|Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk|
October 16, 2009
John Carroll Lynch as Kurt Pressman
|Monk Season 8|
Natalie tries to throw a surprise birthday party for Monk while he investigates the mysterious death of an office building's maintenance man.
A maintenance man, Bradley Foster, is working late at an office building, sweeping up. While he's doing that, someone else is doing some work of their own in the basement utility room. The mystery intruder picks a lock, and breaks into the room. Upstairs, Foster finishes up, and gets on the elevator to head down to the compactor. He turns on the compactor and starts dumping the garbage in, but then the machine jams. He climbs into a garbage compactor to remove a piece of metal. As soon as Foster has removed the jam, the mysterious intruder comes out of the shadows, switches on the circuit breaker. Foster falls into the machine and is brutally ripped apart.
Elsewhere, Natalie tries to get Monk to the office and asks what he wants for his birthday. Monk hates birthdays, particularly his 50th birthday. They go to the squad room and everyone is hiding in Stottlemeyer's office with a cake. Monk begins to suspect something is going on and interrogates Natalie. When she can't answer, he accuses her of throwing a surprise party. When he threatens to leave, Natalie asks him to play along but he says he can't.
Monk is called in to the Bradley Foster crime scene and Natalie promises that she's going to throw him a party no matter what. Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher exchange some jokes about Foster's death, with Stottlemeyer suggesting that his car will be a compact. Monk notes that Foster must have been screaming for his lift the whole way down. The building manager, Paul Wellman, comes in and explains how he found the dead man. He insists it must have been an accident, like Foster must have forgotten to turn off the circuit breaker, but says that he turned on the lights when he came in. Monk points out that someone must have turned off the lights. Wellman says that he's been looking at the security tapes from the building lobby and has noted that there was only one other person in the building at the time, a man named Richard Meckler, who has an office here. Monk wonders what he does.
Meckler is a patent attorney. They locate him at a public reception. On a stage, Meckler introduces the Laser Vac, the world's first ever self-cleaning vaccum, and Kurt Pressman, the man who invented the machine. Monk arrives and is in awe of the device. Disher talks to Meckler, who chews nervously on a pen, and he confirms that he was gone by midnight and didn't see any strangers or anything that would have caused him to suspect something wrong.
Outside, Stottlemeyer is at the bar when he notices an attractive writer, T.K. Jensen, who works for a tabloid called Consumer Currents. He goes over and makes small talk about buying a motorcycle based on the magazine's recommendation.
Meanwhile, Monk talks to Pressman and expresses his admiration for his work. He wants to buy two and Pressman says he'll put him on the list. Pressman gets a Diet Coke for Meckler, who admits he can't tell what it tastes like. Pressman and Meckler's wife both try it. In the bar, Stottlemeyer tries to guess what TK stands for and admits it'll make it easier for him to track her down. At the reception, Meckler collapses a minute later and dies of a heart attack, even though Stottlemeyer and Disher attempt to perform CPR on him.
Later, Monk is at home enjoying his new self-cleaning vacuum and cleaning in Natalie arrives and Monk explains that Stottlemeyer convinced TK to loan him one of the vacuum cleaners. As they go, Natalie says she has to stop at her home to get her cell phone. Monk dials it and it rings in her bag. He figures she was trying to lure him to another surprise party. When she wonders why he can't go to a birthday party, Monk reluctantly agrees to tell her after closing the drapes and turning off the lights. He explains that when he was ten years old, he watched Cowboy Hank, a TV cowboy who was his hero. His mother hired Cowboy Hank to come to Monk's birthday party and he brought a rope to do tricks. He did all his tricks and everyone had a good time... and then everyone left. They didn't stay for cake or anything. Natalie is less than impressed and insists that he has to have a party and promises that she'll surprise him. Monk doesn't believe it and Natalie warns that it is on.
Stottlemeyer and Disher search Bradley Foster's apartment, and notice that his computer and some of his tools are missing. Natalie arrives and explains that Monk is outside in the hall because he thinks it's another surprise party. Monk finally comes in and checks every closet and cabinet to see if someone is waiting to jump out. Stottlemeyer assures Monk that Natalie will eventually throw the surprise party, but they currently have a murder investigation on their hands. Disher explains that Foster graduated from MIT in 1982, worked at General Electric for ten years, and then he disappeared completely, when he started drinking and ended up here working as a janitor. Monk finds some shredded paper and thinks that it's confetti. Stottlemeyer finally gets him to focus on he case and Monk notices a pen cap that looks like Meckler chewed on it, suggesting that before Meckler died, he was doing something with Foster.
At the morgue, Monk keeps checking the covered bodies but only finds corpses inside. The coroner confirms that Meckler was poisoned with a fast-acting toxin called sodium fluoroacetate. Disher says he was there and didn't see anything. Stottlemeyer believes that there has to be a connection between Meckler's death and Bradley Foster's death - he notes that when Foster was killed, Meckler was the only other person in the building, and ten hours after that, Meckler was poisoned.
Later, Stottlemeyer calls TK back to the building and tells her that they're going to recreate the crime scene. She realizes that he brought him back just to learn more about her, but doesn't object. Monk tells Stottlemeyer that they're ready. In the empty reception hall, Monk recreates the scene, with Stottlemeyer playing Meckler, Natalie playing Meckler's wife, and Disher playing himself, with Monk playing Kurt Pressman, the one who brought the drinks to them. Pressman and Meckler's wife both drank from the glass, which means there's no way that he could have been poisoned. Disher confirms that Meckler didn't eat anything, and there was no poison in the pen. As Disher theorizes, Stottlemeyer tells TK to just nod her head and say "interesting."
Back at home, Monk has trouble with his new vacuum and can't get it to work. When Monk admits that he cleaned the filter, Natalie points out that the technical manual says repeatedly not to clean the filter, and points to the sign on the vacuum cleaner that says not to clean the filter. Monk puts his vacuum cleaner to bed and asks God to take him instead. However, he realizes that they can have Pressman fix it and prepares to rush off to visit him. When Natalie insists that Monk can't miss his appointment with Dr. Bell, Monk realizes that's where the surprise party is located. Natalie tells him that he's won and he'll be spending all his birthday parties alone from now on. Monk agrees as long as they can fix the vacuum cleaner.
Monk and Natalie go to see Pressman in his garage workshop. The inventor admits that he can't think about anything now that his friend Meckler is dead. Pressman mentions that Meckler was a close high school friend of his as well as his lawyer. Monk expresses his condolences and asks Pressman to fix the vacuum cleaner. He agrees to take a look. He puts on his toolbelt, and has to readjust it because it doesn't seem to fit, and he also doesn't seem to have the right tool to use. Pressman asks about the cases they're working on. Natalie suggests that Monk is close to solving it, and Pressman says it'll take until after Meckler's funeral to fix it.
As they drive, Natalie suggests that she and Julie come over with a birthday cake and have a small celebration. Monk notices that a black Cadillac Escalade with Nevada plates is following them and tells Natalie to make a left turn. Stottlemeyer calls and explains that someone put a $20,000 contract on their life. The hit man opens fire and Natalie takes evasive action. She inadvertently goes down a one-way into a workhouse and a security guard stops them. He is gunned down and Natalie and Monk flee into the buildings. Monk is forced to hide in either a dumpster or a port-a-john. Monk would rather choose death but finally goes with the dumpster. The hit men wheel the dumpster away, and decide to throw them in the river. They open the top of the dumpster and tell Monk and Natalie to come out. They get out and ask them for their last words. Natalie turns to Monk and tells him, "Happy birthday, Mr. Monk," and Monk realizes that he's been delivered to his surprise party. Natalie hugs him and boasts that she got him.
Later, Monk chats with Stottlemeyer and admits that he was surprised. Stottlemeyer tells them that they got the SUV that was following them from the impound lot, and almost convinces him that they really shot the guard (they did a good job making it look realistic). Natalie brings in Pressman, who wishes him a happy birthday. As Monk goes to talk with someone else, Pressman takes his glass and slips away.
Stottlemeyer thanks TK for coming to the party. Meanwhile, Pressman takes Monk's glass outside, removes the ice cubes, and replaces them with some special ones from a container. He then goes back inside and places the glass back where he got it. The partygoers invite him to make a wish and Monk notices a policeman loosening his belt. He remembers how Pressman loosened and adjusted what was supposedly his own toolbelt in his pathetic attempt to fix the vaccum. Monk has solved the case.
Here's What HappenedEdit
The self-cleaning vaccum was actually Bradley Foster's invention (Monk remembers having seen technical journals in Foster's apartment). He took the idea to Richard Meckler, who was a patent attorney and who also worked in Foster's building, and boasted about how it would be one of the greatest inventions of all time. Meckler conspired with Kurt Pressman to steal the idea, as they were high school friends. Meckler killed Foster in the trash compacter and then had Pressman be the phony inventor, and then they would split the profits. However, Monk notes that while Meckler was greedy, Pressman was even greedier. He decided that he didn't need a partner any longer, so he poisoned Meckler. When Pressman points out that he drank from the same glass as Meckler and his wife, Monk looks at his own drink and realizes that his ice cubes are square but everyone else's are round. The poison was in the ice cubes, and Pressman drank from the glass before the ice cubes with the poison melted. Cowboy Hank arrives to lasso Pressman and the police take him away.
Later, Cowboy Hank puts on a show of his best tricks and leaves a happy Monk. TK admits to Stottlemeyer that it's never a dull moment and invites her for a normal date. He admits that his brakes are shot and he doesn't want to slow down. TK explains that her first name is Trudy and Stottlemeyer, realizing it won't work with Monk, says they'll stick with TK.
Natalie points out that Monk is actually happy and no one is leaving. He admits it's the best birthday he's ever had... and tells her not to do it again.