Final part of Player 456’s deep-dive into Squid Game: “Hell”.
We have been introduced to the families of each of the main characters, exploring how their situations affect the people they love — it’s a very upsetting episode, in many ways as awful as the games they have tried to escape.
The Squid Game’s morals
Letting the players leave the game and experience their real lives is a fantastic way to show more character growth — and shows that Squid Game is a proper drama with an amazing narrative arc. The world is full of nuance and grey areas.
As luck/fate would have it, Gi-Hun runs into Player 1 again. The pair share dried ramen and soju outside a shop, with the latter deciding he’s going to re-enter the games after all… 001, whose role here is to basically vocalise the episode’s themes just for good measure.
The most brutal scene yet?
Meanwhile, Deok-Soo (Player 101 and the mob boss from the games) is actually just a middle man for some gangsters. There are bigger bosses after him, which sees the man decide to turn back toward the games as a way out. Only, he intends to be ready this time. With tens of billions of won, he wants to blindside those in charge, stealing all the cash for himself.
Heo Sung-tae as Jang Deok-su (101), a gangster who enters the Game to settle his massive gambling debts.
- Gangster Deok-su jumped off a bridge in Episode 2, which foreshadows his death during the glass stepping-stone bridge game later in the series
We get a little more backstory when Gi-hun goes to ask Ga-yeong’s mother for a loan. It turns out she’s broke and her new husband is giving her a living allowance; we also learn that he witnessed a coworker die, which has evidently left a mark on him and made him miss his daughter’s birth. Ga-yeong’s step-father tries to pay Gi-hun off in exchange for him not visiting anymore, so Gi-hun rightly punches him in the mouth.
- The camera lingered on the black umbrella in the ex-wife’s home, and episode 3 is titled “The Man with the Umbrella”? Foreshadowing the honey-comb game too.
One policeman on a mission
Shortly afterward he’s approached by Hwang Jun-ho (played by Wi Ha-joon), a police officer who has been following Gi-hun’s case since their chance encounter at the police station because Jun-ho’s brother received a similar business card and is presently missing (I was sure the vain guy from episode one was the brother).
The most hard-hitting point of Squid Game is inequality leads to an illusion of choice within the capitalist structure… The “option” of leaving the game — only to make the decision to then return — mimics the lack of choice we are presented with in real life.
When Gi-hun returns home, he finds another of those business cards wedged in his door. Unsurprisingly, he and all of the show’s other main characters all wait to be picked up, to once again be taken back to the games.
As the episode comes to a close, all of our main characters prepare to be part of the games once more, willingly entering the cars and allowing themselves to be drugged. Only, Joon-Ho happens to be watching and he tails them in his own car.
67 also comes prepared, only pretending to be knocked out from the gas…
Questions, Queries and Theories (#QQTs)
- Jack’s own – Sang-Woo’s mother’s apron is a similar colour to those that run the Squid Game – She sells squid… Season two – will she have something to do with it? Stretching here?
- WereBear – When the front man’s brother is looking for him it appears he has recently vanished from a fairly normal life, but everything suggests he’s been involved for a while. Do you think he was a player?
- Pamela – Probably not what you’re looking for…but, is it normal to eat dry super noodles out the packet?
This is designed to be a “calm before the storm” chapter, intentionally showing the lives of these different characters before being thrust back into these games once more.
It’s one of the more interesting aspects of a show like Squid Game for me. I think of South Korea as a really advanced place and having been to Seoul, it obviously is in so many ways. But if Squid Game and stuff like Parasite are in any way accurate, there’s also this large section of society that’s impoverished and has been left behind by prosperity.
Nobody does commentary on class and shows the problems of poor people better than the Koreans.
- ‘Hell’ Is The Least Flashy, But Most Important Episode Of ‘Squid Game’
- ‘Squid Game’ season 1, episode 2: Hell – Vulture
- Squid Game season 1, episode 2 recap – “Hell” – Ready
- Squid Game – Episode 2 “Hell” Recap & Review
- ‘Squid Game’ Episode 2 Recap: A Game of Free Will – Collider
- ‘Squid Game’ Episode 2 Recap: A Matter of Life and Debt