Society Game Discussion

socgameSunday nights on south Korean channel TVN

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We’re a site with a mainly UK audience, please don’t discuss an episode here until the English subtitles for an episode have appeared. Thanks!

Well here’s an interesting thing and no mistake, a collaboration between EJ C&M (who we’ll know better as the production company behind The Genius) and Endemol (the production company behind Big Brother). The end result appears to be a game that asks interesting social questions combined with well thought out challenges to a rather banging electronic soundtrack.

Here are the basic rules:

  • 22 contestants are split into two societies living in a sort of village next to each other, Ma-dong ruled as a dictatorship and Nop-dong ruled as a democracy. Whoever leads Ma-dong gives two Keys of Rebellion to two other campmates and the only way to change leader is for one of those people to convince half the camp to overthrow them. The Nop-dong village has a vote every morning to pick a leader.
  • Each day there is a challenge which will have a physical strength, dexterity and mental agility element. Winning the challenge means your team earns W10,000,000 (about $10,000) which the leader will split between their team as they see fit.
  • Losing the challenge means the leader has to choose someone from their side to eliminate. If they had any money in their personal account it’s gone.
  • The winning Leader can also choose to write one of their own team’s name on a blacklist. If a name appears on it twice that person is eliminated.
  • On the final day, Day 14, there can only be three people left on each team (it can’t go below three, they’ll just not eliminate people. If there are more than three the final leader chooses who to take to the final). Whichever team wins the finals gets to keep the money.

We started discussing Episode 1 here but hopefully anyone who wants to discuss the rest of the series can do so here.

53 Comments

  1. Cheesebiscuits says:

    Was the 12/13 message explained anywhere or is that a secret to be revealed?

    • Brig Bother says:

      I think it is a Thread That Will Become Eventually Apparent.

      Perhaps they’ll end up being hints for future games or the final, except nobody will realise until the voiceover points it out and we’ll go ‘ah, that’s so clever’.

  2. I can’t say that I am impressed with Episode 2, although they touch the humanistic part better than Genius Game.

    I keep wondering what happens if Society Game is only 40 minutes like Survivor. I feel like that SG will always be compared to Survivor in my heart, but I can’t really make an apple to apple comparison there.

  3. David says:

    That main challenge in ep 2 wouldn’t be out of place on Survivor with a couple of slight changes (maybe do an “local myths” story and have T/F questions)..

  4. Alvin W. says:

    At least the jail will be in play next week. Also, I hope Lee Hae-sung’s master plan will work out in his favour. But it seems like too big if a gamemove to pull this early in the game, especially when he is positioned so well in the house, there is not really a point to make himself a huge target.

    Also, Yoon Macho is so slimy, but he’s good. I don’t know how, but he manages to get in the good graces of everyone who has power. I just hope he gets eliminated soon, really not a big fan of his. He’s probably not going to be chosen to Final 3 on any account because he sucks in all three fields of skills, but I’d hate to see someone like Dr. Hong leave before he does.

    Park Hael presented a strong case to Choi Seolhwa to convince her to rebel. Her scheme of lying about the “eliminate all the girls first” is so reminiscent of BB amd Survivor, but this lie gave support to her arguments. I hope they shake up the leadership in both houses next episode so we can see more drama unfold.

    All in all, far shot from the Genius but definitely better than almost any episodes of Survivor and BB (mainly the “brainier” challenges boosted up the marks).

  5. xr says:

    Having watched the first two episodes, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Why do I want to watch two different reality shows in tandem exactly? The rules seem to be fuzzy both for us, and disastrously, for the players. Is there a sensible reason nobody cares about prize money per se nor about the eviction disincentive it can offer? Can leaders award money to / blacklist members of the other tribe? What’s the point of prisons, secret clues or household drudgery? How will the South team fill their time when they’re down to their minimum size 40% through the show? Is it just a mess of reheated bits of other shows trying to survive on high concept?

    I have to say I also dislike the set. I’d like stronger visual cues, say clearer color coding, to differentiate the sectors. Some of the wide shots seem to be not quite there. Is some poor guy running along a track on a radius constantly adjusting the camera while the contestants are along an arc, each differently lit? Bedroom options seem to be surveillance see-nothing angles, pay attention they’ve brought out an actual cameraman, and high from outside (drone?). Finally, the arena feels a bit cramped, which is ridiculous because it’s as massive as the other courtyards. I suspect it’s that the stands, voting booth and Equaliser Monster leave an awkward pentagon space for actual events. Physical events might suffer for it.

    Barring the sexism, I like the casting a lot; everyone interacts with the game in a unique way, and, with the help of the patient introduction, their character comes through clearly. The Noah’s Ark gimmick adds some spice.

    Challenges seem to come from an imaginary, non-calcified Survivor. I was eager to see them play out, and disappointed at how uncompetitive they were. Ep.1 had tight individual matches, but a green Janggi player whose moves seemed more Brownian than explicable; I cursed them a lot. Ep.2 seemed to react to one player’s weakness by on-the-fly alteration to extract maximum embarrassment. I was frustrated I was denied a contest, but also very much enjoyed the squirming, so it’s a wash? Once you go down this road, you start to wonder whether crap dice were also a reaction to them talking strategy, or just shoddy PA work. All of which is fine, but more Endemol than the work of the people that got me to pick it up. Maybe it’s just too early to get fancy.

  6. I don’t know why. I mean, I know that not all Genius game is a genius moment, but I still carve for more or expect that there’ll a better game next week.

    It’s not exactly the same feeling with Society Game. I mean, the editing gives me Oooh moment, but I never feel the need to curse Bumdidlyump for being too slow to sub the episode–which is always the another way around for Genius Game.

    Episode 3’s challenge is not really superior compared to Survivor’s challenge. The decision to bring back ring toss is a mistake. The spoiler of The Grand Final implies that the Grand Final : Dextertisity round is not going to be a ring toss, which is a good thing, but the fact that the producer insists on adding dextertisity element (handling dice, ring toss), while a excellent decision to neuteralize the challenge, loses its charm if I see another ring toss.

  7. Cheesebiscuits says:

    The clues remain a mystery and i can’t say anything stands out from this episode.

    I want there to be another rebellion – finally there will be a resident swap next week – the ice challenge didn’t seem to have high enough stakes and the game seemed a bit crap.

    Next week looks more exciting but i wonder if they’ve just taken the exciting bits.

  8. Brig Bother says:

    I must confess I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to watch each episode.

    • Brig Bother says:

      I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s an interesting game with interesting decisions that would be greatly improved by being half an hour shorter. For viewers it’s not as involving as The Genius, and it’s certainly not as funny.

      #TeamMJ

  9. Nico W. says:

    I showed this to my new flatmate because I was waiting for it when we decided to move together he did like the idea. He has watched the first two episodes back to back and he loves it way more than I do. I then suggested he should watch The Genius, because it was way more interesting and taking me on an emotional ride. He then started watching the second season (for some reason my explaining of the repetitive death matches in the first season led him to the conclusion he could just skip the entire season despite Jinho being incredible in there) and found it okay. He was overwhelmed with understanding everything, because game rules, strategies, new people and alliances with subtitles was a lot for him. He will continue watching it though, but didn’t love it as much as we tend to do.
    What I’m trying to say is: If you watch it the other way round (something we all aren’t able to), Society Game seems to be compelling anyway and even easier to access than The Genius. I find it difficult to differenciate between the tribes, but it seems easier than all the tiny alliances in The Genius. I will give Society Game another try with this episode, but if this is not convincing me, I will watch every other episode. I just like it and the length is too much to watch it then.
    Oh and I will show him Wie Is De Mol next, this and The Genius are my favourite shows and good for not so game show-y folks I suppose. Crystal Maze is too game show-y for him, but do you have other must watchs that fall into the Mol/Genius category, that I forgot?

    • Brig Bother says:

      Ah, that’s quite interesting. I would normally suggest starting ar S1E1 because the 123 Game is super simple to grasp and the way the game plays out tells you exactly what to expect from the show as a whole. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he found Food Chain quite difficult! I think S2 is the weakest series.

      • Nico W. says:

        I do like Hongchul (maybe I’m wrong, but I mean the slightly odd comedian that was really tough to read because of his weirdness) and thus recommended not to miss him 😀 I also told him to watch at least the very first episode, because it sums up everything perfectly. But I did like Food Chain to show one of the most complicated games. I will also tell him to watch the Scammed Horse Race and the Card Game, they are some of my favourite games/episode endings.
        I really hated the episode where that ID was stolen from that one man, was this also in the second series? I couldn’t eat afterwards, because I was so upset with everything…

        • Cheesebiscuits says:

          Sadly yes – i really wanted to see that game but the episode was so full of token of immunity etc. That it aas about the meta rather than the game.

  10. xr says:

    I love the casting. I love how they group without losing individual character. How nobody is willfully obnoxious and loud. I love how each of them squirms. The editing is wonderful: it gets to the point, and it pays attention to moments of emotion without beating you over the head with it. The excited running along the curve and the muted, blue feeling of the recently free was lovely.

    On the other hand, it’s becoming pretty obvious the format doesn’t work. Power dynamics seem rigidly set. Jail failed to provoke much of anything. Previews promise us surprise member switches; the record of this sort of fix in other games is pretty spotty, and when you first take this sort of liberties with the format, you send a clear message to contestants: play to the camera, cause we’re happy to nuke large advantages gained by playing the rules and people. I suppose it’s to their credit that they noticed things were getting stale, although frankly, given the setup allusions, I expected a defection mechanic from the get-go.

    Let’s invent one for fun’s sake: Immediately prior to the game, you may publically declare your intention to switch. Objecting groups may duel you to stop you. Your duel opponent has to be one of the key-holders (North), or 3 richest players (South).

    I wonder if all of their playtesters were much more aggressive with the money split, thus causing more resentment and other delicious feelings. Relatedly, I wonder which company run any such playtest.

    I looked at this episode’s challenge with disbelief. I get that you can’t get fancy because training is an important part of the story, so teams need to be able to reproduce your setup, but your average scout troop leader would have been embarrassed by this. The tangram is particularly bad because anybody who’s ever toyed with a set has already solved these designs, and the ring toss is well past exhausted now. The result was a bit of relief at least.

    I hear next week’s challenge is fresh and very exciting though, involving lockpicking, spider solitaire, and deep squats :-p

    • Brig Bother says:

      There was almost a flash of prizemoney interest when the leader guy said if their team won he’d take it all for himself. I’m eagerly awaiting something like that to happen.

  11. My gut says that the winning tribe will have around $24,000 combined.

  12. I’ve got a theory about episode three: we will find out in a while, in a mega-rewind sequence, that the tribe who lost the challenge did so deliberately at the team leader’s insistence. Considering that they have the #1 mental player and the #1 dexterity player, and considering how good they both are at their various challenges, they both underperformed in the challenge, and could probably do so in a way that would go unnoticed. (Asol literally threw the game.)

    With the final being guaranteed to be 3-vs.-3 and with there being no advantage for taking more than three team members to the final, the small rewards are really quite small and so it’s quite possible that a team leader might decide to pass one up in return for being able to eliminate a team member and half-eliminate another.

  13. Matt Clemson says:

    I’m intrigued by the notes to the leaders. There’s clearly *something* we’re not yet been told about the game as a whole, which is always a risk in reality TV, but something The Genius has handled in the past very well indeed. Given the notes each episode differ from each other, I’m assuming that there’s some mechanic by which it only truly comes to light through communication between the societies, and there hasn’t been *that* much opportunity for that as yet, although perhaps with the player swaps coming up that’ll open up some potential – but on the other hand, it seems that there may be a little too much information to hold in the brain easily, at least as the notes accumulate.

    Have the leaders been sharing the details of those notes with others in the tribes? If not, there’s going to be a lot of incomplete information as the leaders shuffle around.

    My gut feeling is that the endgame we’ve been told about is a fiction – or at least not the whole story – and the true endgame hasn’t actually been revealed yet.

  14. Cheesebicuits says:

    Again quite uninteresting episode. The game was better, the mini prize was interesting, the clues as of current are,

    RH
    EK
    CK
    1/12
    12/13
    12 out of 13

    This implies 1 out of 12? But i still can’t come up with anything for the letters

    12 could link to K but i doubt it. I think it more likely links to the number of people left in the game.

    I think the problem is that the concept is so darn slow. There needs to be something else happening each day but there just isn’t

  15. xr says:

    The tiled letters are followed by circled numerical superscripts, so they’re RH3, EK9 & CK1.

    I felt for the contestants during the main challenge. The memorisation bit kind of broke me for a little while until I figured how to structure past guess information. Doing that to people who’ve spent the past hour and a half stressing out under the summer sun was deliciously cruel.

    After the display of skill in the dice game though, they really should have expected this outcome. So was it intentional, or was it just that their problem generator program didn’t have any difficulty settings and they couldn’t be bothered to manually write a few stumpers? Like with very large numbers, or a few negative ones. Even without those, messing with the presentation could make this less of a soul-crushing slog: let’s see the numbers spelt out / in roman numerals / slowly fading / obstructed by a guard ballet.

    The first fix seemed really poorly thought out too. If you’d like shots of people sweating while stacked, you need to make sure there are intermediate steps between “crowded bus” and “fraternity phone booth, minus the phone booth”. A fix allowing a team to lose their last 15 blocks at once? What was wrong with just removing 60 blocks per team and getting the picnic people in the game? In the end, all we got was a token effort. Although frankly, I question we’d get much more in any case. The cubes looked unweighted, all surfaces looked hard with sharp edges, and the players noticed that tumbling down was likely to injure them.

    So the exchange went better than I expected, and it still did what it does every time it is used. The new players ingratiated themselves, proved their mettle in the challenge and played their limited social hand as well as could be expected. It didn’t matter one bit. And in the process it spoiled the eliminations for an episode or two. Reality competitions like these have been going on for a few decades now. Most players learned how these curveballs are handled while they were children. So once again, another grim death march episode.

    But hey, no sloppy slaughter of chickens this episode, so that’s a marked improvement.

  16. Cheesebiscuits says:

    SPOILERS

    Can someone tell who’s watched it tell me what happened after the gong was sounded by Asol, my computer crashed and won’t let me watch the end until i have watched the whole first half 🙂

    Thanks

    • xr says:

      Asol’s rebellion failed on Hael’s indecision. Heasung got Asol’s key then immediately rebelled as agreed. Rebellion succeeded w. Hael’s help. Injik, Byungkwan got keys. Seolwha was eliminated from the game. Flashbacks to talks between leader and successor, violins and tears – the end.

      Quite sensible.

      • Cheesebiscuits says:

        Thanks very much – i’m surprised sangguk wasn’t eliminated, he seemed to screw up bdly today.

        I like the idea that these clues link to something in the set so i’m now waiting to see that unfold. I’m guessing/hoping, there will be an “immunity idol” in there or something of the sort.

        • Mmmm. I was hoping for something really clever, shocking and game-y, that Sangguk had figured out the meaning of the messages (I like the theory that they must refer to something inside the camp) and had used them to discover something that gave him a personal gameplay reason for it to be in his interest to actively want to be eliminated that day.

          The show is heating up, but it’s a bit of a slow burner.

  17. Brian Duddy says:

    The Korean public apparently agrees with you all on the merits of this show – the ratings currently aren’t troubling a 1, while Genius season 4 spent most of its time in the 2s and hit 3 in the last episode.

    • Brig Bother says:

      Interesting, I’m at the point where I’m happy enough to read about it but not interested enough to set an hour aside to actually watch it. It’s a show with lots to think about but really not enough going on.

      I will keep this page open to the end of the series though.

      • xr says:

        This was arguably the first truly busy episode. It featured the biggest challenge construction yet (a rope climbing rig), which provided actual physical drama, as well as the invention of multiple Genius-like memorisation cheats. There was also the first sharing and co-ordinated attacking of the clues, some more direct-to-camera chats, an unexpected lottery and then all the double rebellion nonsense above. For the first time I was surprised to hit the mid-episode video split.

        Whether they keep up the new tempo, and whether the appearance of contestant agency will suffer are still open questions. The late flashback, which insinuated the whole Northern mess was somehow a devious scheme, did not quite convince me.

  18. Cheesebiscuits says:

    I just want these clues to be solved now so we can find out what they are leading to. We have effectively been told about both of them and seeing that there are only 12 pillows, that clue has probably already been found but is being hidden from our view.

    Game-wise, this was mundane as it was all about the ball game at the end but thr number of balls didn’t seem to affect it that much. The jail game seemed to just try to inject money into the game and i can’t see anyone walking away with much (compared to the genius winners).

    The first blacklist elimination seemed predictable and no-one was surprised by the result.

    I thought sangukk wanted to be eliminated so he could play this great thing the clues are leading to but clearly not.

    Anyway, the next episode may be out in a few days so we’ll see if the clues are revealed yet

    • xr says:

      The letters one was solved – for viewers at least. I expected it to be keyboard-related, but seeing the tablet used felt jarring. The other team’s puzzle is a lot fuzzier, and I have no strong feelings on whether they are on track or not. Neither prize, idol, nor finals clue would particularly excite me as a reveal; I am hoping for some mechanism of wide destabilisation. The rich-get-richer effect of the clue distribution structure annoyed me, so it’s at least good that now lots of people are having a go.

      Once they started diving for the balls, I was watching anxiously waiting for the injury of the episode, and they did disappoint. For the final task to be dexterity-based, one would need to possess the skills of a pro baseball pitcher or equivalent; for the rest, it’s a luckfest if well made, or a test of strength if the stand is as shoddy as the green one was. Though frankly, the other guy did so bad it could have been an intentional throw to allow their leader to purge opposition.

      I don’t know whose money gets pooled into the prize, but if all of the final 6 contribute, Macho may ride last episode’s lottery to the finals. I welcome opportunities to flatten the differential that would lead to this travesty, though jail has turned out to be decidedly boring.

      This episode was the most Endemol of them all, in that sound was just histrionic nonsense which you could safely ignore. But the game state was easy for both players and viewers to read, so the results surprised no-one. The mediocre meddling of both had outstayed its welcome with me, so I was happy.

      Two other impressions that amuse me:
      -I think I can tell which episodes were shot on weekends by the absence of certain camera angles.
      -Now that MJ enjoys more screen time, she seems to have grown a giant bandage where her blurred-out tattoo used to be. Given the amount of on-screen bandaging though, it doesn’t stand out as much as one might have otherwise expected.

      • Cheesebiscuits says:

        Is that what MJ’s “bandage” is? It was so obvious compared to everyone elses that i couldn’t believe it was an injury.

        Maybe if the people who went to jail secretly became a third faction (which of course, only they would know about), jail would be more interesting to watch. Or, if the puzzle solved and the answer was in the jail but it was solved while someone was in there.

        I didn’t think it would be keyboard related purely because i didn’t think they would have a keyboard in the set (but clearly they do because people need to “study” while trying to win a gameshow every day)

  19. Kerenza Deo says:

    I have an idea. Since Society Game is so slow, what if the second season has two challenge instead of one per episode cycle? Winning the challenge means the leader gets the blacklist + $ 10,000. Losing the challenge means the leader gets to eliminate one.

    To mitigate the possibility of early 3-3, insert immunity idol. If a player uses the idol and the leader tries to eliminate him, the eliminated can either (move to the other society) or (coup the leader and exile the leader to other society).

    That will be a very busy episode, but I have no doubt of the editors capability.

    • xr says:

      I don’t actually want more; I want better. I want flashier, more inventive challenges. I want more player agency, which is still hampered by co-ordination difficulties, leading to stasis. And I want them to play up their allusion to the Korean divide.

      For example, I’d like the dry-run prize to belong to- and be covertly opened by- the winner rather than the leader, creating tension between skill and loyalty. I’d like to see aggressive jailing of dissidents to preserve the current regime. I’d also like to see more interaction between teams now that the numbers are reasonable. Megaphone wars? Member kidnaps? That sort of thing.

      Let me give an example of the sort of messy mechanisms I’d like to see. Leader of the South may use his own money to buy a temporary, person-specific, virtual key of rebellion. This transaction will be hidden in the profit summary until the finals. Successful coups of this form enrich the South to the detriment of North’s leadership. This sort of mechanism allows the Southern leader to hoard cash, purportedly for their team’s good, makes the North paranoid about people talking to the other team, and faking such an assignment can be used as a tactic for the North to root out traitors.

      • Kerenza Deo says:

        Obviously, we cannot have the Korean concept. From research, the North v South is actually a taboo topic =/ But I do agree with the idea of Member kidnaps and aggressive jailing. I at the beginning of the series, was actually hoping that the team captain will use the jail aggressively, not just some jail time 4 some mooney.

        My mind went that SG should have 2 challenge, the first challenge is the normal Society Game Challenge with the captain cannot compete. The second challenge is a captain v captain Genius Game style Death Match. Create tension where the captain saves the team and tension where the captain fails the team.

  20. Cheesebiscuits says:

    I think another major problem with this is that you’re not allowed to cheat. Sudden twists of the plot are what made the genius and there are none here.

    It looks like next episode, they are bringing everyone together to try and create hidden alliances between the sides. Whether that will be successful is a different story.

    The clues led to this leader whatever it is. It’s a bit boring, especially as it is public knowledge. I can only guess that the others sides clues are leading to another key of rebellion.

    The silly thing is, these clues are told to the leaders. And the items the clues give you allow you to become the leader. It doesn’t help the normal contestants at all.

  21. xr says:

    Another episode down; the first half-hour is unwatchable garbage, fake people having fake conversations and faking enthusiasm for banalities that would embarrass ten year olds. Also, guy gets a “No, *I* rule today” token for being the first to act on a common solve of the secret keyboard puzzle.

    The challenge has no formal brain section, but was ultimately decided on questionable strategy. Shoddy targets are again trotted out, and hitting them allows you to up the speed of one of three treadmills, each bearing an apposing runner. A team loses when all of their runners give up / fall. A male model takes off his sweaty T-shirt to reveal his six-pack, glistening in the summer sun. Twice. And then the most amazing thing happened: After 90 minutes of serious running under the sun, the artifices melted away, and we got fifteen seconds of honest and clear facial expressions, of palpable determination and respect. This is the drug that good competitive reality shows are designed to deliver. Also, pratfalls, and they delivered on that front too.

    Elimination was framed in a most unusual fashion. Hael’s farewell reel played, then leader announced his decision, then announcer cheered her leaving the show. Dongwan was also eliminated, and he got a “Meh, shit happens” in the form of an Obama soundbite about the recent election. Why?

    The blacklist format rubs me wrong the way Die Mol player saves rub me wrong. No production is going to leave the number of episodes up in the air, so it ends up feeling like a formal admission of meddling.

    The wardrobe thing is becoming ridiculous. If you’re going to be so uptight about branded clothing as to cover people in duct-tape and still spend about a fifth of running time with various bits blurred, maybe remove the offending items from the set instead?

    Next week, they are encouraging these people to be hasty with axes! Also, more players switching teams! It’s going to to be a bloodbath of some sort.

  22. Jason says:

    Episode 8 is up, but looks like DailyMotion has already removed it.

    The new link is to a site called openload, but when starting the video it tried to attack me with pop-ups (external javascript disabled and pop-ups blocked – and both alerts went crazy), so “here be dragons” warnings at the ready.

    • Cheesbiscuits says:

      If you’re on tablet, tap and hold the play button until it goes blue, then release and you should be ok. You’ll need to watch the whole thing in one sitting though because pausing will bring up the adverts.

    • xr says:

      Torrent & subs links still work fine if your network allows this kind of traffic.

      Having seen only part of the episode, it features pillow accounting, an inexplicable cooking success, and a jock scoffing at escape room cafes. Also, finally, a social mixer for both teams, where various fit males are drooled over for rather different reasons.

  23. xr says:

    Today’s relay race, surely designed via hat draw, was Lumberjack, named after the least important component. Two people chop wood to stuff into a perspex tube till a Facebook-quality puzzle drops out. One person solves it for a lock combo to a box containing 3 bags of 15 perspex dice each. 3 people then have to each make a dice tower. 5 seconds of 3 standing towers nets you the win.

    Width of the pieces to stuff into the tube turns out to be both crucial -as erring either way can lead to jamming- and entirely uncontrollable. So it’s good that you can entirely bypass the challenge: just bat one piece in the tube with another Asol-hard and you can clear the whole length, pushing out a puzzle where you had to Caesar-shift a fruity pic BACKWARDS.

    Sahyuk dawdled with his puzzle, Haesung was terrible at dice stacking, North broke their long, long loss streak. The editing of a lot of the challenge was Bourne action sequence-fast, which made me work far too hard to figure out what I was seeing. I may be getting old.

    Byungkwan sold off the transferable key of rebellion he apparently found in that pillow a few episodes ago to Kyungryul for 2 easy payments of 1k, which they pretend is a protection scheme. He also blacklisted and gave no money to Haesung. He just keeps messing with his team constantly in ways that are fun, though not necessarily prudent. That’s exactly the sort of leadership the ratings doctor prescribes.

    MJ felt like going with the flow today, kicking out Jiwon. Not even the announcer cared.

    Next Week: Key deal leaks! Pixel art! The team switch they promised for this episode!

  24. Cheesebiscuits says:

    I really don’t know what is compelling me to watch this now because i’m bored out of my mind. I guess i just keep hoping something exciting is going to happen but there are no twists in this at all. We know haesung is going out next episode unless he gets moved (but i think asol will try and move) or kyungryul will have to play his key of rebellion and take over. Tbh, i’m surprised he didn’t do it as soon as he was given it.

    The game was naf again but this is the first time that the secret box in previous episodes involved the game that was being played (dice stacking) – shame they didn’t practice when they were given the chance seeing as they lost.

    When we found out two episodes ago that one of the pillows had been split inside but nothing was there, i think we all assumed it had been found but would be used later as a surprise. If they did a classic genius black screen “2 days ago” when the key was actually used then i think i would be more excited.

    But I thought these clues were something to focus on as they would drastically change the game – seems not. No token of immortality or something just as powerful. Solving these clues is Society Game’s overarching story. Now they’re solved we have to watch them use these pieces of crap to actually do something.

    On a side note, does anyone know how it is rating in Korea atm? I’d be interested to see if they feel they same about the whole thing.

    • Brig Bother says:

      It went down to 0.6% a few weeks ago but is back up to a considered good 1% according to Wikipedia.

    • xr says:

      I attribute the major improvement Brig reports to the change of leadership. Tone shifted from grim and paranoid to chirpy and adventurous, which should be a lot easier on the viewer. Also, the cast is still solid, and finally having a reasonable number of them means you can actually follow what each is doing.

      Still, The Show We Were Hoping This Show Was Like did 1.5-2.5 regularly, if memory serves, so tvN can’t be thrilled. Are they in the same timeslot?

  25. An action-packed episode, for sure, but what should have come across as being exciting came across as being annoying. (Perhaps it was just my headache.) I’m sticking with this show mostly out of the sunk time cost fallacy, but the games are at least pretty good.

    The show becomes more irritating still when you hear all the insect noises in the background, that they can sometimes cover in the mix and that they sometimes can’t. And when you hear them, you can’t unhear them. You’re welcome!

    • xr says:

      I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. In fact, I can’t remember the last episode of a reality competition I enjoyed as much in the last couple of years. Having every single player try their damnedest at scheming at once was glorious, revelatory and occasionally amusing.

      Also, this episode is a showcase of technical skill. Shot composition nearly always worked, including risky, bold framing of contestants (faces between ladder rungs, schemer partially and dimly visible whispering behind half-closed door). Editing meanwhile made perfectly clear what was happening in a preposterously busy episode. Also welcome was this week’s announcer attitude. I could do without the forceful didacticism, but framing his comments in the political allusion rather than tropey tripe is doing more of what they originally promised.

      The challenge was formally unusual, in that they just ditched the physical component. Pixel-art spot-the-difference was dull but seemed to be the appropriate level of challenge for once. However, when penalty towers started dropping to random gusts of wind, I quickly lost all of my limited interest. During the whole challenge, I was anxious to get back to the good backstabbing stuff. How’s that for a reversal?

      • Cheesebiscuits says:

        Out of interest, what’s been your favourite minigame so far? – I’d have to say the first one (Human Janggi) was especially good but the games have steadily declined since then. I actually enjoyed this game although the wind didn’t help. The idea that being crap and the mental part wasn’t the end of the game because you could do better in the dexterity part is good design (they haven’t really done that before).

        In terms of the episode, i think it is too little too late for the majority of viewers but I as ever will endeavour to persevere to the end of it.

        • xr says:

          First draft of this post was more about their overall challenge structure, and what it does well and poorly, and why they should try more structures than discrete section relay races and last man standings and why the concept of minigames sucks. This one hopefully answers the question you actually asked 🙂 .

          Best minigames, starting from the best:

          1) Defend your tail, or however it is you would pithily describe the wrestling matches from the first episode. Tense, violent, personal, photogenic and fast – what’s not to like?

          2) Treadmills. Because they were seriously, visibly hard and that made you feel for the contestants. And even if you’re a sociopath, eyecandy and pratfalls should keep you happy.

          3) The subsequence picking game (the one following the rope climb). Because it pushed so many players out of their comfort zone, and because it was so obviously hard that teams had to stop their bickering and really come together to prep.

          4) Janggi. Because I admire the guts it takes to throw something this complex on
          i) the tail-end of a two-hour premiere
          ii) of a reality competition
          iii) on prime-time TV.
          Also, because you had to do research to figure out its tricks, and then you had to manage a boatload of people on the fly. And because it could lead to one player forcing another to get hurt and humiliated on national TV. Although this perhaps has more to do with the unique and interesting overall game structure, and I promised I wouldn’t digress.

          At the very bottom of the list are:

          1) all the mental minigames where grown adults undertake 1st grade arithmetic exams, because they are overused, dull in themselves, and simultaneously ridiculous as vehicles for all those shots of stressed faces.

          2) Ring toss. Because it’s too familiar, a waste of everyone’s time and their budget, and because there doesn’t actually seem to be a satisfying way to film the action.

  26. xr says:

    Episode 10 may have been the last one subtitled on any schedule, as per post-linked twitter. Also, you may have encountered a glitch getting this episode’s subs: if when the URL redirects stop you’re looking at a password prompt, you need to append 4 to this final URL.

    This one was a very pleasant episode with a pretty great challenge.

    Show took a rainy day vacation, where no mechanics applied, before continuing with the scheduled backstabbing. Unexpectedly a) contestants welcomed the extension of their captivity and b) they kept on filming them interacting at a cozier, chiller register. Minigame prize was Byungkwan’s phone! They were nominally given the device because its dictionary capabilities would have been useful in prepping for the challenge, but of course they all took the opportunity to call home. Between the phone and rest day, this felt like an oddly placed introductory episode, and one I didn’t know I needed to help me invest in the now sane number of people left. Also, the notion that Byungkwan can now drunk dial Haesung’s dad amuses me.

    The challenge split up each team into Seasick Scrabblers and Passive Aggressive Runners, the aim being to turn all of the former into the latter to win. Most of each team sat on a central turntable, each player given a different secret syllable. A circle of podiums around the turntable each held a display the two active runners (one from each team) could rotate to show a blank side, a team syllable, or an opposing team’s syllable.

    Scrabblers’ release required a single correct answer of four four-syllable words. Each of these words had be in the dictionary, use their personal syllable, and all of the other syllables had to be one of their team’s syllables written on the podiums. Scrabblers’ feedback was limited to “Won bigly!/So Sad!”, so they had no clue as to where or how they went wrong. I expected this activity to be a proscriptivist nightmare, due to generous use of Chinese and English loanwords. Instead, it was a compounding nightmare, as nobody seemed to know when a concept remained a phrase and when it became an actual compound word. And that’s in addition to the challenge of keeping the large pool of team syllables straight in your head.

    The runner’s main job was to keep their team’s syllables visible at all times by rotating the syllable stands. Strategies evolved a lot over the course of the game. They started by going around in circles undoing each other’s work, which led to one player just shadowing the other and breaking his work right in his face, which led to them getting upset and equalising the field by setting all stands to spin wildly, which took surprisingly less time than fixing them. This led the runners to focus more on their chatting privileges.

    Inactive runners could chat amongst themselves, and active runners could actually talk to the scrabblers. In the end, inactive runners figured out what was going on with the struggling scrabblers, but weren’t tagged in to help, which could have perhaps swung the outcome. I was kind of annoyed no team had planned for this eventuality in advance, so that their active runners were in the mindspace of tagging out for fresh breath and insight.

    This all brings us to Hanbyul’s elimination. He was one of those players who try very hard to be forgotten if possible, and be remembered as pleasant if not. They tend to coast far, but rarely accomplish the switch required to eventually get into the finals. I got the sense that he very much wanted to try, but feared the pr hit. This led to mouth and hands saying one thing, and face very much saying another.

    Overall, the episode was like the best jazz improv, and I’m not talking about the jazzy soundtrack, but rather how it came together. The 4th wall-breaking intro being accentuated by shots of external scaffolding and camera rails. The irreverent matching of the ball kicks to the notification alert. The gracious time allocation for what could have felt very stuffy. The perfectly placed tension-breaking bit of Byungkwan hurting his head via wood he sent flying. I’m becoming convinced a major shuffle of responsibilities occurred two or three episodes ago.

    Next episode, which may or may not be available subbed: Diophantine systems! Lots of towels!

  27. Nico W. says:

    The last episode was… well the last episode.
    I didn’t feel with any contestants at all and could hardly remember most of them. The games were good, but you knew how the second game would end, because it is best of three just like The Genius finales.
    I still think the show could have been better, but if it had aired on a TV channel in Germany, I would have watched it whiledoing other stuff.
    Oh and it should probably be called “Big Brother’s Big Ring Toss”. They even had some ring tossing in the finale.

    • Nico W. says:

      I wrote it while the last game had not yet finished. And I must admit now that the editing wasn’t on a level with The Genius, but it was very emotional anyway.
      I just don’t like that the last game doesn’t feel like the winning team won as much as the losing team lost. And I always feel very unsatisfied when games end like that (e.g. prisoner’s dilemma with one person stealing).

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