Cafe Minamdang: Episodes 9-10
At the show’s halfway mark, our heroes double down on the suspect and get a little more serious. Meeting more people behind the elaborate web of corruption and nepotism is set to confuse us all about the identity of our culprit.
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
Picking up where we left off, poor tased Han-jun faints as expected. I don’t know why Jae-hui is looking worried (and unfortunately not apologizing) when she was the one who tased him, though accidentally. I don’t even know how many times she hit him. I should have made a hit counter from the very first week.
At the police station, Gyeong-cheol sticks to his story and denies any involvement with Eun-hye’s murder, despite Jae-hui, Do-won, and Detective Jang presenting a slew of incriminating evidence. And thanks to the powers that be (a.k.a. connections and corruption), the police team is forced to let Gyeong-cheol walk.
So who else can come to the rescue but the Minamdang crew? They set a trap for Gyeong-cheol in their usual shaman fashion. Han-jun approaches the gangster, warning him of a series of “bad luck” — all of which are highly orchestrated by the whole team, namely via Hye-jun getting his car towed away, Na-dan taking his wallet and draining his phone battery, wigged Su-cheol leaving him in the middle of nowhere, and some high school girls accusing him of being a pervert and beating him up. Oh wait. The last is not part of the crew’s plan. Oops. High school girls are scary!
Believing Han-jun, a scared Gyeong-cheol visits Minamdang, where he makes a slip of the tongue and confirms Han-jun’s suspicions on Assistant Gu. Unfortunately, that’s all Han-jun gets from Gyeong-cheol. Because the gangster is scared for his life. More scared of Gopuri than he is of ghosts.
Back at his hideout, Gyeong-cheol calls Assistant Gu, asking for money. When he doesn’t budge, the gangster threatens him with a video file implicating one of their clients in Eun-hye’s murder.
Elsewhere, Assistant Gu visits his boss, the lady shaman AUNTIE IM (Jung Da-eun), who is in the middle of a ritual to curse the rival candidate of one of her patrons, ensuring his win in the mayoral elections. What an intro!
Assistant Gu reports his suspicions on Gyeong-cheol possibly spilling the secrets. Auntie Im simply hands a gopuri knot to Assistant Gu and tells him to take care of it. Gyeong-cheol’s going to die, isn’t he?
After listening in on the call, the Minamdang crew rushes to his hideout. Unfortunately, they find the gangster already dead, with the crime scene set up to look like a suicide. Han-jun and Su-cheol split up to look for leads, but that’s when Assistant Gu ambushes Han-jun. Oh no, get away from the exploding microwave, Han-jun!
The police team arrives just in time to catch Assistant Gu running away outside. Do-won gives chase, but ultimately loses him. So Gopuri gets away. Again. Where is Jae-hui’s ~supernatural~ strength and speed when you need it? Did the show just forget how much it hyped her physical abilities?
As the police gather evidence, Jae-hui insists Han-jun needs to be detained. Apparently, he’s a suspect. Jae-hui justifies it as a way to keep Han-jun close, even though she knows he’s not the murderer.
Despite this setback, our dynamic duo keeps things light as they bicker like kindergarteners, with Su-cheol sighing in relief that he’s not getting arrested while Han-jun glares at him as he’s being handcuffed. These two definitely have one of the best (if not the very best) dynamics in the show. More please!
At the police station, Han-jun lays out the facts. But Jae-hui stubbornly demands for more: forensic hypnosis. Oh no, all the warning sirens are going off in my head!!!
After being threatened with sharing a cell with a smelly drunkard, Han-jun is forced to agree. Funnily enough, despite repeated attempts by the forensic hypnotist (cameo by Heo Jung-min), it doesn’t work at all, allegedly because perfectionist Han-jun is too in control of himself to be tricked. That is, until he’s focused on pain after Jae-hui accidentally bonks his head on the chair, and then deliberately hits him in the face. Twice this time?! Poor Han-jun! When will she stop?
At least the hypnosis finally works. Tormented, Han-jun cries out, reliving the dreadful night of Jae-jeong’s murder. But they learn nothing new, except that Han-jun is still tormented to this day. Because despite being happy now with the Minamdang crew, he’s also deathly afraid of being unable to protect them. Nooooo, my heart! I did not expect to tear up this week.
Watching him wake up from the hypnosis and sob in despair, Jae-hui tears up and hugs him in comfort. “It must have been so hard on your own this whole time,” she says warmly.
On the way back home, Han-jun is uncharacteristically quiet after the trying ordeal. But humor instantly bounces back into the show once he starts hallucinating Jae-hui comforting him, forcing him to slap some sense into himself.
Stopping by a pharmacy, Jae-hui tends to Han-jun’s wound, which he got after he knocked over a lamp during his hypnosis. Stuck in yet another moment, Han-jun recalls Jae-hui’s comforting words again. So he shouts into the void to shake some sense into himself again. LOL.
However, our leads can’t get a break. Assistant Gu has gone to the station to report Han-jun as a suspect of Gyeong-cheol’s death. Frustrated, Han-jun punches him right in the face. So back to the holding cell he goes.
The punch isn’t entirely useless, because he got Assistant Gu’s blood that they can use to match with the DNA from Jae-jeong’s murder. He asks Jae-hui to pass it on to Su-cheol, because Han-jun knows it will be tampered with. While the police’s forensic test comes back as a negative, Han-jun and Su-cheol get a 100% DNA match. As always, our shaman is one step ahead of everyone. If only people weren’t power-tripping their way around him, he probably would’ve caught everyone already.
Meanwhile, Jae-hui and Detective Jang interrogate Assistant Gu, where Jae-hui asks straight-forward questions. You won’t get answers like that, Jae-hui, please use subtler tactics.
Eventually, the police team is forced to let him go after the powers that be interfere in their investigation. Moreover, the police chief removes her team from the case and suspends Jae-hui. Oh no.
In the holding cell, Han-jun amazes the whole precinct with his ~mystic shaman~ powers, figuring out the murderer among squabbling gangsters and even advising a police officer about investing. Han-jun mostly did all that on a whim, but everyone is still so in awe — even Police Chief KIM CHEOL-GUN (Jung Eun-pyo).
At night, Jae-hui finally releases Han-jun, giving him updates on Assistant Gu. Well, Han-jun’s not disappointed, because he didn’t really expect anything from the police. But Jae-hui is so desperate that asks him if they can cooperate instead. But she gets an immediate rejection! Ouch.
Han-jun says her sense of justice is too strong and she won’t be able to bend the rules as needed. “I’m so desperate to catch the culprit I’d even team up with the devil. But not you,” Han-jun says. “Leave the exciting stuff to me, and just keep being a good cop as you always have.” Double ouch.
Back at Cafe Minamdang, the crew huddles together to plan their next steps. Han-jun relays his observations on Chief Kim, zeroing in on him as the next lead. As Hye-jun prepares to hack into the police chief’s phone, Su-cheol shyly asks if he can try hacking. But with Hye-jun’s unwashed hair getting into his face, Su-cheol accidentally charges the card with so much more than they agreed upon. Yikes! Han-jun says it’s fine though, because a bigger amount is a better bait.
Their plotting is put to a sudden stop when Na-dan rushes in. Deaconess Kim is here! I really thought it was going to be Jae-hui barging in again, but we definitely got something even better. Because Deaconess Kim brought along with her an actual honest-to-goodness priest (cameo by Cha Tae-hyun) — complete with a cute piglet — to exorcize the spirits from her son. The way I burst into laughter at this scene is a little embarrassing, and that’s not even the last of it.
Inside the shaman lair, they start the exorcism. But this time, Han-jun is more prepared for his mother: he changes the LED screen behind him into a religious image, crying that he’s still a believer. So he’s able to convince his mom to go out of the room, giving him a chance to explain to the priest what they’re really doing.
The priest agrees to his request to keep the truth a secret from Deaconess Kim, but he also raises a good question: what would happen to Han-jun’s life after catching the culprit when people will remember him as a shaman? Han-jun waves his worries away, because his priority is catching the culprit. And he makes a good buck anyway so he can just enjoy life afterwards.
Meanwhile, at Jae-hui’s house, Do-won and her teammates arrive one by one. Detective Jang apparently found false testimony in Han-jun’s case. The false testifier only recently confessed, but it was dismissed by the police because you know, there are powers that be.
Do-won has also been able to acquire Assistant Gu’s DNA and he had the test run himself, which showed 100% match. They also finally figure out all the Minamdang schemes and discoveries from the very first week. It only took them half the series to make the connections when Han-jun has been repeating himself like a broken record this whole time… I know the authorities being useless is a running gag in the film/TV industry, but the police team here is on another level. Sigh.
With their crisis averted, the Minamdang crew gets back on track. Han-jun and Su-cheol set up a trap for Chief Kim, asking about the “spirits” lingering around him. It turns out Chief Kim’s son has a huuuge gambling debt and is being held hostage until the debt is paid.
The chief asks for their help, so sleek-looking Han-jun and bright red hanbok-wearing Su-cheol infiltrate the gambling den. Na-dan heads in first to install a hacking device under the table — which confirms to the team that the gambling den is full of cheaters.
After quickly clearing out the place. Han-jun finally meets gambling den boss DAE-TONG (Eum Moon-suk), who gets cornered into a high-stakes game without any tricks. The nerve-wracking battle of wits is full of tension and still some tricks, but of course, Han-jun wins with Su-cheol’s help and a little sleight of hand.
So the Minamdang crew leaves with the son in tow and Chief Kim in their debt. Instead of accepting the offered handwritten letter and finger heart, Han-jun asks Chief Kim to reinstate Jae-hui in the case to “ward off” the spirits lingering around.
And so we find Jae-hui and her team returning to the case. Well, she never did stop her investigation. After seeing the false testifier, she and Do-won are pointed to Internal Inspector Cheong-gi. But despite promising witness protection, they only get turned away. Like Gyeong-cheol, Cheong-gi is absolutely scared of Gopuri.
Nevertheless, after learning Han-jun helped her, Jae-hui smiles like she can’t help it, making Do-won jealous. He tries to discourage her from working with Han-jun, but Jae-hui is insistent, leaving Do-won looking heartbroken.
This little love triangle feels so out of place. Is it even a love triangle? Can Jae-hui and Do-won just get together so we can call it a day for the love line and just focus on the fun parts? Plus, I really don’t see a connection between Han-jun and Jae-hui other than him teaching her taekwondo… it’s just Jae-hui who seems obsessed with Han-jun. Can they just bond over their love for Jae-jeong? The beach scene where they reminisced about him was the best scene they had together.
Anyway, back at the cafe, the Minamdang crew reviews their digital map of people. They jump in surprise when Jae-hui enters undetected. Breaking and entering, really?
Left alone with Han-jun, Jae-hui insists on working together, even threatening arrest if he doesn’t accept. Still, Han-jun stands by his firm no. But it seems Jae-hui can’t take a hint and cuffs them to one another. Ma’am, aren’t you a police officer?!
Jae-hui tells him she has figured him out: as Jae-jeong’s best friend, he’s desperate to catch the killer. Han-jun asks who she is to bring up Jae-jeong, allowing Jae-hui to finally tell him that she’s Jae-jeong’s sister. Not sure why the show built up to that moment when we all know that Han-jun knows she’s Jae-jeong’s sister… Not the big reveal it’s supposed to be.
In this week’s final epilogue, we see a gathering of important-looking people instructing Chief Kim to remove Jae-hui from the case. They all look toward an even more important-looking man by the window — it’s Choekang Group heir CHA SEUNG-WON (Lee Jae-woon)!
Despite learning more this week, we’ve still got some loose ends, starting with who really is the top dog among the powers that be. It’s probably someone in Choekang. But what is Do-won’s relationship to those people? Seems like he’s not the villain, but he’s still a little bit sus on virtue of his familial connections. Even Assistant Gu was bowing to him…
Aside from the shaman shenanigans and profiling ingenuity (that gambling scene!), the best — if heart-wrenching — part of this week is when Han-jun admitted he’s scared for his found family’s safety. I hate that he was forced to relive that dreadful night for nothing, because everything he said about the case was already what he has been repeatedly telling Jae-hui since the start. The only thing it did was make Han-jun open up his more vulnerable side to Jae-hui, which I find truly unnecessary — and even grossly invasive and non-consensual.
Still, that scene also broke all of our hearts, especially when Han-jun recounted how happy he is with the Minamdang crew and how afraid he is of possibly failing to protect them. Other than endearing me more to Han-jun and the Minamdang crew, I feel like that scene has done the opposite of what it should, because it just made me dislike Jae-hui even more. I liked the beach scene better, because at least then, Han-jun himself initiated (and consented to) the emotional connection, instead of being forced into it like this. Can we just do away with the loveline and stick with crime solving and Minamdang schemes? Please, Show!