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Mr. Monk's 100th Case

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Mr. Monk's 100th Case is the seventh episode of the seventh season of Monk. It is also the series' 100th episode.

PlotEdit

The episode opens on the set of a TV news magazine called In Focus. Its host, James Novak, tells us that on tonight's program, In Focus will be following Adrian Monk as he solves his 100th case as a consultant to the San Francisco Police Department: the hunting of a serial killer who targets young women and steals their lipstick.

After the credits, the scene changes to Novak's house, where he's hosting a viewing party for the documentary. Monk, Natalie Teeger, Captain Stottlemeyer, and Lieutenant Disher are all in attendance. Throughout the documentary, we follow both Monk's pursuit of the case, with occasional interviews of Monk’s friends, family, and even some of the criminals he’s helped put away over the years.

The case begins when a young actress named Cassandre Rank is strangled and killed in the lobby of her apartment building. The preliminary scene suggests that she was checking her mail when someone broke in through a door and strangled her with a piece of cord, then fled the scene. Monk is briefly distracted by a couple of burned out light bulbs on a light fixture, but eventually is able to focus and quickly uncovers several clues: the first is that the killer took the victim's lipstick from her purse. Furthermore, the lack of glass shards underneath the body suggests that the hole the killer punched through the glass pane on the door appears to have been inflicted after the murder. It means that he actually was let in by the victim, who knew who he was.

Unfortunately, there are no leads in the case. That is, until three days later, when another young actress named Barbara McFarland is strangled and killed in her apartment. When the investigative team visits the scene, there are no signs of forced entry, again indicating that the killer and victim knew each other, and once more, the killer took the victim's lipstick. The two victims are found to have both worked at a local restaurant, but when Monk and Natalie visit the establishment to interview the manager, the lead officially is considered empty since the two had worked there a year apart from each other.

But things take another twist when a third victim, Miranda Terhume, is strangled and killed in a Daly City parking lot. Since she was killed in identical fashion to the other two victims and her lipstick was taken, the police are convinced that the same guy is responsible. However, what links the victims together is unclear, because the third victim never worked at the restaurant that the first two victims had worked at from time to time. However, looking over the evidence again, Monk makes the connection: all three of the victims had their headshots taken by a local photographer named Douglas Thurman (the link is also very obvious, since his watermark is posted on each image).

As the most promising suspect, Thurman is brought to the station to be questioned by Stottlemeyer and Disher. Despite the circumstantial evidence, he denies everything, and with nothing solid to allow them to charge him with a crime, Stottlemeyer and Disher are forced to release him. The last they see of Thurman is him walking out of the station after Stottlemeyer removes his handcuffs. Thurman subsequently disappears that afternoon when he fails to show up for a polygraph test.

The next morning, the police get search warrants, and Stottlemeyer and Disher lead the SWAT team in a raid on Thurman's photo studio. In the dark room, they find the clinching evidence: an eerie shrine with photos of the murder victims, with each victim's portrait having her respective lipstick smeared on it. Unfortunately, Thurman has disappeared, and a few hours after the raid, another young actress, Kate Kindel, is found dead in her house, killed in the same fashion as the other victims.

While they are at the scene, they get a relieving phone call - Thurman has been found at a motel in the town of San Racine, 300 miles to the south. As the SWAT teams prepare to breach the room, Thurman chooses to shoot himself rather than surrender. Thurman’s reign of terror appears to be over, and the episode of “In Focus” wraps up to a round of applause from those at the viewing party.

Monk's Misgivings Edit

But Monk has been unable to join the party, feeling that he's missed something important, and immediately after the documentary wraps up, he realizes that there are several holes in Kate Kindel's murder: for one thing, when Thurman committed suicide in San Racine, 300 miles south of San Francisco, he had Mexican currency in his wallet, as he was fleeing south towards Mexico (probably because he knew it would be difficult to be extradited back to the United States), so why would Thurman go out of his way to travel 50 miles north -- where Kate lived, and commit a fourth murder, when he knew the police were after him? Also, Kindel was strangled from behind, while the three victims killed before the police identified Thurman as the primary suspect were all strangled from in front.

He then concludes that Thurman did kill the first three victims, but someone else tried to frame him for Kindel's murder. After all, who better than a serial killer to frame a murder on? (Monk presumably is basing this on the fact that serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper were blamed for murders that were later proven to have been committed by others.)

At Monk's suggestion, they rewind the DVR of the show to when the SWAT team raids Douglas Thurman’s studio. Watching the raid again, Monk notices a crucial detail when comparing "before" and "after" shots as the camera pans back and forth across the studio: there is one desk in the darkroom on which there are a bunch of film canisters. During the first pass over that desk, all of the film canisters on it are lying sideways, but when the camera tracks back across that desk to show Stottlemeyer coming into the darkroom, there is an additional canister that is just standing up. Randy suddenly remembers that that particular canister is the one that had photos of Kate Kindel. It's obvious that someone planted the roll. But Stottlemeyer quickly points out that it wasn't any of the members of the SWAT team or any of the patrol cops who participated in the raid, since he knows each one of them is an honest cop, but Monk reminds that there were other people besides the police in the studio at the time: Novak's crew.

Then, Monk asks to fast forward to the crime scene investigation in Kate Kindel’s apartment, specifically, to the part where he asked for someone to turn on a light, to which Novak flipped on a light switch to turn on the lamp right next to Monk. In the present day, Monk asks how did Novak know which light switch turned on that particular lamp if he'd never been to Kate Kindel's apartment? There were four light switches on that wall.

Earlier in the episode, there have been repeat signs that there is trouble in paradise: Novak flirts shamelessly with several of the women at the party, including Randy's new girlfriend Jillian, an aspiring actress who specializes in being murdered on camera (including the re-enactment of Kate Kindel's murder for the show). Several times he does this in front of his wife Melissa, thoroughly indicating he was less than a faithful husband. When he has her in a corner, Jillian acts embarrassed over a gaffe she has made, and Novak soothes her that everyone makes mistakes - his, he confides, was Melissa.

Here's What Happened Edit

Monk concludes that Novak was having an affair with Kate Kindel, but she must have threatened to tell Novak's wife about it. Novak decided that she had to be killed, but he wanted to avoid being fingered as a suspect in her death. Then, to Novak's luck, Douglas Thurman's killing spree took place and Novak and his camera crew were hired by the SFPD to trail Monk's investigation into the murders. Because Novak was allowed into the crime scenes to shoot footage of Monk investigating, he ended up having access to every aspect of the investigation, including many details that the police withheld from the media (as is protocol for open and high-profile cases), such as the killer's M.O. and detailed information about the crime scenes.

Because of his inside access, Novak also knew exactly what time the SWAT team was going to raid Thurman's photography studio. The night before the raid, Novak went to Kate Kindel's apartment equipped with an old film camera, having known from the interrogation that Thurman used photographic film and hadn't converted to digital photography. Novak took photographs of Kindel, and after the photoshoot, he strangled her. He then rummaged through her purse and pocketed her lipstick, as he knew Thurman would have done. The next morning, when the SWAT team raided Thurman's studio, Novak tagged along and planted the roll of film while no one was looking. Now Kindel would appear to be just another unlucky client of the homicidal photographer.

Natalie chides Novak for not paying attention to his own show: Monk is never wrong, and he misses nothing. Novak scoffs, saying there is no proof. But then his Melissa coldly interjects that she has proof. On the night of the murder, which coincidentally happened to be her brother's birthday, James returned home very late at night. Suspicious, she'd gone through his pockets and found a tube of lipstick, which she produces right there. If the lipstick tests positive for Kate Kindel’s DNA, which it obviously will, the police will have all the evidence they need to convict him.

As Melissa hands the lipstick to Randy, Novak pulls out a gun. Randy, exchanging a glance with Stottlemeyer, tosses the lipstick, distracting Novak for the second Stottlemeyer needs to sneak beside him, grab the gun, and decks Novak with a punch. The gun goes off, and Jillian crumples, clutching her side. Randy panics and yells for an ambulance, but then Jillian realizes that she's untouched, and apologizes - "force of habit" she explains. Randy compliments her on her performance, and the two kiss lovingly - leaving the rest of the company baffled.

The next day, back at Monk's apartment, Natalie triumphantly reads the ironic newspaper story of Novak's arrest. Monk, reflecting that one hundred cases is a nice, even number, considers retiring from detective work. Natalie is annoyed that Monk wants to quit just because he reached 100 cases, and threatens to whack him with the newspaper, until she has an epiphany: when Monk nailed Douglas Thurman for the first three murders, he solved his 100th case. When he nailed Novak for Kate Kindel's murder, it was a completely different case, meaning that Monk has in fact solved a hundred and one. With Monk standing on such an uneven number, he must now get to 200 cases before he can retire, which is very bad news for the criminals of San Francisco.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • The opening montage features crime-scene photos of Debbie Ringel and Tony Gamelobo, the featured victims of "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan" and "Mr. Monk and the Buried Treasure", respectively.
  • Brooke Adams, Tony Shalhoub's real-life wife, reprises her role as flight attendant Leigh Harrison from Season One's "Mr. Monk and the Airplane." Adams played three other characters on the show, Abigail Carlyle from Season Three's "Mr. Monk and the Kid", Sheriff Margie Butterworth from Season Five's "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm" and Mrs. Edith Capriani in "Mr. Monk and the Badge."
  • The criminals caught by Monk interviewed in prison include:
  • Sarah Silverman re-appears as Marci Maven from "Mr. Monk and the TV Star" and "Mr. Monk and his Biggest Fan" (although at the end of the latter episode she claimed that she had gotten over her obsession with Monk in favor of F. Murray Abraham; obviously she reverted).
  • The late Kathryn Joosten played Nurse Stempel in Season Two's "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect"; this makes her the third actress, after Brooke Adams and Gail O'Grady, to play two different characters on the show.
  • John Turturro's third and final appearance as Ambrose Monk, aside from archive footage in "Mr. Monk and the End".
  • During the last scene, Monk and Natalie are scanning the newspaper headlines for other likely cases to solve. Monk notices an item about a TV writer who got shot dead after a contract dispute - a possible inside joke on the show's writing staff.
  • Aimee Bell, the actress who played Kate Kindel (the fourth victim), was a stunt double for both Traylor Howard and Sharon Lawrence in past episodes of the show.
  • Sharona (Bitty Schram) was notable for not showing up on the show for an interview, even though she's had far more face-time with Monk than any of the other characters interviewed, aside from Natalie.
  • It's seems strange that of all of the officers that were present at the 'Infocus' Viewing Party, none of them were armed, but then again they were not in uniform and they were probably officially off-duty.
  • This episode contradicts the dialogue in Mr. Monk and the Big Game, where it was stated that Monk had solved 104 cases (which was over thirty episodes ago and at least thirty-five additional cases).
  • Despite it appearing to be Monk's 100th case, it is explicitly noted through references in dialogue from other episodes that Monk often works for the SFPD on other cases that do not get an episode. If the murder cases he investigates in the book series are considered canon, it's highly unlikely that the Douglas Thurman homicides were the 100th case Monk had closed in his role as a private consultant to the SFPD.
  • Lt. Disher is upset he is credited on the show as a Sergeant rather than a Lieutenant. Novak even calls him "Sergeant". In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding" the bride(zilla) calls him Sgt. Disher.
  • Early in the episode, Monk is referred to as "the Defective Detective". In the pilot episode Disher (then called Deacon) referred to him that way but not as a compliment.
  • Disher also, to Captain Stottlemeyer's irritation tries to give the serial killer a name: Mr. Lipstick, Lipstick Assasin, Cosmetic Killer, etc. ..
  • During the scenes where Monk is reviewing the DVR, an out-of-touch Monk who looked for a VHS tape also uses terms that are out of touch: picture go fast (fast forward), picture go back (rewind), picture go regular (play), picture stop (pause).

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