Here are the rules. Play All About That Base. Start it now. You can read this recap when AND ONLY WHEN butts are alluded to. I’m watching you through your camera. If you succeed, you get some snark, and my permission to get yourself an ice cream. If I see your eyes moving when are there no butts being alluded to, then I will come to your house and sing All About That Base non-stop for the next three days. DO YOU DARE???
Or am I???
No, I obviously am. I can’t figure out how to hack cameras. I’m dictating this to my pet iguana. But I *will* come to your house and jam to Meghan Trainor. I’m very lonely.
Hello, and welcome (or welcome back) to the world of Korean entertainment! If this is your first foray into the wacky hijinks of k-dramas, then I’m not quite sure what to tell you. If you were like, “WOW THIS WAS AWESOME I WANT TO WATCH ALL THE KOREAN THINGS,” then hello and welcome, but please know that Squid Game is very different. Very, very different. You won’t find a lot of shows like it. If you were like, “This was interesting and thought-provoking and very well done, and I hated every second,” then again, this was very different. Keep going. Watch a romcom? Koreans do romcoms VERY WELL.
Oh me? I simply do NOT watch shows like this. Violent psychological thrillers? Hard pass. I like my entertainment with a sprinkle of whimsy. I like violent media when it’s so over-the-top that I know it could never cross over into reality. Like when Captain America kicks an entire elevator’s worth of ass, or when a space station launches 300 people to their cold, heroic deaths, or when Uma Thurman slices half a head off. I don’t live on a space station, I’m not Hydra, and katana-wielding assassins usually just want me to be their quirky lil’ sidekick, so that stuff isn’t going to haunt my dreams, you know?
But then the whole world watched Squid Game.
I work at an English academy in Busan. We teach elementary and middle school kids: ages 8-16. So, when at a staff meeting we talked about what to wear on Halloween, and my boss said, “Dress up like a character in Squid Game, the kids will love it,” I thought, how scary could it be, if kids are watching??
IT’S??? HORRIFYING????? Everything about it is true terror???? Look, I don’t want to judge my students’ parents, but HOW AND WHY AND WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? Maybe kids are watching behind their parents’ backs. Kids are wily. Who knows. What I’m saying is, I couldn’t handle this. I could NOT. So I channelled all my horror into recapping, and now it’s just a wacky romp of snark. So let’s throw on a green (or red, or black, depending on your financial bracket) tracksuit, and barge right in!
Meet our sort-of hero! Seong Gi-Hoon seems to be having a bad
day life. He has no money, is living with his poor mother, has a gambling problem, and is playing second fiddle to his daughter’s Dad Upgrade, who is richer, more competent, writes poetry (I assume) and takes her on hikes every Sunday afternoon (I also assume).
Who is this young actress and how is she the best child actor I’ve seen in my life? My god. She sold the ‘pretending my dad isn’t the worst’ look SO HARD. Anyway, turns out she’s going to move to the States with Upgrade-Dad and become obsessed with Riverdale or something and forget Korean and never speak to him again. **sad trombone**
Yes, Gong Yoo. You can slap me, too. He gave our boy an introductory course on the premise of the show (money can buy your pain), and Gi-Hun was IN.
If you get in a van with a bunch of passed out people and a guy with a gas mask and your first thought is, “wow, they must be tired,” then I’m sorry, this will not be the only time you get kidnapped.
Our dude met some of his new bunk mates (the BEST part of camp), and then the guards came in. They were like, “See this guy? He won’t shut up about bitcoin, and this lady speeds in residential areas, and this asshole thinks the Earth is flat.” Basically just spilling all the goss on the players and their motivations for signing up for a mysterious murder game. Oh, and there’s no backing out unless everyone agrees, like that time I went skinny dipping with my highschool friends and it’s like, no, Janet, you can’t just watch. Anyway, they all signed a contract, and I’m sure it’s fine.
OMG, stop being cute! I won’t be able to handle it when terrible things happen to you.
Horrifying! This giant doll robot (dollbot) played Red Light Green Light (sort of), but if they were caught moving when they weren’t supposed to, they were SHOT AND KILLED. Grandpa 001 was like, “What a treat!” which is totally normal, why do you ask? Oh, and Gi Hoon was about to go down when he was caught by a fellow camper, which was just the BEST meet-cute!
Then the roof closed (so awesome) and revealed they were on an island somewhere. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnn!
- When Gi-Hoon stopped the thug from beating up Foxy Pickpocket I was like, “Aww, he’s a little hero!” Then it was just to rough her up himself over his money, LOL forever.
- When their ID pictures appeared on the floor and Black Mask started walking all over it, LITERALLY TREADING ON THEM. My goodness, the details.
- I’ve heard my students play / sing the Red Light Green Light game, and now it’s very very creepy. Also, you probably noticed, but it’s not quite RLGL – it’s more, you have to stop moving before they stop singing the song. And fun fact… well, mildly interesting tidbit, the song is about a flower blooming. So nice, right???
- The voice used for instructions sounds like the automated women found in a lot of places in Korea: elevators, kiosks, automated phone calls, etc. Creeeeeepy.
After the first game where half of them were murdered, the campers were understandably apprehensive about continuing, so after calmly voicing their concerns to the guards, they were given the chance to vote. If the majority said they wanted to go home, everyone would be set free, and the money collected would go to the families of those who had already died.
It came down to the last voter, ol’ Grandpa 001 himself, and it honestly surprised me when he voted to end it. So, off they went, back to their normal lives, and we got to know the campers a bit more.
I loved this story structure. Usually we get a roll-call in the first episode, telling us who people are and why we should care about them. In this show, however, they made us care about one person, jumped into the action, and then went back to make us care about everyone we’ve already met. Just really great storytelling, is what I’m saying. ANYWAY, ROLL CALL:
Kang Sae Byeok is a North Korea defector (so, refugee) who has a little brother living in an orphanage, and needs money to get her mom out of North Korea. Representation of how messed up the system is that she has to human-traffic her family to safety, and has received no support as a refugee besides from thugs who used her as a pickpocket? Check! Character motivation to return to the game? Double check!
Ali, is a VERY CUTE AND POLITE dude who follows all the Korean customs to the letter (taking things with two hands, the deep bow, calling people sunsengnim, which is literally ‘teacher’, but is a term of respect for those ‘above’ you or those who you assume know more than you, doctors are called this a lot, but I digress).
Anyway, when he tried to get the money he was owed from his employer, there was an accidental scuffle and his employer got his hand smushed off. Our boy has a family to support! He can’t put up with that malarky! Representation of the exploitation of immigrants? Check! Motivation to go back to the game? Double check! Oh, and the seeds of a cute lil’ friendship were planted when Sung Woo gave him some bus money, it’s fine, EVERYTHING IS FINE.
I suppose Cho Sang Woo is the least sympathetic of the bunch, because his woes are of his own making (finance stuff? I don’t know, I’m not the pride of my neighbourhood), and he put his mother’s livelihood at risk as well. BUT, he feels bad about it? So? Anyway, he was going to kill himself because of how much debt he’s in. Representation of how crushing defeat amidst the expectations of greatness can ruin a person? Check! Motivation to get out of that relaxing yet fatal soak you were having and get back in the game? Double check!
No wait. I take that back. THIS GUY is the least sympathetic. No sympathy. He’s a straight-up hustling murder, and he has ignited my blood lust. I look forward to his demise.
Meanwhile, our boy Gi Hoon was getting piled on. First, the police didn’t believe him about Murder Camp. Then, not only was his daughter leaving him, but his mother had diabetes and needed surgery, or she’d lose her feet.
This social interaction did not go well. Upgrade-Dad gave him money and told him to vamoose forever, and our boy punched him in the face in front of his daughter. YYYYYYYYYIKES. Representation of the shame of not being able to provide for your family, and how getting sick can mean financial ruin? Check! Motivation to go back to the game? Well, first he needed a lil’ pep talk from an old pal.
Grandpa 001 just happened to be in the neighbourhood. What a coincidink! So off they went! But not before a Hot Cop came sniffing around, looking for his brother who went missing. I’m sure it’s fine.
- This episode opened with guards tucking STILL ALIVE fingers back into the gift-box-coffin to burn the corpses. I mean, now we know why, but at the time… The TOUCHES on this show, good lord.
- I hate to be one of those “I knew it all along” d-bags, but at the point Grandpa 001 ‘ran into’ Gi Hoon at the convenience store, I was like, “I SEE YOU, OLD MAN.” I mean, of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, he walks into Gi Hoon’s?
Hahahahahaha, I love Hot Cop, I truly do, but at this point he didn’t know these guards were bad! Dude smuggled himself into a murder-van, took out a guard, stole his outfit, then THREW HIM OFF THE BOAT TO DROWN TO DEATH. LOL forever. The characters in this show are murky as hell, and I appreciate it. Anyway, his whole thing this episode was just settling into camp, finding his bunk, looking sexy, etc. We’ll check back with him next episode.
Our lovable gang of goofballs teamed up, and it’s fine, everything’s fine.
Speaking of team-ups, our Foxy Pickpocket Sae Byeok wanted to get the haps on the next game, so she crawled through the vents like some kind of sexy super spy, with the help of some dramatics by 212. It was fun.
(There’s no way they don’t have cameras in the bathroom, though, right?)
There’s trouble in the Squid Squad! With the information from Foxy Pickpocket, Sang Woo figured out what the game was. He could have warned our boy not to go for the hardest shape, but he didn’t. **sad trombone** Et tu, Sang Woo? Et tu?
What a harrowing treat! Like sure, if you don’t scratch the shape out you get brutally murdered, but I mean, that honeycomb looked downright delectable! Anyway, everyone we care about survived, and Gi Hoon maybe suspected Sang Woo of being shady, but it’s fine, everything’s fine! Oh, and one of the guards was attacked and forced to take off his mask and was shot for it (because of course), so Hot Cop stole his mask like the wily minx he is.
- The coffins are wrapped like presents when they’re incinerated and it’s the same as the boxes they got the cards in. THE TOUCHES.
- Do we think Sang Woo wore fashion glasses to make himself look smart? After the first game, we never saw them again. I don’t blame him. I have great vision, and yet I want those round wire rim glasses so bad.
- Look, I don’t smoke, so maybe I don’t understand, but when 212 went to the bathroom and pulled a capsule of cigarettes out of her lady bits, I yelped at my screen, “THAT WILL NEVER BE WORTH IT!”
- Do we think Guard knew he was going to die? I feel like those guards have been told what’s up pretty clearly. The rules are written in their rooms! Do we think the guard was just like, “I can’t anymore,” and took off his mask, knowing he’d be killed? But he was also the one who said he’d talk to Hot Cop about his “confusion”. Was he going to reprimand him, or recruit him into some now-forever-dead secret plot to save everyone?
- Sae Byeok the sneaky sneak snuck a knife in! She’s so cool.
Whoooooooboy, things got ugly(er) this episode! The mean kids took more food than they were supposed to, which meant some people got nothing (I see you, show), which prompted a scuffle in which Head Mean Boy Deok Soo straight-up killed a fellow in front of everyone. And the guards did not give one heck! Which meant it was ON.
The giant kerfuffle that ensued was so well done. Sometimes I didn’t know who was dying, and it was so stressful, and the Squid Squad stuck together and protected each other, and it was so violent and horrible and cool. Then Grandpa 001 gave an impassioned speech to make love not war, which made the guards come in and stop the fight, which wasn’t suspicious at all (t’was at this point I was 100008% sure he was calling the shots).
Anyway, all our favs survived and super bonded with each other, sharing their real names and declaring themselves friends forever (I’m sure it’s fine). Speaking of bonding, Head Mean Boy and 212 did some bonding of their own in the bathroom (talkin ‘bout sex, ya’ll), where she was like, “WE ARE GOING STEADY NOW,” and he was like, “sure babe.”
And here it is. The most triggering scene in the whole damn show: picking teams. The campers were brought into a room where they were told to team up into groups of ten. In a shocking twist (t’was not shocking), Deok Soo rejected 212 (but they were going steady and everything!), so she teamed up with our adorable band of misfits.
Grandpa 001 gave a pretty rousing speech about how anyone can win tug of war if they have the right attitude (and strategy – gee, wonder how many times he’s done / seen this?). So off they went, and it seemed like it was working! But then… it wasn’t. And they needed a plan that was just crazy enough to work…
- A side-story this episode was that the doctor is covertly operating people’s organs out of their sometimes still-alive bodies so the guards can sell them. In return, he gets cheat codes so he can survive the game. Corruption! Corruption in the murder-game!
- I hadn’t noticed Ali’s hand until Sang Woo pointed it out.
- You guys the music is SO GOOD. When the money drops into the greed-ball, and the music is like old pinball games? Goodness gracious, the TOUCHES.
- Even with flickering lights, the Squid Club fight was still better lit than a Game of Thrones battle.
Your honor, I love her.
Sang Woo’s strategy worked and they didn’t plummet to their gruesome deaths. Yay! The celebration in the elevator ride back to the safety of their murder-bunk was a bit subdued by their new gal pal getting peeved at a fellow for praying.
Hahahahhahaha, I love it. Gi Hoon was like, “I trust my people. Can you? I don’t want to talk shit or anything, but your crew does NOT seem tight, like you don’t even have matching scrunchies.” And Head Mean Boy was like, “Oh daaaaaaamn, you’re not NOT making sense.” Hahaha, way to get in his head, bud!
Then everyone paired up to take watch, and bonded some more (I’M SURE IT’S FINE). Sang Woo told Ali to call him Hyung (EVERYTHING IS FINE, I’M FINE), Gi Hoon told Grandpa 001 about his tragic resume, and Foxy Pickpocket was helpful and nice. They are all going to be friends forever, everything is fine.
The doctor freaked out about not being told the next game even though he clocked all those organ-harvesting hours. So he killed one of the red-shirts (I had to) and escaped, but it was all for naught, because they were beset upon by Black Mask, who wasn’t mad, just disappointed. He didn’t care about the organ harvesting, but he was NOT COOL with the doctor getting cheat codes. This murder game is FAIR and SQUARE. So they were murdered.
Jun Ho was NOT being subtle. After being led to the dungeon of death, he was like, “Hey, tell me some tales, what’s the craziest murder you guys have ever done?” And they just… TOLD HIM??? Hahahahahha. Evil dumb-dumbs. Everyone’s wearing masks, a guy comes around not knowing what to do and doesn’t remember something that happened yesterday, and you just get him up to speed? About your evil deeds? You all deserve your fates.
Anyway, the Red Shirt was onto Jun Ho and made him take off his mask (on behalf of all viewers, thank you). But Hot Cop pulled a gun on him and got all the sweet goss about where information about the players is kept. Then he shot him, which, fair enough.
Jun Ho found the info he needed, which included the revelation that this sleepaway camp has been in operation since 1999 (!!!!), and that his brother wasn’t a current camper, but a past winner! WHAAAAAAA? I love it.
But it’s not all just fun sleuthing, because Black Mask knows his number and he’s a’comin. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn.
- For anyone new to kdramas, ‘hyung’ is the word for ‘older brother’ and is also used between close friends. **cries forever**
- Up until this point I thought anyone left alive after the last game would split the money ball, but according to the ledger, there’s only been one winner per year. This is when I started to get very worried.
- Sang Woo gets a lot of credit for getting the Squad through the games alive, but in this episode our boy Gi Hoon is the ONLY reason they weren’t attacked in the night. He got under Mean Kid’s skin so baaaaaaad! You love to see it.
- There are bombs rigged to take out the compound in the case of a VIP evacuation. I 100000% thought these bombs would go off by the last episode. Chekhov’s bombs!
Pardon me, I AM NOT OKAY. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Hot Cop’s only contribution to this episode, which was trying to call the police on the landline, then putting the phone back wrong, making me scream, “NO, YOU BEAUTIFUL IDIOT PUT IT BACK THE WAY YOU FOUND IT LIKE YOUR MOTHER TAUGHT YOU.”
Our boy was being especially sweet to Grandpa 001, giving him his jacket to cover his pee-pee-pants (even though he should’ve just pulled a Billy Madison, but whatever) and choosing him as his partner for a mystery game. In fact, everyone was picking their favourite!
My love for them is undying.
Ali and Sang Woo also teamed up and it was very touching and cool and nothing bad happened, so let’s not even talk about it.
Ruh-roh! They’re not a team! They’re opponents!
Grandpa 001 wandered off on an adventure through his old neighbourhood as our boy chased him around. Gi Hoon almost lost, but then dementia saved the day and he almost won.
After they messed with each other for a while, Grandpa 001 finally relented and gave Gi Hoon his marble. Then he was shot. And it must’ve been very sad for anyone who hadn’t been paying attention (Ji Hoon).
We all saw this coming from the moment it was announced they were against each other, but that didn’t make it any less beautiful. We just met this woman two episodes ago, and yet hers was the first death I cried over. Girl really DID sacrifice herself for her partner and it DESTROYED ME. Good thing there were no other deaths this episode that obliterated my soul, eh guys?? Heh heh. That would’ve been a bit much, right? Heh.
… so how were your weekends?
Oh Ali. You sweet, beautiful dumb-dumb. You were too pure for this world. Sang Woo tricked him, and Ali lost his marbles… all over the ground (I’m so sorry).
Oh, and Head Mean Boy won against his lackey. I seriously can’t wait for his comeuppance.
- The husband and wife opponents? Oof.
- No one wanted to be with 212, so she was dragged off. Bye forever? *wink*
T’was at this point Black Mask noticed the phone and I yelled “I TOLD YOU SO” (I am a great neighbour, I bet they all gather round, placing bets on what I’ll rage-scream at my screen next). Anyway, it was fine, he got an urgent call about his fro-yo delivery, and what was he going to do, let it melt?
You guys. Is it even a K-drama if it doesn’t have terrible white actors? The thing I love about this is that K-dramas are legitimately very witty and funny with solid bits, and the jokes they give to the foreign characters are about how funny the number sixty-nine is. I mean, fair enough! These guys are the worst! Give them all the terrible jokes. Character development!
It went on like this for a while, with the rich white dudes being callous about human life and just being absolute garbage people. Oh, and the ‘host’ of the game took his ball and went home for ‘personal reasons’.
Hot Cop played his part as a server and got information, and then skedaddled, and maybe that’s all we’ll say about that? Except this: it’s not the first time I’ve seen this “Bad Gay” trope on TV (this is not just a kdrama problem, but it is pretty bad here). Can we launch it into the sun? Are all gay people saints? YES. Kidding, but seriously. Stop it.
Anyway, Hot Cop vamoosed out of there with the evidence, and now he’s being tracked in the water, and Black Mask knows his real identity, and I’m sure it’s fine.
Everyone was sad about killing their best pals, and the the guy who played against his wife wanted to quit. Sang Woo was like, “OMG no big deal, rally caps!” Oh, and 212 got a mulligan! Yay!
Hahahahhaa, poor guy. The next game was a fun hopscotch of death where they had a 50-50 chance of crashing through glass and plummeting to their gruesome demise. Everyone at the front would hesitate, trying to figure it out as I screamed “JUST GO!” as if I wouldn’t be doing the exact same thing. Also – NO ONE got vertigo??? I get dizzy on an escalator, imagine standing on GLASS that high up? Goodness gracious.
Then the fellow who loved praying was pushed off, and they all realized that was a thing that could happen, and things got very real very fast.
This was magnificent. 212 got her revenge on Head Mean Boy by HUGGING HIM TO DEATH. She leaned back, and they both tumbled, and it was outstanding. Comeuppance achieved.
Anyway, a guy ahead of our Squid Squad could tell the difference between the glass, so he led them almost to the end, but then they turned off the lights and his usefulness came to a halt. Naturally, Sang Woo gave him the ol’ heave-ho and hippity-hopped to relative safety.
The glass broke and flew everywhere, but I’m sure it’s fine.
- Dear kdrama creators: I live in Busan and have a theatre degree. Cast me as a North American CEO who scowls, but then nods approvingly and has one line like, “You Koreans really know how to do it.” Please. I can’t be any worse than literally any other white actor in your dramas. Let me have this.
- Nothing quite like seeing a grandma’s brains spilling out of her noggin’!
- If they all quit, the pot gets divided and sent to the families of those who died, right? So if they voted to leave, the guy who ‘killed’ his wife would still get money. I see you, husband!
- Foxy Pickpocket helped our boy with the first step. They are real allies! Everything is fine!
- When Jun Ho tried to call the police with the landline and it didn’t work, I realized it was likely an internal phone. The big boss Black Mask was talking to had to be on the island. THE TOUCHES.
Black Mask is Jun Ho’s brother! I keep bragging about how I figured out Grandpa 001 early (did we all? Am I not special in this?), but I will admit I didn’t figure this one out until they got to shore and Black Mask told his minions to bring Jun Ho back alive. I was like, “WHY… ohhhhhhhhh.”
Anyway, they chased him around the woodland while Hot Cop tried to send messages to his chief (did they go through?? We don’t know!) Then Jun Ho was cornered, and Black Mask was like, “cut the shit and go to your room,” and Jun Ho was understandably like, ‘but…?” and then Black Mask SHOT HIM OFF A CLIFF. Like, give the guy a hot second to process! RIP Hot Cop… I hope a mermaid saves you.
Back in the clubhouse the dudes were having a confrontation (a dudefrontation) about Sang Woo callously throwing Glass Guy to his death. Gi Hoon was like, “If it was me, would you have pushed me off?” and Sang Woo was like, “Yes, obviously, a thousand percent yes, for sure.” It was tense. So obviously it was time for a fancy meal!
While changing into her fancies, Sae Byeok pulled out the COMICALLY GIANT SHARD OF GLASS SHE’D BEEN IMPALED WITH like it was NBD. Goodness me, girl, at least get some ointment!
After a super fun meal where they all just glared at each other, they were given their steak knives and then sent to bed with the beef-toots (don’t pretend I’m the only one).
Oh Gi Hoon, you sweet boy. He actually thought he and his new best gal pal could walk out of there together and split the money to genuinely make their lives and perhaps the world better. Sae Byeok’s gaping wound had different plans, and she passed out after asking him to take care of her brother (girl knew). As Gi Hoon was screaming for a doctor (sweet beautiful man), Sang Woo went ahead and slit our girl’s throat.
Sae Byeok and Gi Hoon truly had each other’s backs. They built something in the game, and it was real and beautiful and heartbreaking. If it came down to just them, and the game allowed two winners, I truly believe they would have walked out together and made their lives and perhaps the world better. But the game, the show, and life doesn’t work like that, and now I’m sad.
Um, farts! Babies tasting lemons! A panda sneezing! Sorry guys, I’ll try to keep it light. But damn.
- Look. All I’m saying is, Hot Cop seems like he would be very good at swimming. Crazier things have happened in K-dramas, and I did NOT see a body!
- Okay last thing about Hot Cop, but his death / entire storyline could have been prevented if his older bro had sent a text like, “Hey, going away for a few days, later gator!”
- I was seventeen thousand percent sure Foxy Pickpocket would make it to the end. I thought all the boys would die and she would win.
- The shot of the three of them coming down the creepy dollhouse stairs by their lonesomes when they used to be filled with people was HAUNTING.
- If Sae Byeok hadn’t stopped him, do we think Gi Hoon really would have been able to kill Sang Woo in his sleep? I’m going with probably not.
Okay! Here we are! Our hearts and brains and souls are all smushed up, but we made it to the last episode. You guys okay? I’m not! Let’s do this anyway!
It was Squid Game! The one we saw our boys playing as children. Black Mask explained the rules to the VIPs (and us), and honestly, I still don’t understand, but it didn’t matter. It dissolved into an impassioned kerfuffle where they got all stabby and bitey, and Sang Woo admitted he killed Sae Byeok so the two of them wouldn’t vote to quit the game.
Gi Hoon won. He tussled the crap out of Sang Woo (and bit his ankle off??), and was about to step on the squid-head or whatever, when he changed his mind and asked Sang Woo to quit the game and go steady. Sang Woo was like, “ugh, hard pass” and stabbed himself in the neck. His last words were about his mother, and Gi Hoon effing LOST IT, which didn’t hurt my feelings at all, why do you ask? I’m just allergic to handsome men sobbing over the dead bodies of other handsome men, don’t worry about it.
Yes, they were actively trying to kill each other a mere moment ago, but Sang Woo is still the kid he played with, he’s still a guy he grew up with and was proud of, and he’s still the guy who got them through the games. Man, this show is GREY, and it’s making me feel things. OMG stop it, go back to creepy dolls and sexy slaps!
Black Mask calmly explained to Gi Hoon that the campers are like horses, and it’s entertaining to see who wins. WHO HURT YOU, BLACK MASK?? Anyway, Gi Hoon was unceremoniously shoved out of the limo, and after puking up his new fortune, found that he had an absurd amount of money in his bank account. Sang Woo’s mom chased Gi Hoon down to give him a snack and politely ask about her son, and omg everything hurts, make it stop.
Aaaaaaaand the hits just keep on coming. Gi Hoon returned home to find his mom dead on the floor, never knowing what her son was going through to save her, and likely believing he simply left.
Ugh, fuck. Um. Our childhood dog was a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, and my dad called it a “cock-a-poo.” Did that lighten things up? No? Let’s move on.
Whaaaaaaaaa? Grandpa 001 was the mastermind behind Squid Game??? You don’t say! Having lived a year without touching the money beyond that initial ten thousand won (about ten bucks), our boy was drinking by the beach and received a mysterious invitation to a sad lil’ party where he found out his Gangbu was the mastermind of the games. They had a fun chat about human nature which was ultimately hopeful because a drunk man on the street was saved by a stranger. Grandpa was basically, “It’s not my fault, it was the ennui!” Then he died. Conveniently exactly at midnight (are we thinking there was something in the water?).
So he and a bunch of other rich dudes created the game because they were bored. That checks out. And he joined the game because he was even more bored than when he was bored before. He was bored squared. He didn’t even want to watch the games after he felt the thrill of being in them. Plus, those other rich dudes were probably annoying. Fair enough, Grandpa 001. Fair enough.
Whyyyyyyyyy????????? Don’t give me some crap about symbolism, this hair is an AFFRONT. Is it because Lee Jung Jae is TOO handsome, the show needs to ugly him up so the audience doesn’t get distracted by his dreaminess? Ugh, anyway, he finally went to pick up Sae Byeok’s brother from the group home to… adopt him? I don’t know, it was vague. But he left him (and a suitcase of money) with Sang Woo’s mom, and popped to the airport for a trip to finally be a good dad.
It was the beautiful Gong Yoo-shaped slap-happy psycho! Our boy must’ve assumed the game died with Grandpa 001, but alas, it was clearly gearing up for another go.
You know I love Gi Hoon. He has a heart of gold and a face like a sweet lil’ pupper. Is he smart? No. Is he capable? Also no. BUT, he does have spunk, and is that enough to bring down an international murder club? Also no, absolutely not, no way, it’s truly laughable.
I still want to see him try, though! What a romp that would be.
And I DO agree with his decision not to get on the plane (even though, yes, I want him to finally be a good dad). But like… logistically… we all know the Senior Squids would be able to take that plane down. I know they likely wouldn’t have, but if I were Gi Hoon, the doubt that I’d make it there safely would be enough not to get on. I know that’s not why HE turned around. HE turned around because of his aforementioned heart of gold and an ill-advised dream to take down some rich kids. But either way, I’m with you, Gi Hoon! Except for your hair choices!
You guys, I can see why this show took over the whole world. Capitalism DOES suck! It sucks so bad! It sucks everywhere, but it’s especially bad in Korea. This show speaks to people at a primal, instinctual level. Plus, it’s a goshdarn masterclass in storytelling. Yes, the plot was twisty and cool and fun, but more importantly, we cared about every single character, even the ones we didn’t like! Heavens to Betsy, that is a FEAT.
And that’s that! The creator of the show has said he hadn’t planned on a second season, and he’s not sure if he’ll do it, but…. c’mon. He’ll do it. There is SO MUCH still to explore:
- Will Gi Hoon take down the game?
- Will he ever get rid of that really dumb hair choice?
- Can he shake them from tracking his every move? (They knew he was getting on a plane, after all)
- Will he use his money and influence to get Foxy Pickpocket’s mom from North Korea?
- Seriously, will he get rid of that hair?
- Why is Black Mask so ride or die for the game? Is it just gratitude for how they changed his life? Did he catch a mad case of rich-guy ennui? Will he turn on the game due to his bro-guilt, or will that make him even MORE ride or die?
- And is Hot Cop really dead? (he’s not) Did he survive being shot and falling off a cliff? (he for sure did). I DID NOT SEE A BODY. And boy would I like to, HEY-OH.
- Will Gi Hoon be just as shitty to Sae Byeok’s brother as he is to his own daughter?
- Who’s in charge, now that Grandpa 001 is dead?
- Chekhov’s bombs!!! They need to go off!
- Will the show let Gi Hoon be handsome? Get rid of that hair!
- Grandpa 001 legitimately could’ve lost in the tug of war! He was protected in the other games, but it would’ve been impossible to fake falling to your death while chained to a rope. I suppose that was the thrill for him. Still though! [Edit – upon rewatch while getting the screen-grabs for this recap, I noticed he wasn’t chained by the end of the game. The TOUCHES.]
- Lee Jung Jae (Gi Hoon) knocked it out of the park, and his sobbing absolutely destroyed me, body and soul. Can we talk about how even though he hated Oh Il Nam at the time of his death, he was also mourning the man he thought he was, the honest moments they shared, the friend he thought he had. He fricken NAILED that dichotomy. Same with Sang Woo’s death. The complicated emotion involved… my goodness.
- When he finds his mother’s body, the subtitles say “I’m home,” which is technically correct because it IS what Koreans say when they come home, but I need you all to know that the verb 오다 is “to come”, so 왔어 translates to “I came”, as in, “I came back.” It’s more about the physical act of being away and coming back than it is about being home. He wasn’t repeating it over and over because he was home, he was repeating it because he came back. He came back for her, and at one point he says, “I came back with money.” It’s a thousand times more heartbreaking than the subtitles imply, and I’m sorry, but if I have to live with that knowledge, so do you.
- The rampant sexism, racism and xenophobia was… I mean, I don’t want to say “well done”, but it was so well done! I wanted to claw 212’s eyes out when she starting giving Ali shit about his visa, and saying they should kick him out of the group. DON’T YOU DARE HURT THAT BOY’S FEELINGS.
- So Black Mask was a past winner, which meant he was rich as all heck, right? Why was he living in such a shit appartment and defaulting on his rent? Was it all a cover? Did he blow it all on custom black masks and Matrix robes?
- Has anyone seen the Canadian pulp classic Cube? I think if you liked this, you’ll like Cube. I’m getting some very Cube-y vibes. And before you’re like, “I thought you said you don’t watch stuff like this,” I watched it on a date. The things we do for love!
- This was Jung Ho Yeon’s (Foxy Pickpocket) first acting role!!! Man oh man. She’s got a wild ride ahead of her. I want to see her in all the things.
- Did anyone watch with the voice dub instead of subtitles? How was it?
- Seriously, comment here or tweet at me, did you guess Grandpa 001 wasn’t all he seemed? Did you call Black Mask being Hot Cop’s brother? (I did NOT) Don’t outright spoil it on twitter, but maybe give me a “yes, you dumb-dumb, we all knew,” or a “stop shaming me for being shocked, asshole.”
- I’m curious – is this your first forray into the dazzling world of Korean TV, or are you a kdrama veteran? If it’s your first, will you seek out more?
- On a scale of one to I DID NOT EXPECT MY SOUL TO LEAK OUT MY EYES, how upset are you?
OKAY THAT’S IT FROM ME, THANK YOU FOR COMING AND STAY SAFE OUT THERE, PALS! 왔서 감사합니다!