The most-watched show on Netflix is coming back with a vengeance with Squid Game: The Challenge!
. . . Wait. It’s a reality TV game show? No, no, no. That’s one of the things Squid Game was satirizing. There’s no way Netflix is that oblivious, right? Oh. Well, okay. I guess I should explain why that’s a terrible idea in theory, and how it became a terrible idea in practice as well.
It’s not all caustic criticism, however, because afterwards I’ll go over my top 3 predictions for Squid Game Season 2!
Squid Game: The Challenge Was An Alleged Challenge To Film
Squid Game: The Challenge is an attempt at a real-life mimic to the phenomenal hit Squid Game. 456 players compete for $4.56 million, making it the largest player and prize pool in reality game show history. Unfortunately the British series was doomed to intense scrutiny before the first episode even aired.
In February 2023, allegations from players were published online stating that the filming process was inhumane. They claimed the shoot for the iconic Red Light, Green Light game took nine hours long, and that they were forced to keep their frozen poses for the majority of the duration.
To pile onto that, temperatures as low as 14 Fahrenheit caused some contestants to collapse in sickness. Other players had to stay frozen while someone was convulsing on the ground. It almost seemed like the producers wanted to recreate the original show’s cold-hearted competitiveness a little too much.
There is some argument to be made that the Red Light stretches were long because production had to review the footage and see who moved, but . . .
Was It A $4.56 Million Run Of Bad Luck, Or Was The Game Rigged From The Start?
Despite how much the players fought through the long, cold durations of Red Light, there are reasons to suggest they were set up for failure from the start.
Some players that made it across the finish line in time were still eliminated, and while they were about to leave they saw the crew add time to the clock for certain players to make it across. A couple of contestants claimed that when their tickets were purchased to fly out to London for filming, they could also see their return tickets available. The show they would be sending at least certain guests home at scripted times.
Player 432, a big personality named Bryton, revealed in an interview that he passed the Dalgona game even though his cookie broke. While he was later eliminated, it’s no question that this show wanted to keep the interesting personalities from going out too soon.
All that is not to say that other reality competitions don’t also force certain outcomes. The quiz show scandals of the 50’s keeps most modern game shows fair, but that get’s hazy when a show defines itself as a reality competition. I’m a fan of Big Brother, but I’ll still admit it has had some moments where production had influenced the game, albeit rarely by straight up rigging the competitions. It’s junk food TV and I’ll stand by that.
Squid Game: The Challenge’s allegations of rigging are more blatant than most other reality competitions. While this acknowledgement mostly due to the larger audience, that doesn’t mean I have to give it a pass.
Effectively, it seemed like they had a small cast of actual players, and everyone else was an extra that just didn’t know it yet. From context clues of the eliminated players’ words, I’d say a lot of them thought they actually had a chance to win the money for their family or loved ones and were promptly shut down.
What Was The Point Of Squid Game: The Challenge?
With all of this alleged forcing of outcomes, the producers might as well have just gone ahead with Squid Game Season 2 instead of this. Netflix already took the intellectual property rights from Hwang Dong-Hyuk in his initial contract, they can do whatever they want. But I guess they can just copy MrBeast for some reason.
The production quality was strong enough that people are using footage of Squid Game: The Challenge for fake Season 2 trailers.
The editing was well done, really building up player and story beats for an entertaining ride. It became the most-watched show on Netflix globally during release week, and a lot of people enjoyed it.
The drama was interesting, but it all came off as some weird television chimera. Everything around this show felt like a dollar store attempt at continuing a series that Squid Game:The Challenge’s creators didn’t even understand.
Squid Game was a satirical commentary that illustrated the concept of the upper class exploiting the lower and middle classes for entertainment. Squid Game: The Challenge is an example of what its own namesake is calling out.
That’s the tricky thing about any media that critiques capitalism, though. If it’s popular enough, it gets swallowed and regurgitated as some vaguely recognizable green and pink blob with more dollar signs.
Squid Game Season 2 Speculation!
Squid Game: The Challenge rant over. Let’s move on to my top 3 predictions of possible Squid Game Season 2 scenarios. Whooh!
3. Gi-hun And Jun-ho Team Up
This might as well be a freebie. Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-Joon) fell to his offscreen fate by the hand of his brother, The Frontman. The number 1 rule of consuming stories, of course, is that if there’s no body, they’re not dead (yet). With Gi-hun’s (Lee Jung-jae) newfound rage, I’ve no doubt these two will be a force to be reckoned with were they to meet up.
Their stories were separate for most of the first season, so I can only assume they’ll collide with one another this time around. Jun-ho’s detective skills are just what Gi-hun needs to infiltrate the games. I suspect the behind-the-scenes perspective we got from Jun-ho’s plotline before will be what we really focus on in season 2.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any new, thrilling games. That’d be like a Saw film without deadly traps!
2. More Games, Higher Tension
One thing that can make a sequel or season 2 suck is power creep. The trap writers fall into where they believe everything about a sequel has to be bigger and wilder than the last.
Luckily, Squid Game has a diegetic reason for expanding on their games. Oh Il-nam (O Yeong-su), the creator of the games, is dead. No doubt the foreign VIPs with terrible line delivery will have much more say in how the games are played. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t something insanely over-the-top.
Il-nam was also the reason the games were always South Korean kids’ games, but I doubt they’ll do away with the vibrant, child-like aesthetic. That’s what keeps the image of the show in our minds!
The only thing keeping the VIPs from going too insane with the games is the host. And who else could that be to replace the late old man?
1. The Front Man Steps Up As Oh Il-nam’s Replacement
Hwang In-ho (Lee Byung-hun), the overseer of Season 1’s games and detective Jun-ho’s brother, makes perfect sense to become the next host for multiple reasons.
In the established story, the Front Man is only second to the creator, Il-nam. Unless they decide to bring a new character on as the host, the logic lines up for In-ho to take the reins.
From a writing perspective, Jun-ho becoming a bigger part of the main plot means that having his brother, his driving force as a character, become the big bad allows for plenty of tension and drama!