A Breakdown of the Shocking 'Squid Game' Ending

·3 min read
Photo credit: YOUNGKYU PARK
Photo credit: YOUNGKYU PARK

Spoilers Ahead

The survival game action drama Squid Game has taken over the internet and has risen to top rankings on Netflix. When writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk set out to make the show he didn't look very far from reality for inspiration. In an interview with Variety he said, "I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life." The result: 456 contestants all of staggering debt are recruited (and volunteer) to play simple games at life-or-death stakes for a chance to win ₩45.6 billion (US$38.5 million).

Who wins the game?

The season finale opens with the same squid game from the first episode. Our protagonist Seong Gi-hun faces off with his childhood-friend-turned-nemesis, Sang-woo after he killed Sae-byeok at the end of the penultimate episode (RIP queen).. The two are out for blood but moments before winning Gi-hun asks to vote on ending the game. He assumed Sang-woo would agree because it would end the whole tournament but instead Sang-woo stabs himself in the neck leaving Gi-hun victorious.

What does the winner do with the money?

Nothing. Fast forward a year and Gin-hun is back at home and all of the winnings are still on the debit card untouched. After a meeting with bank executives he asks for 10,000 won (about $8), which he spends on a beer and flowers from a street vendor. There is no explanation why Gin-hun hasn't spent any of the money but it seems to be a decision made out of grief, and the trauma he has yet to process from the game.

In the finale Gin-hun picks up Kang Sae-byeok's (Jung Ho-yeon) younger brother from the orphanage, and drops him off with leaves Sang-woo's mom, along with a suitcase filled with cash. He also leaves a note that reads, "It's the money I owe Sang-woo," keeping his promise to Sang-woo that he would take care of his mom while also doing right by third place winner and his friend Sae-byeok.

Who started the game?

In creepy squid game fashion, the flowers Gin-hun bought has a business card from the game attached to them along with an invitation to a random hi-rise. When Gi-hun arrives he sees Player 001, or Oh Il-nam, who we thought died after losing the marble game. Instead, he is alive and lucid laying on a hospital bed and actually the host and co-creator of the whole game.

We learn that Il-nam is wealthy and got rich off of lending people money. When he and his partners got bored of their wealth they created the game to have some fun. Il-man's tumor and illness is real and after watching the game as a spectator he decided to join as a player to feel something real before he died.

What happens in the last scene?

After seeing Il-man something changed in Gin-hun. On his way to visit his daughter in America he sees someone being recruited for the game at the airport and intercepts him, begs him to not go, and takes the calling card from him. As Gin-hun is boarding the plane, he calls the number on the card and tells them that the game must end. The voice on the other line tells Gin-hun to board the plane and mind his business. Gin-hun walks away leaving his future up to out imaginations.

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