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Mr. Monk Gets Stuck in Traffic is the thirteenth episode of the third season of Monk.


An environmental activist, Marriott, drives his Volkswagen Beetle to a construction site for a meeting with Ray Galardi, a construction company owner. Galardi wants to discuss the lawsuit that Marriott and his friends at the Environmental Guerilla Group have filed against him that is holding up his plans to build a strip mall because of the fear that it will damage the habitat of the Alameda whipsnake. Ray tries to use bribes and convincing statements to get Marriott to withdraw the lawsuit. Eventually, he agrees to build his strip mall elsewhere and walks Marriott over towards a tool rack with pipes. He says that he is looking for a pipe that has to be a specific size, not too big and not too small. When Marriott asks why, he explains to him that it's got to look like Marriott hit his head on the steering wheel. Then, he smashes Marriott in the head with the pipe, kills him, loads his body into his Volkswagen. Ray then proceeds to load the car into the back of one of his own trucks, and then leaves the site, heading for the highway.

Later that day, Natalie is driving Monk and Julie down the highway on their way back from Julie's last game of field hockey. A truck cuts Natalie off, and Monk reports it to the trucking company. Minutes later, Ray’s truck passes them. He pulls ahead of the traffic and reaches an isolated stretch of road, where he dumps Steve Marriot's car - with Marriot's dead body inside - onto the highway. A multi-car pileup ensues, and Natalie sprains her wrist in the sudden stop.

With traffic at a standstill, Monk leaves the car to find out what happened. He meets an over-the-hill lawyer named Garrett Price, who joins Monk as he makes his way to the crash site. Police believe that Marriot was driving too fast in his Volkswagen, and that the crash was an accident. But Monk makes an interesting observation: he never saw the Volkswagen pass him. Where did it come from? He also notices that the car left no skid marks, and that its transmission is in neutral. Monk knows this was no accident, but the highway patrol officers refuse to believe him.

Meanwhile, Ray gets a call on his cell phone, but when the person who answers asks for Steve Marriot, he realizes that he confused his cell phone with Marriot's, since they are identical, and he must have accidentally switched them when he loaded Marriot's body into his car – which means Ray's cell phone is back at the crash site, near or on Marriot's body. He returns to the accident site to retrieve his phone, but he realizes he can't get the phone when the highway patrol officer orders the scene locked down. The officer gives some instructions to a paramedic who leaves the crime scene.

Ray stops the paramedic, and claiming that his pregnant wife is in need of a checkup, he lures the paramedic to a place behind two of the ambulances. Just as the paramedic is about to open the doors to the ambulance, he strangles him, disposes his body, and steals his uniform. Garrett Price, seeing the paramedic, asks him to take a look at Natalie's injured wrist. While there, his cell phone, which really belongs to Steve Marriot, rings. Monk spots the caller I.D., which reads "EGG." Ray moves on, but Monk is suspicious of him.

Before Monk can pursue the disguised paramedic, he has another assignment: find a bathroom for Julie. Monk spots a tour bus that belongs to the metal band Korn, who allow Julie to use their bathroom. While there, Monk mentions Steve Marriot's name, and one of the band members recognize him as being part of the "Environmental Guerrilla Group." Monk makes a realization: the "Environmental Guerrilla Group"... E.G.G.! the impostor's cell phone must belong to Steve Marriot! Monk sends Julie back to Natalie, and goes looking for him.

As he is looking, Natalie takes her boss to task, being more concerned with the hundred little invisible details surrounding him than what is right in front of him: her injury, which he has never even asked about. She angrily reminds him that she is his assistant, not his slave, and their relationship should be a "two-way street."

Monk finds Ray, and quickly proves that he is an impostor. But the police officers on the scene still don't believe Monk. For apparently obstructing the investigation, they lock him up in a police car while Ray is allowed to go free. Natalie catches up with Monk, who explains what happened.


With Monk locked up, Natalie decides to search the dump truck for evidence like tire tracks or fibers. Ray, meanwhile, is trying to make one last attempt to get his cell phone from Marriot's body, but another paramedic closes the doors of the ambulance. There is no way he is going to retrieve the incriminating cell phone. He races back to his dump truck, and with Natalie still in the back of the truck, he proceeds to follow the ambulance, intending to retrieve the cell phone somewhere on the way.

Monk yells for the police to stop the truck, but they ignore him. Just then, however, he gets his break. Some of the cargo that a semi truck had been carrying that had fallen out when it crashed trying to avoid Marriot's car is moved. One of the ambulances also starts up, and the dead paramedic's body is discovered. The officers realize that Monk's suspicions about the fake paramedic and the "accident" are legitimate.

On the highway, Natalie waves at passing cars from the bed of the truck, yelling for help. Seeing her in the wing mirror, Ray activates the bed's lift, trying to dump Natalie onto the road at speed. She hangs on to a chain in the bed, but with only one good hand, her grip starts to fail.

A police car speeds after the truck with Monk in the passenger seat. Seeing Natalie in danger, Monk borrows a handgun and takes aim at the bed's hydraulic hose. He misses several times, then realizes the only way he can get close enough to make the shot is to unbuckle his seat belt and lever himself halfway out the window. He finally makes the shot, and the bed falls flat again. With Natalie safe, the police car swerves in front of the truck, forcing it to a stop, and Ray is arrested and punished by the police. As evidence, Natalie hands them a scrap of Marriot's E.G.G. t-shirt that she found in the bed of the truck.

A short while later, Natalie's wrist has been seen to by a real paramedic, and the jam has finally started to clear. To Julie's immense relief, she has finally gotten to use the bathroom aboard the tour bus. Natalie is frankly amazed that Monk unbuckled his seat belt to help her, but he says that she was right: their relationship is a two-way street.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • Garrett Price reappears briefly in Season Six's "Mr. Monk and the Man Who Shot Santa."
  • Monk refers to playing with Willie Nelson in Season One's "Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger."
  • Several of the people in the traffic stop start a tailgate party. The rock music that is played at the party is later reused in the season 5 episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert."
  • During the scene where Monk and the trooper chase down the dump trunk, in which Natalie is stuck, the police car and the truck are actually going very slowly. Watch the dotted white lines, and how slowly the scenery passes when they show the shot from behind both vehicles. They can't be going more than 45 mph.
  • This marks the first time since the second part of the series premiere that Monk actually fires a working pistol. Before that he has only held a gun/rifle or used a water pistol.
  • When Monk and the highway patrolman are chasing the dump truck, why don't they ever use their siren or their lights or even attempt to pull the truck over?
  • Examining the crashed Volkswagen Beetle, Monk states, "The air conditioning is off and the windows were closed." Classic Beetles like this one did not have A/C.
  • Garrett said that cell phones couldn't be used because of the mountains, but a cell phone is used twice without problems from the same location. Could this be because different cell phone providers have different reception?
  • When Monk is trying to hide his voice from the angry truck driver he uses an Italian accent similar to Tony Shalhoub's fake Italian accent in Wings.


Monk: No, no, wait. I'll give you ten dollars if you hold it in.
Julie: Really?
Natalie: Mr. Monk, what are you doing? You can't pay a person not to pee!
Monk: Best money I ever spent.
Julie: Sure he can. It's called the free market, I learned about it in school. So, Mr. Monk... how much would you pay me not to throw up?

Monk: Korn. They spelled it wrong.