The 8 Show episode 1 recap: Follow the rules

The 8 Show episode 1: players stand in their white game uniforms
(Image credit: Netflix)

The 8 Show is Netflix's latest addition to their K-drama slate, and has a similar premise to Squid Game as it asks just how far people will go when huge amounts of cash are on the line.

The series is based on the Webtoon comic Money Game, and across eight (fittingly!) episodes, we follow these contestants as they navigate this dangerous world they've found themselves in. They're all strangers and must work together to figure out what's going on. 

These strangers find themselves locked in a building where the longer they stay, the more money they make. While a massive countdown clock ticks, the contestants are tasked with earning as much money as possible. But there's a catch, as there often is, and soon things take a dark turn.

In episode one, we meet a man named Bae Jin-su who is in huge amounts of debt to loan sharks, and is considering ending his life. But before he can, he finds himself thrust into the world of The 8 Show. Here's what went down in episode 1...

Discovering the rules

Episode 1 of The 8 Show opens after Bae Jin-su has been scammed by an investor friend of his.  He is in a very difficult position, now owing loan sharks 900 million won (approx $658,411). With these sharks banging on his door threatening him and disturbing his neighbours, especially a woman with a baby, he is under a great deal of stress.

To try and get on top of his debts, Jin-su takes on odd jobs such as cleaning windows for high-rise buildings, but none of them pay very well and he can barely make any money. He spirals and attempts to jump off a bridge, but is stopped when a limo shows up and he realises he's had 4 million won deposited into his account. It seems too good to be true, with the person showing up at just the right time.

Jin-su is taken to a theatre where he learns about The 8 Show. It's not something he is familiar with, and is initially confused about why he's there, so he learns some of the rules about participating. 

He will be paid for spending his time in the game and does not require any particular skills. What's more, food and accommodation are provided while he is a contestant, so he does not have to spend money on rent or a hotel. The longer he stays in the game, the more the prize pot increases, so the aim is to stay in there as long as possible. 

When the allotted time on the timer is over, the game ends, but the game is terminated if a participant "expires", which is a rather worrying phrase. Still, Jin-su doesn't think too much of it and sees it as a good opportunity. He is offered the chance to walk away, with a cab fare paid for, but he chooses to participate.

At first, he assumes it must be a simple prank show where people can earn money by simply doing silly things on air. But he does start to speculate a darker truth, that it could be a cover for something like organ harvesting, though he has nothing to prove this. Considering his life isn't great, he chooses the card marked with the number 3, and officially joins the game.

He enters a studio with 8 levels and sees that the timer is set for only 24 hours. His card grants him access to the third floor; a plain room with a scoreboard, intercom system, cameras, a screen, a uniform and a book that contains additional rules to follow.

During his time in the studio, he needs to store away his belongings and wear the uniform provided. He can buy items but they have to stay in his room, and whatever he spends will be deducted from his share of the prize money. He is required to stay in his room between midnight and 8AM, and cameras are not allowed to be blocked. If rules are broken, half of their prize money will be taken away as punishment.

The show begins at midnight and he quickly changes into his uniform. Interestingly, he has won 30,000 just by spending a minute in the game. This prompts Jin-su to do some quick maths where he realizes he'll earn 43 million if he spends 24 hours in the game. If he spends a week there, he'll have enough to pay back his debt and get the loan sharks to stop terrorizing him.

However, there's a catch and he realizes that the price of items here in the game are a lot more than in regular stores. He's cold and tries to purchase a blanket, but it costs 1 million. This prompts him to think economically and he decides he'll make do, as he is used to living in poverty, buying himself discarded newspapers and a cardboard box to sleep on, which is a lot cheaper.

In the morning, he sees that he has made over 14 million. He heads out to see 7 more participants in the square and now the timer has increased to 35 hours. Each player is known by their room number so he is 3F.

1F limps but refuses any help. 2F is rude, 4F is cautious. 5F is friendly, 6F is cocky, 7F is logical, 8F is bubbly, so there's a real mix of personalities that clash from the get-go. 

Since the stuff they buy in their room cannot be taken out to the square, 4F is worried about spending too much. 6F simply orders cigarettes and doesn't seem too bothered about this.

The timer goes down by 2 minutes and 7F deduces that they buy items with their time while they're in the square. Jin-su calculates that a minute is worth 2,500. If they spend all their time, the game will be over.

They discuss what to buy but they all have very different interests, so they decide to buy essentials including buckets, toilet rolls, sanitary pads, garbage bags, and cigarettes to see them through their time outside their rooms.

Food is also an issue and they discuss what they're going to do about that. 8F reveals she was given 12 different meal kits but she didn't know she was meant to share them, and since it's in her room she's not allowed to bring them outside.

They discover a chut which can be used by participants to distribute the food to the lower levels. But to make sure it is evenly distributed, they decide to go to each floor starting with 8F. 

However, upon entering room 8F, the other participants get a huge shock. It is much bigger and has a huge window, a bathtub, a dining table and a mirror, which none of the other rooms do. When a minute passes, 8F makes 340,000 and they realise the money decreases with each floor.

1F only makes 10,000 every minute and they realize that the money reduces as it goes down each floor, so already jealousy is brewing as they can't understand why the top floor is favored above all others. 

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Now she works for our sister site TechRadar in the same role. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress