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Kingdom: Legendary War – Finale 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 // Episode Five // Episode Six // Episode Seven // Episode Eight // Episode Nine


Friends, I have disturbing news…

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The final episode of Kingdom is over three hours long. Three hours and ten minutes, to be exact.

Gone are the illusions of an early night. This husk of a blogger, wiped from a busy work week and overdosed on TXT has become a ghost(9). And now, the prospect of staying Up All Night to chronicle this three hour swagger-a-thon will see my usual grasp of the English language devolve into incomprehensible eieios and illa illas.

But, I’ll brave all the rankings and re-rankings for you, because that’s what I do. Just don’t be surprised if a sentence stops mid-way through, replaced by a series of random characters. That only means my keyboard began to resemble a pillow. Hey, I’m just “resting my eyes”…


AN ENDLESS INTRODUCTION

Through a combination of voting and streaming, the final round will be decided completely by fans. This obviously has the potential to shake up the ranking, but all votes from previous rounds will be added as well.

The episode opens with all groups marching out one by one, flanked by dramatic remixes of their signature songs. It’s super awkward, with the camera weaving around as the guys stare intensely into space. Some members are better at maintaining this act than others, and of course I’m instantly drawn to the ones who look most uncomfortable. Unsurprisingly, BTOB are seasoned enough to simply turn the whole thing into a joke.

And judging by this introduction, it’s instantly clear why this episode will be three hours long. They literally introduce each act several times. In a row. Right before a clip package that introduces them yet again

After twenty minutes, nothing has happened. I wonder if it would be better to pre-record the finale? I know the voting wouldn’t work the same, but these live finales just DRAG. We need an editor.


MUSICAL CHART EVALUATION

In a fun behind-the-scenes clip, the groups listen to and evaluate each others’ finale songs. If you’re curious, you can read what I thought about them here. As expected, all the guys are very kind with their words. I’d love to see a series where idols spoke about what they honestly thought about their and others’ music. Of course, that would never happen (and for good reason!).

Anyway, part of this final round’s score (20,000 points) is dependent on how well these songs ranked on digital platforms. That ranking is revealed here, at a strategic point that will certainly not impact the live fan vote… right?

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

I’ve gotta say, I’m a little surprised The Boyz managed to take the top spot. They do have a sizable domestic fandom, though. Plus, the song’s pretty good!


Thirty-five minutes in, we finally hear those magic words: “The final round starts now.”

Thank. Goodness.


FINAL PERFORMANCE RANKING

I’ve already shared my thoughts on the songs, and that will definitely play a part in my final ranking. But, an excellent performance can elevate a so-so song, and vice versa.


6. iKON – At Ease

Like many of the Kingdom groups, iKON opt for a food-themed behind-the-scenes video. This is part cooking show, part eating show, and allows their fun interplay to flourish. Even if I haven’t always cared for their performances, iKON have been one of the most entertaining groups to watch on Kingdom. They come across as very authentic and comfortable in their own skin. And from the sound of it, they’ve been able to make a few friends with members from other groups.

They’ve also developed a bit of an obsession with “going up a notch” during each round’s ranking, and they’ve generally been successful in that aim. I get the sense that exposure is more important to them than ranking, but of course you want your work to be appreciated.

I’m sorry, iKON. I just can’t get into this song. And, the concept of the performance was pretty much what I would have expected from this heavy sound. The use of chain fences was cool, giving the stage a maze-like appearance.

iKON always delivers energy, and that was definitely the case here. The prisoner/prison guard costuming worked well, even if it felt too predictable. The song built to a rousing, shout-along finale. But, I feel like I’ve seen this stage before, and it’s just not what I tend to enjoy when it comes to K-pop.


5. SF9 – Believer

SF9 took a commanding lead last week, revealing a stage and concept that felt new for them. They’re still basking in that glory as they meet for drinks in what looks like a large, fancy greenhouse.

There’s a lot of focus on Taeyang’s tight shirts during this clip, as the members gift each other new clothes and other witty items. Thankfully, after receiving some throat spray, Inseong is now able to laugh about his “Spark” bum note during the unit performance round.

The guys look back at some of their stages, highlighting funny anecdotes. As with all the groups, I think their Kingdom run has been hit or miss, but generally on the strong side.

After a moody intro video, SF9’s stage opens in black and white. They’ve really been playing with color (or lack thereof) lately. That continued here, with lighting playing a big role. Compared to many of the other groups, their use of the stage felt more constrained. They spent a lot of time in that (admittedly cool) prismatic tunnel!

I loved the human sculpture that marked the mid-point of this performance, but other than that there wasn’t a lot of imagery that stuck with me. I’ve seen a lot of masks and creepy contacts in K-pop already. The song sounded better alongside a performance, but coming after last week’s triumphant Move, the finished product felt a little underwhelming.


4. ATEEZ – The Real

Oddly, their video starts with fashion, as the guys show us some of their favorite looks. They get all dressed up, only to meet at a construction zone that leads to a riverfront terrace. I’m not sure what this has to do with anything, but they discuss their song and how it shows how “real” they are as a band.

If I understood Hongjoong correctly, The Real is actually an old song they dug out from the vault. I always wonder how many treasures idols, agencies and producers have lying around. Let me feast on your scraps, Sweetune!

This kind of hype track can really benefit from a live performance. I like their theme of “delinquents,” even if it’s not very original. It was well-staged, with fun use of props that gave a lighter-than-expected vibe to a stage I assumed would be nothing more than puffed-up chests and general badassery.

There were a number of creative set pieces, and I loved when they brought the kids on for the finale. As for the song… I remain nonplussed about it. It’s like a less-successful version of music they’ve already released. Why couldn’t they have performed Take Me Home instead?!?


3. The Boyz – Kingdom Come

The Boyz have been very up-and-down throughout Kingdom — a completely different experience from their consistent dominance on Road to Kingdom. To relieve stress, fatigue and injury, the guys rent out Everland — that amusement park you always see on Korean variety shows. From the dark skies behind them, it looks like this was done in the middle of the night. So… maybe not relieving the fatigue??

Anyway, this is the master plan of the injured Younghoon, who couldn’t participate in the last two Kingdom rounds. The event also includes those sentimental video messages that tend to pop up during the last episodes of survival series.

The Boyz love playing on the theme of “Kingdom,” and elements of this can grow a bit stale. If I have to see a crown resting on a podium again, it’ll be too soon…

Luckily, this song is a jam. This was an odd performance because it used a lot of pre-recorded video for transitions. Otherwise, it was primarily a dance showcase, much like last week’s Monster. The dancing was great (of course), the song was great, and the costume changes were great. But, the lack of strong staging bumps this down a notch. And though Kingdom Come is one of my favorite songs of this round, I think it deserved a more inventive concept. It’s not The Boyz’ fault. I just think their team used up their best ideas during Road to Kingdom.


2. Stray Kids – Wolfgang

Stray Kids divide into three groups to go camping, make coffee and play games. It’s a much-needed break, though anything that’s filmed for Kingdom can’t really be considered a “break.” Still, the guys seem to have fun — especially the arcade team. Poor (or lucky?) Han takes his break alone, learning how to make coffee. At least he’s wearing a more sensible hat this week! I also like his black-painted nails.

This segment ends where most Korean variety does: at the grill, stuffing mouths with meat.

I like Stray Kids. A lot, actually. But, they haven’t really blown me away throughout Kingdom. Apart from Seungmin, they haven’t shown the kind of range I’d hoped for. This performance followed suit, boasting incredible energy undercut by a fairly dull song.

I died when the wolf hand puppet shoved itself into the screen (1:39 on this video). It’s so cheesy, and I think the performance would’ve benefitted from embracing that cheese rather than attempting to be “serious.” But even with all the strained edginess, the staging for this was pretty fantastic. They really leaned into the “wolf pack” theme, crawling and jumping all over the place. There were some real striking shots, using a variety of camera angles. Filling the stage with dancers lent Wolfgang a larger-than-life presence that made it feel more like a musical than a typical K-pop performance.

All in all, this strong, memorable performance enhanced a song that could do with more hooks and less shouting.


1. BTOB – Finale (Show And Prove)

The guys head off for a drive, reminiscing about their favorite performances during the show. And like almost every other group, they’re mooyaho-ing all the way. I swear, this “mooyaho!” disease is taking over. Where did this exclamation originate? It’s suddenly all over idol variety.

While eating, BTOB read “fan” letters from their enlisted members. How cool would their stint on Kingdom have been with all six remaining members? I would have loved to watch Sungjae’s interactions with other groups. He’s funny even when he’s not on screen, as evidenced by his letter.

Not only does BTOB have the best song in the finale, they’ve got the best performance as well. This was simple, but never boring. The staging echoed the overblown drama of this track but knew when to pause and use empty space to its advantage. It’s all about playing with momentum and energy in performances like this. You can’t start at ‘eleven’ and stay there the entire time. That’s just a loud version of ‘boring.’

With that said, this wasn’t anything revelatory or life-changing. It was essentially a scaled-down version of a Eurovision performance. But, alongside the rest of the acts, BTOB stands out in all the right ways. I loved their classic sense of showmanship.


VOCALIST STAGE

While we wait for the final votes to be counted, the Team Mayfly vocal unit (still the best performance of the series) is joined by DK of iKON, Inseung of SF9 and Hyunjae of The Boyz to cover “Boy’s Diary.” I don’t have a lot of commentary on this, except to say that these are the kind of collaborations Kingdom was made for.

The behind-the-scenes video is made even better when Changmin pays the guys a visit. They should have gotten him to join in on the performance, too!


FINAL RANKING AND WINNER

It all comes down to this.

Who will be THE KING? (he says in a dramatic, echoed voice)

Here’s what the fans (and previous rankings) decided:

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

I think we all could have predicted the winner, even from the first episode. In the end, this was always going to be a popularity contest to some extent. That’s not to take away from Stray Kids, who are immensely talented and delivered some great performances as part of this series. But those looking for an upset should probably tune into a different show with a different voting system.

If I were voting, I don’t even know who I would pick. All groups had their ups and downs, and my rankings changed week to week.

I’m more interested in seeing where these groups go next. They’ll all likely make comebacks within the next one to three months, and I’m eager to see if they stick with their pre-Kingdom trajectory or try something new. And will they get the same sales boost the Road to Kingdom groups enjoyed?

As for Kingdom as a whole? iKON’s Bobby probably summed it up best with this nonchalant quote:

“It felt short, yet so long.”

27 thoughts on “Kingdom: Legendary War – Finale Recap and Ranking

        • Yep, “Boys Be Loud.” I think it actually starts today.

          I’m also watching the current season of Produce 101 Japan, so I guess I’m a glutton for punishment! But, I’m actually enjoying this one because I’m breaking it up in chunks and taking my time watching it without the pressure of staying totally up to date.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think it’s better if you do that instead of re-capping the entire thing in the blog. Sometimes, things are just meant to be enjoyed rather than be used as work-time.

            Liked by 3 people

  1. My ranking is always so different from your’s and I think that’s why I always come back to this blog. Thanks for keeping up and covering the whole show. Your dedication to this blog is just amazing.
    1. Believer (SF9): I personally felt like there were so many beautiful, memorable moments. From the beginning with Hwiyoung-Taeyang dance to the human tree to the Youngbin-Chani dance to Taeyang’s spins. Personally, they weren’t underwhelming (because some of the others were too OVERwelming)
    2. Finale (BTOB): (Almost a tie for first personally) Amazing, touching, just good song, good vibes. Fantastic climax.
    3. The Real (Ateez): Love that they were having fun and for once, I really felt the hype through the screen and the climax was great. End>Beginning
    (The bottom half are all pretty close to me.)
    4. At ease (iKon): iKon and YG just wasn’t made for Kingdom. Can’t wait for them to comeback some time.
    5. Wolfgang (SKZ): This is now their 3rd time going wolf. :/ I feel like the point of the show is to try new stages/styles. I just didn’t really connect with wolfgang. Too grudgy/overwhelming personally. But I like how they did it all with so much passion/energy. I still understand why people loved it. Just personal preference at that point.
    6. Kingdom Come (TBZ): Having half of it be VCR and an unmemorable choreography made them last for me. I feel like after seeing their RTK performances, my standards are just really high for them. I’m curious to what their next comeback is gonna be like and what life after Kingdom is going to be like.

    Congrats to Stray Kidz. They worked really hard and gave some killer performances.

    Side note: You said “Their (sf9) Kingdom run has been hit or miss, but generally on the strong side.” but on almost all rounds but one, you put them practically last?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SF9 is already confirmed to have a comeback early July so there’s the first confirmed CB for the Kingdom groups. Also tbh we all saw it coming that Stray Kids would win, they deserved it, but given their massive GP, fandom and decent digitals, they’re obviously going to win :’)).
    I’m also looking forward to Skz and Tbz CB since it’s been 9 months since their last CB

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    • I am just happy to see SF9 be considered for their talents not just their looks and acting etc. I hope all the groups gained new fans

      Like

  3. SF9 is already confirmed to have a comeback early July so there’s the first confirmed CB for the Kingdom groups. Also tbh we all saw it coming that Stray Kids would win, they deserved it, but given their massive GP, fandom and decent digitals, they’re obviously going to win :’)).
    I’m also looking forward to Skz and Tbz CB since it’s been 9 months since their last CB

    Like

  4. SF9 is already confirmed to have a comeback early July so there’s the first confirmed CB for the Kingdom groups. Also tbh we all saw it coming that Stray Kids would win, they deserved it, but given their massive GP, fandom and decent digitals, they’re obviously going to win :’)).
    I’m also looking forward to Skz and Tbz CB since it’s been 9 months since their last CB

    Like

  5. This is so different from mine lol. Personally id say atz > sf9 > tbz/btob > ikon > skz, though my ranking aslo isnt really set in stone, all i know is that atz had my favorite

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  6. all we need now is for the groups to have a comeback! thank you for the recaps and reviews, i’ve really appreciated it as i wouldn’t have been interested in the show if it weren’t for your reviews (and btob and ikon).

    Like

  7. ICYMI, the “dramatic remixes of their signature songs” were the songs they performed in Episode 1! The way they entered is by their seating arrangement in alternate order. The King’s Voice song, if I’m not mistaken is actually a song for Kingdom (not a cover). I tried to search for the song title on Melon and there was a song with the name but different lyrics.
    Thank you so much for making Kingdom concise to consume for all that can’t be bothered to watch 1.5 (and in this episode, it’s 3) hours of content!

    Like

  8. i have my feelings about this, but mostly im just happy because i enjoyed the interactions and seungmin’s shine time throughout kingdom’s run (plus skz won and they’re one of my favourite groups ever so) but like you said i really am excited to see where they’ll go from here (and on a different note, i can’t wait for hyunjin to return because as much as I enjoyed the amount of center time felix and minho finally got in his absence, he is a very significant part of this group so one can only hope that they keep up giving all the members of their dance line shine time as well as their vocalists)

    Also when they talked about changmin’s marriage??!!! i was so giddy over that i love seeing idols happy and in love

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  9. Thank you so much, for recapping every episode. I had a lot of fun reading it. I’m glad that this show ended already, because of stress and mess for the fan bases.
    I’m very thankful that iKON was part of this show, mostly thanks to their atittude which help lossen up the atmosphere ( and a bit of exposure they gained). To express my gratitude to this program i quote Junhoe message to Kingdom ( who was for me absolute star in this last episode) ”Thank you brat”.

    PS. If someone want to knows some bedind the scene information, Chanwoo from iKON in his youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/chanwoo-sari/featured) will be commenting episodes (and dissing mnet probably).

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  10. Okay okay. I have my ranking.
    None were bad by any means, they just weren’t over the top or something unexpected.

    Sf9 and Ikon were okay. Just not my favorite stages from either of them. But they were both playing to some of their strengths so I understand their directions.

    The boyz and skz gave me the same feeling. Like yeah you are powerful and impactful, but in the same way of precious stages. Both just didn’t show me anything new. However, two things to note about skz.

    1) omg they do a lot of jumping tricks, they need variety sometimes 🤣
    2) They did have some badass moments in their performance which did elevate the song. Specifically Felix and changbin’s part before the shouting part of the chorus. They are good at making powerful moments. Buuuut still wasn’t my favorite stage of theirs. I liked their very first stage the most and then the Deadpool stage comes second for me. 👍🏻

    Finally, ateez and BTOB came out on top this round to me.

    Ateez just embraced a message and style and it worked. Even if I don’t love the song, they just know how to bring a performance to life.

    BTOB was masterclass. They performed the song so well. If anybody won this “round” it was them. And it was so cool to see all the boys shouting the group’s name after the performance was over.

    Overall, even if the performances were not as strong overall compared to road to kingdom- I’m glad I saw some more friendships budding. The teaming up rounds really brought people close together, which is what I was watching Kingdom for. I don’t particularly want to see another Kingdom ever again, but I’m still glad we got one. It’s all about the friendships we made along the way 🥰🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Ateez and BtoB had the best stages for me. Ateez’s is the only one I see myself returning to just for fun (and I’ve rewatched it several times already lol).

    Take Me Home wouldn’t count as an “original” song for this round since it’s already been released.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And ooh, Wolfgang…I was not feeling the staging or the concept choice. It felt like a knockoff and less impactful version of the Mayfly Wolf stage. Idk the props and fur costumes also looked kind of…cheap? Again I can’t help but compare to the Mayfly Wolf stage, where they had some really fantastic costumes on.

      I was really looking forward to The Boyz’s stage as their track was my favorite. All the pre-recorded stuff really took the momentum out of the performance, unfortunately.

      Like

  12. ugh I sound like such a fanboy but while I am happy for Stray Kidz, there were so many moments I felt as if “this would be so much cooler with Hyunjin”. I hope we see him in the next comeback (I’m someone who’s much more interested in restorative justice than terminable punishment.)

    shout outs BTOB. I feel like they are the real winners of Kingdom this year…kinda like OhMyGirl and Queendom. Honestly I felt Eukwang carried most of the humor of the show…(as well as Ateez Wooyoung)

    I hope all the groups receive more success due to their appearance on the show.

    as a big fan of the B.I. solo comeback, it is bittersweet to see iKon kinda strike out on Kingdom. Part of me wonders how much time is left for the group…I really enjoyed the Why Why Why come back so I would be disappointed if Kingdom was one of their last big activities.

    Everything bodes well for Ateez and their future. Imitation and Kingdom definitely have to help their domestic popularity and the prospect of Mingi returning will be epic hahaha. I always enjoyed they never lipsync’d his parts but rather Hongjoon interpreted those moments his own way.

    not the best show but some good fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. THREE HOURS! I’m with Nick, this week has been a bruiser, both kids had all their final school work due this week, plus my own work work. Darling daughter handed in her final essay for one class at 11:15pm, and the deadline was midnight. Honestly, don’t think I will watch all the final stages anytime soon, but by the onesie and twosie over the coming weeks.

    My own choice for winner is BTOB because this show made me care about them, a lot.

    Although somehow I still don’t know how to pronounce Peniel correctly. My guess is Peh-nee-ell. Can anyone help me out here? Does it mean something?

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  14. The Boyz used VCR probably to incorporate two members who couldn’t dance and one member that was put on quarantine for two weeks. Personally, when I first saw the performance it was a bit underwhelming but after watching it more, I’ve come to love it, and the dance break with Q in the front was just amazing. It might become my favorite performance from them. It just looked very well made in my opinion, and I’m so happy they’re done with this show.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I also forgot to add that I think The Boyz’s performance was more for their fans directly. It was a tie to their story on Kingdom and RTK, and deobis have been building theories since their first performance.

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  16. I’m happy as a Stay and the image of shirtless Chan will not leave my mind anytime soon.

    Beyond that I just want to say I feel sorry for you, Nick, forcing yourself to watch this whole thing live as it airs. Just why??? I scrubbed through the parts that bored me and I don’t think I missed anything substantive lol. You should save yourself the headache next time and just watch an upload the next day!

    Liked by 1 person

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