Monk Season 1
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Season 2

Mr. Monk and the Earthquake is the eleventh episode of the first season of Monk.


When a San Francisco philanthropist dies mysteriously in a minor earthquake, Monk suspects foul play, and Sharona's life is soon in danger.


When a minor earthquake rocks San Francisco, trophy wife Christine Rutherford seizes the opportunity to bludgeon her husband Henry to death with a handy marble statue, and then topples a huge wooden display case onto his body so it will appear he died during the earthquake. It's a crime of opportunity.

Sharona rushes to Monk's apartment, and is surprised to see that he appears perfectly calm and composed. Soon, she realizes, the quake has rattled Monk in quite a different way: he is speaking unintelligible gibberish without realizing it. She calls Dr. Kroger, who guesses that Monk's brain has been temporarily "shorted out" by the trauma.

Seeing a news report of Henry Rutherford's death, Sharona, who'd been helping him organize a fundraising dinner at their local church, decides to make a condolence call on Christine, and brings Monk along. As Sharona comforts the "grieving" widow, Monk pokes around the scene of the "accident" and finds several crucial clues: a thin layer of plaster debris covering the floor, but almost no debris on the back of the display case, lever marks on the back of the display case, and the fact that several paintings hanging on the same wall that the display case toppled from are barely disturbed.

Suspicious, and now coherent again, Monk relates his findings to Captain Stottlemeyer, but Stottlemeyer has more than enough to do in the aftermath of the quake to give Monk's dubious theory much attention.

Meanwhile, Sharona's block has been cordoned off due to earthquake damage, and she won't be allowed back in her apartment for several days. Even her phone lines are disabled while the utility companies make repairs, so she can't call home to retrieve her phone messages either. Frustrated, she stands outside the police barricade watching the men work - and meets tall, dashing Australian journalist Darryl Wright. If Darryl seems too good to be true, he is: Darryl is actually Christine's lover, dispatched by her to remain close to Sharona until she can return to her apartment.

With Monk in tow, Sharona and Benjy temporarily move in with her free-spirited actress sister, Gail. Darryl comes along too, and that night during dinner, Monk catches Darryl in several lies about himself. For example, Darryl writes he almost won a Pulitzer Prize for his paper -- except the prize is given exclusively to those who write for American journalists. Later that night, Darryl sneaks out and tries to get into Sharona's apartment, and also stabs and kills a luckless gas company technician who catches him in the act.

The next morning, the body is found some distance away in a dumpster. Stottlemeyer notes that the dead technician, David Bushner, had to have been killed elsewhere - the bloodstain on the body trickled down the chest from the entry wound, but the body is on a slight incline. He also is intrigued when he learns that the last gas line the technician inspected was on Sharona's street.

Disher takes Christine's phone records to Monk. Meanwhile, Sharona finds that her phone lines are working and checks her messages - and she hears one message from Henry Rutherford that even includes the sound of the murder being committed. At this point, Darryl promptly pulls a knife on her.

Monk, meanwhile, looks at the phone records and notices that a call was made from the Rutherford house to Sharona's house at 8:41 AM on the morning of the earthquake, and another call was made at 8:45 AM, four minutes later, after the quake. This confuses him: why did Christine redial Sharona's number before she called 911? When Gail finds that she is missing a set of keys from her bag (which is identical to Sharona's), Monk realizes that Sharona is in real danger. However, just as he telephones the Captain, an aftershock hits, and Monk is so rattled that he relapses into his gibberish mode, and delivers the summation entirely in his own language.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Henry was on the phone leaving a message for Sharona when the earthquake struck. He dropped the phone, but left it dangling off the hook - which meant that the murder was recorded on Sharona's answering machine. Christine only noticed her error after she had committed the murder, and she and Darryl have been trying to recover the incriminating answering machine ever since.

Dashing off an unintelligible note to Stottlemeyer, Monk leaps into a taxi and rushes to her building. Luckily, Gail is able to tell Stottlemeyer enough for him to put it together and request help.

Meanwhile, at knifepoint, Darryl forces Sharona to drive him over to her apartment building, careful to avoid the police. Christine joins him and they force Sharona to hand over her answering machine. Desperate to escape, and right before Darryl and Christine can kill her, Sharona brings her quake-damaged ceiling crashing down on top of them and tries to flee, but Darryl scrambles from the rubble and corners Sharona with a knife. With seconds to spare, Monk, Stottlemeyer arrives just in time to arrest him and Christine.

Monk and Sharona return to Monk's apartment, restored to its normal order. Monk is surprised to read his note, which proves that he was speaking and writing gibberish. When Sharona mentions that she hasn't had a paycheck in three weeks, Monk starts speaking gibberish again - obviously faking.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • Disher mentions to Gail that he used to have a mustache, but shaved it off after becoming Stottlemeyer's lieutenant. An old picture of him seen in Season Four's "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding" shows him with his mustache. He also wears a mustache (albeit temporarily) in "Mr. Monk and the Miracle".
  • According to Monk: The Official Episode Guide, the concept for the episode spawned in part from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. David Breckman had noted that a lot of people who were killed at the World Trade Center towers were unaccounted for, meaning someone could commit a murder on 9/12, dump the body, and claimed a dead person was on their way to the towers and initially was presumed killed by the attacks.