'Squid Game' suspenseful, yet heartbreaking

This article contains mild spoilers for “Squid Game.”

Unless you’ve spent the last week or so hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard of “Squid Game,” the South Korean thriller that’s taken Netflix by storm. 

The show’s premise is instantly enticing: individuals down on their luck are offered cash in exchange for winning children’s games. For those riddled with debt and lacking brighter prospects, the somewhat sketchy scenario is too promising to turn down. 

However, both the audience and the show’s players realize too late the true cost for losing a game: the player loses their own life. The concept of playing a children’s game to your death, out of sheer hope you’ll win enough money to land on your feet, is truly heartbreaking. “Squid Game '' sets up an interesting plot forwarded by the topics of social class and the appearance of choice. 

 

“Squid Game” is extremely well done visually and through its score. Moments of high intensity are countered with classical music and brightly colored sets that add to the show’s appeal. Additionally, both the acting and casting contribute to an experience that’s almost impossible to watch just one episode of. 

A major criticism being passed around regarding the show is related to its use of dubbing and subtitles. Several videos and Twitter threads have been created by native Korean speakers explaining how English translations fail to carry across the correct meaning of dialogue. While some of these mistakes are minor, I would be interested to know how much I missed from the show’s deeper meaning because of the language barrier. With “Squid Game” and the movie “Parasite” becoming major hits in the US, I’m excited to see more South Korean representation in our media and am curious to see if and how translating tactics change over time.

While I’ve heard some complaints that Episode 2 is out of character and disrupts the flow, I found it to be one of the most important in terms of understanding the characters and their motivations. Additionally, despite its strong start, the second half of the season definitely loses steam in comparison to the constant action and surprises of the first few episodes. 

The majority of discourse I’ve seen about the show online has centered on the first couple of episodes. While this isn’t surprising as more and more people start the show, I think it speaks to how “Squid Game” as a concept is so strong and compelling at its start, but fails to carry that energy throughout. 

While the action picks up near the end of the series, each twist seems to be drawn out just enough to become predictable. I found the last two episodes to be extremely frustrating because they simply didn’t provide the closure for the characters that I would have hoped for. 

That being said, I enjoyed the bleakness and reality that “Squid Game” presents and would definitely tune in to watch a second season. The next time a stranger asks you to play a game, remember it’s not you versus your neighbor, it’s us versus them. 

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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