Like a down-on-his luck schlub being yanked toward a ledge, Netflix has taken the inevitable plunge: Squid Game – the global smash that became Netflix’s biggest hit of all time – is getting a second season, according to creator Hwang Dong-hyuk.
‘There's been so much pressure, so much demand and so much love for a second season… I almost feel like you leave us no choice!’ Hwang told the Associated Press. ‘There will indeed be a second season. It's in my head right now. I'm in the planning process currently. But I do think it's too early to say when and how it's going to happen.’
At this point, very little is known about the future of Squid Game. Hwang himself seems surprised by the success of his dystopian passion project. But season 1 left a tonne of plot threads dangling like so many Tug-of-War players suspended over a chasm. Here are the biggest questions we have in advance of Squid Game season 2, plus some theories about where the show could go next.
MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR SQUID GAME FOLLOW… you’ve been warned.
What will happen to Squid Game protagonist Gi-Hun?
At the beginning of Squid Game, 456 hardscrabble characters are whisked off to a mysterious island and pitted against one another in a series of deadly playground games, beginning with a rousing round/massacre of Red Light, Green Light. By the end of the games, only one player still stood: Indebted gambler, deadbeat dad and kindhearted soul Seong Gi-Hun (Lee Jung-Jae), who spent the story caring for the elderly Il-Nam, who – BIG TWIST – ended up being the mastermind of the games all along.
Gi-Hun’s character was notable thanks to his sense of fairness and humanity: As other players resorted to duplicity and midnight stab-a-thons in a bid to win a giant bin of prize money, Gi-Hun remained loyal to those around him until the end. As such, in the denouement, we saw an impoverished, guilt-wracked Gi-Hun living in squalor and refusing to spend a cent of the fortune he accrued.
In the final moments, having learned the true identity of his dying gganbu, Gi-Hun was seen getting a fiery new Run Lola Run haircut and preparing to board a plane to reunite with his daughter in the US – only to make a last-minute decision to head back to the island, presumably to take the whole bloody enterprise down.
Hwang has confirmed the return of Gi-Hun, saying: ‘I will promise you this... Gi-hun will come back, he'll do something for the world.’ But the nature of the character’s return could provide some surprises.
There’s a parallel theory worth noting: In the series, the masked puppetmaster known as Front Man (more on him in a moment) was revealed to also be a previous winner – and the brother of dogged detective Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon), who served as a paragon of truth before being unceremoniously shot and plummeting off a cliff.
Could Squid Game be positioning its lovable protagonist as a future antagonist seduced by the dark side, Vader-style? Or will Hwang pull the rug out from under us and show Gi-Hun leveraging his fortune and newly colorful hairdo in the service of a K-Pop career? Only time will tell.
Will Squid Game delve into the story of the Front Man?
The mysterious Front Man became an instant icon from season 1, but we know little about him. We don’t know how he managed to survive the bloodbath – did he do so through manipulation or play it safe like Gi-Hun? And why did he go back?
The story of his rise could provide a parallel narrative to Gi-Hun’s own journey. What many Western viewers were not aware of is that Front Man actor Lee Byung-hun is a marquee star of Korean cinema, having starred in such mega-hits as I Saw the Devil and The Good, the Bad, the Weird. The big reveal of the man behind the mask was a shocking moment for fans of South Korean film, and it’s unlikely that Squid Game unmasked such a superstar only to sideline him upon the show’s success.
Will any other characters return?
Unlikely. Everybody met their maker onscreen, with the exception of kindly Pakistani immigrant Ali, whose offscreen demise proved that the show did have a very loose notion of ‘too much’.
But as the saying goes: Nobody’s ever dead unless you see their brain matter splattered on the ground. The show already proved this when the ‘dead’ Il-Nam was seen on his deathbed and revealing himself to be the game’s creator. The only other character not seen as a corpse is detective Jun-ho. Our guess? He’s almost certain to be back. It’s not out of the question that we could get a glimpse of young Il-Nam laying the groundwork for his twisted creation, too.
Will Squid Game delve into the mechanics of the game itself?
It surely takes a small army to construct and run the diabolical island: There are bosses, sure, but Squid Game also gives us an army of enforcers and executioners – as well as cooks, drivers and recruiters. Plus, you know, tech people to do wifi.
Season 2 might offer a look at the mechanisations of the entire affair. In a way, it could take a cue from Eli Roth’s Hostel, a series Squid Game already recalls in its depiction of gore-splattered caverns that doubled as organ-harvesting rooms. In that loathsome series’s sequel, Roth switched the perspective from victims to the network of billionaires not unlike the masked VIPs of Squid Game. Squid Game could follow suit.
If there’s any justice, we’ll also get a bit more about the handsome devil who serves as the recruiter for the games. Seen in episode 1 playing a particularly slappy game of Ddakji (the paper-flipping game) and rocking a sharp suit in the subway, the character’s sinister smile marks him as something of a soothsayer and all but begs for future exploration.
Will Squid Game be a global affair?
Squid Game introduced a cadre of braying Americans known as VIPs, who spoke at length about games in other countries. That means that season 2 and beyond could basically go anywhere and repeat similar narrative beats. Could it all go full Purge and take the games to other locales?
What games will Squid Game depict next?
Squid Game offered up a diverse roster of games, from universal latchkey pastimes like Tug-of-War and Red Light, Green Light to South Korea-specific games like honeycomb-tracing. The macabre beauty is that games both mundane (marbles) and thrilling (the glass bridge) could have the same head-splattering results.
So what’s next? Could we see a heavy-artillery take on Hide & Seek? A gruesome take on Red Rover? Maybe a little Netflix synergy courtesy of a scalding game of the Floor is Lava, or a stabby take on Tic-tac-toe? Given the perversity deployed on paragons of childhood innocence in the first season, the deranged minds behind Squid Game have proven that anything goes.