Kim Nam Gil is back as an immortal demon slayer and we are here for the ride… at least for season 1. Come join us as we discuss all the moments that stood out, as well as a ton of random observations. Because when it comes to recaps, that is how we roll.
Sexy Priests? Yes, please.
We are introduced to Kang Chang Hyuk (Cha Eun Woo), an up-and-coming exorcist who happens to enjoy dispelling demons while listening to K-pop. He is sent to Korea to find the woman who will possibly begin the end of the world. At this point, we just know that he plans to help make this not happen. And possibly dispel a few demons along the way.
Kmuse: His choice in work music totally sold me on this character. The fact that he is very attractive is just a bonus.
Kdrama Jen: So, hear me out… I feel like this is a solid choice for Cha Eun Woo because his role is kind of like a K-pop star in a priest’s robe. He seems like he is just playing himself cosplaying as a priest, and I really think it works! I love that he listens to K-pop while performing an exorcism. I mean, don’t we all like to listen as we work? I find his character intriguing. I am not convinced he is a good guy, though.
Drama Geek: By episode 2 I could tell this character is perfect for his acting strengths. My favorite of his roles so far was in Rookie Historian, where he was allowed to be cheeky and smile, but managed to show some depth. I do have to say, I’m really hoping he brings the priest look back to his group and we get all the Astro boys with earrings and robes. Aside from his look, I like that his ego is pretty big and will probably be kicked down a notch when he meets Van.
The Maknae: I love this role for him, and how casually he just takes on the exorcisms, like it’s no big deal to have a bloody thrashing human screaming in your face as you chant at them. It’s the same chill vibe that lets him climb boulders while wearing his ankle-length cassock, right?
Lee Da Hee is back on our screens sooner than anticipated
The fact that we are doing two Lee Da Hee drama recaps back to back is an interesting chance of fate. Hopefully, we will enjoy Island more than we did Love is For Suckers. If nothing else, her style is 100% better this time around. She plays Won Mi Ho, the only daughter of a chaebol. While she normally battles conniving relatives and boardroom baddies, she is sent out of her element to Jeju Island to escape some bad press. The second she steps foot on the island, demons (possessing human bodies) begin to hunt her. In the first few episodes, she is chased from one location to another, screaming for help at the top of her lungs. Lucky for her, that help comes from sexy Van (Kim Nam Gil), an immortal who has a history with her in a past life. It is also suspicious that her dad and her secretary seem to know about her past. Mi Ho has no memories from her magical past life and seems to be the character most in the dark.
Kmuse: I am a huge Lee Da Hee fan and even when her shows don’t end up good, I am still happy to see her gainfully employed. So far I am enjoying this character, even if most of the two episodes has been her running from the bad guys. It is that perfect mix of angst and street smarts that works for me. Hopefully, she will become a stronger fighter in the future. I would love for the writer to let her kick a little butt.
Kdrama Jen: I have really enjoyed Lee Da Hee in most of her dramas. I think she is able to portray characters that have a little gray, but still make us like them. I am looking forward to seeing her with Kim Nam Gil. There is chemistry potential.
Drama Geek: Like the others, I do love this actress and already enjoy her character. She screams a lot in the first two episodes but she also runs away from soul sucking demons with some smarts. It makes sense at this point that she needs to be saved. The demons have to be slashed over and over with a magical dagger to actually dissipate. The bedroom scene later on (not that kind!) shows how great their chemistry could be and also just how dang beautiful these two are.
The Maknae: I love that the scandal Mi Ho gets sent to Jeju Island over is her tossing a man TWICE HER SIZE over her shoulder. Once she’s got the lay of the land, I think she’ll be a great partner for Van. I also love her relationship with her father’s secretary/butler, the one who taught her martial arts in the first place. He was fabulous as Healer’s mentor in Healer, and he seems to be headed down the same road in this drama.
Kim Nam Gil is an immortal half lust demon/half human
We are introduced to our hero in the most bombastic way. With stylish knife slashes and a loud rock anthem, Van blasts his way onto our screen, saving our heroine from certain death via demon. For the majority of the first episode, he is brought out to save Mi Ho every time a demon finds her. But as the episodes progress, we discover that he is actually a young kid who survived the destruction of his town by a Lust Demon. (They call them lust demon’s but that seems to be a translation choice. Rather than sexual lust, it seems to be referencing the greed of humans that allows them to be possessed.) A local religious tribe infects him with Demon blood and trains him, and another boy, to be a demon killer. And by train, I mean they enslave them and treat them inhumanely.
Kmuse: The one negative I have with this drama is that Kim Nam Gil is a brilliant action star and being underused. With him doing all his own stunts in past dramas, you know the quality of action he can accomplish. Sadly, while the action in Island is still enjoyable, it is nowhere near his best when it comes to fight sequences. I hope that the director decides to use all of his great action and acting talents as the show progresses. Crossing fingers.
Kdrama Jen: I want to put exclamation points on everything Kmuse said!!!! Kim Nam Gil was born for action sequences. Please, Drama Goddesses (I say that because this IS Jeju), please give us some awesome fight scenes!
Drama Geek: I’ve found recently with some Cdramas that if there is magical powers involved in the fighting, the director seems to lean heavy on the CGI aspect to make the fights look cool. This holds true for the action scenes we’ve seen so far. That aside, I also think he’s been pretty quiet and brooding and I hope that once he starts interacting with Mi Ho he’ll get more to work with.
The Maknae: I’m hoping for more too, but I’m also optimistic that we’re building up to some really explosive action in later episodes. Gotta save the good stuff for the end, you know?
Brilliant lighting and action sequences
We have so many action sequences in these two episodes. And while the action directing isn’t perfect, it can be excused because this director is brilliant on night scene lighting. There is nothing worse than having a great action sequence ruined by bad lighting. That will not be the case here as Van saves Mi Ho over and over in different and unique ways, always well lit regardless of time of day.
Kmuse: My favorite sequence involved Mi Ho stealing a car and racing away with the demon racing after her. The director used a car that had LED lighting outlining the body of the car which made the scene a lot of fun and well lit. The little bits of demon red also are used to their best in outlining evil characters.
Kdrama Jen: Kim Nam Gil and Cha Eun Woo are pretty. Is that the lighting?
Drama Geek: Hahaha. Sorry, I just love the ongoing theme that Kmuse gets super lost in the directing and Kdrama Jen is all about a different kind of pretty. I agree with both of them. The car scene was so much fun! The two priests were in all black and still managed to come out well in every night scene they were in. The screenshots Kmuse got are a testament to how well the show lights its night scenes.
The Maknae: HA! That car chase was awesome, and the car’s neon highlights were used really, really well. I can appreciate how well this director, Bae Jong, is lighting the scenes after watching the very dark sequences in the last episodes of Obi-wan Kenobi. It’s good to be reminded of good directing every once in a while, especially in the small details.
Flashback to hundreds of years ago
We get a flashback to a young Van, suffering untold pain as he is tortured and trained by the religious sect who “saved” him after his village was destroyed. We don’t get a specific time this is occurring, but it is obviously hundred of years earlier than our present story arc. We are told how a young girl, the previous incarnation of Mi Ho, saves Van and the other boy. They run to escape the evil sect, but are forced to return when Mi Ho suffers a bite from Van. Mi Ho is sent away, but says she will return to save them when she is more powerful. The episodes end with a flashback of Van stabbing Mi Ho in the past with a harsh demonic visage.
Kmuse: Am I the only one that feels like some of these scenes were edited weird? Maybe cut for timing? I wouldn’t have minded having an extra episode or two so the backstory could have been developed just a bit better.
Kdrama Jen: I am expecting more backstory in the coming episodes. We still have to meet the other demon-blooded boy. I think Sweet Potato might be coming for revenge. (Sweet Potato is a reference to I Need Romance 3).
Drama Geek: Yeah, I think we will get more backstory as Mi Ho starts remembering her past life, and the white haired Sweet Potato shows up. I’m very excited for his character. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a drama he’s been in that I’ve liked.
The Maknae: I’m not sure the religious sect is evil for creating demon hunters to save them all, but using children as their subjects was disturbing. There’s the one older lady who was there to yell at the priest when Van was turned, and it seems she’s still around Jeju in the present day, which begs this question: why are all the immortals living on Jeju??
Modern-day Mi Ho quickly realizes that her best bet for staying alive involves keeping Van close by. She offers him money to become her official bodyguard. To make it all legal, she writes out a contract and tells him to name his price. The next morning, she awakes to find a signed contract, but her gloating switches to confusion as she notices he didn’t fill in the price section of the contract.
Kmuse: They were cute in this segment. Also gave me hope that they will have good chemistry going forward.
Kdrama Jen: As I said, we have chemistry potential!
Drama Geek: I didn’t realize we’d have a separate section for this and already mentioned it. The screenshot above does not show how BEAUTIFUL Lee Da Hee looks in this scene. They really did her makeup heavier and the lighting was just right. It was almost like those vampire movies, where she’s being made to look like a tasty snack.
The Maknae: This was fun, and gives me hope for lighter moments during what could be a very dark and heavy drama.
Kmuse: A solid first two episodes. The magic system is well developed and I am invested in the story. Is it a bit cheesy? Sure, but as long as I can stare at Kim Nam Gil for hours at a time, I can put up with a little bit of cheese.
Kdrama Jen: I am here for it! I especially love all the Jeju mysticism and mythology references. I have been reading more about Jeju and origin stories recently, so this aspect intrigues me. Yes, it is a little cheesetastic when Kim Nam Gil has his anthem played each time he swoops in, but I still love it.
Drama Geek: I really liked the setup and enjoyed the first two episodes. It’s a short first season, so I’ll be on board the entire time. I am hoping they don’t keep her character in the dark too long, and they become more of a team. Fingers crossed!
The Maknae: I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch something violent after finishing Weak Hero Class 1, but Island is doing a good job of balancing light moments — and humor, even! — with the demons’ creation and subsequent slaying. I’m intrigued by how the whole cast is going to come together, and looking forward to the next set of episodes.
Until the next demon loses an arm, we remain —
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi