Happily Ever After?
Backstreet Rookie returns this week with another glacially paced slice of drama. The show definitely has a feel of having run its course now and episode 13 only typifies that feel. The entire hour is dedicated to wrapping up the various little sub-plots that have been meandering along in the background. By the end of the hour, everything appears ready for the finale but we’ve still got 3 more episodes to go. Honestly, I’m struggling to see how they’re going to fill that time.
Episode 13 of Backstreet Rookie picks up right where we left off. Yeon-Joo moves in and hugs Dae-Hyun while Saet-Byul watches from afar. Only, our plucky protagonist has finally started standing up for himself. He tells her that everything is in the past and hopes she doesn’t do anything like this again. Saet-Byul is clearly not happy with the hug though and heads home stressed and unhappy. This is only made worse when she sees the pictures of Eun-Byul being used against her.
When Saet-Byul arrives to greet her sister, the three bullies show and request a private audience. High above, a reporter snaps photos incognito while mentioning Ji-Wook. Out in an alleyway, the three bullies arrive and beat Saet-Byul down to the ground. They tell her to pay up or suffer the consequences. Those consequences coming in the form of revealing the photos of Eun-Byul.
Battered and bruised, Saet-Byul winds up at Dae-Hyun’s who agrees to patch her up. As she sobs uncontrollably, she apologises to him while he holds her. Unwilling to accept defeat, Yeon-Joo tries desperately to get back in Dae-Hyun’s good books. He sends Geun-Sik over to inform Dae-Hyun that Chairman Cho wants to meet him.
Dae-Hyun shows up and is clearly flustered. Seung-Joo is not happy about him being there though but remains silent as the Chairman hands over a pure-gold key. With this in hand, Dae-Hyun thanks the Chairman and heads back to the store. There, Dae-Hyun and Saet-Byul start flirting and it results in Dae-Hyun side-stepping a little too far and looking deep in each other’s eyes. Before anything can progress though, Boon-Hee arrives and breaks things up.
After making a good impression, Dae-Hyun receives a promotion to become an advisor at the head office. It comes from Yeon-Joo’s mouth too but he’s unsure whether to take the job or not. Instead, Yeon-Joo turns to Boon-Hee for advice. She agrees to speak to Dae-Hyun about the job just as Saet-Byul arrives and interrupts their meeting.
Still heartbroken, Dal-Sik heads to the arcade and starts doing his usual dance routine. Only, Geum-Bi shows up too and the duo synchronize their dancing together. In the wake of this, they share drinks and start weeping over how their hearts are empty. The next thing we know, they both wake up next to one another. It appears innocent enough but Geum-Bi quickly scrambles out the door. When she does, both her and Dal-Sik clutch their hearts and wonder what’s caused this.
The pictures snapped earlier by the reporter start to circulate and social media is abuzz with all the juicy details. The truth about Eun-Byul and Saet-Byul is out, along with information about Ji-Wook too. Adding salt to the wound, the bullies forward on videos of Saet-Byul beating down the girl back on the rooftop all those episodes ago.
In the wake of this, Saet-Byul wallows in self pity until Dae-Hyun encourages her to tell the truth and be honest. That evening, she leaves a message for Dae-hyun and tells him she’s going to deal with this in her own way. That way happens to be confronting the bullies heads-on.
After disposing of the goons, Saet-Byul punches “red pepper” square in the jaw and takes her phone by force. As she leaves, Saet-Byul immediately confronts the reporter and hands over the bully’s phone. She tells her she doesn’t care what happens as long as the truth is revealed and everything is straightened out.
Not long after, Ji-Wook meets that very same reporter and admits that what she wrote is true. He wanted to become Saet-Byul’s boyfriend but she likes someone else so he’s pretty much given up on that idea now.
Meanwhile, Saet-Byul picks up Eun-Byul and brings her to Dae-Hyun’s house. Sitting down to eat, Boon-Hee tells her not to make the same mistake twice and acts like a real Mother, cooking for them both. If there’s one highlight of this series, it’s been the mother/daughter bonding that’s been going on for the duo. However, this also once again results in Saet-Byul struggling to hold back tears.
In the wake of Saet-Byul confronting the bullies and handing over the phone, the real story is finally revealed and all is right with the world. This means the bullies don’t have any more leverage over Eun-Byul.
Dae-Hyun meanwhile, visits the head office and tells them they need to work as a community and have the convenience stores working with other businesses. He accepts the role as Franchise Owner and smiles graciously in the wake of the polite applause.
As the episode comes to a close, Ji-Wook meets Saet-Byul and says his goodbyes. He’a decided to leave right away and given up on trying to pursue her. As he leaves, Dae-Hyun arrives at the convenience store carrying a bouquet of roses. Handing them over, she prepares herself for a kiss that may or may not come.
The Episode Review
With Dae-Hyun taking matters into her own hands and solving the bully problem, I guess the moral of the story here is to use violence and confront things head on. To be fair, it’s actually not a bad plan and from personal experience this definitely works to quell bullying.
Having said that though, the entire season has struggled to really settle into a consistent rhythm with numerous half-baked love triangles, sub-plots and different character angles cropping up. There’s a definite feeling of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks here. In that respect, I can’t help but feel whether the overwhelming negative press early on dampened the original plans the writers had with this and whether there was a late scramble to rewrite some material.
Regardless of that though, the episode closes a lot of the lingering sub-plots while leaving one big question mark hanging over this going forward. Will Dae-Hyun and Saet-Byul end up together?