Every so often, a Netflix show jumps out of seemingly nowhere and becomes the one thing everyone can’t stop talking about. In the fall of 2021, that inescapable surprise hit was Squid Game. It isn’t hard to see why the Korean drama series blew up once you start watching it. Filled with colorful and unique aesthetic choices, gasp-inducing twists, and a gruesome central concept you can’t possibly look away from, Squid Game was a nonstop thrill ride from start to finish. And the ride isn’t over yet, because Netflix picked up Squid Game for a second season.
Shortly after its Sept. 17, 2021 release, Squid Game became the first Korean series to ever top Netflix’s charts and it established itself as a constant trending topic on Twitter. The buzzy survival series drew comparisons to the Hunger Games movies and the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale, but everything from its tone, visuals, and plot twists felt completely fresh. In particular, the finale episode took a bunch of turns many viewers never saw coming, including a big hint about what may fans may be in store for with Season 2.
Spoiler alert: Don’t read on if you have not finished all of Squid Game Season 1.
Squid Game Season 2 Is Officially In The Works
Originally, things weren’t looking good for Season 2. Shortly after the first season aired, Squid Game writer/director Hwang Dong-hyuk told Variety he didn’t have plans for a second season. “I don’t have well developed plans for Squid Game 2,” he said. “It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors.”
But luckily, those plans changed. On Nov. 8, 2021, Hwang confirmed to The Associated Press that he was working on a second season. “There’s been so much pressure, so much demand and so much love for a second season. So I almost feel like you leave us no choice!” he said. “But I will say there will indeed be a second season. It’s in my head right now. I’m in the planning process currently.”
It Will Premiere In 2024
Netflix finally confirmed when the second season will arrive at the beginning of 2024. On Jan. 23, the streamer announced the new season of Squid Game will premiere this year. There’s no exact date yet, but at least now fans know the red light will be turning green very soon.
Season 1 Survivors Will Return, Along With New Characters
Given all the carnage in Squid Game, fans always knew a second season would have to introduce a whole bunch of new characters. However, that doesn’t mean the new season will start over completely from scratch.
In a statement tied to the Season 2 renewal, Hwang confirmed both Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) and the Front Man (Lee Byung-Hun) will be back. Most interestingly, the statement also teased a new character: Cheol-su, who’s described as Young-hee’s boyfriend. You might not have known this, but that giant robot doll who facilitated “Red Light, Green Light” in the first episode was inspired by a Korean textbook character named Young-hee, who is often seen with her male counterpart Cheol-su — this makes it sound like a second giant robot doll is in the cards for Season 2.
During Netflix’s annual TUDUM event in June 2023, Netflix revealed detective Jun-ho (Wi Ha-jun) and The Salesman (Gong Yoo) will also return for Season 2, along with new cast members Yim Si-wan, Kang Ha-neul, Park Sung-hoon, and Yang Dong Geun.
Later that month, eight more actors were named to the Season 2 cast: Park Gyu-young, Jo Yu-ri, Kang Ae-sim, Lee David, Lee Jin-uk, Choi Seung-hyun, Roh Jae-won, and Won Ji-an.
How Season 1’s Ending May Set Up Season 2
There was so much to unpack in Season 1’s finale, with multiple plot points that may indicate what’s to come in Season 2.
The Squid Game Season 1 finale brought the gruesome contest to an end, but winning wasn’t all that it seemed. As viewers probably guessed from the very beginning, the final game in the contest was Squid Game, a Korean childhood game in which one player tries to reach a small space at the top of a squid-like chalk outline while the other player tries to push them out of bounds.
At this point, only childhood friends Gi-hun and Sang-woo were left in the competition, and both had been pushed to their limits, to put it lightly. However, when Gi-hun finally managed to get the best of his former ally, he offered to end things in a stalemate rather than claim the prize for himself. Shockingly, though, Sang-woo stabbed himself in the neck rather than take the deal, leaving Gi-hun as the sole winner of the 45 billion won prize.
Fans were left to their own speculations about Sang-woo’s choice, but the clear message seemed to be that he simply could not face the monster he had become within the game. Had Sang-woo taken Gi-hun’s deal, he would have left the game alive, but without any of the prize money he had manipulated, backstabbed, and killed for, and it all would have been for nothing.
Sang-woo’s death wasn’t the only big finale twist, though. After Gi-hun’s win, the finale flashed forward to a year later, revealing Gi-hun remained depressed and had barely touched his prize money at all, because he was haunted by his time in the competition. It was then that he got a mysterious card telling him where to meet an old friend. Much to Gi-hun’s surprise, that old friend turned out to be Il-nam, the elderly man who Gi-hun had assumed he caused to die during the marbles game earlier in the season.
Il-nam revealed to Gi-hun that he had actually been in charge of the competition the entire time. Unlike the act he put on in the game, Il-nam was revealed to be an ultra-wealthy broker who set up the Squid Game out of boredom. As he drew close to death, Il-nam decided to play the games himself for one last bit of fun. Of course, the stakes were never there for him like they were for everyone else, since he was secretly running things the whole time, so he was spared after losing the marbles game. After divulging his secret, Il-nam succumbed to his brain tumor as Gi-hun watched over him, still in shock.
Motivated by a renewed belief that humans can be truly kind to one another, Gi-hun fulfilled the promises he made to his closest friends in the game, tracking down Sae-byeok’s brother and giving him to Sang-woo’s mother to raise, along with a suitcase stuffed with cash. But just as everything seemed to be finally going well for Gi-hun, he noticed the Squid Game recruiter who enlisted him in the first place drawing in another down-and-out man. Grabbing the contact card, Gi-hun called the Squid Game number and seemed to promise some form of vengeance: “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing.”
Then, instead of boarding a plane to visit his daughter, Gi-hun turned around and left the loading dock, suggesting he is beginning a new mission to take down the Squid Game — which, hopefully, is where Season 2 will pick up.
The Season 2 Theories Are Endless
There are a lot of different directions the second season could take. Perhaps Gi-hun will re-enter the game as a contestant and use his insider knowledge to take it down from within, or maybe he will become a masked VIP, since he is obviously wealthy enough to buy his way into VIP status now.
One exciting theory is that the new season could explore an entirely new location. This stems from a small, throwaway line one of the VIPs uttered in the Season 1 finale. The masked man noted that the Korean games are his favorite, which suggests there are other Squid Games in different countries. Shifting focus to a different country’s Squid Game could introduce a whole new set of deadly, country-specific games the players must survive, since the first season’s games were all distinctly Korean childhood games. Clearly, fans of the series have a lot to theorize about as they await more info.
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