For a series with a relatively hackneyed premise, Netflix’s "Squid Game" actually manages to pack a lot of surprises into its conclusion.
That’s largely because the success of the series depends not so much on who wins the game, but on how they win it and what it all means.
As with the beginning of the series, much of Squid Game’s final hour takes place outside the world of Arena – this time a year after the events of the bulk of the series. Let’s take a look at what happens at the end of Squid Game…
Who will win the Squid Game?
Even though the bulk of the conclusion to "Squid Game" takes place outside the game, the final round – "Round Six," according to the original title – is very effective.
In a throwback to the series’ opening scene, in which children play the titular "Squid Game" while Gi-hun explains the rules, the final two contestants in the children’s game must compete against each other.
It’s especially fitting (and depressing) that the two finalists are Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo, as the two grew up in the same town and played the Squid Game together as children.
In addition, Sang-woo was seen by society as successful (well, until the embezzlement part) and Gi-Hun as a failure.
By pitting these two against each other in Squid Game’s final competition, and making it clear who is the more human, the series challenges the standards by which we measure status and value in our world.
As Squid Game progresses, the competition becomes more and more encouraged to violence between the contestants. This is especially true of the final round, in which Gi-hun and Sang-woo are allowed to beat the other with force – even to the death.
The object is to win the squid game or make sure your opponent can’t win the squid game… or anything else.
It’s barbaric and raw, and for a moment it looks like Gi-hun might succumb to the kind of desperate brutality that has claimed so many in this game already.
After an ugly struggle, Gi-hun manages to knock Sang-woo to the ground and make his way to the circle drawn in the sand, which, should he enter it, would mean his victory and Sang-woo’s death.
He almost does, too – he’s so angry at Sang-woo, who he’s realized throughout the game is willing to kill to ensure his victory – but in the end, a human life is worth more to Gi-hun than any amount of money.
Kang Sae-byeok reminded him of this just before she died (at Sang-woo’s hands). We all have the ability to do both good and terrible things.
Gi-hun may have a good heart, but what is even more impressive is that he is able to act on that heart.
And that’s exactly what Gi-hun does, realizing that he doesn’t have to put money above a human life. One of the three rules of the game states that the competition can be stopped if a majority votes to end it.
The group enacted this after the first round, before deciding to resume the game shortly thereafter.
To the surprise of the VIPs watching from their gilded booth, Gi-hun goes back to Sang-woo and asks him to go with him.
To end the game. Sang-woo seems to think about it and reaches for Gi-hun’s outstretched hand before instead taking the dagger buried in the ground beside him and plunging it into his own neck.
Why is Sang-woo doing this? Maybe he is too ashamed of what he did in the arena and outside the arena. Maybe he can’t bear to face his mother and the others without the money.
Maybe he does the math and realizes that the only way to get his mother the money is to make sure Gi-hun wins and helps the woman he’s known since he was a kid.
Maybe he’s just tired and traumatized. Probably all of it. Whatever the reason, Sang-woo kills himself and Gi-hun wins the game.
In the end, though, I think it’s clear that no one really wins the Squid Game.
Who dies in Squid Game?
It might be easier to list who doesn’t die. None of the 456 participants in the game survive, except for the protagonist Gi-hun and the old man Oh Il-nam (more on that later).
Ali is tricked by Sang-woo into giving up all his marbles in the fourth round, and is killed by the soldiers. Han Mi-ryeo makes good on her promise to kill gangster Jang Deok-su when she holds him down in the fifth round and throws them both off the glass bridge.
Kang Sae-byeok, the North Korean woman who wants to return to her brother, is killed by Sang-woo in the run-up to the final round.
Notable deaths in the series finale that occur outside the arena include Hwang Joon-ho, the police officer who infiltrates the Squid Game pretty damn effectively, only to be killed by the frontman, aka his own brother.
And also Gi-hun’s mother, who finds Gi-hun dead when he returns to his apartment after winning the game. Presumably she died from complications of her diabetes, which turns out to be very serious in the second episode.
Joon-ho’s brother: Who is In-Ho??
In the eighth episode of the season, "Front Man," Hwang Joon-ho manages to escape from the island of the arena with evidence of the Game.
He is being hunted by the game’s front man and his thugs. Joon-ho tries to call for backup and send the evidence he’s gathered to his police chief, but can’t do so due to poor cell phone reception.
He is cornered on a high, rocky cliff and told to surrender by the front man, who turns out to be Joon-ho’s own brother In-ho.
In episode 5, "A Fair World," Joon-ho finds out that his brother has won the Squid Game before – in 2015, five years earlier.
Somehow, In-Ho went from being the winner to the controlling force – probably in no small part because, as we see from Gi-hun’s reaction to winning, it’s not easy to overcome the extreme trauma of the Squid Game.
In-ho is so convinced of his role as front man that he shoots his own brother when Joon-ho refuses to submit to him. Joon-ho, who has spent the entire season collecting evidence for the Squid Game, falls into the water, presumably to his death and presumably with all the evidence he has collected.
Who runs the Squid Game?
This is a complicated question because we don’t really understand the extent of Squid Game. When Joon-ho breaks into the vault under the frontman’s rooms, he finds evidence of years of games like the one we’re watching now.
The discussion among the VIPs also suggests that the game is played in different places around the world – this could mean that multiple games are going on at the same time, or that they take place in different locations throughout the year.
We know from the labels on the (frankly very well organized) records that there are several matches each year.
Logistically, the front man runs the game with the help of the workers, soldiers and managers – the guys in red overalls, that is. In the final episode, Oh Il-nam, also known as participant 001, turns out to be the host of the game, and it is implied that he is, if not the one in charge of the whole game, then one of the ones responsible for it.
From his deathbed, he tells more about the backstory of the game…
Who is Oh Il-nam?
In the final episode of the Squid Game, we learn that Oh Il-nam, the older man Gi-hun befriended in the arena and who we all thought had died, actually survived the Squid Game. This is because he is one of the creators of the game.
As he told an understandably angry Gi-hun on his deathbed a year after Squid Game, he wanted to feel like he did when he was a kid, playing with his friends and forgetting about time.
This is pretty fucked up. For Il-nam, the game was really just a game: something he did to pass the time and feel alive when normal life didn’t fill him up. Of course Il-nam was not like any other player. When he lost to Gi-hun, he was not killed.
The front man may advocate for equality in the game, but it’s not a fair competition – it’s rigged for the super elite, just like in the world out there. Il-nam’s survival proved that, if it wasn’t already obvious.
His desperation was not like that of the other players, because he knew exactly what was going on and had a way out, not only of the game, but also of the desperate situations the other contestants found themselves in outside the arena.
On Christmas Eve, as Il-nam lies dying in the corner of a mostly barren office tower, he tells Gi-hun that the very poor and the very rich are the same in that life is no fun for either of them. Somehow Gi-hun does not strangle him on the spot.
He also doesn’t strangle him when Il-nam tells how the Squid Game came to be: Il-nam and his rich friends were bored and joyless and decided to invent the games to amuse themselves.
That legacy continues in today’s Squid Games, as evidenced by the VIPs, a group of (apparently mostly American) rich men who sip whiskey and tell jokes while watching desperate people die in the game they bet on.
For them, human life has lost all meaning, and since they have exorbitant wealth (d. h. power), these are the rules that others must play by as well.
Gi-hun is exceptional because he refuses to play by these rules. Il-nam tells him that he deserves the money because that is the logic by which he and his kind have lived – as if anyone deserves that kind of immeasurable privilege that must always be built on the exploitation and suffering of others – but Gi-hun refuses to spend it.
Il-nam tells him that no one will stop for the man who fainted on the edge of the frozen road, and Gi-hun accepts this bet. And he wins.
What sets Squid Game apart from so many stories of this genre is its ability to balance the ruthlessness and injustice inherent in the premise with an unwavering belief in the capacity for good.
The system is tailored for people like Il-nam, who faces no consequences for his actions. But there will always be people, like Gi-hun and the person who called the police to help the man on the street, who care and who act out of that concern.
Undoubtedly, this twist will cause disagreement in the discussion of the Squid Game. Personally, I could have done without it.
Gi-hun’s relationship with Il-nam is one of the best dynamics in the entire series, and one that underscores the show’s central theme of the importance of valuing humanity even when the system you live in does not.
Episode 6, "Gganbu," is the best hour of the entire season, not least because of the way Il-nam and Gi-hun’s fight to apparent death unfolds.
Taking this back for a twist in the final episode that doesn’t add much to the story thematically feels like a mistake.
That being said, there’s enough that works about this scene and episode for Squid Game to have an overall worthwhile ending.
Gong Yoo’s cameo: Why does Gi-Hun change his mind??
Il-nam’s deathbed confession seems to jump-start Gi-hun’s life. He dyes his hair red like a K-pop idol.
He finds Sae-byeok’s brother and leaves the boy (and half his winnings) with Sang-woo’s mother. Although it seems like Gi-hun wants to return to them after visiting his daughter, who has moved to Los Angeles with her mother and stepfather, everything changes when Gi-un sees something on the subway:
The same man (played by Gong Yoo from Train to Busan) who recruited him for Squid Game plays Ddakji with a man. Gi-Hun leaves his luggage and runs to the platform, where Gong Yoo’s salesman character is about to recruit another desperate soul.
Gong Yoo has already boarded a train when Gi-Hun reaches him and smiles through the glass door. Gi-hun can only grab the new recruit’s business card and order him not to play the game.
Or is that all Gi-hun can do?? As he stands on the jetway to board his plane to L.A. to board, he takes out the business card, dials the number and tells the voice on the other end:
"Listen well. I am not a horse. I am a man. That’s why I want to know who you are and how you can do such a terrible thing to people … It was not a dream. I can’t forgive you for what you’re doing."
Like the person who stopped to help the man on the street, Gi-hun refuses to accept the status quo if he can help it at all.
He now has wealth, and rather than accept complicity in a terrible system as a condition of that power, he risks everything. He stands up for the man on the street.
Will there be Squid Game season 2?
Netflix and director are open to a 2. Season of Squid Game.
Netflix says nothing has been decided about a second season of Squid Game, but speaking to Vulture, Netflix’s global TV chief Bela Bajaria said it depends on the director’s schedule and how he wants to proceed.
How many episodes does Squid Game?
The nine episodes are about a man named Gi-hun who is drawn into a game that offers a handsome $38 million reward to the winner. The only catch is that you die if you don’t win. And with 456 competitors, the odds are definitely not in your favor (sorry, Hunger Games).
Is Squid Game based on a true story?
No, but a real-life version of Squid Game is set in Abu Dhabi. It seemed like only a matter of time before the Netflix sensation Squid Game becomes an organized, real-life event. A version of it, that is, without murder and bloodshed. … Unsurprisingly, this is not the first time Squid Game has been played out in real life. In addition, "MrBeast" has announced that he will be hosting a Squid Game.
Why is Squid Game called "Squid Game"? (Squid Game)?
The dystopian series takes its name from a Korean children’s game in which the attacking team tries to get through the center of the squid shape drawn on the floor, aiming to hit the squid’s head with its foot to win.
Is Squid Game the most popular Netflix series of all time?
Squid Game, Netflix’s critically acclaimed South Korean drama, is officially the streaming platform’s most-watched series after reaching 111 million views less than a month after its premiere. "Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans – this is our biggest series launch ever," Netflix said in a tweet.
Where Squid Plays Game?
Squid Game, which has been around since 17. September airs, revolves around a desperately indebted group of people in South Korea. At first they are lured to a deadly children’s game tournament, but then many of them come back voluntarily because they realize that the games are their only chance to win the money they need to survive.
What is the last game in Squid Game?
Gi-hun wins the game but refuses to spend the money.
The frontman tells VIPs that the Squid Game was the most physical and violent game among Korean kids, and it lives up to the description when the former childhood friends fight to the death with steak knives in the pouring rain.
Who was the inventor of Squid Game?
His real name is Oh Il-nam, and he created the game for "amusement and entertainment" (via The Cinemaholic). The character reveals that he is extremely rich and was at a point in his life where he was bored.
Why Gi-Hun dyes his hair red in Squid Game?
In an interview with Zapzee, Squid Game director Hwang Dong Hyuk explains why he dyes his hair red. … So I chose the color, and I thought that it really shows his inner rage." So it’s a radical, symbolic move. Gi-Hun is angry, and the red is meant to channel and reflect that inner rage.