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 // Episode Ten Recap
Part One: The judges (and Sunoo) take control
This episode’s introduction makes it clear that the producers are in charge of this next elimination. I personally don’t mind this, as I rarely vote in these kind of shows anyways. But, I wonder how it makes fans feel? I honestly prefer survival series that are completely driven by mentors or judges. But, I get why that would be frustrating for other viewers.
Ranking first in the votes is a double edge sword, as Sunoo gets to pull one trainee over to his team so that numbers are even after Taki’s elimination. Obviously, that’s beneficial to him, but also kind of a burden. When all is said and done, Sunghoon ends up being his choice for new recruit, which means the poor guy’s gotta step up his practice to catch up. In fact, he was the leader of his old “Flame On” group. Now he has to join the cute/refreshing team, which is a concept we all know he finds difficult.
As much as Sunoo may want to play innocent, you’ve got to wonder if this choice was strategic on his part. I mean, it’s quite a jab to handicap the opposing team by stealing their leader…
Part Two: Prancing and fretting (but mostly fretting)
We follow this drama with the aftermath of Jay’s letter writing from last episode. Apparently, it’s the gift that keeps on giving, as this is the second segment that’s focused on it. I must say, his scratched-out letters and messy handwriting were pretty charming (and relatable). And, somewhere in this behind the scenes filler segment, we got this golden subtitle from Heeseung:
“Eek! Pork slices!”
Seriously, I want that on a T-shirt.
Meanwhile, on team Flame On, K becomes leader once again, after switching with Sunghoon who is now prancing around the kitchen table trying to be cute. As far as I’m concerned, the more prancing we have in this show, the better. I’d much rather see that than Jungwon beating himself up over falling to position number eight in the latest ranking.
Niki is another trainee who’s fretting after constantly being ranked in the lower half each episode. I still don’t completely know why I’m pulling for this kid so much, but I do really want him in the group. He and Sunghoon are probably my two favorite trainees at this point.
Part Three: The mid-point check-up
We move into a midpoint check-up, which includes a lot of “being cute with props” for the “Chamber 5” team. They’ve progressed pretty nicely given the fact they have a completely new member in their ranks. The song itself still sounds pretty lukewarm.
The trainer berates them for thinking too much about their smiles and other facial expressions. I swear, being “refreshing” is a lot harder than it looks. All that stuff is totally planned, but only works if it looks natural.
Next is the “Flame On” team, which seems more focused on technique than expression. They’ve got some of I-LAND’s heavy hitters when it comes to dance, so it’s no surprise that they’re already doing quite well.
This song doesn’t sound all that great either, but the trainer is impressed with their progress and amount of practice. He also compliments K on his new role as leader. After individual performances, the guys give each other feedback, which leads to a funny segment where Jay claims his position as “master feedback-giver.” This guy’s quirky personality is just getting more charming by the episode. He’s one of the few here that seems tailor-made for variety, which should not be undervalued when it comes to idol groups.
Part Four: Half cleaning, half choreography
In an odd filler segment, the guys decide to clean their I-LAND facility, though really it’s half cleaning and half choreography. Honestly, I kind of wanted to see more of this. I think they needed to film an entire music video.
Instead, they moved onto an “image game,” where they talked about their first impressions of each other while eating pizza. As much as I’d like the producers to streamline these episodes a bit more, this is the kind of content that the first half of the series was missing. I-LAND has improved quite a bit by having less people to focus on.
To finish off these good vibes, last week’s top three ranking trainees get their reward of calling home to family and friends. It’s mostly what you think it will be, except we quickly learn that Jay’s mom is as quirky as he is.
Part Five: The performances
After nearly an hour, we finally hit the main point of this episode: the performances.
Now, if you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I like bright concepts. But, this is the kind of forced bright that I don’t find all that appealing. Few groups can really pull it off convincingly. This unit did a fine job, but it was clear that this was all a carefully-practiced act for most of them.
The song itself sounds like a TXT reject, down to the vocal affectations. The whole thing was fine, but nothing to write home about. Of course, this has been a constant issue with I-LAND. The performances, which should be the natural climaxes of any episode, are often the most forgettable part of the show. I could definitely do without the pillow choreography on this one, too. WAY too over the top.
Right off the bat, the set and lighting is much cooler for this track. Unfortunately, the song itself is basic “boy group 101.” The guys seem more immersed in it, probably because it’s closer to what they’re used to doing. The dancers shine here, which has been the case for most of I-LAND. While watching, the judges and opposing team members seemed to think the guys had gone “wild” or “hell-bent.” I think this is a *bit* of an overstatement. But, they did fine. It’s just a shame this song is so awful. All the guys get effusive praise from the judges, except for Hanbin, which is… awkward.
If I were judging this round purely based on performance, “Flame On” team would win. But, neither song was good and neither performance was something I’ll be re-watching. So, there’s that.
Part Six: Elimination
Final Judge’s Ranking
2. Niki (finally!)
10. Hanbin (eliminated)
So, Hanbin stumbles right before the finale, while still managing to be given hardly any screen-time by the producers. He should take solace in the fact that his global votes were always pretty high despite the series giving viewers little to latch onto. Best of luck to him!