Backstreet Rookie episode 14 introduces plenty more drama late in the game, and how it’ll all shake out remains a mystery until next week.
This recap of Backstreet Rookie episode 14 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
We’re rocketing towards the end of this up-and-down season now, and Backstreet Rookie episode 14 opens with a pleasant state of affairs: Dae-hyun giving Saet-byul tulips in full view of a remorseful Yeon-joo. Ha! Good. Apparently it’s only three days until she takes the GED exam. He’s working at headquarters and leaving her to take care of the convenience store. He’s about to confess the real reason he’s giving Saet-byul the flowers but, of course, his sister Dae-soon interrupts at exactly the wrong time, which is this show’s all-time favorite gag.
While this romance continues to blossom, Yeon-joo tries to explain to her mother that she’s going to win Dae-hyun back, in large part for what he did for her work-wise years ago, rather than… you know, all the stuff he’s done for her recently that she totally ignored? Yeon-joo takes this opportunity to stand up to her judgmental and thoroughly unpleasant mother, but why bother at this point?
While Dae-hyun goes off to work – after a smell check, naturally – Saet-byul gets to her own duties, but is visited by Ms. Yoo, the head of Eun-byul’s agency, who welcomes little sister back with open arms and tears of joy from her teammates and yep, this all seems a bit contrived to me!
There’s a bit of business involving Yeong-pil being a leech in Backstreet Rookie episode 14, but it’s in everyone’s best interests if we pretend it doesn’t exist. Besides, all the intriguing stuff is at Dae-hyun’s new job, where a bitter Seung-joon is on-hand to give him seemingly impossible tasks and make bitchy remarks when Dae-hyun wonders if they are indeed impossible. There’s nothing like a bit of competition to spur one on, though, so off he pops, and immediately – and conveniently – encounters Yeon-joo, who’s there for one contrived reason or another. They try and work together and have a bit of a slapstick tumble which sends Dae-hyun down a flight of stairs and then to the hospital.
If Dae-hyun didn’t have bad luck he’d have no luck at all, and I’m including the rest of his family in the bad luck category, since Dae-soon is a thief – Saet-byul knows what she’s up to and can’t do anything about it – and Yeong-pil is a lecherous worm, who just so happens to bump into the much-discussed Jang-mi while seeing his friends off at the airport. Drama!
While Dae-hyun is watching the owner’s store, Saet-byul calls for him to mark her test answers, and while it’s cute it’s also a bit parent-child or at least teacher-student for me, especially since we’re supposed to consider these two on the cusp of a romance.
On the subject of romances, buckle up, because Backstreet Rookie episode 14 has a weird one for us. Yeong-pil meets with Jang-mi, who apparently owes him money – he stole a grand from his father back in the day to give to her, and she intends to pay it back tenfold. But she wants to meet Boon-hee, her former bestie, who calls right on time and runs into Yeong-pil in the same restaurant, which is quite the coincidence. She’s there because Yeon-joo’s mother apparently wants to discuss something with her. She wants Yeong-pil to hide so he isn’t spotted by Yeon-joo’s mother, for obvious reasons, and he takes that opportunity to get rid of Jang-mi.
Naturally, Yeon-joo’s mother wants to cancel her insurance plan – of course she does – and takes the opportunity to tell Boon-hee that it’s Yeon-joo who’s responsible for Dae-hyun’s promotion. Pardon me while I gag.
Elsewhere, Saet-byul denies Dae-soon access to the convenience store on the perfectly viable grounds that she’s a thief, and while she’s very much annoyed about this given her shareholder status, she’s no match for Saet-byul, who’s having none of it whatsoever. Good for her.
Does anyone care what’s going on with Dal-sik and Geum-bi? No, didn’t think so.
A new obstacle in the way of Dae-hyun and Saet-byul’s romance is ill health, since Dae-hyun is badly overworked, which Saet-byul discovers when she goes to the store to gift him some new cologne that doesn’t smell like Yeon-joo’s. He’s rushed to the hospital again, and the prospect of closing the store – first floated by Yeon-joo’s mother, by the way – is brought up again by Boon-hee and Yeong-pil.
The next day is exam day, and Saet-byul smilingly completes it, seeing questions he predicted would crop up, and implementing all his advice. She returns to the hospital afterward and finds Yeon-joo talking to Boon-hee, asking if she’ll consider letting headquarters run the store while Dae-hyun works at headquarters. She leaves – after fussing Saet-byul – and Yeon-joo reiterates the idea of the store being company-run to Saet-byul, who insists that the store is everything to Dae-hyun. Yeon-joo sees this as his opportunity to become wealthy and more upper-class, which only shows how little she knew him in the first place. She’s projecting her own ideas of self-improvement onto him.
She also tries to hold Dae-hyun’s hand when he wakes up, but none of that’s occurring on Saet-byul’s watch. When they return home, the fate of the store hangs in the air as Dae-hyun’s parents continue, as ever, to pressure him. There’s no wonder he’s stressed. To take the edge off, he confronts Yeon-joo, and explains how he’d pick the store over the consultancy job without hesitation. Yeon-joo assumes he’s worried about Saet-byul’s future and so wants to make him another offer.
Next news, Dae-hyun is explaining to Saet-byul that he has quit being a consultant since the head office made clear it was either that position or the store. The alternative, he explains, is for Saet-byul to be promoted to assistant manager and to work under someone from head office. Thinking back on everything that has been said and done, Saet-byul tells him to keep the job and let her run the store. Dae-hyun’s obviously worried about who head office will send to manage the place, and he’s right to be since Yeon-joo puts Manager Bae to the task with explicit instructions to do whatever he can to get rid of Saet-byul.
To cap off Backstreet Rookie episode 14, Dae-hyun takes Saet-byul to the roof and gives her a rousing speech about how special she is to him. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, really, but it’s refreshingly organic rather than sensationalized or slapstick – both tendencies of the show that it’d be better off without. But with two episodes left, we’ve gone from having virtually no drama to wrap up to quite a fair amount, so it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.