Warning: This recap is not spoiler-free. Proceed at your own risk!
Before we get into the main content, this episode kicks off with a cute (but completely skippable) vote on popularity categories (ie: best visual, etc). It’s over eighteen minutes long, so use that information as you will…
Then, we move into the dance units deciding their group names and starting to work together in preparation of the competition. These segments give me major Produce 101 flashbacks, where deciding on a center and leader and main vocal seemed to take forty-five minutes each episode. I really think most K-pop variety/survival shows could be vastly improved by capping their running time at one hour sharp. Show us the best bits. You don’t have to show us every little decision.
These behind-the-scenes moments are largely structured to introduce the ladies from the Street Woman Fighter series, who act as mentors/coaches for the dance units. Way to get that cross-promotion, MNET!
Seriously, though… by the time we get to the dance units previewing their choreo for the “interim assessment” (not even the main performance), we’re already about forty-five minutes into the episode. The producers are draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagging this out to the nth degree. I definitely wouldn’t blame anyone whose finger may hover over their fast forward button. Mine certainly was!
After these interim assessments, we had the preliminary voting from the contestants. The winning teams were allowed to choose the order of performances. On a purely biased note, I was happy to see Brave Girls’ teams winning both of the votes. I don’t think it’s that consequential, but they needed the boost of confidence after a few disappointing weeks.
Now, after an hour of spinning our wheels, the episode finally kicks into gear with the unit competitions.
UNIT BATTLE: VOCAL
Disclaimer: I’m watching the full show, not just clips on YouTube. So, the editing of each performances may inadvertently factor into my rankings. But, I’ll be embedding the full YouTube performances in these posts.
3. Team Sun & Moon – Don’t Go (EXO)
We’ve got members of Kep1er and LOONA together for this one, and I can’t say I’m too familiar with the vocal talents of either group. But, they picked my favorite song of the three units. I’m a big fan of female acts covering male songs, and vice versa. This switch-up automatically ensures the performance won’t simply be copy-and-paste.
This unit’s behind-the-scenes package highlights harmony, but we don’t hear much of it during the actual performance. It comes in brief jolts, and they’re beautiful but oh-so-short. I wish the arrangement felt more daring because the girls sound great together. They switched things up a bit toward the end, but this was a pretty faithful, safe rendition that was never ambitious enough to result in the kind of show-stopping moments Queendom thrives on.
1. (TIE) Team 33 – To My Youth (BOL4)
We’ve got Hyolyn and Brave Girls’ Minyoung on this one – easily my most-anticipated pairing. Poor Brave Girls keep getting the pity edit from the producers, with Minyoung’s cough kicking off this behind-the-scenes package, followed by a focus on her struggles with self-confidence. It’s also a much shorter video than the other teams. I guess Queendom realizes Hyolyn doesn’t need any extra promo time to do well.
“Sincerity” seems to be the keyword for this performance. My jaded self is less-apt to be pulled in by these kind of emotive performances, but dang Hyolyn can sell a song. Minyoung is no slouch in this department either, and it’s great hearing her sing in a more unguarded style. I love the contrast between these two vocal tones. They’re quite different, yet complimentary in an unexpected way. The simple staging drove home the emotion and I can see how this would be many viewers’ favorite of the three performances. I think it’ll end up winning the round, and deservedly so.
I’m actually going to have a tie this week, because objectively I think this is the best stage but it’s probably not the one I would go back and watch again for pure entertainment.
1. (TIE) Team Galaxy Embracing the Universe – Hold My Hand (IU)
This unit is a combination of members from WJSN and VIVIZ. These two groups seem so well-matched, and they’ve got Yeonjung whose voice I really like. Their behind-the-scenes package emphasizes the song’s killing point — a vital element to any memorable Queendom performance. This part ends up going to VIVIZ’s Eunha, who’s getting some good opportunities to stand out during this series.
The team was wise to choose a more upbeat track, which helped them differentiate themselves from their competitors. The staging was great – especially when they brought it out to the audience. You don’t always get much movement from vocal-heavy performances, but this one really delivered momentum.
I also liked how powerful the vocals were. There wasn’t a ton of interplay between the three voices, but they each got a chance to stand out. And, of course, we had that trademark Yeonjung power note. She was always going to deliver the most explosive moments, but Eunha and Soobin more than held their own, making this a very consistent and engaging stage. It was a joy to watch. Very uplifting.
AND… THAT’S IT!
I mean… come on! A 130-minutes long episode and we don’t even get to the dance units?
The Avengers have saved the whole universe in the space of that running time. We get three vocal performances and call it a day? You’re receiving major side-eye from me, MNET…