(I’ve been waiting three months to use that A Chorus Line reference) I’ve finally made it to the end! Well the show finished like a month ago…but besides me just being slow, I think I’ve needed this long to process the final results. Season 1 was fun, but Season 2 took me on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I became deeply invested in what this group would become, and it took more of a toll on me than I’d like to admit. But ultimately, I think both Wanna One and the eliminated finalists are going to be just fine.
*WARNING!* This episode contains spoilers for Episode 11! If you’ve managed to stay in the dark about Wanna One for this long, I’m seriously impressed. I had to wait four days for a subbed version, and I literally had to turn off Twitter and Tumblr.
This recap’s going to be a little different. These past months, I’ve tried really hard to balance my recaps between facts and opinions. I went over most segments in detail, even if I ultimately considered them just filler. I even re-watched episodes multiple times to be as thorough as possible – which is probably how I got so invested in the first place. But I just can’t relive this broadcast again. Even checking the highlights for GIFs makes me sad. So this last one’s definitely going to be less factual and more opinionated.
PICK ME (ONE LAST TIME)
I said way back during Episode 2 that I kind of hated this song, and I wondered if it would grow on me. Well, it didn’t. But seeing this last performance of it shows how far they’ve come in a few months. Say what you will about this show, but I really do think its challenges help trainees grow and improve.
THE FINAL CHALLENGE
The Top 20 decided their positions last episode, but we still don’t know who the centers will be. Who decides the lucky winners? The trainers? The opposing team? The voters? Ultimately, it’s the team itself. Much like “Pick Me” in the beginning, the trainees get one shot to record themselves doing the center part and the team votes after watching them all. “Super Hot” comes down to Samuel and Sungwoon, while “Hands on Me” decides between Sungwoo and Jinyoung. This is interesting because Samuel and Sungwoo have been in the spotlight from the beginning, while Sungwoon and Jinyoung are coming into their own recently. The latter two win the spots.
Highlight for “Super Hot” team: Dongho being savage with NU’EST (and Sungwoon). He says Jonghyun would be good as center if you look but don’t listen (since he’s a rapper and has trouble reaching the high note). And he notes that Minki‘s putting in more effort than he did for their promotions. .
Highlight for “Hands on Me” team: Sungwoo accidentally (?) shading Woojin.
Composed by: Harvey Mason, Jr.
Members: Ha Sungwoon (#3, Ardor&Able), Kim Samuel (#5, Brave), Kim Jonghyun (#7, Pledis), Lee Daehwi (#10, Brand New Music), Kang Dongho (#12, Pledis), Ahn Hyeongseob (#14, Yuehua), Choi Minki (#15, Pledis), Yoo Seonho (#16, Cube), Im Youngmin (#17, Brand New Music), Lai Guanlin (#20, Cube)
Leader: Kim Jonghyun
Center: Ha Sungwoon
“Super Hot” isn’t one of my all-time favorite songs, but this performance puts a huge smile on my face. Samuel did a great job with the choreography, which is really engaging and fun. It’s more simplistic than what we’ve seen before, but it really brings us in and lets us enjoy. While Sungwoon is indeed the center, they’ve worked the stage so that everyone gets their little time to shine. They’ve included a lot of fun moments and jokes from throughout the season. And of course, I’m very pleased that Jonghyun got a lot of lines and a little dance break with Samuel.
Hands on Me
Composed by: Ryan Jhun
Members: Kang Daniel (#1, MMO), Park Jihoon (#2, Maroo), Bae Jinyoung (#4, C9), Park Woojin (#6, Brand New Music), Ong Sungwoo (#8, Fantagio), Yoon Jisung (#9, MMO), Hwang Minhyun (#11, Pledis), Kim Jaehwan (#13, individual trainee), Joo Haknyeon (#18, Cre.ker), Jung Sewoon (#19, Starship)
Leader: Ong Sungwoo (lol but he did a good job)
Center: Bae Jinyoung
This is a decidedly sexy performance. Whoever choreographed (Daniel?) really wanted to get fans screaming. Jinyoung has improved loads and is a good center, but they were smart to subtly push members like Daniel and Sungwoo who are good with this concept. While I enjoy this stage a lot, it doesn’t really get my heart racing. However, this is more me being a self-conscious “noona” rather than anything they’re doing. I know “pedo-noonas” exist, but I’m not one of them. I’m just not attracted to anyone who isn’t over twenty-one – and part of me still feels awkward about even liking 95-liners. So while this stage is sexy for many, I don’t personally consider most of them sexy. I definitely think they’re handsome, though. It’s literally like good-looking boy after good-looking boy. There are moments when Minhyun literally just stands there and serves up visuals, which is both hilarious and clever.
Because our emotions apparently aren’t already on edge enough, the show provides us with one last sentimental song. Literally everything about “Always” is engineered to getting the tear ducts flowing. I already cried when I didn’t know the lyrics, and I sobbed even harder after I did. It’s a love song like most K-pop tracks, but it also has a double meaning for the friendships that they formed. There are parts that directly speak to their time on the show and their experience. Some members like Seonho end up getting overwhelmed and crying, and I can’t blame them. It’s literally the moment before everything changes.
THE FINAL FILLER SEGMENTS
Most of this is meant to toy with our already fragile emotions, but production still has one funny moment left for us. They show the Top 20 their very first audition tapes for the show. Seeing as they’ve come miles from whenever this was (December or January?), it’s definitely embarrassing. Jinyoung can’t help shrieking when he sees his former self, and Guanlin declares that the boy who shyly sang “All of Me” was eliminated long ago. Also, this is the birth of Minhyun’s iconic butt wiggle dance that he somehow thought no one would ever see (Sungwoo shouting “Why are you doing that?!” is everything).
Highlight: Literally the best example of “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Jaehwan teases Sewoon for dancing awkwardly, only to be reminded he wasn’t much better. Cue the hyena screeching!
Things get more emotional when the trainees watch video messages they sent to their families. Just as the tears start to fall, they discover that their loved ones actually sent them special replies before the finale. By this point, everyone is a mess. The waterworks are freely flowing when Daehwi‘s mother comes in, having flown all the way from the US. She’s followed by Haknyeon‘s mother from Jeju Island, and Guanlin’s father and sister from Taiwan. Then to remind us that the show’s really ending, we take a look at one last night in the dorms. MNET just loves making everyone cry.
INTRODUCING WANNA ONE
Just for fun, I’ve listed two hypothetical lineups I made the day before the finale. One is my personal wish list, with my die hard favorites at the top. The other is my predictions, in order of how sure I was that they would make it in. To be honest, I actually liked all of the Top 20, even Haknyeon. I had seven trainees that I absolutely wanted to be in that group, but aside from that I would have been happy with anyone else. Various degrees of happy certainly, but happy nonetheless.
|My Wish List||My Predictions|
|Kim Jonghyun||Park Jihoon|
|Ong Sungwoo||Kang Daniel|
|Hwang Minhyun||Ong Sungwoo|
|Kang Daniel||Hwang Minhyun|
|Kim Samuel||Kim Jonghyun|
|Kim Jaehwan||Lee Daehwi|
|Jung Sewoon||Park Woojin|
|Park Jihoon||Ha Sungwoon|
|Lee Daehwi||Bae Jinyoung|
|Lai Guanlin||Lai Guanlin|
If you didn’t watch this part, I suggest you keep it that way. It’s pretty excruciating as far as reality TV goes. It’s natural to draw out suspense for like thirty seconds, but I’m pretty sure they had BoA wait at least two minutes before announcing each winner. The camera literally cuts to everybody, from nervous trainees to the mentors to the I.O.I. girls to the anxious families. I watch a lot of reality TV, and I can’t tell you the last time I got so wound up over a results show. Luckily this is a recap, so I can cut to the chase. Without further ado, here’s Wanna One!
#10: Bae Jinyoung, C9
Most of the trainees I personally picked were strong from the get go. They took off running during the evaluations and only shone brighter as the competition went on. In contrast, Jinyoung is in a noticeably different place from where he started. He was always popular for his visuals, but he was so shy and lacked stage presence. He progressed a lot throughout the show, and it’s nice to see that pay off. He just missed making my personal wish list because he was #12, so I’m pretty happy about this.
#9: Hwang Minhyun, Pledis
Obviously, I’m thrilled! I like him for a lot of reasons (he’s seriously the total idol package), but the biggest one is his stage presence. Most of the popular guys on this show have a strong and forceful aura, and he’s the complete opposite. He’s very calm, but very captivating. He’ll just look straight into the camera and sing earnestly. I normally get bored watching people sing without dancing, but with that face and that voice I could honestly look at him all day. He’s going to be the perfect lead vocal.
#8: Yoon Jisung, MMO
I didn’t put him on either list because I wasn’t sure he’d make it. He’s been so up and down. But like Jinyoung, I’m pleased that he’s part of the final lineup. Though he’s a fine singer and dancer, he’s obviously in because of his personality. I know it should be more about the music, but he really has a winning personality. At first, I thought he was just going to be the meme/reaction king. However, it’s clear that he really cares about the other trainees and looks after them – and they love him enough to vote him #1 most popular trainee. He’ll probably be more of a supporting vocal, but I’m sure his teammates will really appreciate his presence.
#7: Lai Guanlin, Cube
Personally, I was on the fence about putting a Cube trainee in my wish list. While I have a soft spot for both Guanlin and Seonho, they’re just so visibily green compared to everyone else. But they grew at a remarkable rate and both showed a lot of potential, so I decided to be okay with it. I like both of the “chick trainees,” but personally I prefer Guanlin. I also live abroad, so I respect how he’s trying to make a living in a foreign country at such a young age. Also, he reminds me of a baby version of my boyfriend (they’re both Taiwanese, but they also have some similar non-country related mannerisms).
#6: Park Woojin, Brand New Music
I said in Episode 10 that I didn’t want two Brand New Music trainees winning, because I didn’t know how the other two would cope until 2019. (Turns out they’re doing okay) But I actually got really excited when BoA called his name. Woojin is a miracle. He wasn’t popular at all in the beginning, but he rose until he got all the way to the end. He reminds me a lot of Chungha, who actually became my favorite I.O.I. member. I love my dancers, and he’s going to be important for both dance and rap. I’ve been saying this the whole time, but I’ll say it once more: he wasn’t on my list, but I’m still happy he’s there.
#5: Ong Sungwoo, Fantagio
I literally ran around the room screaming. Like I said last time, I was so sure he’d be a finalist. I knew from Episode 1 that he was always meant to be sitting in one of those seats. But at this point, the broadcast was playing with my nerves so much that I just needed another one of my top favorites to be called. Like Minhyun, he’s the perfect idol package. He can sing really well, and he can dance even better. He’s got classic idol looks, and his variety sense is off the charts. He’s always been more a supporting player, but he’s going to be a huge asset to this group. You go, OG fave!
#4: Kim Jaehwan, individual trainee
The consecutive announcement of Sungwoo and Jaehwan was when I was at my happiest. Jaehwan’s been on my list since the beginning because he’s always been in my favorite performances. But it wasn’t until he got into the group that I realized how much I actually liked him. His vocals were never in question (because duh they’re amazing), but his dancing and his expressions have improved so much. It’s so amazing that he came this far without an agency! And now he’s debuting with his new bestie Minhyun.
#3: Lee Daehwi, Brand New Music
Just like Choi Yoojung, the “Pick Me” center clocks in at #3. He’s had his fair share of haters, but there’s no denying this kid is going to go far. Most trainees needed the evaluation challenge to hit their stride, but he’s been on fire since the very beginning. Not only is he insanely talented, he’s also an integral part of the group. He really built friendships with each and every of the Top 20 (and probably many more). There were others that I personally liked more, but I’ve always had a feeling he’d make it to the end. His abilities were never in question – but watching him grow as a person was heartwarming.
#2: Park Jihoon
I’m pretty sure they dragged out who would be #1 for like fifteen minutes, but I won’t. If there was anyone who was a sure bet, it was Park Jihoon. Despite MNET rarely showing him doing anything of interest, his visuals were enough to hold the top spot for five weeks. And he never slipped farther than third place. The ability to persuade thousands of fans to invest in you should be acknowledged, even if it’s for something more superficial like visuals. And I’m not saying he’s untalented – he’s actually a low-key triple threat. MNET never really focused on him performing, so I’m excited to see what he has in store for us.
#1: Kang Daniel
My first impression of Daniel was that he was cocky. I’m really happy to say that I was totally wrong. He’s actually one of the chillest, smiliest, and friendliest trainees on the show. I always thought he was talented (he’s also a low-key triple threat), and it was nice to see him mature. He learned a lot of lessons, and the public really supported his growth (for once). He’s an essential part of Wanna One, and he’s one of those members you couldn’t imagine the group without. I couldn’t be more pleased that he made it.
And 11th place is… Bear with me folks, we’re close to the end. We’ve only got one more person left, but the drama is HUGE.
The four candidates for the final spot are Kim Jonghyun, Ha Sungwoon, Kang Dongho, and Jung Sewoon. In the shocker of the night, Jonghyun is announced as #14th place. BoA even makes a face before she announces it. (I obviously have a lot of feelings about this, but I put them at the end so you don’t have to read it) Dongho comes in at #13, which means only one NU’EST member made it. Ultimately, Sungwoon’s recent surge in popularity serves him well and he takes the final spot over Sewoon.
This one is hard because Jonghyun’s elimination casts a shadow over it for me. I predicted that Sungwoon could get in, because of his late surge in popularity. If he had been gotten any other place, I wouldn’t have this problem. It’s completely irrational, and I hate that I still feel a pang when I see him in the Wanna One pictures. But I know that’s not his fault at all, and he deserves this just as much. His determination to survive touched me back in Episode 8, and he’s a great vocalist who will add a lot to the group. I’m still getting there, but I look forward to when both Wanna One and NU’EST start promoting again. I know that’s when I can start fully appreciating Sungwoon.
This last episode was really rough for a lot of reasons, but at this point everyone and their mother has announced debut plans. So now I can really be excited for Wanna One. Though it’s all one big popularity contest, it actually turned out to be a good combination of trainees. They already have everything you need for a hit group: vocals, rap, dance, variety, personality, and yes – visuals. I can’t wait to see what music they come up with. There’s just so much potential, and whatever they do is going to be amazing.
Now we’ve finally arrived at the end, I want to thank you for taking this journey with me. It’s my first attempt recapping a show, so thank you for bearing with me and my weird timetable. Thank you for putting up with my constant GIFs of the same three people. And most of all, thank you for reading! See you at Wanna One’s debut!
A P.S. FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE SAD ABOUT JONGHYUN
The one spoiler I saw beforehand was that Sungwoon made it. So I figured it out a good half hour before it actually happened, which sucked. In the entertainment industry, you learn to read behind people’s masks of professionalism. So whenever I saw him, I could tell exactly what he was thinking: hoping desperately while mentally preparing himself for the worst, the gradual realization that he probably wouldn’t get in, and trying to show that small part of him that really was okay with it when the rest of him wasn’t. Suffice it to say it was really painful to watch.
The worst for me was actually Minhyun’s reaction. He was probably aware that it was impossible for all four to make it, but I think it was safe to say he was expecting at least Jonghyun to join him. We saw him enthusiastically hug everyone else, but there’s this shot of all the members congratulating Sungwoon while he shuffles back to his chair. Plus all the behind the scenes footage is of him crying from guilt. It was really heartbreaking, because at that point NU’EST probably thought they’d disband. Luckily Pledis was smart this time around, and they’re doing just fine.
I really can’t stress this enough: Jonghyun’s personality is a rarity in the entertainment industry. There are plenty of nice and helpful people, but that level of selflessness and humility is practically unheard of – considering all the experiences that could have made him jaded and bitter. I work in the arts, and I’ve had my share of hard times. People screw you over, and it’s really easy to hold grudges. But his actions make me want to be better. It’s super cheesy, but he really is inspiring to me.
Jonghyun said himself that all the attention he was getting was because of his kindness. And I think that’s why his elimination is hard to swallow, because it literally feels like nice guys finish last. I was afraid that this would crush him, but he smiles through it all in true nice guy fashion. He’s genuinely happy for all of his friends. There’s no doubt in my mind he was supposed to be part of Wanna One. He was meant to be their leader, and he should have stayed with the “Sorry Sorry” group. But all things considered, everything turned out all right. If he had gone into Wanna One with Minhyun, NU’EST might not have survived. So maybe this really is for the best.
I have lots of biases, but they’re usually just celebrities I think are attractive and occasionally gush about on Tumblr. Unlike many K-pop fans, I’ve never felt that deep connection to my bias – that urge to do everything in my power to help someone succeed. I still don’t really, but Jonghyun’s story touched my heart. I’m happy that I discovered him through this show, and I’m happy there are so many new fans of NU’EST. Though it’s not how he wanted, he is indeed thriving. And I’ll definitely be there to support him.
Sources: MNET’s Produce 101 Season 2 Episode 11, Youtube, Tumblr, Soompi, Omona They Didn’t (Livejournal)