A layered episode that moves things in an interesting direction while still retaining its initial charm.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 7 contains spoilers.
Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 7 recap
As Gopuri flees the hospital, unable to be caught by a determined Su-cheol, Han-joon returns to Yeong-seop’s side along with Jae-hui, desperate to find out who the murderer is. Here, we see the hospitalised suspect as weakened, calmed by the idea of his late daughter being forgiving, and ready to admit he did not kill. Yeong-seop adds that the real culprit will use someone like him again, as that man is unwilling to stop his wrongdoings. Though at that moment, when a breakthrough seems possible, the pitiful accomplice passes away, noticeably shaking Jae-hui.
Regrouping, Jae-hui caves in and apologises to Han-joon, enabling the shaman to look past his pettiness and share the DNA of the fake nurse he had on him. “Don’t do a slapdash job just to close the case,” the former profiler states when discussing the fact that the man who murdered Yeong-seop must be found for the real killer to be caught. Afterwards, an annoyed Jae-hui releases her stresses in an elongated shout, comforted by Do-won, who listens to thoughts about feeling incompetent ready to offer a helpful hand.
That night, Han-joon sits in quiet pondering, recalling his late friend alone. It’s because there was no DNA match that can allow for a lead, but contemplation soon turns into motivation when the shaman presses for information on the burner phone Yeong-seop had contact with. However, there’s no good news to be found, with the mobile communication side of the investigation seemingly a dead-end, the autopsy of the accomplice showing no traces of unusual chemicals, and Gopuri unable to be tracked due to his escape through an area without CCTV.
Elsewhere, the police are trying to close the case with Yeong-seop labelled as the murderer, much to the annoyance of Jae-hui, who confronts her boss in anger. Fortunately, the detective gets her way, enticing her senior with the idea of their station catching a serial killer before anyone else. There is one caveat, though, as Jae-hui’s team must make progress within a week, or risk the case being given to another division. As such, investigations start instantly, or at least they do once Du-jin gets his upset out of the way.
At Minamdang, Han-joon’s group realise that Eun-hye is the key to solving the crime, noting that she is an anomaly who evaded the usual ritual, and felt like a personal kill. “The killer felt remorse and affection toward the victim,” the shaman says after noting that he wrapped up the burnt body this time, instead of throwing the fabric onto the person to set them on fire together. Han-joon surmises that Eun-hye must have done something to reach the killer, and that the culprit must have known his victim.
While Han-joon is driven by the thought of capturing the culprit before Jae-hui, the detective is busy renouncing her foe’s help, calling him a fraud. Yet she soon finds herself annoyed at another matter, when it’s discovered that the Chief is happily treating another division to a team dinner, something her group have never had the pleasure of experiencing. Thus, Major Crimes hoodwink their superior into purchasing their expensive meal, reaping the rewards that they are usually ill-afforded.
Following on from a scene which shows Du-jin and Jae-hui apologise to each other, working past their previous prickliness, we go to the next day, where the detective and Do-won are ahead of Han-joon’s group in terms of approaching Eun-hye’s parents. So Su-cheol is tasked with ensuring that he meets with the victim’s friend before “grumpy,” while Han-joon takes care of some shaman business to stay afloat.
After taking care of a thief, Jae-hui and Do-won meet Eun-hye’s friend at a cafe, hearing that she was accepted into Joyce Entertainment two months ago, which means that she was a trainee before the date of her disappearance. The news about her signing was meant to be kept secret, as Eun-hye didn’t want her father to find out despite her joy over preparing to make her debut, arousing potential suspicions over label conduct. There is a small nugget here too, as Do-won seems eerily deflated upon finding out that Joyce Entertainment is involved.
Discovering that all this information has already been shared with Su-cheol, Jae-hui calls Han-joon over his lack of authority in conducting such an investigation, only for neither side to budge in their stance that they’re the ones in the right. Shortly after, the shaman returns to his day job, struggling to take care of an impromptu customer claiming to be haunted. Though this is all a scheme anyway, as Jae-hui had called in a favour from someone involved in a TV show named Fraudbusters, hoping that it will lead to the humiliation of her frenemy.
Unfortunately for the detective, Han-joon is astute enough from his previous career to realise this is a set-up, so exposes his faux clients in blunt fashion. It of course results in some irritation for Jae-hui, followed by embarrassment when she finds herself confronted by the person she was so determined to expose. Han-joon cannot revel in the moment, though, as before long his mother arrives, dismayed at the idea of her son being a shaman to the point she walks out when trying to get explanations from the trio who all lied to her.
Still, Han-joon is adamant that his mother does not find out the truth just yet. Instead, he’s more interested at the idea of prodding into the Joyce Entertainment lead, just as the police are doing the same when realising that the shoes worn by the victim may not provide adequate inroads. Here, we find out that any idol group produced by the company “ends up fizzling out,” just as a direct message comes into the account being tracked by the police from someone claiming to have seen everything “that day,” but admitting to being too scared to do anything about it.
Realising that the message must have came from another Joyce Entertainment trainee, Jae-hui wishes to visit the messenger, but Sang-hyub soon warns her that it won’t be easy, as Park Jin-sang, the chairman of Choekang Insurance, is the director. Described as a “pain in the a*s,” we see in a quick scene just how abhorrent he is when he gets rid of a blazer once it has been touched by a fellow worker, Gu Tae-su. Meanwhile, Han-joon’s group are at the same stage in their investigations, discussing the criminal history of Jin-sang, which includes DUIs, drunken assaults, substance abuse and philandering.
Continuing, we find out that the conglomerate heir is nicknamed “Party Like Geenie” due to his habits when partying, in addition to “MC Geenie” because of his repetition of “Do you know who I am?” when being arrested. Together with Shin Gyeong-ho (S&H Group) and Cha Seung-won (Choekang Group), the trio were dubbed “Three Mad Dogs,” adding further context to the character of the current target.
Intriguingly, Joyce Entertainment’s talent mostly no longer have contracts, and the agency does not make any money. “Their stocks are worthless,” Han-joon details, before Hye-jun adds that they should have already went bankrupt, yet still manage to receive plenty of investments. With just one girl group in the works, the trio deduce that Eun-hye was entwined with the company deeper than they first thought, especially given the fact her last communication was with the Joyce Entertainment director, an exchange which seems to imply he’s almost a pimp of sorts.
At the gym, Do-won confronts Jin-sang over his affiliation with Eun-hye, with the heir denying any knowledge of her when hearing about the trainee being found dead in the sewers. Of course, the rich director still refuses to hand over the information he has on her, only wavering when the prosecutor asks how “uncle” is doing. The offhand comment maddens Jin-sang, who then explains it was Do-won who made him go through so much at the Prosecutor’s Office. Unfazed, Do-won favours making a tenuous threat, informing Jin-sang that he needs to send over the data should he wish to avoid becoming a suspect, or have Joyce Entertainment ransacked. When the prosecutor leaves, the rich heir immediately gets on the phone, wanting to speak to someone in person.
Tailing Jin-sang, Han-joon’s group find themselves at a remote location that night, hoping to sneak in to find out what’s going on. As it turns out, it’s a shamanistic ceremony for Eun-hye, one which seemingly shows the rich heir’s potential to be Gopuri, but finds itself interrupted by a clumsy Su-cheol before any real discoveries can be made. So, Han-joon goes back to the drawing board, better known as utilising Min-gyeong to his advantage.
Unfortunately for Jae-hui’s team, the Yeong-seop case is being transferred to division 3, and the team will join the Illegal Election Activities Regulation Division. It’s an act that has come due to pressure, making Du-jin decide to go rogue, as the experienced cop wonders what can actually be done should they catch the killer first. “Undercover operations are the heart of investigations,” Jae-hui adds, determined that the pairing will use the upcoming Joyce Entertainment auditions as a vehicle to drive forward their personal mission.
The next day, the two groups both use the company’s schedule to their advantage, pretending to be pop stars, or utilising their pseudo-career, for the purposes of undercover operations. Han-joon himself meets with CEO Gang Hae-seong in the role of a shaman able to help pick out the future stars of the music industry. While in the office, the former profiler warns Jin-sang too, stating that misfortunes will hit his family, and then himself, with any prevention of these things reliant on complete trust in the shaman.
As the presence of police detectives is revealed by Tae-su, we cut to a flashback showing Jae-hui and Du-jin’s discussion with an employee about Eun-hye’s death. The cops press for answers over a potentially suspicious person being around, but when the nervous woman doesn’t give answers, and is subsequently shown the social media profile of a person who could be key to solving the case, Na-dan intervenes, dropping the police, and himself, into the thick of it without gaining anything.
In the present, all three people are brought into the office, kickstarting a performance from Han-joon that allows for the police personnel, and Na-dan, to be freed from interrogation. However, they aren’t spared from having to audition, with follow-up scenes showing both the young Minamdang employee’s skills, as well as the detective duo’s embarrassing performance. While all this is happening, we see that Tae-su is well aware of just who Han-joon is, with the employee feeding back such information to his boss, which then ultimately results in an order which would see the former profiler killed.
In the toilet, Tae-su advances on Han-joon with the lethal needle, putting an end to the episode as we advance towards the epilogue. This time, we see the shoes gifted to the Joyce Entertainment trainee, an act which seems to annoy Jin-sang, who we see has a noticeable scar on his wrist.
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