How A Classic TV Series Hinted at 'Squid Game's Big Twist
This article contains SPOILERS for season one of Squid Game.
You don’t need us to tell you that Netflix’s Squid Game has become a legit phenomenon. Halloween costumes are flying off the racks, video game knock-offs are popping up online, and it even earned an endorsement from prospective viewer Jeff Bezos who has yet to learn that he is the villain of the series. Seriously, not only is it a decimation of the shocking brutality and inhumanity of the capitalist system that made him a billionaire, but he’s totally one of those dudes in the bejeweled animal masks, right? That’s kind of like if a sentient Smoke Monster had Tweeted about how psyched he was about ABC’s hit new show Lost.
While a lot of other stories seemingly inspired the series, including the original Battle Royale comic, some have noted that Squid Game shares some narrative DNA with The Prisoner, the classic ‘60s cult favorite starring Patrick McGoohan as a former spy who is abducted and kept in a mysterious “Village” on a remote island. In many ways, the shows are very different, but it’s difficult to imagine The Prisoner wasn’t at least partly an influence on Squid Game, considering that they’re both about protagonists who get gassed, taken to a creepy island, and assigned a number.
They occasionally even played elaborate games on The Prisoner, like human chess -- although there were no snipers waiting to pick off the loser.
If The Prisoner was an influence, it’s possible that this connection also hinted at the season’s twist ending, in which it’s revealed that the old man, Il-nam, was really one of the shadowy elites who orchestrated the entire game. There were admittedly a lot of clues along the way, from Il-nam’s personal connection to many of the games to his missing profile in the game’s logbook. But also, his assigned number was, pointedly, 001.
This is obviously a clue in and of itself, but also, in the context of The Prisoner, a huge tell. The overarching quest of Number 6 is to find Number 1, the identity of the person in charge of the entire Village. You can literally buy “Who is Number 1?” T-shirts. Meaning that anyone who was watching Squid Game with The Prisoner in the back of their mind likely clued into the show’s secret well before it was finally revealed. Sadly Squid Game didn’t also introduce a murderous inflated condom into the mix.
Top Image: Netflix