There’s a moment early on in Squid Game Episode 5 (“A Fair World”) where Gi-hun looks directly into the eyes of a man he’s about to murder. He has little choice, of course. Once he, and everyone else involved in the games, accepted their invitation to play, they were effectively strapped into a murder machine, and the only way out is through. Still, in that moment, as Gi-hun and his tug-of-war team struggle mightily to save their own lives at the expense of their rivals’, you can see Gi-hun process the terror, desperation, and ultimately despair written all over the face of the opposite team’s captain. He knows he’s going to die, he knows Gi-hun is one of the people who will be killing him, and neither person can do anything about it.
After that, though, there’s surprisingly little fallout from the games’ advancement into a full-fledged kill-or-be-killed situation, as opposed to the previous games, in which each contestant’s fate rested solely in their own hands. On the elevator back down the tower from their tug-of-war triumph, Gi-hun look at his hands, rendered literally as well as metaphorically bloody by rope burns. The religious member of their team, player #244 (Kim Si-hyun), mutters some prayers of thanks to the God who spared them and the people who sacrificed their lives so they could go on. The new girl on the team, #240, mocks him for his piety, pointing out that those people died not out of a noble sacrifice, but because he helped to kill them. Sae-byeok, the pickpocket, tells them both to shut up.
That’s about all the time anyone involved has to contemplate the deeper ethical ramifications of what they’ve just done. It’s back to the dormitory for them, where the surviving teams must scheme and plot to survive what could end up being another night of all-out slaughter. Mi-nyeo, the scheming former “love interest” for the gangster Deok-su, takes the opportunity to get racist against the immigrant, Ali. Sang-woo speculates that the gangster’s squad somehow knew that tug-of-war would be the next game, which indeed they did. The religious man, his sense of piety apparently placated by his prayers, suggests launching a preemptive strike against an even weaker team.
Ironically, Gi-hun may well have saved everyone’s bacon by warning Deok-su of the danger he is in. When the gangster approaches our heroes’ team to taunt them, Gi-hun points out that there’s nothing stopping members of Deok-su’s own team from killing him instead. That’s enough for Deok-su to call off the night’s planned attacks.
The lack of fighting gives Gi-hun time to have a waking dream about his prior experience with violence: his participation in the occupation of a shuttered car factory with other workers, brutally crushed by the police. “They were the ones who ruined the company,” he says of the factory’s owners, “but held us responsible.” Isn’t that always the way? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, “class warfare” flows downhill.
As Sang-woo and Ali bond, and Gi-hun and Sae-byeok tend to the ailing old man, who’s running what seems like a hell of a fever, the rest of the episode’s action takes place in what up until this point has been a narrative cul de sac: the organ-smuggling plotline. Under the watchful eyes of the undercover cop Jun-ho, player #111, the doctor, and his co-conspirators among the pink guards dissect a recently dead player for spare parts. (The doctor, we learn, wound up among the players after killing a patient through negligence.)
While Jun-ho and another guard set out for a secret passage down to the water—the plan is to scuba-dive their way to a waiting Chinese ship, where the organ brokers will pay big bucks for the organs—the doctor and his erstwhile allies erupt in a fight because they don’t know the nature of the next game to be played, this intel obviously being key to the doctor’s continued survival. The doc stabs a guy and escapes, only to find himself hopelessly lost in the strange facility’s labyrinthine hallways and doorways.
Once he’s finally cornered, his pursuer removes his mask, hoping to establish a human-to-human bond. But this moment, and both mens’ lives, are cut short by the arrival of the Front Man—aka the Captain—and his goons. He kills both the doctor and his co-conspirator for the cardinal sin of ruining the level playing field vital to the mission. “Everyone is equal in these games,” the Front Man says, and by all appearances believes; it’s a chance to offset the inequality that exists outside the games’ confines back in the real world. It’s a pity so many people have to die to ensure this alleged equality.
Meanwhile, Jun-ho learns from a guard who finally gets wise to the fact that he isn’t who he says he is that the tunnel they’re using is intended as an escape route for the games’ VIPs—plural, not singular, indicating there may be more Front Men out there than meets the eye. Jun-ho gets the better of the exchange and demands to know the identity of a previously dissected player who only had one kidney, whom he assumes to have been his brother, who donated his kidney to Jun-ho years earlier.
It couldn’t have been, the guard says. That victim was a woman, as he well knows, because he and his fellow guards took turns raping her unconscious body before she sprang back to life on the operating table. Jun-ho kills the guard, but takes advantage of his last confession that a records room exists inside the Captain’s quarters. Jun-ho discovers that the games have been going on since at least 1999, and that his brother, In-ho, actually won them back in 2015.
Meanwhile, an alarm has been sounded now that the Front Man is aware of the doctor conspiracy and the missing guards. All the players are woken up and herded into the center of the dorm room, except for the old man, who in a moment of heartbreaking vulnerability has wet his pants.
For me, that’s the most powerful moment in the episode, maybe even in the whole series to date. What room do the games have for a person who, whether through terror or a simple loss of control of his bodily functions due to advanced age, suffers such a humiliation? All it will communicate to the other players and the guards is weakness, and weakness exists here only to be exploited. The Front Man thinks he’s created an egalitarian society here within the games, but doesn’t everything we’ve learned indicate that the strong prey on the weak here, just as they do on the outside? Instead of an antidote to the real world, aren’t the games merely a microcosm of it?
Source by decider.com