It’s good riddance to bad rubbish in Backstreet Rookie episode 10 as Dae-hyun finally stands up for himself, and a new love triangle emerges.
This recap of Backstreet Rookie episode 10 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After several weeks of having to put up with Dae-hyun being constantly belittled, manipulated, and taken advantage of by Yeon-joo, Backstreet Rookie episode 10 mercifully calls time on that particular subplot, paving the way for another that, with not too many episodes left in the season, you have to wonder if it can convincingly pull off. Still, if the point was to engender sympathy for our protagonists, then mission firmly accomplished, even if it might have taken an episode or two longer than necessary to reach this point.
But Yeon-joo’s moving on fast. She leaves Dae-hyun at the restaurant and smugly parties the night away with Seung-joon, while Dae-hyun slumps back to work. Saet-byul, meanwhile, is having dinner with Ji-wook, watching Eun-byul’s dance videos and singing Dae-hyun’s praises. This is the new love triangle that the show is teeing up, made a bit more complicated by the fact that thanks to Seung-joon, Saet-byul is now prohibited from working and has quit her job, so she’s forced to linger outside the convenience store and essentially spy on what Dae-hyun is up to while Ji-wook basically spies on her spying. It’s not exactly the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen but it is oddly charming in a very k-drama sort of way.
The only person who seems to come out of everything okay is, annoyingly, Yeon-joo, who gets a promotion. Dae-hyun is not only still torn up about the break-up, but also the revelation that he kind of depends on Yeon-joo’s family for his living, which gives him something to confront her about. He does, and what does she do in response, folks? Yes, of course, she blames him. In a series of coincidences, Dae-hyun sees how she and her family have been treating his mother and father, and he finally decides he isn’t having it. And Yeon-joo still won’t take any responsibility.
Yeon-joo’s mother is somehow even less sympathetic than she is since she believes so strongly that the poor should know their place, and that all this torture was really just a favor for Yeon-joo, who doesn’t even appreciate it. At least Boon-hee is able to regain some pride from all this, enduring just a bit more mistreatment before finally getting a stamp on her insurance agreement, at which point she makes her feelings on the matter of class very clear. And she becomes the month’s queen of sales, which is nice. Even Yong-pil eventually gets in on the action, and it’s wonderful to behold.
This leads to something of a reconciliation between Boon-hee and Yong-pil which is surprisingly touching, all things considered. Dae-hyun and his family might not be upper-class or wealthy, but between them and Yeon-joo’s family, I know who I’d rather stay with.
On the subject of tearful reconciliations, Saet-byul goes to see Eun-byul in Backstreet Rookie episode 10, and thanks to a happy coincidence they both end up seeing each other and having dinner together. Eun-byul still naively believes that things will all work out fine, and Saet-byul wisely remains concerned, but progress is progress, at the end of the day.
Things still aren’t ideal for Saet-byul, who doesn’t have a place of her own to stay in, and things aren’t going especially well with Ji-wook. But she’s happy enough to move back in with Dae-hyun’s family, even if he isn’t entirely honest about who wants her to return. It leads to a bit of confusion when Saet-byul turns up, but also to quite a lovely moment in which Boon-hee declares that she’s family and that as long as she’s staying with them she’ll be her guardian. Everything’s suddenly looking up.
It’s starting to look like fate, actually, and we know Saet-byul believes in such things, especially after Dal-sik informs her of Dae-hyun and Yeon-joo’s breakup. Dal-sik continues to have no use to the show whatsoever beyond dragging it down to a puerile level, and his dopey relationship with Geum-bi continues to be a clear low point, the less said about which is probably the better.
Besides, we have new things to worry about. Ji-wook’s role is increasing, and he’s crestfallen to find Saet-byul gone; his argument with his manager for throwing her out gives a bit more of a glimpse into his character, another victim of celebrity exploitation. Meanwhile, Dae-hyun gets blind drunk at the beach with Saet-byul and starts hallucinating that she’s Yeon-joo. Even once the penny has dropped, he keeps reminiscing and making terrible jokes. Eventually, he passes out, and Saet-byul uses the opportunity to confess when she first developed feelings for him. It’s the first time, really, that the show has been properly explicit about there being a real romantic connection between these two rather than a bizarre flirty friendship or some kind of surrogate parent bond. The episode ends with Dae-hyun pulling Saet-byul on top of him, to prove the point.
We’ll have to wait a week to see what becomes of that.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.