When he’s not busting medical myths and misinformation, YouTube’s Doctor Mike likes to kick back and watch TV like the rest of us. Unfortunately, given his profession, he finds it harder than some to look past the glaring medical inaccuracies in dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, or even action movies like John Wick. The latest drama to be given Mike’s discerning doctor’s eye is the smash hit Korean series Squid Game.
If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, where have you been? Squid Game follows Gi-hun, a down-on-his-luck gambling addict, alongside several other financially destitute, increasingly desperate characters who are offered the chance to win a life-changing sum of money, if they are willing to participate in a series of simple playground games. The catch is that the stakes of these games are literally life and death, and throughout the first season’s nine episodes, over 400 players are swiftly and brutally whittled down to just a small handful of finalists.
Mike instantly picks up on a tiny plot hole which has bothered some viewers (namely, me): despite being knocked out by an unknown gas in different locations, presumably at different points in time, every one of the 456 players awakens in their bed at the exact same moment. “Chemicals have different excretion points in different individuals,” he says. “I’m going to have a certain set of effects, you may have a different set of effects. How do they all wake up uniformly?” One possible headcanon is that a gaseous stimulant was pumped into the dormitory to wake everybody up simultaneously, but we’ll probably never know for sure.
When it comes to the player who dies after being beaten up by Deok-su, Mike is dubious that somebody could be killed just from a series of kicks to the ribs, but can see a few conceivable scenarios where that might be the case. “The one way you could die in that situation is obviously internal bleeding,” he says, “but what could be more dangerous is if he kicked the rib, the rib fractured and actually punctured a lung, he then had a pneumothorax with a collapsed lung, and because of that he wasn’t able to profuse his body, and as a result he died.”
Elsewhere in the series, Mike offers some additional insight into the gory organ harvesting scene that takes place in the aftermath of the tug of war. “When you’re transporting organs that have been harvested for donation, their viability after death varies depending on which organ you’re talking about,” he says. “Ideally you want to keep them cold… This fluid that they’re putting the organs in is probably some sort of preservation fluid to help protect the organs from the cold they’re about to be put into.”
One of the hardest-to-watch moments for squeamish viewers came in the penultimate episode, when Sae-byeok extracted a pretty huge shard of glass from her abdomen following the deadly game of hopscotch. “I wish she would at least wrap some paper around it so she’s not ripping sharp glass with her hands,” he says. “Just leave it in… Once you start piercing the bowel, you essentially start having escape of bacteria into the gut, and when that happens you get an infection of the entire abdomen. You essentially die without treatment.” Don’t remind us, doc.
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