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Mr. Monk and the Election

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Mr. Monk and the Election is the fifteenth episode of the third season Monk.

PlotEdit

Natalie Teeger is running for the school board in an effort to keep Julie's school from being closed. She's set up a campaign headquarters office in an abandoned storefront, and she has a crew of supporters helping her with signs, mailings, and phone calls. While she tries to put Adrian Monk to work, a deliveryman wheels in a used copy machine that she purchased second-hand. Meanwhile, someone sets up an automatic rifle on a rooftop across the street and takes aim at the campaign office. He points it at Natalie as she and a repairman try to inspect the copier. He checks his weapon, and opens fire. In slow motion, bullets shatter the windows and rake the side of a photocopier. Everyone ducks, but thankfully no one is injured or killed, except a security guard in the building where the sniper is shooting from.

Monk, Stottlemeyer, and Disher trace the shots to a rooftop across the street, where they find the dead security guard and a note from the sniper that demands that Natalie withdraw from the race. Monk is suspicious: Natalie's last name is misspelled on the note, as the shooter missed the R on her last name, despite the fact that the handwriting is legible, proving that he took his time to write down the note. The shell casings are identified as coming from a Russian AK-variant assault rifle.

Their first suspect is Natalie's opponent in the election, Harold Krenshaw, another patient of Dr. Kroger. But he quickly proves to be innocent.

Despite the continued threat, Natalie refuses to quit the race. Stottlemeyer therefore orders for the campaign office to be swept for explosives every morning, and two officers to be stationed there at all times. He also assigns Randy to be her bodyguard, and Monk steps up the investigation. While folding posters, he keys in on the misspelled sniper's note and makes a realization: the misspelling on the note was the same as the misspelling on a campaign poster outside Natalie's headquarters, because the R on the poster had fallen off. The sniper didn't really know Natalie's name - all he knew was what he read on the poster. Whatever the shooting is about, it has nothing to do with the election.

Later, Natalie, Monk, and Randy are in Natalie's house rehearsing for a big debate with Harold Krenshaw when someone throws a grenade through the window. The grenade explodes and they narrowly escape death (Monk more narrowly than the others, since he contains the explosion by tossing the grenade into Natalie's refrigerator, but can't resist then taking a few extra seconds to place it neatly into an egg carton before slamming the door and running away). As Stottlemeyer is questioning Monk about why he straightened out the grenade, Monk mentions an interesting detail he noted about the grenade: it had Russian markings on it, like the sniper's shell casings. A close examinination of the remaining fragments seems to suggest that the grenade was made in Chechnya, meaning that Monk must be making someone nervous.

When Natalie still refuses to drop out of the race, Monk confronts her in the bathroom alone, and tells her she is being irrational. He says he understands that she feels like she has to live up to the example set up by her brave deceased husband, Mitch, but that is not a good reason to risk her life... then Natalie has a minor breakdown, shuts the door, and swears Monk to total secrecy about what she then reveals: the truth is that Mitch wasn't a brave man. After he was shot down in Kosovo, the Navy found evidence that he ran away from the crash site, abandoning the rest of his plane crew, before he was killed. That is the official version, anyway, though there is still a large question mark over the issue. Natalie honestly doesn't know which version to believe, but she now feels that she has to be the brave one her husband may not have been. Solemnly, Monk says he understands.

Then, it's time for Natalie's big debate with Harold Krenshaw. During the debate, one of Natalie's recently hired campaign volunteers, Jack Whitman, hands Monk a flyer, and Monk realizes he's the guy: Whitman folds his flyers inwards from each of the four corners, then half-and-half again, the same way the sniper note was folded. Plus, when Whitman is leaving shortly afterwards, Monk and Randy see him stop and hesitate briefly before going through a door, leading Monk to deduce that he was recently released from prison. Whitman is the culprit, though Monk doesn't know what he's after.

Stottlemeyer calls Monk down to his office the next day and informs him that his suspicions about Whitman are correct. He has been arrested twice (the first time was for mail fraud and receipt of stolen property). Recently, though, he's been importing Eurasian rugs, from places like Chechnya, Southern Russia, and Uzbekistan, matching the markings on the shell casings and the grenade. Stottlemeyer goes on to elaborate: the ATF suspects that Whitman actually is a major illegal firearms dealer. They raided his office six months ago looking for evidence, but failed to turn up any weapons, money, or paper trail. The only thing they could get Whitman on was tax evasion, for which he did five months in jail. In fact, he just was released two days prior to the shooting at the campaign office.

Monk puts it all together when he notices Whitman leave an an empty carton of copier ink cartridges in Natalie's office. the carton is from a discontinued company, but matches the brand of Natalie's second-hand Xerox machine. And it's the very carton that Whitman brought some of his own homemade lasagna to the office in a few days earlier.

Needing to get out of the parking lot, Monk and Natalie find themselves having to play "keep away" with two parking attendants to get Natalie's car keys. During the game, Monk delivers the summation.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Six months ago, Whitman was running an illegal arms business out of his office, when the ATF's SWAT team came knocking on the door. Just before the agents could break down the door and arrest Whitman, he burned and destroyed all of the incriminating papers against him, except for a single piece of paper that had, unluckily, just gotten jammed inside the copier. Following his arrest, all of Whitman's equipment including his copier was confiscated, and subsequently sold off at a police auction.

When Whitman got out of jail, he immediately sought to find the copier. It wasn't hard for Whitman to track Natalie down because the auction had been open to the public. He went back to the photo office intending to just steal it, but saw that a repairmen was about to open the machine and discover the incriminating document. Acting fast, Whitman grabbed a carbine from the trunk of his car, went up to the rooftop of a building across the street, and shot up the copier. He then wrote the threatening note in an attempt to distract the cops. Whitman assumed Natalie would just throw the copier out if it were riddled with bullets. But she never did, so he volunteered for Natalie's campaign and waited for an opportunity to get at the copy machine - but it never came due to Stottlemeyer ordering 24/7 surveillance. When Whitman learned Monk was suspicious, he lobbed a grenade into Natalie's house to try to again divert the police investigation.

That night, at the campaign office, Whitman breaks into the copier and removes the jammed piece of paper from the feeder. As he's pulling it out, Stottlemeyer, Disher and several cops burst in and arrest him. Stottlemeyer looks at the document: a richly-incriminating document list of clients with addresses all over the world, and delivery dates, complete with the various weapons they are being sold, which include assault rifles, stinger missiles, rocket grenades, and more. He then states that he has a friend at the Bureau who's been looking for this document to seal the federal case against Whitman.

To Natalie's disappointment, she loses the election to Harold by a considerable margin. More depressing for Monk, during Harold's victory speech, Dr. Kroger appears on stage and congratulates him - leaving Monk to wonder whether Harold was right, and Dr. Kroger really does like Harold better.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • Harold Krenshaw reappears after his introduction in "Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf."
  • The question over Mitch Teeger's final actions in Kosovo was revisted in Lee Goldberg's novel Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii.
  • Monk: The Official Episode Guide states that this episode was one of several season 3 scripts that was originally written for Sharona. As Tom Scharpling stated in the guide, it seemed more in-character for Sharona, and is somewhat out-of-character for Natalie given that she's only recently started working with Monk. In fact, originally, Natalie was supposed to win the school board election, but it was at Traylor Howard's insistence that the script was rewritten to have Natalie lose the race. In an interview, she stated that "just because she doesn't win doesn't mean she's a loser. Finally I said that losing can make you stronger and she would still be strong for her daughter."

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