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Backstreet Rookie: Episodes 7-8 Open Thread

Our part-timer in distress gets some much-needed support from our hero’s family — but it’s not without consequences. Relationships are a lot about priorities, and this week we see what happens when our characters’ priorities start to shift in new directions.

 
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP

It’s not a fakeout — Saet-byul really does quit the store this week. She’s heartbroken, of course, but feels she is doing the right thing, while Dae-hyun feels a bit sorry, guilty and even surprised at her sudden departure. Pretty soon, though, the lack of Saet-byul at the convenience store is felt by everyone.

The girl might have been a bit wacky, but she was also a valuable asset to the store. Without her, Dae-hyun can’t seem to run things. Not only is he covering the shifts himself again, but the organization and order that Saet-byul brought disappears when she’s gone. Of course, we get most of this via comedy — like when Saet-byul is hiding in the storage room secretly helping him, and her accidental banging around is mistaken for a store ghost — but all in all it’s clear: the store Dae-hyun needs her around.

It’s so like life that hardships come all at once, and not long after Saet-byul is jobless, she and her sister are evicted after a rent scandal with their apartment. Eun-byul is busy lying her way through life to be an idol (why do I think this contract is going to blow up in her face?), while Saet-byul is left sobbing on the floor of the public sauna, trying to put the pieces together. I feel for her — she puts on a strong front, but she’s been struggling alone for years. She needs family, and that’s what made this plot development so satisfying.

Because, it’s Mama to the rescue! It’s funny — I don’t enjoy the dynamics between Dae-hyun’s family at all (in fact I pretty much dislike most of their scenes), but whenever his mom and Saet-byul interact, it’s the sweetest thing ever. She finds Saet-byul sobbing in the sauna and quickly takes her home like an abandoned kitten.

Saet-byul in Dae-hyun’s house is too good of an opportunity to pass up for this drama, so we get a steady string of expected (but still kinda funny) hijinks. More than once, Saet-byul accidentally terrifies each family member with her bedhead and white nightgown (a la The Ring) while walking around their house at night.

Then, when Dae-hyun is rushing home for a shower, he’s undressing on his way to the bathroom and encounters a freshly showered Saet-byul. Dae-hyun in his boxers makes her scream bloody murder, and the feeling is mutual. (For a drama that’s been criticized for over-sexualizing Saet-byul early on, this was one of the most G-rated accidental shower sighting scenes I’ve come across in dramaland — just saying.)

But beyond the comedy, what we thought would happen, happens. Yeon-joo turns up at Dae-hyun’s house and Saet-byul’s presence is pretty much the same thing as a bomb going off in their relationship. But really, that bomb has already gone off, and Saet-byul is just the excuse. Yeon-joo’s mouth says one thing but her actions say another, and she treats Dae-hyun horrible this week. In fact, her two-faced behavior only brought out Dae-hyun’s kindness and sincerity even more.

While Yeon-joo is cancelling their date and instead going out with Seung-joon “for work” (slowly falling prey to his lame advances), Dae-hyun is earnestly trying to make their rain check date happen. He’s also suddenly/automatically playing hero for Saet-byul, when he learns about the real estate fraud. Dae-hyun and Saet-byul running, huffing, and puffing through the neighborhood trying to catch the money-stealing Man-bok was the highlight of this week’s episodes for me.

I appreciate all the time this drama is taking to get Dae-hyun to see Saet-byul as more than a scary, wacky girl that works in his store — or perhaps this week, the little sister that needs protecting. We’ve seen Dae-hyun and Saet-byul goof off together, fight for justice together, and just get along well generally — it’s clear (to us) they live on the same wavelength — but we haven’t advanced much more yet.

This week all we got was the smallest hint of “awareness” when Dae-hyun is conscious of not touching Saet-byul when getting a ride on her scooter. With the end of Episode 8 being primo first kiss territory for most by-the-recipe dramas, I appreciate even more the time Backstreet Rookie is taking to make their romance feel appropriate and acceptable.

And just like that we’re half through the madness that is Backstreet Rookie. Our second half is where we’re most likely to see the romance start to come together, since really, there’s not much plot going on besides bumps in the road that are slowly working to bring these two together. Here’s hoping Backstreet Rookie does it well.

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