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 // Episode Eleven Recap
Part One: The power of discipline
Well, my friends, we’ve made it. Twelve episodes of sterling commentary and fascinating asides. I learned just how disciplined I can be, as I’ve lost interest multiple times throughout this series. But, once I start a project, I never intend on quitting. So here we are, at the finale of I-LAND. And you know what? The show’s actually gotten better as it’s gone on. I don’t think I’ll be fondly reminiscing about its episodes anytime soon, but I’ll follow the group with some interest, hoping for the best when it comes to their music. They’ll obviously be successful regardless of song quality.
I will say confidently that no survival show finale, no matter how good, needs to be anywhere close to three hours long. These climactic episodes drag out to a ridiculous degree, and I am entering this finale pumped up with caffeine just to make it through.
The intro of this episode gives us some recap on the I-LAND premise, which is pretty striking in theory. I guess I didn’t think about how long these guys have been isolated together. According to the narration, it’s something like 113 days? I’m surprised they’re not all stir crazy! Though, who knows how much they’ve actually been able to get out.
During this final episode, the seven debuting members will be chosen by global voters and the judges. Specifically, six of the members will be chosen by global votes, and one will be chosen by the judges. This is a pretty good compromise, I think. And, hopefully it prevents any shock eliminations.
Part Two: A not-so-incredible “I&Credible”
The guys perform I&Credible to open the show, which is weirdly anti-climactic because it’s a song we’ve heard before and there’s no live audience to give it any added energy. I don’t remember if I talked about this song before, but I find it pretty boring. It certainly doesn’t live up to its weird title.
Some of the eliminated I-LANDers are in the audience, along with TXT. No Rain… which is unfortunate!
The atmosphere on the set of this finale is so weird. It feels like a cult ritual sacrifice. There’s so much pomp and circumstance, but that pomp and circumstance looks surreal and stilted without a live audience. It’s also more than a little boring. I’ve got to say, my finger hovered over the fast-forward button as soon as we went to the global map to see who’s leading the votes in each country. Just announce the winners and be done with it!
Once all the housekeeping is done, we finally go behind the scenes to see the guys’ reaction to last week’s ranking. It’s a mix of feeling down on themselves and feeling relieved, with more emphasis on the angsty reactions. Jay’s funny personality remains a refreshing highlight during these moments.
Part Three: The final mission
For the last song, all nine of the guys will be performing together. It’s a track called Calling, which is apparently about “hatching” or something, according to the subtitles. Kind of creepy. The teaser sounds more exciting than the past few competition songs, but those damn guide vocals have that same Big Hit processing that renders it faceless.
And with a final performance, comes a final parts selection. You know how much I love these parts selections! They just go on and on and on…
Because my eyes glaze over when it comes to these moments, I’m not going to write much about them, except to say that I like the idea of a “tension leader” as a position. I know the guys were joking, but every group needs someone with high tension. Meanwhile, Jay takes on the position of “daily life leader.” He’s killing me. He better make the final group.
We get to see some of Calling’s choreography in the midterm evaluation, and honestly the track is starting to sound pretty good. Could this finally be an I-LAND track that I like?
Part Four: More filler than you can imagine
In a moment of levity, the boys deliver notes and drawings that they’ve made for their trainers. This made me realize how boring most of the trainers have been throughout this series. Part of Produce 101’s success is its ability to cast great personalities to mentor the trainees. After Zico and Rain left, there hasn’t been a lot of personality behind the scenes at I-LAND. Bang Sihyuk is certainly no Park Jinyoung in the personality department, despite the two having grown in the business together.
Next, the guys are given props and told to make self-promotion videos, the length of which depends on their ranking in the last evaluation. This is pleasant filler, but I can’t help think how much shorter this episode could be without moments like this. Still, I enjoy watching Niki prancing around with a money gun for no apparent reason. When he later dressed up as Michael Jackson, I remembered how that was part of his pitch in episode one. Anyone who is a fan of the Jacksons’ music is okay with me.
The resulting videos are pretty lame, and mostly just made me consider how much I want to buy a ring light for a more flattering appearance on Zoom calls.
Part Five: Hyped by ENHYPEN? Not so much.
After the video-making montage, it’s time to reveal the debuting group’s name. I swear, these names get more and more ridiculous, and this one’s a real doozy. The guys will be called ENHYPEN, and I’m honestly just proud of the boys for not laughing/crying when they heard that. How hard is it to come up with a name that actually sounds good? Of course, the producers have shrouded this in about 500 layers of “meaning”.
Oh! BTS are apparently in the audience as well, which is weird since you’d think I-LAND would have led with that appearance. I’m honestly a little confused about how and when this was all filmed. Apparently, this is a different day than the TXT filming? I’ve gotta pay more attention…
Part Six: Calling (Run To You)
This is yet another Melanie Fontana song. Seriously, I’m interested in how she became Big Hit’s primary songwriter. I mean, she and her husband have written a few great songs, but most of their recent material has felt pretty uninspired to me. I wish the agency would branch out a little bit, preferably to Korean producers.
That said, this is a better song than most of the ones we’ve heard on the show. The performance, like all the others, is perfectly serviceable. I just don’t think that I-LAND has been a good forum for performances since the very beginning, which is a problem considering the aim of this program!
Like usual, the guys’ voices all sound nearly identical. The choreography is kind of cool, though. I like some of the formations. I’d probably listen to this song on its own, which is more than I can say about everything else that’s come out of I-LAND.
How do you rank individual members within this performance? It’s not like this stage showcased a lot of standout moments for individuals. Of course, I imagine votes are pretty much baked in by this point.
And, after some extremely long-winded comments from the judges and BTS, we’ve reached that portion of the episode where the guys get gifts and letters from home. I must just be a soulless person, because my finger was once again hovering over the fast-forward button. This episode is just way too long. It’s been over an hour now and I feel like absolutely nothing has happened.
Part Seven: Into the I-LAND once more
After the global votes have closed, it’s time to talk to some of the guys who were eliminated earlier in the series. It’s nice to see some of them again, but I imagine it would be very awkward to sit there watching other people debut when you’re not getting the same chance. I wonder if any of these guys will use their I-LAND notoriety to debut in other groups? That was certainly a big career arc for Produce graduates, but I don’t think I-LAND has been as popular and the contestants don’t hale from the many different agencies that participated in the Produce franchise.
After the brief chat, we’re treated to a video of the eliminated contestants visiting I-LAND to talk and practice with the top nine. Again, I am heartless because I just want us to get onto the debut announcement. Instead, this all climaxes in a performance of the series’ theme: Into the I-LAND. That little ditty…
The IU version of this song actually became a pretty big digital hit in Korea. That’s entirely due to IU and her popularity.
Snarkiness aside, this is a halfway decent song. I haven’t felt compelled to listen to it since it was released back in June, but I appreciate the guitar and overall vibe.
Part Eight: Debut
And, after we hear from some of the global viewers via social media and video chat, it’s time to finally get down to business. Looking at the running time, it appears they’re actually going to drag this debut announcement out for over an hour. Seriously, I don’t know how people sit through this without something else to do. It’s all so tedious! If I wasn’t blogging, I’d probably be asleep by now.
Debuting ENHYPEN Members:
1. Jungwon (WTF? I mean, no offense to the guy, but was he ever this highly-ranked before?)
2. Jay (Way. To. Go! I’m delighted that he placed this high. Best personality in the series)
3. Jake (higher than expected, but I know he has a big fan base)
4. Niki (higher than Heeseung?!? I’m shocked… and very pleasantly surprised)
5. Heeseung (I can’t believe he finished this low, honestly)
6. Sunghoon (Phew! I was afraid he wouldn’t make it)
7. Sunoo (Saved by the producers, and honestly I’m shocked he wasn’t voted in by global votes)
Eliminated: K & Daniel
All in all, everyone I hoped would make it into the group did. I’ll be interested to see what Big Hit does with ENHYPEN. I fear they’ll just give them generic tracks like the ones we’ve heard throughout I-LAND, but if they can find a distinct style for the group, I’ll be pleased. They certainly have the resources. In a perfect world, I want ENHYPEN to have its own unique set of producers and not just the same few names who pop up on every recent Big Hit track. Lofty thinking, I know…