I-LAND: Episode Nine Recap

Episode One Recap // Episode Two Recap // Episode Three Recap // Episode Four Recap // Episode Five Recap // Episode Six Recap // Episode Seven Recap // Episode Eight Recap

Part One: Parting at dusk, misting at dawn

We open with last week’s eliminated trainee Geonu being seen off by the guys as he literally disappears into the foggy darkness of the night. It’s a little post-apocalyptic, isn’t it?

As Mnet likes to do, the guys’ rankings now correspond to certain privileges within the I-LAND complex itself. It really adds to the whole Big Brother feeling of the show. I wonder how motivating this actually is to the trainees? As a viewer, it feels a little extraneous.

More importantly, the top three ranked contestants get to enjoy a day off. I bet they’re itching to escape the confines of I-LAND, even if pandemic precautions limit their outside choices. The “benefits” that other ranks received cracked me up. One of the perks was literally the ability to mist themselves with a spray bottle. If that’s a benefit, I must be living high on the hog because I can do that anytime I want!

Part Two: The “Chemistry” test

The next mission is announced as a chemistry test. In my mind, this means the guys will pair up and host a talk show or comedy act or something. But, of course, it just ends up being more songs and choreography. They’ll be performing a pair of original songs called Flicker and Dive Into You. Judging just from the short previews, neither of them appeal to me.

However, the twist that’s kind of cool about this mission is that the units have to deal with stage props as well. Anyone who watched Road to Kingdom will know how important props and stage performance can be when interpreting a song. I’m eager to see how they handle the added pressure.

As the top ranked trainee last week, Heeseung gets to pick the song and members he wants. From those short clips, both songs kind of sounded the same to me. But, I guess the guys probably got to hear the whole thing.

And as expected, Heeseung chose a power team for himself. I certainly can’t blame him, and we know how Mnet loves a David versus Goliath storyline.

Jay is begrudgingly put onto the “weaker” team, and his resentment is palpable from the very first moment. He takes the leader role, intent on making sure his team wins, even though this technically isn’t a team-vs-team battle. And though I think that Jay can sometimes get in his own way, he seems to be pretty good in this role. The dynamics of his team are pretty fun.

When it comes to part selections, Heeseung’s team took a more democratic approach. But, the atmosphere felt serious and stuffy. I kind of have a feeling that this is setting us up for a surprise reversal when the actual performances happen. We’ll see. They certainly piled on the dramatic music in this otherwise neutral scene!

This “reversal” narrative is furthered as the editing shows us Heeseung’s team sleeping while Jay’s team is practicing. We’ve seen where this leads too many times in these kinds of reality shows…

Part Three: Of course my favorite I-LAND moment has to be the stupidest one…

Meanwhile, we are treated to a brief moment of Taki almost eating what looked like a paper packet? This was easily the most random few seconds in any I-LAND episode so far, and honestly one of the funniest things I’ve seen in the whole show. It just reminded me how young he actually is. The editing could do with more of these funny, innocent, unscripted moments.

Part Four: Check-ups and dog cafes

Next, we enter the midpoint check-up with the trainers, and it’s a particularly dull one. I don’t have much to say about this, except for certain members being called out for certain things. I thought that Sunoo being chastised for what’s essentially a modified version of the worm dance was pretty funny. I mean, how serious can you be when talking about a dance move like that?

In an odd swerve in tone and plot, we flashback to the outing that the top three got to experience. I always complain that we don’t see as many fun moments during I-LAND as we should, but this felt like an odd time to throw it in. Still, it was nice to see the guys having a relaxed time, and I like that they went to a dog café. Some ridiculous clothes on those dogs, though!

They also got to go ice-skating, which was a prime opportunity for Sunghoon to show off his skills. I still think it’s so cool that he’s an ice skater, and if he makes the group I hope they take advantage of that talent within their choreography.

Next, we have a vocal check-up. And, the trainer is a woman! Other than the dance battle from a couple episodes back, is this the first time that there’s been a female presence on the show? I think it’s a perspective that’s needed on the judging panel… not just as a vocal coach.

Also, it’s nice to see a little attention being paid to the vocals. Vocals are one of my personal favorite aspects of K-pop, and I-LAND has barely touched on them. In keeping with the industry’s recent trends, most of the attention has gone to dance and performance. That’s fine, but when I’m listening to a song I can’t see the dance and performance. Vocals are really, really important.

After this check-up, K gets some needed feedback about some attitude issues I think a lot of viewers have noticed. It’s a dramatic, emotional moment, and an uncomfortable one as well.

Part Five: The performances

And, we are ready for the performances! To be honest, I was kind of worried that this episode would go by without any actual songs, which would’ve felt like a total waste.

This time, the elimination will be decided by global votes, with the producers getting to pick their number one choice as well. That top-scoring trainee will have their votes instantly doubled, which will definitely affect the rankings. I think this is actually a pretty good way to skirt the line between judges and viewers, and prevent any misguided “shock” eliminations.

The Flicker team

First off, this song was incredibly dull. And, just like most of I-LAND’s performances, the vocals seemed to be mimed. It’s not that the guys can’t pull off a stage like this. It’s that this performance brings absolutely nothing we haven’t seen or heard a million times before.

In an audition/survival show like this, you would hope to find some standout qualities that would excite you about a future group. This was entirely competent, but nothing stood out to me. And without a dynamic song, the whole thing felt forgettable.

Oh, and remember last week when I mentioned how happy I was that Mnet hadn’t pulled out the tired “Avengers” line when describing a unit group? Well, that ended this week, because it’s the first thing the judges noted after this performance was over. As a huge comic book fan, this felt more like the West Coast Avengers to me. And kudos to you if you get that reference!

The Dive Into You team

Well… this song was not that great either. I’d say it’s marginally more interesting than the last one, but it’s clear that Big Hit is not bringing their “A” game when it comes to original songs for I-LAND. However, I’m instantly drawn to this group because they have personality. Personality goes along way when you’re talking about idol groups, and absent any real showcase on vocals, it’s one of the few ingredients that would really catch fans’ attention pre-debut. The lyrics to this song, though? Questionable, to say the least.

So, although I didn’t care for either song, if I were choosing which unit to support on this episode, it would be the Dive Into You team. The whole performance felt much more loose, which I think was largely due to the style of choreography. I also think that many of these members are just bigger, more expressive characters than those on the other team.

At any rate, the producers chose Jake as their number one, and he gets double the votes going into 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.


10 thoughts on “I-LAND: Episode Nine Recap

  1. Can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed by these performances but that’s the case with most stages in survival shows. Performers can’t exactly be all into the song with the threat of “elimination” and the consequences that come with it. They all did well though, considering the songs being given to them.
    And a congrats for Jake, because I do think he stood out among the Flicker team!

    I agree though, I preferred the “Dive into You” team a lot more. I am a bit biased, to be fair, as I’m rooting for Hanbin (despite knowing that he probably won’t get in. I still think he got robbed of acknowledgement for his performance during DNA! I can’t believe he was ranked the lowest in the team.) but I think the stage set up, the actual use of lightstick props and the overall neon scheme really completed the whole look.

    Side note: thanks for all these recaps, I can’t bare to sit through the editing of these video! It’s much appreciated!


  2. Yay! I am not the only person who knows the West Coast Avengers!

    Go Hawkeye fans!

    But no rlly I stopped watching the show and have only been following your recaps, they are more entertaining 🙂


  3. I’ve gotta say, this show is a lot more enjoyable to watch now that the number of trainees have been pared down. People are actually getting a decent amount of screen time and we can see the different personalities stand out. Well, mostly. Taki and Hanbin got almost 0 screen time this episode (except for the random but amusing paper-eating scene you mentioned). I’ve never watched the Produce 101 series, but gosh, I can’t imagine how anybody gets any screen time at all with that many people.

    At this point, it’s pretty clear who some of the shoe-ins are for the final group. Heeseung, Sunoo, Sunghoon are definitely making it. K will probably make it unless his popularity ranking somehow drags him down out of it. If Hanbin, Taki, or Daniel make it… I’ll be quite surprised.

    Taki and Daniel have been criticized for two weeks in a row by the producers, and it seems fairly obvious that one of them will be the next producers’ choice for elimination in the next test. Honestly, if the global vote were an unbiased judgement of skill, Taki should probably get eliminated this time. But, well, obviously the global vote is anything but that, so I don’t have any expectations.

    Jay has really grown on me throughout this series. At first his rather straightforward manner and the way he would always say he was “enraged” or “humiliated” put me off, but now I’ve grown to be amused by it. I also like how he’s so outspokenly competitive but it still manages to be in a good-spirited manner. Also, was it just me, or does Jay have good leadership skills? His style of giving out parts wasn’t nearly as democratic, but the way he made it sound like every part was perfect for that person’s strengths.. he should be a politician. Also, he was pretty good at keeping the team spirit going.

    Regarding K and the intervention scene… you put it quite well. It was much needed, but quite uncomfortable. You can kind of see how blindsided he was. He’s literally been my least-favorite personality by FAR in this series, always going around and talking about people behind their backs and trying to stage coups, although I’ve begrudgingly admitted that he has an amazing vibe and ability to perform when actually on the stage. It’s also been pretty clear from the beginning that he’s wanted to hang around the other, more popular “talented people” in the group. So even though I literally cheered out loud when they finally said they were going to confront him about it, when those popular, talented people all told him that they felt uncomfortable around him and couldn’t enjoy their practices under his leadership, I actually felt quite sorry for him. I still can’t quite bring myself to like him, but I also definitely don’t detest him as much anymore. Hopefully his interpersonal skills will show some improvement going forward.

    As for the vocals… I was excited that a vocal coach was introduced, but they literally didn’t show anything except for her getting on to them for not practicing vocals so far. Hmm.. perhaps they haven’t practiced vocals because the judges all have performance backgrounds and have placed very little emphasis on vocals?? And then in the performance, while I do believe they sang live, the music also had vocals playing at the same time…. sigh. Better than totally autotuned, but still very odd in my opinion.

    One final note — I swear, if the next test also ends by the lowest ranked person getting immunity, I might punch my computer screen. I definitely don’t trust the global voters’ choices, so can’t we at least have the producers’ choices actually result in the worst person being eliminated? Pleeease?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. TBH I didn’t like Flicker too when I first heard it. Dive Into You was a bit better at first listen. But I think Flicker will grow on you. I was giving it a 5/10 but it has already gone up to a 8/10 after listening to it a couple more times. Your recap this episode was my most favourite so far!

    I think when the studio version of Flicker comes out, (and DITY while we’re at it), can you make a review on the 2 songs? Just a request. Because tbh the last 3 songs didn’t wow me when I first listen to them but they all grow on you. Into the I-Land has been the one standout song from the first listen but at the rate it’s going, I’m going to like all of their song. Also, the studio version will probably be better, because I felt like it wasn’t complete yet (for both songs).

    Both teams were perfectly competent, but I think only Jake and Jungwon really stood out to me in Flicker. Niki, Jay and Hanbin stood out in the DITY team for me.


  5. I only watched the two performances, and read about the rest. Apparently, Hanbin wuz robbed, or so all the commentators say. Whichever one Hanbin is.

    Both of the performances remind me of early rehearsals for Road to Kingdom by one of the smaller younger groups. They have that shaginess to them, in an under rehearsed, under themed way. Sliding panels and fluorescent bulbs could work well if you are, like, David Byrne (of Talking Heads) but here it feels very freshman art school project. To be fair, they are about freshman age, or younger. (See for example, his deconstructed band in this decade’s version of “Once in a LIfetime” ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljq_uxW791M Same as it ever was.)

    If they are singing live, it is with an exceptionally heavy backing vocal.

    Flicker – this is the kind of song structure that SM would produce to the hilt and we would all think better of it, possibly, maybe. Faster BPM, layer on some crazy 7th 9th minor diminish chord vocals on the chorus. As is, it is meh.
    Dive – go swimming in you, come swimming in me? what?

    I thought both were about even, but hey I don’t vote anyway, and Hanbin wuz robbed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • (I was thinking of and trying to find the one where the Byrne performs a song while pushing a spotlight around on an otherwise dark and unlit stage, with the spotlight pointed at the audience. It creates an interesting tension of who is watching whom, and who is creating the performance, the performer or the audience. Alas, it doesn’t seem to be on youtube – perhaps I have it as a VHS somewhere (lol). So I settled on recent “Once in a Lifetime” with deconstructed band.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah they already have the debut group, they just cant rig the votes too obviously so they do it with the edit, this episode showed favoritism for certain trainees
    And im sick of listening the words “facial expressions” is the only thing they care about in this competition?.
    I couldnt listen to the performances too much autotune

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that both of these songs were kinda nothing. I mean they had cool props and everything and the boys did a fine job, but all of that is wasted if the song they’re performing is so uninteresting. The first 2 original ILAND songs were loads better than this… but none of them have reached the iconic level of Produce X 101 evaluation songs (U GOT IT/MOVE). I wanna see something like that… Also, I know we’ve discussed this but WHAT IS THE POINT OF SHOWING THEM PRACTICING VOCALS AT ALL IF THEY’RE JUST GOING TO BE INAUDIBLE IN THE END, my goodness!

    I was really charmed and delighted to see the boys having their day out, it was very sweet and they seemed to have a natural bond. Also, I really like Jay more and more every week. I think it is so funny how he’s made “resentment, anger and shame” into his brand LMAOOOO. R.A.S.!!!! that should be the name of the boy group!!!! lololol

    Pour one out for Hanbin stans because I literally almost forgot he existed in this episode. Did I miss something or did the panel not even bother to critique him after the performance? They were like, “Daniel and Ta-ki you guys are screwed, Sunoo watch yourself, Ni-ki and Jay you did really well, and….. am I forgetting anyone? Nope that’s it!”

    Liked by 2 people

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