In this episode, we finish the first half of the third round, with some surprising results.
After some light reminiscing about how great Meat Party was and how wonderful it is to have real relationships in this emotional desert of an industry, we get right back to it with the results of the Vocal Position contest. There’s a mixture of reactions and predictions, then it’s finally revealed that LOONA/Kep1er come in third, which isn’t a surprise. The real reversal is VIVIZ/WJSN taking 1st above Hyolyn/Minyoung, in line with my personal rankings from last week. I thought it was a hot take, but I guess a lot of people thought the same. SinB immediately realizes it’s the first time Hyolyn’s not been 1st on the show. Brave Girls‘ Yuna says they’re not in last, and the girls take the W (lol).
Meanwhile EXY, who had nothing to do with the win, just can’t stop feeling herself, going as far as to rub it into Yeoreum‘s face while trying to encourage her, like a mother scolding a youngest child by way of the oldest sibling’s stellar test results.
Next it’s time for the dance portion of the competition. First up is Kep1er/VIVIZ, or ‘KEV1Z’, for now.
Their preparation segment begins with Xiaoting, Hikaru, and Dayeon arriving at Big Planet Made for rehearsal. After a little hyping it up from SinB, Holy Bang‘s leader Honey J arrives in the flesh to fine-tune the performance. VIVIZ’s Umji is having the hardest time following the forceful choreography, but thanks to her helpful and talented hoobaes she gets the hang of it.
Is it just me or is the chorus for “Purr” a little X-rated? Anyways, I get that VIVIZ was trying to show a color they don’t typically show, but doing it with Kep1er in tow made it feel like a survival show stage. Nothing particularly egregiously bad, but just thoroughly uninteresting. Insanely hilarious to me that Mnet chose to highlight the weird face Dayeon made when the song said “money”. Sometimes I think Mnet hates her more than they love her.
Next up is ‘Ex-It’, the union of WJSN’s Eunseo/Yeoreum and Hyolyn.
Hyolyn heads back to Starship Entertainment for the first time in five years. She meets her two sunbaes in the alley, doing the smoke break crouch (a familiar pose?). They discuss the concept/stage, then get to practicing. LACHICA shows up shortly after, and the vibe overall is very loose and easy, quintessential LACHICA to be honest. They pick it up quickly, but the WJSN duo’s inexperience with this type of concept shows through a little.
After a lengthy rehearsal, the three of them get dinner together and have some intimate mentor time. Eunseo and Yeoreum talk about how they used to eavesdrop on her while she was singing, and how much they learned from her performances as trainees. And even though now it’s strange to be on the same stage together, they’re learning so much from each other still.
The stage they’ve prepared for “Ka-Boom” is chock full of content, from rope props to balaclavas, thunder and lightning to smoke blowers. It’s an exciting, kinetic performance, and beats “Purr” outright, which is basically the same concept/style. “Ka-Boom” feels like a song that Hyolyn could have released as a solo and is catchy enough. If anything, my main criticism here is that the actual choreography for the chorus isn’t really very impactful or complex. A+ showmanship and attitude, but the actual footwork here is a bit underwhelming.
Yeoreum gives it a lil’ bit of tongue, and we’re on to the final performance.
In their preparation flashback, LOONA rolls out the red carpet for Brave Girls’ Eunji, adopting her as their chosen unit leader and big sister. They show her around the studio, including their individual offices. Each office reflects the corresponding member’s personality, so of course Olivia Hye‘s is covered in black paper and feels like a boy’s room.
PROWDMON‘s Monika‘s arrival is a little more mature and respectful, perhaps out of abject fear. The unit’s goal is of course to win the round, but their more prescient goal is to just avoid being scolded by Monika. After seeing their progress, Monika acknowledges their effort and continues to refine the details. They practice on into the night, and even during the final dress rehearsal, refinements are being made.
“Tam-I-Na” already has a leg up (pun intended) on the competition just by being a different style than the other two. Mnet really milked the “five faces” moment in the previews, but to their credit, it’s a really cool move. That’s the reason the stage works well; Monika did a great job syncing cool moments to the key points of the song, using formation and speed to highlight these key frames versus repeating a move to signify a chorus. This stage is trying to be a dance stage, not just a pop song (which it would fail at empirically).
This choreo-audio sync requires really snappy movements to pull off, and the unit pulls it off emphatically. The other, more hip-hop/street dancing stages are loose and energetic, and this one is really really tight-wound, to it’s own benefit. The expressions are great. Yves does a great job with the final outro solo.
The results are then tallied up for the dance squads.
‘KEV1Z’ makes Hikaru open the envelope up and she runs through a gamut of expressions while having some sort of seizure, before revealing they got third place. SinB wins the day by doing her best impression of some other, lesser idols, hamming it up for the camera. I’ve missed you, troll SinB.
Meanwhile ‘I’m The Queen’ head back to their dressing rooms sad and somber. Their groupmates console and accept them, before opening the envelope to reveal … they got first! LOONA’s Haseul sheds tears of joy as the rest of the girls jump around and bite each other in celebration. Meanwhile the rest of Brave Girls shit on Eunji’s bad acting, who couldn’t help but crack a smile as she was fake-pouting about her results. The tears are real, as it’s the first time Brave Girls have gotten first place on the show.
With the end of the Position Unit Battle, Brave Girls and WJSN come out tied for the most points, as each team scored a 1st and 2nd place result. Kep1er placed last in both halves, so they only end up with 1000 points.
But this is just the first half of the 3rd round. Next episode, we’ll see the FANtastic Queendom stages, where each group will perform songs selected by their fans.
The return of WJSN’s Bona! Brave Girls crying! Hyolyn mad! What will the Mnet editors concoct next?
- I have to give credit where it’s due, Mnet editors really did a stellar job of piecing together some great red herrings just using the footage they had. I can honestly say at this point that previews mean nothing on this show, anything could happen.
- Songs for the FANtastic Round:
Would’ve have loved to have seen “Deepened“ for BG and “Secret“ (or even “Let Me In“) for WJSN, but I respect that both are deep cuts. LOONA’s “Butterfly” is probably their most fan-popular song ever, don’t think anyone would argue about that. Hyolyn’s “See Sea” is fine, but really was hoping for like “Ma Boy“ or even “Dally“. Kep1er, I mean you guys can just do whatever while the adults are talking.
- I think Hyolyn is having way more fun simply watching her juniors come out of their shells versus actually competing for herself. Totally understandable.
- The fact that “Purr” and “Ka-Boom” are so similar is a bit disappointing. I get that it’s this type of style of performance that has a bigger impact in trailers and promos and such, but on the other hand it’s yet another step down from Season 1.
- Chuu living up to her name, trying to take a big chunk out of Yves’ shoulder.
- I feel like Hikaru would be the most frustrating person to communicate with, and I speak Japanese.
- “Purr” is definitely a rejected song, probably twice-cooked, once for a real group (BLACKPINK? (G)I-DLE?) and then once for GP999.
- I don’t remember Season 1 being as obsessed with cats as Season 2 has been.
- The special behind-the-scenes content this week was literally just advertising.
- Lots of Face Award contenders. Minyoung’s “hugyu hugyu” face was wild. Dayeon’s “money” face, just because it’s so sad. But SinB devolving into some deranged rodent-type monster after getting third takes the crown.
- Glad to see Olivia Hye get some focus on the show, it’s a shame really how many members have been completely ignored. I almost feel bad for Bahiyyih fans. Almost.
- It’s interesting to see the various SWF vets go through a choreography with idols. You can tell LACHICA is the most comfortable working in this type of environment, and why they’re so popular for both idols and companies. Conversely, you can probably also tell why Monika rarely works with idols.
- That being said, WJSN’s Dayoung is an extreme weirdo and I would like to subscribe to her newsletter.