Second Impression: New Journey to the West (Season 2)

Again, same same but different. The sequel to Na PD’s experimental 1N2D-cum-Over Flowers trip to China involving 4 celebrities starts airing in early April. This time, the cast and crew visit Chengdu — Land of the Pandas.


1. Same Same


The format more or less remains the same. The cast are transported on a 1 week or so trip to China, and while playing travelers, they play games to entertain us — especially when they lose…terribly. The hardship factor is ever present, since the “games” are plain torture sessions, which the cast (or some of them) really have difficulties completing.


Kang Ho-dong remains seriously bad at doing the take-turns-naming-a-brand game — there’s like totally zero improvement from him since West 1. He takes it really hard (being the eldest in the group, aka the hyung) when he flubs and causes the entire team to lose personal items (like luggage!), coveted items (Ji-won‘s dream Simpson Lego set)…or even food. (awwr) Juz as he remains true to being unable to function (mentally) under duress, Ho-dong retains his HUGE appetite (well, to feed his size, he probably needs to eat…a lot). The next worst thing (besides losing splendidly in games) which can immediately cast a dark shadow over his face is when the cast doesn’t give him enough food, or money for food.


In ep1 (the format of West 2 is similar to West 1 — both are shown over Naver’s online broadcast, and each ep is broken up into many 10/15 mins mini-eps), the morning after the cast wakes up from their first night of sleep, the pre-breakfast mission is to find a statue of a horse in the old town and take a pic with it. Although Ho-dong is the second guy out of the inn, he ends up being the last…ending with a measly 1RMB for breakfast. Which of cos, can’t get him anything.

2. Different!


Right, other than predictable Ho-dong, and the annoying mini-series format, I actually find West 2 more watchable than West 1. Season 2 has a narrative that flows better, probably cos Na PD learnt from the Season 1’s feedback on the jumpy storyline. Yes, we may still open in the middle of nowhere for each mini-ep, but the editing crew now bothers to do small recaps to assure you that, yeah, the main narrative is still there.


Of cos, the biggest diff is in the cast members — Lee Seung-gi reports for army duty, so Ahn Jae-hyeon replaces him. Surprisingly, though Jae-hyeon looks like a pretty boy (and oh man, he is one…given that he packs SO much toiletries into his bag, which totally amuses and piques Ho-dong’s interest), he can take it rough too. His hyungs (namely, Lee Su-geun and Ji-won) aren’t guilty in dumping him with Ho-dong, who snores like a Harley in his sleep, explaining that they need to get the maknae “initiated”. So poor Jae-hyeon ends up with several sleepless nights. Though not all are credited to Ho-dong’s thunderous snores. On some occasions, Na PD is at fault too. He hints that he will drop the next day’s mission via text to their KaTalk group, and only Jae-hyeon bothers to pull an all-nighter juz to be the first to catch the message — which he willingly will share with his hyungs the next morning. Aww, best hardworking maknae ever. I think even Seung-gi won’t bother to do that. 😛


Lastly, the next factor that makes West 2 so watchable is a new Monk and new Monkey. Without angelic Seung-gi, the cast have to vote for their next Monk. Monk gets an extra “privilege” in West 2, he gets a foc crew cut. And guess who is bullied to take the role? Yep, phlegmatic Su-geun. But in return, HE gets to choose Monkey (who will receive the dubious “prize” of the electromagnetic massager stuck on his back). And no prizes for guessing who Monk nominates — haha, yes, it’s Ji-won. I’ve said before he is the trickiest and naughtiest of the lot, exactly like a monkey. So in West 2, he gets a taste of how it was like bullying Monkey 1 Su-geun.


And Su-geun really had fun pressing the remote button to zap his successor. (haha)

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