|Monk Season 2|
|Season 1||Season 3|
When Karen Stottlemeyer falls victim to an apparent union dispute gone awry, it is up to Monk to find out what really happened and bring Leland back from the brink.
Early one morning, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer sees his wife Karen off, as she departs to shoot another documentary, after they have yet another argument about the cost of all her equipment. She pulls out of the driveway without an "I love you," to Leland.
Moments later, on the main road, a sniper sets up a rifle and takes aim at a tow truck pulling a repossessed car. The shooter draws his bead, waiting ever so coolly and patiently. Once he gets an opportunity, he pulls the trigger. The bullet strikes the driver in the neck and kills him instantly. Driverless, the truck swerves into the oncoming lanes, right in front of Karen's oncoming van. Karen is unable to brake in time. Her van plows into the towed car at full speed and crashes.
Later that morning, Adrian Monk is waiting outside his house to supervise the collection of his garbage. Leland, in the neighborhood trying to get some groceries from the farmer's market as Karen had told him, drops by with Monk’s latest consulting fee. He notices that Monk is still wearing the watch that Trudy gave him, even though it no longer keeps good time. He suggests that maybe it's time Monk try to let go of his attachment to Trudy. Monk is distracted by the arrival of the garbage men Ronnie and Morris, substituting for the normal driver on the route (who is on vacation), who quickly go crazy with Monk’s special instructions (and the fact that at least one of Monk's garbage bags is full of just water, to which Leland just mouths "don't ask!"). Just as the garbage truck drives away, Lieutenant Disher arrives, looking very upset. After some stammering, he informs Leland that Karen has been hospitalized.
Monk, Sharona, Leland, and Randy rush to the hospital, where Karen is in critical condition. The on-duty doctor tells them that Karen's vital signs are strong, but she suffered some internal hemorrhaging and a nondisplaced skull fracture in the accident. Leland turns to Randy, who gives him a preliminary on their investigation and assures him that detectives are volunteering to assist. Monk asks what he can do, and Leland tells him to do what he always does.
Monk, Sharona and Randy travel to the crime scene to investigate. Randy notes that what they currently know is that the truck driver lived in Oakland. They have determined that the bullet came from a .30 06 Winchester bolt action rifle, and the shooter took the shot from behind a mound of dirt on a nearby turnout. Monk notices a hole in the adjoining chainlink fence with a torn piece of cloth, and realizes that the killer crawled through the hole, and his shirtsleeve got snagged on the fence. He decides that the killer must be someone who lives nearby. The strangest thing is that some recovered footprints show that the shooter was barefoot. Even stranger: the driver is also barefoot. As they investigate, Sharona notices a lost dog nosing around, and picks it up, despite Monk's protest.
Randy later meets Leland at the hospital, where Karen is still unconscious. After updating Leland, he mentions a potential lead that the assembled task force is checking out: one of the local transport unions is on strike while in negotiations with the city. It turns out that the tow truck belonged to the union and the driver who was shot was a "scab" who refused to strike and continued working.
Later that day, Monk and Sharona arrive at the scene of one of the union pickets. Monk is not convinced that the shooting was tied to the strike at all: for one thing, the negotiations are going in the union's favor and every editorial supports them. Furthermore, none of the protestors would go barefoot. Leland is not convinced and goes to confront the union's sleazy head, Harry Bolston. Bolston is a shady character, but claims to know nothing about the shooting. Leland also recognizes Bolston's right-hand man, Frank Wicks, whom he arrested for assault during the previous strike.
Meanwhile, Sharona returns the dog to its owner, a handsome man named Evan Coker. As they flirt, she asks him whether he heard anything on the morning of the shooting, which happened nearby. He says no, and she mentions that the police think it’s a union dispute, but Monk doesn’t think so. While they are talking, Monk notices that a sundial in the adjacent neighbor’s yard is off, and starts to adjust it, when she throws him off her property for trespassing.
What no one knows is that Coker is the shooter. That night, he drives to the picket, draws the rifle he used on the first driver, and shoots a scab trying to cross through the picket in a moving truck.
Over a session with Dr. Kroger, Monk admits that, as worried as he is about Karen and Leland, a small part of him is glad that Leland is understanding what Monk goes through every day, facing life without Trudy.
Leland becomes increasingly unhinged, even though Karen’s condition improves. He is starting to focus solely on the case of the tow truck driver's shooting, even blowing off the case of a recent bank robbery committed a week earlier, in which the robber shot and killed a 22 year old bank clerk during the getaway. Leland also assumes that because both shootings used the same weapon, both are related to the union. In addition, he tries to have "small talk" with Harry Bolston, in the middle of contacting the SFPD's ATF contact, which ultimately ends up with Leland punching Wicks. Bolston summarily covers up for Leland by claiming the man tripped on his own shoelaces, while also telling him before leaving that he wasn't involved in either shooting.
While they are all visiting Karen in the hospital, Karen asks Monk to take the Stottlemeyer boys, Jared and Max, out for pizza at a 1950s diner, since everyone else is too busy. He reluctantly agrees. Monk is completely out of his depth, especially when the parlor’s staff start dancing to one particular track on the jukebox, but then one of the staff inadvertently bumps into the table, causing it to be slightly moved ajar, and Monk solves the case.
Monk is next seen with Sharona on Coker's neighbor's yard, observing that it was turned all the way around, only for the neighbor to confront them and chase them off the yard. Monk also tells Sharona that, although he does wish the neighbor was the culprit, she's not.
At the station, Leland is about to lead a full-scale raid on the union’s headquarters when Randy gets a phone call from Monk, saying that the shooting is not union related. After a moment's hesitation, Leland orders the cops assembling for the raid to stand down and put their gear away.
Here’s What HappenedEdit
Leland and Randy rush to meet Monk and Sharona at an impound yard where the car that the first driver was towing when he was shot has been stored. The car happens to belong to Evan Coker. At first, Leland and Randy are confused, as he didn't seem to mind his car getting repossessed, and Randy notes that Coker just got a new Thunderbird and had a clean sheet. Monk explains that he wasn't concerned about the car, but what was in the car. To prove it, he has Leland sniff the owner's manual, which smells of gun oil. Monk reveals that Coker had a pistol stashed in the glovebox, and explains what happened:
The morning of the shooting, Coker was rousted from his sleep by the sound of the tow truck driving away, towing his old car. He realized that he couldn't let the car get to the impound lot with the pistol in the glovebox, because it tied him to another crime, so he needed to stop the truck by any means necessary. He grabbed his rifle and rushed out of the house. He was in such a hurry that he didn't have any time to get dressed, put on his shoes, or lock the front gate behind him, allowing his dog to escape.
Coker was lucky - to get to the highway, the tow truck needed to take a roundabout route, and he knew that he could intercept it if he was fast enough. He rushed through the neighborhood, bumping the neighbor’s sundial and turning it around. He darted across the park, then down the hole, and climbed through the hole in the chain link fence. He got into position behind a mound of dirt and waited for the tow truck to approach. When the truck appeared, Coker shot the driver, then hid behind the mound as the truck crashed into Karen's oncoming van.
As soon as the two vehicles came to a stop, Coker emerged from hiding, sprinted over, and retrieved his pistol from the car. But he had had to run across a gravel road and he didn't want to walk home barefoot. Coker hence quickly opened the tow truck's door and snatched the driver's shoes, then somehow was able to avoid being noticed by bystanders as he fled the scene (as all of the bystanders who rushed over to help were busy attending to Karen). When he heard from Sharona that Monk had doubts about the union angle, Coker shot another scab to make it look like a union dispute.
Leland is convinced and prepares to leave to arrest Coker, but Monk convinces him that for once, they should operate by the book.
The police get a search warrant, and soon, a joint SFPD-ATF search team converges on Coker's house to search for evidence tying him to the shootings. While the police search the house, Leland approaches Coker, stating that his wife was saved by the doctors, and he'd better thank them because the doctors saved Coker's life as well. Leland and Monk share a moment, Leland finally having an idea of what it feels like to lose, or be afraid of losing, someone they love so much.
Unfortunately, the search fails to turn up the pistol, the rifle, nor the driver's shoes. Just then, Monk hears the sound of garbagemen loading their truck up, and realizes that it’s garbage day, and the truck has just been to the house. He runs after the garbage truck. The garbagemen by chance happen to be Ronnie and Morris, the substitute drivers that Monk was heckling earlier. Seeing him coming, they refuse to stop, instead telling their driver to step on it. Unwilling to give up, Monk leaps into the back of the truck, choking back the smell, and starts pulling out trash bags before the automatic compactor crushes them.
The police search each trash bag, and in one of them, they recover the driver's shoes. In the same bag is a 9mm pistol, which Randy recognizes as being the one used in a bank robbery in Delmare. Leland grabs Coker and throws him onto the hood of a police car, wanting nothing more than to hurt him, badly. Sharona and Randy get him to back off, as it isn’t worth losing his badge over. Leland gains control of himself, and Coker is arrested without further incident. Coker is dumb for not ditching the gun into some ocean or river.
Sometime later, Leland brings Karen home from the hospital, and the boys run to greet her. Leland presents Karen with a digital camera, which he had earlier been arguing with her about purchasing, and they embrace lovingly as Jared and Max film them.
Background Information and NotesEdit
- On the Monk Cast Favorites Marathon, this episode was shown as one of Ted Levine's favorites.
- Morris and Ronnie reappear in Season Five's "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike."
- This is the first episode where the SFPD was forced to overlook a particular case only for it to turn out to be directly related to the primary crime, with it being repeated in Mr. Monk Gets Fired, Mr. Monk Stays in Bed, and Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy. Unlike those episodes, though, this was largely Stottlemeyer's fault.
Stottlemeyer: Monk, you don't know how I'm feeling!
Monk: I think I do! (Stottlemeyer stops) The place where you are now... that's where I live.
Sharona: (visiting Karen in the hospital) How do you feel?
Karen: (grinning) Like I got hit by a truck.
Max: (to Monk) Say something crazy.
Disher: Captain! That was Monk.
Disher: He says he solved the case.
Stottlemeyer: He what?
Disher: He says it's not a union thing.
Stottlemeyer: Is he sure?
Disher: ...He's Monk.
Evan Coker: How’s your wife?
Stottlemeyer: My wife is going to be fine. The doctors saved her life. You should call and thank them, because they saved yours, too.
Monk: (indicating Stottlemeyer's gun) You might want to let the lieutenant hold that for you.
Stottlemeyer: Why? Are you afraid I'll use it?
Monk: I would.
Stottlemeyer: I understand now, Monk. You can't let it go, can you?
Stottlemeyer: Don't ever lose that watch.
Monk: I won't.
Karen: You said we couldn’t afford it!
Leland: It’s only money.
Karen: Only money?
Karen: Who got hit on the head, me or you?
Leland: That would be me.
Leland: Did Adrian Monk just jump onto a garbage truck?