|Monk Season 8|
|Season 7||THE END|
Mr. Monk and Sharona is the tenth episode of the eighth season of Monk. It marks the long-awaited reappearance of Bitty Schram as Monk's former assistant, Sharona Fleming, after her abrupt departure from the show during the 3rd season.
Adrian Monk is cleaning his apartment when a coin jams in the vacuum cleaner. As he tries to clear it, the bag expels a cloud of dust into his eyes. In a panic, he calls for Natalie. Sharona Fleming comes in to Monk's apartment, and takes his hand and leads him to the kitchen, helping to wash his eyes out. When Monk opens his eyes, he has to blink a few times to make sure he's not dreaming. "What year is this?" he asks, befuddled.
The two of them sit on the couch, catching up. Sharona is still living in New Jersey, and is working as the medical superintendant of a nursing home. Though she is technically still married to Trevor Howe, the two have separated, this time for good. Most exciting of all, Benjy is now all grown up, and looking at colleges.
Monk is enjoying having Sharona back so much that when Natalie Teeger arrives, Monk's instinctive reaction is to act like a spouse caught cheating. But Natalie and Sharona are happy to meet each other. When Natalie asks what brings Sharona to San Francisco, she says that a distant relative of hers, her uncle Howard Fleming, fell down some stairs on a golf course at the Eastdale Country Club and died (Natalie is familiar with the place as parking there is very expensive), and Sharona has come to arrange his funeral, and is contemplating a lawsuit against the country club. Sharona invites Monk and Natalie to accompany her to the law office, before they all go to lunch, and Natalie happily accepts. As they are walking out the door, Monk's two assistants swap stories about the rigors of their job, and Sharona marvels aloud at how she ever got by on her old salary - at which Natalie stops, turns around and scorches Monk with a glare: the figure Sharona threw out is $20 a week more than what Monk pays Natalie.
Natalie confronts Monk about this while they are at the law firm offices. He agrees to pay Natalie the same as long as Natalie doesn't compare notes. Meanwhile, the country club's lawyers make Sharona an offer but Sharona's lawyer insists that she didn't come to San Francisco just to be insulted. Sharona sees what they're offering and accepts, noting that the settlement is enough for Benjy to take his pick of colleges to attend. Later, as the lawyers take a break, Monk and Natalie both congratulate her. While they are in there, Monk notices the board containing the crime scene photographs from Howie's “accidental” death, and looking from photo to photo, he immediately realizes that something about them doesn't make sense. Because she barely knew her uncle, Sharona doesn’t want Monk to discover anything that could jeopardize her windfall, and commands Monk not to investigate, but even trying to hide the pictures from him doesn't help, as she's seeing the body language that Monk exhibits when he knows something is wrong.
Sharona reluctantly accompanies Monk and Natalie to the Eastdale Country Club golf course to look around. Monk questions the club's golf pro, renowned professional Perry Walsh, in the middle of giving a friendly lesson to his wife, Carolyn Walsh, with his caddy, Gary Hanks, standing nearby. Walsh confirms that he and Gary both saw Howard fall down the stairs. Gary notes that he tried to call for help on his cell phone, but the battery was dead, so he ran to get help while Walsh ran to Howard's side. But there was nothing he could do, and by the time paramedics arrived, Howard was dead.
Monk, Natalie and Sharona next go to the flagstone steps where Howard died. Monk tries without success to get Natalie or Sharona to lie down on the grass so he can recreate the crime scene. He notes that the third stair from the top is loose and Howard tripped and lost his balance. He admits that it must be an accident. Sharona seems satisfied with this, but as soon as she turns away, Monk whispers to Natalie that Howie's death was not an accident at all: For one thing, based on one of the crime scene photos, why had Howie not even even taken his golf clubs out of his cart before he walked down the stairs? And how did he reach the 14th hole on the course only 20 minutes after he had teed off? It is an impossible feat even for a professional golfer. Monk can't bring himself to tell Sharona about what really happened.
Sharona goes to look up Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher at the police station. Both of them are delighted to see her, Randy especially. Sharona sees a picture of Stottlemeyer's girlfriend T.K. Jensen on Stottlemeyer's desk; Stottlemeyer agrees that he feels like he won the lottery. When Monk and Natalie show up, Randy hands them Howard Fleming's rapsheet. He has no criminal record and no arrests, but Monk notices a recurring pattern of suspicious "accidents" and discrete settlements (all of which were made out of court) - including a 1998 fall at a yacht club in Florida and an incident in 2004 when he was hit by a car. Though he is afraid to say so out loud, he begins to suspect that Howard was actually a con artist who ripped people off.
Noticing some growing tension between Sharona and Natalie, Stottlemeyer pulls Monk aside and warns him that he is risking an explosion if he continues to work with the both of them (working with both is like trying to mix bourbon and vodka together). Monk says he understands, but doesn't see what else he can do.
Monk, Natalie and Sharona go to Howard's apartment to look around. Sharona finds a photo of her with Howie from her communion. Monk finds a stack of unpaid bills and notes that Howard was broke. He also finds a volume from a romance novel series called Passion of Erica. In another room, he finds a pile of couch cushions that are arranged in a slope. Monk reluctantly tells Sharona that Howard was practicing how to fall in advance, meaning the "accident" at the golf course was a scam, and that the two previous falls were also scams. Sharona refuses to listen, and storms out of the apartment.
Back at the police station, Sharona fumes to Randy that Monk must be wrong, and if he is, it is because Natalie is poisoning his mind against her. When Randy asks why she would do that, Sharona huffs that Natalie can sense that Monk likes her better. Their conversation carries them both into an elevator, as Sharona asserts that a woman can always tell when a man likes her. Uncertainly, Randy replies, "Really?" as the doors close on both of them.
Monk, Natalie and Sharona go to interview Perry Walsh at his apartment. An argument breaks out between Natalie and Sharona between taking the stairs, or forcing Monk to use the elevator. As a compromise, Monk morosely suggests that they ride up past the right floor, then walk down, making them all equally miserable. They arrive at Walsh's door sweating and out of breath. He offers to fix them something to drink before they talk, and he admits that he didn't see Howie playing golf the day he died.
While Walsh is in the kitchen, Monk looks around the room, and notices the novel series Passion of Erica on a bookshelf, and realizes that it is missing one volume - the volume in Howard's apartment. Based on this, he asserts that Howard and Carolyn were having an affair, and that Walsh is "the guy". Sharona doesn't believe it, and demands that Monk explain his reasoning. Monk says he can't while Walsh is in the next room, but Sharona insists.
Here's What HappenedEdit
Walsh found out about Carolyn's affair with Howie - he either found a letter or overheard a phone call. He kept secret his knowledge, and quickly conceived a brilliant plan to get his revenge.
Monk worries that Perry can hear them, so Sharona hustles Monk and Natalie into a closet and Monk rushes through the explanation (we see the black-and-white flashback played through at high-speed). With Natalie and Sharona unable to understand Monk, Monk goes back through and repeats himself, this time slowly:
Walsh knew that Howie was a con artist, and was broke, and would accept any way to get easy money. Walsh approached Howie, and said that he had a foolproof scheme to rip off the country club: Howard would pretend to fall, and Walsh and his caddy would be the unimpeachable witnesses to the fall, allowing Howard to sue the club for a fortune. As Walsh predicted, Howard took the bait. On the day of the "accident," Walsh and his caddy witnessed Howard's "fall." While the caddy ran off to get help, Walsh approached Howard, who remained sprawled out on the steps, and bashed his head several times against the steps.
But no sooner has Monk finished the summation, than Walsh yanks open the closet door, having heard enough to know that they are on to him. Dispiritedly, Monk, Natalie and Sharona return to the police station, where a furious Stottlemeyer informs them that Walsh has retained a lawyer, is refusing all further police inquiries, and consequently their chances of proving the case have now been reduced to nil. His wife isn't talking either, though Sharona believes that Walsh must have used threats to keep her quiet. Blame is tossed back and forth, and soon a four-way shouting match ensues between Sharona, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher. Unable to bear seeing the four people he cares most about fighting, Monk gives up and leaves the station, climbing into a cab and telling the driver to just keep driving.
After he has been missing for several hours, Sharona and Natalie return to Monk's apartment to wait. As they talk, they loosen up and commiserate with each other on the sheer impossibility of their job. Sharona realizes Natalie's worth as her successor, and berates herself for suddenly leaving Monk all those years ago, as every day was an adventure to her. Natalie, for her part, deprecates her own work, reminding Sharona that it was she who did the heavy lifting, rescuing Monk from his catatonic breakdown after Trudy's death. Once they put their heads together, they quickly work out where Monk is: at Trudy's grave. When they find him there, they assure him that they are all right, and Sharona agrees that the most important thing is making sure justice is served and that Walsh is arrested for murder.
Monk, Natalie and Sharona return to the country club to try and find anything that Walsh might not know that incriminates him. Sharona uses a credit card to break into Walsh's office. In a drawer, Monk finds the clue he needs: a Fujikawa cell phone battery, the type of phone that Gary Hanks owns. Monk remembers that when they first spoke to Gary, he told them that his cell phone battery was dead, so he had to run off to get help.
Monk realizes that before the murder, Walsh switched out the caddy's cell phone batteries, replacing the charged battery with an uncharged battery. After Howie "fell", the caddy had to leave the area to get help. This left Walsh alone for just long enough that he could kill Howie before the caddy got back. By itself, Monk notes, the battery doesn't prove anything, but if the dead battery is still in Gary's phone, and has Walsh's fingerprints on it, they have enough incriminaing evidence to arrest him.
Unfortunately, Walsh overhears them from outside his office, and runs to the golf course to find Gary. Monk gives chase on foot, but Walsh stops long enough to deck him with a punch. Monk is ready to give up, but Sharona and Natalie pursue Walsh in a golf cart, and Sharona brings him down in a sand bunker with a flying tackle. As they wrestle, Natalie clubs him unconscious with a rake.
Monk takes charge of Gary's cell phone and tells him that the police will provide him a replacement. They begin to congratulate themselves on a case closed, when Sharona tumbles and falls down the same flagstone steps that Howie "fell" on. She moans in pain and says that she may have broken her arm and realizes her good luck: she will still be able to sue, but this time, for real. Gary calls for help while noting that the club still hasn't fixed the broken step. When nobody is looking, Sharona winks at Monk and Natalie.
A few days later, Sharona (with her arm in a sling) and Natalie embrace fondly outside her hotel, before Sharona's departure for New Jersey. Natalie offers again to drive Sharona to the airport, but Sharona declines, saying a friend is giving her a ride. Monk comes out, and Sharona tells him that, though she worried about him before, she knows he's in good hands now. She tells him to brace himself, then gives him a fond hug as well. A car pulls up and Randy gets out. He and Sharona exchange a tender kiss before he helps her and her luggage into his car, leaving both Monk and Natalie staring after them.
Background Information and NotesEdit
- Natalie is infuriated to learn that Monk paid Sharona $20 per week more than her; this is inconsistent with Season three's "Mr. Monk vs. The Cobra," at the end of which Natalie convinces Monk to reimburse her for her work-related expenses (wipes, gas, cell phone minutes, etc.), something he refused to do on the grounds that he never did so for Sharona.
- Stottlemeyer now has a picture of T.K. Jensen, his new girlfriend, in his office.
- Sharona's comment that Stottlemeyer must feel like he "won the lottery" now that he's dating T.K. is ironic, given that Stottlemeyer does know how that feels, having been tricked into thinking he won in "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever."
- Sharona wonders what Monk is having for dinner then remembers it's Tuesday, she then asks if Tuesday night is still chicken pot pie night. This is a reference to the episode "Mr. Monk and the Candidate."