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Mr. Monk Gets Fired

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"Mr. Monk Gets Fired" is the fourth episode of the third season of Monk. It originally aired on July 16, 2004.

PlotEdit

At a suburban house, Paul Harley has a surprise for his mistress Larysa Zeryeva. When she is sunbathing by his pool, he blindfolds her and leads her to his garage – she's thinking it's a new car, a quid pro quo for keeping her mouth shut to Harley's ex-wife about certain assets he kept hidden during their divorce. But when she takes off the blindfold in the garage, she finds no surprise waiting for her. But Harley tells her that there is a surprise, and (surprise!) he bludgeons her with a tire iron. We cut to an exterior view of the house as Harley starts up a chainsaw, then see blood splatter against the window to the side door.

At police headquarters, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer makes an announcement to the Homicide division. His wife, Karen, will be filming a documentary about life behind the scenes in the division, at the request of the public relations department.

As Leland is congratulating a sergeant about a robbery case, Lieutenant Disher comes up to him, telling him that a recent fire at a wig shop was arson, as a test for artificial accelerant came back positive. Stottlemeyer is baffled: who would torch a wig factory? Randy suggests the owner did it to collect insurance money, but Stottlemeyer shoots that theory down, pointing out that the owner was killed in the fire.

Just then, Stottlemeyer's overbearing and arrogant new boss, Commissioner Robert Brooks, walks in to the room. He irritably asks Stottlemeyer why he is following a story in page 22 of the magazine and not the front page story, about a headless torso recently found in the bay. As Brooks is leaving the station, he is mobbed by reporters looking for answers for the torso murder, and as he gets into his car, someone snatches his hat and runs away.

Stottlemeyer makes the decision to hire Adrian Monk, which is a decision Brooks ridicules as Monk was responsible for getting a friend of his convicted in a police brutality investigation several years ago.

At the coroner's office, with assistance of forensics tech Howard "Gordo" Gordon, Monk examines the torso and deduces some important clues to the identities of both the killer and the victim: the victim was in her late twenties, and possibly is from one of the Baltic states, probably Lithuania. The killer was left-handed, and an expert mountain climber. However, Monk's detective work is soon overshadowed by a colossal and very damaging blunder: obsessed with cleaning some crumbs off of a computer keyboard, Monk accidentally erases several years worth of forensic records.

Stottlemeyer tries to do damage control, assuring Brooks that most of the files were backed up, but Brooks refuses to be mollified (the Commissioner already has an axe to grind against Monk, who made him look foolish when he testified against the Commissioner’s friend in a corruption investigation). So not only is Monk off the case, but he is also pulling Monk's detective's license, despite Stottlemeyer's protests that doing so to Monk is a virtual death sentence.

With Monk unemployed, Sharona takes back her old job as a nurse at a hospital.

Stottlemeyer and Disher meanwhile, home in on Paul Harley as their prime suspect, after his ex-wife files a missing persons report for Larysa, who was her housekeeper. Larysa fits Monk's profile of the victim, and Harley fits the profile of the killer, but the district attorney refuses to issue an indictment until the torso is positively identified as Larysa's. While they are questioning Harley at his house, he appears confident enough about having gotten away with murder that he's rubbing it in Stottlemeyer's face. During questioning, Stottlemeyer is interrupted upon learning that Monk has shown up and is searching the garage.

In the garage, Monk is searching around for clues when Stottlemeyer finds him there. Monk has determined that the garage has been thoroughly scrubbed down with bleach. Stottlemeyer mentions that that happens to be true of the rest of the house. Randy shows up and hands Stottlemeyer some photos of Larysa. A photo of her with her hair cut short is the most recent photo. Another distraction shows up when Harley comes around to complain about the cops cutting up his carpeting, and recognizes Monk from the news. Monk immediately reaches the conclusion that Harley cut Larysa up in the garage with a chainsaw: he's got a spare chainsaw blade and a space on his tool rack for a chainsaw, but the chainsaw is missing. Harley admits to throwing it out, but he doesn't say that he threw it out because the blade was stained with blood. Before getting escorted away to avoid the commissioner, Monk sternly warns Harley that the police only need a tiny amount of DNA to connect the torso to his house.

With Monk out of action and the commissioner riding him hard, Leland unloads his frustrations to Karen, unaware that the camera is still rolling. To add to his frustrations, the commissioner's hat has been snatched a second time, and he is demanding that Stottlemeyer find this "Mad Hatter" on top of everything else.

Monk, meanwhile, at Dr. Kroger's advice, applies for a new job as a fact-checker for a magazine. He is more horrified than happy when he actually gets the job. Sharona comes by to check on him, and he unloads his heartbreak to her: he needs his job as a detective back; he can't look at a newspaper without wanting to be in on the case, even the stupid "Mad Hatter" story... and that is when Monk solves the case.

Here’s What HappenedEdit

At the police station, Brooks is angry to see Monk and Sharona there with Stottlemeyer, and Karen filming in the background. Stottlemeyer is gleefully smiling, saying that thanks to Monk, they have an arrest warrant for Paul Harley ready to roll on Brooks's approval. Karen proceeds to film Monk as he gives the summation.

Paul Harley killed Larysa Zeryeva, cut up her body, and dumped the remains into the water. After the torso was found, he cleaned his house obsessively and compulsively until any trace of her was gone. He also destroyed any papers related to her, and found one paper that startled him: a receipt from the wig factory that recently burned down.

Harley knew he was in trouble, because Larysa had cut off most of her hair a month before she was murdered and sold it to the wig factory. This meant there was a wig full of her DNA out there. Harley had to get it back before the police also found out about the wig. He broke into the wig factory, killed the owner, and then he rifled through the sales receipts until he found the one what he needed. Then he torched the place in an attempt to destroy the evidence. Luckily, for the police, some of the records survived the fire, so the cops know exactly who bought Larysa's hair: the commissioner himself. Harley has been grabbing the commissioner's hat, not because he wanted the hat, but because he wanted the commissioner's toupee, which was made from Larysa's hair.

Brooks insists that he doesn’t wear a toupee. Stottlemeyer asks Monk whether he’s sure, and Monk says 100%. Stottlemeyer grabs the Commisioner’s hair and gives it a tug – and nothing happens. Monk amends to 74%, and the Commissioner starts to storm out, assuring Stottlemeyer that he’s just flushed his career down the toilet. But Sharona says that "74%’s good enough for me!" and jumps the Commissioner, yanking at his hair until it rips loose. The toupee is bagged for evidence, while the Commissioner, humiliated at having his baldness caught on film, asks whether there’s any way Karen can edit it out. Stottlemeyer agrees, on one condition: giving back Monk's investigation license.

To conclude Karen's film, she films her husband and Randy going to Paul Harley's house to officially carry out the arrest warrant.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • The medical examiner, though unnamed here, is revealed in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Fashion Show" to be Gordo.
  • The name of Karen's film is called "Cinema Verite!" Seven years later Molly Hagan, who played the interviewer in this episode, played a part in a movie by the same name which premiered on HBO in 2011.
  • It said that Larysa Zeryeva's hair was cut for the new commissioner's tupe. It was cut, not ripped, so it is not quite possible to find enough hair follicles for typical DNA analysis (however, analysis of mitochondrial DNA could be used).
  • Larysa Zeryeva is not typical Baltic name. It is of Slavic origin.
  • While convenient to the plot, the computer system used by the medical examiner is far too poor to be taken seriously for a high level agency. While Monk is unaware of deleting the files on the computer, why would there be a one button push to delete all the files on working cases? Even to not have some sort of password to delete files is questionable, as most systems in offices and workplaces will only have functions like this for administrators, executives etc. We find out that all the files are backed up and are slowly being recovered. However, these types of systems are primarily for emergency scenarios such as fire, flooding and so forth. With the ease that Monk is able to delete the files by accident, it seems a bit hard to believe how easy it is to do.
  • As Monk is removing the crumbs off the keyboard, he flicks one crumb away from the backspace key. It gets flicked up and lands near the 0 button on the numeric keypad. Yet when this happens, the screen then says "Do you want to delete files?" as if he hit the delete button.
  • Though the commissioner doesn't have a first name that is mentioned, a freeze-frame still of the resignation notice Randy hands to Stottlemeyer in "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm" reveals that his full name is Robert Brooks.
  • This is the second episode where the SFPD was forced to overlook a particular case only for it to turn out to be directly related to the primary crime, with it having earlier been done in Mr. Monk and the Captain's Wife and later happening again in Mr. Monk Stays in Bed and Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy. In this particular case, unlike in The Captain's Wife, this wasn't Stottlemeyer's fault, as he and the rest of the SFPD had been forced to focus by Commissioner Brooks' primarily on finding the mysterious person who was trying to steal Brooks' police cap with the murder of a model being relegated to a minor case, if it is even to be focused at all.

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