By the time you get to the final seconds of I-Land you’re likely wondering how, exactly, K.C. knows to call her hellish simulation “One-Land” rather than “the i-land/island.” Especially since everyone from Chase (Natalie Martinez) to doctor Wyss (Dalia Davi) continue to say “the island” in the real world. But, no one would ever accuse The I-Land of being a perfect or even particularly coherent show.
To understand what “One-Land” means in the first place, you have to realize The I-Land isn’t merely a faux techie way to spell “island” (as if Apple was now making tropical havens). Instead, the title is a little more literal. Various items around the series' central beach have “Property of the I-Land” carved into them. That's because those items belong to the first island in the simulation the series revolves around. The “I” in “I-Land” in actually a roman numeral.
Yes, the entire twist of this series is a math joke.
Because there is a second island, which is II-Land. That much is confirmed in fifth episode “The Cloud Capp’d Towers” when Taylor (Kota Eberhardt) steals a raft and makes it to another island. When she arrives, a skull has “Property of II-Land” engraved on it. Since that obviously reads as “Two,” rather than signaling an comically elongated “I”-sound, it means all the previous “I-Land” engravings read as “One.” To get the point across, sociopathic marshal Bonnie (Clara Wong) tells Taylor, “Congratulations, you found Two-Land.” Later, Taylor yells, “I’m glad I found I-I-Land or Two-Land, or whatever the fuck it is!”
She is as confused as we are.
While life on One-Land begins with 10 criminals on death row, Two-Land is only inhabited by a cannibal. The cannibal apparently has time to forage for most of the ingredients for chicken soup and also carve out a sign that reads “chicken soup.” Considering the point of the simulation is to test whether criminal rehabilitation is possible outside of the real-world, we can assume the unseen cannibal was deemed far too unsafe to place with the other test subjects. So, they put them on an island all by themselves to find out if solitary confinement could also lead to redemption.
Cutting off Taylor’s fingers, making a soup out of them, tricking Taylor into eating that soup (by utilizing time-consuming woodwork), and likely taking a bowl for themselves suggests Two-Land isn’t really saving any souls. But, what do I know about science?
While all of these elements make relative sense together — besides the cannibal with hobbies — the true plot hole is how K.C. knows to say “One-Land.” From what we see in the series, she never makes it to the other island and therefore never sees the plot-lending skull or hears Bonnie announce the phrase “Two-Land.” All the information K.C. has about “II-Land” comes in fourth episode “Many Godly Creatures,” when Bonnie’s maniacal accomplice Clyde (KeiLyn Durrel Jones) shows up to threaten everyone. Through a series of expository speeches, Clyde eventually mentions there is a second island in an attempt to lure one of the prisoners there, giving him a reason to kill them. Yet, it’s Taylor who takes the bait, not K.C..
In the last scene we see of K.C. ahead of her single finale appearance, she’s not even trying to make it to II-Land. She’s mourning the death of Moses on the abandoned side of I-Land. That means something major happened between these two events. It’s unlikely K.C. made a raft out of banana leaves, sailed to II-Land, and fought a cannibal to learn the truth. Especially since “Dark Backwards” confirms Taylor and the cannibal are still alive and well on II-Land. So, your best bet is assuming the reversed memory wipes of the I-Land inhabitants pushed them to remember the whole truth about the I-Land experiment, down to the island’s true name.
Or, you could accept The I-Land is a chaotic neutral series. It isn’t bogged down by such earthly concerns as plot development and satisfying conclusions. It just wants to bite your fingers off and tell you the results are chicken soup.