Ee ooh ee ooh ee ooh ee ooh (That's my attempt at writing the show's theme).
I know I'm very late to the party with Squid Game. It took me a little bit longer to finish it than it did everyone else, but I finally watched the last two episodes yesterday, and since there isn't a lot of stuff happening in January, I figured I'd do a Squid Game ranking. I thought that the first six episodes of Squid Game were great, and it kind of dipped in quality in the last three. I thought that the finale finished off nicely, and I do hope we get a season two. Anyway, here's every episode of Squid Game, ranked.
9. VIPs (Episode 7)
I thought that VIPs was, by far, the worst episode of Squid Game. I think that the bridge game is a cool idea for a game and is very intense. However, I also think that the VIPs themselves were unbearable. I wasn't a huge fan of Jun-ho's storyline throughout the season, but I thought that the stuff with him and that extremely creepy, fat VIP was disgusting. I understand that the writers of Squid Game are Korean. Their English is not perfect. But it's not just the stilted English that bothers me. It's the overuse of exposition. They always say what the characters are going to do right before they do it. And that's really bad writing. We don't need to hear the VIPs tell us what the characters are going to do. We can just watch.
8. Hell (Episode 2)
After the horrors of the first episode, the characters decide to end the game and go back home. And I think that that doesn't work. The game is much more interesting than their actual lives. Now, I do think that this does a good job of showing where the characters are at in the real world. It gives them all motivation to go back to the game, and I think that that's an interesting element of this show. It fits in thematically, so I can appreciate this episode for what it does for the season as a whole, but I don't really enjoy it individually.
7. Front Man (Episode 8)
I liked this episode. I thought it served as a nice setup for the finale and a good finish to Jun-ho's storyline. But it really does only serve as setup for the finale. We get the reveal of the Front Man, which I predicted as soon as Jun-ho was introduced, and we get Sae-byeok's pretty emotional death. This episode does a good job of setting up the conflict between Sang-woo and Gi-hun for the finale, but, once again, it doesn't really do much besides that. It's only thirty minutes, so it isn't meant to have that much juice at the core.
6. A Fair World (Episode 5)
The tug of war scene was the highlight of this episode. It's definitely the most thrilling part. After that, it goes more into Jun-ho and the lives of the characters in the past. This is where I think Squid Game struggles with its pacing, because some episodes are exciting and keep you on the edge of your seat with these games, but others are slower and try to develop the characters. A Fair World does a good job of character development, but it isn't the most exciting episode. Also, I hate the doctor guy. I'm glad he dies in this episode, but I still hate him.
5. One Lucky Day (Episode 9)
I really thought that the finale was a tale of two halves: a solid finish to the actual game with a great cliffhanger...and a bunch of random plot twists that we don't need. Does Oh Il-nam need to be behind everything? Not at all. Was it just a plot twist for the sake of a plot twist? Yes, of course. Did Gi-hun's mom need to die? No. Was it just there to make you feel more depressed than you already do? Yes. Besides those elements, I thought that it wrapped up the season perfectly. And it left me excited for the eventual second season.
4. The Man with the Umbrella (Episode 3)
The honeycomb cookies have become one of the iconic images from Squid Game, and I think that that's the main reason this episode works. The twist on children's games is genius, and I think that this is one of the best examples of taking a game that can be universally understood and is a game that kids play for fun and making it horrifying and intense. The final twenty minutes of this episode are a masterclass in tension. It sets up all of these little moments that they build upon in later episodes, such as Sang-woo not telling Gi-hun that the umbrella is the most difficult shape or the unawareness of Oh Il-nam. It's a genius episode, and it's only this low because there are three episodes even better than it.
3. Stick to the Team (Episode 4)
I split up Squid Game into three parts: the beginning and understanding the game, the Deok-su saga, and the dark finish to the season. This is the pinnacle of the Deok-su saga. This is where they used his character best. Out of all the terrifying things that happen in Squid Game, I think that the riot in this episode is the scariest. Squid Game a commentary on how society can go crazy when it's controlled by capitalism, and I think this is when that commentary is the sharpest. After the riot, you move into the tug of war sequence and end on a great cliffhanger. This is a great episode. The only thing that holds it back is Han Mi-nyeo. She's so annoying. I cannot stand her.
2. Red Light, Green Light (Episode 1)
As an introduction to Squid Game...man, this episode works. It sets up everything to perfection. It does a great job of showing us why Gi-hun would need money. He's not a great person, but he's in a relatable situation. When he first meets the lawyer, you can tell something is off. And it just gets sketchier and sketchier as the episode goes along. It all culminates in the carnage fest that is the first game. Red Light, Green Light swiftly introduces you to this unforgiving world of Squid Game with brutality, tension, and a thematically rich core. I love this episode, and I was confident that nothing would ever be able to top it.
1. Gganbu (Episode 6)
However, I was wrong in that assumption. I don't know the direct translation of the Korean to the English, but I can tell you that this is one of the best written episodes of TV ever. It starts off with you seeing all of the characters form partnerships and friendships with one another. And then, with a shocking plot twist, the person you are partnered with is the person you are playing against. It's one of the cruelest set ups for a game in this show, and it absolutely works. From there, we get an extremely emotional episode that also has it's fair share of earth-shattering moments. Whether it's Sang-woo manipulating and essentially killing Ali, Deok-su barely beating his henchman, Sae-byeok and Ji-yeong talking before playing, or Gi-hun taking advantage of Oh Il-nam, this episode is just peak Squid Game. It sums up everything great about this series, and I can say with confidence that this is one of the best episodes of TV...ever.