After nine long years without any big-budget island-based mystery box drama on TV, I was onto Netflix’s ‘The I-Land’ quicker than Hugo ‘Hurley’ Reyes on a bucket of chicken.
I should never have pushed the button.
Left wondering how such a mess could make it not only into production, but into a world which delights in petty mockery, I went looking for reviews to confirm what I’d just watched was a legitimate TV show written by adult humans – and instead found the best press ‘Lost’ has had in years.
Despite knowing within 108 seconds that this was going to be an entire series worse than the episode of ‘Lost’ where Jack gets a tattoo, like Charlie Pace and heroin, I just couldn’t say no.
Every episode of ‘The I-Land’ was overflowing with incomprehensible moments – here are eight of the most WTF.
THE ‘MYSTERIOUS ISLAND’ BOOK
Taylor, the stupidest character on a mysterious island populated entirely by idiots, finds a book buried in the sand called ‘The Mysterious Island’.
‘What the fuck?’ she asks… and promptly throws it away.
Imagine if Hurley from ‘Lost’ found Oceanic 815’s manifest, took one look and ripped it up.
Taylor’s biggest contribution to survival on the island would prove to be making hats out of flax.
None of the characters that wash up on the I-Land can remember their names, so take the name on the tag of the shirt they’re wearing. Nine of the 10 have believable names – at least by this show’s standards – except Kate Bosworth, who’s lumped with ‘KC’.
It’s later revealed the name tags are their real surnames – except for KC, which stands for ‘Killing Children’. Because that’s what she did before ending up on the island.
Speaking of names…
Most of the twists in ‘The I-Land’ were given away in the show’s trailer, except this I. Yes, I.
You see, the island not actually pronounced ‘I-Land’. It’s name is ‘One-land’. The I is a Roman numeral.
The ridiculous naming doesn’t end there, however. Each episode is pompously named after a quote from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, including ‘The Cloud Capp’d Towers’ and ‘The Dark Backward’. None of it has any relation whatsoever to what’s going on.
‘CHECKING EACH OTHER OUT, TRYING TO MATE BASED ON SEXUAL ATTRACTION. AND ME? AN INTELLECTUAL SILENTLY JUDGING THEM.’
I know there’s no way you believe me this is an actual line in the show.
But it honest to god is – and it comes just 13 minutes into the first episode.
Mason – a character whose entire personality seems to be ‘vaguely autistic mass shooter incel’ – asks Hayden what she thinks of the other castaways, just minutes after they’ve come together as a group. She calls them ‘kind of basic’, then delivers a line of dialogue written in the format of a three-year-old meme.
Still don’t believe me? Fair enough. Here you go.
To be honest, it’s not even the worst line about sex in the show. That goes to rapist Brody, who said: “I wasn’t trying to rape you. There’s no such thing like that in a place like this. There’s just sex and no sex. We didn’t have any sex.”
Oddly enough, some critics think this was a good line.
Just seconds after Taylor discovers the name of the show is even stupider than anyone thought (see above), another bombshell is dropped – there’s a cannibal on Two-Land. Why? Fuck knows. Because Bonnie and Clyde said so.
(This might be a good time to mention there’s a couple of shit-stirrers on the island named Bonnie and Clyde whose job it is to mess with the castaways or just outright kill them, if the plot demands it. Amazingly, that’s not quite stupid enough to warrant its own entry on this list.)
And there are no chickens, Bonnie and Clyde say – which is odd, because Taylor’s just eaten something very clearly marked ‘chicken soup’.
Until this point, Taylor has seemed completely oblivious to the fact the fingers on her left hand are missing. It dawns on her idiot brain she has actually just consumed finger soup – making her the cannibal, I guess? No, because that would actually be clever. Clyde clearly states the cannibal is a man, leaving us back where we started.
The cannibal is sadly never mentioned again, because his continued presence would have drastically reduced the length of this awful show – and the prison warden agrees (yes, there’s a prison – more on that later).
The very first thing that happens on ‘The I-Land’ is Chase finds a conch.
Somehow, despite not even knowing her name or what she does for a living, it turns out Chase knows exactly how to blow into a conch in order to make a trumpet sound. Which she does, despite having the faintest clue where she is and what dangers might lurk in the jungle.
Oh, and the conch has ‘Property of The I-Land’ stamped on it, even though this is a simulation and it literally cannot be stolen.
The conch attracts KC, who threatens Chase with a knife because you never know when you might need a conch?
Now for some more on the warden.
For some bizarre reason, the writers of ‘The I-Land’ thought it would be a good idea to have the him be a cross between the Texan oilman from ‘The Simpsons’ and Steve Bannon.
Luckily actor Bruce McGill appears to be only cast member who knows he’s in a train wreck of a show, and hams it up accordingly.
But why is there a prison on the island? Well, it’s technically not. I’ll get to that soon.
Anyway. That shot above where the warden gives a thumbs-up and says, “Cannibal was great!” is used as evidence in his eventual conviction. More on that later too.
THE BLATANT RIPPING OFF OF ‘LOST’
There was a brief run of shows in the late 2000s, early 2010s that tried and miserably failed to emulate the ‘Lost’ formula, but nothing even comes close to ‘The I-Land’ when it comes to outright thievery.
Here’s a few of the ways ‘The I-Land’ shamelessly nicked ideas from ‘Lost’, but totally fucked it up.
- Within two minutes of the first episode, we get the opening eye close-up
- Mystery island – enough said.
- There’s a gun one of the characters manages to extract from a locked suitcase, which the castaways end up fighting over
- There’s a mysterious number
- There are flashbacks
- Some of the castaways’ alleged crimes prior to ending up on the island were somewhat justifiable
- There’s a debate over whether to stay on the beach or head inland to a new location, which splits the group
- There are ‘others’
- There’s a village on the other side of the island
- There’s a second island
- One of the characters is much older than she appears
- Staring into mirrors
- Actions carried out in a past timeline/flashback end up influencing the present
- Characters deciding to keep secrets from one another, but in the case of ‘The I-Land’, for no obvious reason
- There are rules that make no sense, as one of the characters helpfully explains
WHY THE I-LAND EXISTS
The last few minutes of the show drop more twists than Chubby Checker.
Not only is it revealed Chase is actually in her 50s and has spent 25 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, the reason for the I-Land’s very existence is revealed.
“So many more people are criminals now since the water started taking the land,” a prison official tells her, “that we needed to have a way to redeem people.”
Which apparently involves sticking a bunch of death row prisoners in a simulation where if they die at the hands of other death row prisoners, they die in real-life?
Anyway. On learning this, Chase is given her freedom and summarily dumped outside the prison, without any exit plan, transportation, money, clothes, housing or work, without any explanation of what fate will befall her husband – who’s still on death row in the simulation, though also being arguably innocent of his alleged crime.
The now-convicted warden is dumped into the simulation he oversaw, with the inmates he put in it, and promptly asks, “Where am I?”
KC is there to deliver the bad news.