Backstreet Rookie: Episodes 11-12 Open Thread
Our store manager and his fangirl get closer this week, with circumstances pushing them together, and a kinship growing between them. But is that just kinship we’re seeing? The presence of a third party starts to shake things up, and it might just be the push our hero needs to realize the gem he’s got in front of him.
EPISODES 11-12 WEECAP
Saet-byul might be mooning over Dae-hyun since Day 1, but she has a long-term admirer herself in the form of celebrity and old friend Kang Ji-wook. I loved the bigger presence he had in this week’s episodes — sure, it was like watching a puppy whimpering when he sighed over how Saet-byul looked at Dae-hyun, but it also made for some enjoyable drama.
Ji-wook is still working as the spokesperson for GS25, the chain behind Dae-hyun’s store, and rather than shoot his promotional videos at a Gangnam branch, Ji-wook insists on going to Dae-hyun’s store. So he can be near Saet-byul. She is now officially… a permanent full-time employee! The reveal around this is quite adorable, with Dae-hyun planning the big moment and generally being sweet and thoughtful towards her.
Shooting at Dae-hyun’s store means hours that Ji-wook can be next to Saet-byul, but it also has some other ramifications. The first is that Yeon-joo and Dae-hyun are forced to interact with each other after their sudden breakup. The second is that Dae-hyun gets a good look at Ji-wook mooning over Saet-byul, and even hears a heart-on-his-sleeve confession that Ji-wook likes her.
This shouldn’t matter to Dae-hyun, right? Except it does, and a great chunk of Episode 11 is watching the two boys compete with each other for her attention. It’s actually really fun for a triangle dynamic — Ji-wook has long been nuts about Saet-byul, but she’s so innocently clueless, treats him like a brother, and openly squeals about Dae-hyun’s adorableness in front of him.
There’s a handful of hilarious moments, but my favorite might be when Saet-byul explains to Ji-wook that Dae-hyun is “almost 30” and thus has wrinkles on his forehead, which is why he wears bangs. Cut to the next scene where Dae-hyun has redone his hair to part on his forehead — incidentally the same exact hairstyle as Ji-wook.
But our show also balances a lot of heartfelt moments with all the funny, and this week we have some touching scenes when Dae-hyun’s parents try to prevent him from finding out about the truth behind his mother’s huge insurance numbers that month. That fails, of course, and there’s even more pathos as we watch him deal with the gravity of what his parents have had to shoulder, merely because of their social position.
Another thing I think Backstreet Rookie is capturing amazingly well is the loneliness of the life of an “idol” celebrity. I didn’t expect our drama to be about this, or to touch on it much at all, but every time I see the rules under which Ji-wook has to live to keep his celebrity image at 100%, it makes me sad. He’s isolated from people, rushed from event to event, and basically denied most meaningful relationships.
We’re also seeing the same thing happening with Eun-byul, who’s put her girl group members in their place, and seems to be gearing up for a buzzed about debut. Even with a side character like her, the drama does a really nice job of showing us just how fragile celebrity is — even as a trainee, Eun-byul has to be careful about every move she makes, every photo taken, and every moment from her past. I love the angle of Ji-wook as the oppa looking out for her, but Eun-byul is also poised to wreck everything she’s built, with the iljin gang forever blackmailing her and ready to tear her down. My money is on Saet-byul saving the day (we haven’t seen a fight scene in a while!), but I’m not quite sure where we’re going to go with this plot line yet.
Speaking of plot lines I’m unsure about, our problematic friend and his weirdo loveline continue this week. I know they’re supposed to be funny, but I’m so tired of Dal-shik that it’s hard to enjoy these scenes. The two are cute being ridiculously in love on the phone, and we know they’re getting set up for a huge and disastrous meeting, but it falls flat for me. I’m done dealing with Dal-shik, bird poop, flies, raunchy webtoons, and everything, and I’d honestly rather deal with the annoying iljin girls rather than have him on my screen anymore.
But what I’d really rather have is more Saet-byul and Dae-hyun acting goofy together, being sweet, fighting through the window, slurping noodles, etc. These two live at exactly the same tempo — contrast that to Yeon-joo, who, at the end of our episodes this week, has changed her mind (again), and goes running to get Dae-hyun back. Is she too late this time? Has his heart changed after everything his family has endured? Has Saet-byul won a place in his heart? I’m voting yes.