HomeEntertainment News‘Alice in Borderland’s King of Spades Is the Most Ruthless Face Card

‘Alice in Borderland’s King of Spades Is the Most Ruthless Face Card

Throughout the two seasons of Alice in Borderland, we have witnessed the Alice in Wonderland inspired cast fall down a rabbit hole of gory, twisted yet creative games. The Netflix series is an adaptation of a popular manga by Haro Aso with the same name. This horrific Japanese masterpiece of science fiction is perfect for fans of Squid Game — both embodying the same voyeuristic fascination of watching people die ingenious deaths. Each game has its own unique premise and is identifiable by its playing card, which determines the type and difficulty of the game. Naturally, the face cards are the hardest, but one is particular is notorious for being so damn brutal its almost laughable. The King of Spades catalyzes the most ruthless game in Season 2 of Alice in Borderland, absolutely decimating the players and providing a foe like no other.


RELATED: ‘Alice in Borderland’: 11 Unanswered Questions After Season 2

What Is ‘Alice in Borderland’ About?

Arisu, played by Kento Yamazaki, Chota, played by Yuki Morinaga, and Karube, played by Keita Machida, leaning against the wall in Episode 1 Season 1 of 'Alice in Borderland.'
Image via Netflix

As we learn in the Season 2 finale, Alice in Borderland seems to be set in a transitory world between life and death, riddled with games and game masters that force players to fight for their survival. The series follows the journey of Arisu (Kento Yamazaki), who loses all of his original friends from the real world in one fell swoop and navigates the rest of the games and just plain survival alongside Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya) and Chishiya (Nijirō Murakami). The first season focused on the numbered playing cards, where each suit indicated a different kind of game: hearts is trust, clubs is teamwork, diamond is intellect, and spades is physical prowess. Throughout the first season, we learned about how each of the games work and formed theories of how to escape the titular limbo. When the face cards were introduced in Season 2, we prepared ourselves for games of an unimaginable magnitude, and the King of Spades was by far the most shocking. Completely catching our protagonists and ourselves off-guard, the King’s explosive entrance and endless arena added a whole new level of complexity and higher stakes in the second season.

How the King of Spades Sets Himself Apart From the Other ‘Alice in Borderland’ Bosses

The King of Spades pointing a gun in Alice in Borderland Season 2
Image via Netflix

The first episode of the second season features a gruesome massacre and an unprecedented body count. Amidst the chaos, it’s hard to figure out who survives and who dies, and it also takes a minute to realize there is only one shooter: the King of Spades. From the very first moment, it is clear that the King of Spades is unlike any of the games the players have met thus far. With no rules announced and only his blimp or the sound of shooting to mark his arrival, the King of Spades remained a menacing presence throughout the season. Unlike the other games, the entire city qualified as the King’s arena and there was no time limit to it either, leading to the game spanning the whole season. It is also vastly different from previous spades games we’ve watched. Jack of Spades included players fighting against each other with swords while Queen of Spades was a game called “Checkmate,” where players took turns to capture players from the opposing team. King of Spades, however, has no rhyme or reason to its shootings, and the only options are to flee, fight, or die. But the most truly unnerving part of his game is that he can show up anytime and anywhere, forcing the players to either constantly stay on their toes or participate in other games where they are temporarily relieved from his wrath.

The King of Spades is essentially the video game tyrant of the show: players keep fleeing from him, and he ruthlessly follows. He also encapsulates the most integral component of a tyrant: he appears un-killable up until the point that he is actually killed. After relentlessly terrorizing the players for seven episodes, the characters realize that with only two face cards remaining, it is finally time to fight against the looming threat. His death is ultimately delivered through a simple bullet by Aguni (Sho Aoyagi). Granted, he was also weakened by multiple elaborate plans and desperate attacks that demanded bloody sacrifices from the entire group, but the object that sealed his fate was ironically a bullet. The parallel between his weapon choice and manner of death also sets him apart from the other cards. Whilst other games feature grotesque and chilling methods of deaths, or even just the overhead laser beam that slices through players that lose, the King of Spades inflicts death with bullets. In comparison, it’s a simplistic way to die and a straightforward method of assault, but with mass shootings being a very real issue, the King’s method is rendered even more brutal and horrifying.

Who Is the King of Spades in ‘Alice in Borderland’?

Ayumi Tanida as Isao Shirabi, the King of Spades, in Alice in Borderland Season 2
Image via Netflix

Unlike the monologues and flourishes of the other face cards, the King of Spades’ character and backstory is shrouded in mystery. In the penultimate episode, we gain a glimpse into his origins through a brief flashback, where he was forced to kill his comrade-in-arms out of mercy who sustained fatal injuries. If we fall back onto the manga that inspired the Netflix series, we learn that the King of Spades was formerly a mercenary called Isao Shirabi, played by Ayumi Tanida in the show. The manga also offers more insight into the King’s mindset, where killing his friend incited his beliefs of life being cruel and death ending that cruelty. Thus, during his killing spree, he actually views himself as a savior rather than a mass murderer. It is hinted that the same twisted mindset from the manga was adapted to the Netflix series. In a slow intense series of shots that starkly contrasted the violent flurry preceding it, the King of Spades hands Aguni the gun, igniting the flashback, and painfully says his final words, “I’m sorry, it was the only way I knew how to save you (English translation).” Ultimately, his savior complex, expertise in weaponry, and pinpoint precision certainly made him one of the deadliest and ruthless bosses in Alice in Borderland.



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