Monk Season 5
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Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing is the fourth episode of the fifth season of Monk.


At Fire Company #53 of the San Francisco Fire Department, an elderly fireman, Rusty, serves lunch to his crew. When one of the firemen pulls a joke, Rusty berates him, but the fire captain reassures Rusty that they love him. They are interrupted when Monk walks in carrying a container full of smoke detectors.

Barely has Monk arrived when the station's two-tone call alarm goes off and the firemen all scramble for their engines. The fire captain informs Monk that they don't have time to check his alarms - they are being called away to a three-alarm house fire a few blocks away from here. Despite Monk's protests, the crew of Engine 53 gear up and he can only watch as the engine drives away, sirens blaring.

Rusty and Monk sit down at a table to test Monk's smoke alarms and Rusty is astonished that Monk has 30 smoke detectors for the five rooms, two hallways, and vestibule in his apartment. They are interrupted when they hear a squeaking sound, and look up to see a man named Eddie Murdoch walking in.

Rusty walks around the back of the spare rig in the garage and confronts him. Murdoch promptly grabs a shovel and strikes Rusty a lethal blow to the head. Monk hears a loud audible clang. Fearing the worst, he runs around the back of the rig, and Murdoch promptly swings the shovel at Monk, but Monk dodges the blow and instead is struck over the back. They struggle for the shovel, but Monk eventually grabs it. Just as he is about to swing it at Murdoch, Murdoch throws a container of cleaning solvent into his face. Monk collapses against the back tire, covering his eyes and screaming in pain. Natalie shows up sometime later, and quickly finds Monk still covering his eyes. She calls for help, and while she's doing that, Monk realizes he is blind.

A doctor examines Monk's eyes and tells Natalie, Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher that Monk's corneas were scarred in the attack. It's too early to tell whether Monk's sight will return, or, if it does, when. Monk must face the possibility that he will never see again.

Stottlemeyer and Disher are next seen at the police station, blindfolded, talking to a School for the Blind teacher. To understand what Monk is going through, they are instructed to walk through the squad room to the water cooler and pour themselves a cup. Stottlemeyer uses the simple method of feeling with his palm, while Randy acts more clumsily, bumping into detectives' desks at least twice, and not lining up his cup right with the nozzle. Stottlemeyer is skeptical that Monk will be able to function without his eyesight, so the teacher suggests to him that he get Monk back to work.

Stottlemeyer walks in on Monk as Natalie is helping him put up Trudy's photos on the fireplace mantle. She tries hard to convince Monk that he is still capable of doing great things (citing Ray Charles and Mr. Magoo). Monk is reluctant to go back to the firehouse until Stottlemeyer reveals that this happens to be a homicide investigation as Rusty was killed in the attack, and he'd been on the engine for 35 years.

Monk is brought back to the firehouse. He initially has some difficulty locating things until Natalie and Stottlemeyer suggest that he use his memory to recreate the room. Despite Monk being an eyewitness, the police don't know what the killer's motive was because if he took something, it happened after Monk had been blinded. Monk is seated in the chair he was sitting in when checking the smoke detectors with Rusty. He is walked back through his statement by Randy, who notes that he described the attacker as heavyset, 6'1", with sandy hair and a leather jacket. The attacker also smelled like he had been drinking rum and his shoes were squeaking, like their treads were worn down. Monk gets briefly tangled up in some crime scene tape stretched between the fire engine and the wall. Natalie gets the tape off of him and starts to lead him out, but as he leaves, Monk brushes his shoulder against the coat rack and he realizes something: there were six firefighters' jackets on the rack before he was blinded, but there are only five on the rack. The fire captain notices this as well, and it becomes clear: Murdoch was after a firefighter's coat, but why?

Monk is later brought down to the station to check out drifter named Jake Colbert, taken into custody and found wearing the missing firefighter's coat when he is picked up. He hesitates before feeling the drifter's face, but when feeling it, he finds a wart on Colbert's face, indicating that he's not their man.

Monk is then taken to the alleyway where Colbert said he found the coat. Randy notes that Colbert said he was collecting bottles in the alleyway in question at five o'clock, about three hours after Rusty was killed, and found the firefighter's coat and a helmet in a dumpster. Monk is curious: why would someone kill for a firefighter's coat and helmet, only to get rid of them within a few hours? Natalie notices Monk standing closer to a dumpster than he normally would. When she points out this fact, Monk realizes that he's not afraid of what he can't see. Stottlemeyer complains about having been stuck in the neighborhood for several hours on the day Rusty was killed, as the house fire that Fire Company 53 had been called away to at the time of the attack happened in the neighborhood. He notes that the young woman who lived in the house had been killed, having fallen asleep smoking a cigarette in front of her TV.

Monk is brought to the scene of the fire, just five blocks from the firehouse. Although he's staining his hands with soot feeling items in the bathroom, he doesn't seem to bother. Monk learns that the victim was a young woman named Stefanie Preston, age 27, single, a temp employee at Peter Breen Construction. Although the file states that Stefanie lived alone, Monk thinks she may have had a boyfriend because of the presence of cologne in the bathroom. He feels the remote, and finds the impression of a galloping horse etched into the glass, and he wonders: if Stefanie was supposedly watching TV from the position she was at, then why is the remote at the opposite end of the couch? With that detail, he figures out what happened.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Murdoch killed Stefanie, likely through strangulation. He then staged the scene to make it look like she fell asleep smoking a cigarette, and started the fire by lighting a pile of old newspapers with a cigarette. After setting the fire, he exited the house, but a few blocks away, Murdoch realized he had left something behind in the house that would have been traced back to him if it survived the fire. However, by the time he realized it, the fire engine from Fire Company 53 had just driven past him, siren wailing, heading towards the fire. It was too late for Murdoch to get back whatever he needed, with the trucks on the scene and the house in flames, so he needed a firefighter's coat and helmet to sneak back into the active emergency scene. He walked into the nearby firehouse, and after killing Rusty and blinding Monk, he grabbed the gear he needed and headed back to the scene of the fire. There, he slipped on the gear, and he looked like just another fireman, so nobody noticed or questioned Murdoch as he walked right under the police tape, went into the house, grabbed the incriminating object, and escaped.

Monk is elated, realizing that, even without his sight, he's still a great detective. In session with Dr. Kroger, Monks tells him that he feels liberated - losing his sight has halved the number of his fears, and he has a whole new life to "look" forward to. Troubled, Dr. Kroger thinks he's still in denial over his loss.

Next, Monk and the gang go to a construction site where Stefanie Preston last worked as a temp. They talk to her boss, Peter Breen, who says he was working at the construction site when she died. When another construction worker, Eddie Murdoch, walks over to remind Breen that he has Breen's car keys, Monk hears a sound he heard the day Rusty was killed: the sound of squeaky shoes. Monk follows the sound. Unfortunately, nobody sees Monk leave the group, and Monk finds himself alone with Murdoch. Monk tries to apprehend him, but Murdoch gets away. Trying to pursue him, Monk stumbles onto an elevator, which shudders, causing him to mistakenly believe that he has ridden it up to the top level of the construction site, and is balancing precariously on a girder high above the ground (which is in fact sitting on the ground). He learns the truth when the others come to get him ("Natalie, are you... flying?")

Monk, recovering, says he found the guy, and managed to snatch his I.D. tag. But no sooner has Disher read the name on the tag than a scream is heard from above and Murdoch plunges to his death from the top level. It appears he slipped while he was trying to get away.

Back at the hospital, Monk is examined again, and the doctor is cautiously optimistic, saying Monk's eyesight is returning gradually. Monk, however, has lost all his former optimism after his humiliation, and believes he'll never get his sight back. Natalie and Disher excuse themselves, while Stottlemeyer stays behind.

Stottlemeyer says that evidence confirms that Eddie Murdoch killed Stefanie Preston, but Monk is not satisfied that Murdoch acted alone. What motive did he have to kill Stefanie Preston?

And then Monk remembers something: Murdoch said he has Peter Breen’s keys. Breen drives a Ferrari, and Ferrari’s key chain logo is a galloping horse, just like the imprint left in Stefanie Preston’s coffee table!

Peter Breen was having an affair with Stefanie Preston, and later paid Eddie Murdoch to kill her, loaning him the keys to her house so he could get in. But after he killed her, Murdoch realized that he'd left Breen's keys behind, and he had to go back into the fire to retrieve them.

The Captain and Monk head down to the morgue to retrieve the keys from Eddie’s body. Just as Stottlemeyer finds the keys, one of the "corpses" rises from its gurney and casts off the sheet - Breen, who has followed Murdoch's body to the morgue. Breen hits Stottlemeyer on the head with a non-fatal blow, cuffs him to a gurney, then goes after Monk. Monk grabs Stottlemeyer’s gun and, with his eyesight beginning to return just in the nick of time, shoots Breen, seriously wounding him.

A few nights later, Monk, having made a full recovery, is reading in his armchair, glancing up to admire the many pictures of Trudy on the wall. He smiles - all is well.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • Many elements of this story and many of the characters are based on plot elements and characters from the Lee Goldberg novel Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse.
  • Rusty, the firefighter who is killed, is the equivalent of Sparky, a firehouse dog who was also killed while his masters were away at a fatal house fire. Peter Breen is the equivalent of the novel's Lucas Breen. Judging from clues throughout the story, Stefanie Preston is a composite of two novel characters, Esther Stoval and Lizzie Draper (the former in terms of how she is killed, the latter for her affair with Breen). The novel does not have a character who would be an equivalent to Eddie Murdoch.
  • On the Monk Cast Favorites Marathon, this episode was shown as one of Ted Levine's favorites.


Natalie: See? She sounded so hopeful.
Monk: Hope... I hate Hope's guts!


Dr. Kroger: I, I just refuse to believe that you are happy, geniuenly happy, having lost your eyesight.


Monk: It's the best thing that ever happened to me

Dr. Kroger: Oh. Ok, fine. Then, why don't we get some earplugs, and some noseplugs, and then you can just cut yourself off completely from the world? OR, maybe, we could arrange to have you put into a coma?

Monk: Well, let's just try the earplug thing first



In the scene at the garbage dumpster where Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer, and Disher are searching for clues regarding the missing fireman jacket, a prostitute is standing in the background behind Monk.