The ending of “Squid Game” was teased throughout the season. Here are all of the facts and cues you may have missed along the road. So, have you finished watching Netflix’s “Squid Game” and are ready to discuss the shocking twist finale? The storyline has many twists and turns, however, none can be compared to the big revelation in episode 9.
The last episode of “Squid Game” reveals who is behind the deadly survival games and who designed them in the first place. Fans later discovered that there were several hidden clues and elements pointing to the twist throughout the nine episodes. Here we bring you a rundown of everything you could have missed regarding the “Squid Game’s” enigmatic ending.
Similarities with the Japanese film “As the Gods Will”
As the K-drama popularity grew, people recognized that its plot shared many striking similarities with a Japanese film called “As the Gods Will.” The supernatural horror film from 2014 tells the story of a high school boy who plays video games.
He finds himself participating in the deadly Daruma-san ga koronda (Japanese children’s game). Each level causes more deaths, and the students’ only option is to survive because no one knows who the creator is.
Differences and Similarities between “As the Gods Will” and “Squid Game”
Both “Squid Game” and “As The Gods Will” utilize the same games such as The game ‘Red Light, Green Light’. Fans were surprised to learn that the K-drama also has a mechanical doll. When she yells “green light,” the robot spins around to face a tree.
The difference is that the failing players’ skulls explode in the Japanese film rather than being shot like in the Korean drama. The parallels are quite difficult to ignore.
Accusation of plagiarism
When asked about plagiarism, director Hwang Dong-hyuk explained that it wasn’t true. He started working on the “Squid Game’s” storyline in 2008 and the Japanese film is from 2014.
During a press conference, Hwong took the opportunity to explain, “It’s true that [the first game] is similar, but there are no similarities beyond that”. I worked on [Squid Game] in 2008 and 2009, and the initial game was already fixed as ‘Red Light Green Light’.”
How guards and players were selected
There are several theories floating around the internet about how the guards were hired. At the beginning of the series, Gi-hun, participates in a game called ddakji with a stranger on the subway platform. He happened to be a recruiter for the game
Gi-Hun picked the blue card from the salesman and then woke up in a teal suit as a player. Had he picked the red card, he would have been a worker/guard.
The meaning behind the drawings on the wall
The doodles on the dorm walls, which were previously hidden by beds, serve as a guide for the participants to determine which games will be played. As the number of players reduced, the number of beds shrank, and the paintings became visible.
At first glance, they appear to be illustrations from a children’s book, yet they contain important information that could have helped the participants win. They would have been noticed by a wise player.
Player 001 doesn’t appear to be scanned by the doll
In the first episode during the first game called “Red Light, Green Light”, a distinct green outline can be seen over the top of each player once the deadly doll rotates around and begins scanning the players for any signs of movement.
When the doll scans Player 001, the green haze around him isn’t as thick as it is around the others, possibly indicating that the doll is trained to avoid shooting and killing him.
He also played the game smiling
While most of us assumed it was just a sick old man with nothing to lose, Oh Il-nam’s strategy becomes much more meaningful once you realize who he really is. Everyone else is scared to move after witnessing players being murdered, but Il-nam effectively urges the rest to keep playing by fearlessly running ahead.
His perfect timing in stopping just as the doll says ‘red light’ could also be due to his years of spectating
Why Il-nam chooses the star in the honeycomb game
Roughly translated as “honeycomb” by Netflix, the second game involves cutting stamped shapes out from a sugar honeycomb candy called “ppopgi” (which directly translates as “to pluck.” in Korean), also known as “dalgona”.
While Il-nam clearly understands that, while the star isn’t the easiest form to cut out of the honeycomb, it’s a lot faster and easier than trying to cut out an umbrella. He is well aware of the dangers of swapping with Gi-hun.
The Front Man only ends the fight after Il-nam calls for the violence to stop
During episode 4, Player 101’s goon squad gets second servings of water and food, leaving several other Players without. The staff was adamant that there was exactly enough for everyone. This leads to a late-night brawl that ends in many deaths and injuries.
However, it only ends when Il-nam goes to the top bed and shouts for it to stop. Despite the fact that he’s a player, Il-nam is clearly in charge of the game.
Il-nam knows the exact way to win Tug-of-war
The old-fashioned game of Tug-of-war is the show’s third game. Two teams pull on opposite sides of a rope until one team crosses the center. Unfortunately, the center is nearly a thousand feet below sea level.
Il-nam knew how to win the Tug-of-war competition, but it is possible that it wasn’t just because of his own childhood strategies. It is possible he tweaked his own strategy based on how successful teams have performed over time.
Player 001’s page is missing from the 2020 player file
This is maybe the most telling sign that Player 001 is not a real player. In episode 5, when undercover detective Hwang Jun-ho uncovers the dossier of participants for the 2020 games, he opens it and finds Player 002 on the first page.
Because he never registered as an official player, Player 001’s information is completely absent. In hindsight, this detail is quite revealing, because each player has a file, a picture and the contract.
Player 001 never got a backstory
In the beginning, we are introduced to each of the character’s challenges in the real world. However, when it comes to Il-nam, all we know is that he had a brain tumour, but he never mentions needing money — even for piling medical bills that we know is a problem as Gi-hun’s ill mother left the hospital because she knew how expensive the fees were.
It’s the only character that doesn’t express desire for money.
Il-nam doesn’t make an effort to team up for the marbles game
Players are asked to form pairs to play the fourth game. One person will be left alone if the number of players is odd. We later learn that the person who is left behind is returned to the dorm without playing.
Il-nam is well aware of the rule and sits alone in a corner, in the hopes that no one chooses him. Gi-hun eventually chooses him, and the two end up collaborating on a project.
Il-nam finds an exact recreation of his house
The old man appears to be disoriented and talking to Gi-hun about his life for the whole of episode 6. We believe he’s just imagining or seeing things when he finally ‘finds’ his former home in the false neighborhood.
When viewers realize that Il-nam is the game’s designer, it becomes evident that he wasn’t just making stuff up. The game’s ‘setting’ is something he designed himself, and it is a nod to his old house.
Viewers don’t see Il-nam being shot
Guards approach Il-nam after he loses the marble game to Gi-hun and places a gun to his head. We hear a gunshot as Gi-hun walks away, upset that the old man is about to be slain, but we don’t see Il-nam die.
It is a big giveaway, given that Squid Game doesn’t exactly shy away from the gore and blood. Also, no sound of the old man’s body can be heard falling to the ground.
Il-nam leaves before the glass stepping stones game
Knowing what we know now, Il-nam’s decision to leave the game after the marble round becomes understandable. We can all agree that the most dangerous round of the competition is the glass stepping stones.
Il-nam would have had to make sure he was last if he had played the round. There’s also the possibility that if he does not get his hands on the 16th bib, another player will force him off and kill him.
Oh Il-nam’s name hints at exactly who he is
Oh Il-nam loosely translates to “number one man.” The name element ‘Il,’ can have several meanings, one of which is ‘one.’ ‘Nam’ is the second portion of his name, which means ‘male or man.’
Il-nam is Player 001, as well as the game’s initial inventor and developer – or, to put it another way, the number one man in every meaning. He is the ultimate mastermind behind the organization that put these wicked games together.
Player 001 gave Player 456 his jacket to protect him
Il-nam told Gi-hun that he might be judged if he didn’t have a jacket. However, instead of returning the 456 jacket that was lent to him, Ol-nam handed Gi-hun his own 001 jacket.
We could speculate this is because Oh Il-nam knew he wouldn’t be chosen for the Marbles game, but he still wanted to protect Gi-hun, who had shown him compassion. He “marked” Gi-hun to let guards know that he needed to be protected.
Il-nam uses his forgetfulness to his advantage
Another interesting fact about Il-nam is that he never had a problem with forgetfulness in the first three games. He remembered the “Green Light, Red Light” song and used his “Tug-o-war” strategy from childhood to help his team win.
When it came to Marbles, though, Player 001 seemed to forget everything. Il-nam pretended to have dementia to manipulate his fellow Players.
He actually remembers everything
There is more incriminating proof to add to this theory. At the very end of the Marbles challenge, Il-nam reveals to Gi-hun that he was faking his forgetfulness when he reveals that he was aware that Gi-hun was cheating all along.
It looks like that his tumor-induced dementia was just a manipulation tactic to gain sympathy from other fellow Players.
Similarity between Il-nam and The Host’s hands
Another clue is hinted at by the creators of the show. After watching Il-nam’s old hands fiddle around with marbles for an hour during the fourth episode, it would be hard to miss the equally aged hands holding the bejeweled host mask.
It makes much sense that the host is shown only after Il-nam is eliminated in the arena.
Player 001 was the tie-break vote to keep the games entertaining
As the tie-breaker vote after the first game, Player 001 allowed candidates to leave and return if they wished so, ensuring that no one was forced to participate.
Therefore, those who did return would not be dull, because they knew that elimination would result in death. And, as we witnessed during the Glass Bridge game, the VIPs don’t like dull.
The Front Man actor was referenced by a player
There’s an inside joke on the script that audiences might also catch.
In the Marbles episode, Player 240 (Ji-yeong) references a line from “Inside Men” starring Lee Byung-hun (who plays the Front Man and is one of South Korea’s most famous actors) while talking to player 067 (Sae-byeok) about what they’d do if they were to win the top prize.
Player 067 actress cracks out of character
In an interview with Netflix Korea, series director Hwang Dong-hyuk, as well as actors Lee Jung-jae (The Front Man) and Park Hae-soo (Player. 218), pointed out that in the first episode, Jung Ho-yeon (Player 097) is truly laughing while crouched over.
They said if you look closely, Jung can be seen laughing, or at least trying to hold it in.
There are several parallelisms throughout the series
Let’s examine some parallelisms within the series that really catch the viewers’ attention. The boxes-coffins with a bow where the players are put in after they die look exactly like the box Ga-yeong’s birthday present from Gi-hun is wrapped in.
This can serve as a strange omen for what was to come. The coffins look just like fancy gift boxes.
Gi-hun and his daughter had a steak dinner
Before the final game, Gi-hun (Player 456), Sang-woo (Player 218), and Sae-byeok (Player 067) are given a fancy steak dinner, where they also get to drink wine.
It is reminiscent of when Ga-yeong tells her dad she had steak before their birthday dinner. It is a big contrast to the small portions of frugal food that the players were fed.
The betrayal of Ali in The Marbles Game is foreshadowed in episode 2
Ali is a Pakistani worker who was robbed of his wages and later of his marbles. When Ali is home, he returns to his job and begs to be paid, and he ends up stealing the money he’s owed and running.
So, Ali steals something valuable, only to have something super valuable — his winning marbles — stolen by Sang-woo.
Deok-su falls off a bridge twice
Player 101 Deok-su’s death in episode 7, also known as The Bridge Game, is actually his second time falling over a bridge.
When the players return to the real world in the second episode, Deok-su escapes a gang of assailants by jumping from a bridge into the water. He finds his demise in the hands of his scorned lover Mi-nyeo.
Mi-nyeo leans back in two games
In Episode 5, Mi-nyeo (Player 212) says she felt very powerful while leaning back, after the team wins Tug-of-war. However, this is also the way she ends up exiting the series.
In episode 7, Mi-nyeo clings to Deok-su, leans back, and sends them both to their deaths. She does this to get back at him, finally having power over him.
Jun-ho’s falling into the sea was foreshadowed
In Episode 8, Jun-ho, the police officer who gets shot by his brother and falls into the water, is foreshadowed when he is attempting to break into the game.
In episode 3, Jun-ho murders the driver and tosses his body overboard, taking his place and infiltrating the organization. It mirrors Jun-ho’s final moments against his brother, the enigmatic Front Man.
There are two versions of English subtitles
Many viewers quickly noticed that the English dubbing isn’t entirely accurate.
For example, one of Mi-nyeo’s lines in the English CC version reads, “I’m not a genius, but I can work it out.” The English subtitles read, “‘I am very smart — I just never got a chance to study,” which is a more accurate interpretation of the Korean dialogue.
Sae-byeok’s North Korean accent
This detail is hard to pick up on if you aren’t fluent in Korean, but it provides insight to the character of Player 067, Kang Sae-byeok.
Sae-byeok speaks in a North Korean accent when she is around her brother, but puts on a South Korean accent when around her fellow contestants. She’s trying to avoid drawing attention to her heritage.
‘Squid Game’ director describes the show’s main characters as his “inner clones”
Hwang has told interviewers about how the show mirrors the challenges of everyday life, and also how Seong Gi-hun and Jo Sang-woo are his “inner clones”.
He added: “Like Gi-hun, I was raised by a single mother in a financially troubled environment. And like Sang-woo, I went to Seoul National University and my entire neighbourhood had high expectations of me.”
The season 1 finale sets up a possible return
Amid the many theories for a possible season 2, fans are speculating that another character besides Gi-hun may return. Jun-Ho was left for dead, but we never actually see his dead body be recovered from the water.
The cop may have made it out alive, with an even stronger conviction to take down the deadly Game once and for all.
We are left with an open ending
Instead of getting on the flight, Gi-hun walks away, vowing to stop the Game once and for all. It leaves the story open for another installment, following Gi-hun as he goes against the masterminds behind it.
Though Netflix hasn’t said anything yet, the show is listed as a seasonal series, not a limited one, showing a Season 2 is possible.
The reason behind Gi-hun’s red hair
When it comes to Gi-hun’s red hair, why did he dye it that color? Some viewers believe he plans to return as a worker to the games. Others believe the dye job may have something to do with the Salesman’s game.
What if Gi-hun chose red as a reminder of the games’ violence, or as a foreshadowing of his vengeance?
Season 2 could reveal more details about the Frontman and the Recruiter
Hwang has given new insights into the plot of a possible second season. He told CNN that he would like to show the backstories for several of the show’s less-explored characters, including the Front Man who runs the Game and the recruiter.
Perhaps we’ll get to see their origin story and their intentions behind playing those roles in the Game.
More details about the Front Man’s background story
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Hwang revealed facts about the Front Man. He disclosed that In-ho is an ex-cop, in addition to being Jun-ho’s older brother.
He also hinted that the new season would focus on the Korean police and why there are more victims or a situation gets worse because of the police not acting fast enough.
Il-nam set up the games to find his son
Fans have theorized that perhaps Gi-hun is the old man’s long lost son. At one point, Il-nam says: “As a kid, I’m willing to bet you got spanked a lot.”
Gi-hun replies: “How did you know?” And the old man says: “My son did too. He was just like you, friend.” He might have known that his son would come to the games.
Ali might still be alive too
Some people think fan-favourite character Ali might not be dead after all. The theory goes that Ali is somehow in cahoots with the old man, and wasn’t actually killed.
This is because we didn’t see Ali getting shot, and the only other death we didn’t see on-screen was Il-man’s. Squid Game has taught us that nothing is what it seems!