Kingdom: Legendary War – Episode Five Recap and Ranking

Kingdom - Legendary WarWarning: This recap is not spoiler-free. Proceed at your own risk!

Other Recaps: Episode One // Episode Two // Episode Three // Episode Four


One thing I’ll say for Kingdom is that it wastes no time getting started. Unlike the Produce 101 franchise, this series doesn’t spend endless minutes on formalities. We get right into the performances this episode (or rather, the behind-the-scenes footage preceding the performances!).

Disclaimer: I’m watching the full episode, not the unedited clips on YouTube. I’ll be embedding the full YouTube performances in these posts, but my ranking is determined by what was shown in the episode itself.

6. SF9 – The Stealer

Read my thoughts as part of last week’s recap.

5. iKON – Inception

Read my thoughts as part of last week’s recap.

4. ATEEZ – Rhythm Ta

It’s crazy to watch ATEEZ reminisce about being young students looking up to iKON. I guess I just never picture iKON is being “old” compared to other groups. But, they’re approaching their sixth year now, which is practically a senior citizen by K-pop standards.

MNET wisely focuses on some bromance during this behind-the-scenes package. The producers clearly know where their bread is buttered, and I like how lighthearted ATEEZ’s discussions of iKON’s music come across.

They decide to cover Rhythm Ta, which plays to their strengths even if I think it’s a missed opportunity to tackle something more outside their comfort zone. I would have loved to hear them beef up Apology or Goodbye Road in their own way. They change some of the lyrics and learn the new choreography, and also find the time to go to a shooting arcade to “prepare” for their performance. I think they just wanted to have some fun. I don’t blame them!

After last week’s performance, ATEEZ have a lot to live up to. And, the opening of this performance was super creative. I’m disappointed that the storyline moved quickly into gun play, as I think that theme is getting more and more played out during this show. But, I loved the staging of the car.

Unfortunately, I think things went downhill from here. The rope climbing stunt was kind of cool, and I liked the parts that focused on choreography. But, the actual music wasn’t too memorable. I’m not sure there’s all that much you can do to make Rhythm Ta sound different from the original. Adding a Latin influence was a cool idea, but overall I think they should’ve picked a different song.

I know the performance’s finale was supposed to be anthemic and inspiring, but I found it a bit cheesy (especially the blow-up blimp). You can’t go wrong with Jongho standing front and center, rattling off a power note like it’s the easiest thing in the world. I just wish the entire package had a more iconic feel to it.

3. Stray Kids – I’ll Be Your Man

Stray kids choose I’ll Be Your Man, which in my opinion is one of the better BTOB singles of the past few years. The bromance of this episode continues as the guys sit down with BTOB to discuss their song choice. It’s odd that these two groups seem to have so much on-camera time together, while most of the other groups seem to be more sequestered. I’m not complaining about the interactions, but I wish each group would have had this face-to-face chance.

As a self-producing team, Stray Kids definitely have an advantage when it comes to conveying their individual color. My hope is that they use this show as an opportunity to widen their spectrum, exploring genres and styles they may not feel comfortable tackling in their own title tracks.

While 3RACHA re-arranges the song, the other members head off to make their own rings, which seems like a somewhat superfluous activity. But, I guess it’s nice to see some variety in these behind-the-scenes packages. You can only watch a group toiling away in their practice room for so long before it all starts to look the same.

I found the vocal recording portion of this video particularly interesting. In general, I love Stray Kids’ music, but I don’t think of them as a vocal-oriented group. Tackling a demanding song like this is a big challenge, but also a chance to show fans a side they might not hear often. I give the guys kudos for performing in the original key, even if they know they can’t compete with BTOB in this realm. And, that’s okay. They have their own charms. But, Kingdom is a great opportunity to push outside your comfort zone.

From a performance aspect, I think Stray Kids sold the song well. They certainly captured a forlorn energy. Han was especially impressive. He really is one of the group’s best vocalists, even if that’s not his official position.

My only concern about this performance was that it felt like more of the same from Stray Kids. They do what they do really well, and the bombastic arrangement of the track enhanced its energy. But, I hope they pull a 180 and switch up their tone for the next round. At a certain point, it becomes so dark and menacing all the way through that those qualities start to feel monotonous.

Still, there was some cool staging here and a few of the camera angles captured the emotion in unexpected ways — even if that emotion was often overwrought.

2. BTOB – Back Door

BTOB covering Stray Kids is perhaps the most interesting prospect of this entire round. On the surface, the two groups seem like polar opposites. But, I think a lot of people forget about BTOB’s early years. Their music used to be a lot more upbeat and even based in hip-hop at times. Of course, they’re older now, but they have some skills and quirks that none of the other groups possess. They’re more than capable of surprising in this round.

Speaking of surprising, I didn’t expect them to pick one of Stray Kids’ hype tracks. Back Door seems like an odd fit when compared to a more vocal-heavy song like Levanter, but making unexpected choices is what this show is about. I’m glad they’re challenging themselves.

This behind-the-scenes package had some fun interplay between BTOB and Stray Kids – a lightheartedness that’s been sorely missed in some of Kingdom’s episodes. From what I can remember, they’re the only two groups who had an actual conversation with each other about song choices during the lead-up to this round. The dynamic between the guys was pretty fun, and reminded me of the prank-pulling between The Boyz and Golden Child during Road to Kingdom.

Although I love the song Back Door, I’ve always cringed at its choreography. It’s so on the nose, and unintentionally funny. Given that BTOB can sometimes be overly goofy, I’m glad they ditched most of the original choreo.

For their concept, the guys go with a classic “backstage-to-onstage” flow. It’s not particularly original, but it always works well in the context of these shows. It’s easy to stage and refreshingly lighthearted.

They divide the performance up into individual scenes, which is smart. I like how the genre switched between these scenes, allowing for a dynamic arrangement that was constantly in flux. Some parts were stronger than others, but the fact that it kept changing made it engaging throughout.

I also appreciate how BTOB completely reinvented the song. You could hear the original swimming around inside the arrangement, but at times it sounded like a totally new track. The climax was also great, flanked by a series of standout vocals. But, my favorite part of this performance might have just been Stray Kids’ reaction to it. They looked so genuinely happy to watch BTOB performing their song. That’s really what the show should be about. Eliminate the competition entirely and just have these groups celebrate each other’s music.

1. The Boyz – O Sole Mio

Read my thoughts as part of last week’s recap.


Overall, I thought this round was weaker than the last. No performance stood out as something I’ll remember in a year, though no performance was objectively bad either. Because of this, my final ranking is pretty neck-and-neck.

But, here were the votes that actually mattered:

Expert Evaluation:
6. Stray Kids
4. SF9
3. iKON
2. The Boyz

Group Evaluation
6. The Boyz (zero votes?!?)
5. Stray Kids
4-3. ATEEZ/iKON (tie)
2-1. BTOB/SF9 (tie)

Combined Result (Expert + Group):
6. The Boyz
5. Stray Kids
4. iKON
2. SF9

As with the last round, the global fan vote will be revealed later, and will likely upend everything due to the way this whole competition is structured. It’s probably best not to put much stock into the results this week. Even so, I thought this ranking was really weird.

Also, does anyone else miss the public group vote of Queendom? Yes, it was awkward, but seeing the groups reveal their votes in front of each other made for some really good TV.


25 thoughts on “Kingdom: Legendary War – Episode Five Recap and Ranking

  1. I’d rank like this:
    1. BTOB
    2. Stray kids
    3. SF9
    4. iKON
    5. The Boyz
    6. ATEEZ
    For me, Stray and BTOB had the best performances. I only put Stray in second because I didn’t really like Felix’s solo dance, but two really good.
    Didn’t like ATEEZ here, the idea was good, but didn’t click for me

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Queendom was overrall just so much more of a fun show. So many more iconic moments and even trainwreck performances like Sixth Sense had this goofy troll quality to them and so much less of the self-importance that follows how boy groups are marketed. Park Bom singing the intro of you and I with the awkward silence… it really was art

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well yeah, queendom was filled with veterans with gidle being the youngest. None of them had anything to prove.

      These boy bands are rookies. Btob being the oldest hence why they are the most relaxed.


      • BTOB – Debuted in 2012
        iKON – Debuted in 2015
        SF9 – Debuted in 2016

        The Boyz (2017) along with Stray Kids and Ateez (both 2018) are the only ones who could be considered “rookies” but even that’s a stretch considering all 3 groups have been around for more than 2 years and have all released at least 7 albums

        Liked by 3 people

        • I personally still consider 2 years rookies and that “only” being half the roster and when compared to queendom where only gidle fit in that range. My point stands.


  3. I posted my thoughts about the previous three before but, it keeps getting deleted. Perhaps cause it’s too spammy for wordpress? Gonna skip on them cause of that. I just want to say it’s ridiculous that the boyz got 0 votes.

    6. SF9

    5. Ikon

    4. Stray Kids

    I liked the usage of gray screen for the flashback. Clever use of camera works while taking advantages of that fact that there’s no live audiences who would get confused at that. The song itself is…okay. It didn’t do much differently.

    3. Ateez

    The car stuff was cool, the rope one makes for a great scene that aren’t life or death stunts. I don’t like the trap chorus but then again, i guess the og song’s one isn’t less of a buzzkill. The song’s last climax should have been the chorus.

    2. BTOB

    I like that it spotlighted their individualities, and it feels very loose too which differentiates them from the other competitors. And once again, the damn trap chorus and climax that shown how good the chorus can be.

    1. The Boyz

    P.S: I don’t want the queendom public voting to come back. It would be more entertaining if they actually shittalk other or say their honest opinion but, them fumbling around words and saying “It’s not that we think you’re BAD, and we respect you, etc” is just too much cringe for my heart.


  4. My money is on SKZ in this show, but I love BTOB’s performance this week. Finally, a performance that is not halloween-y! I love Back Door and this version is just top tier, full of personality. BTOB’s experience definitely showed. This is how you do it kids


  5. My Top 3 would be probably the same! The Boyz, BTOB and Stray Kids really delivered great performances and I enjoyed them so much!


  6. Watching Kingdom this time around has been very different from watching road to kingdom for me personally because I only consider myself a casual fan of Stray Kids, Ateez, and The Boyz. As for SF9 and Ikon I was largely unfamiliar with them before this, BTOB I knew a bit, but they were mostly on their enlistment hiatus the last few years.
    Road to Kingdom I went into heavily biased because I am a huge Oneus fan, but for me watching them on RTK only reaffirmed why they are my personal favorites. Of course, I also left RTK a genuine fan of Golcha, ONF, and Verivery who I really didn’t know before watching RTK.
    So, watching Kingdom this time has been interesting because I went into it without a favorite. Granted I haven’t been nearly as invested in Kingdom as I was in RTK but maybe that is a good thing given the heart wrenching rollercoaster that RTK was.

    Now that I have said all that, here’s my ranking for this round:

    1) BTOB- That climax at the end was easily my favorite part of the round.
    2) Stray Kids- I loved the staging and they really got to show a different side to their skill set with this which was nice.
    3) The Boyz- I have never found myself to be particularly taken with The Boyz which I find quite frustrating. They are outstanding performers, I should love them, but they never really catch my full attention. That being said I did quite enjoy how they amped up the Latin vibes and as always it was beautifully done.
    4) SF9- The mafia theme is overdone but they did it well.
    5) Ateez- This whole stage was simply not my style.
    6) Ikon- I have to put this last simply because I watched it over a week ago and I don’t remember any of it.

    Overall, the BTOB/ Stray Kids switch up was my favorite. Going forward I hope we get a stage on the brighter side of things. I am a big fan of dark concepts, but I would love to see them switch it up a bit, go for vibrancy over intensity.


  7. I have to be honest, I didn’t watch, and I don’t know if I can anymore. I think I am over this show. I clicked on one of them (iirc it was BTOB Back Door), and as soon as the foghorn sound blared, I just … I just .. I closed my eyes, paused it, clicked away, did twelve other things, and just couldn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My takes from this episode:
    1. Stray Kids are wearing the same outfits from ep 1 right? Omg I want to see them wear something with colour, thinking Shinee’s view MV?
    Actually, I want to see all the groups wear outfits that aren’t black, white, red, or combinations thereof
    2. Minhyuk really loves his abs… not complaining
    3. Please no more guns and knives, so not needed for a dramatic performance


    • Coming back to this nearly two months later, gosh I wish Stray Kids chose a different song. They didn’t change the track in any meaningful way (adding a dance break totally doesn’t count) and they don’t have the vocal diversity to pull of the climax, it needs the baritones not just tenor voices. If they insisted on dark and edgy maybe Thriller would have been better? It could use a remix. Or totally change it up with the pure cheese that is You’re so Fly or The Winter’s Tale? Or anything left field like that. They chose a song to show off their skills, not to properly challenge themselves, I’m still disappointed by it. All of the other performances grew on me over time and showcased a different side to the groups, but the Stray Kids one is even worse with time.


  9. Well, it appears my ranking is quite controversial then
    6. Stray Kids – I don’t think anyone will agree with me on this one, especially after seeing the reactions on Twitter to the experts’ ranking, but their performance for me was not only confusing but underwhelming. It felt messy and I never really understood clearly what story they were trying to tell. They go to heaven as humans but are punished by angels and then make an offer to a demon to bring a heart to a kid? Was the kid them or just a childhood friend? Was the kid actually a symbol for somethin? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. If this was all a big allegory to something, I didnt get it. I also felt the ideas were a bit all over the place. The adaptation of the song was nice but not very memorable. The best part was obviously Han, I’m glad he had a chance to show off his vocal skills.
    5. SF9 – At first, I really liked this one. Then, as days went by, I found myself not wanting to see it again when I was rewatching all of last week’s performances. I felt they leaned too much on their props and dancing with guns felt a bit too much. It was not a bad performance at all but I still feel it needs more polish. Taeyang and Zuho are definitely highlights.
    4. ATEEZ – I honestly didn’t think I was gonna like it as much as I did, it’s a pretty complete performance with an interesting narrative, a general good musical adaptation, and the delivery was great. I felt the chorus was a missed opportunity, it felt so flat and anticlimactic compared to the other parts of the song.
    3. IKON – The main problem here, like in many other performances of RE-BORN, was the chorus. Ugh, Inception’s original was chorus was so nice, missed chanced for IKON. The delivery was great, these guys have charisma for days and I appreciated the simplicity of the stage. When the other groups prefer to lean or make up with bombastic props and intricate staging, I like seeing ikon rely more on their attitude and stage presence, even if I felt this one was a bit bland compared to their previous performance.
    2. BTOB – I miss the good ol’ days when being cool meant being a rockstar, nowadays you either have to act like a gangster or a demon, because that’s what we’ve been seeing up until now in Kingdom. I liked the idea and thought the version was nice. Then the chorus started… They totally missed the opportunity of doing something interesting with an electric guitar in the chorus instead of going with a void one. The ending was fun as hell though. I’m surprised Minhyuk lasted so much time without taking his shirt off in a performance.
    1. The Boyz – I hate latin-inspired Kpop stuff, mostly bc it relies so much on the same old stereotypes I can’t help but cringe, and it didn’t help that I didn’t like O Sole Mio bc I couldnt understand why a phrase in Italian was used as the title (and chorus) of a Latin/Hispanic inspired song. However, I really liked this performance and the song adaptation was quite nice. Unlike their previous performance, I didnt feel it was too overstuffed with props and the cage actually had purposed plus added something to the narrative/performance. I do agree that it would be nice to see other members besides the usual suspects standing out more.


    • On a side note, I think one of the biggest differences with Queendom is that the girls tried to have fun and showed that sentiment in their performances, while in Kingdom most of the groups seem more invested in showing off or proving themselves, especially the younger groups. It just makes the vibe of the show and their stages overall more cold and less engaging.

      Liked by 1 person

    • For Stray Kids performance of “I’ll be your man”, I interpreted it as losing someone/something (can be abstract like youth/childhood), being haunted by their memories/idea of concept, and deciding that they are willing to pay any price, like their soul, to get person/concept back. Felix acting out the role of the devil on your shoulder with a reinterpretation of the Peniel’s iconic rap verse and them sacrificing everything for it with emphasis of praying to God that it works. The ending implying it did work, but they all had to sacrifice their lives to do so. It could even be more deeply interpreted as battling mental health and being always pulled downward/under and that you would give anything/do anything to feel better.


    • I disagree completely regarding iKON. I love the fact that when people hear their music they can say it sounds like iKON music–they can’t say that about any of the other performers on that stage—none of them. iKON is unique and that’s what most people find appealing about them. They invite you into their world, they don’t ask you to sit back and watch them perform, they draw you in.


  10. Definitivamente el primer lugar le doy a Sf9, su actuación fue muy buena no se porque tanta critica a sus actuaciones para mi fueron acertadas es mas la presencia de Rowoon fue perfecta siendo el, el ladrón hermoso, tamvez si el exceso de lu ha y armas no debió ser mucho pero por lo demás estuvo bien.
    2. BTOB
    3. ATEEZ
    4. IKON
    5. The BOYZ
    6. Stray kids
    Es mi opinión


  11. 1. Ateez – Felt cohesive and everything was really clear and well done to me.

    2.The boyz – Unfair but because I’ve seen so many of their performances they are less interesting to me but they did a fantastic job as usual

    3/4.Btob – Hurts to say as a melody but I personally wasn’t really feeling peniel and minhyuk’s solos but I really loved everything else especially the end. Also, can mnet stop leaking all of their performances in the previews???

    4/3.Ikon – Last episode at first listen they were my favorite. I think they should be tied with btob but they are no longer the top spot from the last episode because they were less memorable to me overtime. Still my favorite song of all the performances though.

    5.Sf9- I liked them much better then last performance but I wish there was more singing and dancing and less acting.

    6.Stray Kids – This one is definitely a preference thing but as someone who likes loud edm stray kids songs I didn’t like the performance. I’m not a fan of dark and emotional music and I thought it wasn’t that cohesive to me. I felt like something was missing from the performance. I think they would be better off choosing another song.

    Overall I thought the performances were all pretty great and it was really hard to rank because they are all decent which really made it more of a preference ranking. I said a lot of things I disliked about each group’s performance but only because I feel like all of them did quite well. However, I feel like the better everyone gets, the less memorable the performances get?


    • For me, iKON is #1 in my book. I don’t remember anything the other teams did, but I can tell you everything iKON did. What I love even more, they have a unique style, tone, and presence. No other them has that. The other teams are basically the same if you dye their hair—their music and sound are the same. They have swag like no other team. People can say many things about iKON, but they cannot say they’re not memorable.


  12. I feel like my bias is really starting to come into play this week. My top 3 are all pretty close. There were parts I really loved about those performances, and parts that weren’t as great. BTOB’s transitions could have been stronger, the pace of ATEEZ’s performance slowed down at the podium part, and I just wish The Boyz would do more group dancing. I felt like Stray Kids struggled vocally with their performance, which is why I ranked them last, along with the fact that this seems incredibly similar to all of their previous performances.

    1. BTOB
    2. ATEEZ
    3. The Boyz
    4. iKON
    5. SF9
    6. Stray Kids


  13. My favorite in Round 2 is BTOB. I liked the arrangement in Backdoor and the overall vibe of their performance. I do think that they could have gone bigger in the end, their energy kind of remained the same for me through out.

    I liked Ateez’s arrangment. I am not a big fan of the org. Rhythm Ta, so I would probably pick their version over Ikon’s. Their performance however was kind of silly in the middle. The podium speech and the emphasis on Money Heist was a bit comedic. When you pick such themes for your performance, I guess there is a limit to how you much you have to stick to it till it just overreaches into parody land. I thought the car and the rope bit was fun but then they took the theme too seriously.

    I liked Stray kid’s performance as well. Kingdom is a forum for them to experiment and I was unaware of Han’s vocal abilities so that was a nice surprise. Their theme however has been moody from the beginning and even their make up seems the same to me now. I want a rock performance from them or anything different. Wear some other color kids.

    I guess my top performances would be:-
    1. BTOB
    2. The Boyz
    3. Ateez/ Stray kids
    4. Ikon/ SF9

    I wasn’t too fond of either performances.


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