|Mr. Monk Goes Back to School|
June 20, 2003
|Monk Season 2|
|Season 1||Season 3|
Monk takes a job as a substitute high school teacher at Trudy's alma mater to determine whether an English teacher really jumped from a clock tower while committing suicide, or was murdered by an ex-boyfriend.
Schoolteacher Derek Philby has been carrying on an affair with his fellow teacher, Beth Landow. But she tells him she is pregnant, and threatens to bring their affair into the open if he does not leave his wife. Derek promises to do so that very night.
The next day, Saturday morning, Derek is proctoring the SATs in a classroom at Ashton Preparatory High School when, across the campus, Beth plummets from the school’s clock tower, landing on a car and setting off the alarm, dead on impact.
Trudy Monk went to the same high school, and her best friend, Arleen Cassidy, is now the headmaster. The police have ruled Beth Landow’s death a suicide, but Arleen doesn’t believe it. She approaches Adrian Monk, who agrees to investigate. When Monk and Sharona arrive at the crime scene, Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher are just finishing up.
Despite their insistence that this was a suicide, Monk notices several problems with the suicide story: Beth was a "first-rate English teacher" according to Arleen, but the suicide note the police found, besides being typed and not handwritten, contains several grammatical errors. Also, she happened to have landed on Derek Philby's car, which had its doors unlocked, and which also had its alarm activated (as this is a rather safe neighborhood). Philby happens to be their most popular teacher, and has just accepted a prestigious position as headmaster at another private school. When Monk interviews Derek, he notices the imprint of a wedding ring in Derek’s wallet, where adulterers often hide it. When Philby is asked as to why he parked over by the tower when there is faculty parking near the classrooms, he mentions that he was planning on taking a jog after the tests. Monk deduces that Derek was having an affair with Beth, which gives him a solid motive for killing her. The problem is, his alibi is airtight: he was proctoring the SATs at the time she fell, all the way across the campus.
Monk volunteers as a substitute teacher to investigate further. Almost immediately, his obsessive-compulsive habits make him the butt of students’ laughter, and the victim of a prank by one arrogant student (a prank involving a chalk eraser loaded with chalk dust being thrown at him while his back was turned), who happens to be Kyle Patterson, the son of the school's gym coach. Monk ends up deeply traumatized by the prank and Sharona findsMonk frozen and mumbling to himself in trauma, and then disciplines Kyle, even resorting to stomping on his foot, which she tells him that she won't get fired for it as she doesn't even work at the school. When the coach finds out about what Sharona did, he gets cross with her. Monk attempts to defend Sharona, making an enemy of the coach in the process.
Later, while talking with some students in the cafeteria, Monk learns that Derek showed no surprise at Beth's death; when the alarm sounded, he barely looked up from his desk. In fact, Derek can barely disguise his smugness when Monk questions him. Like most suspects who think they have covered their tracks, he thinks Monk is a joke.
But later that day, the school’s groundskeeper approaches Derek (who is about to be picked up by his wife), and tells Philby that he lied to Monk earlier that day about seeing anything unusal that morning, and will keep his mouth shut in exchange for money.
That night Derek enters the groundskeeper’s house and lays a cunning trap: he punches a hole in the house’s gas line, then rigs the door to the living room with an ignition device: a matchbook with the match heads pointing down, towards a scratch pad glued to the floor. Sure enough, when the groundskeeper enters his home and swings the door open, the matches spark and the entire house explodes.
When Monk, Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Disher show up the next morning at the remains of the house, the fire captain tells them that it looks like a possible accident: there was a pinhole rupture in the gas line, the groundskeeper came in, and tried to relight the pilot because he wanted to make a fire and he did so. Monk, however, quickly proves otherwise: the evening was warm, and the air conditioner was on, so the groundskeeper wouldn’t have wanted to light a fire (although Monk also ends up punching the window due to one glass pane remaining from the explosion, which he cannot bear to ignore). Now there have been two "accidental" deaths of persons working at the same school. Stottlemeyer starts to wonder if perhaps there is a possible link between someone killing the groundskeeper and the death of Beth Landow.
The next day, Monk is confronted by Coach Patterson, who has warned him to expect him when he least expects him. He says the time for their showdown has come, but this remark causes Monk to look at the clock, and he solves the case. He also thanks Patterson for helping him solve the case, even stating he'll give his son an "A" in gratitude, although Patterson is quite confused as to why Monk is acting this way, not realizing that he inadvertantly helped Monk solve his case.
Monk confronts Derek, who says that Monk can’t prove anything, since Beth’s body was cremated. Monk tells him that the killer overlooked one thing: Beth’s glasses were missing when her body was found, and that tomorrow morning, 200 police cadets will be searching the campus for those eyeglasses.
Here’s What HappenedEdit
That evening, Derek emerges from the clock tower holding Beth’s glasses, and find Monk and the police waiting for him. Monk says he’s figured out how he did it:
Derek Philby met Beth Landow on top of the clock tower, ostensibly for a rendezvous, but when she turned her back, Derek bludgeoned her. Then, he carried her body down to the gearbox of the clock tower and draped her body over the minute hand of the clock face. At that time, 8:15 a.m., the hand was horizontal. He then made his way across campus to proctor the SATs. Ten minutes later, when the hand pointed to 8:25, Beth’s body slipped off and fell, to land on Derek’s car and set off the alarm, which he had activated. He positioned the car to “catch” her and thereby prove to everyone that she fell at a moment when he was nowhere near her.
Philby did take a big risk hiding the body in plain sight for those ten minutes, but he didn't think he was in trouble. After all, that side of the tower did face the athletic field (completely empty on the morning of the murder). However, the groundskeeper saw Philby, and was taken care of later.
Derek says there is no proof, and Monk indicates the glasses he is holding. Derek claims that he found them on top of the tower, from which Beth must have jumped, but Monk says that he planted them behind the gear box in the clock room two hours ago, knowing that only Beth Landow's killer would look for them there. That is enough to arrest Derek for murder.
Later, Sharona and Arleen watch as Monk visits one of Trudy’s favorite spots at the school.