Out of nowhere, Netflix’s Squid Game became an international sensation and the popular Netflix exclusive is on track to become the most-watched show on the streaming site. The premise of Squid Game is simple, 500 people, who are massively in debt, compete for a cash prize that is worth billions of dollars. The twist? The players eliminated would result in death. The thrilling Netflix show made us squirm, cry, and bite our nails throughout its jam-packed nine episodes. This list will examine the five best episodes of the series. There’s no word on whether there’s a season two, but given how popular this show is and the clear season two tease in the final episode, it’s likely that another season will be greenlit. Let’s begin with the first episode.
Red Light, Green Light
As with any pilot, the first episode needs to introduce audiences to the world they’re watching in a compelling manner, and Red Light, Green Light does an excellent job with that aspect. First, we’re introduced to our protagonist, Seong Gi-Hun, a father who’s down on his luck and just needs some money to turn his life around. The first game is actually done in the subway, and it’s actually a clever way of introducing audiences to what’s to come. While Gi-Hun’s repeated losses results in continuous slaps, the initiation process is a sly way of tricking the future participants into joining the games without making them look stupid. When the real games happen, the true horror begins. The shock and awe of the bloody red light, green light game revealed the brutality of this world; however, the writers never milk the gratuitous violence. There are also several easter eggs that pay off towards the end, namely Oh Young-soo’s Oh Il-nam odd enjoyment that makes sense later. Red Light, Green Light was a strong introduction that had us wanting to understand more of the Squid Games’ lore.
Oh Il-nam saves the day and everyone gets to go home. However, this character-driven episode examines the lives of the core characters and why it’s better for them to fight in the Squid Game. Allowing the participants to go home was shocking, but diving deeper into their miserable lives helped us understand why they needed that money. It wasn’t just for pure greed. Each character was struggling to survive, and the writers did a great job of not tacking on the sympathy for each and every one of the core participants. By the episode’s end, it made sense why these men and women were willing to risk their lives for a prize that would change their lives forever.
Stick To The Team
This episode revealed that the games aren’t just for the special appointed challenges. To stir up trouble between the contestants, the Front Man and his crew purposely shortchanged food and drinks for a few players that would ultimately cause a riot. It should be said that the set design and visuals are top-notch throughout the series and the riot was an exciting element introduced to the competition. However, the real star is the tug-of-war game, where Gi-hun and our rag-tag string of players had to fight against a team that had brute strength on their side. This was a very compelling game that teeters on emotions masterfully. When audiences first hear about Oh Il-nam’s strategy, many likely figured that Gi-hun and his group would win. That strategy worked for a brief second and the last moments of the game were a true nail-baiter. To let the show end on such a cliff-hanger was smart, as there was no way people could simply stop the series without finding out who won.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that this was the best episode of the season. This show has pulled no punches when it comes to violence, but Squid Game has done an amazing job of making the audience connect with the characters. Some favorites were guaranteed to die, but this episode was a masterclass on how to build tension without the need for violence. The fates of Ji-yeong, Abdul Ali, and Oh Il-nam were truly gut-wrenching and it was very hard not to shed a tear for such an emotional episode. While we ultimately realize that Oh Il-nam is the mastermind behind these games, it still doesn’t take away the overall impact the marble game had. The writers went for the heartstrings and damn it, they succeeded. The actors have been stellar throughout the entire season thus far; however, Ji-yeong and Kang Sae-byeok emerged as standouts here.
Let’s get this out of the way, the VIPs aren’t exactly the compelling portion of the episode. In fact, they’re the stereotypical rich men that are portrayed in these types of shows/movies. However, that minor distraction didn’t ruin the bridge game. The simplicity of these games help audiences easily understand, yet the designs are visually stunning. Han Mi-nyeo killing off Jang Deok-su was a crowd-pleasing moment. And the different strategies displayed made for a compelling watch. The other notable thing is Park Hae-soo’s Cho Sang-woo completing his heel turn. Granted, that arguably could’ve been for the marble game when he deceived Abdul Ali; however, his carelessness and desperation by killing off player 17 really highlighted just how far he was willing to go to win.