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What We Want To See In Squid Game Season 2

No one could've predicted the smash success of Netflix's "Squid Game," a new spin on the battle royale trope that uses deadly children's games to provide a scathing critique of late-stage capitalism. Yet nearly the instant the high-stakes Korean series hit the streamer, it started smashing records, quickly earning the title of the biggest series launch in Netflix's history. So although the first season reached a satisfying — if open-ended — conclusion, it came as no surprise when creator and director ​​Hwang Dong-hyuk confirmed that the mega-hit was indeed returning for a second season.

What could Season 2 of "Squid Game" look like? The possibilities are vast, especially since the first season raised far more questions than it answered. Of course, it's bound to be very different from the first, since most of the main cast of Season 1 are dead by the time the season ends. Plus, the Squid Game ended, with traumatized victor Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) limping away with his massive pile of bloodstained winnings. That said, there are still a number of things we'd like to see in Season 2 of "Squid Game," from returns and plotlines set up in the series' first season to corners of the bizarre and brutal world that we never got to explore.

Spoilers for the first season of "Squid Game" ahead.

The story of the Front Man

Running parallel to the games themselves during the first season of "Squid Game" is the story of Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-Joon), a police officer whose search for his missing brother led him to the mysterious games. Jun-ho proves an effective spy, managing to infiltrate the game compound and take up residence by impersonating one of the enigmatic red-clad workers. While there, he discovers a treasure trove of files detailing past games and contestants, and is shocked to learn that his missing brother, In-ho (Lee Byung-hun), actually won the games in 2015. Later, the other shoe drops when we learn that Jun-ho's brother is actually the mysterious masked Front Man who has been running the games behind the scenes since the first episode.

How In-ho went from winning the games in 2015 to being the second in command to the game master by 2021 is left entirely to the viewers' imaginations. However, that leaves plenty of room in Season 2 to explore In-ho's backstory, perhaps even getting a glimpse of how he won the games in 2015. Exploring the circumstances that led to him going from lowly contestant to high-ranking insider, and learning more about who In-ho is as a person, would be a great way to carry over one of the most intriguing storylines of Season 1 while also expanding the world of "Squid Game."

The fate of Jun-ho

After learning that his brother already managed to play in and survive the games, Jun-ho becomes determined to escape the isolated island where the games are held in order to track him down and expose the truth. Unfortunately, the Front Man and a handful of workers catch up with Jun-ho before he can get to safety or a reliable cell phone signal. Cornered, Jun-ho demands to see the Front Man's face, and he complies, removing his mask to reveal that he is in fact Jun-ho's missing brother. In-ho offers Jun-ho a chance to join him, but when Jun-ho refuses, In-ho shoots him in the shoulder, causing Jun-ho to lose his balance and tumble off a cliff into the ocean below.

That's the last we see of Jun-ho, but the location of the bullet wound high up on his shoulder suggests In-ho was not actually trying to kill him, or at least not quickly. And when In-ho looks down at the water below, we see a ring of bubbles where Jun-ho presumably entered the water, notably far away from any sharp rocks that could have brought on his demise. Jun-ho's fate is left seemingly intentionally open-ended, as is the status of the photographic evidence he attempted to send to his police chief shortly before being confronted by his brother.

The families of the fallen contestants

Sadly, with the exception of Gi-hun and possibly Jun-ho, none of the major characters from Season 1 survive, which rules out the possibility of fan-favorite contestants popping up again in new arcs. However, characters such as Sae-byeok (Jung Hoyeon), Ali (Anupam Tripathi), and Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) all left behind family members that they cared deeply about in the regular world outside the games. Season 1 saw Gi-hun give a large portion of his winnings to Sang-woo's mother and Sae-byeok's younger brother, his way of trying to make things right for the people he had considered friends while trapped in the games. But of course, there is no true justice for them or their families, not least because they'll never know how their loved ones died.

Season 2 could see Gi-hun return to some of his former competitors' families to help care for them, tell them the truth, or both. Many characters were competing in order to try to make a better life for their loved ones, so it would be nice, if bittersweet, to check in on what those loved ones are doing now without them. Season 2 could also utilize flashbacks to allow us to glimpse some of our favorite characters in a new and much more normal way, away from the pastel walls and green jumpsuits of the games. Obviously the casualties of Season 1 can't be the focus of Season 2, but revisiting their families would be a good way to make clear that the lucrative and deadly games carry with them a devastating real world cost.

The past winners

Let's get one thing out of the way: there are no real winners in Squid Game. Gi-hun makes this clear in the final episode of Season 1, when we learn that he hasn't even been using the blood money that constitutes his "winnings," wracked with the guilt and trauma of what he had to do in order to earn it. The only other winner we ever learn of is In-ho, the Front Man. All of the other winners are enigmas, although the binders that Jun-ho finds date back at least as far as the 1990s, meaning there should be dozens of Squid Game winners out there somewhere.

Not to say that the second season of "Squid Game" should pull a "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and bring back all the former victors for a ruthless tournament of champions, but it would be interesting to see Gi-hun seek out the others like him, who survived the games only to be haunted by them ever after. That room full of binders of former contestants was there for a reason, and we somehow doubt it was just for tax purposes. Does the Front Man continue to keep tabs on the contestants after they leave? Do they all wind up working for the Games? And who was doing the Front Man's job before the Front Man? The first season of "Squid Game" gives us an intimate look at one series of games, whereas Season 2 could paint a broader and clearer picture by giving us the context of what, and who, came before that fatal game of Red Light, Green Light ... and where they are now.

The truth about the workers

Largely through Jun-ho's surreptitious sneaking, Season 1 of "Squid Game" leaves viewers with the strong impression that the workers in red, with their geometrically patterned facial coverings, aren't exactly there voluntarily, any more than the players are. While the workers do have a bit more freedom than the contestants, the rules they have to follow are still extremely strict. The workers all stay at the gaming compound in tiny cell-like rooms which they aren't permitted to leave for reasons other than to perform their work duties, they aren't allowed to talk to each other, and the only time they're allowed to remove their masks is when they're in their rooms.

The workers double as soldiers, drawing a clear parallel between them and militaristic organizations, but it still raises the question of just how exactly they came to their unique employment situation and what's keeping them there. After all, once it becomes clear that the workers are just as expendable as the players, it doesn't seem like a job that anyone would willingly take on unless they had to. It would be fascinating in Season 2 to follow the games not from the perspective of more players, but of the workers who are forced to facilitate, drawing back the curtain on how the island's literal silent majority lives.

Different games

While the six games in Season 1 of "Squid Game" aren't exactly a picnic to watch, part of the show's appeal lies in the way the traditional children's games are twisted to have deadly consequences, and how the adult players approach each one of them strategically once they realize their lives depend on them winning. As the games progress, they go from players able to passively win to being forced to actively compete against their friends, knowing that the loser will meet a grisly end. If "Squid Game" is a metaphor for capitalism, then the games themselves support the argument that the only way to significantly advance in a capitalist society is at the literal expense of others.

So while the games aren't necessarily fun, they're also necessary to the dynamic and commentary of the show. That said, it's hard to imagine another game of tug-of-war or marbles that is more gut-wrenching than the ones we've already witnessed, so we hope Season 2 rolls out some different games for whoever its contestants are. There are no shortage of well-known children's games to choose from — hopscotch, Red Rover, Jenga, or a literal spin on Floor is Lava all come to mind as innocent games that could easily be given a lethal twist. The possibilities are endless, and it will be captivating to see just how Season 2 incorporates new games, even if they're not the main focus of the season.

The world to learn about the games

In Season 1 of "Squid Game," Jun-ho is the sole outsider who learns about the games and also takes that knowledge seriously. We don't yet know if his attempt to alert the police — and thus, the rest of the outside world — about the nature of the games was successful, but even if his texts never went through, it's clear that the storyline was leaning toward eventual exposure, even if it never quite got there. So it seems to follow that in Season 2, someone else should find out — or better yet, a lot of people.

There are a few ways this could happen. Of course, if Jun-ho is still alive, this could still be his mission, although he may change tactics now that he knows his brother is the Front Man. Gi-hun could also work to expose them, especially now that he knows who was behind them. We don't know where he was going when he walked away from that plane; maybe it was straight to the nearest newspaper office. And then there's the factor of Il-nam, who finally passed away from his brain tumor in the Season 1 finale. We don't know exactly what will happen to the games or his fortune upon his death. Maybe he could have set things up for the games to stop after his death, so that he would never miss out on any of the fun, by exposing the games to the world himself. The games have been operating in secret for decades by Season 1, so it would be interesting to see what happens when that secret becomes public knowledge.

More about the black market organ ring

One of the most intriguing subplots in Season 1 is the black market organ ring organized by several of the Squid Game workers, with the help of one of the contestants who's a doctor. He didn't know when he was recruited to the games that he'd be harvesting the viable organs of his fellow players, but he quickly agrees to the task in exchange for his accomplices feeding him secret information about the upcoming games. Eventually, the Front Man finds out about it and executes every known member of the smuggling ring, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that could come back up in Season 2.

Not only could the season address the obvious questions of how it started and who the buyers were, but it could explore how these various workers got tangled up in it and whether there are other secret alliances between them. It seems like there's a lot to dig into beyond just the idea that a few enterprising workers decided to capitalize on the piles of dead bodies they were being asked to dispose of. Someone had to initially have the idea and get it running, plus figure out how to use the intricate game facilities in order to facilitate their operation. There's a lot "Squid Game" hasn't dug into yet, and we'd like to learn more.

A peek behind the curtain

Since "Squid Game" is told mostly from the perspective of the contestants, specifically Gi-hun, we never really learn much about how the players are selected in the first place. Sure, we know that each player is in a significant amount of debt, which they are unable to repay, but there has to be more to it than that. After all, the Front Man is shown to possess files on each of them, listing their family and work history, relevant skills, and any other information that could help them construct the games. Somewhere along the line, significant research is done on these contestants before they're ever brought to the island.

We'd be fascinated to see in Season 2 just how the players are selected and vetted, and how common it is for the mysterious Salesman (Gong Yoo) to get turned down. (Hwang Dong-hyuk has already hinted that he's interested in revisiting the Salesman character again down the road.) Especially now that we know Oh Il-nam was the creator of the games, and loved them so much his dying wish was to participate in them himself, we're sure there was more to how he picked his players beyond simply the balance of their bank accounts.

Oh Il-nam's backstory

Arguably the most jaw-dropping twist in Season 1 of "Squid Game" is that Oh Il-nam (Oh Yeong-su), otherwise known as Player 001, the kind elderly man who Gi-hun befriended in the first episode only to heartbreakingly betray him in the sixth, is actually the mastermind and financier behind the games. He explains to Gi-hun in the final episode that he conceived of the games many years before after finding himself bored by his lavish lifestyle and tremendous wealth. He decided to use his money to create deadly versions of the games he loved as a child in order to entertain himself and his wealthy clients. After being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, Il-nam decided to disguise himself as a player and participate himself, because the games always seemed like so much fun to him.

While Il-nam passed away at the end of Season 1, Season 2 could flash back to the early days of the games, when Il-nam was a much younger man, so that we could see him as he truly is and not through the cloak of deception that he donned for most of the time we knew him. It's hard to reconcile the seemingly meek and gentle Player 001 we came to love in Season 1 as the type of ruthless individual who would watch people kill each other for entertainment. Season 2 could dig into who he really was behind all the theatrics, and maybe help us see him as the true villain he apparently was all along.

A confrontation between the players and the VIPs

In the seventh episode of Season 1, a group of masked "VIP" guests arrives at the gaming compound, excited to indulge in any and every desire while gambling on the outcome of the last few games. These VIPs — who, though masked, seem to be mostly English-speaking white men, a distinct difference from the otherwise entirely Korean cast — watch the last couple of games from a luxuriously decorated room, safely tucked away behind walls of glass. As the players desperately work to usurp each other, knowing they can't all possibly win, the VIPs look on in comfort and safety, with no care at all for the players' humanity.

As a viewer, it's tragically ironic to see the players fighting amongst themselves rather than turning on the rich VIPs who have more power than any of the players will ever have. None of the players ever seem to really realize this, leaving the status quo mostly untouched despite Gi-hun's large leap in wealth by the end of the season. Season 2 could potentially see Gi-hun or other players finally realizing that they will never change anything by turning on each other, and that it's the VIPs who can actually prompt change ... if they're properly motivated.

A win for Gi-hun

It may sound a little odd, considering that Gi-hun was crowned the "winner" of the games at the end of Season 1 of "Squid Game," but in reality, we all know that despite his newly acquired 45.6 billion won, he doesn't feel like he's won anything at all. Throughout the season, we see him lose the role model he once looked up to, the elder he protected, and everyone he considered a friend. By the final episode, he also loses his trust in the goodness of other humans, and even walks away from his much-wanted reunion with his young daughter.

As likely one of the only (if not the only) returning characters for Season 2, it would be nice to see Gi-hun experience a victory that actually feels like success to him. Maybe that means finally being the father he wants to be, or exposing the games for what they are, or finding a friend or community that accepts and supports him for who he is. Maybe it's just meeting someone that reminds him that people can still choose to be good. "Squid Game" is far from an uplifting show, but it would be nice if, at least for this one character, something went right for once, even if it's in just a small way.

A paradigm shift

The first season of "Squid Game" ends mostly how it began from a macro perspective. The games go on, a winner is selected, he's paid his winnings, and everything moves on as it always has. That works for a one-season miniseries, but if "Squid Game" is going to return for a second season, the story can't just continue to chug along without any real change. Seeing a group of characters go through the games once was interesting when we were learning everything alongside the contestants; now, it will just be redundant unless they're significantly different.

This doesn't necessarily mean that Gi-hun will bring an end to the games in a single season. He's just one person with significant PTSD and no real social capital up against an unknown number of extremely powerful and wealthy men with no desire to change. It would be unrealistic (even more unrealistic than the games themselves) for him to upend the whole thing all by himself. But that doesn't mean that the status quo needs to remain unchallenged. Maybe we won't see the squid games end overnight (and really, they probably shouldn't), but we hope that we do see a shift in how they're handled, what they mean, and the power they wield by the end of Season 2. We're not sure what that shift might look like, but if Season 1 is any indication, we're sure it will be entertaining, thought-provoking, and more than a little horrifying.