‘Queendom Puzzle’ Episode 6: All-Rounder Battle continues with quality trolling as eliminations loom

After the barrel of regrets that was Episode 5 (recaps here), Episode 6 thankfully gave us something to eat.


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Continuity is preserved as Episode 6 immediately resolves the previous week’s cliffhanger. It’s Team “WANNABE” over Team “Time Of Our Life” for a clean sweep of the vocal/rap portion of the All-Star Battle. Even Taeyeon is visibly appalled by this crowd of idiots. In all seriousness, I can see why some would prefer the “WANNABE” stage (that Hwiseo ad-lib gets rougher every time I hear it), but to pretend those attending this taping are voting analytically rather than voting for the name on the scarf they brought is pure fantasy.

Anyways, Team Queendom resolves to dance hard, even though their self-esteem is obviously shaken by the lack of results.

To this end, we jet back to the DANCE BATTLE (hi, remember me?), the winner of which will get to pick not one but both songs they want to perform in the All-Rounder Battle. After some initial apprehension, the normal cast of dancing stalwarts attack the stage the best they can. Ultimately, Team Puzzle wins again, selecting “Bad Blood” and “Web” to perform.

Shown in the last episode, Team Queendom won the rock-paper-scissors battle, earning the privilege of deciding the matchups for the entirety of the All-Rounder Battle. After some deliberation on strategy, they choose to pit “Overwater” against “Bad Blood”, and “Glow Up” vs “Web”, in order to provide a stronger contrast of styles.


Team “Bad Blood” goes first. Team Puzzle has no problems deciding the participating members, and move on to practice time. La Chica devised the choreo, which has a lot of lifts, held splits, and overall requires a great deal of strength to get through smoothly. Not a problem for the likes of Suyun or Nana, but members like Kei and even Yeeun struggle to find the stamina required.

At one point during practice a few members of Team Queendom show up with some snacks and support, and then Mnet editors kick in to high gear, painting the encounter as awkward and fraught with tension. Dohwa, the absolute chad, gets straight to the point, asking Nana if she regrets kicking out Jiwoo and Soojin, then giving Team Puzzle a sassy “Fighting~!” before exiting. Team Puzzle is galvanized by the encounter and practices harder.

Team “Bad Blood” goes for a Game Of Thrones concept, but also throws some artsy editing and a quote from the pro-slut-shaming Italian rom-com Malèna for good measure. The performance is frontloaded with complex formations and prop-laded gimmicks, maybe one too many, as screwing up the first one creates a domino effect that hangs over the first minute or so. Their formation really never gets it back together either. The back end is all explosions and fury, plus some scowling. This time, Suyun is the culprit for smiling too much. I liked the bouquet of limbs they made after Yeeun did the leg lift on the chair.

During the flashback for Team “Overwater”, we get to see the Visit Incident from Team Queendom’s perspective. Dohwa is indeed the mastermind, plotting to mess with their opponents’ mental state by bringing Jiwoo and Soojin (the two castoffs) with her. Literally every question Dohwa asks is filled with sussy gold, from “oh, Nana and Suyun on the same team again?” to “Yeeun and Sangah were on the [losing] ‘SNAP‘ team.” Every reply slightly smart reply she gets from Team Queendom is immediately turned back against them.

“Overwater” goes with an apropos The Little Mermaid theme, and I enjoyed the change of pace from the relentless assault of ‘bad bitch’ concepts typically adopted by these dance performance segments. It’s a much cleaner stage than the one presented by Team “Bad Blood”. But while there are a couple cute tricks, the in-betweens are a lot simpler and ultimately less thrilling. This isn’t the girls’ fault, it’s just the performance given to them is kind of dull.

While there aren’t any glaring execution errors on the level of “Bad Blood”, the energy level given by each dancer is out of sync. You know those vids that are like 10% 50% 100% 150%? Well Soojin is at like 120%, Miru is at like 45%, and everyone else is somewhere in between. You can really see it when they’re all supposed to toss their hair around, just by the diameter of the hair whip.

The dance results won’t be revealed this episode at all. Fye cries thinking about how much Dohwa has helped her, which makes Dohwa cry, which makes everyone else cry. Both teams return to the green room.


Team “Web” is using elastic bands, similar to the concept for the “Nxde” stage from the Re-mix Battle. This time, Riina is front and center, due to her length and her struggles with the band during practice. It’s shown that, though she might have preferred to perform “Bad Blood”, Yeoreum chose to go with “Web” as she felt they needed a capable leader an mentor. She guides Riina through practice, and she gets the hang of it before it’s time for the main stage.

“Web” not only has a gimmick similar to the “Nxde” stage, but the vibe of the song/performance are pretty much the same. “Web” actually might be less complex. The bridge is also really awkward and out of place. Zoa goes all out with the expressions, but there’s just not enough pizazz here to compete with the rest of the stages so far. Plus, they fall out of sync multiple times during the performance. No doubt the bands were difficult to practice with, but their effect on the performance were maybe not enough to merit the stress.

The final dance stage is “Glow Up”, which is a hip-hop styled, very NCT-esque type vibe of a stage. Loveable loser Yeonhee is excited to finally do a stage that isn’t cute. She takes the lead during rehearsal, adjusting the choreography when some of her teammates are struggling with the timing.

The concept for the stage makes sense given the material, but it’s well executed and the details are satisfying. From the falling wall to the flying Elly, nothing really feels out of place and the krumping-heavy choreo provides a platform to show off some technique while also being entertaining. Material-wise, I think “Glow-Up” and “Bad Blood” are the two most obvious front-runners.

By no means a legendary stage but I’ll take what I can get this round.

Again, we’re not privy to the results of the voting. Both teams return to the green room and ponder their fates.


Taeyeon announces that the final results of the All-Rounder Battle won’t be revealed until the next episode, which will feature the program’s first elimination (5 contestants).

The show has kind of dragged a bit since the All-Rounder Battle began, and the difference in talent is to blame for a lot of it. It’s unfortunate because there were such big turnabouts in the first couple rounds, and now we have such a different energy.

But I’m also reminded of Youth With You 2, which is probably one of the best seasons of this type of television ever made, but from like Episode 3 it was apparent who was going to win that show. And though we hoped a Lin Fan or a Dai Yanni could sneak into the Top 9 by memes alone, most viewers knew it’d take an act of God to do so.

Mnet just needs to double-down on underdog loser memes and I’ll probably still have a good time. Hope they don’t eliminate anyone who is actually entertaining.


Random Thoughts

  • What is with this dance battle shyness? Isn’t this your job? To perform (sometimes goofily) in front of people?
  • Bless Dohwa for continuing to create the quality content we need. If she gets eliminated the show is over.
  • Watching the dance battle, and especially the little segment where everyone praised Nana, I found myself thinking about how much shit Lee Chaeyeon got for being on Street Woman Fighter, and how by the end of her tenure she was actually kind of holding her own. No one else on Queendom Puzzle would have stood a chance.
  • I love the contrast between the Iron Throne visual and the Ikea Chair reality in the “Bad Blood” performance.
  • After watching the “Overwater” full cam, Soojin’s core strength is unreal.
  • Getting real sick of everyone going “Jihan!” and Jihan going “Who? Meeeeee?!?!?”
  • HYOLYN wouldn’t have messed up that lighter trick. #StarshipParkingLot
  • Why, Yeonhee, why?
  • For me it’s “Bad Blood” over “Overwater” and “Glow Up” over “Web”. Don’t think the score differences will be wide enough for Team Queendom to beat Team Puzzle.


IATFB’s Shitters Section

I actually thought the dance-focused battles were a lot better and more fun than the vocal ones, perhaps because this is what the contestants on the show are geared for.

Puzzle Team’s “BAD BLOOD” > Queendom Team’s “Overwater”

“BAD BLOOD” has a lot of gimmicks and acrobatics to it, but its strengths were in the members, who all performed their roles well. While not exactly an All-Star team here, they made it seem like they were. Aside from the usual suspects, Kei impressed again with her ability to adapt against type, and Sangah was especially engaging in this episode. Wooyeon continues to be the eye-catching visual that was underrated (by me at least).

“Overwater” isn’t the best song to show case individual dance talent (nor is it the best song, in general, but I digress), but Fye continues to catch my eye despite me thinking I could write her off a bit in the first episodes. She’s competent and stands out in most stages (not just cause of the hair), which means something on a show where there are too many melding talents … like a lot of her team.

Queendom Team’s “Glow Up” > Puzzle Team’s “WEB”

“WEB” was the first time I think Yuki delivered as expected on this show, as the concept fit her like a glove. And while Yeoreum and Zoa stood out visually, it definitely felt like a rehash of the earlier stage on the show, and it was a bit like a dark version of “Overwater” insofar as feeling drained of energy. It felt self-serious, especially contrasted with what followed.

While typical boy group concepts aren’t the best to listen to as pop singles, they are great for exactly this kind of purpose in terms of showcasing dancing, so “Glow Up” had an inherent advantage here. Juri still looks like she’s doing like cosplay during these concepts, but she’s still great on the show for other reasons anyway. Meanwhile, Elly continues her puzzling underrated run, and I felt good for JooE here, who finally seemed to find her groove on the show and shined here.


Not to echo Hojo here, but I have to agree one of the reasons things feel a bit stale is simply because there’s minimal tension in terms of the final group. Most already know who they want to vote for or what the talents of the members are. Since this was always geared as a survival show more than like an avenue for group interactions like Queendom mostly was initially, it feels about time for eliminations to come down the pipe to give me (and all the viewers) something to bitch about.

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