One of the breakout series on Netflix last year was Alice in Borderland, an eight-episode psychological thriller where a mysterious event threw people into deadly games with the condition that if they win, they live and if they lose... they die. The live-action show is an adaptation of Haro Aso's manga series and focuses on Ryohei Arisu, a recent high school graduate, who has to use all of his wits to survive.
The first season ended with Arisu, Usagi, Chishiya and Kuina meeting one of the game masters as she announces a new set of games: the Face Card Games. Shortly after, Netflix announced that Alice in Borderland would be renewed for a second season, much to fans' excitement. Here's what viewers can expect in what will sure to be an exhilarating Season 2.
The Face Card Games
If Arisu and his friends thought the games they played before were grueling, they have their work cut out for them in Season 2. The Face Card Games are presided over the current citizens of Borderland -- those who have lived there the longest. Nobody truly knows who the citizens are or how they came to Borderland in the first place, but the citizens are dangerous, making it infinitely harder for the players to beat them.
Interestingly enough, the manga series isn't entirely focused on Arisu. Despite the fact that he's the main character and it would make sense to have him play all of the games or as much of them as possible, he only plays two. The rest of the stories are focused on the games but with new side characters playing them and gaining more of a role as the games continue on. But that doesn't take away how thrilling and often, horrifying, the games are. One games features the King of Spades, a sniper, whose arena is basically the whole Borderland, turning every single player into his target. If he catches them in his view, the players have no hope of escape.
The Jack of Hearts, which is almost on par with the Seven of Hearts in terms of psychological intensity, is in a prison setting where players are forced to wear collars with a card suit on the back. They'll have to rely on and trust other people to tell them the correct suit. If it's wrong, they're killed and if it's right, they survive to the next round where the suit changes. It seems simple enough until they realize that the Jack of Hearts is hiding amongst the players. If the Jack gets killed, the remaining players clear the game. If only two people remain and one of them is the Jack, then the latter wins.
Chishiya, the clever player who first appeared in Episode 2, faces off against the King of Diamonds in a game of wit and math with the rounds getting progressively more difficult. Although framed as a straightforward game of intelligence, it quickly becomes psychological, with each player trying to guess and account for the other's moves, making it one of the most exciting games in the series (despite being about math). Given that the Face Card Games were written as side stories, the live-action show might not adapt all of them, possibly going down the route of creating games unique to the show itself. But, hopefully, we'll get to see a few favourites from the manga regardless.
Arisu Vs. The King of Clubs
After the announcement of the Face Card Games, Arisu and Usagi play against the King of Clubs. The King of Clubs is unlike anyone they've ever played against: he has a strong sense of fairness and is genuinely kind to everyone, regardless of they're his opponents or teammates. And for some reason, he seems to always be in his birthday suit.
Arisu has met a number of characters since he landed in Borderland, like the charismatic Hatter and the ruthless Niragi, but never has he met someone like the King of Clubs. Overflowing with boundless charm, the King of Clubs treats everyone with the same level of respect that he would have for his own friends. What makes this game more tragic is that, in a different life and under different circumstances, the King of Clubs could've been Arisu's friend.
The Collapse of Arisu's Mental State
Arisu is, no doubt, one of the smartest players out there, understanding the mechanics of the games and, more importantly, being able to think like a game master and come up with strategies to win with as little bloodshed as possible. But he isn't invincible. The games takes a major toll on his mental health -- he was practically catatonic at the end of the Seven of Hearts Games, only managing to get back on his feet thanks to Usagi. Since the beginning of the games, he has had to watch allies, enemies and his close friends die. By clearing the Face Card Games, Arisu hopes that he'll be able to find out what the Borderland really is.
But during these games, his mental health takes a turn for the worst. As he continues watching people die, Arisu spirals into a deep despair. When it looks like there's no end in sight to the Borderland games, he starts asking what's the point of winning game after game when it's just an endless cycle? What's Arisu's reason for even living anymore?
The release date for Season 2 of Alice in Borderland hasn't been announced yet but fans can still rewatch the series on Netflix.