Viewers thought Rick Mercurio (Player 232) was a secret mole in Squid Game: The Challenge

By Louie Fecou
Published: November 24, 2023
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Rick Mercurio in Squid Game: The Challenge
Rick Mercurio in Squid Game: The Challenge | Image via Netflix

Squid Game: The Challenge takes its lead from the worldwide phenomenon Squid Game, recreating the children’s games used in the show, and then putting them to use in an incredible game show format. The show would recruit four hundred and fifty-six people from all over the world, and place them into the surrealistic environment of the TV series. One of those recruits was unlikely fan-favorite Rick Mercurio, otherwise known as Player 232.

The reality game show follows the premise of the series, eliminating the players until only one is left, and gifting them with a life-changing amount of money. The producers of the show also managed to elevate the drama by introducing some new games and introducing various ways of allowing players to eliminate others. Using some tried and tested approaches to this kind of reality show, the audience is privy to the strategies and machinations of the players, and we gain insights into their characters, their backgrounds, and their hopes. This allows us to pick our own favorites, as well as identify the more ambitious players, a technique that keeps audiences invested in the narrative as it unfolds.

Where is Rick Mercurio now?

After leaving the show, Rick continues to work in Pennsylvania where he works in accident and emergency, as well as still operating as a family doctor. Over the course of the show, Rick would reveal a love for his family, animals, orchids, and beekeeping. He also took pleasure in revealing that he has a number of tattoos.

In his younger years, Rick would graduate from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. He would become a doctor and while taking part in the show he was often referred to as “Doc”. At the age of sixty-nine, Rick was one of the older players and stated that he would use his age to his advantage, appearing unassuming and non-threatening.

You can follow Rick on Instagram @dr.rick.mercurio.

Rick Mercurio’s journey in Squid Game: The Challenge

In Episode 1 of the game, Rick is highlighted as it is his birthday. He very quickly makes friends with other players, and bonds with Stephen, Player 243. Eventually, Rick forms a small group that they dub the gganbu, which is Korean for “close friend”. The group decided to do their best to remain on good terms with the others and even promised to support each other throughout the challenge.

RELATED: Where is Dani Templet now?

Rick’s amiable demeanor and unselfishness would make him a popular teammate. Over the first few challenges, Rick manages to survive everything that is thrown at him, including Red Light, Green Light, and the Dalgona Challenge. However, he would fall foul in a smaller elimination game in the dorm, that would see another player winning the chance to eliminate players from the game. Phalisia would open her jack in the box, and the power to eliminate players was bestowed upon her. Ironically she would choose Rick and Stephen, and this was a disappointing and anti-climactic exit for this brilliant competitor and his protégé.

Rick Mercurio in Squid Game: The Challenge

Rick Mercurio in Squid Game: The Challenge | Image via Netflix

What is the Rick Mercurio conspiracy theory?

In a strange twist, there are a number of fans who believe that Rick may have been a plant in the show, mirroring a plot beat from the original series. Many aspects of Rick’s appearance on the show seemed to reflect the character of Oh Il-nam in the first season of the show, a character that turned out to also be a double agent.

Rick is also an older man who forms a bond with a younger player, almost like a father-and-son relationship. In fact, during The Challenge, Rick actually mentions his wife will kill him if he brings home another kid. As well as this, Rick appears to not be motivated by the financial prize associated with the show, and when he is tasked to take part in a challenge with Stephen, that he wins, no elimination takes place. Viewers expected the scene to end with Stephen being removed from the game, but for some reason, this did not happen.

However, it looks as if there may just have been some clever editing going on in the hope that avid fans of the show would make a connection… or was there something else going on?

RELATED: Where is Lorenzo from Squid Game: The Challenge now?

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