“One Lucky Day” delivers poignant moments, some big twists, and a perfect set-up for a continuation in a very respectable finale.
This recap of Squid Game season 1, episode 9, “One Lucky Day”, contains spoilers, including an open discussion of the Squid Game ending.
As has become obvious, especially throughout the last couple of episodes, the outcome of the Squid Game was always going to be decided by a showdown between Gi-hun and Sang-woo. Calling back to the first episode, during which a narrator outlined the rules of the playground version of the Squid Game, the sixth trial is, really, just a fight between these two men. There are punches, knives, eager spectators, stabbing, and biting. It’s a brutal battle between offense and defense, and at this point good and evil. The show’s morality hasn’t exactly been complex. The VIPs don’t complicate matters; if anything, their exclusive tastes for violence against the downtrodden only simplifies things.
Squid Game season 1, episode 9 recap
Gi-hun is able to win the Squid Game with his morality intact. Despite having the opportunity to kill his former friend, he doesn’t take it. In fact, he even tries to sacrifice the prize money by enacting the third clause of the contract, which would cease the games and save both finalists. But Sang-woo, having already lost the best parts of himself, is having none of that. He stabs himself in the neck, instructing Gi-hun to take care of his mother before expiring. Now a winner, and a very rich man, Gi-hun is taken back to the mainland by the Front Man.
Tragically, though, when Gi-hun returns home, he finds his mother dead.
Twelve months later, and despite not having spent any of his prize money, Gi-hun is obviously a changed man. The events of the games are clearly not far behind him, though, especially not when Gi-hun buys a rose, attached to which is a note instructing him to visit the 77th floor of the Sky Building on December 24, signed by “your gganbu”. Cue obligatory finale twist!
The twist is both good and bad news. The good is that dear old Il-nam is still alive. The bad is that this is because he’s the enigmatic “host” and has been orchestrating these games since their genesis. Perhaps most cruelly of all, they were invented as something of a lark, just a way for rich people to spend their money, betting on human beings as they would horses or track dogs – in an odd way, this is a call-back to Gi-hun’s gambling habits at the start of the season. Is he really that different from Il-nam? Is betting on actual human beings just the next logical step when it comes to those who already have everything trying to find a way to pass their idle time? It’s a bit of a blow for the show to reframe the character of Il-nam in this way. He was so sweet all throughout that it’s crushing to finally find yourself wishing that his brain tumor, which turns out to be real and the primary motivator behind his actual inclusion in the games this year, to kill him off sooner rather than later.
Luckily, viewers thinking along those lines get what they want, since Il-nam promptly passes away. With this twist having been revealed, lots of details we have witnessed throughout the season – such as the Front Man’s sudden takeover of the games – begin to make more sense, which is always the sign of a good twist. But it’s a twist that also radically alters Gi-hun, who realizes, after a makeover, that he simply cannot let this stand. He honors his promise to Sae-byeok by taking her brother to Sang-woo’s mother and setting them both up for life, financially speaking. He interrupts the salesman trying to recruit more people for the games. And he promises the Front Man that he’ll make him pay for everything he has done. A second season, anyone?