Man, I am starting to think this whole game is dependent on the misery of others.
Wait, I always knew that.
Here’s the thing: there are people taking advantage of this game’s rules, or lack thereof, on display here. A doctor contestant is helping some guards do some black market organ harvesting in exchange for advance knowledge of the next game. Deok-su has already put a gang together, and he’s using it to take extra food. Since there’s only just enough food to give everyone one meal (and in this case, that’s a single hard-boiled egg and a bottled water from the looks of things), that means some folks go without, but when one complains loudly enough, well, Deok-su straight-up murders the guy.
And nothing happens.
Well, to be blunt, the amount of prize money increases, but that’s it.
That just means when the lights go out, a riot breaks out, and another twenty or so contestants end up dead. Gi-hun and his group do manage to work together and keep themselves alive, even gaining the North Korean Sae-byeok as a new ally.
Somehow, the Old Man manages to climb to a high bed and shout at the end of things. The guards do eventually put a stop to everything, but not for long. And for all Sang-woo’s supposed smarts, he doesn’t quite get the next game down in time. He just knows they need to get a team of ten people, and their alliance is only half that number. What game needs ten people?
Tug of war.
And yes, the losers plummet off a high tower to their probable deaths.
And yes, that doctor hooked up with Deok-su, who got himself a team of men, even tossing aside his one female member, a loud woman named Han Mi-nyeo. She just forces herself onto the main characters’ team, one that looks decidedly smaller and weaker. Sure, Abdul is physically strong, but none of the women look particularly physically dangerous, and the Old Man is, well, a dying old man.
However, for all that the show is depicting the characters as being behind the capitalist 8-ball, one where people with money or violent criminals all seem to have an advantage, this episode does suggest maybe a little bit that can be done if the downtrodden can combine their efforts. The Old Man, it seems, used to play Tug Of War all the time, and he knows a strategy that would, in his youth, beat any team no matter how much physically stronger they were.
Whether that works or not I don’t know because the episode ends before the game is over. Then again, it does seem unlikely that the show would kill off a bunch of characters, many of whom finally gave up their names, and at only the halfway point of the episode.