Warning: Contains major spoilers.
Now that just about everyone has binge-watched the global hit “Squid Game” on Netflix, fans are preparing for what’s ahead by coming up with the wildest theories. Some are even showing skills on par with the show’s detective Hwang Jun-ho as they unravel clues that were there all along.
Hold onto your marbles because some of these observations might just blow your brains out.
The games were hidden in plain sight
Throughout most of the series, the bunk beds in the players’ sleeping area cover most of the walls. As the number of players dwindles and the eliminated players’ beds are removed, the walls start revealing a series of diagrams of all the games presented in the show.
The questions that need to be answered now are (1) how did so many viewers miss this detail? and (2) does this mean the sixth episode could have been less emotionally scarring had the characters known to simply look up?
“Squid Game” is one of several international competitions
A brief interaction between two of the VIPs at the end of the series has left many viewers wondering whether the “Squid Game” universe connects to other dystopian stories with similar survival game plots. “The games of this edition have been amazing,” one VIP says, to which another responds, “Right. The contest in Korea was the best.”
Viewers are speculating that this line might suggest that competitions similar to “Squid Game” occur worldwide. TikToker @Ruthbellpan points out that perhaps the similar storylines presented in shows like “Alice in Borderland” in Japan and the movie franchise “The Hunger Games” in the U.S. are each country’s version of the international competition.
Character deaths were foreshadowed
Early events in the series provide some sort of clue as to how each of the main characters would later die, as TikToker @danawang shares in a viral video. Viewers were gripping the edge of their seats when Deok-su inevitably died by falling from the Glass Bridge game. This scene paralleled an earlier moment where he jumped off of a bridge to escape from people he owed money to.
The beloved character Ali is sent to his death after Sang-woo betrays him by stealing his marbles. But in an earlier scene, Ali is the one stealing money from his boss — money that was owed to him, in fairness.
Sae-byeok’s death left viewers outraged, especially since she was so close to the end of the competition. While Sang-woo is again the culprit here, Sae-byeok similarly threatened another character with a knife earlier in the show — the broker she hoped would get her mother out from North Korea. During their meeting, her desperation drove her to point the weapon against his neck.
Sang-woo’s death by suicide could have come as somewhat of a shock considering all he’d done to get to the top. But in another earlier parallel scene, he’s seen laying in a bathtub next to a burning briquette which has commonly been used in Korea to commit suicide through its toxic fumes. Much like the way he’d been drenched in the bathtub, his final moments also take place in the pouring rain.
Finally, while Il-nam’s “death” had viewers feeling betrayed by the series’ end, his partnership with Gi-hun during what was thought to be his last game mirrored their interaction before Gi-hun decided to enter the games again. The two encountered each other outside a convenience store where they sat and talked about life, just as they did in his last moments of the competition.
Purposely bad acting
It’s no secret that foreign or white characters in K-dramas often have terrible lines and impossibly bad acting. But some viewers have questioned whether it was intentionally bad in “Squid Game” to mirror the way Western representation of Asians in the media is typically one-dimensional and riddled with stereotypes. One user on Reddit points out that the show director Hwang Dong-hyuk spent a considerable amount of time in the U.S. since he studied film at the University of Southern California and would therefore not have incorporated bad acting on purpose. There are also alleged screenshots from one of the VIP actors that suggest they were intentionally written as “cheesy, callous, man-children.”
Some viewers, however, have suspected that the lines may have been left simplistic enough to villainize the characters without having them be too complicated for the primarily Korean-speaking audience that creators likely anticipated.
How the guards are picked
Perhaps one of the most viral theories has to do with the choice of the blue or red card in the ddakji game that contestants play with the games’ recruiters. Viewers noticed that Gi-hun chooses a blue card, which somewhat corresponds to the cool color of his tracksuit. Many fans have since speculated that choosing the red card would have the participants wake up as the guards, wearing the corresponding hot pink jumpsuit.
This theory has branched off into several others, including one where Gi-hun’s red hair transformation at the end symbolizes his return to the games as a guard or some other position within the ranks of the games’ orchestrators.
While the theory has been widely circulated online, it’s also been shut down by many users who’ve found that the game’s montage of the contestants playing ddakji show that several had chosen the red card.
“The Matrix” symbolism
Similar to the guard theory, another theory dives into the choice presented during the ddakji scene. The red and blue color scheme has been popularized as symbols of truth versus blissful ignorance from “The Matrix” series, where the character Neo must choose between a red and blue pill. The red pill would lead Neo to a life-altering discovery of life and humankind.
Gi-hun’s choice of the blue card, combined with his character’s overall appearance throughout the series in blue or cool colored clothing, has fans believing it is an intentional directorial choice to show Gi-hun’s willful ignorance as he participates in the games. The red hair at the end marks a shift in Gi-hun and foreshadows his return to dismantle the system he’s become aware of.
TikToker @Faye.val also points out that the show does explicitly reference “The Matrix” at one point after the tug of war game: one of the characters compares the team’s leaning back strategy to the film’s iconic slow motion scene where Neo leans back to dodge bullets.
Director Hwang Dong-hyuk has since revealed that the purpose behind dying Gi-hun’s hair was to show the character’s emotions, reported Zapzee. “I thought about this intuitively, thinking about how Gi Hun should change his hair in a hair salon. I imagined being him and thought to myself, ‘what is the color that you would never choose to dye your hair?’ Then I came to the conclusion that Gi Hun would never dye his hair red. It would be the craziest thing for him to do. So I chose the color and I thought it really showed his inner anger.”
While viewers were devastated to see some of their favorite characters killed off, there are several theories that some of them are going to make a return. The most convincing appears to be the return of Jun-ho. Fans are convinced that he — much like his phone’s battery life — has survived the whole series. His gunshot wound may not have been fatal, and the camera never does pan in on his lifeless body. Other theories, like the one of Sae-byeok and Ji-yeong running off to sip mojitos on Jeju Island on the other hand…well, who’s to stop the fans from dreaming?
Featured Image via “Squid Game” on Netflix