All 9 Episodes Of Squid Game, Ranked

The contestants in Squid Game.
(Image credit: Netflix)

There is no other show like Squid Game. Not since Bridgerton or The Queen’s Gambit have I seen a Netflix series capture the imaginations of so many people. The series, which is about hundreds of down-on-their-luck folks participating in deadly children’s games for a large cash reward, really doesn’t have a single bad episode. That said, what are the very best episodes?

That’s what I aim to discuss today, since I can’t stop talking about Squid Game, either. It’s just the kind of show where you want to pick it apart, bit by bit, all the way to its final episode. And then, once you talk about that, you then want to speculate about what the likely Season 2 will be about. I have some theories, but in the meantime, I want to rank all 9 episodes of the series. Now, if you’re ready, come along then. You don’t want to keep your Gganbu waiting.

Oh, and major spoilers for the entire series up ahead. Obviously.

The Front Man

(Image credit: Netflix)

9. “Front Man” (Episode 8)

In this episode, we finally learn who the leader is behind the mask. Turns out it’s actually, In-ho, the brother of the undercover cop, Jun-ho. We also get our final three players in Sae-Byeok, Sang-Woo, and the show’s protagonist, Gi-Hun. They share a final meal together …with murderous results.

While not a bad episode, and definitely one of the more shocking ones with that Front Man reveal, this episode just feels like a bridge to the final episode. We do get that poignant moment between Sae-Byeok and Gi-Hun where Sae-Byeok asks him to take care of her brother, but other than that, this episode feels kind of sparse. And at only 32 minutes long, it’s the shortest episode in the series. Not quite filler, but close.

A Masked American

(Image credit: Netflix)

8. “VIPs” (Episode 7)

We’re introduced to some new characters late in the game with the VIPs, who are boorish, annoying Americans wearing sparkly masks. They’re here to watch the rest of the contestants try to hop across a separated bridge of glass, where one false step could be a player’s last. We lose two major characters in one fell swoop in this episode with Han Mi-Nyeo fulfilling her promise of killing Jang Deok-Su if he betrayed her. Ouch.

I was close to putting this as my least favorite episode since the American characters are SO annoying, but the glass challenge is pretty intense. If not for that game, though, this episode would go straight to the bottom. Those Americans…I just can’t with them.

The funhouse

(Image credit: Netflix)

7. “Hell” (Episode 2)

We get to see the rules actually played out in full, as some of the players request to end the competition early. And surprisingly enough, the seemingly most ardent player, Oh Il-Nam, decides that he will be the last vote to end the games so that people can go home. But the “Hell” that the title refers to is really these players going back to their hopeless, old lives. Turns out that a sudden death is preferable to a long, drawn out one as most of the players go back to compete again.

I love the surprise of Oh Il-Nam letting everybody go home (Especially once you learn his real motives later on). I also like that we see how miserable the real world is for everybody, since it provides enough of a motivation for them to return. If I have one fault with “Hell”, it’s that it comes after such a great first episode, which is a hard act to follow. Otherwise, it’s pretty fantastic in its pacing.

Caught in the act

(Image credit: Netflix)

6. “A Fair World” (Episode 5)

The next game is tug-of-war, where players pull the other team to their ultimate demise. The heroes we’ve been following look like they might have their luck cut out for them, but they devise a plan to end up on top. We also see the doctor character get his comeuppance at the hands of the Front Man, so that’s satisfying.

There’s a scene in the movie 300 where the Persian King, Xerxes, repeatedly tells a Spartan conspirator that he is kind, and I kind of get that feeling here as The Front Man apologizes for the doctor tainting the game’s essence. The night time stuff is intriguing, and I love the tug-of-war. But it’s a slightly lopsided episode, with some segments being more interesting than others.

Tug of War

(Image credit: Netflix)

5. “Stick to the Team” (Episode 4)

Following a deadly game of carving (and licking) out shapes in a toffee-like candy in the previous episode, food is rationed off meagerly, leading to animosity amongst the starving players. This creates tension, where every player is left to fend for themselves. So, some players band together to protect each other throughout the night. Unlikely alliances are formed as a riot breaks loose.

Do you remember that prison riot scene in Natural Born Killers? Well, this episode kind of reminds me of that. A lot of the episode is shown in jarring, flashing lights, so this is not a great episode if you have sensitive eyes. It’s super effective, and I love the mounting tension, but this episode kind of gives me a headache.

Blood down the slide

(Image credit: Netflix)

4. “The Man With the Umbrella” (Episode 3)

The players contend in one of the most interesting challenges yet as they have to carve out one of four different shapes in a toffee-like candy. Some shapes are easier to carve out then others, with an umbrella being the toughest pick.

This episode is intense! Given the random nature of the killings, I really wasn’t certain if any characters would make it out alive. I don’t really have any problems with this episode. It’s just that there are three episodes that are slightly better than it.

Lee Jung-jae getting ready for the Squid Game

(Image credit: Netflix)

3. “One Lucky Day” (Episode 9)

In the final episode, we learn that Gi-hun has survivor’s guilt. He hasn’t spent his money, and just wallows in his sadness. That’s until he learns that his former “Gganbu” is actually still alive and even orchestrated the whole Squid Game competition. We then get a taut final “game” where a moribund Oh Il-nam and Gi-hun wager on the goodness of humanity. It’s like that scene in The Dark Knight with the two ferries. It’s riveting.

That surprise twist really walloped me the first time I saw it, and it’s great for repeated viewings as you follow Oh Il-nam’s cunning motives throughout the entire series. It’s strange for me to watch a finale that just gets everything right, but “One Lucky Day” nails it. The ending, which potentially sets up a Season 2, however, is a little abrupt.

Lee Jung-jae, smiling

(Image credit: Netflix)

2. “Red Light, Green Light” (Episode 1)

In this thrilling first episode, we learn the motives of most of the characters, and even see them enter their first competition of red light, green light. People scream, people die, people cry. It’s one hell of a first episode.

In fact, it’s one of the best first episodes I’ve ever seen. The red light, green light game is horrifying, and I think we are effectively shown just why the characters have decided to even accept being slapped repeatedly for some cash money. I would say it’s the best episode of the series if not for one other episode. And come on. You already know what it is.

HoYeon Jung on the right

(Image credit: Netflix)

1. "Gganbu" (Episode 6)

A friendly game of marbles turns deadly as people unwittingly pick the partners that they are eventually going to end up having killed. There is no other episode like “Gganbu” anywhere. At least not on American television.

I never cry when watching TV, but “Gganbu” made me cry three times. First of all, the whole episode has a somber, but almost pleasant quality to it. The characters really bond in this one, and it’s not until players end up having to eventually betray each other that the episode starts punching you in the heart. 

The saddest moment is when Il-nam reveals he was faking his senility the entire time just so Gi-hun wouldn’t have to die. Sure, once you know that Il-nam had no intention of dying, it kind of sullies the moment. But that first time, man. Tears. Literal tears were leaking from my eyes. Yeesh.

And that’s all of them. But what do you think? Does your list of favorites align with mine? And for news on Netflix TV premier dates and the best shows on Netflix, make sure to stop by here often.

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.