Before there was Squid Game, there was Alice in Borderland. The Japanese series follows a group of down-on-their-luck friends as they stumble into a world of high-stakes games with deadly consequences. Season 1 made a splash and quickly acquired a renewal order from Netflix, and as we get closer to the December 22 release date, we now have our first look at just what’s in store for the survivors from Season 1. If we compare notes to the original manga, the trailer reveals the shocking twist ending — and if it’s true, it’s going to blow Squid Game out of the water.
The trailer for Alice in Borderland Season 2 contains much of the same imagery as the first, but with higher difficulty. Season 1 showed slacker Arisu as he conquered challenges paired with cards: The suit determined the type of challenge (hearts are psychological, clubs are team games, spades are strength, and diamonds are wits), and the number determined the difficulty.
In the final moments of Season 1, Arisu uncovered part of the mystery as to who was behind the game, but there was a greater challenge in store: the face cards.
The “level up” to the face cards is in fact an artifact from the manga the series is based on. While other tasks are run from afar, face cards have, quite literally, faces to them, and have to be personally defeated much like a final boss in a video game.
This fact makes one of the final shots of the trailer much more interesting. We were introduced to gamemaster Mira in Season 1 when we saw her face on that massive video wall. But Season 2 will apparently include her face card game as Queen of Hearts and (fitting with the Alice in Wonderland pastiche) it entails a game of croquet. According to her snippet in the trailer, it’s the final game.
This is also pulled wholecloth from the manga, which means that the series (or at least the season) will probably have a similar ending. And if that’s true ... oh boy.
The ending(s) of Alice in Borderland
Alice in Borderland the manga has a number of endings, including a simulation theory one that’s so complicated it makes The Matrix look like Speed Racer. Another suggests the entire game is in Arisu’s mind, and Mira is nothing but his psychiatrist. But the theory it settles on (minor possible spoiler alert ahead) is that everyone involved in the game is actually a victim of a meteorite attack on Tokyo. Should they choose to return to the real world, only a minute would have elapsed.
It’s quite the curveball, but it may just be the most believable of the three explanations. Will Alice in Borderland stay faithful to its source material? There are three choices for an ending, but honestly, any of them would suit the ambitious and abstract storytelling of this series.
Alice in Borderland Season 2 premieres on Netflix December 22.