Squid Game Season 1 is the first season of a South Korean survival drama streaming television series written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk. The nine-episode series, starring Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo and Wi Ha-joon, tells the story of a group of people who risk their lives in a mysterious survival game with a ₩45.6 billion (US$38.7 million) prize. It was released worldwide on September 17, 2021 by Netflix and has been a popular hit for the streaming platform.
S P O I L E R S
The concept behind Squid Game is hardly original and contains familiar tropes found in the survival drama genre like Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. In this specific instance, the premise may be summarised as follows –
Four hundred and fifty-six people, who have all struggled financially in life, are invited to play a mysterious survival competition. Competing in a series of traditional children’s games but with deadly twists, they risk their lives to compete for a ₩45.6 billion (US$38.5 million) prize.
Now, the main problem with Squid Game Season 1 is the ludicrous plot. Once the first game gets underway, it becomes clear to the participants that this is indeed life or death, and losing or elimination amounted to literal death.Which means that ultimately over 400 deaths take place, without any suspicion being raised whatsoever? How are the organisers of these survival games able to avoid detection at all? And for decades as well?
Right, so in order to rationalise the silliness of the overall concept, the characterisation and themes need to be strong enough to allow the audience to set aside the clear problem with the suspension of disbelief. In this respect, the series does a good job as both the ‘good’ players viz. No. 456 (Lee), No. 218 (Park), No. 067 (HoYuen Jung) and the ‘bad’ players viz. No. 101 (Heo Jung-tae) and No. 212 (Kim Joo-ryoung) are set up well to complement and disrupt each others’ dramatic needs to supply the necessary tensions throughout.
There is also the added element of the ‘fly in the ointment’ as police officer Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon) as an attempt to keep things interesting though, Hwang’s arc is rather badly handled in the end, as he discovers that his brother is actually a key member of the organisation behind the survival games!
That all said, the action sequences involving the various games themselves were well written and highly entertaining. Although, the outcomes were rather predictable in terms of who survived and who were eliminated. These outcomes also felt unrealistic at times though having development the main characters and their relationships, it made sense to keep them on till almost the end of the series.
In the final analysis, Squid Game Season 1, is worth watching all the way though perhaps the very idea of a Season 2, would be stretching the incredulity of the premise. However, considering how it all ended and its immense popularity, a second season is inevitable.
Now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …