Imitation – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Once More With Feeling

K-Pop fans unite! Episode 1 of Imitation kicks off in October 2017 as we see our idol group Shax arriving on stage and practicing their moves. At the forefront of this group is Ryeon, who joins the others in a circle as they stand united. They’re determined to light up this K-Pop awards festival. Only, one of their members – Eun-Jo – has gone missing.

CEO Park is furious when the news breaks but the show must go on. Outside the stadium, prospective hopeful Ma-Ha snaps photos while in a taxi.

We then cut back one week before the concert. Ma-Ha awakens and heads out for a morning run. She intends to be part of the 0.1% that make it big as an idol. The only trouble is, time is finite and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Ma-Ha continues to practice with her group, juggling this with school, while determined to make it as a big star at her company, Music Holic.

Back in the practice hall, the members of Shax are questioned by their General Manager. They’re covered in food after a fight broke out over whether to dip or pour sauce. Eventually though the kids patch up their differences.

At Music Holic entertainment, the selection process is brutal. Different girls and boys are discarded based on their age. The CEO shrugs it off though, claiming he’s only thinking of profits. Tae-Geun sticks up for Ma-Ha when she’s thrown on the chopping block, encouraging the CEO to send Ma-Ha over to Omega Entertainment instead; a proverbial second chance.

Tae-Geun is the one who has to deliver the news though, as Ma-Ha realizes she’s being forced out and needs to start again anew. As she heads home, Ma-Ha despairs until she finds her friend Yoo-Jin following her from afar. Together, they head up to the highest peak and look out at the glittery lights of the city below.

There, Ma-Ha remains defiant that she’s going to ignite the music world and make it big. She quits school and goes all in on this big opportunity.

Ma-Ha heads into Omega Entertainment where she’s to be the replacement for Annie, the girl who was recently cut from the group. Ominously, no one has heard from her since she was axed.

Ma-Ha immediately gets into the groove and copies dance moves from Hyun-Ji and Ri-A. Ma-Ha is all in and despite seven people going missing in the past, she’s determined not to become the eighth.

She’s eventually encouraged to stay in Annie’s old room, where Ma-Ha finds her old cell. Still, there’s no time for that as we receive a slick montage of our trio together. They manage to shoot a decent music video and get their choreography spot on too.

With one day remaining until the big performance, Omega 3’s debut is overshadowed by police finding a body in the Han River. That body belongs to Annie. C

EO Park isn’t bothered when he finds out, especially as it’s not one of his kids. He also demands a story be released regarding Eun-Jo taking a break.

When Omega 3 find out though, they’re forced off the stage as their debut is shattered. Instead, another group take their place. It’s a heartbreaking sequence, one that sees the various other groups – including Shax – watch regretfully as Ma-Ha’s career prospects go up in smoke.

K-Pop begins trending on the news but for all the wrong reasons. Many companies are called into question for their shady practices – including Omega Entertainment – and how they’re using these girls and their age as collateral.

With Ma-Ha’s debut a bust, we cut forward 3 years to find Ryeok has successfully transitioned from Shax onto the big screen.

Remember the group who replaced Omega 3 all those years ago? Well, they’re called La Ri Ma and they perform on stage at the awards ceremony. Ma-Ha meanwhile, performs for an unenthusiastic skeleton group as an imitator. Ironically, Shax wind up watching her performance on a phone broadcast and comment on her skills.

Ma-Ha is clearly eking her way through but a shoot for a new movie coming up could be the opportunity she needs. Ma-Ha is working as an extra but the Omega manager promises this could lead to bigger things if she makes a good impression.

Ma-Ha shows up in the morning for the shoot but it turns out it’s actually in the afternoon. The CEO is onto this slimy manager and he takes off, leaving Ma-Ha all alone on the set. Interestingly, Kwon Ryeok is the one who’s the lead for this historical drama.

While Ma-Ha practices her line, she overhears Ryeok doing the same, hilariously dropping his sword in the water while practicing.

With the formations changed thanks to a rash on Ryeok’s face, Ma-Ha messes up the first shoot but eventually gets into the groove. The shoot is a success but Ma-Ha is left all alone after Manger Go Ba-Wi has taken off. He ignores Ma-Ha’s calls, prompting her to run home instead. Only, on the way a car stops and the window rolls down. It’s Ryeok!

The Episode Review

Imitation gets off to a great start, showing the harsh realities of what it’s really like to be a K-Pop Idol star. Like any lucrative industry in the spotlight, the reality behind the glitzy facade of bright lights, well-choreographed dances and singing is much more dark and harrowing.

Annie’s death is the perfect example of this, with the various CEOs only caring about profits and essentially tarnishing the reputation of all the other girls in the company.

With Omega Entertainment on its last legs, Ma-Ha’s ambitions and dreams are taken advantage of in order for the company to continue thriving. I’ts pretty shady and typified by the mess up on-set at the k-drama. And of course Ma-Ha being left alone.

Cleverly, the show really leans into its K-Pop vibes, bringing in a fair number of boys and girls from the entertainment world. This helps to give some authenticity to what’s being shown and I’d imagine this will be played up more across the weeks.

There’s an interesting symbiotic relationship between K-pop and K-dramas here, with both tied together intimately. We’ve seen this before of course with numerous singers transitioning into dramas over the years and Imitation looks to be another good platform for these men and women to show off what they can do.,

With a rare one episode a week order, Imitation looks set to really lean into some of the darker aspects of the entertainment world over the weeks.

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Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!
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