I-LAND – K-Pop Episode 1 Recap & Review

Let The Games Begin

Based on the first episode alone, I-LAND looks set to be quite the intriguing reality TV competition. Combining the best parts of shows like Big Brother, The Voice and various elimination games, I-LAND may just prove to be quite the addictive watch over the weeks.

As we soon find out, I-LAND is the name for this futuristic-looking cube that holds within the keys to unlocking K-Pop glory. It’s completely isolated from the outside world and as NamGoong Min narrates, we learn the contestants have a tough road ahead.

Judging their every move across 37 monitors are producers Bang Si-Hyuk, Rain and Zico (responsible for some of the top talents in the K-Pop world.) As they sit in secret, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 23 contestants, Bang-Si-Hyuk reminds the others they’re there to test their potential for growth, not necessarily their level of talent now.

The groups all begin meeting, split into different Units of three as they arrive at the first round of the competition. As the different groups tentatively start to engage with one another, the counter on the walls remains at 12 causing all of them to begin questioning just what this means.

As more people arrive, the trios filter down to pairs until one boy from Japan, Ta-Ki, arrives all on his own which rounds out the 23 different contestants.

It turns out the number 12 on the wall relates to the number of people able to enter I-Land, meaning an entry test will need to be conducted with the different performances they’ve prepared acting as the deciding factor. Each of the contestants raise their hands to vote after each performance and the ones heading to the I-Land will be decided in this way.

Choi-Seon certainly wastes no time getting to the stage but unfortunately his performance is awkward and stifled. However, Choi-Seon receives 22 votes and gets into the I-Land right away; there’s certainly some advantages to going first it seems.

Sunghoon and Jay are up next and they’re really good, boasting wonderful in-sync dancing that wins over the crowd. There’s only 9 positions left now and Hanbin, Nicholas and Ni-Ki are certainly no stranger to being in the limelight – and it shows. With the pressure on, Hanbin doesn’t get into I-Land but Ni-Ki and Nicholas do.

Next up is Heeseung who delivers an incredible performance – definitely the highlight of the show thus far – and everyone votes for him except Geonu.

With the trio of judges watching on, despite a very nervy performance from K he sneaks into I-Land by the skin of his teeth but it’s obvious he’s not happy with his performance. Daniel and EJ get in too but now it boils down to a serious pressure cooker situation.

Given the 3 remaining spots and numerous contestants still to perform, Sungchul sneaks into the house ahead of the other two in his group while Geonu also follows suit and makes it into I-Land ahead of his unit.

Performing alone, little Ta-Ki wins over the crowd with a unanimous vote of 22.

Jake, Sunoo and Youngbin perform last and they’re definitely one of the best groups. With I-LAND already over capacity, all 3 of them get in too meaning they have four extra members. Despite this, the gates open to the next stage of the competition and the ones who make it say goodbye to those they’ve left behind.

The drop-outs from I-Land don’t actually leave though but instead find themselves in “The Ground”, a separate area where they can practice but have no way of getting back to the main stage.

The egg spins and ascends up to the hideout of I-LAND for those hopeful candidates. Only, with 12 seats and 12 emblems that means 4 of them will need to leave. That fate happens to fall on another round of voting and a countdown timer gives them 2 hours to decide just who should stay and who should go.

The clock is ticking and as decision time arrives, things are left wide open for where this one is likely to go next.

Who will get through to the next round? Who was your favourite? And who should be eliminated? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!

The Review Write-Up

The level of talent and competition in I-LAND, combined with the unique way of voting, is partly the reason the show works as well as it does. The decision to allow each of the different contestants to vote for each other certainly allows for some drama to seep into the house and I’d imagine we’ll see more of that bubble up over the weeks.

For now though, this reality competition gets off to a really intriguing start and it’ll be interesting to see just where this one is likely to go next. Personal highlights definitely come from Ta-Ki’s dancing, Young-Bin, Sunoo and Jake’s number and the early signs of drama brewing with Geonu. We’ll have to wait and see how that develops over time.

I-LAND certainly leaves the door open for this week’s episode though and quite what will happen next, remains to be seen.

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