After the wonderful high of last week’s Episode 6, Physical: 100 perhaps came back to Earth with this week’s pair of episodes. Though still featuring fierce competition, the transition to the penultimate Quest felt somewhat clumsy and underwhelming. That is in spite of the tasks and format of Quest 4 being quite creative and of course, challenging.
First to the conclusion of Quest 3, I was definitely hoping Team Jang Eun Sil and Kim Sang Wook would continue the underdog winning streak. And the clever editing certainly made it seem like they would. Unfortunately, the underdog magic ran out this time.
I would say the task itself favored teams with more men and more physical strength. But the very composition of the winning team contradicts that point very well. It really was about good teamwork and strategic thinking. Watching the latter two teams struggle with aspects of the challenge that the first team did not definitely proved that as well.
Sadly, a lot of the sentimental favorites and bigger personalities were eliminated once again. And, sadly for me, some of the cockier competitors were proven right once again too.
As Quest 4 was revealed, I thought about how the teams should have definitely reshuffled at least once, if not more. It feels somewhat disadvantageous to have essentially decided the final five competitors based on one schoolyard pick. It ended up holding back some potential competitive fireworks while essentially dooming many players from the start and ensuring an easy path for others.
One of the best aspects of the series so far had been how everyone was on equal footing. Very much a level playing field, regardless of gender or background. No matter the challenge, everyone had just as good an opportunity as another to get themselves further in the competition. But the teams, which ended up being permanent, brought in an unnecessary finality to the game that not even Survivor presents.
The dynamic brought about by switching up teams and forcing players to rethink strategies as well as reevaluate their own games is actually one of the few things that Physical: 100 should’ve borrowed from its western brethren.
Anyway, I do really like the creativity of Quest 4. It certainly fits with the Greek god motif of the season. Each of the “games” are straightforward, but the physicality and endurance needed provide the necessary challenge for the players. And again, the excellent combination of simplicity in design and high concept ideas made the competition arena almost as captivating as the competition itself.
The chit-chat and game deliberations really broke the momentum that should’ve carried over from Quest 3. But once they were able to get past that slowness, the show recovered a bit.
I say “a bit” only because the show really projected who the favorites of each game were. And each game, save for the last one which is our cliffhanger for the week, ended up pretty much as expected. I also think one of the things that worked against the episode was how there really weren’t any more “storylines” driving the competition. It was all about culling the herd once again.
With any reality show, milking the drama for all it’s worth is part of the appeal. And Physical: 100 has done mostly a good job of that until now. But one would think that with the penultimate Quest, there should be an even sharper focus on those storylines to raise the stakes for the final even higher.
Overall, these were a solid pair of episodes. Though coming after Episode 6, there’s certainly some underwhelming feeling as well. It will be interesting to see what the final episode will hold next week.