Monk Season 8
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Mr. Monk Takes the Stand is the fifth episode of the eighth season of Monk.

Plot summaryEdit

Adrian Monk's confidence is shattered when a slick-talking defense lawyer ridicules him in court and uses his many phobias and tics to convince a jury to acquit his latest murder suspect.


This episode is formulated very differently. We begin, interestingly enough, at what would normally be the conclusion of an episode. Adrian Monk, Captain Stottlemeyer, Lieutenant Disher, and Natalie Teeger are confronting Evan Gildea, a sculptor who Monk believes killed his wife Nancy and staged to look like a burglary gone wrong. Monk begins to explain how Gildea used a two-ton block of marble as his alibi, but is interrupted mid-summation by the arrival of a new distraction in the form of Gildea's high profile lawyer Harrison Powell. Powell tells Gildea not to say anything, and hustles his client away before he says anything incriminating.

Sometime later, Monk and the others arrive to testify at Gildea's murder trial. District Attorney Charles Friedken warns them to be careful what they say because Powell can be ruthless.

Stottlemeyer's testimonyEdit

First up to testify is Stottlemeyer. He testifies that on the morning of October 2nd, he, Randy, Monk and Natalie were called to the scene of a murder. The murder victim was a woman named Nancy Gildea, Evan Gildea's estranged wife.

Stottlemeyer explains that initially, their theory was that a burglar broke into a house by punching a hole in the glass to open the front door. She confronted the attacker. He fought with her, then struck her over the back of the skull in the medulla oblongata with a marble sculpture, killing her instantly. However, Monk noticed two discrepancies: for one thing, the hole the thief made in the door was too small for an adult hand (to prove this, Randy tried fitting both of his hands through the hole, and apparently cut his hands pretty badly). The other clue was that for his choice of weapon, the killer chose a sculpture that came from a table slightly farther away from the body than a more accessible one nearby. The sculpture closer to the body had Evan Gildea's initials on the bottom. Monk concluded that Evan was the killer and used the other sculpture as his weapon because he didn't want to damage his own art. Powell cross-examines and forces Stottlemeyer to admit that the thief could have simply moved during the fight, and that neither Stottlemeyer nor Monk could absolutely testify how the fight occurred.

In the hallway outside, Randy notices that his former Little Brother, Rudy Smith, is sitting on a bench. He goes over to talk, figuring that Rudy is working to become a lawyer. However, an officer arrives to take Rudy away: he's been charged with murdering Sarah Paddock, a clerk at an auto-parts store who was bludgeoned and killed during a robbery.

Randy returns and explains to Monk and Natalie that he feels responsible for Rudy because he promised Rudy's grandmother that he'd look out for him. They're surprised to see Stottlemeyer, stunned and covered in sweat, stagger out of the courtroom. He warns Monk to be careful but the detective confidently walks into the courtroom and takes the witness stand.

Monk's testimonyEdit

Monk is next to testify. We catch up to him at the conclusion. He explains that he accompanied the police to Evan Gildea's studio in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately for Monk, when they arrived, Gildea was working on a sculpture of a nude woman and he couldn't bring himself to look at it (when asked to describe it, he screams through clenched teeth at the part where Gildea took off the tarp covering his piece of work). Gildea claimed that he had received the two-ton slab of marble he had used to carve the sculpture the afternoon before the murder, spent all night working on it, and had just completed it the next morning. Monk doesn't believe it but on cross-examination, Powell gets him to admit that he never actually looked at the statue. Powell has it brought in and Monk still can't look at it.

In the meantime, Randy goes to the lockup to meet with Rudy, who insists that he left the clerk alive after he took the money and ripped her gold necklace off. He thinks there was someone in the store but can't remember for sure if they were there or what they looked like. Randy notices that the police report does not mention the fact that Rudy took the clerk's necklace, though it mentions the money. Randy shows Rudy their friendship bracelets and reminds Rudy that they promised never to lie to each other. He has Rudy put it on and Rudy promises that he's telling the truth.

Back in the courtroom, Powell waits patiently while Monk fixes the microphone support. Once Monk is done, he continues: Gildea claimed that he received the block of marble and finished the statue the next morning. Art experts have confirmed that it would have almost certainly taken Gildea all night to finish it, meaning he couldn't have left his studio. However, Monk saw a few clues that made him question Gildea's alibi: he found an electric clock inside the studio that was 20 minutes slow and found a half-melted popsicle in the freezer -- which Randy apparently later pocketed and tried to eat. It suggested to Monk that Gildea had been using some kind of heavy appliance that blew a fuse, and it took him 20 minutes to replace it. Gildea claimed that he had been plugging in a coffee maker, but Monk countered that Gildea had actually been using a jackhammer: his heavy-duty extension cord was the only object in his studio that was not covered in dust. He concluded that Gildea actually carved his nude sculpture earlier in time, had the block delivered, and then used the jackhammer to reduce it to gravel and scatter it on his driveway.

Powell begins to hammer Monk on his cross-examination, and Natalie objects. Powell turns to her and has her identify herself as Monk's assistant, and that the formerly had a nurse. He pursues that line of questioning and asks Monk why he needed a nurse. Powell questions Monk's competence and has the gravel brought in. When Powell notes that the pieces should fit into the shape of a block, Monk desperately tries to put them together to recreate the block.

The jury acquits Gildea and he leaves the courthouse, boasting that justice was served. A cocky Powell reminds Monk and the others that due to the Fifth Amendment and double jeopardy, Gildea can't be re-charged with his wife's murder no matter what they might find against him.

As Powell promotes his new book, Undefeated: The Harrison Powell Story, on the talk shows, Monk goes to see Dr. Bell. Monk is ready to quit, concerned that any murderer he catches could get free just by hiring Powell. Dr. Bell tells him about how he played on his college's baseball team. He ran up against a pitcher he couldn't get a hit off of, but he finally managed to overcome his problem by studying the pitcher's tell to look for his weak spot. Monk doesn't see the point and tells Dr. Bell that he's quitting.

Clearing Rudy's nameEdit

Back at his apartment, Monk is packing away his files when Natalie and Randy arrive, insisting that he clear Rudy of the clerk's murder. Monk notes that Rudy confessed to the robbery, placing him at the scene, and that it looks helpless. Randy and Natalie insist that they believe in him and Monk reluctantly agrees.

Monk, Natalie and Randy visit the auto-parts store and Monk divides his time between looking around and imagining how Powell might demolish him on the witness stand. However, Monk finally concludes that the murder wasn't premeditated. Rudy has told Randy that he thinks there was another customer in the store and another car parked out back. Monk notices some clues that cast doubt on Rudy's guilt in the murder: for one thing, Rudy was too short to have stolen the security tapes without using a stepping stool. Furthermore, according to the medical examiner's report, the clerk was killed by a single blow to her medulla oblongata with a tire iron. Monk realizes that the clerk was killed in the exact same way as Nancy Gildea: bludgeoned in the medulla oblongata with a weapon that happened to be sitting nearby. Then Monk makes a surprising deduction out of nowhere: the clerk's murder happened at 10pm on October 1st, about an hour after Nancy Gildea was killed. When Randy and Natalie wonder how he figured it out, Monk goes outside and in a bush next to the store, he finds a discarded taillight bulb.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Stottlemeyer brings Evan Gildea back in for questioning on the clerk's murder. Rudy is in the next room watching through the mirror but admits that he can't remember if Gildea was the other customer who was in the store. Monk is with Stottlemeyer and explains what happened:

As Monk had suspected, Gildea set up his alibi with the nude sculpture. Just before 9:00 p.m., Gildea arrived in San Francisco and killed his wife, and he made it look like an interrupted burglary. However, as he was getting back in his car and about to drive home, the indicator on his dashboard came on that told him that his right taillight had burned out.

Gildea panicked. His alibi would be blown open if a cop pulled him over for a broken taillight, so he stopped at the first auto-parts store to buy a new bulb for the car. He planned to pay cash, since if he paid with a credit card, his alibi would have been blown if the police tracked his credit card usage. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong moment to enter the store, coming in just as Rudy was pocketing money from the cash register, and the clerk's necklace. After Rudy ran out, the frightened clerk assured Gildea that the security camera captured everything. Now Gildea, already trying to cover up something that would ruin his alibi for his wife's murder, had a new problem: if the clerk reported the robbery to the police, they would have pulled the tapes. The footage would then be irrefutable evidence that Gildea was seen shopping in a store three blocks from where his wife was killed, and this would have also blown open his alibi for the first murder. So while the clerk was picking up the phone to call 911, Gildea grabbed a tire iron and struck her over the head. He then took the tape, installed the new taillight bulb, then fled the scene, destroying the tape en route. Once back at his studio, he chopped up the marble slab he'd ordered the day before and spread it across his driveway.

Powell arrives and makes light of their new theory, insisting they have no proof. Stottlemeyer admits it's true but insists that the truth will come out. As Powell leaves with Gildea, Rudy sees him. Gildea sees Rudy. He finally shouts with obvious irritation over the police department's "persecution of him", and out of exasperation, points to Rudy, calling him "that dope-smoking chain-snatching little thug". Monk picks up on that as does everyone else in the room -- even Powell and his assistant: Monk points out that Gildea just called Rudy a "dope-smoking, chain-snatching little thug". But how could he have known that Rudy snatched the clerk's necklace when the newspapers never mentioned it (as information the police normally withhold in open investigations) and it wasn't even in the original police report? Stottlemeyer declares it "guilty knowledge" (mens rea) and arrests Gildea on the spot, while Powell mocks Monk, noting that he doesn't have a chance against him. His confidence restored, Monk tells a puzzled Powell that he knows what his tell is now and the lawyer won't catch him out twice. As Powell leaves, Monk loses his confidence and begins to panic.

Subsequently, because of Monk's new confidence, Gildea goes back on trial and is convicted of the clerk's murder after Monk supplies the vital testimony. Powell leaves the court, his perfect record ruined, and he tells Monk to say it. Monk asks him how it feels. As the lawyer leaves, Disher lets them know that Rudy has been remanded into his custody and will be working at the station as community service. Monk turns back to Natalie, who says that he did great and didn't even have to adjust the microphone stand. She and Monk go out of the courtroom... and then Monk returns to adjust the microphone.

Trivia Edit

  • Powell mentions to Monk that he had seen him on "In Focus".
  • Powell is a stereotypical shyster lawyer: a lawyer who is more concerned about how deep his clients' pockets are rather than their guilt or innocence.
  • It is possible that the locations of both crimes was another clue led Monk to deduce Gildea was responsible, seeing how it's pointed out that the auto parts store was only about three blocks from Nancy Gildea's house, in addition to the M.O. of the clerk's death.