Backstreet Rookie episode 7 really picks up this week, dropping a lot of the silliness and comedy in exchange for some genuinely affecting character drama.
This recap of Backstreet Rookie episode 7 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It took a while, but in Backstreet Rookie episode 7, the k-drama finally found the right tone. For the most part, it wasn’t even a rom-com or even much of a comedy; it felt much more like a slice-of-life character drama that rounded out virtually everyone and made their respective plights compelling. I was surprised by how engaged I remained throughout the hour, right from the opening scene, in which Saet-byul quit working at Dae-hyun’s store in her typically pleasant way, much to his confusion.
Of course, we know why she’s doing this – but she couldn’t know that she was doing it at the worst possible time. When Saet-byul and Eun-byul return home, they find that their apartment is in disarray and they’ve been evicted; the broker scammed them and many others, and while the police are looking into the fraudster, there’s little that can be done in the meantime. Of course, this might have been prepared for had Eun-byul actually been at home while Saet-byul was working, but more on this sibling relationship will come up later.
This leaves Saet-byul not just unemployed for a good chunk of Backstreet Rookie episode 7, but also homeless. Eun-byul is unhappy about this, which is true to form if not necessarily a joy for the audience, and she thinks Saet-byul should turn to Geum-bi for financial help since she’s apparently implausibly rich. More on this will also come up later.
But in the meantime, we have a kind of slapstick diversion as Saet-byul returns to the convenience store to sneakily collect her diary while Dae-hyun, totally lost without her, gets an inconvenient delivery and starts roaming in and out of the stock room where she’s hiding. She’s finally able to sneak out, but without the diary, at which point she gets a call from Eun-byul who has ignored her wishes completely and gone to Geum-bi’s ridiculous mansion.
Some bits about Geum-bi: Since when was she this rich? Has this been mentioned before and I just missed it? I watch so much TV that it’s all blurring together at this point. Also: How do we feel about the fact that she’s obsessed with Dal-sik’s R-rated webtoon Her Reggae Boy? For that matter, does Dal-sik even serve a purpose in this show?
Nevertheless, Geum-bi is there for Saet-byul, even if the latter seems very uncomfortable with the prospect of being in this ludicrous house. We get some flashbacks of their enduring closeness and Saet-byul’s long journey working low-paid menial jobs to support herself and her sister. This is the flimsy justification that she later gives Dae-hyun for having quit, but while he charmingly takes it on the chin, on some level he must be able to sense it isn’t true. He leaves her a parting gift: Some elbow and knee pads which, of course, fit perfectly, causing her to break down a little.
Backstreet Rookie episode 7 finally catches up to Yeon-joo, who seems to be feeling a bit guilty about her and her family’s horrendous treatment of Dae-hyun – she even turns down Seung-joo’s father when she’s invited to attend a European director’s swanky do. She has prior arrangements with Dae-hyun, who is, somehow, apologetic for… well, something. I’m not even sure that he’s sure. But he promises to be a better boyfriend to her, and she says that’ll make her life a lot easier, and it’s just amazing that she’s okay with this, really.
Anyway, their 1000th day together is coming up, and Dae-hyun has finagled tickets for The Phantom of the Opera – the very same production organized by the European director Yeon-joo is currently working with. And yes, you can see where this is going.
In the meantime, Saet-byul must apparently suffer even more. Her new job as a delivery driver proves to be dangerous, and not as well-paid as promised unless you’re willing to risk your life getting from A to B. And when she returns to Geum-bi’s house she overhears her father blaming Saet-byul for her not having graduated. Mortified by this, she packs up and leaves.
Everything is simultaneously going wrong for Dae-hyun, too. Yeon-joo predictably stands him up. His father steals from him. He can’t change the date of his tickets. Saet-byul’s parcels keep getting delivered to the store. It’s a nightmare.
Things don’t get better for either character in Backstreet Rookie episode 7, especially Saet-byul, since Eun-byul, self-serving as ever, steals all her money to pay off a woman to impersonate her legal guardian so that she can sign an entertainment agency contract. When Saet-byul finally breaks down over all this, I felt quite genuinely moved, which is not something I ever expected to feel in relation to this show.
Another thing that moved me: Boon-hee, herself put out by her husband being a lying, thieving waste of space, bonds with Saet-byul when she encounters her at the sauna, and when she later learns of her predicament, she literally runs to her rescue. Only, Saet-byul isn’t there.
Dae-hyun ends up attending The Phantom of the Opera alone, and while Yeon-joo sees him from her exclusive seat, he doesn’t seem to see her and leaves in the intermission. Returning home, he sees what looks very much like a horror-movie ghost in a white dress, with her black hair covering her face. Her head jerks noisily and awkwardly from side-to-side, but when she clears her hair from her face it’s Saet-byul. I assumed this must be a nightmare of some sort, but when Dae-hyun reaches out to touch her face, she’s real, which is where the episode ends.
It really is getting better!
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.