오징어게임 (SQUID GAME) Ep 1

If you have read my previous blogs you know the drill by now. Spoilers ahead!

I have been procrastinating with this post for a while now. Finishing any gruesome gore series with corruption and so much toxicity has has some harmful effects on the mind. It is a similar after-effect after watching Joker, Penthouse, Mouse.

I feel like I understand why Bollywood resorts to making meaningless movies with terrible jokes and weird plots. On the most depressing day I would watch telegu movies and feel whole again. I think the dark genre isn’t well received because life as we know it is already dark. Who would want to it to get any more darker?

I’ll tell you why, stay with me till the last episode of Squid Game…

Red Light, Green light

Ep 1

A voiceover of Gi-hun introduces to a game called Squid Game. All the korean kids are accustomed to it he explains how it is played. It really reminded me of Lungdi and Kabaddi, very similar but indeed different.

We meet Seong Gi-Hun (Lee Jung-Jae) a middle aged man who lives with his mother, still dependent on her financially. She gives him money for his daughter’s birthday which happens to be on the same day. He goes to ATM and uses his mother’s card. It is apparent that she has changed the pin to prevent him from wasting it. He guesses the pin and uses her money for betting on a horse race. He loses the first time and later wins four and a half million won that’s roughly about 3,820.94 USD. He hands some of it to the cashier. When he comes outside he spots few loan sharks and he runs back inside. He bumps into a girl who later is revealed to be Kang Sae-byeok (HoYeon Jung), a pickpocket. He is beaten up by the loan sharks as he realises she stole it from his pocket. The loan shark is very very gross! Very gross! He is made to handover his physical rights by signing a paper with his blood. He goes to the cashier to ask for his money back.

Is it possible to take someone’s rights away? I doubt that then again we live in a shady world.

He goes to grab a toy from a vending machine. A boy watching him takes pity at him and offers to help him win. He goes for a gift box and they are hopping happy. Has the father never heard of a regular gift shop? Amazon? Toy store? No? Okay. He eats tteokbokki with his daughter Ga-yeong and gifts her the box only to find out a gun within the box. This scene is very funny. He tries so hard to convince her that he intended on buying it. The gun turns out to be a lighter and he takes it away. Poor kid! He promises her to bring one next year. She hesitates to say something but doesn’t and he takes her back to her mother’s house.

He misses his train and Gi is approached by a man (Gong Yoo). He jumps to the conclusion that the man is a salesman and he tries to dodge him. The man asks him if he wishes to play a game for earning money. He opens his suitcase to show a lot of cash and craft paper. I don’t know what the coloured things are called. He says he will pay him 1,00,000 won. if he wins by playing a game called “ddakji”. If he loses he gives him same amount.

He loses and Gong Yoo in exchange for not reimbursing him starts slapping him hard. After getting slapped for n number of times, Gi-hun finally wins. He goes to slap him finally getting to a point that he forgets about the money. He is stopped handed over the exact cash amount he proposed .

The salesman then goes on to talk about other games which he can play. Knowing that it sounds like a scam, Gi-hun shows his disinterest and dismisses him saying he isn’t that desperate. Gi is caught off guard as this stranger starts reciting his entire biodata as well as the amount of debt he owes. He hands him a card with a number and gets onto a train and disappears.

He drops by a fish vendor to show off the money he “earned”. He sees a picture Cho Sang-Woo, the son of that fish vendor whom he claims to have sent to SNU (a prestigious university). He buys fish of 12k and gives ajumma 50k. He gives a stray cat some of his fish and heads home to give half of the money to his mother.

Gi-hun’s (Kim Young-ok) tells him that his ex-wife and child are moving to US next year. She suggests him to become financially stable to gain custody of his daughter. She tells him, he might lose her and become a total stranger. Ahh! Parent’s, aren’t they simply wonderful? They remind you of the shit you are in 24×7. He calls up the number on the card the man is asked about his personal details if he wishes to participate in playing the game.

Gi enters the van to see everyone dosed off assuming they are asleep and then the car fills with a sleeping gas and the van drives off into the night. He wakes up on a bunkbed and gazes around to see a lot of people. I am gonna call this room, Containment room (Cr). Every player is put on surveillance with each being monitored on separate screens by square Red masked men (sq. Rmm). Who are monitored by a Black masked man. (Bmm)

Gi-hun while walking around comes across an elderly man, who tells him that he has dementia. Gi-hun notices that he is the last player (no. 456) and the elder man is (no.1). The elder man, let’s him know that he has no time left. Because he has a brain tumour. At that very moment a fight starts near by, its the previous pick pocket (no. 67) who is getting beaten up by this infamous thug (no. 101) The weirdly tattooed thug, Jang Deok-su (Heo Sang Tae) starts taunting her revealing she used to work for him and also that she is a North Korean. Gi-hun pushes him aside and tries to ask for his money back. Deok-su hits him back and is about to start a fight when Rmm show up from what looks like a stage rather than a door.

The sq rmm appear to explain that they will be playing 6 games after which the winner will be paid with grand prize of equivalent to total number of people present in billions. The players start to question as they are all wearing similar clothes like inmates, having no personal belongings with them and are kidnapped by these masked men into an unknown location. Wow! These people do have brains! Sq Rmm explains by showing them all the videos of them individually being humiliated at the Ddakji game, each and everyone getting beaten several times and the amount of losses they are experiencing. Showing that everyone in that place is financially struggling. He explains that similar to winning Ddakji, they can win money after playing these games. He then proceeds to show a big glass piggy bank where the money will be deposited after each game.

They are made to sign an agreement which specifies-

1. They cannot stop playing.

2. The ones who refuse to play will be eliminated.

3. Game will be terminated if majority agrees.

Gi asks Circle Rmm a question but he stays silent.

“The Blue Danube” song plays on the PA along with a women announcing the commencement of first game.

Each player goes through a series of process of taking photos of them. While walking on this bizarre staircase.

The photos and names of the players gets uploaded onto the floor of the Bmm.

I have watched the trailer, I can bet what I am about to see next.

They enter the arena which is closed four walls with painted scenery on them. As they enter the ground Gi-hun spots Sang-woo (Park Hae Soo) whom he is surprised to see as his mother tells him he is travelling abroad for business. Sang avoids Gi’s questions and moves away.

The Bmm introduces himself as the front man on a telephone call. He speaks in english. Hmm bizzare. He then proceeds to watch the players on a projector.

The gates are all automatically shut and the elder man watches the birds fly and smiles. The other players are confused and gaze upon the giant girl head in other corner.

The PA announces the game to be red light, green light along with the rules of this game. The players recall playing that in their childhood. 2 players bet on who is first to reach the finish line. The game begins with a child’s voice saying Red light, Green light. All start running with the 2 men running ahead. The one player who has ran the fastest is unable to stop moving after the robot turns around and he is eliminated and falls on the ground. A shot is loudly heard by everyone, making everyone confused and the screen of player’s photo turns black.

The 2nd player goes to check on his friend and he frozenly watches him spill blood, he comes to realisation of what has happened and starts running back. Everyone starts panicking and moving back towards the door. Those who do move as the doll is still facing them are killed off and those who don’t move remain alive. The chaos ensues with maximum number of players dying and Bmm watches this as a spectator with a drink and a song.

The PA again announces the same rules for others to realise that only way out is by moving forward and crossing the line and not to forget there is a timer.

The elderly man is the first to start walking in a child like manner. Everyone else start to follow and many are killed off in front of Gi-hun. Gi is mostly traumatised and still in shock when Sang-woo grabs his attention and reminds him about the time limit.

Gi-hun trips off almost on the red light. But is saved by no. 199 (Anupam Tripathy). All those who don’t make it past the timer are killed off . The top portion of the room gets covered to reveal an overview of a remote island.

A Frank Sinatra song plays over as the players reach the countdown. And that’s the end of episode 1.

Thoughts

Gi-hun is a financially struggling man, completely oblivious and regular gambler. He gambles his mother’s money in betting, the money his left is wasted on a vending machine, he then gambles his dignity for money by playing Ddakji. He doesn’t really care or value about anything apart from his hunger to earn money with illegal means. He doesn’t care for money much either he tends to give it away so carelessly. He lives off by constantly shamelessly borrowing money, stealing money from his mother who is too modest and loving towards him. Gi-hun has no pride. Gong Yoo’s presence even as a cameo leaves us speechless. The impact his nameless character has is enormous, he appears mysterious and devious. It is obvious when he recites Gi’s personal information by heart it is not just a coincidental encounter. He met him with the intent trapping him. Gi is too blind to see that, the very moment he agrees to play the game, he has indirectly agreed to selling his soul for a piece of paper.

The moments of interaction between his mother, daughter and wife leaves us with an impression that he really doesn’t care about them. If he cared about them he would work hard, quit his gambling habits. Work more jobs to give his old-aged mother the rest she deserves. And paying attention to his daughter and being there for her instead of running after a malicious game. Lee Jung Jae has played this character beautifully.

The premise reminds me of Battle Royale because of the competitive nature, the elimination and even in the same song being used. The Rmm gives this a cult like feel, even though they have no face they already look ominous to me. The Bmm holds a grand mystery to himself. I wonder if it’s Yoo… The Blue Danube is not as annoying as listening to Dominique song from American Horror Story. Listening to that song over and over made me want to skip the parts.

Lastly who is behind this cult club of mass murder? The people willingly enter? I doubt that, they are each selected as they all are suffering in debt and have nothing holding them back. It is sort of evil isn’t it? Preying on the poor for a scheme of whatever bullshit this is, it is very sadistic. The players are sort of brainwashed by Gong Yoo into resorting to this “Game”. If we observe everyone of the staff members, the Bmm don’t reveal their identity even though the players can’t see them watching behind the screen. He or she still keeps it hidden. Same goes for Rmm. The secrecy, the remote location, the kidnapping, the humiliation all sounds like an elaborate setup for using these people as rats in whatever they have planned.

If one observes properly, the episode reveals a flaw. Actually it feels like a déjà vu, everyone is in this game prison is in the age group of 20’s to late 50’s. The elder man reminds me of the movie SAW. The moment he spits out the word Brain tumour, my brain remembered the ending of SAW. Jigsaw creating containment similarly but with two people who are connected to him. He plans on abduction and torture while letting the two believe that the man behind all of it is someone else, who is revealed to be just a decoy. The mastermind behind the torture lies in there with them all along pretending to be dead and the last reveal and the music had given me a lot of goosebumps as one cannot anticipate the truth. I love such movies they are cryptic and the reveal makes a major impact.

The old man gives Jigsaw vibes.

A. He mentions brain tumour, what sort of mentally, physically exhausted man enters a competition which looks malicious.

B. He is way too excited and thrilled to play the game. He smiles and jumps as though he is in the playground while others are mortified to even move.

C. Everyone entering this illegal gaming arena are very desperate and hungry for money. Given his age he is not the man who be the financial head of the family. Even if he is or was desperate wouldn’t his son or daughter be the participant?

D. Everyone from the Rmm’s video shows that they all were slapped hard by losing at the game of Ddakji, his jaw would break if he was ever slapped. Seeing the professional recruiter he is well trained into winning. No matter how old and experienced the old man can be he cannot possibly have won at it.

My prediction : Black masked man is a decoy and Jigsaw is none other than player 1.

That’s it for today folks. Thank you for reading.

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