemingly edgy content that ends up feeling over the top. The story has, so far, managed to effortlessly weave the stories of Hunger Games and Catcher in the Rye together. The way that the fighting ensued once one person was killed was done in a way that was both predictable and not. The writing team did a fabulous job of making you constantly feel scared for the main cast of characters, as they do things that are both morally grey and risky. The looming threat of death never ceases either, with the marble game causing half of the supporting cast to be cut off. One major problem for me, however, was the lacking development on characters like Sae-Byok which began to irritate me as all we knew about her was that she was a pickpocket. But episode six, in my opinion, was the best in the series as it fixed all fo those. It brought both insane tension, as we had no idea which character would die, whilst also bringing massive amounts of conflict as 001 was suffering from a (possible) dementia attack and both Sae-Byok and Sang Woo had to make the hard decision to have their newfound friend’s lives be ended.
Now, of course those moments were amazing, but they also managed to develop every single character at the same time. Seong Gi-Hun obviously has his insane scene with 001, as he has to trick the old man into letting himself lose the game, yet the man seems to remember everything in his last moments, and embraces Seong as he gives up his last marble to him. Sae-Byok reveals her backstory to Ji-yeong as they realize that one of them will die no matter what, so what is the problem with telling all their hardships and failures? Likewise, Sang-woo has to find the resolve within himself to trick Ali, taking the marbles for himself. Although we already know Sang-woo and Seong’s backstories, the writers take no issue with furthering their characterization while simaltaneously exploring the pasts of the supporting cast.
Enough about episode six though, what are my thoughts on the rest of the story? It’s wonderful. They somehow manage to simaltaneously execute many plot lines at once, and craft them into a coheisve story in almost Game of Thrones fashion. The way that we follow the story of the cop, the players, and the Front Man feels amazing as no part comes across as more important and it has no sense of rush in the pacing. We hear tidbits about the VIPs and see that there have been past Squid Games, it’s this idea of not knowing that makes the show so interesting. We seemingly have no clue what is going on yet every character is making their own attempts towards understanding the truth. At this point though, it doesn’t feel like we can even complete the puzzle yet, we have loosely related pieces, and all the actual answers are still shrouded in mystery.
However, I do feel that some of the story structure is definately Attack on Titan inspired, as a large amount of the facts in the story are not revealed yet we are given hints at every turn. In all honesty, I feel that some of the major reveals we have towards the end of the season will systematically reshape how we view the show and this game. As I said before, the part with the fighting and killing at night was a beautiful scene. Yet every moment that led up to it had a hint that showed what would happen. From the first death, it was apparent that something would change that night, you just couldn’t tell what exactly, but you gradually understood more and more until it actually happened. That is great writing. This remains true throughout the entire story too, but I’ll go more in depth in my actual review.
As of now, Squid Game has become my new favorite show, easily. It brings to the table something that nobody has seen since the days of early Game of Thrones. It takes place in the modern age yet we find all the characters tapping into the basic primal instincts of their ancestors. The story never stops entertaining with twists and turns galore, and no shortage of gore (rhyme). The ruthlessness by which the writers treat their characters is refreshing yet not overbearing and I can gladly say that I have no idea what is going to happen next. This show is easily a must watch and is well deserving of the hype. I would say it is well deserving of a 9.1 score for now.
Full review will be up once I’m done!