‘Queendom Puzzle’ Episode 4: Reversals upon reversals as Re-mix Battle ends & All-Rounder Battle starts

Ah yes, the Queedom Puzzle recaps continue on, as last week we saw the highs and lows of Team Cherry Bullet, but if you think we’re done with the reversals you’re highly mistaken.

A short recap of what you missed: After winning the 7-on-7 battle, H1-KEY‘s Hwiseo and woo!ah!‘s Nana earned the roles of puzzle masters for the Re-mix Battle, allowing them to decide the teams for the six songs to be performed and judged in front of a live studio audience. Hwiseo picked BLACKPINK‘s “Shut Down” while Nana picked (G)-IDLE‘s “Nxde“. We saw “Nxde” and BSS SEVENTEEN‘s “Fighting” stages last week.


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This week begins with the “Fighting” Team feeling good even though they didn’t quite beat the 222 score of “Nxde” Team. Considering that most of the members on this team didn’t really like the song choice to begin with, the results were pretty good. The rest of the teams figure that going first has a real advantage, setting the bar super high for the rest of the performers.

The third team to perform is Hwiseo’s. For teammates, she selected her groupmate Riina, LIGHTSUM‘s Sangah, and Fye. As the second and only other intentionally constructed team, expectations are high.

Practice flashback shows the team figuring out their “roles” early on, but disagreeing on if they should shuffle the parts around. Hwiseo is assuming the Jennie role but wants more main vocalist sections. Fye is the Rosé, but explains that despite her role last round, she isn’t a rapper at all. Sangah (LISA) agrees with Fye, and also says her English diction will be better suited for the main vocal parts. Eventually they decide to keep Fye as the main vocal, but maybe not without a bit remaining unrest. After a nice pep talk with Riina she feels like it’ll all work out, and the recording session goes well enough.

Team “Shut Down” comes out with a loose Little Red Riding Hood theme, but not much in the way of stage gimmickry or pizzazz. And while nothing goes wrong during their performance, there’s no big “move the needle moment” either.

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, BLACKPINK songs on survival shows are traps. I’d argue one of BLACKPINK’s biggest appeals, and why there really haven’t been any real pretenders to their throne, is that no one in the game does the laconic, I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-my-performance attitude better than BP. Especially Jennie in the beginning, but now the feeling has definitely spread to Rosé, maybe even Lisa a little bit. Giving more effort (as most cover groups do) is actually a detriment to the performance, it ends up sapping the song’s appeal and enters a kind of try-hard cringe territory.

Also, the crowd vote is a popularity contest, and there’s no really popular members on this team to speak of. Yes, QP might end up being the breakout for H1-KEY and specifically Hwiseo, but this was filmed long before most K-pop fans have been made aware of any of these contestants. They needed a WJSN‘s Yeoreum or a Yeeun to really get some fan power behind them. Gotta play to your constituents.

Anyways, they get the lowest vote total so far, at 152.

Next up is Team “Only One“, my vote for the strongest contender remaining, AKA Weeekly‘s Soeun and Kei do all the gay.

Even after their first meeting, Kei and Soeun resolve to become really, really gay. But during the rehearsals, instructor Choi Young Joon noticed Kei was not comfortable being gay, doing hover hands on Soeun’s butt and such. So he ties her and Soeun’s wrists together and makes them do gay dates all week. Gay Date #1 has Kei showing Soeun a whole new world … of jokbal + milk. Gay Date #2 has them walking around at night taking selfies while holding hands. Eventually instructor Choi feels they are acceptably gay, and it’s time for the performance.

The performance for “Only One” is super arty and gay, cribbing a quote from French film Blue Is the Warmest Color to set the tone (gay). It’s in all respects a great performance; lots of set pieces (raised platform, mirror dance, walking on each other’s shoes, gay finale). Only thing holding it back really is Kei’s voice faltered early and spent a lot of time catching back up, and I feel like the burden of singing most of the early parts was too much to bear. Soeun’s clean lines and professionalism really shine here.

Unfortunately, they don’t break the 200 vote mark, getting 184 for their efforts. They shed a couple tears, not for themselves, but for each other, and quickly replace regret with pizza.

The next contender is Team “Don’t Call Me“, who got ranked 6th by their peers in the pre-ranking. I think they will do sneakily well, specifically because they have some of the most popular contestants on the show. Yeeun, Yeoreum and even Miru are no slouch when it comes to their own fanbases. Miru’s a bit of a slouch when it comes to learning choreography, though. She spends some extra time practicing, and Yeeun gives her an assist.

Meanwhile, woo!ah!’s Wooyeon feels a lot of pressure, due to her past lack of results. After being relegated to the background during “Charismatic“, she’s given the responsibility of main vocal for this performance. It also requires her to execute a rather time-sensitive stage change, so she tests it out during rehearsal.

“Don’t Call Me” starts off with a fierce intro, and basically becomes a charisma-off for all the participants. Wooyeon and Weeekly‘s Zoa get special recognition for getting special recognition with their effort. Yeeun stepping on the men was cool, Yeoreum’s dance break was also cool. Miru was unfortunately a huge weak link here, trying her best to keep up but continuously falling out of sync and singing off pitch. Queendom Puzzle has not been kind to Miru.

Team “Don’t Call Me” get a respectable 201, but it’s not enough to dethrone “Nxde”.

The final stage for this battle is from Team “Dance The Night Away“, featuring all three members of Cherry Bullet. For the stage production meeting, the team comes in fully prepared with examples, costumes, colors, design ideas, and more. In particular, an idea of a translucent globe being the focus of the intro gets praise from the staffers. The PD asks who came up with the idea, and Cherry Bullet says it was a team idea, while Rocket Punch‘s Yeonhee says it was her idea. Awkward laughter ensues.

They peep the choreography, and it’s readily apparent that sub-vocal 1 is the enviable part to get, as they maintain the center position throughout the entire song and even get some high-notes. Yeonhee and Cherry Bullet’s Bora battle for it, but with CB being the dominant party in this parliament, the vote is rigged in Bora’s favor. Meanwhile TripleS‘s Seoyoung is like “please don’t call on me please don’t call on me”.

It’s just a slight setback as they all settle into their roles and profess a great sense of teamwork and unity.

They perform, but their score is hidden for now.

I was so expecting Mnet to throw a crowbar into my face with a “Dance The Night Away” win, so having them come and just get a meh score of 166 was a huge relief to me personally, as a hater. Reminiscent of the WJSNPantomime” stage where they just kind of threw every prop in the closet at the stage. At least Chaerin finally feels comfortable.


So Team “Nxde” takes 1st place in anticlimactic fashion, as there weren’t any real contenders after “Only One” really. Not going to say they didn’t deserve it, “Nxde” took the biggest risks and thus reaped the biggest rewards. But maybe I still enjoyed “Fighting” a little more. All members of Team “Nxde” (Dohwa, Nana, Weeekly‘s Jihan, and Rocket Punch’s Suyun) get the benefit and the points.

The last place showing of Team “Shut Down” has the H1-KEY girls questioning what they did wrong. The show ruminates on how everyone’s a winner here, because they finally have FRIENDS!!! Isn’t Mnet so great and benevolent?!?

The next day comes and we’re back at Puzzle Studio. The girls all go up to the rooftop, where they’re presented some seats with a rooftop view. Yeonhee and Kei sit at opposite tables, and the rest of the contestants file in and take their seats. When everyone arrives, Yeonhee and Kei get to open the mission cards placed in front of them. And the mission today? Have fun! A brunch spread is brought out and they all get to enjoy some treats.

The monitor turns on and it’s Taeyeon remoting in. It’s through her we learn that the seating arrangement is divided into two new teams: Team Queendom and Team Puzzle. We flashback to the end of the Re-mix Battle, where at the end of all the performances Taeyeon asked all the participants to come back out on the stage. She then reveals the next battle, the All-Rounder Battle. Two teams will go head to head to win the benefit as a team. And this time, there’s no puzzle master pulling the strings, team selection will be done by lottery draw.

The first two in the lottery will be on separate teams, and everyone after that can choose which team, with no max limit. Could be 20 vs. 6 for all that matters. Yeonhee is picked first and sent to Team Queendom, while Kei is second and sent to Team Puzzle. And then the next four contestants pick all pick Kei, leaving poor Yeonhee alone. It takes the pure benevolence of big baby TripleS’s Jiwoo to break the streak. Dohwa and Hwiseo also pick Queendom, and the numbers level out a bit. Soeun also picks Queendom, and thus ends the short-lived romance of Kei and Soeun. The final combination is an even 13-13.

Back to the rooftop, where Taeyeon goes into detail about the next battle. Each team will perform three vocal/rap stages and two dance stages, so a total of 10 stages.

Before we go into further detail, a special gift is brought out for the winners of the Re-mix Battle. They get beef! But also a message. The real prize for winning is that each winner gets the opportunity to poach a member from the opposite team. As it stands, three of the members are on the loaded Team Puzzle, while Dohwa stands alone on Team Queendom. Dohwa wants to bring Kei over to her team, while all three winners on Team Puzzle each separately pick Hwiseo as their intended target.

Taeyeon reveals the secret twist to the rest of the competitors. Lots are drawn randomly and Dohwa goes 2nd, allowing her to defend once against Puzzle’s thievery. Jihan goes first, and announces Hwiseo as her target. Dohwa wastes no time and steals Hwiseo back. It’s Nana’s turn next, and she has every right to steal Hwiseo again, this time permanently. But she also realizes that this is a political game, and picks giant infant Jiwoo so as to not look like a bully. Suyun then also goes another way, picking up PURPLE KISS‘s Yuki.

So now the teams are 11-15 in personnel, and Taeyeon says Team Puzzle now needs to send two people to Team Queendom to balance it all out. Each member of Team Puzzle will rank their members of importance, and explain to a camera their reasons. The two least important members will be shipped off to Team Queendom.

Unlike most ranking/voting-type situation this is all happening out in the open without a private booth, so some girls can overhear who’s voting for who. Riina gets a lot of low votes, as does Jiwoo (lol), Weeekly’s Soojin, and Wooyeon.

The votes are tallied and Jiwoo ends up being voted BACK to Team Queendom (lo-fuckin-l) and then Soojin takes a roundhouse kick to her self-esteem as being the 2nd teammate cut. She admits she could hear people talking about her during the voting, which doesn’t make her feel very good at all. Team Queendom welcomes her with open arms, but the tears still flow. So the entire ordeal, which took like 15 minutes of the show, just ended up being a Yuki for Soojin swap.

The teams now get to pick the songs they will perform for the battle. Each round has three choices, and priority decided by… feats of strength, lol. Jiwoo and Riina are closest to the song board, so they have to footrace for their songs.

The first round features:

Both teams want “Rush Hour”, but Riina beats Jiwoo so Team Queendom has to settle for “Weekend”.

2nd Round is a ballad round:

Team Queendom can’t make up their mind in time, so Team Puzzle get their first choice of the Lim Young Woong ballad. TQ settles for “Hopeless Romantic”.

3rd round has four choices:

The DAY6 song is the clear favorite for both teams, and finally Jiwoo stretches those long limbs of hers, securing the pick. Team Puzzle goes for “WANNABE”.

After settling the vocal/rap choices, it’s time to pick the dance songs. These will be four, original songs made for the show and choreographed by La Chica/Choi Young Joon/RyuD of Auspicious, aka the people who have been handling all the dance/performance stuff so far on this show. We get snippets of the four songs, and then it’s time to choose, via dance battle.

There’s a bit of hesitation, and then Bora goes up and does some strange gyaru chicken dance. Not wanting to lose by default, Yeonhee steps up to the plate in response, and the episode ends.

After the preview for the next episode, we do get snippets of the new songs made for the Semifinals.

  • “Puzzlin'” – Young K
  • “i DGA” – Bobby
  • “I Do” – Ryan Jhun

Random Thoughts

  • Jiwoo during being stolen by Nana: ¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯
  • Jiwoo being cut by Team Puzzle: ¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯
  • Jiwoo losing footraces to Riina for songs: ¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯
  • Jiwoo charming every teammate/production staff person on Queendom Puzzle: ¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯
  • Note: Jiwoo emoji gets longer arms than the normal version.
  • I don’t know if the old guy crying during “Only One” was crying because Kei is beautiful or if because Kei is Gay now.
  • I think Miru is just cashed out this season, even when she’s getting plot points she can’t make an impact.
  • I feel like Elly might be too, but I hope not because every time I notice her she’s shining.
  • None of the dance songs sound particularly good.
  • I knew “Don’t Call Me” was out of the running when Yeoreum played the piano the wrong way.
  • Seoyoung was so real for this look, they need her on ever survival show at this point.
  • They’re just snippets so I don’t have much to say about them, but that Bobby song sounds ridiculous and the Ryan Jhun song sounds pretty fun.
  • My rankings for the Re-mix battle: “Fighting”, “Only One”, “Nxde”, “Don’t Call Me”, “Dance The Night Away”, “Shut Down”.
  • Somehow Bora is getting worse, lol. Can you imagine her doing “Only One”? It’d just be screeching and over-singing all over the place.
  • I guess I should make a Top 7? Or more like, who I think would benefit from winning this show.
  • First of all, send woo!ah! and send H1-KEY back, let the real groups flourish a bit.
  • Let’s just go full performance/girl crush: Yeoreum, Yeeun, Sangah, Jiwon, Suyun, Zoa, Kei. WJSN is still figuring it’s shit out. Yeeun can easily do solo and group activities. Sangah/Jiwon/Suyun/Zoa’s groups aren’t going anywhere. And Kei fits main vocal for this concept better than Bora does.


IATFB’s Shitters Section

Let’s not beat around the bush here and get right into the thoughts on the performances, which is what everybody wants.

(G)I-DLE’s “Nude”

The performance was compelling, especially the prop choreography. While it was the standout element of the performance, I’m not sure how much credit one can really give to the contestants for the idea. All the members executed their parts well enough, even if it was uneventful at times as nothing particularly stood out besides the choreo/visuals. I have no idea why people love the material so much, as that made it difficult to truly absorb since it’s so uneven. Nana is always there as a steadying force, but Suyun and Jihan were captivating here, and Dohwa finally gets on the board with a quality showing.

SEVENTEEN’s BSS’s “Fighting”

My only question is why the intro was so long. It’s not a fucking drama audition, dammit. To some extent, I might be evaluating the song, but this was just a lot more energetic and fun, and it helped the members to showcase themselves better. Juri and JooE have especially had rebounds with this by getting to showcase their vocals. I’ve seen people praising the rap verses, and while they were good for the most part, idol rappers should really just not try to do Lee Young Ji‘s stuff as it’s just a brutal comp. While Juri was the MVP, I thought Elly was another standout for the high note and just in general, while Jiwoo finally got to shine a bit.

BLACKPINK’s “Shut Down”

I’m with Hojo on this one in that trying to make BLACKPINK’s singles like artsy is just missing the point. Riina and Sangha best captured the effortless “I’m better than you bitches” vibe necessary, but to some extent they were all doing too much with typical idol mannerisms. From a talent point of view, they were all fine, but I can see why people might not have been the biggest fans of the performance.

BoA’s “Only One”

The immediate contrast in songs here is very funny, because “Only One” is almost meant for these types of interpretive modern dance things between duos. It’s appropriately gay and Kei shows again why she’s the show’s premier vocal. Unfortunately for Soeun, it’s instantly recognizable when she’s on the mic by comparison. I enjoyed their teamwork but almost anybody else on the show would’ve been less harsh a transition. Anyway, the only reason I can figure with regards to the votes is there are only two members here.

SHINee’s “Don’t Call Me”

Visually this is my favorite group, as the styling is on point and basically everybody is hot. Even still, Yeeun, Yeoreum, and Wooyeon stood out to me, the latter becoming a pleasant surprise from this show. The problem? As badass as this tried to come off, it mostly didn’t get there, and all I can think about is SHINee performing this instead — a quick way to be underwhelmed by covers.

TWICE’s “Dance The Night Away”

Yeonhee and Jiwon popped on the screen, though the former for her performance and the latter for her competency, which was unfortunately in short supply for this. If the goal of this was to make me appreciate TWICE, then well done.


In the end, I got:

Team “Only One”
Team “Fighting”
Team “Nxde”
Team “Don’t Call Me”
Team “Shut Down”
Team “Dance The Night Away”

In a way, I admire how clearly shameless the in-person voting of the crowd is. They care minimally about the performance quality and just vote for their faves. In that sense, they should separate group members and weight it by how many are participating in the performance for fairness, but I know Mnet doesn’t give a single fuck about that.

The biggest movers up my personal rankings so far are probably Wooyeon and Juri. The former appears to have simply been drowned out by Nana existing in the same group, but individually she’s shown she’s a surprising all-arounder in her own right. The latter is much needed personality to what is otherwise a rather self-serious top of the show rankings. She’s also the most talented so far of those types, though I do worry that if they have a girl crush concept it won’t exactly fit her well.

About Hojo

Big honkin' hot take machine