What does the ending of 'Squid Game' mean for a potential Season 2?
Spoiler alert! The following contains details from the finale of "Squid Game."
Will the games continue? Will Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) fight to take them down? Who is running them now that Il-nam (Oh Young-soo) is dead?
After the fast-paced first eight episodes of "Squid," which Netflix says is on track to become its most-watched show ever, the finale is a slower, quieter installment that gradually rolls into an open-ended conclusion, in which it's unclear what protagonist Gi-hun will do next. For some fans, it was an unsatisfying anticlimax after so much action and drama. For others, it was a smart, intriguingly ambiguous way to sum up a horrifying story.
But almost everyone who watched "Squid" and has witnessed the phenomenon of this word-of-mouth smash hit is likely wondering the same thing: Will there be a Season 2?
The open-ended finale provides an opportunity for Gi-hun, and the games, to return for a Season 2. Although there is no official word from Netflix (yet) about whether "Squid" will return, considering its wild success, it wouldn't be surprising if the series came back. But what will a Season 2 look like?
The finale offers some hints. In the episode, Gi-hun wins the sixth game, the squid game, and is seconds away from winning the prize. Instead of taking the step that will cement his win, and trigger the game workers to kill his childhood friend Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo), Gi-hun turns and tries to convince Sang-woo to end the games there. Sang-woo doesn't let Gi-hun refuse the prize money, though, killing himself and making Gi-hun the automatic winner of the games.
Gi-hun is unceremoniously dumped on the streets of Seoul, battered, bruised and with a shiny new debit card. He goes to an ATM and punches in 0456 as his pin to discover the 46.5 billion won ($39 million) are now his for the taking. He only takes out 10,000 (about $8), however, and then shuffles home to discover his mother has died while he was playing the games, trying to win money to pay for her medical treatments.
The episode then jumps a year into the future and Gi-hun looks even worse. He's got a long unkempt beard and is deeply depressed. He hasn't spent any of his winnings and is continuing to live in poverty. But one night he gets one of those mysterious business cards again and shows up at the time and place to find supposedly-dead Il-nam, aka Player 001 from the games, in an elegant hospital bed in a skyscraper.
Il-nam was the "Host" of the games, behind it all from the very start. He tells Gi-hun that the similarity between the very rich and the very poor is boredom, and he started the games to entertain himself and his rich friends. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to join the games for more of a thrill. He tries to convince Gi-hun to use his winnings as he's "earned" them, and bets him one last time that no one will help a homeless man out in the cold. Gi-hun wins the bet when a good Samaritan calls for help, but Il-nam has died on his bed in the background.
The meeting with Il-nam has sparked energy into Gi-hun, who finally goes to rescue Sae-byeok's (Jung Ho-yeon) younger brother from the children's home and gives money to Sang-woo's mother. Sporting a striking red hair style and a fancy new suit, he heads to the airport to visit his daughter in the U.S. when he sees the handsome recruiter from the games hustling another poor potential contestant. Gi-hun chases the recruiter off and seizes the business card from the victim. As he's boarding his plane he calls the number and identifies himself, to be met with a voice urging him to just get on the plane. Instead, Gi-hun turns around and runs back into the airport, and the episode ends.
There are dozens of questions left after this ending. Did Il-nam help Gi-hun make it through the games alive? How deep does the conspiracy go? Is Gi-hun going to fight back or will he fold again? Did he help anyone else besides the families of Sae-byeok and Sang-woo?
If the show comes back for a second season, some of these questions may be addressed, although the writers could choose to leave the mysteries alive. The finale sets up a conflict between Gi-hun and the games, and the potential for a new cast of players to be introduced who could join Gi-hun's fight or devote themselves to trying to win. There's also the fact that a police officer is now among the missing people whose lives have been claimed by the games, opening the door for more law enforcement to get involved.
Only Netflix and director Hwang Dong-hyuk know if "Squid" will be back, but if the sensation returns, there are plenty of questions to ask, fan theories to debate and Easter eggs to discover.