I-LAND: Episode Ten 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 // Episode Nine Recap

Part One: Mid-term Results

I must’ve missed this last week, but I guess global fans are also voting to select the group’s debut song? Is this right? If so, that’s a lot of power. It worked well with Wanna One, but I have less faith in the music that will be coming out of I-LAND based on what we’ve heard so far.

We then get to see mid-term voting results from the global votes, which is a trick that Mnet loves to do. It’s also a not-so-subtle way of steering the vote in certain directions, as those trainees at the bottom during the midterms are likely to get a boost based on the perceived danger of their position. They used this tactic in really frustrating ways on the final episode of each Produce 101 series.

Midterm results

1. Sunoo
2. Heeseung
3. Sunghoon
4. Taki (!)
5. Jake
6. Jungwon
7. Daniel
8. Hanbin
9. K
10. Niki
11. Jay

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed in this ranking. A lot of the guys that have quirkier personalities seem to be towards the bottom, at least in my opinion. I’m a little ashamed to say that there were a few guys in the middle rankings who I still know nothing about. That’s probably more to do with my waning interest in the series than their actual skills or personality, though.

Part Two: Refreshing vs. Explosive

The next mission is a concept test, which will either be categorized as “refreshing” or “explosive.” Why can’t it be both? I’d like a K-Pop’s group performance to explode refreshingly, for once.

And, as teased in the last episode, Seventeen sent a video message to introduce a mini mission, where the guys will be covering two of their songs. Now that they’re part of the ever-expanding Big Hit empire, I guess they’re bound to get roped into these sort of things. I’ve got to say, though, I-LAND picked two really good Seventeen songs for the guys to work with. Pretty U and Hit are both emblematic of their concepts, and take a lot of personality and energy to pull off. Hit, especially, has some really tricky choreography. And, Pretty U relies so much on character and expression that it will be interesting to see if these guys can pull it off.

To make things even more stressful, this mini mission needs to be completed within a day. That’s not very long to perfect a performance like this. I wonder how many of the trainees have already studied these songs as part of their training? I mean, they’re pretty popular ones.

Part Three: Seventeen, in the flesh

These practice sessions were actually very entertaining. I was especially charmed with Sunghoon’s difficulty in being “refreshing”. As someone with a self-identified “resting bitch face,” I can totally relate. Maybe that’s why I tend to like refreshing concepts? It’s something I could never pull off.

Then, the big moment comes. Four members of Seventeen enter the I-LAND complex, thoroughly freaking out the trainees. At first, I thought they were just coming to give the guys some pointers, but since this is a mini-challenge there’s really no point to it beyond fun interactions.

It’s funny, I feel like I’ve rarely seen Seventeen in this mentor role. It seems like just yesterday that they debuted, so seeing them as elder statesman in the industry is pretty gratifying. I may not always love the direction their music’s currently going, but they are a force to be reckoned with. I would be nervous and honored to perform in front of them if I was one of the trainees.

I’ve got to say, both teams did really well in this “evaluation”! In fact, this is the most I’ve been entertained by any of their performances so far, and it wasn’t even a real performance. Maybe I just love the songs too much to be unbiased, but there was a lightness to both performances that felt less rehearsed. Maybe they should only be given a day for each actual performance from now on! Even the mentoring session between Seventeen and the guys felt loose and unforced.

As a sidenote, I don’t think there’s any way the choreography from Pretty U could NOT make you smile. It’s just so ridiculously fun.

And, the Pretty U team wins this mini challenge, which gives them the advantage of picking their song for the main challenge. Sunoo was chosen as the MVP, which isn’t surprising since he’s basically made for this concept.

Part Four: A midnight screening

Next, the guys are called out to the yard to watch a compilation of videos from their global supporters. So, for viewers like us, this is basically filler. I’m sure it was nice for the guys though. Apologies in advance to any of my readers who might have been featured in these videos! You’re certainly not filler. I’m just a grumpy old curmudgeon who’s way too cynical about this stuff. Some of these videos were really cute, I guess.

This heartwarming display is quickly followed by some Q&A, which is the very definition of “content that should have been relegated to an after-show.” I’m not really sure what we’re waiting around for at this point. It’s been a while since we’ve kicked somebody off. Get on with it, producers! I mean it’s not like I want to see anybody go, but we’re already ten episodes deep here. We need to keep things moving.

We’ve now entered the part of the program where the producers are just leaving breadcrumbs everywhere, and the guys are aimlessly walking around from projector screen to notebook to chair, reminiscing and crying. Up until this point, I was thinking that this was probably one of my favorite episodes of I-LAND so far. But, this extended fan appreciation portion has just brought the momentum to a halt. I mean, it’s nice to see more of the guys’ personality, but not at the expense of forward movement when it comes to pacing. On a side-note, I’m always impressed with fan art. As someone who can’t draw at all, some K-pop fans are very, very talented in that regard!

Part Five: “Cream” of Dreams, and a breakdown of “refreshing”

It’s time for the third test song. And, for the first time I can remember, the narration is referring to I-LAND’s weird egg room as “the lobby.“ I don’t know why that word made me laugh so much. It reminds me of a dentist office or something, and I-LAND is certainly unlike any dentist I’ve ever been to.

Also, the subtitles I was watching briefly miss-labeled one of the mission songs as “Cream of Dreams,” instead of “Dream of Dreams.” That brought up connotations that I’m sure the producers were not intending!

As usual, neither of these songs sound that great from the short clips. I used to consider Bang Sihyuk one of K-pop’s most solid composers, but he really isn’t bringing his “A” game to this series. All the songs so far just sound like weaker versions of other songs. It makes me wonder what kind of sound the winning group from I-LAND will debut with. Hopefully they’re given their own style, and not just a hodgepodge of boy group tropes with bad Big Hit vocal arrangements. My expectations aren’t particularly high, based on the music we’ve heard so far.

Like earlier, the two songs are divided into dual concepts: Refreshing and Explosive. Yet again, I ask, can’t we be explosively refreshing? Or refreshingly explosive? I mean, these adjectives are vague as hell, anyway. And while we’re at it, can we get Golden Child through that magic egg to show how to properly do refreshing? They’ve got it down to a fine art.

I think for the refreshing concept to work, you have to have a sense of humor about it. You can’t be openly mocking it, or being ironic about it. You almost have to have an authentically goofy, awkward part to your personality. I think that’s why I tend to like groups that debut with a more refreshing concept. It shows me they’re not taking themselves too seriously, which I find charming. It’s a fine line, though. A refreshing concept can easily come across as cloying, or downright juvenile.

Part Six: Jay’s not-so-secret messages (and more tearful projector time)

Based on his midterm ranking, Jay is convinced that he will be the next to go. So, he’s written letters for each of the guys to open after he leaves. The way this is being edited, I’m almost certain that he will not be the next one to go. Either way, his personality has really become more charming is this series has gone on.

Of course, most of the guys immediately opened their letter, even though Jay told them that it was meant for later. And, the producers chose to linger on this moment, which feels really weird. It’s like holding a memorial for something that hasn’t even happened yet, and may never happen.

And… the episode brings us back to that damn projector screen. Seriously, enough with the messages to each other… to their fans… to their cat… to the nearest tree. This episode easily could have been cut to under an hour without all this sappy stuff. These are the segments I would expect to see as part of a finale episode, not this random one. Back to the “refreshing” pillow hugging, please! (And, I never thought I would have said that…)

This sap-fest is neither refreshing, nor explosive.

Part Seven: Elimination

Apparently, we won’t be getting any sort of a performance this time, as we move straight into the elimination. Now I realize why this has felt like such a filler episode. Produce 101 had the same problem as well. They dragged out their elimination episodes, padding them with all sorts of fan service.

Anyway… onto the elimination:

Final Ranking

1. Sunoo
2. Heeseung
3. Jay (refer back to paragraph two, please!)
4. Hanbin (ditto)
5. Sunghoon
6. K
7. Jake
8. Jungwon
9. Niki
10. Daniel
11. Taki (ouch…)

I’m honestly a little surprised by this result, especially with how high Taki was ranked in the midterms and how much screen time he’s gotten lately. But, I’m even more surprised by Daniel’s placement, which has really tumbled over the past couple of weeks.

Now, we’re down to ten. Who do you all think the final seven will be? At this point, I’ve got a soft spot for Sunghoon, Niki and Jay.


30 thoughts on “I-LAND: Episode Ten Recap

  1. We all know nick means Sweetune when he says explosively refreshing and we all know he means Yoo Young Jin when he says refreshingly explosive.


  2. I knew when all that fan-service stuff came out that you were not going to enjoy all the filler content. Even I started yawning in the middle, and I usually enjoy the cheesy filler stuff.

    When the mid-term rankings came out my thoughts were “what on earth is Taki doing so high still??” and “can someone please explain to me why Jay is suddenly last????????”. Thank god for that reversal at the end, because my heart couldn’t have handled it if they kicked someone with decent talent and a distinctive personality and left Taki with a debut badge for the next week. I did feel kinda bad for Taki there at the end though… After being put through the wringer for 2 weeks straight, he was finally up near the top for a couple of days. I can only imagine that it made it that much harder on him when he came crashing down again. Both he and Daniel have received bad producer feedback for several weeks in a row, so it was actually kind of nice to have the global votes also placing them last. It restores my faith in the global voting system…. a little bit.

    Also, can someone please explain to me why Hanbin is so popular? It’s not that I don’t like the guy, but he’s only been given like 10 seconds of screen time (max) per episode… where is his popularity coming from??? Because of the editing, I forget he’s even there most of the time. Even in the mini-mission, they let everyone do their nano-dance individually and totally cut him out of the edit. How on earth is he #4 in the global vote?

    Moving on to the mission.. What the crap was that “refreshing” concept?? I’m all for cute “refreshingness” every once in a while, but snuggling pillows or throwing them in the air and catching them? Seriously? Especially seeing this concept right after seeing them perform “Pretty U”, the contrast was obvious. One is fun and contagious. The other just seems like an elementary schooler choreographed it. I’m hoping it’s better in the actual performance, but I don’t have high hopes.

    On the bright side, I am loving the interactions in the refreshing group, especially with Heeseung and Sunoo. Based on the preview, it looks like Sunoo’s going to choose Sunghoon to join his group now that Taki’s gone, so I’m looking forward to him anguishing over acting cute once again, even though I thought he does a pretty good job at it.

    As for my take on the final 7: I’m rooting for Sunoo, Heeseung, Sunghoon, Jay, and maybe Jungwon? As for the other 2, I’m not really sure. K’s personality and social interactions were much more positive this week, and my dislike for him is disappearing slowly but surely, so I might be okay if he makes it. He does have some nice swag during performances. Niki has incredible dancing skills, but he just kinda seems flat personality-wise. Jake… I like the guy but he doesn’t really stand out to me personally, so I could take him or leave him. Daniel seems doomed to be the next eliminated by the producers, and Hanbin… well, put him in the edit and then maybe I could form an opinion.


    • Apparently these kids already have millions of fans and their fan clubs have so much money to flood many subway stations with endless billboard pictures (just like election-style “Pls vote for —“) of Sunghoon, and, mostly, Hanbin (they did show him in Ground as Niki rooted for him but the trainer wasn’t impressed as he kept making mistakes that they replaced him with Jaebom).
      Looked like American i-land voters “woke up” when mnet first showed Jay’s intermediate position.
      Yes, agreed with your 5 picks (Jungwon without question mark, lol.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yeah, I vaguely recall that happening. Funnily enough, I think he got way more air time when he was in the Ground than after he made the Final 12 (which, let’s face it, is a pretty low bar). Memorable Hanbin moments for me: 1) in the first episode, when they performed for each other, he was the first one to not get enough votes to make it to ILAND (not a positive memory of him but it counts). 2) In the first challenge he took on a leader role in choreographing for the Ground. and 3) what you just mentioned, where they decided to replace a dancer with Hanbin, then the producer or whatnot came in like the next day before he had learned everything and changed them back.

        I think that’s pretty much all the notable air time he’s gotten in the show… and it was all in the first half.

        The fact that people would make billboards for this stuff is mind-boggling. Like, is your average person gonna see that billboard and then go to a random website and vote for a random person? Although, he’s up to #4, so maybe it does have some effect..

        Liked by 1 person

        • Btw is the target group the lucrative tweens (8-13yo) or teens? Can you imagine K (who is a great dancer and singer but isn’t an exact fit in this group) singing and dancing while hugging a pillow???


          • I feel uncomfortable just trying to imagine it lol. Let’s be real, the only person who would be totally natural singing and dancing while hugging a pillow is Sunoo, because he’s an adorkable ball of fluff. And even for him, this whole concept is a bit much for me.


              • I do think they kind of went overboard in the editing. We got like 20 minutes of “refreshing” practice and like 2 minutes of choosing parts and the leader for the exploding group. Small doses of refreshing are fine, but it does get old quite quickly.


    • Hanbin is a good vocalist, really good dancer and kinda raps too, and he is a good guy, but MNET doesnt want him in the final lineup, but he is so popular worldwide, so they just dont give him screentime. They dont focus him when hes singing, they skip the judges feedback for him, and also skipped him on the Seventeen mini mission

      Liked by 1 person

        • idk why i said MNET( im used to blame them for everything) but the ones doing the group. I think they already have their top 7 and doesnt include Hanbin, maybe bc hes not fluent in korean and koreans dont want him in the group


          • Hmm. I wonder. I know that plenty of groups (like NCT) have a TON of members who weren’t that great at Korean, so I don’t think that they are generally anti-foreigner or anti-non-Korean-speaker, but this is a competition show, so it’s definitely a bit different. I have wondered if Hanbin wasn’t making the edit simply because he’s kind of lost language-wise and can’t interact with the others as well. Of course, that doesn’t explain them cutting out his evaluations and such.


            • To be honest, the bias could very well be because he’s Vietnamese. From what I’ve gathered, it seems East Asian countries tend to look down on South East Asian countries. I’ve heard that Lisa gets a lot of flack for her looks on the knetz side. Plus SEA people tend to be darker/tanner and colorism starts to kick in. I found out that Tzuyu is actually quite “tan” by industry standards and I saw a couple translated comments give her backhanded comments/lament over how “dark” her natural skin tone was. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              Mind you, if Hanbin somehow debuted in a Korean group I’m sure a lot of the fans would love him just fine. The other kpop fans and knetz is another story though, I think.

              Liked by 2 people

  3. Ah, there were no performances, no wonder I didn’t see them.
    Taki was always on the edge.

    Ah well, I’m heading over to the KBS kpop youtube channel which is streaming all Forestella all the time for an “All Night Concert” that somehow is scheduled to run for 34 hours. (…. more like two all nights) ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z8bONiHMcg


  4. Would you consider Stray Kids “God’s Kitchen” to be both refreshing and explosive?
    I would. It is a new subject matter that no one has done yet = cool through cooking. Plus the hard beat is unrelenting = explosive.


  5. Apologizing in advance for being completely off-topic. I came here again after watching Seventeen Seungkwan’s 3-hour long “We remember kpop” vlive and I wanted to recommend it to you because he discussed/fanboy-ed over some of the most iconic kpop songs by 2nd gen groups and even mentioned Sweetune (at which I couldn’t help but think of you and this site). An anecdote for when you are feeling nostalgic.. Cheers!


  6. I think my interest in the show is done following Taki’s departure, he brought a lot of light to the show but they killed any energy he had (I honestly thought it was a bit disrespectful for Bang to admit that throwing Taki onto a survival program at 15 before giving him any training was ultimately a bad idea, because they really drained him physically and mentally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives up the idea of idol-dom with how poorly most viewers and the staff regarded him.)

    There’s also one person basically confirmed for debut who I refuse to support until Big Hit addresses a past comment of his, so yeah….. Not really interested anymore


    • Also, it kind of annoyed me how viewers and trainers ragged on Taki for not adapting to the 259 dark and gloomy concepts on this show but Heeseung, Jake, and Jungwon’s not taking to the SINGLE refreshing concept was played for laughs. I guess it’s just a sign of what concept is popular nowadays. (Dark, aggressive, edgy.) Speaking of a hypothetical group, there’s no reason they couldn’t have brainstormed for an hour and come up with a concept that would fit Taki and the brighter guys (Hanbin, Sunoo) that isn’t just neon and lollipops. Always felt like the “versatility” argument was to crowd the non-commercial, non-favorite trainees out.


    • Girl, you can’t just drop a comment like this and leave, I wanna know who it is and what he did!!!! (I HOPE it’s not one of my faves but I won’t say who they are in case you’re dissuaded from spilling the tea lol)

      Agree to disagree on Taki, I appreciated Bang’s honesty because to me, Taki was very obviously unready for the show. (Incidentally so was Daniel, the other maknae who will probably be the next out.) Sometimes sending kids who are not quite prepared skill-wise can pan out well on these survival shows (pretty much every Produce series had successful kids who had a ways to go skills-wise).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh wait never mind, it’s K isn’t it? I used my Google fu.

        Well, agree to disagree on K being a shoe-in for the group, then. I actually think he’s basically screwed when it comes to the global voting at this point. There’s a possibility the producers will “save” him as their final pick, but I don’t think that’s a guarantee at all, especially given this recent fuckery.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I think everyone has to agree that overall this was still the best episode of I-Land if you consider all the aspects… the least amount of evil editing, the feeling of tension is not present like 90% of the time till you feel like you get a heart attack, etc.

    BTW, to the OP (I’m pretty new to your blog), do you think a debut song similar to Into the I-Land would be a good song for the debut group? Because by far it is their best song that has come out from the show. I’m waiting for DITY and Flicker studio versions to judge properly but I&credible is a solid all round song but nothing that pops particularly. So I think they pull off Into the I-Land kind of sound the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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