April 14, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Squid Game “Hell”

Season One, Episode Two

I think it’s amazing how this series makes what’s happening to the characters all the more horrifying even when there’s no violence.

More than half the contestants were killed during Red Light, Green Light, but there is a chance for them to leave.  If the majority vote to quit, they can quit.  The money will go the dead’s families.  But that is an awful lot of money, and all of these people were selected because they all really need it.  That becomes clear when they vote to end, the Old Man casting the last and deciding vote.  The masked guards do tell the contestants they can come back and resume play within 24 hours if they so choose.

That goes to a general indictment of the society as a whole.  Dumped as they were back in the city, it becomes clear that no one really cares what happened to them.  To be fair, only Gi-hun tries to alert the authorities, but the cops don’t believe him.  The phone number he provides doesn’t work, and he has no proof that his admittedly outlandish story is even remotely true.  Only one cop, Hwang Jun-ho, believes Gi-hun, but that’s because his own brother disappeared without a trace.  Jun-ho is on his own.

But what would drive these people back to those games?  Well, let’s set aside the Old Man.  He has a brain tumor and was dying anyway.  He seems amicable enough, but he also seems different from the other contestants.

Gi-hun’s problems we already know, but they’re worse:  his diabetic mother let her condition get bad and she might need her feet amputated.  They don’t have insurance because Gi-hun canceled it to get the money, and medical treatment is expensive.  Gi-hun even tries to get the money from his ex-wife, but he’s outright insulted when her new husband gives him the money under the condition that Gi-hun never return.

But the others?

Sang-woo is in even deeper debt than anyone knew, enough that the police are looking for him, and his mother’s shop was put up as collateral on his poor investment choices.  She didn’t quite know that.

Sae-byeok owes money to the smuggler who got her and her young brother out of North Korea.  She seems to be a bit smarter than the others.

Abdul has a wife and baby, but his employer hasn’t paid him in months.

Deok-su, the gangster, robbed his own employers and owes them and a Filipino casino a lot of money.

These are desperate people with no way to get out.

It’s almost like the mysterious people behind the Games seemed to realize that.  These are people who are so behind the financial 8-ball, that yes, they are all going to return to the games.  What other options do they have?  Even if they can’t get the money, they at least can escape the consequences of their decisions for the time being.  Deok-su, for one, already had to stab his way out of a trap.  Then again, he was looking to find and rob the games, so it may be for the best that there is one contestant the audience can root against.  All the others, even the many more or less anonymous people who chose to keep playing, there’s some real conflict going on over whether or not they’ll keep playing.  It’s not necessarily greed keeping them there.  It’s need from the looks of things.  These are people willing to play lethal games for that reason alone.

Sure, Jun-ho is following the contestants back to wherever the games are being played, but I don’t think he’ll be able to stop this anymore than the others can.  That doesn’t seem to be the point of a show like this, mostly because Jun-ho can’t exactly arrest an economic system.