Alice in Borderland Season 2 is finally coming this month and is something that I was personally excited for. Season 2 promised to finally bring a resolution to the adventures of Arisu in the world of death games. We’ve actually had the privilege of seeing the whole of Season 2 already and, with minor spoilers, I’ll be giving you my take on whether the wait for Season 2 was worth it or whether it missed the mark. Without further ado, here’s our Alice in Borderland Season 2 review!
SPOILER WARNING: While I did say this review will only be featuring minor spoilers, please do note that I will be posting actual spoilers on what happened during Season 1. So in case you haven’t watched Season 1, please continue at your own risk. If you already have, I’ll be doing recaps and call backs to certain details about Season 1 here and there, but NO MAJOR SPOILERS will be given for Season 2 and I’ll only be mentioning minor spoilers to help explain.
Continuing The Story
Season 2 picks up where Season 1 ends – the Face Cards have finally revealed themselves. Now that Arisu and the group have collected all of the number cards of each suit, blimps have appeared all over Tokyo with huge banners of the face cards. The first face card the group tackles is the King of Spades. The King of Spades is unique however as compared to the other cards as it seems to roam around a certain area as opposed to how most cards are – static and they have an area that, if you enter, you can’t leave until the challenge is done. With the King of Spades however, players can enter and leave the challenge area at will without fear of being killed by the death laser from the heavens. I won’t get into the details of the challenge, but this does cause them to separate which makes it so that, across the season, the challenges will be tackled by our protagonists separately – some alone, some in smaller groups.
The Face Cards have always been portrayed as the highest difficulty of challenges per suit and, to be fair, across Season 2, they are portrayed as exactly that. These are the hardest of challenges that the survivors have to face so far. Once a Face Card is conquered, its blimp blows up so the goal of the survivors has become quite clear – conquer all the Face Card Challenges. It doesn’t matter who conquers it. So long as it’s conquered, it’s a win for all the survivors.
A New Dilemma in Focus
Most of Season 1’s appeal has always revolved around the mystery of what this world actually is and the struggle of each game they faced. To be honest, this is what really hooked me about the show back then. The challenges were always well thought of and conquering one was always the highlight of each episode for me. How would they go through it? What was the sadistic twist of each challenge? How would they overcome? In Season 2, it goes deeper than that. Now that they’re in the home stretch, there’s now a lingering question of “what exactly are we working towards?”. The sentiment of each survivor has now evolved from “how do I stay alive?” and “how do I get through this certain death game?” to “what EXACTLY happens when all the face cards are claimed?”.
I honestly loved this as it was a logical progression to what these people were going through. The people at The Beach were the ones who said that they would finally be able to get back to the real world once all cards have been claimed… but, now that The Beach is gone along with their leader Takeru Danma aka Hatter, it’s now worth asking if all of that is true. This then opens up a BUNCH of logical questions that I’m glad the story addresses as, now, the state of this Death Game world now becomes the focus rather than the games themselves. What does “going back to the real world” entail? Do they time travel? Are they in an alternate dimension? Is this all worth it? Does the “REAL WORLD” even still exist?
All of these questions now start to weigh down on Arisu and his friends and I really like that because it shows their growth and it’s logical. You’ll even see tangential questions arise from this as other survivors start questioning whether they even WANT to go back. Sure, this world is full of death games but this world may not be so bad after all. It’s a world with no rules – where anything goes. For those who have indeed survived this long, it makes sense that some of them feel that they have this world all figured out and they start weighing if it’s worth leaving all this to go back to a world where their personal situations may not have been the best. Some of these people probably had huge debts to pay or had various personal circumstances that they would rather not go back to.
This evolution – this change of focus – is one of the great things about Season 2 and our emotional investment towards this new focus is rewarded as the show indeed wraps up the story and provides the answers to all our burning questions.
Not a Perfect Wonderland
Given the context above – that the focus has been changed – the challenges still are what most people loved about Alice in Borderland. There’s also an expectation that these final challenges should be THE MOST AMAZING / HARDEST / MOST GRUELING challenges ever since these aren’t just regular challenges. These are FACE CARD challenges, and many will probably come into this with high expectations of “what wild challenge will they think of next?” especially since Season 1 really set the bar for that quite high. THIS is where Season 2 hits a bit of a snag for me.
When I was watching Alice in Borderland Season 1, even I was rattling my brain on how to survive the games that they played. I was so invested in the solutions that they would come up with and have this “HOLY S**T” feeling when I would see the twists of each game and see how they would overcome it. This was true for all games in Season 1 (for me, at least). In Season 2, however, I wasn’t so swept up with that “Holy S**t” feeling anymore. While the heart challenges remain to be one of the most awesome challenges ever as they deal with betrayal and deception, there were games where I found myself frustratedly yelling at my screen as I tried to backseat (LOL) the protagonists. The games this season didn’t feel as well thought out for me as Season 1’s. They’re still good but I would personally prefer Season 1’s challenges as opposed to those of Season 2. There were times that I felt the answer / way to win for the Face Card Challenges was so obvious and got kinda frustrated that the good guys weren’t seeing the solution. I also found myself having this “what just happened” kind of feeling with the resolutions of some of the challenges. While I did say that the challenges themselves weren’t the main focus of the season anymore, a part of me wishes that the games were done or resolved better. I won’t spoil anything but the BIGGEST FRUSTRATION I had was with the King of Spades because I constantly felt that how it was being tackled and how the resolution happened just didn’t make sense.
A Worthwhile Journey Down the Rabbit Hole
All things considered (and even with my complaints), Season 2 was worth the watch and gives a satisfying resolution to the premise that Season 1 had set up. I personally love shows that are able to give you characters and situations that logically make sense. It’s easy to just make a character act evil or do certain things “BECAUSE REASONS” or “BECAUSE SCRIPT SAID SO” but shows that go the extra mile to make it so that each character has a rhyme and reason for why they do things is what separates the good shows from the GREAT shows and Alice in Borderland Season 2 was able to do just that.
Character motivations were always on-point. I love how, in general, characters had motivations that are reasonable and they explained why they did what they did. A lot of characters are able to show you that they have grown from who they were during Season 1 and this is mostly evident, of course, in Arisu. I am happy to say though that Arisu doesn’t have a monopoly on good character progression. Other characters such as Usagi (played by Tao Tsuchiya who we also interviewed about her character) and Aguni show this growth as well. And, not to spoil again but, one of the most INTERESTING characters to watch was definitely Chishiya so do look forward to his scenes in the show.
Despite my complaints earlier, Alice in Borderland Season 2 still delivers on games that are just amazing spectacles. They still give you that “FACE CARD” feel… that these are the FINAL CHALLENGES and the vibe, setting, and execution of each are still amazing things to watch and experience.
Finally, in terms of resolution, I think that Season 2 pays off your investment into the story quite well. Most of the questions that were up in the air were resolved in a satisfying way. If you are a person who is reading this AND hasn’t watched Season 1 because you don’t want to get “Game of Thrones Season 8-ed”, you can rest assured that the show definitely gives you a proper conclusion. It is worth noting that the end teases something, but I will say that I would rather that any continuation to the Alice in Borderland story should really just be a movie and not a full-on series.
To sum up my Alice in Borderland Season 2 review, I will say that I’m quite satisfied and it’s something you should watch especially if you’ve already watched Season 1. It may not be perfect and, while I may have nitpicks here and there, I’m glad that this show was concluded in the way that they did.
Alice in Borderland Season 2 premiers on Netflix on December 22, 2022.