I-LAND: Finale 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 // 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…

18 thoughts on “I-LAND: Finale Recap

  1. As someone who actually voted for Jungwon a few times, I almost choked when he was #1. Yes, I wanted him to make the group. No, I didn’t want him to be #1. lol

    I think what happened with the voting is that because people were only given 1 vote per day, rather than the 2 they were given previously, they kept voting for the people they liked that they were afraid might get cut, and they didn’t vote for the people they thought were shoe-ins. Hence the super low rankings for Sunoo, Sunghoon, and Heeseung, and the crazy high rankings for Jungwon, Jake, and Niki.

    I think it would have been better to give people 7 votes. That way they could vote for the final 7 they wanted and the rankings would have been more accurate – the people everybody wanted in the group would be at the top of the rankings and the others would sort themselves out in the lower half of the rankings. But whatever, it’s too late now.

    Overall, this episode felt really weird and WAY too long. This was my first competition show, so it took me about halfway into the episode to realize that there was supposed to be an audience, and the lack of one was what made it feel so awkward. The fact that a good chunk of the performances and the ranking reveal were all performed live meant they couldn’t edit it all together to seem like a super hype, exciting show. I kept cracking up because whenever they would pan over to BTS watching or even the producers, they looked bored as crap. I’m pretty sure V was half-asleep for most of the show. I was quite confused as to why TXT was even there in the first place. Their leader said like three sentences of encouragement, and then they just sat there and did nothing.

    I personally found the talking-to-fans portion incredibly boring, awkward, and generally a big waste of time. Nobody cares about this random chick who is voting for so-and-so for X and Y reasons. We just want to see the group reveal. Also, what was the point of those made-for-fan videos at all? Were they released somewhere? They sure didn’t show the final products during the show….seemed like kind of a waste of time.

    I have to agree that this final song was by far the most musically interesting song that they’ve had so far. Finally something that actually had a nice beat and melody. It made me actually mildly excited to hear what they might produce in the future. As for their new name… I thought that they were gonna throw some random letters together and end up with another alphabet soup name, but it was actually worse. ENHYPEN. It just looks like a typo of some sort. And no, “hyphen” is not a cool word to style a group name around. Sigh.

    Also, seriously? They had to make the rankings reveal like 45 minutes long? Each ranking had like 5 minutes of tense music and 8 billion repetitive lead-ins (“The spot number 5… Member #5…..This position goes to……” FOR GOD’S SAKE JUST SAY IT!) and cuts to commercial breaks. I almost couldn’t take it. There is a limit for how far you should take dramatic tension, and the reveal went about 300% too far.

    I was pleasantly surprised (more like pleasantly shocked) that the producers chose Sunoo over K. Considering how highly they consider performance over vocals, and the fact that the producers ranked K #1 in the very last episode and Sunoo was #3, it was quite a surprising result, in my opinion, but I’m quite glad that Sunoo made the cut. Considering how much I used to hate K for the first 75% of the show, he’s grown on me quite a bit in the past few episodes, so I was almost sad to see him go at this point.

    But, all in all, my final 5 made it into the group, so yay? Now I’m just hoping that they’re given some decent music to work with in the future.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes people voted for the ones they didn’t want gone — I voted for Sunoo in Part 1, and for Jungwon at the end because I thought others would sure save my other favourites, lol. Glad the directors chose Sunoo.

      K is good but not an exact fit here (he should go solo or team up with a few others from Ground?). When the current kidlets will be 25 and at the top of their careers, K will be 30 and will have personal interests other than living with the band 24/7 all year. Shouldn’t mnet specify better next time?

      So they chopped the oldest and the youngest and created a perfect team where each member is uniquely needed while maintaining small age gap (between Heeseung 18 and Ni-Ki 14), and since they care so much about visual, nobody sticks out in height, lol (between Jay 180cm and Jungwon 174cm but Jungwon is only 16 and will grow a few cm more).

      Enhypen. Don’t you just love each of their personalities!


      • I do wonder if K might be getting a bit old to have a chance to debut… but agree that his age just make him stick out a bit from the group (and may have been the reason for some of the issues with him early on – he felt out of reach of the other ILAND members)


  2. I only watched the reveal and the encouraging comments from BTS, but it felt so awkward. Even when V went on a tangent and it was supposed to be tension relief(?), I still felt awkward just seeing them standing there, anxiously waiting if they made it in or not.


  3. “Enhypen” sounds like a drug for some mental disorder. If you suffer from ____, ask you doctor about Enhypen. Just like everything else on this series, BigHit way overspent on whatever committee picked Enhypen.

    Once again, no live singing, and yet the boys still have no one to hit the high note on “Let’s just run for our lives”. “Lives” = It should be a D5. No one on this stage can hit a D5, even in the studio with lip syncing. Instead they go down, again, to D4. Which means half of the typical Big Hit / BTS ouevre is completely out of question for Enhypen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Nick,
    Thanks heaps for your perseverance.

    The kids had 4 weeks of summer camp between Part 1 and Part 2, from July 6th until before Episode 8, where all iLanders and Grounders were away together for music and dance lessons. But they didn’t show us this. (We saw 11 out of their 16 weeks.)

    Yes the host was super annoying! And the name. Well, golden naming rule is “easy to say and to remember single word”.

    But aren’t you glad of the final line up. Let’s hope they’ll create fine music.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 4 weeks?!! Wasn’t there only a 2 week break in air time? How did they squeeze a four week break into that time period?

      The host… ugh. He played a serial killer in a drama a while back, and he’s always been a bit creepy to me ever since lol. Didn’t like him any more as a host here.


      • They published clog diaries of the new band members from July 6th onwards (Enhypen has an official YouTube channel). Heeseung said it was a much-needed break off the camera and he had fun times playing fighting games with Youngbin and for the first time beating him 5-4. His band mates say Heeseung is very good in all fields (he’s even an excellent ice skater although not a pro like Sunghoon). On his first vlog diary Heeseung said the 6 kids chosen by the producers had already arrived at the camp and they were waiting for the 16 grounders to arrive and they were to choose their own room mates. So mnet had finished shooting the first 6 episodes by the first week of July, showed only commentary on the first week of August, then revealed viewers’ picks on Episodes 8.

        Liked by 2 people

        • *vlog, not clog lol.

          Yes I remember the host used to play creepy characters but you should watch Hot Stove League (I watched it because it won 2019 best Kdrama) and you’ll find that he’s just acting. Apparently he’s nice but had to act annoyingly slow to build the suspense for the viewers — or to torture the kids like the creep in his drama did to his victims, just because he could and because it was free, lol.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Out of all the survival shows I’ve watched (Produce S1-4, YGTB, Sixteen, NIZI, Produce Japan, Under 19), this was my least favorite. It was so low energy. The Final group is already breaking engagement records so they’re sure to be a smash group solely based off of having a Big Hit tag, so mission accomplished I guess.


    • Also, I’m curious on your thoughts Nick, as I’m reminded of your article about how Produce was going to mess up the industry: i don’t think anyone expected that it wouldn’t be Produce, but rather a Big Hit survival show with MNET rising from Produce’s ashes that would seal the deal. I’ve got a feeling this is gonna lead to Big Hit becoming the Disney of Kpop, especially with a girls season coming next year. Before these survival groups were temporary and the show afforded a company the buzz to debut a group/gave 4-8 trainees a ticket to debut with people who appeared on the show, even the very low-tier companies. Now only BigHit is holding the cards with the international success of I LAND.


      • That might be true but tbh, bighit is the only one to actually solicit the participation of international fans. After the first season of Produce, that show actually banned international voting, which is a decision I still can’t wrap my head around.

        Liked by 1 person

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