This season has had some very interesting and stressful eliminations. I really don’t remember Season 1 being like this! It always seemed like the rankings were pretty logical every week, with the girls’ actions pretty much corresponding to their level of popularity. I was still nervous for the finale, but it was pretty easy to guess who would make it. There are a few trainees this season who manage to stay on top, but their rankings fluctuate so much it’s hard to keep up. At least we only have one more episode after this…I don’t think I can take much more stress!
*WARNING!* This recap contains spoilers for Episode 10! Like I’ve said before, I’ve seen all of the episodes at this point…but I’m pretending to write like I haven’t.
SOME FUN STUFF BEFORE THINGS GET TENSE
1) Men Doing Makeup:
I’ve grown up in theatre and dance, so I’ve seen guys putting on makeup before. But I’m still a Westerner, and most men I socialize with don’t care about their appearance much more beyond shaving and haircuts. So I still get such a kick watching Korean men carefully applying lip gloss or delicately powdering their faces. It’s funny because they do it so casually, like Jisung. He’s a total pro, and he’s handier with a compact than I am!
In a bit of product placement, the trainees receive some Innisfree Color Clay Masks. I’m not quite sure what exactly these masks do (I assume exfoliation?), but they sure look fun. We see lots of silly faces, from random squiggles on Sungwoon‘s face to Jihoon‘s panda mask. Friendly rivals Jaehwan and Sewoon do each other’s faces. Guanlin pretends to be a “sexy bandit” but just ends up looking cute, as does original “sexy bandit” Dongho. And the other Pledis boys look pretty, as always.
BONUS GIFS: My OG favorite Sungwoo clowning around as usual (being told he put on too much lipgloss and being extra with the face masks).
2) Tell Us How You Really Feel:
This is another time for trainees to clear up rumors and/or speak their mind. There are several “issues” that are addressed, but the main takeaway here is the bromance between Minhyun and Seonho. Seonho’s overly physical affection makes Minhyun just a bit uncomfortable, but it’s one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. I’m really not one to ship idols (same or opposite gender), nor do I claim to know their sexualities. But they’re so cute, and Minhyun looks like such a boyfriend here. Just look at his face!
3) Some Healthy Competition: At some point during the concept evaluation, the trainees take a break for some healthy variety competition. While the games are much less physically demanding than the arm wrestling and the punch game, but they provide more opportunities for laughter.
GAME #1: Charades. Highlights include – Daniel‘s perfect imitation of Dongho for “sexy bandit” which only Dongho understands (he’s holding the cue cards though), Samuel‘s genius impression of “samgyetang” a.k.a lying on the ground like a trussed up chicken, and Guanlin‘s lack of Korean vocabulary ruining everything for his team.
GAME #2: “Elephant lipstick.” Contestants spin around ten times, then try to put lipstick on their partner as neatly as possible. This predictably creates a lot of laughter as it’s an almost impossible talk. The whole segment is funny, but my personal highlight is Jaehwan using his bestie Minhyun to improve his variety skills. (Minhyun, of course, is not having it). The best part is that Jaehwan literally cackles and hyena screeches the entire time. Meanwhile, the strongest competitor is Daehwi, who grabs onto Jonghyun‘s face and only manages to smear 0.4 centimeters worth of lipstick.
GAME #3: Jump-rope selfies. The groups take turns making funny poses while jump-roping and then upload them to SNS. The group that gets the most likes wins. Once again, they’re all pretty funny…but I’m biased so I like “Never” team. The highlight is everyone making fun of rope-turners getting way into it, namely Sanggyun.
Despite failing the charades round, “Open Up” team manages to win overall.
4) Trainees’ Top Picks: Trainees reveal who they’d vote for amongst their competitors.
6 – Park Woojin, Brand New Music. Chosen by the other Woojin, Hyeongseob, and Sewoon for his dancing and onstage charisma.
5 – Ong Sungwoo, Fantagio. Chosen by Samuel, Jaehwan, Seunghyuk and Yongguk for his looks but mostly for his general silliness.
4 – Park Jihoon, Maroo. Chosen by Guanlin, Seunghyuk, and Yehyun for being all-around idol material. (Guanlin is literally his fanboy and lists like six different qualities)
3 – Jung Sewoon, Starship. Chosen by Donghyun and Euiwoong for looking calm but actually being kind of silly (the spacey/ditzy kind).
2 – Kang Daniel, MMO. Chosen by Taehyun, Taedong, and Sungwoo (OngNiel!) for being cute and smiley offstage but super sexy onstage.
1 – Yoon Jisung, MMO. Chosen by Minki, Youngmin, Seonho, and Daniel for really caring about and looking after the other trainees.
All right, here’s where things get really nerve-wracking. Not only are we so close to the end, but they’ve also changed the voting system. In the first two rounds, the “nation’s producers” could vote for eleven trainees a day and make their dream group. This time around, they could only vote for two. This changed things a lot last year – the winning group pretty much shot into the Top 11, and a lot of popular trainees narrowly avoided elimination. The trainees know their rankings from Episode 8, so they all have a general idea of where they should be. You can tell when they expect their name to be called, and the worry when it doesn’t happen. You can bet there will be many gasps and jaw drops.
19. Jung Sewoon, Starship
18. Joo Haknyeon, Cre.ker
17. Im Youngmin, Brand New Music
16. Yoo Seonho, Cube
15. Choi Minki, Pledis
14. Ahn Hyeongseob, Yuehua
13. Kim Jaehwan, individual trainee
12. Kang Dongho, Pledis
This is pretty surprising to me. They’re also apparently surprising to Seonho, who can’t guess his spot this time. I understand Haknyeon falling, because his “attitude controversy” finally caught up with him. I can also see how Youngmin would go down, because he recently had girlfriend rumors and because his brother might have helped manipulate the concept evaluation. Not saying any of that means he deserves losing votes, but we all know how fans can be petty over minor offenses. But Sewoon surprises me, because he’s been pretty close to the top this whole time.
The Top 11: Once again, I apologize for the awkward screenshots. If possible, they somehow look more derpy than my other recaps. At some point, I gave up. So hopefully we all know they’re generally much handsomer!
11. Hwang Minhyun, Pledis
Though I am a Jonghyun fan above all else, my affection for Minhyun grows every week. He really seems like the whole package, in talent and in personality (and yes, looks too). He has everything it takes to be an idol, and I’m really surprised that he hasn’t been noticed before NU’EST did this show. I don’t remember how enamored I was with him at this point (it rose a lot towards the end), but I’m pretty sure he’s within my Top 5.
10. Lee Daehwi, Brand New Music
Daehwi isn’t one of my favorites; he’s in my Top 11 but more middle of the pack. But he’s still grown on me a lot. I didn’t buy into that evil edit in the beginning, but it did seem like he was very intensely focused on the competition. Now you can tell how he really cares about the other trainees and has many friends. His talent was never in question, but I like seeing his genuine side.
9. Yoon Jisung, MMO
(I’m really sorry about this one, he was crying though all my screenshots) I’ve actually been wondering if Jisung will become popular again. He was getting a lot of hate, but he was very caring to Hyunbin during “Downpour” and he had some good screen time during “Show Time.” He’s not on my personal list for Top 11, but I do like him. He’s a good team player. Plus we’re about the same age and I’m having a late twenties crisis, so he’s my inspiration in this ageist industry.
8. Ong Sungwoo, Fantagio
(My one good screenshot) Honestly, I never have to worry about Sungwoo. I’m like 95% sure he’ll make it into the final group. He’s not constantly praised for his abilities, but he’s consistent. He always makes the most of his time onstage, and he always makes himself memorable with some gag every episode. I worry about most of the trainees on my list, but my OG favorite is doing just fine.
7. Kim Jonghyun, Pledis
This is my favorite that I worry about the most, and I worry because he’s my favorite. To be fair, I think it’s mostly nerves. I wasn’t expecting him to stay #1, but going back to #7 stresses me out. Most of his edits are being a gentle and kind leader/person in general. That’s awesome, but it means we don’t see much of his performing skills. He only had one line in “Never.” He obviously has a leading from the back style, but I worry this takes too much attention away from him. I’m pretty sure he’ll make it in, but I still won’t rest easy until it’s all said and done.
6. Park Woojin, Brand New Music
Woojin has been rising in popularity so much! He’s like the Season 2 Chungha. I’m a greedy multifan who wants to see a bunch of new boy groups debut, so I’m not into more than one trainee from each agency making it into the Top 11. And if two Brand New Music trainees are picked, I’m not sure how what the other two will do. (I’m also a hypocritical multifan, because I’m gunning for Jonghyun and Minhyun to make it) But I like Woojin, and it’s clear he has a lot to offer. I also discovered he’s a lot younger than I thought, which to me means he’s quite mature for his age.
5. Kim Samuel, Brave
(I’m so sorry, it’s hard to get a good shot of someone who’s clearly perplexed). I’m so happy about Samuel getting Top 11 again. I actually don’t know why he had such a sharp fall in popularity, because it wasn’t like he did anything to warrant it. In any case, this guy is super talented and has been super consistent this whole show, and he’s always been one of my top picks for the final group.
4. Bae Jinyoung, C9
Here’s where things get interesting. Jinyoung has always been just outside the Top 11 when it mattered, so this shot to the top is great for him. He’s not a favorite of mine right now, but he’s a distinct possibility. I thought he was one of the trainees that was only popular for his visuals, but he’s really improved a lot throughout the competition. And I always like to see progress rewarded!
3. Ha Sungwoon, Ardor & Able
This one is the shocker for me. Voting ended like 12 hours after Episode 9, so I don’t think the majority of his votes came from pitying him getting kicked out of “Never.” This means his actions in Episode 8 really resonated with the “nation’s producers.” It’s like what happened with Jonghyun a few weeks ago: earnestness, determination, and hard work go over really well here. Sungwoon really hasn’t been on my radar, so I don’t quite know how to process this. But I’m glad that the viewers like him for such good qualities.
This leaves Jihoon and Daniel in contention for first place. Daniel was previously announced as the top trainee for the concept evaluation, but he’d still be first even without that 100,00 vote benefit. Daniel is one of my top picks, so I’m thrilled about this. I’ve also come to like Jihoon. Though MNET still focuses on his visuals more than anything else, he’s proven himself to be quite gracious and mature throughout the show. He’s in the middle of my list right now, but I always want to know more about him.
20th Place: You might have noticed one popular trainee’s name missing from that list. That’s right, Guanlin is nowhere to be found in the Top 11. It’s such a shocker that a PD actually has to break the fourth wall and verbally confirm this. MNET plays up the suspense, but this is a recap so I’ll spare you all the drama. Guanlin beats out Euiwoong (#23), Hyunbin (#22), and Yonnguk (#21) for the last available spot.
There are a lot of people I feel particularly bad for in this elimination. There are so many trainees that I think should have stayed, but this is where voting and personal preference come in. My personal favorites were Euiwoong and Donghyun. Euiwoong was really popular for his visuals (and that appearance on “Hello Counselor”), but his ranking kept falling even when he showed his strong dancing and rapping. And I never got why Donghyun wasn’t as popular as the other Brand New kids. He was just as good.
I’ve avoided tearing up during the last eliminations, but I couldn’t help myself this time. Daniel saying goodbye to his buddy Woojin is hard to watch, but the real tearjerker is when the camera goes to Hyunbin. I knew he wouldn’t make it, but literally all of “Sorry Sorry” team is surrounding him crying with him. And it just reminds you of how close they’ve all become. This is the part of the show that really gets to me. I’m not so concerned about their job security, because Produce 101 has proven to give trainees a lot of notoriety. Instead, I’m thinking about if they’ll get to debut together and be able to stay with their friends.
THE FINAL CHALLENGE
For the finale, the trainees will separate into two groups of ten to perform two more original songs. There aren’t any benefit votes, because that would be MASSIVELY unfair so late in the game. However, their last chance to really win over the viewers during the live broadcast. The first song, “Hands on Me,” is produced by American Harvey Mason Jr. He’s done some K-pop hits like EXO’s “Overdose” and SNSD’s “Mr. Mr.,” but he’s mostly produced for Western stars like Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce. (Why do K-pop idols like Chris Brown so much?) The second song, “Super Hot,” is produced by Ryan Jhun – he’s behind Red Velvet’s “Dumb Dumb” and the original “Pick Me.” Honestly, both songs sound similar to me. “Hands on Me” is smooth and sexy while “Super Hot” is fun and energetic, but they’re both party songs with a groove.
The Top 20 are allowed to choose their positions, but there’s a catch. The lower-ranked trainees go first, meaning that the higher ones can push them into a lower position or even put them in a different song. Most of the trainees play it pretty wisely, not wanting to get pushed out. Things start to get pretty brutal once the Top 11 come into play, though. No one challenges Jaehwan for main vocal, though many people fight for sub vocal 1. Sungwoon pushes out Minhyun, only to be bumped to main vocal by Daniel (who is actually a rapper but wants to branch out). Surprisingly, Jihoon just takes the last rapper spot without putting up a fight – low-key triple threat in the house.
Highlights: Seonho starting the savageness four people in, four trainees pushing Haknyeon all over the board, Sungwoo trolling Jaehwan and Minhyun, and Jonghyun being uncharacteristically nervous about keeping his place. Favorite moment: Daniel muttering “I’m a RAP STAR.” when Jonghyun goes to choose his position.
After the dust settles, the final lineup is:
|Hands on Me||Super Hot|
|Main Vocal||Kim Jaehwan (#13)||Main Vocal||Ha Sungwoon (#3)|
|Sub Vocal 1||Kang Daniel (#1)||Sub Vocal 1||Kim Samuel (#5)|
|Sub Vocal 2||Ong Sungwoo (#8)||Sub Vocal 2||Kang Dongho (#12)|
|Sub Vocal 3||Bae Jinyoung (#4)||Sub Vocal 3||Yoo Seonho (#16)|
|Sub Vocal 4||Hwang Minhyun (#11)||Sub Vocal 4||Ahn Hyeongseob (#14)|
|Sub Vocal 5||Jung Sewoon (#19)||Sub Vocal 5||Lee Daehwi (#10)|
|Sub Vocal 6||Joo Haknyeon (#18)||Sub Vocal 6||Choi Minki (#15)|
|Sub Vocal 7||Yoong Jisung (#9)||Rapper 1||Im Youngmin (#17)|
|Rapper 1||Park Woojin (#6)||Rapper 2||Kim Jonghyun (#7)|
|Rapper 2||Park Jihoon (#2)||Rapper 3||Lai Guanlin (#20)|
The group also has to make their own choreography, so that will be fun to see. Samuel looks worried because he’s the only choreographer on his team, but we know it will be good. Jonghyun is leading “Super Hot,” (obvs), and Sungwoo decides to volunteer for “Hands on Me.” Rise, boy, rise!!! Production says that any part can be center for this round, so we’ll see how that turns out in the final episode. In the meantime, we just get a lot of awkward deliveries of the “killing parts” and some massive cringing from Daniel.
And we’re in the home stretch!!! It’s been like a month since the finale, so I’m sure most of us know how this will end. If you look very closely at the GIFs for this episode, you can tell who my favorites are and how I’ll probably react. But even if you know the final results, it’s still a pretty wild ride!
NOTE: All clips and GIFS are from MNET’s Produce 101 Season 2 Episode 10. Additional sources are from Soompi.