Out of all the episodes in The I-Land, Episode 1 is arguably the worst. Despite an interesting set-up and laying the foundation for the mystery to follow, it can’t shake off the shackles of LOST’s influence.
On the sun-soaked shores of a mysterious island, we begin with a woman awakening to find herself all alone with no knowledge of how she got there. A little later on we learn her name is Chase but for now, we remain in the dark as she clutches the shell she woke up with and blows into it. It’s here we pan across the beach and find 9 other people lying face down in the sand. She runs into a woman who can’t remember who she is either, but clutches a knife. Unsheathing it, she threatens Chase before a man arrives telling them both there are others on the other side of the beach. As it turns out, all of them are wearing identical shirts and trousers, which handily have their names written on the label of.
It’s here we learn the knife-wielding lady is K.C. and the man is called Cooper. As K.C. and Chase continue to bicker, this spills over to the rest of the group, while Hayden laments the group’s “basic” thought process as she makes the camp fire with Mason.
After finding out everyone in the group was holding a different item when they awoke, Chase heads out and finds a gorgeous waterfall with Brody where he tells her not to tell the others. It’s here we see an awkward rape scene ensue before Chase fights him off. As she hurries back to the group, the rest of the islanders play in the water… until a shark approaches and appears to eat Donovan.
Back at camp, Brody takes control and begins ordering people around until Chase arrives and beats him. She tells the others about the waterfall and the attack. Brody simply shrugs this off though, telling them it was nothing and to care more about Donovan, who is potentially dead.
As night turns to day, Chase has a vision involving her holding a gun in a room, as a pool of blood oozes on the floor. As she awakens, breathing heavily, she grabs an axe and heads off down the beach. Some way down she finds Donovan washed up on shore, with his leg bitten. As she blows the horn, the rest of the islanders arrive and hoist him up, hurrying across the beach with him.
After the day’s events, they gather together and discuss their options. Brody suggests moving inland while Cooper argues against it. As the group discuss their options, Chase tells them all she wants to leave the island completely. It’s here we learn there were 39 steps between each of the islanders lying on the floor. As they talk, Mason and Hayden reveal they found something in the sand, and as they head up the beach to investigative, they find a sign that says “Find Your Way Back”.
In terms of opening episodes, The I-Land doesn’t get off to a particularly great start. A lot of the character work feels disappointingly basic and the general set-up of the group emulates that of LOST. Taylor plays the rich-girl like Shannon, Brody gives off Season 1 Sawyer vibes and Chase plays off a more simplistic version of Jack. The bickering and arguing is something that really holds this back from being a better title though and some of the CGI for the shark in the water is disappointing, to say the least.
Still, there is some good material here and the ensuing mystery certainly leaves things on a tantalizing note going forward, but for now The I-Land gets off to a bit of a rocky start.