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Monk Season 8
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Season 7 THE END

Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy is the eighth episode of the eighth season of Monk.

PlotEdit

A young woman, Barbara O'Keefe, confides in her mother about her therapy with Dr. Bell while taking a bath. Suddenly, a man attacks her! The next day, the pool cleaner finds Barbara's body floating in her pool.

A week later, at Monk's apartment, Natalie opens a letter from Monk's HMO, which informs him that, due to a policy change, the insurance company is putting a cap on the number of individual therapy sessions they will cover. This would not be a problem for most people, but Monk does some grim arithmetic: of the two thousand total sessions which the new policy promises to cover, he only has one left!

Monk goes to his last session with Dr. Bell and attempts, with the aid of index cards, to solve every problem he has in one go, with no success. Dr. Bell invites Monk to attend group therapy sessions, which the insurance will cover, but Monk refuses.

Instead, Monk and Natalie track down Dr. Bell as he bicycles through the park. From their tandem bicycle (Natalie is pedaling), Monk attempts to surprise Dr. Bell into a free therapy session. When Dr. Bell evades them, and Natalie and Monk end up sprawling in a pile by the roadside, Monk agrees to try group therapy instead.

When Monk arrives, he meets his fellow group members: antisocial and aggressive Rhonda, the ultra-phobic Augie, and, to Monk's dismay, his old enemy, Harold Krenshaw. Harold goads Monk by addressing Dr. Bell on a first name basis and bragging about how much more progress he's made in overcoming his fears than Monk. As the session turns nasty, Dr. Bell tries to divert their attention, and Monk notices an empty seat. The others inform him that Barbara O'Keefe was also a part of their therapy group before she died.

While shopping at the grocery store, Monk bemoans to Natalie how much he hates the group therapy sessions. Harold appears behind him, threatening to "tell on him" to Dr. Bell. When Monk accuses Harold of following him around, Harold says that a lot of Dr. Bell's patients happen to shop at that market. He points out a man at another cashier buying cleaning supplies, Xavier Danko, who also belonged to their group, before he left, declaring that he was cured. Harold declares that he deserves to be cured next, and says Monk should also quit, but Monk refuses to.

The next day, Monk joins Stottlemeyer and Disher at a crime scene where Augie has apparently committed suicide by jumping off a building. The police find no signs of homicide, but Monk notices a lack of hair on Augie's wrists, indicating that they were bound with tape - meaning he was actually tied up and then pushed off the roof. Asking to reexamine Barbara O'Keefe's death, Monk notices clues that her death was murder as well (namely, the fact that she went swimming in October without a towel). To Natalie's disapproval, Monk can't help but be slightly pleased at the thought that someone is killing off the other members of his therapy group.

At the next session, Monk shares his theory that someone's murdering members of the group. Harold, aping Monk's technique, does his own "Zen/Sherlock Holmes thing" and pegs Monk as the killer.

Here's What (Harold says) HappenedEdit

Monk, in his jealousy of Harold and his desperation to have Dr. Bell all to himself, murdered Barbara and Augie (in Harold's flashback, Monk is a super-strong maniac, laughing villanously as he throws Barbara into her pool and pitches Augie off the roof).

Harold says that his theory makes sense, since the police were inclined to rule both deaths as accidental, and Monk is one of the few people who knows how to commit an almost-perfect murder.

Dr. Bell dismisses the theory, but later, Monk confides in Natalie his secret fear that Harold could be right. Monk has no alibi for the murders; what Harold said about Monk having the motive and the know-how is true, and Monk has had "blackouts" before where he wakes up, not remembering what he'd done.

Natalie convinces Monk that he could not be the killer. Half-jokingly, she asks whether Harold could be "the guy," but Monk discounts that theory: "God would never do that. It would make me too happy."

With Monk himself and Harold eliminated, he and Natalie go to investigate Rhonda, the last remaining member, at her workplace, a medical supply store. They find her dead on the floor!

It looks like she accidentally mixed cleaning supplies to create poisonous gas, but Monk knows she'd never make such a mistake. For a moment, Monk suspects himself again, since cleaning supplies would be his ideal murder weapon, but Natalie points out that the bottles aren't his brand - they're the cheap stuff. Monk solves the case!

Xavier Danko, Dr. Bell's former patient, is the guy - Monk and Natalie saw him buying the cleaning supplies at the grocery store. At that moment, however, Natalie feels faint from the gas fumes, which allows the still-present Xavier to emerge and knock Monk unconscious.

Monk wakes to find that Xavier has abducted him and locked him up in his car's trunk... with Harold! Both men freak out from claustrophobia, and Harold admits that he has lied about much of the progress he has made. Something remarkable happens: Adrian and Harold become friends! Harold admits that he has baited Monk for many years and Adrian admits that he envies Harold's relative success in getting on with his life, despite his many phobias. Both men come to the belated realization that they share many of the same problems, and Monk has a breakthrough that allows them both to conquer their claustrophobia: the trunk is not a cage, it is a protective space, keeping them safe from all the things "out there," especially germs. They work together to escape, using the car's jack to pry open the trunk from the inside.

Before they are finished, the car stops, and they hear Xavier's footsteps walking away. Completing their escape, they emerge in front of a house that Harold recognizes as Dr. Bell's. Horrified that Xavier means to finish off Dr. Bell last, Adrian and Harold grab makeshift weapons from the trunk, break down the front door and charge to the rescue.

It turns out to be unnecessary: in his study, Adrian and Harold find Dr. Bell talking with a distraught Xavier, who has confessed to everything and is preparing to turn himself in to the police.

Here's What (Really) HappenedEdit

Xavier was originally in Dr. Bell's group to deal with his obsession with an exotic dancer, but left the group when his obsession went too far and he killed her and then dumping her body in a reservoir. Afraid that her body was about to be discovered due to a water shortage, he became worried that the members of the group would connect him with the crime and began killing them off one by one.

When Dr. Bell is surprised to see Adrian and Harold acting as one, they take the opportunity to tell him about their breakthrough.

At his next therapy session, Monk sees that he and Dr. Bell are alone. Dr. Bell informs him that Harold, in an extraordinary gesture, has changed therapists so that Monk could have the "group sessions" (which his insurance company will still cover) all to himself. Monk realizes that he now has a true friend in Harold, and eagerly tackles the next fear on his list with Dr. Bell.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • After beating his Claustrophobia, Monk declares that the next fear he will discuss with Dr. Bell is Death. He does not appear to be taking them in order, since Death is on his top ten list, but claustrophobia is not ("Mr. Monk and the Very Very Old Man"). This may have been foreshadowing, however, as he had to come to terms that he might die in the series finale.

QuotesEdit

Harold Krenshaw: Here's what happened...

After Barbara and Augie have died, at therapy.

Harold Krenshaw: And then there were three.

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