The significance of Squid Game’s Glass Bridge game

Netflix’s Squid Game is set on the premise of six deadly games, and the Glass Bridge game, in particular, pushed the narrative forward for the lead characters.

Squid Game is the breakout hit Netflix drama series of 2021. The South Korean suspense drama series’ premise, according to Netflix, is, “Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes.” The first season of the show premiered in September 2021, and it did not take long for the show to become a global phenomenon.

Currently, the show is estimated to be valued at $891 million by Netflix, which has been rounded off to $900 million. This is a show which is estimated to have cost over $24.1 million to produce. The estimated value is due to the show breaking the record for the most-watched show on the paid subscription video on-demand platform. This is a record which was previously held by the 2020 period drama series, Bridgerton. Netflix reported that in the first 23 days of the show’s availability, it had amassed over 132 million viewers who had watched at least two minutes.

Squid Game’s games

The rest of the article will contain some spoilers. Therefore, if you have not watched the show, it is advised that you stop reading the article now, or risk having the surprise element ruined. The show is premised on six childhood games, which the chosen 456 cash-strapped players have to complete in order to receive the final cash prize. The final game was foreshadowed not only by the title of the game, but by the opening sequence which saw a group of young boys playing the game.

While the last game, the Squid Game is foreshadowed, the rest of the games, which result in the deaths of the players who fail to complete the game, is never revealed until the players, similar to the viewers, are introduced to the game. The first game was the Red Light, Green Light game. The rules were simple, when the announcer said, “green light”, the players could move forward, but when the announcer said, “red light”, the players would have to immediately stand still. The result of moving after a red light had been announced was death.

The second game was the Sugar Honeycomb game, which saw the players attempt to carve out a shape created in melted sugar honeycomb ahead of the time limit. The plot twist was that there were different shapes, including an umbrella, a star, a triangle and a circle. Each shape alluded to the difficulty of the game. The third game was Tug-Of-War, which was set on a high-rise platform. The aim was for one team to drag the other off their platform, and the winning team would escape death.

Marbles was the fourth game, which saw previous allies pitted against each other in a marble game of their choosing. The aim was for one player to win over all the marbles from their opponent, which sealed the death of their ally who was either a friend or love interest.

Game five and its significance

Lastly, the fifth game was the Glass Bridge game, a game which required the remaining 18 players to manoeuvre between two bridges made of glass steps. The plot was that one glass was fragile, while the other could only hold the weight of two players. Starting from number one, in chronological order, all the players had to make their way across the bridge.

Arguably, the game, as both a plot device within the story and as a writing technique, was aimed at killing off the supporting main characters, in order to make way for the final showdown during the season finale. For the exiting main supporting characters, it offered a conclusion to the character arcs, like the story’s antagonist, Jang Deok-su, and his love interest, as well as arguably the most misunderstood character, Han Mi-nyeo.

While captured, the two villainous characters had a fleeting romance. An infatuated Han Mi-nyeo asked Jang Deok-su to never betray her or she would kill him. As expected, Jang Doek-su did betray her, and Han Mi-nyeo used her time to exact her revenge.

As time was running out, fearing for his life, Jang Deok-su, who was leading on the bridge, threatened to let them all die if no one went in front of him. Han Mi-nyeo offered to lead and as she stepped onto his glass step, she clutched her arms around him and dove off the step, revealing that the next two steps were fragile. This allowed for the three main characters, Seong Gi‑Hun, Park Hae Soo and Kang Sae-byeok, to “survive” so they could play the last game.

In this regard, the game was redemptive for Han Mi-nyeo, who was a flip-flopper in terms of her allegiance throughout the competition. However, her final scene served as absolution as it suggested that she did, in fact, have integrity. Moreover, the sequence ensured that only two would go on to the final game, following the fatal injury incurred by Kang Sae-byoek during the game.