From an ignored teen who calls on powers she doesn’t understand to an epic showdown between our priest and our demon slayer, these two episodes of Island were packed with a lot of action and even a little humor. Come see what happens to Mi Ho, Johan, and Van as they battle an ancient spirit called forth on Jeju Island.
Mi Ho, Don’t Ignore Their Pleas
This episode arc deals with the sad and chilling side of emotional abuse. Lee Su Ryeon is blackmailed by her supposed boyfriend, who has a whole slew of embarrassing photos clearly taken under duress on his hard drive. Being the horrible individual he is, he has more than Su Ryeon on there, and he derives pleasure from all of the girls’ pain. Su Ryeon and her best friend try to get help from the adults, including Mi Ho, but are brushed to the side. Taking things into her own hands, Su Ryeon goes to the Benjulle tree to ask for a boon, but the results aren’t quite what she expected. Mi Ho confronts Su Ryeon inside the Benjullae spirit, freeing her and promising to take revenge on the stalker boyfriend. Mi Ho did her best, as outraged as the rest of us that the most he would get is three years in prison, but the way she used her purse to hit him in the hallway….? That was AWESOME. Benjullae handles the stalker’s takedown instead, but Mi Ho did her part by redirecting it to its true purpose.
Kmuse: I liked this story arc, though it did feel a tiny bit of mystery-of-the-week. With only two more episodes of the first season and six episodes after that, I wonder what my satisfaction will be at the end of the drama run. The pacing is so different than I was expecting that I am having problems settling into what it is and not what I wanted. That said, the special effects through this whole possessed tree god scene was brilliant. I also liked how justice was given in the end.
Drama Geek: This arc was good as a separate story where Mi Ho was given something to do besides scream and look pretty. It also allowed Johan to show his skills to the audience and to Mi Ho. They made a cute team confronting the possessed tree.
The Maknae: I love trees, and still do, but WOW I’m gonna think twice before talking to one. I think this week’s story was a good representation of the supernatural forces influencing Jeju Island and its residents, and it was an excellent way to showcase how our ragtag team looks when they’re fighting together. Everyone had their part, and they flowed together well.
Johan Makes Exorcism Look Fun
Ok, exorcisms don’t really look fun, but the developing camaraderie between Mi Ho and the young Catholic priest is delightful. She’s not quite sure what to make of him after he moves into the villa as Butler Jang’s “nephew,” but his lighthearted nature and insistence on calling her noona seems to win her over. They have the best conversations: “I know how to bodyguard too.” “What, with your prayers?” “With my faith!” And: “Why are you so calm?” “I told you, I have a weapon.” “What weapon?” “Faith.” “Oh.”
Kmuse: Johan has a lot of chemistry with everyone. Whether it is with his “noona” or Van, he sparkles and brings appreciated energy to the drama. The fact that his dialogue is very witty is also appreciated. I’m also happy to see that he has some magical faith-based fighting skills. It gives him that extra edge that allows him to fight with and against Van.
Drama Geek: He’s by far my favorite part of these two episodes. He’s charming and I love seeing him bounce off our two main leads. Cha Eun Woo has really upped his game with subtle eye changes and is clearly improving as an actor. I’m totally Team Johan in this drama whatever comes along later.
The Maknae: I have a serious weakness for funny religious characters who can also kick butt, especially since they tend to be few and far between. (Hm, a Fiery Priest rewatch may be in my future.) Cha Eun Woo has been a delight in this role, and I love how he’s handling everything with a smile, even when he’s challenging Van’s demonic boundaries.
Van Makes Serious Look Good
It’s still mind-bending not to see Kim Nam Gil smiling and joking his way through his demon-hunting life, but he makes it look good. His friendship with the island’s shamaness, even though he never pays for his meals, humanizes him and show that he does have a lighter side. The flashes of humor on his face as he deals with Mi Ho are worth watching for, and even when Johan fully calls forth his demon, he looks more like an anime character than scary. The white-haired man Van can sense but not see — could that be his fellow demon slayer?
Kmuse: I am a little cranky that Kim Nam Gil is being a bit underutilized. His eye acting and action abilities are some of the best in the business and the director is not letting him go full tilt. That said, he is still doing a brilliant job with what they are letting him do. I also enjoyed watching the BTS clips of them filming the action sequences (you can find them on YouTube).
Drama Geek: His character shines when he is with the grandma and when he’s allowed to banter with Mi Ho. I get they want him dark and sullen, but he could be doing so much more than popping in and saving people. I’m going to wait and see what 5 & 6 bring us before I make a full assessment on his character.
The Maknae: It’s hard to fully see where the story is going with such a short episode count, but I’m appreciating how these actors are making it work with what they have. Even Van’s silence is working for me, because he’s making the other characters work to understand him and they DO. For the most part. LOL.
The Light and the Dark
From Mi Ho asking herself, “Who is the chauffeur??” to Mi Ho and Van’s argument while Johan is being choked by Benjullae in the background, there was plenty of levity to offset the darker moments of these episodes. Mi Ho calling Van a coward and goading him into helping Su Ryeon, landed somewhere in between, showing us that he can be convinced to do something he doesn’t want to do by the right person. And then when Mi Ho woke up in Van’s arms after the fight with Benjullae? That was just fun, especially Van’s very detached reaction. What was interesting was Mi Ho’s sudden flash of power as she fought the evil spirit – is she slowly becoming Wonjeong?
Kmuse: The chauffeur running gag was so much fun. I really wish we got a bit more humor squirreled into the dialogue. When the writer does let the humor sneak through it really hits hard.
Drama Geek: I love the parts where they let these two properly play off of each other. I also like when they allow Mi Ho to be aware of what’s really going on, and not so in the dark.
The Maknae: A director once said something like, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love, tell a joke.” The humor is an organic part of the story, and definitely balances the terrible things happening to everyone in this story.
Who Is The Enemy?
What do you want to bet “Faith” is the name of the REALLY COOL sword Johan pulled out when he was fighting Van? He’s very determined to protect Mi Ho from Van, doing his best to call forth and exorcize Van’s demon with flashy fight moves and a trap set up in the empty part of the villa, but nothing goes quite the way he expects it to. That final scene, with Demon!Van stabbing Mi Ho and flashing back to the past when he stabbed her before, was the WORST cliffhanger.
Kmuse: This final scene was so much fun. Loved how halfheartedly Van was fighting, which showed how badass he really is. That, along with Johan’s elaborate traps, made it a great time all around. I am 99% sure that the fight finale moments was a fake-out. Also, I am a bit annoyed Mi Ho looked so shocked at his demon nature. Are we supposed to believe she has accepted him and not realized that something is a little bit extra natural in his abilities? And then questioned what and why? Can we just have her be a bit more smart and less reactive to everything happening?
Drama Geek: I loved the end of this episode. It showed me what the drama can be and I want more of that. I also would love for this to be the last episode where Mi Ho is clueless and just acting like an heiress doing community service with a hot guy trailing behind her. (I will admit that the episode count is probably adding to my impatience. If this was a 16 episode drama that was airing consistently, her being on the outside of everything probably wouldn’t bother me as much at this point.)
The Maknae: THE FIGHT WAS AWESOME! The shot of Johan unleashing his spiritual sword was so cool — I need to get that for my phone’s wallpaper. I appreciate the flashbacks to previous encounters, even with Mi Ho covered in spattered blood, because they’re not terribly confusing and show just how long this fight has really been going on.
Kmuse: I stand by my thoughts that the pacing is a bit off. We have only had a glimpse of our big bad and it is almost the end of part 1. I need more of his glorious evil vibes.
Drama Geek: I’ve been waiting for a really long time to watch something with him in it that I liked. Can we please get WAY more of him? I’ll see where the plot goes next week, but for now I am not as interested as I should be, and I’m left wondering where the second half will take us.
The Maknae: I agree that the balancing of the story is difficult here, as we’re technically about 1/3 of the way through the series and that’s where the main characters start figuring out exactly what’s going on. We’re hitting the halfway mark in the next two episodes, which means a LOT has to happen for the story to really get its momentum going and lead us to the climax. But going by our 4-episode rule, I’m all in, even if it’s just to watch our cheerful priest chase down more demons.
Until the next exorcism, we remain —
Drama Geek, Kmuse, and The Maknae
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi