SPOILERS FOR EP. 8 OF SQUID GAME
So the wild speculation I made back around episode four turned out to be 100% on the nose. The Front Man turned out to be the brother of Jun-ho, In-ho.
Lee Byung-hun, who played Storm Shadow back in 2013’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, is a well-known Korean actor and, according to the research I’ve done, is the most familiar face among the cast. I am pretty proud of myself for wildly speculating Front Man’s true identity back in the early part of the series. His confrontation and unmasking on the edge of a cliff with his brother was tense and potent. Both of the actors involved in this scene did tremendous work. You can see that, even though he shoots his brother in the shoulder causing him to fall off the cliff and into the water, In-ho was tying to maneuver it so he could take his brother in alive. (BTW, there is no chance that I think Jung-ho is dead. He’s coming back in the finale…count on it). The scene where In-ho sees his brother’s reflection in the mirror gives us a deep look into the mind of Front Man.
The brotherly confrontation was one part of this episode. The other part was the pay-off from last episode’s exploding glass bridge and the choices made prior to it blowing up. Gi-hun confronted Sang-woo about his cold-blooded shove of the guy from the glass company. This was brilliantly written as Gi-hun asked him if it had been him on the glass in front of him, would he still have pushed him. Sang-woo verbally attacked Gi-hun, blaming him for being here and Gi-hun masterfully turned that around, wondering why Sang-woo, the “golden child” and highly educated college man, was here too. They were clearly placed as opponents moving forward.
But there was a third wheel here and it was Sae-byeok. It had looked like she was injured after the glass bridge was blown up, and, in fact, she was as a huge glass shard was shown to be imbedded in her side.
She tried to bandage herself up, but this was going to require more than what she was capable of. As the Squid Game soldiers provided a final meal of steak, she was not eating much because she was in such bad shape. The soldiers left each of the three of them a steak knife, which you knew would come into play.
Gi-hun approached Sae-byeok in the night to check on her and to try and build an alliance with her against Sang-woo. They had a great conversation about their families and Sae-byeok tried to get Gi-hun to promise to look after her brother if he won the money. She knew at this point that she was most likely not going to survive this side wound. Gi-hun would not promise, saying that they could get out together and split the money. When he noticed that Sang-woo had fallen asleep and had dropped his knife, Gi-hun was going to go kill him, but Sae-byeok stopped him by telling him that he was not that kin of person and that he had a good heart.
It was at this point that Gi-hun realized that Sae-byeok had an open wound in her side and he ran to try and get help from the door. When it opened, there was the soldiers with a casket. Gi-hun turned around and realized that Sang-woo was standing by her bed and that he had stabbed Sae-byeok in the neck, killing her.
There have been some terrible deaths in the series that has elicited some powerfully emotional responses, in particular Oh Il-nam and Ali Abdul in episode 6, but this one was one of the worst yet because Sae-byeok was already badly injured, perhaps even fatally, and he still went and took advantage of her situation to kill her. I said last episode that Sang-woo had become the “Big Bad” at the end and it is clear that he is exactly that. It is coming down to Sang-woo vs. Gi-hun in the final game, which I assume will be the Squid Game itself.
This was the shortest episode of the season, but it was fully packed with powerful moments and fantastic acting. I am so glad that I did not continue on with the dubbed version on Netflix because I just do not think the dubbed version would have delivered the emotional depth and potency of the scenes. And, like all other subtitled films I have watched, the best ones make you forget that you are reading the movie.
Even though I had figured out who Front Man was, I have no idea how this series is going to end. That is a great feeling. I do not even have any wild speculation to toss out now. I sure hope that Sang-woo gets what it coming to him, though.