Another really strong chapter that builds on yesterday’s intensity seamlessly.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 16 contains spoilers.
Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 16 recap
We begin the night before Hye-yoon was murdered, watching as Do-won questions the counsellor about her visits from Seung-won. There, the prosecutor finds out that he is in fact a psychopath, and that the tutor was tasked with jumbling his memories because his father wished for him to run the company. Controlled by a clicker to prevent impulses being acted upon, Do-won was supposed to be brainwashed, though as we see in the flashback to Hyeon-u’s death, such attempts to control the sinister child were unsuccessful. So instead, he was manipulated, taught that the “pleasure of killing” was just the anger at seeing a criminal. “You are my best creation,” Hye-yoon states, dismissing allegations that she trained the prosecutor like a dog in favour of claiming she inculcated him into being a man who upholds the law.
Believing that Do-won would have lived in an institution for life should she have withheld assistance, the counsellor soon shows off her “accomplishment,” a CD which includes all the details on how the criminal was brainwashed and manipulated, in addition to proof he is psychopathic. The real purpose behind this display is blackmail, however, as before long Hye-yoon requests for a “small token of gratitude” to ensure the information’s permanent privacy.
Attempting to convince himself that he used his own will to punish wrongdoers, Do-won is shaken after watching Hye-yoon’s video, unable to come to terms with how she brainwashed him. Breathless again, the prosecutor heaves in the night air before heading to his workplace, replaying what he heard in his mind while sunken on the floor. Yet seemingly out of nowhere, the serial killer stands up, trusting that he did nothing wrong.
The next day, Hye-yoon asks for her husband’s debt to be paid off in exchange for all her data, but Do-won is doubtful, wishing to know why he should trust he would be receiving the original copies. Attempting to force belief through a guilt-tripping suggestion that if the former tutor didn’t care for the killer, the CD would have already been sold to Seung-won, all that arises is doubt, as the reformed man of the law spots the arrival of both Han-joon and Jae-hui at the clinic.
After we re-watch the chilling ending of the last episode, which includes a nugget that Hye-yoon worriedly confronted Do-won over further killings he partook in, we witness the investigating couple enter the office, deflated at the death of a potentially vital informant. Unable to decipher who was in the room with the counsellor through questions alone, Jae-hui exits to check the CCTV footage of surrounding areas, while Han-joon heads back inside, spotting the psychiatric evaluation of Seung-won which proves his regular visits, and makes him a suspect. Add in the missing diary, as well as a picture showing the garage Hyeon-u died in, and proceedings look to be intensifying.
Later on, Han-joon discovers that Seung-won has been in his office all day, in addition to the fact that the picture he possesses of the garage is a fake. As such, he orders an analysis on the image, then listens in to some wiretapping to discover that the Choekang group heir is heading to a temple in Geumpa Mountain, where Auntie Im is said to be. With the Minamdang group believing that this meeting could lead to a murder, they head right out to find the villainous shaman.
That night, during worship, Im is interrupted by Su-cheol and Han-joon, who instruct her to follow them should she want to avoid Seung-won. Naturally, she does so, causing the arriving heir to become enraged to the point he is happy for his men to kill his former ally if she is found. Elsewhere, Han-joon talks with the shaman about her need to confess about the body she hanged 20 years ago, along with the money she will not be able to touch. Believing that Auntie Im was the person who made Hyeon-u’s death go away, the former profiler pushes for answers, only to actually hear them bluntly.
What transpired was a call from Cha Yong-jae over the need for a cover up, which led to the fabricated suicide of Hyeon-u, with fake texts, Tae-su performing as the deceased child, and fake alibis all revealed. Since that point, Im has been a sort of cleaner for the Cha family, dealing with their misdemeanours, which makes the shaman believe she is entitled to the 600 billion won as compensation. Adamant that she saved the “cursed child” Tae-su, Im explains that she gave the criminal a new identity so he could live like a ghost once more while having a normal life, but expresses she is not the person he follows blindly.
At that point, Han-joon becomes curious, wanting to know why this person unknown to him would spare Im all this time. Laughing, the shaman brushes off the question, before being told to expose everything and hand herself in to avoid being killed “at the hands of the person you serve.” The reply is simple, that the evidence the police currently has will end up dismantled by the former profiler himself. “Destroy the evidence and help me escape in one piece,” Im says, using her possession of the file prosecutor Han had before his death as possible bait. Later on, it appears like the proposal has been agreed upon, with Han-joon believing this is the only way to catch Gopuri and Auntie Im at the same time, even if there could be undesirable repercussions attached.
After Du-jin comes to his team with information that Auntie Im may be trying to smuggle herself out of the country, the Minamdang group get set to put their plan to acquire evidence into action, going as far as setting up a fake story involving a car crash to ensure access. In due time, Hye-jun gets what she needs done, and safely exits the building.
Next, Jae-hui’s team head out with an arrest warrant to stop Auntie Im from exiting Korea, though find themselves interrupted by Han-joon. He’s there to tell his love interest why the destroyed evidence they have is now useless, upsetting the detective who is distraught over the fact that such a scheme was executed without her. As such, Jae-hui wishes to go back on her word about a joint investigation so she can ensure merited methods are used, unable to let the former profiler explain himself at the request of Do-won.
However, when Han-joon mentions that Im has Jae-jeong’s file, things change. Not only is Do-won shocked, but Jae-hui seems willing to listen, eager to know what her brother might have found on who Gopuri is. Wanting to be allowed to get Tae-su to testify that he was solicited, Han-joon informs his allies that this would allow for Auntie Im to be re-arrested, as she is with the Minamdang group currently. With that in mind, the former profiler is given one final chance to work alongside the police.
Back at Minamdang, Auntie Im discreetly opens her phone up to see a text from Do-won that asks her why she has Jae-jeong’s file (we see in a flashback she took it from Tae-su in a car). “I thought of it as a means to protect my life” is the reply, provoking the prosecutor into stating that he believes he overestimated her. Explaining the deal Han-joon made with the police that would see the shaman arrested, Do-won prepares to command Im on what action to take next.
When taunted by Han-joon over Gopuri, and Auntie Im’s lack of reliability as a benefactor, the usually stone-faced Tae-su thinks back to Do-won’s control over him in key situations, but gives an answer that would suggest otherwise. Professing that it was Im who gave the orders, the police are shocked, believing that all that is left is for things to be wrapped up once Jae-jeong’s file has been retrieved. Later on, Tae-su signs off on his confession, and hears that he was always Gopuri’s magpie who brought him good luck. Informing his accomplice that there will be an accident when he is being transported, which will lead to an opening for an escape, Do-won tells Tae-su to break free, then await further instructions.
Going back on her promise to hand over the file, Auntie Im is shown that she no longer has access to her bank account unless the documents are handed over, forcing the shaman’s hand. As such, a meeting in a temple is arranged, though we see that this is all part of Do-won’s wider plan. Elsewhere, Seung-won gets wind of the meeting going down, so heads out to join those in attendance, and Tae-su gets transported in the police convoy.
At the temple, Im allows access to the file once her bank account password is given, but locks Han-joon and Jae-hui in the room together. “It’s him who has you where he wants you using that file as bait,” the shaman says, knowing that the two were unable to catch Gopuri through her. In that moment, gas is released, knocking the investigators into a state of vulnerability with no way of contacting those outside. Then, Do-won appears, cracking the glasses of Han-joon, and seemingly reclaiming Jae-jeong’s file.
At Minamdang, Han-joon wakes up coughing, only to notice the bloodied dress of Auntie Im lying in front of him. Things quickly get worse too, as Do-won barges in with the police (in addition to those close to him) who, upon seeing a knife in the former profiler’s hand, arrest him for murder without a warrant. With everyone stunned, we move to the epilogue, which shows how the whole situation unfolded thanks to the help of an obedient Tae-su. “You’ve gone mad playing judge, and will eventually end up dying at his hands,” Auntie Im says in her dying moments, remembering the prophecy given to her by Han-joon as the episode ends.
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