"Mr. Monk and the Magician" is the 15th episode of the seventh season of Monk, and the 108th episode overall. It marks the last appearance of Jarrad Paul as Monk's upstairs neighbor, Kevin Dorfman.
In a back room in Bangkok, Thailand, professional magician Karl Torini (Steve Valentine) is performing a few of his sleight-of-hand magic tricks for some Thai drug dealers for whom he works as a smuggler in a drug trafficking ring. He offers to trade the ringleader's watch for a chick. The dealer (who speaks only Thai, but whose translations are provided by a hired translator) demands his watch back. When Torini fails to produce it, he draws out his pistol and points it at Torini's head, and threatens to shoot him if he doesn't return the watch. Torini weaves his way out of receiving a bullet by suggesting the leader ask his friend, who now magically has the watch on his hand. After Torini places the watch over the barrel of the ringleader's gun, the ringleader produces the gang's biggest drug shipment yet - 70 kilos of heroin. The leader says that he only wants to see one trick: he wants the heroin shipment to magically disappear from Thailand and reappear on the streets of San Francisco, California. Torini pays them, and promises to the gang members that it will not be a problem, as he makes a deck of cards vanish into thin air.
At the Magic Castle, a San Francisco venue for magicians both professional and amateur, CPA accountant Kevin Dorfman is doing Torini's books, talking to himself as he calculates the magician's expenses, but stops when he notices an irregularity. In the main theater, meanwhile, Torini and his personal assistant Tanya Adams (Peyton List) are rehearsing for their next show when Kevin comes in. An aghast Torini reminds Kevin that they are in a closed rehearsal, so Kevin looks at the floor as he makes his way over to the stage. After Torini makes Tanya disappear by way of a vanishing cabinet, the impressed Kevin rambles on for a few moments about his own tricks and tries to see what Torini's secret behind the trick is. When Torini reminds him that he is very busy, Kevin gets down to the point: he's been looking at all of the receipts from Torini's past world tour, specifically, his airline receipts. Apparently, the receipts show that Torini's equipment weighed significantly more when he returned to the United States than it did when he left the country. And this apparently has happened several times before, so Kevin figures that the airlines must be ripping him off. He suggests that they get a lawyer and sue the airlines. Torini tells Kevin to forget about the lawsuit and close the books, and then asks Kevin to do him a favor - he's supposed to be doing a show this upcoming Saturday night, but he's got a personal conflict in his schedule; he's taking Tanya to Reno for the weekend, and he plans on offering her his hand in marriage. Kevin is very pleased for Torini, who in turn notes Kevin's decent performances as an amateur magician. Kevin promises Torini that he will not let the great magician down. But as Kevin leaves, Torini realizes that Kevin has caught on to him, even if Kevin himself doesn't know it yet.
Later that day, Kevin does a closed rehearsal of his own at his apartment, and Adrian Monk and Natalie Teeger are his rehearsal audience. He's just performed his ring trick, and then Kevin decides to grab a cane from his coat rack, saying that he's in the mood for a little stroll. When Monk and Natalie simultaneously say the word "Abraca-Dorfman," the cane seemingly levitates off the coat rack. It floats in the air for a few moments, and then Kevin grabs the cane out of the air. Natalie asks him how he was able to accomplish the trick. Kevin notes that traditionally magicians do not reveal the tools of their trade, but he decides to reveal the secret behind the floating cane: the cane is actually hanging on a thin piano wire stretching from Kevin's hand to the coat rack. The piano wire is very thin, and painted black so that it's basically impossible to be seen with a naked eye (if you squint or have an eagle-eye, you can make out the piano wires). Monk asks Kevin how he became a magician, and Kevin (who has gotten tangled up a bit in his own wire) talks a bit about Torini and the big discrepancy with Torini's taxes. Kevin is at a loss: how can Torini's equipment weigh more on his return trips than when he leaves? Kevin then shows his piece de resistance - a vanishing cabinet identical to the one we just saw Torini using. He attempts to coax Monk into entering the cabinet, but Monk points out that he has been buried alive once and does not want to enter the cabinet, and Kevin notes to Monk that a lot of people will be very disappointed.
That night, at the Magic Castle, Kevin is backstage, trying to do last minute preparations before he goes on stage. Suddenly, the phone rings, and the stage manager picks up. After speaking on the phone for a few minutes, he tells everyone in the room that he's talking to Torini, who is calling from Nevada to tell them some great news. After the stage manager puts Torini on speakerphone, he tells them that Tanya has accepted his marriage proposal. Kevin tells Torini and Tanya that he's dedicating his show to them.
Kevin goes on stage, but his performance is less than satisfying to most of the small audience, and Monk and Natalie provide the most applause for Kevin. Kevin ends the show by making his pet rabbit, Fluffy, vanish, but the trick backfires because the rabbit starts scratching and biting his crotch, as the curtain falls on him. Monk comments to Natalie that there are three dead doves on the stage. He's still trying to absorb the rest of the performance.
Backstage, Kevin grades himself on his performance, cutting some slack for himself and noting areas for improvement. Suddenly, a shadowy intruder opens the door and Kevin turns to confront the intruder.
Back in the theater, Monk and Natalie are waiting, but Kevin has not returned. Concerned, Monk goes through the building's corridors to locate Kevin's dressing room. A silent repairman leaving for the night waves Monk in the direction of the dressing rooms with a two finger gesture. Monk heads to Kevin's door, knocks on it, and finds the door unlocked. When he opens it, he finds Kevin on the floor and asks him if he's trying to levitate. But fearing the worst, Monk quickly takes Kevin's pulse and realizes he is dead.
When Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher arrive, Stottlemeyer suggests to Monk that he sit the investigation out, but Monk insists that he is okay. Disher notes that the medical examiner believes Kevin was strangled to death with a piano wire, however, they have not yet recovered the murder weapon. Monk finds miniscule traces of black paint on the body, and deduces that the killer was a magician - he remembers what Kevin said about how magicians paint their piano wires black to make them invisible. As Monk was the one to discover the body, Stottlemeyer asks him if he saw anything unusual. Monk confirms that the only person he saw was a repairmen, but the stage manager tells him that this isn't possible - today happens to be a Saturday, a day when the maintenance crews don't work. Monk realizes that he saw the killer.
At Kevin's funeral, Monk and Natalie realize that the rest of the Dorfman family is like Kevin - they are all irritatingly verbose, talking excessively to the point of driving anyone crazy. They are admiring a portrait of Kevin, which Natalie says is one she took herself. She even mentions that it was very difficult to make the photo, as she had to get one where he wasn't talking (she confesses to Monk that she had to Photoshop the picture). They are approached by Kevin's Aunt Sheila, who hugs Natalie and then rambles on a bit about Kevin's Sunday chats with her over the phone, which Natalie is only able to escape by interrupting and claiming that she forgot that she was thirsty. Monk and Natalie walk away from the portrait, and as they are heading towards the door, they bump into Torini and Tanya, who have arrived to pay their respects to Kevin. Noticing the water bottle in Tanya's hand, Natalie asks her where she got it, and Torini points down the hallway. Monk notices the gesture that Torini uses when pointing (with his right pointer and middle fingers together), and remembers how the silent repairman who pointed him towards the dressing rooms at the theater used an identical gesture. He immediately figures that Torini was the killer. Monk and Natalie double back and start to question Torini, who confirms that he and Tanya did get engaged. However, Tanya doesn't have an engagement ring, but Torini admits that with Kevin's death, a ring just didn't seem right.
At the police station, Stottlemeyer informs Monk that it is impossible for Torini to be the killer. For one thing, he was in Reno at the time of the murder, and he can prove it. Also, he called the theater at 9:55 PM exactly, just five minutes before Kevin went on stage, and they've got statements from everyone still alive who listened to that call (which was put on speakerphone). Monk believes that Torini may have called from somewhere else, but Randy notes that according to the phone records, the call was placed from Torini's hotel room at 9:55 PM, and it was a direct call - meaning it was never redirected. However, Monk insists that Torini is the phony repairman he saw at the theater on Saturday night.
Monk and Natalie head down to Torini's loft apartment to question him. Tanya is now wearing the ring, meaning that their engagement is official. Tanya mentions that she met Torini purely by accident - she'd been at one of his shows in Toronto and she volunteered when he needed someone to levitate. She claims that she doesn't know anything about Kevin's death, so might not be of help. But as she leaves to see if Torini is ready, Natalie notes to Monk that Tanya might be hiding something. Monk is disgusted and tries to leave when he notices a cage full of breeding rabbits, but Natalie keeps him from doing so. Monk spots some knives on the table, and notes that they seem to be for one of Torini's knife gags. He takes one knife and "stabs" himself with it, trying to see how the gag works - this knife is obviously a prop knife. When he takes another knife and brings it down on Natalie's back, Natalie immediately jumps when the blade touches her back, and Monk realizes that the second knife is obviously a real one and puts it down.
Monk then notices a cabinet and walks over to it. As he examines it, Torini's voice suddenly comes booming over hidden loudspeakers, describing the contraption as a Zig Zag Cabinet he created by himself. He asks Monk to step away from the cabinet, and both Monk and Natalie immediately are drawn to some machines in another room emitting a lot of colored fog. We see that this is a clever distraction designed to prevent them from seeing Torini magically pop into existence behind them, and they only notice him when he clears his throat. He mentions that he was able to pop up behind them by using misdirection. He describes it as a parlor trick that is the secret behind every illusion - the audience looks in a location where they shouldn't be looking. To prove his point, Torini conjures a coin and starts moving it back and forth between his hands as he describes the logic about where the coin might really be, then magnifies the coin. Torini tells Monk what he told the police before - he was leaving town and needed someone to fill in for him, and Kevin fit the bill. He admits that Kevin, who was his private accountant, was usually backstage doing his taxes when Torini was performing.
Torini feigns shock and surprise when Monk mentions having seen him at the theater disguised as a maintenance man. He does a few sleight-of-hand magic tricks with his coffee (including making his mug levitate and pouring sugar into one hand and emptying it into the mug with the other without his hands ever coming into contact with each other) as he gathers scraps of newspaper. Torini insists that he called directly from Reno five minutes before Kevin went on stage (as he says this, he blows on the gathered newspaper scraps, which fold out to reveal an intact newspaper; Torini comments that it looks like there's rain in the forecast). Realizing that Torini is treating this investigation like it's another show, Natalie confronts Torini, warning him that there's nothing that will prevent Monk from proving that Torini killed Kevin. Showing his arrogance, Torini writes a confession, which he promptly folds several times until it is little more than a small folded square of paper. He puts it in Monk's hand... and the "confession" promptly burns itself up, revealing that it's trick paper.
Later, Monk and Natalie are boxing up Kevin's belongings, and Monk admits that Kevin just wouldn't keep his mouth shut - he notes a time when Kevin had a sore throat and talked for over two hours about how much it hurt to talk. Just then, Natalie's cell phone rings, and Natalie cannot find her phone at all. She swears she put it on top of one of Kevin's props, and Monk immediately notices that it's a hinged trapdoor. He realizes that there are secret compartments inside the prop. After flipping the door a few times, Natalie finds her phone, and answers to find Randy on the other end. Monk, meanwhile, notes the secret compartment, and deduces what might be behind Torini's equipment weighing more when returning to the States than when leaving.
That night, Torini is performing at the Magic Castle. Unlike Kevin, he easily impresses the entire audience. After performing a number of gags including transforming the color of Tanya's dress from black to blue, he presents the Zig Zag Cabinet to his audience, and asks for a volunteer. Natalie gets up, but Torini asks for Monk instead. Natalie hands him a few chemical test strips and Monk heads up to the stage, gathering up dropped cards from one of Torini's previous tricks. Monk notes that the cabinet is very cramped. After Tanya removes Monk's jacket, Torini eventually gets Monk into the cabinet and produces solid steel blades, with which he intends to "cut" Monk into thirds. Monk has to open the peephole to get some air and combat his claustrophobia. Remembering that he's doing this for Kevin, he shines a light on the chemical test strip just as Torini and Tanya move his midsection apart from the rest of him by a few feet.
After Monk gets split, he pops open the peephole again, and shows Torini the chemical test strip - which has turned a bright red. The bright red color of the strip, Monk explains, means that the Zig Zag Cabinet just tested positive for heroin. He mentions that he figures Torini is using his props to smuggle drugs into the United States, notes that Kevin must have accidentally discovered this, and that Torini had to kill him to prevent him from asking more questions. However, before Monk can provide a summation, Torini shuts him up and apologizes to the horrified audience, and assures them that the cabinet does have a reputation of making people a little confused and disoriented. He says that it's time to unscramble Monk. After moving the central part of the cabinet back into place, Torini and Tanya perform several rotations of the cabinet, Torini removes the steel blades, and opens the cabinet doors to reveal that the cabinet is empty - and Monk has gone poof, into thin air.
The scene cuts to after the performance, with Stottlemeyer demanding Torini figure out what has happened as soon as possible. Torini pretends innocence, and swears that the cabinet is a simple prop gag and it was not supposed to be a vanishing act. He also mentions that Tanya is likely backstage. In reality, we find that Monk has fallen through a trapdoor into the basement and is now tied up to a chair, and Tanya is watching over him. She admits that this wasn't her idea, and also admits that Torini is going to throw Monk into the furnace and make him vanish completely. Upstairs, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher have not found the basement and Torini tells them that frankly, he'd like to stay, but with two shows coming up the next day, he has to go. He produces a business card for his lawyer, which he magically jumps into Randy's jacket pocket.
Downstairs, Tanya is watching over the captive Monk when the basement phone rings. She mentions that the phone is just an extension. Monk turns to the phone, and notices traces of pipe tobacco - and, remembering that Torini smokes a pipe, deduces that Torini was down here recently. He reveals to Tanya that he's figured out how Torini set up his alibi: misdirection, the secret behind every illusion, having everyone look the other way.
Here's What HappenedEdit
Torini and Tanya went to Reno for the weekend, and Torini made sure he was seen when he checked in. That afternoon, he slipped out of the hotel and he drove back to San Francisco. He hid in the basement, disguised as a repairman, and smoked his pipe as he waited patiently.
At exactly 9:55 PM, five minutes before Kevin went on stage, Tanya called the theater as Torini had instructed her. The phone records were correct - the call did originate in Reno and it was a direct call. While the stage manager picked up the backstage phone, Torini picked up the basement extension phone. He asked the stage manager to put him on speaker phone, and this subsequently fooled all of those listening in on the call into thinking that Torini and Tanya were in fact in the same room, when Torini was actually already in the building. After Kevin's performance, Torini made his way up to the dressing rooms, killed him, left the building, and returned to Reno. His perfect murder would have remained so if Monk hadn't seen the disguised Torini calmly walking out just minutes after he'd committed the murder.
Just then, Torini comes into the basement, and Tanya informs him that Monk has figured everything out. Torini opens the furnace hatch and they prepare to kill Monk and then throw his body in the furnace. Upstairs, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher have been unsuccessful in their search for Monk, but then Stottlemeyer notices that one of the floorboards on the stage is a little bit wobbly. He pours a bit of his coffee onto the board, and some wiring short-circuits. The panel slides away, and they realize that Torini made Monk fall through a trapdoor into the basement.
Downstairs, Torini and Tanya try to restrain Monk as they strangle him, but Monk manages to fight back. Tanya can no longer seem to go through with this, and she offers to take over from Torini. Tanya tries to hand Monk the key by transferring it to him through flirting, but a disgusted Monk promptly spits it out and it lands a few feet away. When Torini sees this, he realizes he'll need a new assistant, and prepares to also kill Tanya, just as Natalie, Stottlemeyer, and Disher burst in and arrest them. As they are undoing the rope restraining Monk to his chair, Natalie scowls, "Abraca-Dorfman, you son-of-a-bitch" at Torini.
Later, at Monk's apartment, Monk and Natalie are watching Kevin's "video will" in which Kevin rambles on and on without getting to the point he intends to make.
Memorable Quotes Edit
- Kevin Dorfman after performing a magic trick.
- Abracadabra, Mr. Monk.
- The magician after destroying his confession to killing Kevin.
- Abracadorfman you son of a bitch.
- Natalie Teeger after the magicians arrest.
Natalie Teeger: I didn't think it was that bad.
Adrian Monk: There are three dead doves on that stage.
Major Events Edit
- Kevin Dorfman is murdered.
- Kevin's funeral is held and most of his family shows up, causing a few interesting conversations.
- Monk faces a life or death scenario.
- Monk and Natalie watch Dorfman's videotaped will.