INFINITE Ranking King Episode 1 Recap
We all have that one group whose music we can’t get into no matter how hard we try. For me, that title belongs to INFINITE. ‘Be Mine’ was catchy enough, ‘Paradise’ wasn’t particularly memorable, and I’ve yet to listen to ‘The Chaser’, nor am I rushing to do so. Before I incur the wrath of Inspirits everywhere, I have to concede that these boys really seem to shine in variety shows. I haven’t caught Sesame Player, but I’ve watched more than half of Birth of a Family, and these seven man-children were almost as cute as the puppies themselves – almost. After seeing some gifs floating around Tumblr, I gave in today and watched the first episode of INFINITE Ranking King.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
The premise is simple enough: You have seven boys and you put them in a “ranking village” where they’re ranked 1-7 in terms of popularity. Throughout the show, they’ll do challenges and appeal to both fans and one another in order to see how that ranking changes and who will emerge as number 1.
INFINITE Ranking King is inspired by the SBS matchmaking reality series Couple Jjak, so if you’re an avid watcher of that programme, you’ll probably recognise some similarities (they’re both set in a village, for one), but since I’m not, this whole set-up will all be pretty new to me.
The episode starts with each of the INFINITE members arriving at the village separately and in their own distinct way. Woohyun arrives first, dressed preppily and in a pair of Harry Potter-like glasses. He’s introduced as someone who uses a heart to get into the hearts of others, the creator of hearts. In the little bio that comes up at the side, one of his specialties listed is “creating hearts” (LOL that’s Namgrease for you).
Myungsoo strolls in casually next (“I came here the moment I woke up”) and is ranked number 2. When asked what his thoughts upon seeing INFINITE-idol 1 were, he says, “My first impression was that his clothes were quite a mess. It was a mess and he also wore a pair of spectacles. It wasn’t really fitting.” And this is right after Woohyun talks about how handsome Myungsoo looked walking in.
Leader Sunggyu is next and he walks in with his hands firmly in his pockets and the caption that introduces him is “Not knowing if the eyes are open or closed INFINITE-idol 3”. Ha. Dongwoo comes bounding in happily like a dinosaur and yells, “I’m here!” before getting distracted by a wind chime halfway. He finally collects his number 4 ranking and lines up next to the first three members.
Sungyeol walks in smiling and flipping his hair like he’s filming a CF, followed by Hoya, who unsurprisingly, dances his way to the rest of the members. “You’re very good-looking,” he tells Myungsoo. “You’re just my style.” Maknae Sungjong comes in last and he stops to smell a flower (I swear I’m not making this up).
Now that all seven members are present, they’re left wondering what their numbers represent and what they’re ranked according to. “Ah, I think I know. The order of our good looks?” suggests Woohyun. Sungjong: “I’m sorry, but you’re saying you’re good-looking the moment we meet.” (To note, for the purpose of the show, the members are supposedly meeting one another for the first time today.) Myungsoo says to Woohyun matter-of-factly, “The level of your likeability just dropped.”
They find out that the ranking today is based on the level of likeability of the INFINITE members, according to fans. Their reactions? First place Woohyun: “Aigoo… I don’t know if I’m flattered.” Last place Sungjong: “I felt humiliated.”
“What’s likeable about me?” asks Woohyun, obviously fishing for compliments. Everyone ignores him. Sunggyu points at Sungjong, “He’s the last then?!” and laughs loudly, completely tickled.
Sungjong: “Because this isn’t that important right now, I will try to show more of my charms and work harder until I attain first place.” Aww. How can anyone not love this kid?
Dongwoo is handed a large scroll, which lists seven rules that they’re all to abide by. One of them is to always address one another by their numbers and to speak formally with honorifics when in the ranking village. This makes Sungjong light up and Sunggyu, the oldest, scoff, not liking this one bit.
The members are then given an empty water bottle canister filled with ping pong balls to decide who rooms together in the village. Woohyun: “What is that? Is there no production budget at all?” Haha.
It goes like this: Numbers 2 and 7 in one room, numbers 4 and 6 in another room, and lastly, 1, 3 and 5 share a room. Woohyun: “So there’s no special treatment even though I’m ranked first?” I love that his roommates aren’t too pleased with rooming with him. Sungyeol: “Change the person in my room!” and Sunggyu: “Please speak less.” The other two couples seem more positive though, as Hoya adorably asks Dongwoo if they can hold hands before heading towards their room together.
Now that choosing roommates and establishing the initial ranking order are out of the way, they can finally get into increasing their individual likeability, starting with… room dates!
Woohyun starts unloading skincare products from his backpack, as well as a stack of letters from fans. “Will the people living with that person also rank him first in terms of likeability?” Sunggyu asks the camera, deadpan. Something tells me the answer is no.
As for our Number 4 and Number 6 couple, things feel like an awkward first date, with Hoya asking Dongwoo about his hobbies, making the latter break into laughter (and also out of character, I bet). Dongwoo empathetically asks Hoya how he feels about being ranked sixth, making him tell the camera later: “I would prefer if he didn’t comfort me. I’d feel ashamed if he comforted and pitied me.”
It seems like Number 2 and Number 7 are getting along the best, out of all our couples as they happily play video games together and bond over their mutual dislike for INFINITE-idol number 3 (a.k.a. Sunggyu). “Truthfully speaking, if I were to couple up with him, it would be really tiring,” Sungjong admits, saying he’s glad to be paired with Myungsoo instead.
This newfound friendship is further emphasised in the next part of the game where all seven are gathered outside the village once again. When Sungjong is left standing due to the lack of seats, Myungsoo expresses his loyalty by offering to stand and suffer with his roommate. Everyone ‘oohs’ and ‘ahh’s, making Sungyeol practically roll his eyes and go, “All this flattery should come to an end, really.”
Time for self-introductions, starting with Woohyun, INFINITE-idol 1. “Why is your body so short?” Sungyeol asks immediately. “I didn’t wear my insoles today,” he answers honestly. Woohyun gives a cute bow, and the rest of them start clapping and making sarcastic comments.
Hoya: “How cute! How cute!”
Myungsoo: “What a fashionista.”
Sungyeol: “Do you think those spectacles suit you well?”
Woohyun: “It really suits me well.”
Sungyeol: “Then I have nothing to say.” HAHA.
While the others crack up, the camera cuts to Sunggyu looking disinterested and a little bit dazed. When Myungsoo asks if he’s not concerned at all, he rouses, and goes, “Huh?” Ever the modest one, Woohyun reasons, “Maybe he’s jealous [since I’m ranked first]?”
For his introduction, Woohyun decides to sing a song. He literally only gets to sing four notes, before Sunggyu interrupts by clapping really loudly, “Wah! You did well!” As the others join in, it’s clear his time to shine is over as soon as it started (“I’ve still yet to show my charm”).
Myungsoo’s next and he talks about his love for photography, and also offers to take a photo for whoever he couples with, aaaaand… it’s Sunggyu’s turn! When asked about his specialty, he says, “Charisma?” Cue unamused stares from everyone. “Please show your charisma,” asks Myungsoo. Sunggyu: “Aren’t I already showing it?” After a beat, Sungyeol goes, “I can’t see your eyes!” Love this guy.
Dongwoo counts down to 1, and Sunggyu unleashes his “charisma” upon the camera. This basically means that he stares into it and narrows his eyes ever-so-slightly. “It’s showing now.” Um. Dongwoo hilariously goes, “Just take it as there’s no specialty.” Hoya seems to be the only one who’s won over, “No matter what that person does, he has the charm of a bad boy.”
Dongwoo performs a rap and the other members go, “Your likeability just rose.” He does a happy dance. Sungyeol’s turn has him saying frankly that he doesn’t enjoy appealing to the other guys like this, and doesn’t see the point in it, but will show a hardworking side to him.
When it’s Hoya’s turn, Woohyun requests for him to dance to INFINITE’s ‘Only Tears’, taking pleasure in the fact that it’ll probably be difficult to dance to a ballad. Confidently dancing to the song playing through his phone, it gets cut off midway when he gets a text message. LOL. He continues undeterred, and dances until he’s right in front of both Sunggyu and Dongwoo. Hmm.
Sungjong attempts to show off his acting in his introduction, but fails to impress. Sunggyu: “Number 7 is cute and interesting, but he didn’t capture either of it.” Myungsoo stays true and says assuringly, “That wasn’t bad!”
The members now have to make a choice on who they want to couple up and share a lunchbox with. So how this will be done is, one person will go up at a time and turn around, and if any of the members would like to have the lunch date with him, then he has to stand behind him. However, the member can choose to reject whoever’s behind him if he isn’t satisfied.
Woohyun’s appeal? “I will do lots of aegyo during lunchtime.” Haha I’m sure that will have the boys lining up right behind you. He admits that if he were to choose, he’d want to couple up with INFINITE-idol 6. Which is right when we cut to a scene of Hoya saying, “At least one of us should go [to Woohyun]!” Dongwoo pretends to make loud footsteps with his shoes, but in the end, not a single person moves from his seat.
Myungsoo promises to take lots of nice shots of his partner eating during lunchtime, and that’s enough to get Sungyeol and Dongwoo behind him. Turns out though, Myungsoo rejects the both of them because he already has his eye on a certain someone. I wonder who. He says he’ll step forward later when it’s the person of his choice. Once again, Woohyun: “Did you not step out just now during my turn because you were too shy to?”
It’s quite adorable and awkward when it comes to Sunggyu and Hoya shyly lines up behind him, saying, “Oh how embarrassing!” To the camera, he says, “No matter what, aren’t bad boys the trend? I, too, unknowingly got attracted.” It’s because these boys say things like that that INFINITE is the source of so many shipping wars.
Dongwoo gets up and promises not to touch his partner’s food when they eat (a boy after my own heart!). Woohyun steps out and starts making hearts with his fingers, trying to win Dongwoo over. It seems like its working when Dongwoo says, “Let’s do it together,” until he adds, “… next year.” Ooh, burn. Dongwoo does another happy, triumphant dance. Sunggyu says wittily, “Even though number 1 was ranked first among the fans, it seems like it’s much lower here.”
By now, Woohyun is desperate and instantly lines up behind Sungyeol once it’s his turn. More heart signs. Still doesn’t work. Woohyun says that he really wanted to lunch with Hoya but since he went over to Sunggyu, he “had no choice but to try here and there”. He adds quite sadly, “Even though I tried, I wasn’t chosen.” Poor boy learns a painful lesson in humility.
But popular guy of the day goes to Sungjong, who has not one, not two, but three members falling all over him, one of whom is (surprise, surprise) Woohyun, but he’s immediately told to sit down (“But I’m in first place…”). The choice is now down to either Myungsoo or Sungyeol, and it seems like the earlier camaraderie that was established won out since he chooses Myungsoo.
Sungyeol, Dongwoo and Woohyun are left and they have to go through another round of the selection process. Woohyun says, “Can’t I just eat with my fans?” Although at first, it seems like he’d be the one who has to lunch alone, that’s made impossible when he’s given the opportunity to choose between the other two, due to his superior ranking. He finally picks Dongwoo, leaving poor upset-looking Sungyeol to lunch alone. Dongwoo does another happy dance, this time accompanied by his new partner.
Comments: I think the first episode was mostly to establish the concept of the show more than anything, so it’s understandable that not a lot happened. I really like the easy chemistry between the members so even though not a lot is happening, their dialogue is still entertaining. The next episode should be even more fun, once they introduce more games and challenges. Other than the fact that it takes a little getting used to them pretending to be strangers, it’s a really easy, enjoyable watch.
One of INFINITE’s strong points is that each of the members are able to stand out through their distinct personalities even though there’s so many of them. This can already be seen in the opening scene where they each enter the ranking village. For example, Myungsoo is the more normal one, Woohyun is obviously the talkative one that thinks too highly of himself (which makes for funnier antics later), Sungjong is a sweetheart that always gets bullied, Sunggyu the slightly angsty leader/complain king, and so on. I’ve read comments that Sungyeol is the choding (someone who acts like a child, basically) of the group, and although that doesn’t really come through in this first episode, I’m really liking the snarky one-liners that we sometimes get from him. More, please!