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Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month

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Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month is the seventh episode of the third season of Monk.

PlotEdit

Early in the morning, Edna Coruthers arrives to open her day at a suburban Mega Mart. She sees a note asking her to meet someone in the loading dock. When she arrives there, someone starts up a forklift and charges at her. Edna screams and runs away, and is thrust into a pallet, causing a television box to fall on her and crush her.

Monk and Sharona are called to the scene, which Captain Stottlemeyer dismisses as a routine accident. The store’s security chief, Joe Christie, called the police in because he was suspicious: namely, it seemed odd to him that Edna would be out in the loading dock when she was highly allergic to dust. Also, he found a piece of her shoe that broke off, like she was running away from something.

However, Stottlemeyer and Monk are not inclined to give Christie the time of day, much less believe his suspicions. They explain to Sharona that Christie was once a detective with the force, and Monk’s former partner, but was accused of stealing confiscated cocaine from the evidence room. As a result, an arrested drug dealer was set free, and later shot and killed two police officers during a routine traffic stop. Stottlemeyer does not hide his contempt for Christie, and Monk agrees that he can’t work with the man.

Randy reports that, according to the manager, Edna was Employee of the Month for almost a whole year running, and had no enemies, though she received three anonymous complaints in the last month. All of them, however, agree to let the case go.

However, one month later, Monk is putting together a jigsaw puzzle and remembers something he noticed about the complaint letters: they were mailed from different addresses, and all have different handwriting, but the stamps on them fit together, indicating they were torn from the same roll, meaning one sender sent all of them. Someone was out to get Edna.

Monk reluctantly returns to Christie, who offers to hire him to investigate. Monk says he can’t nose around without causing suspicion, so Christie makes arrangements for him to go undercover as an employee. Christie fills him in on the other employees: Jennie Silverman, their best employee after Edna, who turned down a promotion to stay at the store; Morris and Ronnie, two dimwitted friends; and Brent Donovan, the no-nonsense store manager.

As they talk, Christie continues to insist that he didn’t steal the drugs, but Monk doesn’t believe him. In session with Dr. Kroger, Monk reveals that he has some misgivings, and Dr. Kroger tells him that, ultimately, Monk has to decide whether or not to trust someone.

One day, Monk notices Jennie ringing up a pair of men buying shovels and drill bits, entering their information into the register before it is given, indicating that she knows them. Ronnie tells Monk that those same men beat him up a week earlier when they caught him outside the store.

Though he is uncomfortable at first, Monk’s natural perfectionism soon makes him another model employee. Noticing the performance chart, Donovan tells Jennie that she may have some competition soon. At that point while talking to Jennie, Monk asks if she is planning a trip out of the country because he noticed her popping quinine pills. She denies this but is offended by Monk's observation.

That night, as Monk is left in the store stocking shoe boxes, someone knocks him unconscious from behind. When he wakes up, the store has been closed, and a vicious guard dog is growling at him.

Sharona meets Christie in a diner, where he has been expecting Monk. Sharona, through a friend in the records office, says there is no criminal record on Jennie but she does have a juvenile record. They exchange some anecdotes about Monk. Christie notes that he learned more from him in one day than in 2 years at the Academy and that he was with him when they got the call about Trudy. All the while they are wondering what is keeping him.

As Monk flees from the guard dog through the aisles of the store, he manages to pen himself in one of the register’s booths, and dials Sharona’s cell phone. Before he can speak, the dog jumps over the pen. But hearing it barking, Christie and Sharona rush to the store.

Just as Monk trips and the dog pounces on him, Christie appears and distracts it, wrestling it into a locked door.

Now willing to believe Christie is innocent, Monk asks to examine the evidence. Looking at photos of the empty evidence locker where the drugs were supposed to be, Monk notices that one of the items sold at the auction was a boy's bicycle. But upon closer look, he notices that the bike in question is actually a girl's bike with an extra bar attached to it to make it look like a boy's bike. The records show that the bicycle was sold the next day, at a police auction – to Clara Toplyn, an evidence clerk who retired shortly afterwards.

The police raid Clara's house, and find traces of the cocaine inside the bicycle frame. Clara evidently was bribed by the drug dealers to remove the evidence. When Disher says she should have gotten rid of it she defiantly says she was saving it for her grandson. She is arrested, and Stottlemeyer offers Christie his very humble apologies. Joe thanks Monk, who tells him they still have a case to solve.

At the next Mega Mart staff meeting, Jennie is named Employee of the Month. Monk notices the performance chart, and sees that Edna would have been Employee of the Month again, had she not been killed. As incredible as it seems, that is the reason Jennie killed Edna.

Monk and Christie examine the token prizes Jennie gets, none of which seem worth killing for. The only other thing unusual, Joe remembers, is a special parking space. Going outside to look at it, Monk remembers from encounters over the previous days that the exhaust pipe on Jennie’s van scraped a speed bump in front of the store in the afternoon, but earlier in the morning, her van did not scrape the bump at all. Then Joe remembers that there’s a sewer grate beneath the parking space. Monk notices that there is a bank next door in the mini-mall. Now it all makes sense to him: the van scraped the bump in the afternoon because it was loaded down with dirt. The two men, whom he remembered Jennie ringing up an address and zip code for without asking them for it, were buying shovels and drills, because they are digging a tunnel from the manhole cover under the lot into the bank next door. That was why Jennie needed that parking space. When their attempts to discredit Edna failed, Jennie lured her into the loading dock to kill her.

Just then, they hear a muffled explosion as the vault is blown. Christie calls the police, while Monk runs inside and grabs a hunting rifle from the sporting goods department, after having to deal with the slacking Ronnie and Morris. As Jennie starts to pull out of the parking lot, Monk tosses the rifle to Christie, who jumps onto the roof of a passing SUV. He aims and shoots out one of the tires. Jennie loses control of the van, which careens across the lot and crashes into the side of a parked pickup truck loaded with metal pipes. Minutes later, the police arrive to arrest Jennie and her accomplices.

Joe is reinstated to the police department. He thanks Monk, and he and Sharona assure him that Monk’s turn will come soon.

Throughout the episode, Randy has made repeated references to his new girlfriend, Crystal, whom no one has ever seen. Sharona assumes the girl is imaginary. During Christie’s reinstatement, Randy rushes in, telling everyone to look out the window, Crystal is waving goodbye to him from a cab. They humor him and look, but nothing can be seen through the cab’s window. Giving Randy up as a pathetic loser, they all walk out of the room.

Unknown to any of them, Crystal is real, and she is indeed calling loving goodbyes to Randy from the cab.


Background Information and NotesEdit

QuotesEdit

Disher: She was killed instantly.
Sharona: Oh, that’s terrible. Does the TV still work?
Stottlemeyer: ...Sharona, the TV just killed a woman.
Sharona: What are you gonna do, lock it up?


Joe Christie: As employee of the month, she gets a coffee mug, dinner for two at the world-famous Lobster Barrel, this plastic commemorative plaque...

Monk: And of course, the thanks of a grateful nation.


Joe Christie: (indicating the coffee mug) What do you think?

Monk: I think Edna was obviously killed for this mug.
Joe Christie: Really?
Monk: No.
Joe Christie: Well, maybe it’s made out of gold and painted over.
Monk: Joe...
(He taps the mug with his pen, indicating it's obviously not made out of gold)
Joe Christie: Hey, you said try 300 theories until one fits.
Monk: I said that?
Joe Christie: Yeah. I remember everything you ever said, God help me.


Joe Christie: 89-cent plastic commemorative plaque. Would you kill someone to get this?

Monk: I’d kill someone not to get it.

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