A thrilling episode which heightens the stakes in the Minamdang group’s chase for justice.
This recap of Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 12 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Beginning with Do-won seemingly walking away from Tae-su’s appearance near his brother, we soon return to Han-joon and Su-cheol being attacked, then dragged away to be dealt with quietly per Auntie Im’s orders. Later on, Jae-hui is informed of the kidnapping, so gathers a team to intervene while her stunned prosecutor ally follows. Meanwhile, Jin-sang spots the danger when taking Min-gyeong away, so captures the license plate of the car being used in the crime to share with the police upon their narrowly late arrival.
Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 12 recap
During a gripping pursuit, the police are led to Jaepyeong Industrial Complex, where the unconscious victims are being dealt with. Concurrently, Hye-jun regains her bearings when Han-joon’s tracker glasses are broken, perusing the recording made from the gadget to spot the letters ‘IEND’ on a signboard. Such information is subsequently fed back to Jae-hui, who knows her group need to be on the lookout for the sign should they want to find Tae-su.
Next, Tae-su labels an awake Han-joon a rat, wanting to know just what he managed to hear at the signing ceremony. Finding himself punched when rejecting the idea of picking up on anything, the shaman is soon warned that he needs to inform his captor how much he heard, in addition to why he is looking into the situation, should he want to live. Though Han-joon is wise enough to know this isn’t necessarily true, so instead tries to push the buttons of Tae-su by explaining that “it’s the bigwigs behind you who are the real deal.” Continuing to talk about the misdemeanours he is privy to, the former profiler goads the “disposable pawn,” mentions the fact that he will be gotten rid of after the project, but still ends up failing to make an impact on the stone-faced serial killer.
Fortunately, the police arrive in time to follow the departing Tae-su from the complex, while Su-cheol proves himself competent enough to deal with the group hoping to “cut” the captured pairing. Then, Jae-hui arrives to further quell the commotion, taking care of the thugs to the heart-fluttering delight of Han-joon. Following that, Du-jin and Do-won unsuccessfully try to capture Tae-su upon finding him, though the tethered policeman does seem to get under the criminal’s skin prior to his exit when mentioning him being Lim Yeong-ju.
After Du-jin tells Do-won that he’ll let him know about Yeong-ju once he is certain about his hunch, we cut to the police station, where the secretly recorded conversation at the signing ceremony is being listened to. Now aware that Mayor Lee Myeong-Jun is the culprit of the Eun-hye case, in addition to the wide-reaching group all involved in shady activities, the investigators prepare to find the evidence that Tae-su has before it becomes clear they’re searching for it. Knowing that Auntie Im must have something on everyone so they don’t betray her, Han-joon firstly wants to look into ties between Yeong-ju and the villainous shaman, with Jae-hui happy to search for evidence that could see both arrested, and Do-won prepared to look into what the cartel is truly seeking.
That night, an emotional Hye-jun surprisingly embraces embraces Su-cheol instead of her brother, then goes a few steps further by looking after him to an elaborate degree. When things calm down, Han-joon treats Jae-hui to a drink, but any moments of possible physical intimacy that come during this time are awkwardly cut short. However, there is a sweet moment between the two which shows off their respective relationships with siblings, and the light-hearted envy Jae-hui has towards Hye-jun given that she has someone to nag her. Concurrently, Su-cheol and Hye-jun confess their feelings for each other, appearing to begin a relationship together through their own moments of passion.
The next day, we see that Han-joon and Jae-hui slept on the couch together, evoking some mockery from the currently secretive new couple. Though their moment for feeling embarrassed soon comes anyway, when the former profiler starts to mention his own suspicions that they might have been up to something themselves.
Moving on, Jae-hui informs her team that the real Tae-su was on bad terms with his family, showing exactly why Yeong-ju saw this man as an easy choice to steal the identity of. Here, we also see the potential that the serial killer has never registered his fingerprints, as well as the fact that Du-jin is away following up on his own hunches alone. In a tattered house, the experienced detective is looking about for information, finding burnt pictures that appear to eerily confirm whatever beliefs he had.
In the midst of moments of affection between Minamdang’s new couple, Han-joon tries to decipher whether there is a private, high-end place near Joyce Entertainment that Tae-su has been frequenting, believing it could be a hideout. This is deemed to potentially be Forte restaurant, so the shaman swiftly heads out to look into the establishment while the others take care of the coffee shop, and Hye-jun puts the serial killer’s movements onto a map so it can be profiled.
After some teasing by her co-workers when she is invited to Forte, Jae-hui rushes to get ready, perhaps believing there could be an underlying meaning to the investigation taking place there. And, even though there isn’t too much of a blatant one, Han-joon still ends up disappointed when Do-won heads out to interrupt proceedings. When the trio are together, they do manage to find some intel, that Tae-su used to come to Forte alone every fourth Thursday at 8pm, though hasn’t been in weeks.
When a picture of Seung-won is presented during these queries, Do-won excuses himself, heading out to make a call. As we see, the prosecutor is trying to find out his brother’s schedule, to the point he goes to talk to him in person. Meanwhile, the Forte investigators find that Tae-su hunts, and would always give staff sizeable tips because of the muddy footprints that would be left whenever he came to the restaurant. As well as this, the serial killer was always in a suit, appeared to attend regular work dinners, and “always smelled faintly of smoke.” All of this points to the potential hideout for the shady man being at a campsite.
Next, Do-won asks his brother whether he gave the orders for Tae-su to kill Gyeong-cheol, using Seong-won’s links to the criminal group of one-percenters to try and push for information. The prosecutor also surmises that Auntie Im is the person who made the smug Choekang Group heir’s problems go away, and covered up the Eun-hye case. When tensions rise, Do-won threatens to jail his brother if he doesn’t stop, causing Seung-won to counter the words aimed against him with a caution that the prosecutor will lose his job should he get in his way. Blaming their father for what’s happened, Do-won walks away, wanting to make everything right. Suddenly dizzy, the stunned Seong-cheol needs to take medication to compose himself when left alone.
With the help of the police, teams spread out to Samcheon and Bongeun campsites in the hopes of finding Tae-su’s hideout. It’s Jae-hui’s quartet who have the luck, discovering that the serial killer left his RV, which is eventually found by the detective late into the night, at Samcheon. With that being said, the abandoned vehicle could be a trap, given that we see Tae-su is watching what’s happening from his car while collecting extra petrol.
Using his credit card to pay, the police head right to where Tae-su was, while Jae-hui begins to look inside the RV. With everything from benzene to the Gopuri fabric there, the detective knows she has a lead, so calls Han-joon so he can see for himself. At that point though, the serial killer arrives, locks Jae-hui inside the vehicle, douses it, and sets it on fire. Shortly after, Han-joon spots the flames for himself, so confronts Tae-su in rage. Though he is swiftly stunned by the criminal’s words, as the shaman asked to choose between accosting Tae-su, or rescuing the trapped Jae-hui.
Following that, we head to the epilogue, where we see the history that the history between Tae-su and Eun-hye could run far deeper than expected.