We left off last episode of the Queendom Puzzle adventure with Cherry Bullet‘s Jiwon and Bora in the driver’s seat for the 7-on-7 Battle. Jiwon picked a couple of aces and some complimentary pieces, while Bora flexed the ‘J’ portion of her Myers-Briggs, monopolizing the few rappers available.
Jiwon’s PICK team for “Charismatic” includes Lee Chae Yeon, woo!ah!‘s Nana and Wooyeon, Weeekly‘s Soeun and Jihan, and tripleS’s Jiwoo. Jiwon joins the team in their practice room and they all hug and cheer. Immediately Chae Yeon takes the reigns, distributing positions and designing the formation, to the delight of everyone. Morale is high and they get to rehearsal right away.
Meanwhile the leftover DROP team features Rocket Punch‘s Yeonhee and Suyun, Weeekly‘s Soojin and Zoa, JooE, Haein, and tripleS’s Seoyeon. The team lacks a real rapper (hasn’t Zoa done the rap for a bunch of Weeekly singles?) and it takes them over an hour to decide the parts. Haein becomes the defacto leader, but she doesn’t quite inspire the same amount of confidence as Chae Yeon does.
On the second day of practice, the parabola of vibes continues for both teams until the producers make an announcement. Chae Yeon and Haein have both dropped out from Queendom Puzzle for “personal reasons”. Both teams have the same number of people, but the difference in the reactions of both teams losing their eldest member is pretty comical. “Oh shit! What will we do?” vs. “Uhhh .. what was her part? Oh well.” Poor Haein, lol. Yeonhee takes up the leader’s mantle for DROP team. Meanwhile Jiwoo can’t find her floor position with the formation change.
On filming day, both teams share the green room and exchange some icy glares. Even when seeing DROP team in the flesh, Jiwon doesn’t feel apologetic at all about her choices, which is the correct decision.
DROP team films first, with PICK team watching with La Chica‘s Gabee, who really loves the detail and precision of Suyun and Yeonhee. PICK team starts to film, but they’ve already got their starting position wrong. At one point during PICK team filming it “starts to rain” and Nana fears that the shoot will be cancelled. But instead, the shoot director decides they’ll just film wet idols and somehow everyone is just cool with that.
For “SNAP“, we get some expository by tactical genius Bora about how everything is falling into place. H1-KEY‘s Hwiseo is visibly upset at being relegated to DROP team, but the team itself is no slouch. Dohwa, Kei, Fye, Hwiseo, Weki Meki‘s Elly, Shiroma miru, and Rocket Punch’s Juri scheme about how to make the PICK team regret their choices. Dohwa and Kei in particular take charge in leading their hoobaes to victory. They still need a total of three rappers; Elly and Juri volunteer to assist the already-capable Fye.
They get to practicing, and at first it seems like Hwiseo’s heart isn’t in it as she stands away from the group. But then she starts adjusting her teammate’s positions and fixing the choreography, and being an overall boon to the group. Dohwa, ever the cool leader, cedes control of practice to Hwiseo, encouraging the maknae’s enthusiasm and competitive attitude.
PICK team has Cherry Bullet’s Bora and Chaerin, Yeeun, PURPLE KISS‘s Yuki, H1-KEY’s Riina, LIGHTSUM‘s Sangah, and WJSN‘s Yeoreum. The song’s positions align exactly, and Bora again basks in the light of her own genius. Ironically, or maybe expectedly, Bora’s the slowest at picking up the dance. Choreographer Choi Youngjun comes in to observe the team’s progress, and most of his concerns are about Bora.
Team DROP peeps in on PICK during their break, and it just fires them up even more. DROP realizes they won’t ever beat PICK on an execution level, but they just need to spice everything up a bit more. Kei’s the first to act on this initiative. During recording, Kei asks producer Ryan Jhun if they can go up in pitch for the last vocal climax, and she lands on it perfectly. Bora in the green room overhears Kei’s note, and immediately kicks into full Broadway-mode, bringing three versions of the vocal climax to try for Mr. Jhun. After scuffing the third one and also insisting on some corny adlibs, Jhun interjects that maybe she should cut the shit out. Bora gives him an “I’ll kill you, you fucker” look before acquiescing.
We then move to filming day for both “SNAP” teams, and team DROP is already making a few mistakes. Dowha keeps the team focused on the strength and power of their moves, not on the tidiness, since if they lose that, they won’t beat them on any level. PICK team isn’t even watching at the beginning, eventually Sangah and Yeeun peeps in and see that team DROP have slightly different timings and formation adjustments. They report back to the rest of their team that they’re not that worried about team DROP’s so-called power.
Team PICK films their portion without much controversy.
The next day, all teams get together at the Puzzle Studio in color coordinated garb. It’s judgement day for the four subunits. Headmistress Taeyeon arrives and informs the contestants that the judges will be the people who worked on the production and filming of the PV songs, as well as some special Queendom alumni.
Cut to another boardroom far away. The first judges to enter are BTOB‘s Minhyuk and Eunkwang, followed by Hyolyn and then La Chica’s Gabee, Rian, and Simeez. Next is Ryan Jhun, Choi Youngjun, the producers for the “Charismatic” shoot, and a couple of music critics. Maybe next year they’ll have Queendom‘s #1 English-language journalist, Hojo. In addition, the idols will be evaluating each other, just not on the same song; “SNAP” participants evaluate “Charismatic” performances and vice versa.
The members of each winning team will get 10000 benefit points. Each winning team will also have one MVP selected by the expert judges, who will wield the Puzzle Power for the next battle.
The “Charismatic” PICK team is first up. Jiwon’s presence, Jiwoo’s length, and Nana’s viiiiiiiibe all stand out to the experts. But more importantly, they feel like a solid unit together. Jiwoo’s rough practices didn’t show in the final product, and Nana was apparently a strong leader on set. Also they get points for being the same height, lol.
DROP team is next, and immediately a calmer tone is taken. Suyun gets a lot of praise from both the experts and contestants, even from the opposing team. But since they’re different heights they seem like a less balanced team (lol). Yeonhee, Zoa and Suyun all get praise for their performance.
Next is “SNAP” DROP team, and everyone is excited to see Dark Kei. The PV starts and immediately everyone is remarking on how powerful Hwiseo is at center. Praise is sprinkled on just about everyone, and about 80% of the way through Rian realizes that this is the DROP team. She and Hyolyn wonders how could DROP team be so talented. Thanks, Bora! The experts are charmed by their power and distinct personalities.
“SNAP” PICK team’s video starts, and the vibe is already much different. PICK team is more polished, the moves are cleaner, and pros like Yeoreum and Yeeun get the details right, things like eye contact and such. It’s a much more sleek, sexy vibe than the raw energy of DROP team. Riina get’s praise for her intro, though it was very different from Hwiseo’s.
For “Charismatic”, the PICK team snags the W, 21-6, with most of the judges praising their teamwork and compatibility, and their similarity in height (lol). Jihan gets a very political thank you speech in, and Mnet throws in a clip of the experts praising Queendom Puzzle for even existing. Ryan Jhun voted for the DROP team, saying they sang it much better than the PICK team. Nana is chosen as the MVP, which means she’ll be one of two in the driver’s seat for the next challenge.
Taeyeon informs the group that the winner of the “SNAP” challenge was unanimously chosen by the experts, a decisive victory. Team DROP wins due to their charisma, palpable determination, and no doubt Hwiseo’s effort as center. Team PICK is clean and talented but didn’t have the appeal and impact DROP came right out of the gate with. Dohwa and Fye get MVP votes, but Hwiseo takes the crown.
Taeyeon immediately introduces the next round, the Re-mix Battle. 6 songs will be available to reinterpret, with the MVPs (now puzzlers) deciding the teams. The winners of the previous round are first dealt to teams, and then the losers. If someone doesn’t like the song assigned to them and was on a winning team, they’re allowed to raise an objection, which the Puzzlers will take into consideration, but are not obligated to comply to.
The six songs (and # of slots) are:
- (G)-IDLE – “Nxde” (4)
- SEVENTEEN’s BSS- “Fighting” (6)
- BLACKPINK – “Shut Down” (4)
- BoA – “Only One” (2)
- SHINee – “Don’t Call Me” (5)
- TWICE – “Dance The Night Away” (5)
They have two weeks to practice, and the performances will be in front of a live audience (nature is healing) who will vote for the winners. Each team member of the winning team will receive 20,000 points.
Hwiseo picks “Shut Down”, and Nana picks “Nxde”. Both of them kind of just have a vibes session for their teammates, which actually works pretty well for most of them, though not for all. Soeun and Kei getting put on “Only One” is a truly inspired choice. Hwiseo snags Fye up for “Shut Down”. Miru has never heard her song before, lol.
I laughed out loud when all three Cherry Bullet members got thrown on “Dance The Night Away”, this may be Jiwon’s third time on a survival show being forced to do a TWICE song. It’s completely on purpose too, as Nana saves her sis Wooyeon from being relegated to that fate, on the grounds of “it’s a concept she’s done too many times before”. Just beautiful stuff.
Nana takes both Jihan and Dohwa onto “Nxde”, while Hwiseo reunites with her H1-KEY teammate, Riina. Nana gives the final spot for “Nxde” to the hardworking performer Suyun, while the competitive Yeonhee gets sent to the TWICE dungeon with Seoyeon.
It’s time for objections, and Juri and Jiwon raise theirs. Jiwon wants a different concept, but maybe gets a little greedy, asking to be placed on Team “Nxde”. Juri humbly requests to get switched from “Don’t Call Me” to “Fighting” and the two MVPs oblige, switching her with Yeoreum, who also is pleased with the change. Jiwon … gets slotted back on TWICE.
- woo!ah!’s Nana
- Weeekly’s Jihan
- Dohwa (AOA)
- Rocket Punch’s Suyun
SEVENTEEN’s BSS’s “Fighting”
- Weki Meki’s Elly
- tripleS’s Jiwoo
- Rocket Punch’s Juri
- Weeekly’s Lee Soojin
- PURPLE KISS’s Yuki
BLACKPINK’s “Shut Down”
- H1-KEY’s Hwiseo
- LIGHTSUM’s Sangah
- H1-KEY’s Riina
BoA’s “Only One”
- Weeekly’s Soeun
- Lovelyz’s Kei
SHINee’s “Don’t Call Me”
- Shiroma Miru
- woo!ah!’s Wooyeon
- WJSN’s Yeoreum
- CLC’s Yeeun
- Weeekly’s Zoa
TWICE’s “Dance The Night Away”
- Cherry Bullet’s Jiwon
- Cherry Bullet’s Bora
- Cherry Bullet’s Chaerin
- tripleS’s Seoyeon
- Rocket Punch’s Yeonhee
The new teams are sent out right away to meet and discuss concepts. While Team “Nxde” gets all lovey-dovey, the majority of Team “Fighting” don’t want to be there (except for Juri, lol). Kei and Soeun, aka Team “Only One”, basically go on a date. Team “Don’t Call Me” go into cyborg performance analysis mode, and Team “Shut Down” prepare for their battle as the Tier 4 Avengers. Meanwhile on Team “Dance The Night Away”, Jiwon is super pissed at her result.
We get a montage of the next couple weeks of practice, which includes more dates for Soeun and Kei, Bora being territorial again with vocal parts, and Juri just doing jokes, all the time, forever.
The day of the competition arrives, and so do all the contestants. In each team’s dressing room sits a placard with all six teams ranked. During the rehearsal period, every team got to hear every other teams’ song and got to rate them on vibes. “Dance The Night Away” is pre-ranked at 5th, “Shut Down” is in 4th, “Nxde” is in 3rd. The “Fighting” girls are ecstatic to be in 2nd place, “Don’t Call Me” gets a surprising 6th place, and “Only One” is set as the expected winner.
We even get a couple of performances this week!
First up is “Nxde” (already?).
The main gimmick of Team “Nxde” is a fairly complex ribbon dance, doing a kind of a marionette concept which isn’t too far from the original song’s main intention. They also suggest an insanely ugly doll chandelier to be put on stage, which is immediately shot down by the production team. At least in its current form. Practice is tough; the ribbons break and get tangled, and it’s hard to concentrate on singing and on expressions when they’re so focused on the ribbons. Even the final rehearsal is full of snafus.
Dohwa goes into mommy mode, telling the frustrated team that whenever she did well in rehearsal, something would go wrong during the main event. But if she had mistakes in rehearsal, the main performance would go off without a hitch.
Their remix of “Nxde” is way more EDM/dubstep than the brassy original. Nana is definitely not as good of a rapper as Soyeon is unfortunately. Also, her typically smiley expression kind of backfires on this stage, seeing how Jihan went full dark mode. The screen Suyun and the backup dancer make during her “movie star” line is super cool. The dance break feels complicated and difficult to do, but I’m not sure if the impact of it was worth the immense effort. Dohwa’s just trying to sex it up amongst all these children.
Team “Nxde” gets their results right away, 222 points. No idea what the scale is yet.
Next is Team “Fighting”, consisting of JooE, Yuki, Juri, Soojin, Jiwoo, and Elly. Out of the six only Juri really wants to be here, and the bleak vibes are palpable during their brainstorming session. It’s up to Leader Juri to kick this team into gear, and she’s got an office worker but also Inside Out concept, which she can’t really describe but she made a great sketch to show at least her character.
The stage they come up with kind of splits the middle between LOONA‘s super musical “Shake It” concept and Girls Planet 999‘s cover of “Pretty U“. At first it seems like it’s going to be a taut and scripted affair, but pretty quickly just ends up being a charm showcase for everyone involved. And I like it a lot!
“Fighting” made me realize how “Nxde” was kind of just drowning in its own concept to the detriment of the members involved. On the other end, “Fighting” allows the idols involved to showcase why the hell some of them are even on the show. Juri’s tone and comic character are great. Yuki gets real rap parts. Elly’s vocals ring out clearly, JooE gets her hype-up spotlight, Jiwoo just does a bunch of things (we’ve seen her like do two things ever, so anything she does is considered pioneering and fresh). Maybe just Soojin felt a little underutilized.
The details are great too: confetti cup pass, steam guns, the handcrafted resignation letters. Great use of the stage and a real fun time.
Of course the crowd gives the song 209 points, unable to beat “Nxde”. Sigh.
We’re then given a teensy taste of the “Only One” stage before the episode ends. Odds are this performance will be the last one shown next episode. Looks artsy.
Oh yeah, and they show the current vote results:
- woo!ah!’s Nana
- Cherry Bullet’s Bora
- WJSN’s Yeoreum
- CLC’s Yeeun
- Cherry Bullet’s Jiwon
- Weeekly’s Jihan,
- Lovelyz’s Kei
No surprises here, but I bet things shift around a lot due to this episode.
- If you can’t tell by the length I really, really enjoyed this episode. Funny in both intentional and unintentional ways. Felt really short, and I’m pleased with the amount of relevant content being packed into each episode.
- Bora’s mistake was not the rapper gambit, it was not picking obvious talents like Hwiseo or Kei because she didn’t want to compete for the main vocal slot. Feel like if she swapped in Hwiseo for Chaerin, PICK would’ve won easily.
- It’s also a lesson to draft the best talent on the board rather than drafting for position (that’s a sports reference).
- The contrast in reaction between team PICK losing Chae Yeon (“omg what will we do”) vs DROP losing Haein (“what were her parts again”) is pretty funny.
- If Bora gives you this look, run.
- Choi Youngjun always with the short man complex.
- Loved the grown man in the audience screaming “YES I’M NUDE” but at the wrong time.
- Loved Riina just gigging and applauding when Hwiseo got VIP, while her teammates were in the shitter. H1-KEY girls always protecting each other.
- Are you telling me that rain during “Charismatic” was completely unplanned? I will eat a lot of bullshit from your company, but that was the most pumped in rain seen this side of Kikuchi’s house (Great Teacher Onizuka).
- Everyone loves Jiwoo’s tall-baby vibe. Her stock is so high right now, she could go out and twist a puppy’s head off and people would be into it.
- Jiwon is so depraved; if you were gonna be on Team “Nxde” you would’ve already been there.
- “Only One” is my predicted winner. Can’t beat this amount of sapphic power.
- Kei’s hoverhand in the preview is a bit concerning, no one likes a fake gay.
- “Don’t Call Me” might be the dark horse candidate here though. Just a feeling.
- Queendom Puzzle concert or Rocket Punch Uncle Fans vs. Cherry Bullet Hag Fans battle royale?
- Those music critics were just like “they’re so tall, also Queendom Puzzle is so great”, journalism really is dead.
- I’m not sure if it’s the language barrier but Miru has just completely disappeared on this show. Of course she’s performing her Re-mix stage next ep but we’ll see how much focus time she even gets.
IATFB’s Shitters Section
I am back again, I apologize for making this longer.
Overall, I thought they made the right choices on the 7-on-7 Battle winners.
PICK – “Charismatic”
woo!ah!’s Nana>Cherry Bullet’s Jiwon>woo!ah!’s Wooyeon>Weeekly’s Jihan>tripleS’s Jiwoo>Weeekly’s Soeun
Wooyeon was a pleasant surprise of this, as she not only showed her performance quality but sung capably, and it didn’t hurt like she had probably her best look yet. I fear backlash against Nana due to the hype she’s getting and the winner’s edit, but it makes a lot of sense as she has star quality and if she debuted in a Big 4 girl group people would make her a mega-star. Jiwon and Jihan are somewhat interchangeable here, as they both did well and wouldn’t have an issue if either were MVP, and Jiwoo had a nice showing as well for that matter. Soeun wasn’t terrible, but compared to the rest of the group killing it, just a tough draw.
DROP – “Charismatic”
Rocket Punch’s Yeonhee>Rocket Punch’s Suyun>Weeekly’s Zoa>Weeekly’s Lee Soojin>JooE>tripleS’s Seoyeon
Yeonhee was basically this group’s Nana as an all-around that embodied the concept the best, while Suyun had a surprisingly great showing in killing all the parts she was given. Zoa and Lee Soojin both did well, while JooE would’ve been a better fit in the other concept, and Seoyeon still has some ways to go but had a better showing here.
PICK – “SNAP”
CLC’s Yeeun>H1-KEY’s Riina>WJSN’s Yeoreum>LIGHTSUM’s Sangah>PURPLE KISS’s Yuki>Cherry Bullet’s Bora>Cherry Bullet’s Chaerin
The fact that she’s getting evil edited doesn’t make this any less of a puzzling choice for Bora. Yes, she gets main vocalist, but she’s really the only one here who looks a bit out of place and it doesn’t help that she gets mogged by Kei soon after this.
Yeeun, Riina, and Yeoreum all stood out in terms of owning the stages and delivering the parts. Sangah fits in here like a glove and finishing behind the three in front of her is not meant as any insult. I’m Yuki biased, but a lot of her parts were also the most annoying, and honestly it’s just hard to evaluate when the material is such shit. Chaerin seemed a bit out of depth.
DROP – “SNAP”
Fye>H1-KEY’s Hwiseo>Lovelyz’s Kei>Shiroma Miru>Weki Meki’s Elly>AOA’s Dohwa>Rocket Punch’s Takahashi Juri
The surprise member here for me is Kei, who pulled this off way better than I expected, and of course delivered a rare competent vocal on the show. Kei convinced me here that she can fit into whatever concept. Fye was also another standout. I’m not convinced she’s actually great at rapping, but she sells the fuck out of it, and that’s like 90% of the battle in these things. The fact that Hwiseo was waiting in the wings and they choose to put Sitala in H1-KEY is insane, as she’s been one of the most consistent on this show and certainly seems to have IT. Everybody on this team actually did well, and Juri was the only one that pretty clearly didn’t fit. Elly and Dohwa might’ve been like fourth on the other team.
PURPLE KISS’s Yuki
Rocket Punch’s Yeonhee
Cherry Bullet’s Jiwon
First 3 Out
Cherry Bullet’s Bora
On merit, I’d say Yeoreum clearly deserves to be in the group. She’s a consistent veteran performer, the visuals are there, and the skills are at least on-par across the board with the rest. I just kinda don’t see the point to some extent, not unlike GIRL’S REVERSE basically putting already experienced idols in their final lineup. Kei falls into a similar boat, but somebody has to sing, I figure. Maybe I’ll change my mind on this, but it just seems like a waste to give it to literally WJSN, AOA, Lovelyz, MOMOLAND, etc. members who are already at the level of fame some of these other idols can only dream of.
A dark horse in this is Juri, simply because there’s a lot of idols that are a bit too self-serious in the group right now, and she provides much needed charm to everything.