Squid Game Episode 2 Recap: Hell - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Squid Game Episode 2 Recap: Hell

Editor's note: The following contains spoilers for Squid Game Season 1, Episode 2, "Hell."

After the bloodbath of “Red Light, Green Light,” the second episode of Squid Game puts the remaining players in the position of choosing their own fates, and asks viewers whether or not they actually have a choice. Still reeling from the death of their opponents, the show’s characters are asked if they want to remain in the game. After all, the guards assure them, the game masters have no interest in hurting or keeping anyone prisoner. However, is free will even a thing when you are caught between a rock and a hard place?

“Hell” begins with a shocking scene of the men in red burning large gift boxes containing the bodies of those that were killed in Episode One, just in case anyone forgot the horrors the players are dealing with. From one of the boxes, a hand emerges, indicating that some might have survived the first game. But, in Squid Game, getting back on the horse just isn’t an option: after pushing the hand back inside, a guard nails the box shut.

RELATED: 'Squid Game' Cast & Character Guide: Who's Who In This Wild, Deadly Competition?

Back in the main room, players sit in the dark in silence, some crying quietly. Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) thanks Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) and Ali (Anupam Tripathi) for helping him during the game of red light, green light. Suddenly, the lights come on and the guards walk in, announcing the number of players eliminated in the first round. There’s a commotion, with some contestants begging the guards to let them go. They’re reminded, however, that the contract they signed forbids anyone from leaving the game. But Sang-woo remembers something else: the third clause states that if the majority of the players decide to stop the game, they can all return home, albeit empty-handed.

This is where viewers are presented with the central theme of “Hell”: can we really make our own choices and safeguard our well-being in the face of extreme exploitation? The guards announce that they will start a vote — but first, the piggy bank on the ceiling is filled with the money the surviving players are entitled to so far: 25.5 billion won, or 100 million won for each person dead. By the end of the game, the winner will leave 45.6 billion won, or 38.4 million US dollars, richer.

Gi-hun votes to leave, as do Ali and Deok-su (Heo Sung-tae). Sang-woo, despite being the one that proposed the vote, chooses to stay, raising some red flags in Gi-hun’s mind. The vote reaches a tie, and it comes down to player 001 (O Yeong-su) to make the final call. He chooses to leave, a surprising decision considering his terminal brain tumor and just how unfazed he was by the people dropping dead around him in the first game.

Apart from the choices made by the main characters, the vote is full of little moments that come back to bite us over the course of the episode. One of them is player 212’s (Kim Joo-ryoung) comment after casting her vote on how life on the outside is hell anyway. The other is when one of the guards points a gun at a man trying to pick a fight with a player that has chosen to stay and states that they won’t let anyone interfere with this democratic process. It’s a biting commentary on the nature of democracy under capitalism and on how complicit we are in our own exploitation.

After the final vote is cast, the players are thrown back in the street, and we get a glimpse at the lives of some of Squid Game’s main characters. While Gi-hun and Sae-byeok are off to a rough start due to the nature of their first encounter before the game, Sang-woo lends his phone to Ali and gives him money to go home. That’s when we start to learn exactly how the pride of Ssangmun-dong, who graduated from the University of Seoul, ended up playing death games for cash: as he turns on his phone, the screen is flooded with notifications regarding a subpoena.

Meanwhile, Gi-hun tries to tell the police what happened, but to no avail. The officers laugh him off and, when they try to call the number behind Gi-hun’s card, a random woman picks up. He then decides to go home, but his mother is nowhere to be found. He goes looking for her at the street market where he runs into Sang-woo spying on his mother’s fish shop. The two chat for a while, and Sang-woo reveals that he owes a lot more money than the guards from the game had announced. Worst of all, he has used his mother’s own house and shop as collateral for his bad investments.

The conversation is cut short by a phone call informing Gi-hun that his mother is in the hospital. Severely diabetic, she needs immediate surgery in order not to lose her feet. Gi-hun insists for her to have the surgery, but she refuses. Besides, she says, she doesn’t even have insurance anymore, since Gi-hun cancelled it and used up the money.

In other parts of Seoul, Sae-byeok, Ali, and Deok-su have their own problems to deal with. Left in an orphanage, Sae-byeok’s younger brother Cheol (Park Si-wan) asks when they will finally live together as a family. She leaves the orphanage and goes in search of the man she hired to bring her mother over from North Korea in a sketchy place with an even sketchier name: Southern Men, Northern Women. Sae-byeok finds out her mother was arrested in China, and the man demands more money to help her out.

Back at the factory where he used to work, Ali asks his former boss for his severance payment. Without a salary or any other form of compensation, he wasn’t able to treat his work-related injuries and lost two of his fingers. Despite having cash coming out of an envelope on his desk, Ali’s boss tells him he just doesn’t have any money to pay him. On the factory floor, Ali attacks his former boss and pushes him into one of the machines, crushing the man’s fingers. He takes the cash envelope and leaves, telling his wife to go back with their son to Pakistan and that he will meet them later once he has the money.

The least sympathetic of all is Deok-su’s backstory. A crime boss that has stolen money from his higher-ups, he tries to convince one of his former henchmen to help him organize a heist on the game station. Alas, the henchman has already secured himself a nice paycheck in exchange for turning Deok-su to the Filipino organization he owes money to. Deok-su kills the henchman and manages to escape by throwing himself off a bridge into the Han River.

Back at the Ssangmun-dong street market, Sang-woo’s mother receives a call from her son telling her he’s in the United States for business. She hangs up when a customer arrives at the shop asking for squid (get it?). While she’s boasting about how amazing her son is, two police officers walk in looking for Sang-woo. They inform her that he’s being charged with multiple financial crimes and is currently on the run.

In his apartment, Sang-woo sits inside the bathtub, fully dressed and surrounded by empty bottles, when someone rings his doorbell insistently. When he gets to the door, a business card is passed underneath it, with three geometric symbols on the front and a date, a time, and a location on the back.

The same card is found by Gi-hun at his door, but not before he runs out of options for money and has a chance encounter with player 001. The two of them meet outside a convenience store and chat while drinking and eating uncooked ramen. Player 001 tells Gi-hun he has decided to go back into the game because he doesn’t want to sit around waiting for death to come.

The following day, Gi-hun goes looking for his ex-wife in the hope that she would be willing to help him. But it’s her new husband that offers him the money with the condition that he never comes looking for his daughter again. Gi-hun punches the man and throws the money at him, running off after he realizes Ga-yeong (Cho Ah-in) is at the doorstep looking sadly at her dad.

When he gets home, he’s approached by a cop that briefly saw him at the police station. The officer introduces himself as Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon) and explains that he’s looking for his missing brother, who had a card very similar to the one Gi-hun had at the police station in his possessions. Gi-hun refuses to help and, before going inside, sees the card caught between the door and the doorframe.

The final scene of “Hell” is a montage of Gi-hun, Sae-byeok, Sang-woo, Ali, Deok-su, and player 001 waiting on the street at night, entering the cars that we now know are taking them to the game station, one of them followed closely by Jun-ho. It’s an interesting scene that suggests there’s some level of identification between those characters, given that they are all broke and desperate, but that they’re also interchangeable to an extent, at least in the eyes of the game masters. In the arena, there is no Gi-hun or Sae-byeok, only numbers, and which number will win doesn’t really matter. To give up their individuality in such a way is a choice all of them made completely by themselves. But was there really a choice?

KEEP READING: 'Squid Game' Episodes, Ranked from Worst to Best



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