Jang Eun-sil Report – Physical: 100 Episode #5

After bonding over this show on an episode of the podcast, Donovan and I were messaging last night about the upcoming fifth installment. I told him I wouldn’t be able to sleep, with the terrible weight of soon knowing Jang Eun-sil’s destiny on the bridge. He asked when the episode was actually gonna drop on Netflix, and we discovered it’s 8:00 GMT. What that means for our time zones, I could not tell you. You know how it is, with math.

But it didn’t matter, because I had a few tricks up my sleeve. This morning, alarm-unassisted, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and checked Eun-sil’s Instagram. A new post, but it was marketing for episode five. Even the comments, once translated, offered no clues. I woke up again at 7:00 a.m., and checked again. No update. Was she onto me? She must have read my earlier post about how her Instagram spoiled her victory against Kkang Mi! I then googled “jang eun sil” and “physical 100” and that didn’t turn up a damn thing, not a damn thing! Then I remembered: Twitter. Yes! And there, I found my answer. And I could rest easy – finally.

Did I rob myself of the episode’s drama? Yes, of course. Do I have any regrets? Absolutely not. To the show’s credit, Physical: 100 also doesn’t rob itself of the episode’s drama, as I’d predicted it would. We pick up on a recap of the previous event, and then find ourselves on the bridges with Eun-sil and Nam Kyung-jin, that suspense still electric. We get reaction shots from everyone, sweaty and anticipatory, with corresponding voiceover. Hyung-geun says, “I wanted our team to win, and I wanted to help us win.”

The announcer booms: “The winning team is…” and the bridge buckles and Kyung-jin falls forward. Eun-sil looks back, surprised, and then runs to her team, who rejoices. “Everyone thought our team was the weakest,” Seo Ha-yan says. “It was a revolt of the underdogs.” But man, it was neck-and-neck:

Eun-sil then credits the team, and delivers one of those typical “You thought we’d lose, but now you lose lol” lines that felt a little forced. Kyung-jin lays on the net for a little while, as it’s an upsetting loss, after having chosen the “weak team.” In the interview, Kyung-jin takes it hard as team leader, even being moved to tears. But he’s happy to have lost to a fellow wrestler. “I think she might win this competition.” I certainly hope so, man.

Also alarming me late at night before this episode premiered was the thought that Eun-sil’s team had the most women on it, and eliminating them would be terrible. “They can’t do that,” I said, tossing and turning. And indeed, our next event is Team Kim Sang-wook versus Team Ma Sun-ho, with one woman each. The latter also has Miracle and Song A-reum, taking my vote. But it won’t be so easy; Sun-ho’s team is full of MMA fighters. As the Major instructs us, overspecialization leads to death, but how important is that in this game? Which is what, by the way? Ah, yes. The two teams enter the arena, and the announcer declares “Moving Sand.” That’s what we in the biz call “redundant.”

Our booming, Winamp visualizer host

Neither of these teams looks as well put-together as the previous. Planks are hanging, Velcro isn’t secure, Sang-wook is barking orders at Miracle. Even still, Sang-wook’s team pulls ahead, until a later shot of the two pipes suggests that the MMA team is catching up.

The problem with this game, especially as it translates to television, is that there are no discrete moments where it’s obvious that one team has the advantage. It’s actually based on interviews, providing the exposition of when they’re doing okay or not. Drama-wise, Moving Said is far more weighted toward the reveal of the winner. The players can’t tell who’s ahead during the game, because they look down and see the sand level from the top, and the camera decides not to provide the head-on view when the clock ticks down. Is that okay? Is that legitimate? In the end, it’s the MMA guy who takes a tumble. Sang-wook’s team rejoices, and Miracle does a front-flip. Now that’s a party trick that kills every time.

Next, we have Team Yun Sung-bin versus Team Jang Seong-min. This is a big one. As a quick recap reminds us, Seong-min was surprised to be chosen first, when Eun-sil’s team was sitting right there, thumb-twiddling. He plays it off smoothly, but his pride was actually hurt. The thinking behind this decision is that, sure, Eun-sil’s team is weak with its majority of women, but Seong-min’s team is also weak? Even if I agreed with the assessment, I still don’t understand that logic. “Let’s kill them,” Seong-min tells his team. When they’re set loose upon the arena, the part where they’re told it’s “Moving Sand” is excised. Each team confers, equally believing that this challenge is about stamina, and that their stamina is more ample than the opponent’s. However paradoxical, it may be true. These are the top fifty after all.

Sung-bin notes that cooperation is more important here than individual abilities. His team gets off to a good start with tasks better delegated, while Seong-min’s team has one guy bagging sand. It isn’t coming along. I wonder how different the approaches would be if anyone had the luxury of watching the earlier matches, instead of being surprised by the event. The sand is heavier than you’d think, and the bridge less stable. Indeed, just when Sung-bin’s team has one of those confidence-booster moments, their bridge buckles under its first stress test. No planks fall off completely, but it’s not a good look. With time running out, the last runs are over gaps in the bridges, which is a little nerve-racking. And it’s Seong-min who takes the fall, his own underdog dreams dashed.

We’re then treated to Choo Sung-hoon’s match with Tarzan, but not before proper scene-setting. We flash back to the restaurant/lounge, where both teams are seated at tables. Sung-hoon notes that while Tarzan’s team has the age advantage, the upcoming game will likely make use of wits. He tells his team that if it’s, for example, a situation where you have to grab small balls, don’t get greedy and gather too many.

Here’s a man who’s in this game 100%, and to be honest, I became a bit of a Sung-hoon fan over this past week. (It was a moment of weakness, Eun-sil). But can you blame me? Sung-hoon, better known as Yoshihiro Akiyama – or “Sexyama” – is super cool! Ethnically Korean but born in Japan, he’s had an astounding career, winning gold at the Olympics for judo before moving onto MMA with UFC and then ONE Championship, and now he’s here, talking about small balls.

This time, we’ve excised the team staging scene, but have reinserted the announcement of the game title. “Moving Sand,” just in case you forgot. When the teams strategize, Nippert appears to require some translation. Both teams take to the challenge with similar approaches: a bridge builder and assistant, and the same cooperation for the sand. Sung-hoon’s plan is to bring as much sand up the stairs as possible, which is sound, given that the bags appear to be in limitless supply. Why there’s no bag-tossing, I’m not sure. I suppose the establishing of that rule was kept off-screen. On Tarzan’s team, the big Seong-hyeok can carry a lot of sand, but the bridge is swaying under his weight. People are crossing that damn bridge too hard, and the planks are popping out of place.

Sung-hoon’s solution is to take a dive. “Crawling on my knees didn’t look so great,” he recalls, “but if I ran, the planks would fall.” Nippert is impressed by the quick thinking, and I’m astonished at the man’s ability to get down that quickly. Efficient movement is key here, while Tarzan’s bridge takes further hits. And when the three-minute warning blares, Tarzan freezes up. “I didn’t understand the rules completely,” he says, and who could blame him?

Nippert crosses the bridge with seconds left, impressing Sung-hoon with those long strides. In the end, Sung-hoon is the winner, and a shot of the two pipes reveals it wasn’t even close. “I’ll treat you to a nice meal,” Sung-hoon promises his team. This week, I had reasoned that if Jang Eun-sil were to drop at the opening of episode five, I’d stop these recaps – as promised – but continue to follow the show for Sung-hoon. And then, at the end, write up a conclusion. So this outcome was also a relief, though Tarzan’s team did have that pink-haired woman who impressed on the hanging challenge so many moons ago.

When the big-man car dealer Jo Jin-yeong was selected, he thought it was an underestimation, which Kwak Myung-sik’s talking head thereafter confirms. While there’s no ensuing scene of strategy, Jin-yeong has a secret weapon in the form of Da-young, a stuntwoman who knows firsthand the importance of safety. She ensures the bridge is secure, which is what Tarzan’s team sorely needed last time. “Safely,” she says as her teammates cross. After Jin-yeong finds the bridge too shaky under his weight, he elects to fill bags. Meanwhile, the other team is making bridge repairs. It’s a disaster. Planks are falling down, people are jumping over gaps. They laid down those planks too quickly.

When Jin-yeong is declared the winner, he picks up Da-young and holds her in the air with one arm as everyone cheers. Myung-sik is sitting under the bridges with a smile on his face. Hard-fought, but this one came down to forethought and preparation.

The winning twenty-five return to the lounge, a new air of confidence about them. In the excitement, one of the guys steps up and announces fitness challenges, starting with the Sargent Jump Test. They stack thick mats and form a line to jump up on top of them. Miracle does a flip to dismount, which startles Eun-sil. “It would be funny if someone couldn’t do it,” one of them says. The cockiness is rising. And they keep stacking and stacking, until finally, it’s 134 centimeters tall, almost the height of Da-young. They start a cheer for Sung-bin, who gets it done. Like Eric B. and Rakim, “His physique is no joke.”

The next test is short-lived but fascinating: “thigh wrestling.” The interim host sets down two chairs facing each other, and summons Sung-hoon, who then picks Jin-hyeong. They discuss their weight, where Sung-hoon is 90 kilograms and Jin-hyeong is 127. They sit and lock thighs, and while I can’t tell exactly what’s going on – squeezing, certainly – Sung-hoon gets red in the face. “You little…” he strains, even hitting Jin-hyeong in the shoulder. “Pure strength is different from fighting,” a satisfied Jin-hyeong observes in an interview.

When break time is over, they’re shepherded to the gallery, where the circle arrangement is the same, but with fewer torsos. Let us not mourn, as the real host explains that for the next challenge, as yet unrevealed, five eliminated players will be brought back. This shoots a spike of consternation through the surviving twenty-five, who worked hard to get rid of those losers. But the five walk in – also unrevealed – to quite the cheering reception. Cut to credits.

The winning twenty-five were surprised to see Jang Eun-sil after Moving Sand. “We’re writing a real-life drama over here,” one of the guys says, as she sits with Seo Ha-yan like king and queen. Who knows what the future holds? Well, me, somewhat, having jumped ahead to preview the end of episode six. I can’t help it, this show is killing me!

For more coverage…
Physical: 100 Episode #1
Physical: 100 Episode #2
Physical: 100 Episode #3
Physical: 100 Episode #4
Physical: 100 Episode #5
Physical: 100 Episode #6
Physical: 100 Episode #7
Physical: 100 – Final Report


2 thoughts on “Jang Eun-sil Report – Physical: 100 Episode #5

  1. Aw man, the jubilation when Jang Eun-Sil won was absolutely exuberant. One of those real TV moment feelings. I kept rewinding her reaction, from shock at her opponent’s fall, to the stunning realization that she won, to the immediate turning to her teammates to cheer victory. It was so good!😄

    Liked by 1 person

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