In “Alice in Borderland” Season 2, we saw Arisu, Usagi, and other players risking their lives and taking part in life-threatening games, once again. Several game masters put forward some of their best games to rattle the participants with their sense of judgment and ability. These games were ruthless and devoid of empathy. Wit, intelligence, common sense, trust, endurance, and physical strength were some of the traits that the participants were expected to display by the game masters. It was an arduous race, and more than the survival of the fittest, it was about who was the luckiest on that specific day and time. Apart from putting the contestants in do-or-die situations, the games also made them realize who they actually were. After crossing every barrier, the players came a notch closer to their true selves and saw their layers of artificiality peeling off like that of an onion. So, let’s try to understand the purpose behind these game masters’ creation of such games and what role their own sensibilities and experiences played in the scheme of things.
The King Of Clubs
Kyumo, the King of Clubs, was quite a sensible man, and he was not there in the Borderlands to personify his evil intentions and derive pleasure out of other people’s misery. Kyumo understood the intricacies of human behavior, and he was very clear about the kind of life he wanted to live and what his priorities were. He wanted his participants to strip off their pretentiousness and, for once, discover their true selves. Maybe that is why he practiced nudism, as he wanted to exist and accept himself just as he was, without any sort of artificiality. Kyumo knew that human beings often desired to commune with something bigger than themselves. An incessant need to cater to a larger-than-life philosophy was evident in his actions and words.
Kyumo’s game was not only about winning; he wanted his participants to face death and witness the change that happened inside them. He was an intelligent man, and he knew that in the wake of death, people became their original selves and no longer cared about what opinion the world would form about them. He knew that people only abided by principles and ethics until they knew that their own survival wasn’t at stake. He hadn’t met a man who was so perfect that he would be ready to give his life but not compromise on his values. He didn’t specifically have a problem with it, but he just wanted the participants to stop deceiving themselves by living their lies. He knew that the hypocrisy of human beings had become so deep-rooted that they didn’t realize that they were not who they pretended to be for their entire lives. He wanted them to recognize that they were ready to do anything to save themselves and escape death. He wanted them to come to terms with their full potential and stop living a life of unsaid regrets.
Kyumo was the kind of man who believed in equality, and probably that is why he had a lot of complaints about society and the manner in which it functioned. He was a rebel who wanted to question each and every social norm and tradition. He wanted to balance the scales equally and give everybody the opportunity they deserved. Maybe it was his socialistic sentiment that sowed the seed of discontent inside him, and he had decided to leave the real world for good and create his own reality inside Borderland.
The Jack Of Hearts
When Chishiya became a part of the game called Solitary Confinement he realized a few things about the guy who was chosen to be the Jack of Hearts. He was the kind of man who had a very high estimation of himself. He deeply mistrusted each and every human being and believed they were inferior to him. He had more faith in his manipulation skills as compared to the honesty and integrity of other participants. He thought that he could win by deceiving everybody, but he lost to those who decided to trust each other unconditionally. Jack of Heart’s bloated sense of ego became the reason for his downfall. He wanted to brainwash the participants and instill in them a sense of fear. He wanted to make them believe that the world around them was not worth fighting for. Maybe the Jack of Hearts might have had some adverse experiences in his past life, that shaped his belief system. It is quite possible that his trust had been broken in the real world, which led him to believe that the only way to win a battle is by deceiving the other participants.
Banda, who was a criminal in the real world, had dealt with a feeling of abandonment his entire life. When Yaba approached him and treated him like an equal, he felt that he was worth something. Throughout the game, the Jack of Hearts had just tried to manipulate him, and that’s where his approach had massively faltered. The Jack of Hearts never trusted because he feared that he would be betrayed, but he failed to recognize that trust is the backbone of any relationship, and one cannot expect to strengthen a bond if it is devoid of trust. Jack of Hearts had a good game plan, but he still lost because he couldn’t understand human behavior in its entirety.
The Queen Of Spades
The queen of spades devised the game Checkmate, as she believed that human beings always want to win and fend for their own selfish interests. She knew that when their survival was at stake, they would abandon their principles and ideals without thinking twice. Her strategy was based on this presumption, but her plans failed when Usagi inspired the people to think beyond themselves. According to the Queen of Spades, human beings only protected their conscience till it was convenient for them to do so. She knew that fighting for a greater cause was the kind of notion that was only there in the folktales whereas in real life, nothing of that sort happened. And she was right to some extent because the moment Usagi entered the arena with a kid, she was told by another participant that though he wouldn’t want to hurt the kid, he wouldn’t hesitate in doing so if his life was at risk. The queen knew that if she made the participants realize that there was no hope left for them, then half of her work would be done. She knew that in such adverse circumstances, a person generally becomes pessimistic and forgets how much strength being hopeful could give them. But Arisu and Usagi made their fellow participants realize the power of that emotion and how they could shape their own futures if they kept faith in difficult times. The queen lost not because she had a bad game plan but because humanity and empathy superseded greed and selfish desires. At that moment, Usagi and Arisu proved that there are some things worth fighting for in this world.
The King Of Diamonds
Keiichi Kazuryu called his game Balance Scale because he wanted to tip the scales in order to restore justice and, for once, do what was right. Kazuryu repented his past actions, and his conscience was always soaked in guilt because of that. He was a lawyer in the real world, and he witnessed firsthand how corrupt, and flawed society was. He realized that there were only two kinds of people in the world: powerful and weak. He believed that there was no point in fighting for equality unless and until the dynamics and the foundation of the system was changed. Kazuryu was a realist, and he knew that no matter what ideals people spoke about, it was a harsh reality that the world was governed by those few who held the reins and had the resources to turn around the outcome of anything in their favor. He strongly condemned the capitalistic fervor that he saw in the eyes of the rich and privileged, and he believed that humans should not be in the capacity to determine who lived and who died. It made him lose trust in humanity when he saw how a rich businessman put the lives of hundreds of people at risk just to save some money and earn some profits.
When Kazuryu created his game, he wanted to make sure that people died or survived, not due to the actions of their competitors but purely out of luck. He wanted to leave it up to fate, and that is why in his game, strategy and tactics were of no use. Nobody had any leverage, not even him, and the scales were kept equal. We witnessed how relieved Kuzuryu felt when he decided to lose on purpose and accept death. What he did for others, he didn’t want for himself. He had made sure that nobody was able to dictate terms and control theirs’ or anybody else’s narrative, but on the contrary, he decided for himself that it was time for him to embrace death. He lost on purpose and got freedom from all the burdens that he had carried on his shoulders for a very long time. Kazuryu desperately wanted to attain salvation, and he believed that sacrificing his own life was probably the only way he could do that.
The Queen Of Hearts
Mira Kano was the queen of hearts, and she was the kind of person who enjoyed the process of formulating tricky games and being in charge of her own narrative. When Mira Kano was made the Game Master, she was quite excited by thinking about what she could do with that power. She liked deceiving people, and witnessing their plight gave her a lot of sadistic pleasure. We saw in the first season of “Alice in Borderlands” how Mira was ready to put a life at stake to merely formulate a strategy to save Hatter until the last card, which they wanted to complete the deck, emerged in one of the games. She hadn’t even flinched before proposing the game plan in which a person had to be killed intentionally.
The Queen of Hearts was not a ruthless murderer or an assassin like Nigari and the King of Spades, but she enjoyed seeing people suffer. She liked playing mind games with them, which she incorporated into her game of croquet as well. She had not devised a game that would test Arisu and Usagi’s strength or endurance, but she wanted to make them miserable by controlling their minds and making them call upon their doom themselves. Her game was not about winning or losing, but it was about surviving for the three rounds without getting influenced by her. Even while answering a simple question that Arisu had asked her, she unnecessarily went round and round and tested the patience of both participants. Sometimes it felt like Mira Kano was still a child from within who liked playing her petty games and felt utterly content and satisfied when she saw the other person struggling and getting irritated. She tried to deceive Arisu and Usagi, but she had forgotten that love is a more powerful emotion as compared to hate, fear, or guilt. Towards the end of “Alice in Borderland” Season 2, we saw that her puerility gave way to a sense of maturity as she witnessed the beautiful bond that Arisu shared with Usagi. Mira realized that she was going to lose, and she accepted death with a lot of grace.