LET’S WATCH (SEASON 1, EPISODE 4): CAFE MINAMDANG
It’s FRIDAY. Which means that it’s blog time! We’re back and continuing our dive into Cafe Minamdang, and after episode 3, I am so ready to keep going.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
CW FOR THE REST OF THE DRAMA, I EXPECT: Violence, death, and torture, discussed and shown
WELP. RIGHT AWAY RIGHT OUT THE GATE IMMEDIATELY, we get violent memories. Thanks for your (terrible) contribution, Shin Gyeong-ho. Real talk, though, Kim Won-Sik? An incredible actor and so good at making his character vile and hated. From the nuances of drug addiction to the layers of insanity and cruelty, he (and the rest of the staff creating this drama) really did That™.
The use of traditional masks in this, plus the obvious cultural nods with the shamanistic rituals, clothing, and objects, is so fun to see. As a Westerner, I really find these elements some of the most interesting parts of dramas.
This scene in the forest at the beginning of the episode is so creepy with the build-up and atmosphere setting but also so silly when the boys start talking. The DISSONANCE! The DUALITY! The clanging of instruments, the outfits, the masks, the ominous pressure of silence (when they actually manage to shut up); it’s all so well done.
AH! OKAY! We’re in another flashback now. Sidebar: That is ONE thing that takes my brain a second to buffer through - the flashbacks to explain the history and the “how did we get here?” questions are so seamless that it doesn’t click until I remember how they handle flashbacks. That is to say, by moving you from one scene to another with no real indication of what just happened or how you got there. It has the same structure of realizing you’re dreaming; one second, you were doing one thing, awake, and the next, you’re in the middle of your dream with no idea (or even realization that you’re dreaming) of how you got there. The pathway from scenes is non-existent and only has logic in the sense that usually, the flashbacks are centered around the characters or the discussion they’re having in the current time. Is it because we’re going off of Han-jun’s POV, and thus his memories are surfacing when he encounters certain trigger moments? Is this obvious to every other viewer of this drama before this, aside from me? Probably. I’m very stupid, you’ll come to find. 🤓
RETURNING TO THE FLASHBACK AT HAND. Han-jun and the Chief (previously IA?) are in an interrogation room, and Cheong-gi is laying out the trail of evidence that was planted (unknown to him? Or is he a part of the set-up? We know he isn’t above being bought.) to set up Han-jun.
I love that Han-jun is so quick, not only in intelligence but to point out bullshit when he sees it. Cheong-gi, though, either admits outright to pinning it on Han-jun and having him be the fall guy or humors him when Han-jun makes the accusation. I honestly can’t tell.
Seo In Guk, PLEASE. The explosive anger and outrage in the interrogation room? Wonderful. But the pain and the sobbing on the bus transporting him to confinement? SEE YA, SWEET EMOTIONS. MY HEART HURTS. Following this up with Su-cheol’s leaving, how he does it with grace, elegance, and sincerity despite also being heartbroken about the situation? No punches were held back during that sequence. I hope more people see that killing with kindness, although sad, is still a good alternative and just as effective, if not more so.
AND IN PEAK MINAMDANG STYLE, WE’RE NOW BEING RIDICULOUS WITH SILLY SOUND EFFECTS, SU-CHEOL MAKING FUNNY FACES, AND LESSENING THE TENSION BUILT UP IN SECONDS. This drama makes rollercoaster rides feel easy. At least they’re over quickly and don’t drag out for 18 episodes.
OH. SO CHEONG-GI DID FRAME THEM? WAS THIS CONFIRMED IN AN EARLIER FLASHBACK, AND I MISSED IT? OR WILL WE SEE THAT SOON? DID I MISS THE REVEAL OF THE BURN MARK ON CHEONG-GI’S WRIST? OR WAS HIS EXPLANATION OF THE EVIDENCE TRAIL SOMEHOW CONFIRMATION IN THIS MOST RECENT FLASHBACK? HELP, IM NOW CONFUSED AND CONCERNED I MISSED SOMETHING?
“Don’t tell me you want to clear your names? How ridiculous!” BESTIE, WHAT DO YOU MEAN? Where is that ridiculous? Even if they don’t get reinstated, clearing their names would be important to anyone? Just tell them the name of whoever directed you to frame them and call it a day.
BUT ALSO, THE GUYS IN THE PIT PLAYING ALONG WITH THE EVIL SPIRIT STORY? What do they have against y’all for you to go with it? And Gyeong-ho! I cannot stop laughing. OH. The guys in the pit just literally believed them. That’s somehow even better dafadsfdfa. This gang of misfits really is so pure and precious, I love them so much.
I will admit, though, I’m still unsure of Prosecutor Cha. He seems a little off still, to me. It continued with how he reacted to Cheong-gi being confirmed to have suppressed evidence in the Gyeong-ho murder case. He obviously agreed to put him on the criminal watch list, but, I don’t know. Is he more suspicious to me because he’s doing all the right actions when so much of this field shows signs of corruption in this drama? Like he’s performing well because we’ve only seen him react and respond around Jae-hui, someone he knows will absolutely take down anyone in the name of justice?
Anyway, forward movement! Superintendent Lim Min-jun is the name we wanted, got it. Check that item off the “clear Han-jun and Su-cheol’s names” task list. Now we just need to see how he ties into the rest of this weaving web since it’s becoming more and more clear that it is more intricate than we initially thought. I love a good plot knot in dramas.
Yikes. Min-jun suddenly needed to be rushed to the hospital when he was expecting them to discuss the evidence tampering? Too coincidental for me, and apparently Han-jun. Or is it that someone caught wind of what meeting he was about to have and tried to interfere?
AH. A caffeine allergy, but someone is brewing him caffeinated tea? Er, injecting him with caffeinated tea, I guess? Behind his ear, no less? The scenario definitely ended up being my second guess, but it’s such a strange place to have been injected with something. Did someone break in, hold him down, and force the injection, which caused the shock symptoms right away? Not sure, since the housekeeper and wife didn’t indicate or state that anyone broke in. In fact, the housekeeper stated no one else met him before they arrived. Was it a blow-dart situation? Honestly not sure. Or could his wife or housekeeper have been in on it? They would be intimately aware he had a caffeine allergy and someone he trusted enough to let them get close enough to inject him behind the ear. INTERESTED TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS.
Shin Gyeong-ho has officially been arrested and, honestly, seems deranged enough to admit what they need him to. The problem is, would it be thrown out or inadmissible because he was clearly under the influence?
AND NOW WE’RE ON TO ARREST CHEONG-GI, WHO HAS BEEN ATTACHED TO THE SWINGING BOAT RIDE. Oh! When Han-jun said he already arranged for Cheong-gi’s safe house, he meant prison. And the dancing fndasufadisuyfdsa IM LAUGHING SO HARD.
And UM? Gyeong-ho's wife is. Awkward. And proposing marriage, I’m- SHE’S SO AWKWARD, IT KIND OF MAKES ME LOVE HER DESPITE HER BEING DELUSIONAL? Han-jun's like an angry cat who is refusing pets and cheek scritches. The money Han-jun demanded for his services, he gave to the wife of Gyeong-ho’s victim. I am so soft. And so thankful that Jae-hui is tripping over trash cans since she’s acting like an idiot right now. I also appreciate the reality that Han-jun gave the wife the money because it was right, but he still really wanted to keep it because what human wouldn’t want to keep a briefcase full of money?
So Jae-hui went to see him in prison, and he denied her visitation? Is that part of what led her to believe he was guilty? Or was she going to visit him to tell him she blamed him? I wonder if a flashback, later on, will explain that.
AND IN THE PRESENT, THE STALKER HAS A FACE. AND SHE JUST PUNCHED HAN-JUN IN HIS. Poor guy, he keeps getting head injuries from her. Are we really not going to actually address that she was in his CLOSET?
DID SHE JUST ADMIT TO FALLING FOR HIM? I’M-
His “Jeez, I’m so tired” moment when Su-cheol stupidly announces his presence while hiding? Me. Literally me, all the time, to so many situations in life.
Moving on! Time to hit y’all with my brain thoughts.
STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUS BULLET POINT TIME, LET’S GO:
Is this what we call foreshadowing? “Everyone thinks I love him!”
YES, YOU DO WANT TO BELIEVE IN HAN-JUN. FINALLY. EXPLORE YOUR CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS, BESTIE, DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS.
The comedic timing and flow? Perfection, as always.
A “ghost”? Is it just someone living in her home? Which is almost more horrific, let’s be honest, but. Is it a homeless kid?
SU-CHEOL, DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND IN SEWER MUD, ARE YOU SERIOUS?
“Do not smile; it scares humans” is such a real mood.
Wow, okay, this kid is so annoying.
Everyone making excuses not to go in the sewer is so real.
The glasses on In Guk? A+ to the stylists. Thank you very much for your service.
These are remarkably clean sewers for, y’know, a sewer.
Oh shit, a dead body was dumped in the sewer. The same killer who killed Jae-hui’s brother?
The sound the electric car makes every time, makes me scream laugh.
Another flashback? Yikes, okay, I guess to show the MO for Gopuri.
WE GOT ANOTHER ONE! Episode 4 is wrapped!
This cast, the writers, and everyone involved in this drama continue to show that they are top-tier at their craft. I am having such a wonderful time unraveling the story with Han-jun and Jae-hui; I am invested in these characters and their stories.
HOW ARE THERE 18 EPISODES, AND YET EPISODE 5 LOOKS LIKE IT’S GONNA POP OFF? Can’t WAIT until next week.
Until then, y’all!