After the second elimination, it’s time to recalibrate the groups. Team “U+Me = Love” is down to four members: Sakamoto Mashiro, May, Kotone Kamimoto and Zhou Xinyu. While Sakamoto ranks in the overall Top 9, May barely skated in at 8th place in J-Group and both Kotone and Zhou Xinyu had to be rescued by the Planet Pass. But things could have been worse!
For teams with too many members, they’ll have to decide who stays on the team and who gets sent to Team U+Me. Team Snake has a lot of the heavy favorites on the show, and thus a fair share of them survived the previous elimination. Planet Pass recipient Kim Suyeon keeps trying out for parts and keeps losing out. Seo Youngeun and Su Ruiqi compete for Main Vocal.
Meanwhile on Team Utopia, six members remain, which seems perfect. However, since Xu Ziyin survived elimination but dropped out of the competition immediately after, the staff tell Team Utopia they’ll have to reduce their roster to 5 members. Again, they’ll have to compete for positions, with the member left out automatically being sent to Team U+Me. The last slot is contested by Nonaka Shana and Huang Xingqiao.
Back to Team U+Me as they await their new members. First through the door is Seo Youngeun, who narrowly lost her vote to Su Ruiqi. Kim Suyeon follows suit, (playfully) vowing revenge on her former team. Finally, Nonaka Shana is the final new member to join. Kim Suyeon’s been dealt a bad hand the last few episodes, and her confidence has been suffering because of it. But she tries out for the killing part and gets it.
Meanwhile, Team Shoot! is totally chillin’. No one needs to change parts or positions. The rooms in the dorm are rearranged according to the new teams.
The next morning, each team is herded onto buses. It’s a vacation day! They’ll be doing some remote performances at surprise locations.
Team Shoot! go to some lady’s apartment. The lady already knows all their names, so they ask if she’s a fan. She reveals she’s the mother of a contestant, Kim Dayeon. It seems that Mnet has decided that Dayeon is officially the Main Character of the show. Anyways, the girls rifle through Dayeon’s things and write her letters filled with love and gratitude (this seems fairly excessive, Mnet).
Meanwhile, Team Snake gets dropped off in the middle of nowhere and
get sentenced to hard labor get to bond with the locals. Wen Zhe gets a highlight as she harvests the best sweet potatoes, but then swiftly gets told to shut up as they need to uh dig more.
In what seems like a stark contrast, Team U+Me gets to go the chiropractor for a “day of luxury”. Of course, everyone’s body is a mess of stiff muscles and prematurely-aged joints. Maybe they wouldn’t be screaming so loud if they knew the other option was digging up tubers in a field.
Team Utopia gets to perform on a mountain top, which they have to hike to Huang Xingqiao’s chagrin. Fortunately they get to stock up on snacks before beginning their ascent. Kim Bora leads her team to the top, where a large astroturf plateau awaits.
At Dayeon’s apartment, Team Shoot performs their song for Dayeon’s mother. She cries, Choi Yujin cries, everyone cries.
the labor camp Team Snake. Now they have to pick chili peppers. Wen Zhe (correctly) complains how this is shit TV. Team Shoot calls Dayeon while she toils in the fields and tell her they’re at her mom’s house. Dayeon experiences a range of emotions, one of which has to be “why the fuck am I in a field while my mom is being filmed”.
Team Utopia learns the top of the mountain is a paragliding launchpad. After changing into jumpsuits, they perform for the cameras while backed by the foggy vista. And then it’s time to jump! Kawaguchi Yurina and Xingqiao runs into a little bit of trouble as the crosswind picks up strength as she’s about to launch. But they make it in the end.
It’s Team U+Me’s turn to rub their good fortune in Team Snake’s face, as they call potato-snacking squad while dining on their luxury lunch. They inform Team Snake how they got a massage, and it almost sets Shen Xiaoting off. She tells them to hang up the damn phone. As Team U+Me finishes their steaks, they receive the next assignment. They have to go to the 118th floor, where Mnet have something special prepared for them. Sakamoto casually mentions her fear of heights, which I’m sure will not be exploited by Mnet at all.
Team Shoot go to Dayeon’s parents’ sashimi shop for dinner. Chen Hsin Wei soyfaces for some mayo rolls. Nagai Manami tries abalone for the first time.
Team Snake performs in a dirt lot for the village citizens. They don’t really care for it. Dayeon decides to switch things up, and takes the lead for a performance of “Love Battery”. The crowd approves.
Team U+Me make their way to the 118th floor observation deck, as Mnet does a classic Maury Show bit and forces Sakamoto to confront her fear of heights head on. They’re told to climb onto the scaffolding and perform from there. Sakamoto accomplishes the task as the tears flow. Still a better deal than working in the fields all day.
After their performance, Team Snake reflect on the hardships of training, and Cai Bing says some strong words of approval and gratitude to Dayeon for her leadership. Meanwhile on Team Utopia Xingqiao recognizes Bora’s effort as a leader, learning Chinese from Wen Zhe in order to better communicate. The girls’ bonds are stronger than ever.
Before the girls take the stage for their next mission, Yeo Jin Goo zoom calls in with their current rankings, reminding them that the next elimination’s cut-off is at #17. Chen Hsin Wei is at #18, and Nagai Manami is at #17. Kim Dayeon makes it all the way to #2 overall, her first time in the Top 9. Shana Nonaka also climbs into the #9 spot. Huang Xingqiao and Cai Bing are bumped out.
After the announcement we’re given a flashback of field day activities featuring trainees that were eliminated previously. This low-budget affair probably should’ve been shown a couple weeks ago.
Episode 10 starts with a drive-in, socially-distanced fan meet concert, held at a dirt lot that will eventually become CJ Live City sometime in 2024. The girls answer questions and run through a medley of show songs, including an encore of “Helicopter” with the C-Group team, but also including Yujin. Brave of Mnet to build a stage with no awning; the jet black stage gets extremely hot as Youngeun unfortunately finds out when she prepares and encore performance of “Kick It”.
Before we’re treated to the Collaboration Mission performances, the girls are shown setting up a Thank You party to surprise all the masters. They give them a plethora of gifts, like messages of gratitude and hand-maid bracelets.
But enough of that, it’s time for some stages.
“Shoot!” is up first. Yujin gets all the love as the leader of this young group. The team is harmonious and drama-free during practice. But the check up shows less-than-desired results and they get scolded for it. The girls feel bad for embarrassing Yujin, and practice harder.
“Shoot!” is kind of a nugu b-side banger, that chorus is great. It’s also Huening Bahiyyih‘s best stage of the show, but she also had 0 facial expressions on a song that is built specifically to showcase a good dollop of aegyo. On that side, Yujin, Kishida Ririka, and Guinn Myah come through in spades. Manami’s part is surprisingly small compared to the huge focus she received last round.
“Utopia” backstory focuses mainly on Xingqiao’s struggle with the choreography. Even with all the extra attention from Bora & co., Xingqiao flounders during the check-up. To everyone’s surprise, Kim Chaehyun gets the lowest rating for practice due to some shaky vocals. The judges wonder if she’s over-practicing (yes).
“Utopia” is a GFriend/Anison-esque pop song that suits Kang Yeseo and Yurina extremely well. Their performance isn’t perfect, Xingqiao is out of sync at times and Chaehyun’s nerves get to her. Bora is strong here but doesn’t seem as confident as she was during “The 5th Season”.
With the addition of three new members, “U+Me=Love” has the most ground to make up out of all the teams. Suyeon in particular is still dealing with her confidence issues. But she earns high marks during the check-up, and her teammates are effusively supportive.
“U+Me” isn’t a bad song, an average tune that would be a perfectly serviceable nugu single from 2016. Their performance is stable if not particularly spectacular. The parts are weighted towards the newcomers, not seeing much push here for the fringe trainees like May or Zhou Xinyu.
If there’s an Avengers-type team this round, it’s Team “Snake”, with multiple Top 9 members and the most distinctive concept for the round. It’s Su Ruiqi’s turn in the Mnet editing blender as “Snake”‘s behind-the-scenes content focuses on her position change and subsequent dour mood. During the check-in, the mentors remark how Ruiqi is struggling with the Main Vocal position and suggest Fu Yaning step in. At practice, they discuss a part switch, but Ruiqi isn’t having it, saying she hates the part she has to switch to.
Practice continues and Ruiqi is visibly out of it. Dayeon discusses with Xiaoting what to do, and they have a chat about Ruiqi’s emotional state. She breaks down about her shaken confidence, and the girls support her. Translations here are more or less okay, by the way.
“Snake” is no “Rumor” (or even A-JAX “Snake”), lacking a truly sticky point dance during the chorus. Fu Yaning obviously muffs the high note, but even if it was performed perfectly there’s something just a bit more wooden and stiff here compared to previous girl crush stages presented by Mnet. Ezaki Hikaru‘s choreo ad lib was cool, and Xiaoting was the visual she’s meant to be, but this isn’t a concept for the show and the potential future group to hang it’s hat on.
With all the stages done, Yeo Jin Goo announces the winner: “U+Me=Love”. They win the 2x multiplier for votes going into the 3rd elimination.
As a twist, Jin Goo also announces there will be one more mini-challenge: the O.O.O mission. The current trainee pool will be divided into three teams (via netizen voting and mentor choice), and will perform the show’s theme song yet again. Individual fan cams will be posted to YouTube, and one member per team with the highest number of likes will get an additional point benefit added to their score for the next elimination.
- Kang Yeseo is a really good MC.
- I guess Hikaru’s got poop problems.
- Literally almost nothing happened during Episode 9. It seems that Mnet has no idea how to make compelling TV without making an evil edit.
- I noted it above, but Su Ruiqi’s bad mood was at least correctly translated this time. Who knows how much the edit exacerbated it, but at least the subtitles didn’t straight up lie this time around.
- I was waiting for the “Snake” girls to have some sort of healing moment out on the countryside but no, they just got sent to the fields to work as the rest of the girls ate steak and hung out with Dayeon’s mom.
- I’ll eat my hat if Dayeon doesn’t make it into the final group, but also I am aware that Mnet would really, personally love for me to eat a hat.
- I can’t tell if Mnet likes Fu Yaning or really really really hates her. I’m getting whiplash from the speed of her praise-trash cycle.
- I’ll have the next article up ASAP, it’s just gonna be about the elimination and the interim ranking (LOL). We’re in the home stretch.
- None of the songs from the Creation Mission entered the Gaon Digital Chart, though they all ranked above #150 in the Gaon Download Chart. Even in Produce X 101, all the songs ranked high enough to be listed.