No Mercy: The Cruel Debut War – A Review?

Posted by Stephanie on October 1, 2019


It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts! Now finally with the last of the Korean Adventure posts put to bed, most of my belongings out of boxes post unexpected move, it’s time to get back into the swing of it. Thought we’d take this week to get reacquainted with each other and what’s been going on out there while I’ve been in my hole of angst and packing tape. For this post instead of focusing on what I haven’t been doing, let’s take a look at what I have been getting my hands on, as, surprisingly, I have been watching some things. Not all kdrama, not all kpop, and not all BL.

Okay, maybe a lot of BL. And a butt-ton of Kpop. Let’s get ready to chat some screen time!

As I mentioned in the tipsi podcast I recorded by myself, a podcast I’m fairly certain will never see the light of day as it will 1) possibly get me fired, 2) is probably boring and 3) is most definitely embarrassing and I’d like to be able to look you in the eye should we ever meet on the street, I finished No Mercy! At the gym, I hate using a stationary bike. Hate, hate, hate it. However, things being what they are with my former knee injuries, I limit my treadmill time to twice a week. It’s not that I like to run, it’s that I find the stationary bike so boring! Ugh. To make that time just a little bit easier, to trick myself into looking forward to my time there, I rewarded myself with episodes of this show. Have you ever watched it? Yes? Cool! Let’s chat. No? Are you a Monsta X fan? (The acceptable answer here is yes.) Then you should totally watch their origins story! Since watching I have such a respect for how far these guys have come and loved watching their interactions more on social media knowing where they came from. They weren’t always friends. They didn’t always get along. There was definitely a time where it was everyone against I.M.

Even though I knew how it ended, I found myself really invested with both the people who made it into the eventual group and the people who didn’t. There were times when I agreed with the judging and sometimes I vehemently opposed it, even if it meant me going against one of the eventual members. And I love Monsta X! From the stance of knowing how things ended up, I can see that the judges, or production company, or Starship themselves knew where they wanted this group to go. While I’ve come to love them, Minhyuk and Hyungwon, sometimes even Wonho did not shine during this show. The visual line was that, the visuals.

I swear I could do a whole podcast on this series. Or heck, even an episode by episode review, talking about everything that popped into my brain as I watched. Even though I was at the gym, I would shoot off random texts to SaraG, who has also seen the entire series, just to laugh, or vent my frustrations. I’m unsure of how many times I type-shouted at her:  K.Will is such a dick! K.Will being the head judge.

Sidenote. K.WILL IS SUCH A DICK! I didn’t have any feelings towards him one way or another before this show, knowing just that there was a K.Will. I’m sure if you played a popular song of his I’d know it, but I wasn’t ever going to search it out. AND I CERTAINLY WON’T NOW. Look. I know every show needs to have that antagonist and I’m sure in real life he is a very nice guy. Deep down. But he was mean to my boys and, well, I just can’t have that. The snide comments, taking any moment to shoot them down, and ugh, the comments when they waltzed I.M out? Sorry, there is always going to be a dark spot on my soul against you. Even now, I think back when the boys came to your show, having a good time and you’re all “Hope you have fun when we eliminate you.” and I just want to bare my teeth.

I may have forgotten where I was.

Oh. Let’s get down to my real struggles #Gun, the lovely, lovely #Gun.

For those of you not in the know, this is pronounced Sharp Gun, not Hashtag Gun, or as I thought for a good portion of the show until SaraG set me right, Shotgun. He was one of the stronger competitors in the program, sure he couldn’t dance, but he actually stood out more than people who made it into the group did. And by the end? He wasn’t as terrible a dancer as we’ve see in other groups. This being said though, despite my dislike of his initial heartbreak, despite my ire at them bringing I.M in last minute, I really think it’s best that he didn’t get in. It’s not that he wasn’t as, or more talented, but for him, I see him more as a solo artist rather than an idol group member. He has an independent streak which shown through whenever he was trying to conform to what being in a group required of him. I love the fact that he’s off making his own solo music now, it actually means even more that he’s doing it while still under the Starship label. They weren’t throwing him away, it wasn’t that he wasn’t good enough, no, they must have felt the same about him. Which makes me feel better towards Starship.

It almost makes me forgive them for the I.M stunt. Almost.

If you aren’t up on your I.M trivia, he was actually a last-minute addition to the show. Not, oh, let’s throw him in there just as the show is about to start, no, they had TWO challenges left and they decided they didn’t have enough rappers still on the show to make a decision. They had three rappers left. That moment when that dick, KWill, tricked the guys into thinking he was taking them out for a meal because they had such a bad reaction to previous elimination (everyone wept), when instead he was all…here’s a new guy, too bad so sad the rest of you. The look of betrayal on their faces, as they tried to absorb, to not show their anger, was fascinating.

They were honest with him and each other: this was hard and they didn’t know how to accept him or his place in their group. They didn’t know what it meant for their futures (especially the rappers) and couldn’t help but think he was thrown in as a ringer. And you know what? I’m not entirely certain they weren’t right. The timing of him leaving the group he was going to debut with was suspicious. Him not seeming to excel in the challenges he was in was also so. (It wasn’t that he did badly, he just wasn’t as wow-ing as some of the others and was barely mentioned by the judging panel.)

Don’t get me wrong, I love I.M and his sassy attitude. When he came out from behind KWill, introducing himself to the guys, then going with them to the dorms, only to be shunned as the other guys processed what had just happened? Hurt my heart. The look on his face, his awkward “What do I say? Do I go in there? Nah, I’ll just awkwardly hang out here in the hall while they all talk about me.” Ouch. That’s not something that leaves you easily. You want to tell the guys, ‘Be nice, it’s not his fault!” but you understand their feelings as well. If I were in their positions, I’m not certain I would have been able to act any other way.

And, as I.M’s voice over says as he’s being introduced to the group, he’s sorry but he has to take every chance he can in order to achieve his dream too. Even if it means putting himself in this tough position.

Jooheon or Joohoney was also a revelation on the show. He was often either first or second place, praised by the judges. He was also a slick competitor. He showed a cunning you that doesn’t really come to mind when you think of him. He was the first one to talk to I.M, to call him out on being added. He was then also the first to seemingly fold him in. But that conversation they had, when he flat out said “You were offered a spot”, was pretty amazing. He saw the writing on the wall and decided to make a strategic friend.

It was funny watching this show while at the gym. On that stationary bike, I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I shouted “NO!” Though I knew exactly what the outcome would be, it always surprised me how they got there. The backstories continue to get me. Minhyuk crying, apologizing to his parents for coming in second to last. Shownu’s former idol trainee past continually being brought up to him, having to go meet up with GOT7, the group he would have debuted with if things had turned out differently, having to act lower than them when he was used to being their Hyung. Wonho admitting this was probably his last shot as he was getting older (in trainee age), talking about his mother supporting him, them going through bankruptcy and tags put on all their belongings. They were after our hearts and they got them.

I think the only downside to me wasthe ending. That last episode, or the last fifteen minutes. All that buildup to creating the group and when their names were called, there wasn’t any real celebration, no big smiles, just a nod, a held back tears, before they moved forward to the platform. Sure they were trying to save the feelings of the members, whoever they were, that didn’t make it, but it was a little anti-climactic. Sure, be sad for the people you leave behind, but be excited for that win. You deserved it. Or, most of you did. 😉

From the very first episode, I was hooked on this show. It took me a lot longer to get through these episodes than it should have, mainly because I didn’t want it to end. The evolution of their skills, their sound as artists and as a group, is pretty astounding. If you’re interested in the creation of a group, if you like Monsta X, I really recommend you give this show a try.

Oh. And K.Will is a dick.

PS. When I told SaraG my what I’m watching post had morphed somehow into a No Mercy Review, she asked me if I’d owned to having a newfound appreciation for MInhyuk. I told her I hadn’t but the show did, in fact, do so. While he might not have been the stronger performer there, constantly coming in the last two, he tried very hard, and was quite earnest about it. He had to suffer through that partner during the first pair up challenge (an argument they showed a clip but no audio of) until he was able to essentially boss the other guy back into a place where they could compete. Then when he was paired with another weak member, he pushed and prodded, making them both practice until late at night in an effort to keep them both from the chopping block. Because not only did he want to get better, he wanted his teammate to as well. While Minhyuk will never be my favorite member of Monsta X, I really do have a  lot more respect for him.

And as this did turn into a review of just No Mercy, well, I guess we’ll have to catch up later on the rest of the shows I’ve been watching. .



  • Reply Regina October 8, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    I have to look at this show

    • Reply Stephanie October 9, 2019 at 9:54 pm

      All the cool kids are.

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