A Long Road To Nowhere
Backstreet Rookie has had quite the tumultuous run. What began as a Korean drama steeped in controversy managed to course correct and deliver a mildly amusing romantic comedy. From there, the show moved into melodrama before seemingly running out of steam. Now, as we reach the business end of the season, Backstreet Rookie pulls out a last minute love triangle switch. To make matters worse, this Korean drama is really struggling to give a lot of its supporting characters enough screen-time to make their inclusion justifiable.
Episode 11 of Backstreet Rookie begins with Dae-Hyun having a bad dream. Within that nightmare he’s under arrest with food sanitation officers while Saet-Byul walks away, leaving him in this predicament. This is why he grabbed her arm last episode.
In the morning, Dae-Hyun looks in the mirror and sees Saet-Byul has drawn over him with the words “I am Saet-Byul’s.” Leaving him a letter, she heads to the convenience store to work. Only, when she gets there she realizes how much of a mess it is and sets to work fixing the place up.
Ji-Wook arrives not long after though and she immediately hands him a box to hold while she stacks shelves. When Dae-Hyun arrives though, Saet-Byul immediately chirps up and forgets about her puppy. Sensing the rejection, and his love interest’s affection for Dae-Hyun, he immediately leaves.
Back inside though, Saet-Byul starts berating Dae-Hyun for their dwindling sales and encourages him to get the place in order to change their fortunes. In the wake of this, Dae-Hyun decides to promote her to store manager.
Their celebrations spill over to eating lunch outside as they try out the new products. There, Saet-Byul asks him about Yeon-Joo and whether he broke up because of what was happening between them. He tells them they didn’t, just as a jealous Dal-Sik arrives and watches them eat.
Back home, Dae-Hyun makes a big deal about Boon-Hee’s insurance promotion but she’s less than enthused given what’s happened between them. Dae-Soon arrives midway through the food is being prepared and things immediately take a turn for the worst. After unintentionally stirring things up, she leaves with packets of food while the others continue to eat.
In the aftermath of this, Dae-Hyun asks Saet-Byul when she decided to work at the store. As we see from a flashback, she’s been wanting to work there for years. She watched him from the window numerous times and even went out in the pouring rain to watch him. When she saw the sign go up for part timers, she knew she had to apply. That’s not what she tells Dae-Hyun of course, and instead chalks it up to a prophetic dream she had.
Back home, the Queen of Insurance feels ashamed over what happened with Yeon-Joo’s Mum and heads to bed early. Not even a massage from Yong-Pil can cheer her up. While she sleeps, Yong-Pil heads to the convenience store and reveals the truth about what happened with Hye-Ja. On the back of this, Dae-Hyun phones home and offers some encouraging, heartfelt words to his Mum. He promises her he’ll be nice from now on.
Meanwhile, Dal-Sik continues to talk on the phone to his love interest. Trying to act cool, he reads quotes out loud to try and woo his mystery lover. As we know though, it’s actually Geum-Bi that he’s talking to and the duo are falling for one another. Eventually they take the plunge and decide to meet up. Only, when they do they both hold roses and realize who the other is. Geum-Bi is horrified though and she eventually walks away…just as a bird defecates on Dal-Sik’s face.
Back at the store, Dae-Hyun gets Saet-Byul a new uniform to wear at work; a shirt to celebrate her becoming a regular employee. As Dae-Hyun sits outside eating watermelon, he comments on how special she is – and what a special employee she is too.
Meanwhile, Ji-Wook decides to use the convenience store branch in town as the place to host his event. While Seung-Joo is dead against this, Yeon-Joo however is not. While Yeon-Joo heads inside to try and smooth things out with Dae-Hyun, the PR organizer discusses their likeness to a soap opera love triangle.
After cleaning up the store as best they can, the company arrive and Saet-Byul takes the time to personally thank Seung-Joo for getting her fired. Because of that action, it meant she could reapply for the convenience store. This gets a pretty jealous look from Yeon-Joo given what’s happened in the past.
When Ji-Wook arrives, he gets involved and wears the same uniform as Saet-Byul and Dae-Hyun. Saet-Byul continues to treat him poorly though and after finding out how Eun-Byul is getting on, she sets her sights on Dae-Hyun. It’s here Ji-Wook learns that he’s single and no longer with Yeon-Joo.
Managing to get a crucial moment alone with Dae-Hyun, he tells him he likes Saet-Byul and doesn’t want Dae-Hyun confusing her if he doesn’t plan on making a move. As they stare one another down, the episode comes to a close.
The Review Write-Up
Poor Ji-Wook, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy. He seems like he has a genuinely good heart and wants the best for Saet-Byul but she just can’t shake her obsession with Dae-Hyun. And let’s face it, it is an obsession. As much as the show tries, there just isn’t a romantic spark between Saet-Byul and Dae-Hyun. It doesn’t help either than the show feels like it’s running on empty.
There isn’t enough dramatic tension to carry the show and aside from some funny scenes involving Dal-Sik – excluding that seriously questionable slur from Geum-Bi – there’s just not enough here to lift this show out of mediocrity. After the wave of melodrama last week, episode 11 is devoid of drama and I’m struggling to see exactly how this show is going to fill 5 more hours of story.