A solid finale that, although lacking some of the intensity of recent episodes, still neatly wraps the story up
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 18, the finale and ending explained, contains spoilers.
Picking up where we left off, Han-joon questions whether Do-won killed Jae-jeong with his own hands, only to hear that it was his arrogance that caused the death of his friend, as well as the demise of some of the other victims. Angered, the former profiler wants to know whether these excuses help Gopuri feel powerful and justified, finding out that it actually makes the serial killer feel alive.
Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 18 recap – the finale and ending explained
Once it’s established that Seung-won would be framed for the murder of Han-joon, we watch as Jae-hui wriggles away from being tied up, saving herself and Sang-hyub, ready to catch Do-won. When we return to Gopuri’s clash with Minamdang’s shaman, it’s revealed that the culprit’s confession was recorded on cameras, while Du-jin attempts to get the prosecutor to come with him to the station without fuss.
However, things don’t quite go to plan. Armed with a hunting rifle, Tae-su enters the vicinity, hoping to help Do-won escape. Unfortunately for the pursuing team, they’re helpless in preventing Gopuri from fleeing, especially once Jae-hui finds herself on the receiving end of a bullet to the arm. Later on, Han-joon cannot feel relief over his ally only suffering a graze, fixating instead on the fact he allowed their target to take off. The detective, though, feels upset that she has been taken for a fool by Do-won, who so convincingly lied to her for a significant period of time.
After Han-joon comforts Jae-hui, we cut to the police station, where the detectives are checking over CCTV footage. There, they find the white truck belonging to Do-won, which is apparently transporting a man with an injured leg towards Jadku-dong. As such, Han-joon heads out alongside Jae-hui to investigate nearby pharmacies in the hopes of finding out whether Gopuri has visited, just as we’re shown how the media coverage is now dominated with debates and updates about the now known serial killer. Perhaps surprisingly, some people are actually extremely supportive of Do-won’s faux vigilantism.
Frustrated by narrowly missing out on another chance at catching his target the night before, Han-joon states that they need to find Gopuri before copycat crimes begin. Meanwhile, Do-won’s office is searched for potentially important information, allowing for the police to stumble on Hye-yoon’s CD explaining her tactic of manipulation.
When watching the footage, Han-joon quickly understands the extent of Do-won’s brainwashing. That, and the group realise why Hye-yoon was killed, in addition to the fact that if Gopuri was properly disciplined, he may not have turned into a vicious serial killer. Importantly, it becomes evident that the clicker was the chief way for the prosecutor’s urges to be controlled, causing the shaman to once more conclude that Do-won needs to be stopped before he can cause more harm.
At the police station, numerous reports show that Do-won has been freely spotted around public places in Sinmyeong. Believing that this is because he has a plan, Jae-hui seems hesitant to take action. Elsewhere, Hye-jun’s look into the encrypted files on the prosecutor’s computer show that the names on the Gopuri fabric match the people in Do-won’s files, meaning that he did in fact create the list of people to be executed. There are also some new additions, kickstarting a look into those who could be prospective targets.
As Jae-hui informs Han-joon about Do-won’s whereabouts, the shaman notices the link between these addresses and those of his likely victims. With three targets left, the investigating teams split up to keep an eye on each individual to stop the continuation of a sadistic killing spree.
Following on from some mishaps, Hye-jun looks to be making progress when hacking into a CCTV system. Yet she is swiftly blindsided by Do-won, left unconscious with her earpiece stolen. Na-dan is next, shoved down a flight of stairs when knocked out by Gopuri on his way to see his colleague. Suspicious over the newfound silence with the rest of the group, Su-cheol heads over, leaving Han-joon to wait for Oh Sin-pyeong, who we soon see is stabbed by Gopuri.
At the hardware store, Su-cheol rushes to the injured man’s aid, only to find himself locked inside by a departing, smug Do-won. Ignoring the warning that this could be so Gopuri can go after him, Han-joon rushes to the car park to face off against his enemy. What follows is an intense one-on-one, which includes a verbal declaration that the serial killer should “stop pretending to be a freaking victim” despite his brainwashing. After all, he’s still a murderer who does this at least partly for fun.
Next, we watch as Du-jin and Jae-hui take care of a small gang of criminals, before we return to the grand final clash between Do-won and Han-joon. Believing he is righteous, as well as needed by people, Gopuri gains the upper hand in the fight, until the aggressive former shaman perseveres enough to expose his enemy’s fear of death. “I don’t think I embody justice,” Han-joon says in response to allegations that he is no different from the man he faces, ready to hand him over to the police. Meanwhile, Su-cheol embraces Hye-jun and Na-dan.
When Jae-hui arrives at the scene, Do-won is arrested for his wrongdoings, while Han-joon hogs the media spotlight thanks to his group’s claims that he used spirits to find the criminal. A week later, Du-jin visits Tae-su in prison, bringing with him the killer’s mother for a meeting. Here, the stone-faced man finally breaks down.
Concurrently, Do-won stands firm in his beliefs that he only executed those deserving of it, but does say that he felt a bit guilty for Jae-hui’s grief over her brother’s killing. Still, Gopuri tries to say he was sincere in his feelings for the detective, making her become even more motivated in her ambitions to catch killers like him.
At Minamdang, Han-joon wishes to take six months off amidst his growing popularity, leaving his comrades in charge of the cafe. Elsewhere, Jae-hui’s team catch a voice phishing criminal seamlessly, exercising their developed chemistry. However, the hospital bills of the gang members pursued causes the chief to sanction an enforced holiday.
Fortunately, this means that Han-joon gets to go on a trip with Jae-hui, allowing for the two to grow closer now they’re finally relaxed. Though we do see that the remaining Minamdang trio are in humorous turmoil due to their poor business practices, causing them to miss their boss.
Confessing that she actually enjoyed the process of catching Gopuri, Jae-hui receives a warm smile from Han-joon, who proclaims that he is “so happy that this wonderful woman” is his girlfriend. Though as the two hug, a scream disrupts the sweet moment, spearheading a look into a sign left by another serial killer. Breaking their holiday (with a little healthy encouragement from the Minamdang crew), everyone is reunited, prepared to start serious work again.
Excitedly walking out to investigate the murder case, just as another signed arm falls behind them, the episode, and series, ends.
What did you think of the Netflix K-Drama series Cafe Minamdang season 1, episode 18 (finale), and the ending? Comment below.