Into The “I-LAND”: A Review Of What Happened In Episodes 9 & 10

In these past two weeks of “I-LAND,” we see plenty of performances, personal growth, outings, and a visit from the performance team of SEVENTEEN. There’s tears, there’s laughter, there’s frustration, and there’s camaraderie. You know, the usual. Oh, and we say goodbye to another I-Lander too.

Read on for a more detailed dive into what happened during episodes 9 and 10:

Warning: Major spoilers ahead! Like seriously! Also, long article too. Run while you still can. (Please don’t run).

Pikachu, I choose you!

The trainee who placed first in the first test, Heeseung, won himself the benefit of choosing the song he wants as well as his members. Which means he alone decides everyone’s fate. No pressure.

Heeseung picks the song “Flicker” as well as teammates Sunghoon, Jake, Jungwon, and K. Basically, everyone with a badge. These choices also summon the return of “resentful Jay,” who unluckily even loses at rock, paper, scissors and causes his team to be banished to the second-floor practice studio, a.k.a the less cool one.

Team “Dive Into You”

Jay channels his resentment into a passion to be the best leader ever. And it’s really impressive how he analyzes what the strengths of his members (Daniel, Ta-ki, Ni-ki, Sunoo, and Hanbin) are and assigns them parts that will spotlight these strengths. He even pays special attention to the lyrics and makes sure everyone understands the song so they can bring the right emotions. And when the panel finds them lacking in strength during the mid-point evaluations, Jay turns into a drill sergeant and has the kids doing push ups and planks. Even the panel members are impressed with Jay’s resoluteness and determination.

Team “Flicker” 

While team “Flicker” is technically supposed to be the “strong” team, their teamwork doesn’t seem to be as strong. The younger members find K to be daunting as he’s pretty straightforward and even a little stubborn at times. They find it hard to communicate their ideas or initiate discussions and are very conscious about his feelings.

Finding the underlying tension to be too much and affecting how they practice, the younger members seek K out and tell him how they feel. K is taken aback upon hearing their thoughts, leaves the room, and goes off to be by himself. When the other four find him again, he tearfully apologizes and tells them he really likes them, which makes the other kids tear up too.

While tears were shed in the process, it is good that they were able to voice out their concerns instead of holding it in, letting it fester, and potentially doing more damage in the long run. K likely just doesn’t realize how he comes across, and the other kids are all on the meeker side, so he just took on a more dominant persona. But he, like most of the other boys in I-LAND, are really just big-hearted kids who are fighting hard for their dreams.

Doobu — A name fit for a dish, a man, and… a puppy

The top three rankers from the first test — Heeseung, Jungwon, and Sunghoon — are given a day off to enjoy themselves outside. Yes, outside in the real world where things aren’t ranked and you aren’t evaluated on everything you do. Oh wait. That describes the real world too. *Spirals into existential crisis*

As I was saying, the three boys get a day out, and they travel in style in a limousine celebrity van. Their first stop is a pet cafe, where Jungwon delightfully discovers one of the puppies’ name is “Doobu” — the same name as one of the Directors on the panel — and they have some cheeky fun with the name. (“Doobu” is also the Korean pronunciation for tofu).

Then, they go to a virtual reality experience center, where Sunghoon literally collapses in fear of whatever it is he’s seeing, while Jungwoon and Heeseung laugh at his rarely seen flustered side.

The two change their tunes when they hit the skating rink and see Sunghoon unleash his “Ice Skating Prince” persona. I’m sure we’re all just like Jungwoon and Heeseung, mesmerized by all that beauty on ice.

Finally, the boys head to a clothing store, where they thoughtfully choose clothing items for all the members stuck in the four-sided-container called I-LAND.

Second test performances

For the second test, team “Flicker” performs first, and wow, they look good and sleek in their maroon suits. Everything looks polished and smooth, and it’s quite an enjoyable song too. Everyone gets praised for their performances and the panel also mentions how Jake (who’s ranked seventh) absolutely held his own among the other four (who are ranked first to fourth). They also (again) highlight how Jungwon always manages to catch the nuances of the song he’s performing and are even a little surprised at how someone so young (he’s only 17) could be so captivatingly alluring.

Team “Dive Into You” similarly turns in a pretty hot performance. Their performance is in a completely different style, leaning more towards “street” or “hip hop,” featuring a lot of neon graffiti. However, the comments from the panel are more of a mixed bag. Bang Si Hyuk is worried about Daniel and Ta-ki, who he feels threw the team’s balance off. They also note that Sunoo’s expression didn’t match the others.

On the positive side, Jay does a great job centering the team, being a stable force without drawing too much attention to himself. Ni-ki too is praised for his breakthrough performance.

The panelists then announce their first place winner, who would have the benefit of having his votes during the final 24 hours doubled. This is a huge benefit, and it goes to… Jake!

We’re probably all a little stunned by this result, but we can’t deny that Jake really has been improving a lot over the course of the show, which is the reason the panelists choose him.

Midpoint rankings

We then see the midpoint rankings, which is basically the one we see at the end of episode eight. In order, they are Sunoo, Heeseung, Sunghoon, Ta-ki (that’s all the members of team “Fake Love,” by the way), Jake, Jungwon, and Daniel. In eighth place and onwards (and falling out of the debut line), we have Hanbin, K, Ni-ki, and Jay.

Jay is shocked with his ranking, which then causes him to get all sentimental, and he even writes goodbye letters to everyone. However, the highlight here isn’t “emotional Jay” or how the boys ignored his wishes and read the goodbye letter right away. The real story here is how puffy Jay’s hand is after getting bitten by a mosquito. Seriously, that hand is SWOLLEN! I’m see-sawing between feeling sorry for him and being horrified at how terrifying the mosquitoes are in I-LAND!

Say the name, SEVENTEEN

Prior to starting the third test, the I-Landers are first given a mini mission, delivered by none other than the performance unit of SEVENTEEN, namely Hoshi, Jun, The8, and Dino.

The mini mission is for the trainees to perform two of SEVENTEEN’s songs: the fresh and bubbly “Adore U” and the charisma-exploding “Hit”. The teams have already been decided for them, with Heeseung, K, Jay, Hanbin, and Ni-ki (i.e. the charismatic performers) tackling “Hit,” and the rest doing “Adore U.” Since this is only a mini mission without actual heavy stakes, it would have been nice if the trainees could have tried the more unexpected song choice, allowing us to see more of a range from them. Just imagine K doing “Adore U,” or Sunoo doing “Hit”. That would’ve been fun to watch, no?

The four SEVENTEEN members arrive at I-LAND to watch over the mini mission themselves. They’re their usual energetic, supportive selves, giving them hugs, pats on the backs, and going “oooh,” “woah,” “saaaa” during their performances. (Yes, that last one is Hoshi). SEVENTEEN applauds team “Hit” for doing well on the difficult choreography, especially since they’ve only had a few hours to learn it.

They also have a lot of fun with team “Adore U,” and the team members themselves appear to be really having fun with the choreography, which makes it fun to watch too. Hyung-collector Ta-ki collects the hearts of the SEVENTEEN hyungs (older brothers) with his adorableness. Jun and Hoshi then dance alongside some of the trainees before announcing their pick for the winner of the mini mission, Sunoo, whom they found the most natural throughout.

We finally get to go outside… to the yard!

Before the boys fully dive into the third test, the mysterious overhead voice tells them they get to go outside, with the “outside” being literally right outside. A screen projects onto the wall of their building, and the boys see video messages and questions from their fans from all around the world. It’s pretty heart-warming seeing this outpouring of love and support from these strangers, and the boys become teary-eyed soon enough.

Then, when talking about “unforgettable incidents,” the boys mention Jay’s tendency to sleep with his eyes open. The show then airs a clip of this, which undoubtedly adds to Jay’s Big Box of Embarrassing Moments. And because the show loves Jay, they then air more clips from his Big Box of Embarrassing Moments, and the trainees are all rolling around in laughter.

A fan also asks K to show them his killer smile. K then asks Jake what a killer smile is, to which Jake replies, “Isn’t it the way you smile when you kill?” Which then gives us this:

After hearing different but valid requests from fans to various trainees — show your aegyo, show your Michael Jackson moves, etc. — we then hear a fan ask, “I want to know how to marry Sunghoon.” Cue Sunghoon’s hilariously befuddled expression:

After their little trip outside, the boys then return back to their rooms to find a bound book of letters from fans. It’s really sweet how the show did all this for them, giving them a much needed morale boost during this otherwise tiring process.

Third test: Refreshing vs. Explosive

The two songs, in the same vein of “refreshing” vs. “explosive” concepts, are “Chamber 5 (Dream of Dreams)” and “Flame On” respectively. Sunoo, having won the mini mission, gets to choose his song as well as his team members, who are Jake, Jungwoo, Heeseung, and Ta-ki. While it’s odd to find Heeseung on this side of the concepts, he himself actually prefers it as he hopes to show a different side to viewers. We see the five members tapping into their cutesy sides and blinding us with smile after (awkward) smile.

Team “Flame On,” on the other hand, consists of Daniel, Hanbin, Sunghoon, Ni-ki, K, and Jay. While the members recommend K to be the leader, he nominates Sunghoon instead. In his confessional, Sunghoon mentions a change in K after all that happened during “Flicker” and how he now pays more attention to other people’s feelings and how he may come across. Jay, still in his “I’m about to get eliminated” spiral, offers to overlap his part with Daniel, so the team wouldn’t have to reshuffle when he leaves.

And then there were 10 (a.k.a did that just happen?)

Before the performances for the third test can take place, we still have a little pesky elimination to get to. And let’s just say, the results are… unexpected.

Sunoo and Heeseung rank first and second respectively, no surprises there. Third ranking, however, goes to Jay! That’s right, Mr. I’ve-written-everyone-goodbye-letters-Jay. Seeing him in the last place probably drove his fans into voting overdrive, and the panelists are happy he survived, as am I frankly. This boy alone is filling a chunk of the airtime with his unfiltered emotions, and the show wouldn’t be the same without him.

Another trainee who shoots up in ranking is Hanbin, who goes from eighth to fourth rank. Then we have Sunghoon, who falls a few spots, then K, then Jake in seventh place. Jake usually ranks higher (fifth during the midpoint), so it’s surprising he only manages to get seventh place, especially with his double-votes benefit in play. (According to the mysterious overhead voice, he moved up a spot thanks to the benefit). Jungwon comes in eighth, then Ni-ki, which leaves the two maknaes (youngest), Daniel and Ta-ki. Bang Si Hyuk has some encouraging words for them, reminding them they’re still very young and should take the experiences they learned in I-LAND to push forward, rather than let it beat them down.

Finally, the mysterious overhead voice makes the final announcement, and the trainee being sent home is… Ta-ki.

His hyungs are all visibly heartbroken to hear of this, especially the Japanese members K and Ni-ki. Ta-ki’s skills may not be the most polished among the “I-LAND” trainees, and he can definitely use more time to hone them. He’s an adorable bean, is obviously well liked, and is quite popular amongst international voters. But hard choices have to be made, so let’s say good bye and good luck to the hyung-collecter, Ta-ki. (That sound you hear is hyung hearts breaking across the world).

And now, with Ta-ki eliminated, team “Chamber 5” is down a member. Which means someone from team “Flame On” will have to switch over and relearn all the choreography! Dum dum dummmmm.

Have the I-LAND deities heard us?

In my last review, I talked a little about how it seemed like “I-LAND” was putting too much focus on the performance side and not enough on the vocals side. Even the panel itself was filled with performance-focused directors, without a vocals-focused director in sight. And it seemed like many of you in the comments agreed with this. However, the very following week (in episode 9), we see the appearance of vocal trainer Kim Sung Eun, who pays a visit to team “Flicker.” And by the looks of it, this is a regular thing. She’s also one of the panel members in the special episode (the one with Kwanghee et al. as hosts), and even then she seemed very familiar with the trainees. So we can probably conclude that they do have some vocal training leading up to their performances, but the question now is, why have we never seen it before? Certainly it can’t be that boring, right?

Watch the latest episode of “I-LAND” on Viki below:

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Are you more okay or more devastated that Ta-ki was sent home? And how are you feeling about the current Top 7? Let us know in the comments below!

Belinda_C is so happy to see how much fun the I-Landers had with the members of SEVENTEEN. Talk SEVENTEEN and Shinhwa with her on Twitter!

Currently watching: “I-LAND,” “Go Ahead,” “Count Your Lucky Stars,” “Alice
All-time favorite: “Kill Me Heal Me,” “Defendant,” “Hotel Del Luna
Looking forward to: Tale of the Nine Tailed starring Lee Dong Wook, and Shinhwa’s Eric and Yoo In Na‘s upcoming drama

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