When a skydiver jumps out of an airplane, his chute malfunctions and he dies on impact in the desert. The San Macros coroner finds water in the skydiver's lungs, saying that the boy drowned in midair. Monk is brought to Mexico, where he gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Don't drink the water."
While on spring break vacation in Mexico, Chip Rosatti, the son of a prominent San Francisco businessman (a businessman who also happens to be a close friend of the mayor), wins a free skydiving jump. Watching from the ground, two of his friends gaze up in horror as Chip leaps from the plane but fails to open his chute and plummets to his death. Chip spoke to his friends on the cellphone. Chip pulled the string, but somebody tampered with the parachute. When Chip's body is examined at the morgue, the coroner, Dr. Madero, informs San Macros police captain Alameda and his partner Lieutenant Plato of some very perplexing news: Chip Rosatti didn't die from hitting the ground - rather, there's water in his lungs, because he drowned in mid-air. Since Chip was alive before jumping out of the plane, Alameda & Plato don't have any answers. A call from the Mayor of San Francisco sends Monk to the Mexican vacation spot in order to figure out just what happened during that fall.
Prepared with 18 suitcases filled with everything from backup pillowcases to pre-packaged food and water, Monk and Sharona arrive in San Macros, Mexico, and are greeted by Hispanic counterparts of Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher: Captain Alameda and Lieutenant Plato. The Mexican police insist Chip's death was drug related, but Monk isn't convinced. When he asks if there have been any other bizarre deaths, they mention a kid who was mauled a year before by a wild lion.....of which there are none in Mexico.
After a visit to the medical examiner's office, Monk questions the two friends who watched Chip's jump, and both swear he was alive when he leapt from the plane, since they talked to him on a cell phone prior to his jump. Monk listens to their story, but has trouble concentrating on their testimony: just moments after his arrival, all of his suitcases are stolen from in front of the hotel - and along with them, Monk's entire food and water supply. A creature of habit, he can't bring himself to drink any other brand of bottled water than the one he had brought with him, and as a result, he begins to suffer from dehydration. To further complicate matters, he is nearly run down by a speeding truck in an alleyway (forcing him to dodge when even attempting to shout "Stop!" in Spanish fails to stop the driver).
Monk and Sharona talk next with the pilot of Chip Rossati's plane. He also claims Chip was alive when he jumped, and further explains that the free jump certificate that Chip won turned out to be a forgery. In addition, he reveals that Chip's parachute had been tampered with, and that it could have easily been accessed by anyone.
Digging deeper, Monk discovers a key to a bus station locker that Chip was renting. As he makes his way to the bus station, the same mysterious driver takes aim at him from the back, and runs him down. The next day, Sharona stumbles into their room after spending the night at a frat party, and the Mexican detectives regretfully inform her that Monk is dead. They also telephone Stottlemeyer in San Francisco, who is devastated.
Alameda tries to comfort Sharona by telling her how Monk bravely dragged himself through mud and garbage looking for help. Then, Sharona realizes that its not really Monk, as she knows that he would rather die then crawl through garbage. Just then he stumbles into the hotel, more dehydrated than ever, but very much alive . In a touch of poetic justice, the dead man turns out to be the suitcase thief, who was wearing some of Monk's clothes. Meanwhile, Stottlemeyer, is arranging Monk's funeral, demanding that he be buried with honors even though he wasn't on active duty, or he quits his job. Just as the Captain admits to Lt. Disher that he loved Monk, he recieves a phone call that says he is alive. He then yells "I HATE THAT MAN", as he must now cancel all of the arrangments he just made.
That night, someone plants a bomb behind a painting in Monk and Sharona's hotel room, deliberately askew so that it will detonate when Monk adjusts it.
Captain Alameda suspects the owner of Chip Rosatti's hotel arranged the parachute accident to cover Rosatti's accidental drowning inside the resort. Monk isn't convinced, especially when, after bringing in the pool owner and questioning him, Sharona and Monk find drugs in Rosatti's knapsack that show he was allergic to chlorine. However, Monk is too distracted by his dehydration to notice or care. Upon returning to the room, Monk briefly contacts Benjy and converses with him, but Monk then notices that someone has been in the room since they left: the painting is tilted the opposite direction of the way it was tilted before, and someone has turned the three-way lamp all the way up. He carefully removes the painting and discovers the bomb.
Once the bomb squad removes the bomb, the Mexican detectives are convinced that someone is trying to kill Monk. While they are looking over the scene, Alameda's lieutenant mentions that the other dead student, the lion victim, was also a rich kid from San Francisco. With this, and the scent of menthol cream on the curtains, Monk solves the case.
Here's What HappenedEdit
Monk has smelt menthol cream on the curtains in his hotel room - the same kind used by the seemingly innocent police coroner, Dr. Madero. He is so excited that he tells Sharona to pack their things immediately, and gives his summation as they are checking out:
He asks what the two cases have in common, and explains that they are both "impossible" - as he says, two impossible murders is impossible.
Dr. Madero is in fact a fugitive doctor named Luis Nivara hiding under an assumed name. He lost his practice, and his wife to suicide, after Monk testified against him in an insurance scam case. Dr. Madero/Nivara jumped bail, changed his name and made his way to Mexico. Since he could not return to the United States without risking arrest and imprisonment, he tried to think of a way to lure Monk to Mexico to kill him in revenge. He committed two murders, both with seemingly "impossible" causes, both of kids from San Francisco whose families were rich and well-connected. As Monk never actually met or saw Dr. Madero/Nivara due to it being a grand jury-level case (wherein he never saw the defendant), he didn't recognize him, and as such did not make the connection to Dr. Madero until that moment.
Chip Rosatti died when his parachute didn't open, because Dr. Madero cut the ripcord. After the body was brought to the morgue, he inserted a tube down Rosatti's throat and poured water into his lungs, to mimic a death by drowning. While Monk is explaining all of this, he also is responding to the hotel clerk's questions in an increasingly irritated tone.
Nivara is brought to the hotel and confronted. He says there is no proof, but Alameda remembers that they found a fingerprint on Rosatti's parachute harness that they couldn't match, which Alameda bets is Nivara's. Exposed, Nivara goes berserk and lunges at Monk, shouting that he "stole" his life (referring to Monk's testimony) before he is restrained and is arrested for both murders as well as attempted murder. However, Monk corrects them and says that he was also responsible for the "lion attack." The only reason the lion attack didn't draw Monk to Mexico was that, at the time, no one thought to call him.
Lt. Plato asks Sharona if she wants to come back to Mexico and work to earn fiesta beads. She asks what the beads are for, as she forget how she got them. She's horrified to learn that guys give them to girls at parties for flashing their chests at them and throws them away in disgust.
Alameda, now in open awe of Monk's abilities, marvels that he figured all this out just from the menthol cream on the curtains. Monk confides that his first real clue that keyed him into Dr. Madero came days earlier: when they visited the morgue, Dr. Madero said he found "a pint" of water in each of Rosatti's lungs. A pint is a unit only used by countries that utilize imperial measurements, like the United States (as opposed to a liter, which is a unit of metric measurements used in countries like Mexico), meaning Dr. Madero must have spent time in the United States. Alameda praises Monk, saying what an honor it has been to work with him, while running along side the car window, before they drive off.
Monk and Sharona return to San Francisco. In his apartment, Monk is pleased to find that 5,040 bottles of Sierra Springs that he ordered have been delivered. But when Sharona mentions she is thirsty, Monk is hesitant to share even one bottle with her. In his mail, Monk reads a letter confirming that Dr. Madero/Nivara has been extradited back to the U.S. to stand trial, and remarks how crazy it is that someone whom he never met would want him dead. He waits for Sharona to agree, but she just stares daggers at him.
Background Information and NotesEdit
- While nobody in San Macros had Sierra Springs, everyone in town has Perrier. Both are real water brands.
- The episode was co-written by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin. A common characteristic of the Monk novels, written by Goldberg, is that every police department outside of San Francisco that Monk and Natalie Teeger end up getting into trouble with features equivalents to Stottlemeyer and Disher. In "Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico," the equivalents (Captain Alameda and Lieutenant Plato) are very thinly disguised versions of the originals. Both wear the same outfits as their San Francisco counterparts. Alameda has Stottlemeyer's mustache. Plato has an appearance that resembles Disher in many ways. In fact, Plato's name alludes to his counterpart as well: "Plato" is Spanish for "Dish" or "Plate." He also expresses an interest in Sharona, although in a different way from the way Disher does it.
- Likewise, Goldberg's novel Mr. Monk in Trouble features flashbacks to 19th century California, where the Sheriff and his principal deputy closely resemble Stottlemeyer and Disher, who frequently use the services of Monk's ancestor, Artemis, and his assistant, Abigail Guthrie.
- Many of the scenes in the town were filmed at the Universal Studios Backlot in California. The area where Monk nearly gets run over by a truck while chasing the man who stole his clothes is actually the flash-flood set, a famous site. If one looks closely, they can see the watermarks from the repeated flash-floods that are staged during every tour.
- Spring break resorts like the one seen in the episode would actually be much farther south in Mexico, and wouldn't be literally at the US/Mexico border.
- Captain Alameda returns in Mr. Monk Gets on Board, reuniting with Monk and meeting Natalie Teeger when they returned to Mexico.