|Mr. Monk and the Astronaut|
March 3, 2006
Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Wagner
|Monk Season 4|
|Season 3||Season 5|
PlotBefore setting off on his next trip into space, astronaut and civilian test pilot Steven Wagner pays a visit to Joanne Raphelson, his girlfriend. They are watching a news bulletin about Wagner's upcoming flight, and the newscaster mentions that Wagner has been considered a national hero since he crash-landed a space shuttle in the Gulf of Mexico. In the present day, Wagner looks at the latest draft of Raphelson's autobiography Between the Sheets: The Joanne Raphelson Story, in which Wagner is the subject of the fifth chapter. He then pours two cocktails of his own unique drink, a "Spacewalk," with a unique combination of an olive, an onion, and a cherry. However, when Wagner pours Joanne's drink, he also slips some barbituates in. Subsequently, she passes out on the couch just as on the TV, Wagner mentions that he will not fail if he considers running for public office.
Some time later, Joanne Raphelson's housekeeper comes by the house and finds Raphelson hanging from the ceiling. Adrian Monk and Natalie Teeger arrive at the crime scene hours later, talking about career day and Monk's fear of public speaking. They meet Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher inside the house. Disher notes that Raphelson was 36 years old and was a former Vegas showgirl, and she had been dead for five days when the body was discovered. Monk observes the cocktail glass with the remains of one of Wagner's Spacewalks, while Stottlemeyer notes that Monk is here because he's noticed several clues that seem to suggest that this is a murder and not a suicide: for one thing, it seems like terrible timing for a person to hang themselves when they've just received a $50,000 check that hasn't yet been deposited. Also, someone has taken the computer, as there is a surge protector and printer but no computer. Monk also notes that according to Joanne's driver's license, she was 5'5" in height, too short to reach the improvised noose hanging from the ceiling.
Disher goes across the street and talks to Darrell Cain, one of the neighbors. Cain confirms that there were no visitors to Joanne Raphelson's house on either of the two days before she died. He says this while eating tangerines out of a Fruit of the Month box and also berating his son Benny for opening the garage door. When Monk arrives, he notes that the tangerine box is from Raphelson's porch. An officer arrives with the victim's phone records, which show that Joanne's last call was at 2:05 AM on the Saturday before her death. The call was made by none other than Steve Wagner.
Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher go to Wagner's house, where a reception is being held in Wagner's name for his flight. Natalie tells Wagner that her daughter Julie just wrote a paper on him. They commend him for his successful life. He admits to having dated Raphelson, noting that she suffered from extreme depression, and would frequently call him when she needed to speak to someone. Monk notices that Wagner is drinking the same drink as was found at the scene of the crime, and his wife Nicole identifies it as a "Spacewalk," one of her husband's signature drinks. Monk also notes having learned that the liftoff for Wagner's flight was almost cancelled because he was running late - to which Wagner claims that he tried to take a shortcut to get to Edwards Air Force Base, but got lost. Monk is convinced that Wagner killed Raphelson, but his alibi appears to be vacuum-sealed: he was in space at the time of the murder.
At the police station, Stottlemeyer informs Monk that Wagner is a national hero, having appeared on the covers of TIME Magazine and Newsweek. He notes that Wagner launched on Monday at the beginning of the week and landed on Friday, and the coroner is certain that Joanne Raphelson died of ligature strangulation on Wednesday morning, during Wagner's trip in space. Disher arrives, and theorizes that Wagner smuggled an escape pod onto the ship, but beyond that, no one can explain how Wagner killed his girlfriend while not even being on the planet.
Meanwhile, Monk and Wagner are both invited to speak at Julie Teeger's school career day. At the end of his exciting speech about his crash-landing in the ocean, Wagner hands out laser pointers to all the kids, and they use them to harass Monk while he is speaking his far more boring speech. When Wagner confronts Monk outside of the classroom and says he will never solve the case because he is a "flincher", Natalie is now convinced of his guilt as well.
Monk and Natalie return to Raphelson's house to look for more clues. Monk notices that there is a missing doll from Raphelson's extensive collection on the wall, as well as four holes drilled in the wall in the kitchen. Monk realizes that Raphelson was killed in the kitchen then moved into the living room where she was found. Before he can think about these things very much, they hear noises. When they go outside, they find Wagner sneaking around outside the house. He says he came to pick flowers, but Monk is sure he was looking for something.
Next door, Raphelson's neighbor Darrel Cain is yelling at his two children, Benny and Donna for leaving the garage door open again, with Benny protesting that he did close it. He notices the celebrity Wagner and runs across the street with his kids to get an autograph. When Wagner notices that Donna Cain is holding a doll, he invites the family to come see the test flight of a new fighter jet at Paxton Air Force Base; Natalie gets Wagner to bring her and Monk along as well. At the base, Wagner leads the two children into the flight simulator. As they are passing one of the garage doors, the door suddenly opens. When one of the employees on base notices this, a colleague says that he believes the opener may not have been built properly. Just then, Benny and Donna come out, Donna crying, and Benny explains that Wagner took her doll. Monk realizes that he's solved the case.
Here's What Happened
Monk and Natalie take off, trying to find Wagner's FA-22 Raptor fighter jet before he takes off, and Monk gives the summation:
Before he went into space, Wagner went to Joanne's house. He drugged her by spiking her drink - he made sure to drug her just enough to knock her out for a few days, but not kill her. He then installed a garage door opener in her kitchen, tied a noose around her neck, and attached the other end to the garage door opener. He then took the remote for the opener away from the house, taped down the button and stuffed it inside a doll he took from her house, and mailed the doll to her on two-day shipping. When the mailman brought the package to the house, it set off the garage door opener, which strangled Joanne on the inside. When Wagner returned from space, he went back to the house to move the body to the other room and dismantle the murder machine, but he panicked when he realized that the doll was missing. He's been hunting for it ever since, since the garage opener is inside the doll and undoubtedly has his fingerprints on it.
Monk realizes he must act quickly because Wagner will try to eject the doll from his plane during his test flight, and then the evidence will be lost forever. By the time they find Wagner, he is already in his jet and preparing to take off. Monk runs in front of the plane, an F-22 Raptor, putting himself in grave danger to stop Wagner's escape. Stottlemeyer and Disher, called by Natalie, show up and along with the Air Force, stop Wagner and arrest him.
At home, Julie tells Monk that she and her friends realized that they had mistaken Wagner for a different person and that what Monk did was really brave. They had made a medal for Monk and Natalie takes a picture of them, with Monk refusing to wear his medal.
The events of this episode are later used as the basis of the Monk movie in Mr. Monk and the Actor. However, many of the events were changed for Hollywood purposes.
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