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Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas

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Mr. Monk Goes To Vegas is the fourteenth episode of the third season of Monk. Monk travels to Las Vegas when Captain Stottlemeyer suspects foul play in the death of a millionaire casino owner's wife.

PlotEdit

In Las Vegas, casino mogul Daniel Thorn and his wife, blonde bombshell Sheryl, are preparing to leave their penthouse at the Monticello casino to attend a fundraiser. Sheryl mentions not being able to find her usual earrings, so she fastens on another pair instead. On their way out, she catches her trademark long scarf on a door, and her husband chides her for always getting it caught.

On the ground floor, the Thorns step out of their private elevator, where they are mobbed by paparazzi. Sheryl notices that she doesn’t have their tickets, and steps back onto the elevator. The doors close on the end of her scarf, and her husband shouts a warning. As the elevator travels up, Sheryl can be heard screaming for help from inside. When the doors open on the penthouse level, the cook finds her dead on the floor.

A few days later, Adrian Monk is awakened at night by a phone call from Captain Stottlemeyer in Vegas, who is attending another officer’s bachelor party. Stottlemeyer, completely drunk, excitedly tells Monk that  Daniel Thorn murdered his wife, and he can prove it, and that Monk needs to get there right away.

The next day, Monk arrives in Sin City with Natalie, who mentions that she lived there for two years while working as a blackjack dealer. They rouse Stottlemeyer and Disher, who are hung-over in their room. Monk is disturbed to find that Stottlemeyer has no memory of calling Monk, solving any murder, or for that matter, where his pants are.

Therefore, Monk will have to start the investigation from scratch. He gets a copy of the death report from the local police, and murder seems unlikely: the report says that Sheryl died of ligature strangulation by her scarf, and she was definitely alone when she stepped onto the elevator, and no one could have joined her afterward, since the elevator had a very sensitive thumb pad that responded only to Daniel or Sheryl’s touch. Monk looks at the shape of Sheryl’s thumbprint, and notices it is at a funny angle, as though she turned her hand upside down to press it. Looking around, Monk notices a broken fingernail embedded in the leather rail opposite the door. He thinks that something must have happened in here that may have been murder.

Monk and Natalie track Daniel Thorn down to a groundbreaking ceremony for a new hospital named in Sheryl's memory. Although Daniel speaks as if he loved Sheryl, Monk easily can tell from his body language he didn't really love her. When Daniel hands his coat off to Natalie (not knowing who she is) in order to pose with a shovel for the media, she searches his pockets and finds the tickets to the benefit. Monk confronts Daniel, who pretends surprise and chagrin, saying it was a horrible misunderstanding gone wrong. But Monk and Natalie are now firmly convinced that he mudered her.

Monk gets Stottlemeyer to retrace his steps on the night he called, trying to find what he saw that clued him in. Meanwhile, Natalie chums up Lewis, the bellboy stationed by the private elevator, while digging for dirt on Daniel.

Stottlemeyer leads Monk to the bar, where he is surprised to learn that he apparently won last night's karaoke contest. A woman sitting in the bar says she was there the night before, and Stottlemeyer was saying something in excitement – but she will only tell him what if he sings "Ain't No Sunshine" again. He does so, and she says he was saying, “they don’t match,” over and over again. Neither Monk nor Stottlemeyer has a clue what it means.

Natalie comes back, having learned from Lewis that Daniel Thorn has a mistress, a dancer named Teresa Telenko. Monk and Natalie question Teresa, and discover that she suspiciously missed work on the night Sheryl was killed. Monk quickly catches her in a couple of lies, and becomes convinced that she must have somehow been involved in the murder.

Monk and Natalie enter the private elevator to simulate the night of Sheryl’s death. When Natalie refuses to play the victim, as Sharona always did, Monk loops a long scarf around his neck, and closes it in the door. Above, Daniel presses the button to summon the elevator, and the scarf is yanked down, nearly strangling Monk before Natalie can cut him loose. When they arrive at the top, Daniel is pissed that they seem to be making light of Sheryl’s death. He also says they’ve just proven how Sheryl was killed, but Monk points out that when he was strangling, he was rendered speechless – so how could Sheryl have screamed for help from inside the elevator? Daniel then takes Monk aside, and shows him a tabloid with photos of Sheryl's dead body lying on the elevator floor, photos that had been printed earlier than he wanted it to be released, and he's ensured that the journalist in question was fired, a demonstration of how much power he has in Las Vegas (or in his words, he "owns" the city). He dismisses them with one of his sayings: "The house always wins."

When Monk and Natalie get back down, they are approached by a frantic Stottlemeyer. Apparently Randy is in way over his head at blackjack, and has lost pretty much all of his money. They find Randy desperately trying to win back the money he has lost at the blackjack tables, using a Blackjack handbook that he apparently thinks will help him, but which in reality has been printed by the casino in order to teach the reader how to lose. Monk’s photographic memory enables him to remember the cards as they are shuffled, and he briefly suggests Randy hit the current card. Ultimately, Monk's initial efforts fail, and Randy is down $35,000, which is the equivalent of his savings account, his car payment and the down payment on his mother's condominium.

Randy begins to wonder where he went wrong, despite the book telling him what he should do. Stottlemeyer then responds by requesting that Randy give him the book, and then rips it to pieces, threatening to shoot him in the leg if he goes near the tables again. Stottlemeyer turns to Monk and pleads for his assistance in getting Randy's money back and staging an intervention: more specifically, he wants Monk to do cards, knowing his photographic memory of the cards. Natalie warns him about the dangers of gambling addiction, but Stottlemeyer pleads. Although Monk is hesitant to gamble, not having done it before, he ultimately accepts Stottlemeyer's proposal for Randy. He initially loses a little more due to Monk unintentionally requesting he "hit" the cards multiple times (he is trying to brush off some crumbs, but the dealer misinterprets it as Monk requesting that he "hit" him).

Monk manages to get up to $19,000, but the dealer denies any more turns due to there being a $500 limit. However, at that point, Daniel Thorn, having obviously taken interest in Monk's memorizing the cards, appears and lets him get more turns, under the condition: that they double the deck. Daniel  jokingly warns him against cheating, indicating the security cameras and saying he has “friends in the ceiling.” With that remark, Monk solves the case.

Here’s What HappenedEdit

Monk delivers the summation even as he is racing through the hands at the blackjack tables, winning all of Randy’s money back:

The woman whom the press saw get off the elevator with Daniel was Teresa Telenko, disguised as Sheryl. In fact, Sheryl never left the elevator alive to begin with. On the way down, Daniel strangled her with her scarf, then used a hoist to lower Teresa into the elevator from the roof hatch and raise the dead body out of sight. Teresa took Sheryl's place, just so everyone could see “Mrs. Thorn” alive for a few seconds. She then got back onto the elevator, lowered Sheryl’s body, and used her limp hand to press the keypad (hence the funny angle), after wrapping Sheryl’s neck in the scarf she had caught in the doors. By the time the elevator arrived back at the penthouse, Teresa was back on top of the car, and the scarf had dragged Sheryl’s body over to the door.

Daniel says that they can’t prove any of this; Monk says there may be trace evidence on the top of the elevator, but Daniel smugly informs them that they don’t have probable cause for a search warrant. He then orders security to throw Monk and his party out, accusing them of cheating. Stottlemeyer and Disher are sure to grab their winnings first.

While Monk and the others. are outside the hotel preparing to leave, Natalie scolds him for being dragged out of gambling instead of walking away despite promising he'd walk away as soon as he got Randy's money back. Randy then proposes that he teach Monk another gambling game, only for Stottlemeyer to confiscate Randy's winnings until they get back to San Francisco, having overheard them.

Just then, Lewis returns Stottlemeyer’s jeans, which he threw out the window on a bet during the party, while also promising to not tell about it (because, as the saying goes, "whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"). And in the pocket, Stottlemeyer finds the clue that had keyed him in and led him to call Monk - a tabloid magazine with "before" and "after" photos of Sheryl getting on the elevator and her dead body after the elevator stopped. The difference is that in the "after" photo, she's wearing hoop earings, and she's wearing a different type in the "before" picture, proving that the "before" photo is of Teresa.

Monk is frankly amazed, since thousands of people, himself included, saw the magazine without noticing the clue. Stottlemeyer is not sure whether to be proud or not: apparently he can be at least as smart a detective as Monk, if not smarter, but only when he’s “drunk as a skunk.”

The gang watch as Daniel is arrested and led away in handcuffs, Randy confirming that they found hair and rope fibers on top of the elevator. Daniel smugly claims that he'll be out by tomorrow morning, but Monk jokes that he wouldn't bet on it. With Natalie’s help, Monk resists the urge to re-visit the casino tables.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • Monk’s amazing skill at blackjack is reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman’s autistic character in Rain Man. Monk was compared to Rain Man once before, in "Mr. Monk and the Candidate." A third comparison of Monk to Rain Man happens in the novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, when Paul Braddock goads Stottlemeyer, calling him a failure as a detective, leaning on Monk as a metaphorical crutch, claiming that "without his little Rainman," he's nothing.
  • The scene in which Stottlemeyer answers the door at the hotel room is comparably similar in terms of shot-sequence to a scene in Ted Levine 's breakout film, Silence of the Lambs, when as Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb he is answering the door for Clarice Starling.

QuotesEdit

Stottlemeyer: Which one of you idiots invited Monk?

Sleeping cop: Wasn't me.

Disher: Come on!


Monk: What are you doing?
Natalie: Poking around.

Monk: You can’t do that!
Natalie: I can do anything I want, I’m cute.


Monk: (about Natalie being "cute") Boy, it’s like you have superpowers.
Natalie: It’s a gift.

Monk: And a curse?
Natalie: No, just a gift.


(after Stottlemeyer’s karaoke performance)
Monk: You were good.

Stottlemeyer: Shut up.


Stottlemeyer: So, that means, if I’m drunk as a skunk, completely plastered, I’m as smart as you?
Monk: Smarter!

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