At long last, we have finally reached the end of Kingdom, the end of these recaps, and along with this is finally the end of everything related to do it. I’ve been recapping this whole journey since last year’s “Road to Kingdom”, and I can’t believe that we have finally reached the end. In my head, I’m breathing a sigh of relief, but at the same time, it kind of also feels empty now that I don’t have this to watch anymore every week, or to wait for every year. All the same, all the groups in the show did great for the one hundred days that they filmed this show, and I really, sincerely do hope that everyone is able to get some rest before comeback season hits for them.
Watching this show was a new experience for me as I only really knew The Boyz and SF9 prior to watching this show. So I entered the show as a Deobi and a baby Fantasy; but left the show as a Deobi, Fantasy, baby Atiny and maybe, even a baby iKONIC. I was looking forward to getting to know Ateez from this show, but I didn’t expect to get so attached to both Team It’s One and iKON as well! (I was also blown away by BTOB’s performances, and would love to explore their discography one day as well!)
The three hour and ten minute long episode showed each of the groups getting a day off before they started practicing in full swing for the finale performance, and each group’s finale performances as well. There was also a very special song number that was performed before the show’s winner was announced.
Anyway, you know the drill, from here on out, there will be spoilers!
The show started with each group entering after individual VCRs. SF9 entered first with Rowoon in tow, followed by Ateez, iKON, BTOB, The Boyz, and then finally, Stray Kids. Afterwards, a video recapping some special moments during the show, such as the sports day and the collaboration stages were shown. After each group was seated, each group’s representatives talked about their determination for the final round. MC Changmin then reminded the audience that the 50,000 points would be broken down into two- 20,000 for the music chart rankings and 30,000 from the live votes.
The audience was then transported to the day that the finale songs were released on music platforms all over the world and the music charts refreshed. The groups waited anxiously and as soon as the songs were dropped, each group listened to each other’s songs. When it did drop, iKON called SF9, while BTOB called Stray Kids. By the time that the music charts refreshed, the groups were delighted to see that they all were able to enter the top 100 chart. SF9’s “Believer” entered at 32; iKON’s “At Ease” at 15; Ateez’s “The Real” at 11; Stray Kids’ “Wolfgang” at 6; The Boyz’s “Kingdom Come” at 3; and BTOB’s “Finale (Show and Prove) at number one!
Before each group took the stage, a video showing their day off before they started practicing in full swing was shown. Ateez went first, followed by Stray Kids, then The Boyz, followed by BTOB, then iKON, then finally, SF9.
Before beginning to prepare for the final round, Hongjoong told his members to dress up nicely and to meet him at a particular place. The boys looked great in either a preppy, more fashionista, and classic looks. They met Hongjoong in the balcony of a building where a particular restaurant was, and had fun seeing each other so dressed up and ate delicious gourmet food with each other. They also talked about the fact that in every performance except for the introductory stage, Hongjoong was always the ending fairy; the fact that their staff worked hard, especially when it came to moving around props on stage; and Yunho mentioned that he was happy that the public knows Ateez more now. They also talked about how their new song, “The Real”, will show a different style from them, and will also showcase Korean beauty and values.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the performance, but it was definitely a fun one! I found it interesting that the way that they decided to showcase Korean culture and values was more seen on how it affects the youth, such as the how they are brought up in schools. They used the stage in such a dynamic way, and the scenes changed a lot, even though the camera angle was only shooting little pockets of the stage at a time- from the classroom setting, to the field full of chickens, to the the center where the festival happened in the end. I thought the use of the puppet show was a witty choice, loved that they invited kid dancers to dance with them at the end, that they had lion dancers, and they had banners that invited all the Kingdom groups to go out and have some beef with them. I love that they decided to showcase their energy and their youth in a witty manner, that did contrast heavily with their other performances. Jaeyoon was also delighted because they were able to get the Busan accent down pat as well!
I thought it was a strong and fun performance, but technically not their best, as I give that title to their fantastic “Wonderland” performance.
Stray Kids- Wolfgang
Stray Kids enjoyed their day off by breaking into groups before meeting up with each other later that day. Bangchan, Changbin and I.N. enjoyed their day by playing Tekken, Dance Dance Revolution and other games at a game arcade; Han enjoyed his day off by learning how to make a perfect cup of coffee, and drinking his slow drip coffee; and Lee Know, Seungmin and Felix took advantage of the day by going glamping in the mountains. Afterwards, while they were beginning to barbecue meat, Bangchan, Changbin,I.N. and Han joined them. They were able to recharge by being together, and enjoying their day outside of the practice room and studio. They also talked a little bit about their new song. They mentioned that the stage is their battle field and that “Wolfgang” is darker and more serious, and reminds them that they are stronger together, just like wolves are stronger together as a pack.
This really felt like a Stray Kids song composed by 3Racha, so, song wise, I felt that this was a nice continuation to Stray Kids’ return to form on this show. It was a strong performance that had many elements in it, and I liked the fact that in the end, all of them were wearing the wolf skins, signifying that they are one pack. I also loved the special effect of the moon with the Stray Kids logo on it. I also did enjoy that nice dance break that the performance had I did like the song, but I felt that there was just too much going on on stage that made it feel a little bit messy for me. They did well, but I still felt that their best performance yet on the show was God’s Ddu du ddu du.
The Boyz-Kingdom Come
The Boyz were shown practicing over and over again in their dance room in order to perfect the choreography for Kingdom Come. It was also shown that at that Younghoon wasn’t practicing with them as he is still currently recovering from a follow up surgery for his broken clavicle injury that happened in 2019. While the members were practicing, he asked their staff to help him set up a surprise for his members- to rent out an amusement park, Lotte World, for them to enjoy for one night. The members absolutely loved it, and were able to enjoy their time their and had a lot of fun. Afterwards, they all went into another room, where a video message from Younghoon was played, in which he said that he was sorry that he couldn’t join in on the last performance, and told them that it’ll definitely be remembered. Afterwards, Younghoon surprised them by entering the room with a cake, and showed them that the set up for his video message was them recording video messages for the members, which they also watched. The members were all touched as each one thanked each other as they really did rely a lot on each other during the whole process. Sunwoo also mentioned that they were able to learn how to have fun and to not get too stressed in the process. They also talked about how “Kingdom Come” is the end of the story that they had been writing throughout all thirteen of their performances from “Road to Kingdom” to “Kingdom”.
The performance itself was nothing short of stunning as they seamlessly combined VCRs with their live stage to the point where the lines between those two got blurred, and it ended up feeling like a whole music video. The Boyz really thought out of the box in such an innovative and creative way, and it allowed for both Younghoon and JuHaknyeon to be part of the performance to the point when they were both seen with the others in the end, it felt like they performed with them too. I know that JuHaknyeon had to sit this one out as well as he does have a back injury he is healing from. Nobody else but The Boyz could have thought of doing it like this. My jaw was literally open the entire time.
Aside from that, I loved every detail of it! I loved how each member was wearing a particular costume from their performances all the way to Kingdom Come as they surrounded a crown, that dance break with Q in the center leaving me in awe of his dancing skills, Juyeon’s dancing in the water, Sangyeon killing that high note- everything was perfection and was a perfect way to end their two year career on this show.
BTOB-Finale (Show and Prove)
For their day off, Eunkwang drove the members to eat baeksuk and other yummy Korean food at a nearby valley. Not only was the food good, but the scenery and the weather allowed the members to recharge and rest. While eating, they were given two letters to read, and to their surprise, the letters were from their members who are currently in the military now- Yook Sungjae and Im Hyunsik. Reading their letters allowed them to cheer up and have more energy to practice for the final round. They then talked about their finale song, Finale (Show and Prove), which Minhyuk helped write. He said that he tried to include their ten years of experiences into the song, and also tried to add the story of BTOB as well. Although they have been in the industry for ten years, this show, according to Eunkwang, helped them clarify things about the future, and they also mentioned how this is the end of their first act, meaning that there is definitely more to come from them.
I loved the song when I first heard it, as it sounded epic, theatrical, and emotional (with a good amount of cheese), that I felt would be perfect for something like Kingdom; and yes, only BTOB could have pulled this off without it coming off as too cheesy. It was the perfect finale for them, and it really did feel like we weren’t in Kingdom anymore, but at a BTOB concert! And to be very honest, I also got a little bit emotional watching them perform this. I loved how noisy The Boyz was in cheering for BTOB, which makes sense as they mentioned that all of them (especially JuHaknyeon), are Melodies. BTOB, in this performance, once again, showed that they are legendary performers in everything that they do, including those fantastic live vocals.
iKON- At Ease
iKON’s day off was spent in Song’s and Chanwoo’s place, as Song had decided to cook bibim ramyeon for everyone, with Chanwoo as his assistant chef. While eating they asked Bobby if they were done testing the waters, and they said that they were ready to show more of iKON. They also mentioned that because of Kingdom, they made a lot of new friends that year. They were all hesitant with the collaboration stage, because only Chanwoo knew Chani, and that was it, but they are happy that they became friends with the It’s One members. In order to test it out as well as to figure out who would wash the dishes, they made a bet to message their It’s One friends and the last one to get a response would wash the dishes. Bobby messaged Hwiyoung, Jinwhan messaged Inseong, Junhoe messaged Jaeyoon, and Donghyuk messaged Juyeon. Unfortunately, it looked like Jaeyoon was sleeping, which meant that Junhoe ended up washing the dishes. They then mentioned that “At Ease” is a song that actually talks about having discipline when you need it, but also how you have to flexible enough to play hard when you can.
The performance was very much done in their style, and was a really fun performance over all. I really liked the contrast between them in the prison cages in the beginning and the prison uniforms, and them partying all out when the music’s dynamics shifted. I also loved that Bobby started out the song strong and from the audience area! I love how iKON’s performance are organized chaos, and yet can be so clean when it comes to particular dance breaks and routines!
SF9’s day off saw all nine of them at a cafe, and they exchanged gifts with each other. Chani got Taeyang a new sweatshirt to wear to practice, since it seems that his favorite sweatshirts are wearing kind of thin now. Taeyang got Hwiyoung a new denim jacket, as Hwiyoung loves to wear them during practice. Hwiyoung wittily gave Rowoon a children’s book avout violence as Rowoon kept on talking about “the violence of numbers and rank”, and Rowoon immediately accidentally caused his coffee to spill all over with it. Jaeyoon gave Inseong propolis throat spray and everyone asked him to sing his high notes for “Spark”. Inseong gave Dawon a gift voucher that allow him to treat Dawon out to a meal; Dawon bought Youngbin some wine; Rowoon gave Chani a Snorlax neck pillow; Zuho gave protein drinks to Jaeyoon; and Youngbin gave Zuho a streaming service subscription membership. After talking about some fun behind the scenes episodes of their performances, they talked about how their new song talks about the concept of going through a tunnel. They also talked about how they grew a lot on Kingdom and were able to do things that they weren’t able to do before.
SF9’s performance gave me chills, and I love how the performance had so much symbolism in their journey in the show, from Youngbin refusing the crown and chessboard props and accepting the SF9 crystal instead, to Rowoon being perfectly framed in the middle of the tunnel whose entrance looks exactly like the SF9 crystal. The dancing was great and technically smooth! I love how some members were paired up to be exact shadows of each other, and I loved the use of Rowoon as well without it being too hard on his back injury. I also really loved the ending of them turning their back on the proverbial audience and without hesitation heading into the tunnel as nine after Hwiyoung looked at his watch, which was reminiscent of the their “Good Guy” introductory performance; as if to say that their journey is over, and their heading back to Fantasy.
After all the performances were over, it was shown how Donghyuk, Hyunjae, Eunkwang, Jongho, Seungmin and Inseong got together to form the special sub-unit “King’s Voice” to sing a special song called “Boy’s Diary”. While practicing, MC Changmin gave them donuts, drinks and some advice as he cheered them on. The performance was a very special one indeed, as it not only showed off each one’s individual colors, but they all sounded great in harmony as well.
Afterwards, a VCR was shown of the groups having their last interview for the show before the winner was finally announced. The winner’s prize, aside from the trophy, is a special reality show of their own. The final winner was then announced to be Stray Kids. After they went on stage and said thank you, the other groups went down to congratulate them and each other for a job well done for the 100 days that they spent on the show.
According to what I’ve seen, the final ranking had Stray Kids as first, The Boyz at second, Ateez at third place, BTOB at fourth, iKON at fifth, and SF9 at sixth. I’m only pretty sure about the first two ranks though.
For me, for this round, I would have placed The Boyz at first, SF9 at second, BTOB at third, Ateez at fourth, iKON at fifth, and Stray Kids at sixth. Overall, I personally would have placed The Boyz as the overall winner; but I would have also been fine if Ateez took the crown, as I felt that they were very consistent all throughout the show. I would have placed SF9 at third overall, as I felt that they really showed a lot of growth during the entire show, and really showed people what they are capable off.
However, despite everything, I do hope that this show will be able to be a very good stepping stone for all of their futures, and I wish nothing but the best for each and every contestant on this show; and I cannot wait for what all of them will bring to the table in their post-Kingdom comebacks, after they all take a very good and long rest!
What did you think of this episode, the performances and the final winner? What did you think about your Kingdom experience? Let me know in the comments below and thank you so much for sticking by and reading my recaps on Road to Kingdom and Kingdom! Until the next reality show and until the next drama review!