Summary of the first episode // Summary of the second episode // Summary of the third episode // Summary of the fourth episode // Summary of the fifth episode // Summary of the sixth episode // Summary of the seventh episode // Summary of the eighth episode
We're opening with last week's retired trainee, Geonu, who is seen by the boys as he literally disappears into the misty darkness of the night. It's a little post-apocalyptic, isn't it?
As Mnet likes to do, the boys' rankings now correspond to certain privileges within the I-LAND complex. It really adds to the whole Big Brother feel of the show. I wonder how motivating that is for the trainees. As a viewer, it feels a bit strange.
More importantly, the top three participants can enjoy a day off. I bet they itches to escape the borders of I-LAND even if pandemic precautions keep their decisions from being constrained from outside. The “perks” that other ranks received drove me crazy. One of the perks was literally the ability to spray yourself with a spray bottle. If that's an advantage, then I have to live high on the pig because I can do that whenever I want!
The next mission is announced as a chemistry test. In my eyes this means the guys band together and host a talk show or a comedy act or something. But in the end there are of course more songs and choreographies. They will be performing a couple of original songs called Flicker and Dive Into You. Judging by the brief previews, nobody speaks to me.
The cool thing about this mission, however, is that the units also have to deal with props. Anyone who has seen Road to Kingdom knows how important props and stage performance can be in interpreting a song. I'm curious how they deal with the added pressure.
As the best trainee of the past week, Heeseung can pick the song and members he wants. From these short clips, both songs sounded the same to me. But I think the guys probably heard the whole thing.
And as expected, Heeseung has a power team of his own. I certainly can't blame him and we know how much Mnet loves a story between David and Goliath.
Jay is reluctantly accepted into the "weaker" team, and his resentment is palpable from the first moment. He takes on the leadership role and wants to make sure his team wins, even if technically this isn't a team-to-team battle. And while I think Jay can come out his own way at times, he seems pretty good in that role. The dynamism of his team is a lot of fun.
Heeseung's team took a more democratic approach to parts selection. But the atmosphere felt serious and stuffy. I kind of feel like this prepares us for a surprising turnaround when the actual performances take place. We will see. You certainly amassed the dramatic music in this otherwise neutral scene!
This "turnaround" narrative continues as the editing shows that Heeseung's team is sleeping while Jay's team is practicing. We have seen too often where this is going on reality shows like this …
Meanwhile we have a brief moment in which Taki almost eats what looks like a packet of paper? This was for sure the most random second on an I-LAND episode and, frankly, one of the funniest things I've seen on the entire show. It just reminded me of how young he actually is. The editing could use more of those fun, innocent, unwritten moments.
Next, we go into the midpoint examination with the coaches, and this one is particularly boring. I don't have much to say about this other than that certain members are called for certain things. I found it pretty funny that Sunoo was being punished for an essentially modified version of the worm dance. I mean, how serious can you be talking about a dance move like this?
With a strange deviation in tone and plot, we look back on the excursion that the three best experienced. I always complain that we don't see as many funny moments as we should during I-LAND, but it felt like a weird time tossing it in. Still, it was nice to see the boys were having a relaxed time and I like that they went to a dog café. Some ridiculous clothes on these dogs!
They were also allowed to ice skate, which was a great opportunity for Sunghoon to show off his skills. I still think it's so cool that he's an ice skater and if he forms the group I hope they use that talent in their choreography.
Next we have a voice check. And the trainer is a woman! Aside from the dance battle a few episodes ago, is this the first time there has been a female presence on the show? I think it's a perspective that is needed in the jury … not just as a vocal coach.
It's also nice to see that a little attention is paid to the singing. Vocals are one of my personal favorite parts in K-pop, and I-LAND barely touched them. In line with recent industry trends, most of the attention has been directed to dance and performance. That's fine, but when I hear a song, I can't see the dance and the performance. Vocals are really, really important.
After doing this review, K gets the necessary criticism of some setting issues that I think a lot of viewers have noticed. It's a dramatic, emotional moment, and uncomfortable too.
And we are ready to perform! To be honest, I was kind of worried that this episode would go by without performances, which would have felt like a total waste.
This time, the elimination will be decided through global votes, with producers also being able to make their first choice. In this number one election, the votes are immediately doubled, which definitely affects the ranking. I think this is a pretty good way of getting around the line between judges and spectators and avoiding misdirected "shock" lights.
The flicker team
First of all, this song was incredibly boring. And just like most of I-LAND's gigs, the vocals seemed to be mimicked. It's not that the guys can't create a stage like that. The fact is that this performance does absolutely nothing that we have not seen or heard a million times.
In such an audition / survival show you would hope to find some standout traits that would excite you in a future group. That was completely competent, but I didn't notice anything. And without a dynamic song, the whole thing felt unforgettable.
Oh, and remember last week when I said I was glad Mnet didn't pull out the tired "Avengers" line when describing a unit group? Well, that ended this week because it's the first thing the judges noticed after this performance was over. As a huge comic book fan, this was more like the West Coast Avengers. And kudos to you for receiving this reference!
The Dive Into You team
Well … that song wasn't that great either. I'd say it's a little more interesting than the last one, but it's clear that Big Hit doesn't get their "A" game up when it comes to original songs for I-LAND. However, I am immediately drawn to this group because of their personality. Personality plays an important role when talking about idol groups and not having an actual presentation of the singing. This is one of the few ingredients that would grab fans' attention ahead of the debut. The lyrics to this song? Questionable to say the least.
While I wasn't interested in either song, the Dive Into You team would be if I chose which unit to support in this episode. The whole performance felt a lot looser, which in my opinion was largely due to the style of the choreography. I also think many of these members are bigger characters than the other team's.
In any case, the producers chose Jake as their number one and he will get double vote for the next elimination. Good for him. I've seen a lot of support for him online so I'm sure his fan base is happy.