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Mr. Monk and the Paperboy

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Mr. Monk and the Paperboy is the tenth episode of the second season of Monk.

SynopsisEdit

When a local paperboy is murdered, Monk turns to the pages of the newspaper for clues to solve the baffling crime, solving a hit-and-run in San Francisco and a murder in Paris along the way. Monk is joined in his search by his neighbor, Kevin Dorfman.

PlotEdit

In the small hours of the morning, the paper truck is driving through a neighborhood, run by cousins Jose and Nestor Alvarez, with Jose driving and Nestor throwing papers. At a corner house, Nestor prepares to throw when Jose reminds him that this is Adrian Monk's apartment they're at, and he likes his paper on the front stoop a certain way. Nestor places Monk’s paper on his doormat, but when he comes back a second later to replace it, it is gone. Confused, he drops another paper on the mat, and starts to leave, then notices a masked intruder trying to steal it. Nestor and the intruder fight, and Nestor is thrown over a railing and falls to his death.

That morning, Monk’s apartment is a crime scene, and he is going nuts with police swarming through the rooms. During the chaos, Monk’s annoying upstairs neighbor, Kevin Dorfman, comes down and offers to be interviewed as a witness, which includes rattling off every address he has lived at in the last decade. Lieutenant Disher is about to kick Kevin out, when Kevin’s girlfriend, Vickie Salinas, a clerk at the nearby Stop 'N Go, comes down and attaches herself to Kevin. Everyone is taken aback: not only is Vickie stunningly beautiful, but she appears slavishly devoted to Kevin, whose company no one else seems able to stand. She drags him back upstairs, and he is only too happy to go.

Finding no clues, the bulk of the police leave, except for Captain Stottlemeyer and Disher. Monk theorizes that whoever killed Nestor was trying to prevent Monk from seeing the paper, because there must be some clue hidden there that would lead Monk to a crime. Monk and Sharona pay a visit to the local Stop 'N Go where Kevin frequents to buy a newspaper, plus some personal purchases, including a couple of cream sodas for Sharona.

He, Sharona, Stottlemeyer, and Disher go through the news items carefully, and Monk incidentally solves two crimes.

Monk first notices an article about a driver named Malcolm Cowley who recently had two accidents in the course of ten minutes - first a collision with a small tree, then a collision with a lamppost a half mile away. Monk also finds an article about a hit-and-run that killed a grandmother in that neighborhood at the same approximate time. Monk is struck by the coincidence and speculates that Cowley was intentionally damaging his car to avoid having to explain a damaged grille, due to having been the culprit in the hit-and-run. When he and the police confront Cowley at the body shop, Randy examines the damaged grille, and finds traces of blood. Cowley is arrested, but Monk says he's not "the guy" who killed Nestor - if he was, he would have recognized Monk as soon as they entered the body shop, but he didn't.

Randy momentarily speculates that perhaps the guy who killed Nestor was a burglar, as there were several break-ins on that block the year before, but Stottlemeyer shoots it down, pointing out that the burglaries all involved forced entry with a crowbar, and the paperboy's killer was empty-handed.

Later, Monk, Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Disher are reading sections of the paper at Monk's apartment. In the international section, Stottlemeyer comes across the story of an unsolved murder in Paris, France: a woman was found strangled and both of her hands were cut off. Sharona is horrified, and Randy explains that murderers frequently do that to prevent their victims from being identified through their fingerprints. Stottlemeyer notes, though, that the victim's hands were found a short distance from her corpse, indicating that the killer had another motive for cutting them off. Monk solves the case when Stottlemeyer reads that the victim and her husband both worked as curators at the Bastille prison musuem. He calls the Surete in Paris and explains that her husband killed her, using antique handcuffs from the museum to restrain her. He cut her hands off because he lost the keys to the handcuffs, and needed to get the unique and easily identifiable handcuffs off her body to prevent them from linking him to the murder.

Both stories, however, are unrelated to the paperboy, and Monk is still baffled.

At the same time, Monk is needled by the fact that Sharona seems to be physically stronger than he is, whether it comes to opening bottles or stubborn doors. He confesses to Dr. Kroger that it is bothering him. Also bothering him is hearing Kevin and Vicki’s carnal activities in the apartment overhead, which seem to have been going on non-stop since that first night when Nestor was killed. Dr. Kroger also attempts to get Monk to talk about his own sex-life with Trudy, but Monk does not wish to mention it as it is personal. Dr. Kroger mentions that he still has an hour left in the session, so he can either sing showtunes or tell him about his sex life. Monk goes with the former.

One night later, Vickie is walking back from an ATM with her real boyfriend, the clerk that rang up Monk and Sharona's purchase at the Stop 'N Go. They discuss their "plan," but as he is making the night deposit, Vickie suddenly produces a knife from underneath her coat. He deflects her knife and grabs it. After a struggle, she breaks the bottle she's carrying over his head, and stabs him repeatedly with a shattered piece of the bottle.

The next morning, Monk, Stottlemeyer, Sharona and Disher take a look at the crime scene. Stottlemeyer notes that the victim was the Stop 'N Go's night manager. They believe that shortly after 4:00 AM, when the clerk's shift ended, he came to the bank to make the store's night deposit when someone jumped him and stabbed him in the neck and stomach with a piece of a plastic bottle, then took his money. There are no prints yet, and the nearby surveillance cameras didn't see anything. Monk quickly surmises that the attack was not a robbery, even though the killer has taken the clerk's money, as he observes a few details: for one thing, why did the killer attack him at the bank as opposed to kill him somewhere between the store and the bank? Also, the bottle used was a cream soda bottle from the Stop 'N Go. And there's a lipstick mark on the bottle (as Sharona observes first), that indicates the killer is a woman.

At Sharona’s apartment, Monk throws down the gauntlet and challenges Sharona to an arm wrestling match. It is a close thing, but Monk seems to win (but then Sharona throws a wink to Benjy, sending Monk into anxious confusion again).

Monk is about to give up and throw the paper out, when he sees the front page and realizes what has been going on.

Here’s What HappenedEdit

Monk rushes Sharona to City Hall, while explaining what happened: the paper printed the winning numbers for the lottery over the front page headline. Monk has just recognized the winning numbers as being the former address numbers that Kevin rattled off the day Nestor was killed. Kevin has won a $43 million lottery, something he doesn't know.

Kevin played the same numbers every single week, and he purchased his lottery tickets at the Stop 'N Go regularly. Vickie and her real boyfriend, the accomplice, came to know them by heart because he never changed his numbers. Hence, the two recognized the numbers when they were announced on the evening news. They immediately hatched a plan: It was Vickie's idea because her accomplice is dead. Vickie went over to Kevin’s apartment on the pretext that she had found a pair of glasses at the store that she thought were his, and quickly seduced him, while the accomplice stole the newspapers from the porch, killing Nestor in the process. The goal was to prevent Kevin from seeing any news report, printed or on television or the radio, that would clue him in. This meant unplugging the TV, and not letting him utilize the phone or anything that could allow Kevin to communicate with someone who knew. Vickie then later killed her accomplice so she could keep all the money for herself.

Vickie couldn’t just steal the ticket, because the time stamp on the ticket would match the time on the store's security camera footage, bulletproof evidence that Kevin would have been able to use to prove the ticket was his. So, after a whirlwind courtship, she’s tricked him into marrying her. She is planning to kill Kevin and as his widow would collect the lottery winnings.

Sure enough, when Monk and Sharona find the Justice of the Peace, they find that Kevin and Vickie were just married, and have left on their honeymoon. Sharona speculates that Kevin can get his marriage annulled when he gets back, but Monk disagrees: since Vickie killed her real boyfriend to deny him a cut of the money, he is certain she will try to kill Kevin as early as tonight. Monk notices a group of brochures in the lobby, and deduces where they must have gone by noticing that they seemed to have just been replenished and by counting how many were left.

At a vacation spot outside the city, Vickie drugs Kevin, gets him to park his car on a grade crossing, and extracts the ticket from his wallet, then locks him in his car. She leaves just as the gates begin to come down and the lights start flashing. Monk and Sharona arrive just as the gates finish lowering. While Monk struggles to break into the car or rouse Kevin, Sharona rushes to a switch a few feet down the track, struggling to pull it before the train arrives. It moves a bit, but Vickie comes back and tackles Sharona. As they wrestle, Vickie forces Sharona’s head onto the rails. Monk, pulling desperately, manages to finish pulling on the handle. The switch points slide into place with less than four seconds to go, and the train coming through is diverted to the other track, passing by Sharona, who manages to pin Vickie, and missing Kevin's car completely. His faith in his manhood restored, Monk strikes a macho pose.

A few days later, Kevin, in his new guise as a "player," drops by Monk’s apartment before leaving for his new ski lodge in Aspen. He thanks them in an offhand way for saving his life, and gives Sharona an envelope as thanks. After he’s gone, Sharona opens the envelope and is astonished and annoyed to see that Kevin, now a multi-millionaire, only considers his life worth $400. Likewise, Sharona also crushes Monk's newly restored faith in his manhood by claiming that she "loosened" the switch handle for him.

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • Kevin appears in the subsequent episodes "Mr. Monk and the Game Show," "Mr. Monk and Mrs. Monk," "Mr. Monk Is on the Air," "Mr. Monk's 100th Case" and "Mr. Monk and the Magician." In "Game Show," he is back to his old self, and explains to Monk and Dwight that his fortune evaporated thanks to a gambling addiction, a dishonest accountant, and at least two gold-digging wives.
  • It is a running gag of the series that every police force in the world seems to feature a pair of cops like Stottlemeyer and Disher: the homicide captain and his eager but clueless assistant (See "Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico").
  • Monk's solving of the murder in France is referenced in the later novel "Mr. Monk is Miserable" by Lee Goldberg.
  • This is the first time in the series that Monk says, "Oh, the humanity!" in response to a particularly horrifying mess. The second is "Mr. Monk and the Kid" when he has to change a baby’s diaper. Both are tributes to the famous line spoken in response to the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.
  • In real life, there should be no need for the cops, K-9 unit, and CSI techs to be inside Monk's apartment. Since Nestor died on the front steps, the crime scene investigation would take place entirely outside, and the only cops in the apartment would be those interviewing the tenants to look for potential eyewitnesses who may have seen or heard something around 5:30 AM.
  • It seems that the boyfriend was a little bit overeager, since Nestor's death could have been averted if the boyfriend just waited until the truck drove off.
  • Watch for the obvious boom mike that is reflected on the side of the car when the police enter the body shop to arrest Malcolm Cowley.

QuotesEdit

Monk: Why do you torture me like this?
Sharona: Because I can.

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