Squid Game creator reveals alternate ending, hopes to 'go beyond' expectations in season 2
- TV Show
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season 1 finale of Squid Game.
Netflix's Squid Game almost ended very differently.
The massively popular Korean survival drama concluded its buzzy first season with Seong Gi-hun, a.k.a. Player 456 (Lee Jung-jae), deciding not to get on a plane to see his daughter; instead he turned around on the jet bridge to seek revenge on the sadistic game that almost cost him his life along with the other 455 contestants who died. But Squid Game creator and director Hwang Dong-hyuk reveals that there was an alternate season 1 ending in which Gi-hun's life-altering choice swung in the opposite direction.
"We actually wrestled between two different scenarios for the ending," Hwang tells EW, speaking through a translator. "There was one, the other alternate ending, where Gi-hun would get on the plane and leave. And then there was of course the one where he would turn back and walk towards the camera. We constantly asked ourselves, is it really right for Gi-hun to make the decision to leave and go see his family, to pursue his own happiness? Is that the right way for us to really propose the question or the message that we wanted to convey through the series?"
In developing the series for Netflix, Hwang decided to end on a cliffhanger teasing a potential second season because of the deeper meaning behind it. "We came to the conclusion that the question that we wanted to propose cannot be done if he left on the plane," Hwang says. "The question that we want to answer — why has the world come to what it is now? — can only be answered or can only be proposed if Gi-hun turned back and walked towards the camera. So that's how we ended up with that ending in the finale."
While Netflix hasn't officially renewed Squid Game for season 2, Hwang recently teased to the Associated Press that "there will be a second season," but it's "too early" to say when it will happen. Below, Hwang dishes on how the series will "go beyond" fan expectations if and when it returns, how far along he is in planning a second season, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Squid Game is taking the world by storm! What has that been like for you watching it become this massive global hit, especially since you had been developing it for such a long time?
HWANG DONG-HYUK: When you make something like this, you only hope, right? I hoped that maybe we could get No. 1 in the U.S. Maybe our series could be loved by people all over the world. But we really had no idea and we did not expect this to happen so quickly, and also through so many audiences around the world. And of course I did not expect Squid Game to become Netflix's biggest show ever, so I'm still in shock. I am extremely excited. It has truly been a roller coaster of emotions over the past two months since the launch of the show.
While there haven't been any announcements yet about Squid Game getting a second season, the finale perfectly set up where Gi-hun's story could potentially continue. What can you reveal about your plans for season 2?
As you can imagine, I've been getting so many comments and questions about season 2. I do have the basic story line in my head. I am in the process currently of brainstorming the details, but nothing has been made concrete in terms of we don't have a fixed season 2 with Netflix or how it's going to turn out, so I'll just say that I do have a basic story line in my head.
Now that Squid Game has such a large global audience, how are you taking into account fan expectations when creating a second season?
When you look at the fans' expectation, it's very difficult. I go on YouTube and see all of these fans imagining what the second season should be like or will be like, and their imaginations are really running wild. If there were to be a second season, I think I am going to stick to the basic story line that I have in mind. And I can only hope that it will not only meet the fans' expectations, but go beyond that. Their expectations are truly immense and very diverse, so I think it's going to be very difficult to pinpoint exactly what the fans want.
What did you learn throughout making the first season that you're going to remember when making season 2?
It's been loved and received so well, way beyond what I could have ever expected, and there's so many little details that the fans are picking up on and interpreting to even greater interpretation than what I had ever hoped for. Sometimes they'll take little details that were actually mistakes or some happy coincidences and really interpret it to their liking. So I learned and really felt that I'm really going to have to pay more attention to the details. I will not make any mistakes, no matter how small they may be. Through the next season, if there was one, I would try to bring more joy to the fans, and maybe more Easter eggs to put in there.
Looking to the future, how has Squid Game's success impacted you as a creator?
We got so much more love and support and encouragement than we could have ever expected, so I do admit there's a huge level of pressure that comes with it. While the success is indeed amazing, an immense blessing and encouragement, and also has opened up many doors for me and it's a huge opportunity, at the same time the amount of love and support and interest has definitely built up a huge expectation in terms of what I'm going to be putting out into the world next. There's definitely a level of pressure there. I would say that the success of Squid Game has brought me an amazing opportunity, but at the same time a huge amount of pressure. So seeing how much the world is really fascinated and interested in Squid Game, it definitely makes me want to really try hard to continue to create something that's going to pick at the issues of modern day and some of the social issues that we are going to see in the near future in a way that's much like Squid Game, where it's entertaining, intriguing, satirical, and refreshing at the same time.
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