Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’: binge worthy entertainment after the first two episodes

The breakout show has been Netflix’s most successful show to date


“Squid Game” took America by storm when it debuted on September 17. Upon its release, millions of Netflix subscribers streamed the shows as quickly as they could, eventually becoming Netflix’s most watched series on the platform and topping out at number one in 94 countries. 

“Squid Game” is a Korean series about 456 people who are down on their luck and are offered the chance to turn that round by competing in a series of games to win 45,600,000,000 won, about $38,460,271.20. The series takes its viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions with its various twists and turns.

Disclaimer: This review will include spoilers, so avoid reading this if you have not watched the show or intend to watch it in the near future.

Episode 1, “Red Light, Green Light”: 6/10

The first episode could have been worse. While it is important to introduce the characters of the series, this first part dragged on. The producers took their time to establish the character of Seong Gi-hun. It took a while to become used to how the characters spoke and the mismatching of their mouths to the words they were speaking. The “Red Light, Green Light” sequence was definitely my favorite part of the episode. It was the most dramatic and best-acted part of this premiere. For those who are unaware of what happens in the now near-iconic “Red Light, Green Light” episode, there is the surprise of the amount of death and murder that happens. Neither the viewer nor the game players are aware that being eliminated means being killed. The death count is 255 after the first children’s game – something that surprises everyone. Viewers are introduced to the main group of characters and the stakes with which they are working. It’s simple for a first episode, but there was lots of gratuitous violence. The precedent was set for lots of killing, drama among characters and unexpected twists to the games being played.

Episode 2, “Hell” : 4/10

This was definitely my least favorite episode of the series. It took me three days to watch this one because I felt like it dragged on and on. There were unnecessary plot points and a lot of extra character development. The only exciting thing to really happen in this episode was the players choosing to end the game. However, this twist was easily predicted; if the players ended the game, there would not be a series.

Episode 3, “The Man with the Umbrella”: 7.5/10

This episode is where the series started to pick up, almost all the characters were established and the games were truly beginning. In this episode, we are properly introduced to the cop, Jun-Ho, who is on a mission to find his brother who went missing after participating in a previous series of the games. I started to dislike Sang-Woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, after this episode. I also had many questions about his character after he let Gi-Hun choose the umbrella shaped candy during the game. This episode is what made me start binge watching the series. I do not have many negative things to say about this episode. This episode is where most of the people I talked to have said the series has gotten good because of the suspense created in the games and relationships among the characters.

Episode 4, “Stick to the Team”: 8/10

In this episode, players form alliances among themselves and proceed to fight each other. This was not part of a game, they just fought each other in the common area when they learned there was no punishment for killing teammates. The game played in this episode was tug-of-war. The players chose their own teams for this game, and the bond between two of the antagonists was turned into a hateful one. Suspicion was raised against Player 1, who is really knowledgeable about the games so far, even though he cannot even remember his own name. I really enjoyed this episode because it had thrilling scenes, such as the tug-of-war fight between the antagonist’s team and another team of background characters. My only big complaint was the flashing lights during the common room fight. The lights were annoying to watch and it made it hard to see much of the action going on; however, I do think the lighting did make the scene more suspenseful.

Episode 5, “A Fair World”: 7/10

This episode consisted of the ending of the tug-of-war game, the ending of Player 111’s doctor storyline and a furthering of the cop’s storyline. This episode really felt like a step down from the last one. There wasn’t as much excitement, but there was more character development, and the lore was deepened. I was surprised to learn there were previous games before this one, many games, where all information about past players was saved by the game creator. This means there are more winners and possibilities for prequels, which could bring a different element to the “Squid Game” franchise.

Episode 6, “Gganbu”: 9/10

This episode was an absolute tear jerker with the old man and Gi-Hun becoming friends and then Gi-Hun cheating, Sang-Woo’s betrayal of Ali and Sae-Byeok and Ji-Yeong’s emotional conversation. The marbles game was really intense for such a usually boring game because of the suspenseful music and good acting. None of the main cast that survived truly felt like winners, as they all lost in their own ways. I adored this episode because it really set the scene for the upcoming finale. I did hate to see my favorite character, Ali, die. However, I think his death represents the death of innocence and hope in the remaining characters.

Episode 7, “VIPS”: 9/10

This episode was intense and dramatic, and I loved it. The death of two of the antagonists were great and Sang-Woo murdering a man on the last glass stepping stone shows how far he has descended since first arriving there. Also this episode really raises the question of what the games really are after hearing about “VIPs” coming to the island. The reveal of the cop’s missing brother being a former Squid Game winner was also very enjoyable since it proved he is alive. This also made me ask the question: “What happened to past winners?”

Episode 8, “Front Man”: 8/10

With three players left, and one of them being injured, the stakes were high. The conversation between Gi-Hun and Sae-Byeok really showed how far Gi-Hun has gone and that those two contestants aren’t competing for themselves but to see the ones they love. After Sae-Byeok is murdered, we see the differences between the final two contestants. My favorite surprise in this episode was the frontman actually being the brother to the cop the whole time. Insane.

Episode 9, “One Lucky Day”: 7/10

For me, this episode really dragged on after the final game. The final game was actually really enjoyable, and it was a fitting ending for Sang-Woo in my opinion. I don’t completely understand the conversation between the old man and Gi-Hun over the homeless man on the street. I am glad that Sang-Woo fulfilled his promise to Sae-Byeok and helped out Sang-Woo’s family. The finale was okay at best to me. I understand why Gi-Hun was reluctant to use the money. I did like the representation of Gi-Hun dying his hair, as it shows that he is not the same person he was during the rest of the series. I really hated Gi-Hun’s final decision to not go to America to see his daughter and I was very upset that the cop died. But, there is the need to grow the series franchise and create a sequel.

Final thoughts:

The series averaged a 7.3/10, which I feel like is fair. The show was a new idea, but it wasn’t anything amazing. The English dub was hard to listen to at times because some of the dialogue felt choppy, disconnected and out of place. I loved almost all of the imagery in the series; there are many beautiful and unforgettable moments and characters. However, in the long run the series will lose its fame and will die out …  until the second season debuts.

“Squid Game” is a good show to binge though.