|Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger|
August 16, 2002
Peter Onorati as Archie Modine
|Monk Season 1|
A billionaire computer mogul is shot dead while mugging a couple outside a movie theater, and a uniformed officer later is seen fleeing the scene. It appears to be a midlife crisis gone horribly wrong–until Monk uncovers the truth about both the murder and about "Fraidy Cop".
Billionaire computer mogul Sydney Teal leaves his house at nightfall, telling his wife Myra that he's on his way to another lecture. Outside, his chauffeur has a car ready, but Teal says he'll drive himself.
Teal drives into San Francisco in his Ford Explorer, and parks in a back alleyway. Once there, he puts on a fake mustache and black sweater, and hides behind a dumpster with a knife in hand, waiting to ambush another man, Archie Modine, and his date, who are leaving a movie theater. As they reach the lot, Teal steps out with a knife in hand and says "Give me your money. Don't be a hero!" To Teal's surprise, Modine pulls a revolver and shoots him three times, killing him on the spot.
When the mugger’s real identity is revealed, the crime scene becomes a circus. Modine, an ex-cop, swears that the shooting was self-defense, and several eyewitnesses back him up. But what intrigues the press even more than Teal's murder is that Modine’s date swears that, seconds after the shooting, a uniformed police officer bolted from the scene. The press quickly latch onto the story, dubbing the runaway “Fraidy Cop.” Meanwhile Stottlemeyer calls Monk in, who notices a strange detail: Teal was wearing elbow- and knee-pads underneath his mugger disguise.
Monk is currently having financial difficulties. He hasn't paid Sharona or Dr. Kroger for a while and it is definitely becoming a problem. Sharona is urging Monk to be a lot more hard-nosed when it comes to collecting his fees, knowing all too well that he loves detective work and would do it for free if she wasn’t there to stop him. For instance, she wants Monk to confront Leo Otterman, a rich guy who Monk helped out and who hasn't paid them.
Monk puts her off and quickly dives into the case. The police are inclined to dismiss the shooting as a prank gone wrong: a reclusive billionaire seeking thrills after getting bored with his life, or cracking under the unique strains of being immensely rich. When Monk and Sharona interview Myra, she supports this story, saying her husband was going through a mid-life crisis. However, Monk questions Sydney’s other employees, including the chauffeur, who say that Teal wasn’t a thrill-seeking type; he wouldn’t even fire a gun. Furthermore, when Monk looks at all of the photos on Sydney's piano, he realizes that the most exciting thing Teal has done in three years has been go to Disneyland.
Stottlemeyer and Disher are under fire from the press and the mayor’s office, who are both demanding to know the identity of “Fraidy Cop.” Disher retraces the man’s route, while Stottlemeyer angrily insists that no SFPD officer would run from the scene of a crime.
While at Teal's office, Sharona notices flowers from Phi Beta Tau, Teal's fraternity in college. Monk then remembers seeing a Phi Beta Tau insignia on Modine's keychain, making him conclude that Modine and Teal were in the same fraternity in college, and that Modine and Myra are having an affair. For Sharona, that is good enough to declare the case closed and collect their fee: Teal must have discovered the affair, and was actually trying to murder Modine. But Monk isn't convinced: though he wouldn't fire a gun, Teal owned one, which he didn't bring to the "mugging," and the knife he held was hardly a serious weapon. Most puzzling of all are the elbow and knee pads.
Modine admits to the affair in questioning and filing a false report claiming he didn't know Teal, citing his protectiveness of Myra. When speaking about the developments at a press conference, Stottlemeyer is again hounded by the press about Fraidy Cop, to such an extent that he declares that any reporters asking questions on that angle will be banned from future press conferences for a year.
Monk’s refusal to close the case gets Sharona angry, and she quits. Without her, Monk is cut adrift, and goes back to looking over the clues to Trudy's murder. But without Sharona's guidance, he finds himself going over the same dead-ends again, not remembering what he's done before. He is also nearly gunned down by an assassin in a yellow car via a driveby shooting; he only evades the fatal gunshot because he stoops down to scoop a wipe he drops at the last second.
Monk is so desperate to get Sharona back that he makes a lame attempt at confronting Leo Otterman, who quickly gives him the brush-off.
Meanwhile, a bored Sharona, who has taken a job as a cashier in a lamp store, reads Teal's autobiography and reads about an incident during his college years, when he and his date, Angie DeLuca, were menaced by a mugger. Sharona interviews Angie, who says that the mugger also shouted, "don’t be a hero" before Teal heroically fought him off. Angie was impressed, since she’d never thought of Teal as a physical type. Excited, Sharona rushes back to Monk with the information, and he solves the case.
Here’s What HappenedEdit
Monk, Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Disher confront Myra and Archie in the Teal mansion, in the company of a uniformed police officer. Monk explains that the detail that has been nagging him from the beginning were the elbow and knee pads Teal was wearing, meaning he was expecting to be knocked down by Archie, not shot. He wasn't trying to mug Modine, but actually trying to imrpess Modine's date.
When Sydney and Archie were fraternity brothers in college, they were also roommates. When Teal wanted to impress his date, he and Modine decided to pull a harmless prank: Modine put on a ski mask and pretended to try mugging Teal and his date. By acting heroic, Teal "got to look like Superman".
Twenty years later, after Myra and Modine started their affair, they plotted to kill Sydney. Modine still remembered the favor he did for Sydney very well. He approached Teal at a restaurat, and convinced him to return the favor. Teal agreed enthusiastically to the chance to relive one of the best nights of his life, not knowing that Archie meant to shoot him.
It worked perfectly. Modine had two layers to the motive: first, it would look like a pure self-defense killing, of an anonymous mugger; second, if the worst should happen and anyone discovered his affair with Myra, he could claim that Teal was actually trying to kill him, and thus it was still legitimate self-defense.
Modine says there is no proof, but Monk reveals there was a witness to their plan: Teal always went the extra mile. Not anticipating that he'd be murdered, that night, he had hired an actor to play a patrol cop. After Modine fought off the mugger, the "cop" would rush out and congratulate Modine for his heroism. This actor, Joseph Moratta, was stationed in the alley within sight of Modine and Teal, but panicked and fled when Modine pulled his weapon and shot Teal dead in front of him. Monk explains that he came to the conclusion that Fraidy Cop wasn't a real cop when he remembered Stottlemeyer saying that no officer would ever flee the scene of a crime. On cue, Monk then points to Moratta, who happens to be the uniformed officer standing in the room with them!
Myra, seeing that the game is up, hurriedly swears that whatever happened was all Archie's idea, and she knew nothing. In rage, Archie draws a gun and takes aim at her, and Disher tackles him. In the struggle, a stray shot is fired, and "Fraidy Cop" takes off running again, to the delight of the press and the aggravation of Stottlemeyer.
In the end, Monk and Sharona get their money from Otterman, thanks to some help from Moratta. When running away from an angry Otterman (after Moratta took off his sunglasses) Monk remarks that, had he not had a tendency to flee the scene of a crime, he would have made a good officer (due to Moratta's speed)
Behind the ScenesEdit
The scene where Monk goes to Kathy Street's address to interview her in Trudy's place was originally made for the Pilot: Mr. Monk and the Candidate, but it was cut from that episode, and instead placed into this episode. Because of this, the setting was strangely fitting for cold weather instead of the normal weather. This was rectified within the episode when the DJs, shortly after Monk is nearly gunned down in a driveby shooting, state that San Francisco was going through a Cold Snap.