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Monk Season 7
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Season 6 Season 8

"Mr. Monk on Wheels", sometimes known as "Mr. Monk Gets Shot", is the 11th episode of the seventh season of Monk, and the 104th episode overall.

Plot synopsisEdit

Early one afternoon, John Kuramoto arrives at a downtown park. We follow Kuramoto as he stops at a bike rack. He walks over to one particular bike, pulls a set of bolt cutters out of his backpack, and cuts off the bike's eight digit keypad lock. After quickly putting the bolt cutters and lock into his bag, he wheels the bike out of its space, and starts pedalling away.

As he does so, Adrian Monk and Natalie Teeger are passing through that office park. Monk sits down on a park bench, saying that he just got something on his left shoe. As Natalie bends down to take a look at Monk's shoe, Kuramoto pedals past them. He has barely gone a few feet when the bike hits a small pothole and crashes, sending Kuramoto sprawling onto the grass. Despite Monk's protests, Natalie walks over to see if Kuramoto is okay. Unaware that the bike is stolen, she helps him back up. After commenting about Kuramoto's bolt cutters, she fixes the chain on the bike, and sends him on his way. Just then, Dean Berry, a biotech CEO and the bike's real owner, comes running out of his laboratory in a nearby building, yelling for someone to stop Kuramoto, who has just stolen his bike. He runs up to Natalie, asking her (in disbelief) for an explanation of her actions. She just looks on, embarrassed, as Kuramoto rides away.

Sometime later that same day, Monk and Natalie pay a visit to Betavegatech, Berry's bioengineering laboratory. Sarah Longson, Berry's personal assistant, explains that the lab's philosophy and goal is to help save the environment. She notes that the lab has been carrying out this mission for five years. Monk examines one of Berry's experiments and spots a square tomato. Sarah explains that the tomato is a pet project of Dean's (the square shape is supposed to increase the number of tomatoes that farmers can pack into their cartons by 35%). They then enter another room where Berry is in the middle of testing a genetically engineered cornseed, designed to sprout within approximately 20 minutes of being planted. The ones that Berry is currently testing sprout at 17 minutes and 20 seconds. Satisfied with the results, Berry looks up and tells Sarah to call their investors and set up a demonstration of the seeds for the end of the week.

Natalie promises to Berry that she'll buy him a new bike, but she learns that the bike was a gift from the Visionary Project, an environmental group, in recognition of his work, and was very unique, with a custom built lock and his name engraved on the seat. She amends that, giving him her word that she'll find the bike. As Berry puts the genetically altered seeds into his small storage vault, he instructs Monk and Natalie to turn around, because if someone sees the keypad combination, he'll have to memorize a new one, which is something he would rather not have to do.

At that point, Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher arrive accompanied by several police officers, having been called in by Natalie, and are baffled to discover that they've been called in on the simple theft of a bike. As they view the surveillance tape, Randy tries to run an idea by Berry, but Berry tells him that their lab doesn't solicit ideas. Stottlemeyer notes that the theft looks like a job for the bike squad, which is  described as a team of 800 men who will fan out all over the city in search of that one bike. It seems too time-consuming to Natalie, and she remarks that she'll look for it herself, even as she watches herself send Kuramoto on his way on the tape.

Later, at Monk's apartment, Natalie pleads with Monk to take the case and look for the bike. However, Monk ignores her, as he is very busy admiring the square tomato sandwich that he's made. He insists that he can't look around for a stolen bike, though he admits that his dignity tank is not completely empty. Natalie resorts to cashing in her karma chips (which she claims she has been collecting every time she's done something stupid over the five years that she's worked with Monk) to get Monk to help out.

To begin tracking down the thief, Monk and Natalie head down to the police station and start thumbing through a book of official police mugshots, as Monk figures that their thief is local and has had previous arrests. Monk has already deduced that their thief was 67.5 inches in height - he knows this because Natalie is 65 inches in height, she wears 1.5 inch heels, and the thief was one inch taller than her. Monk turns a page, and he and Natalie are staring into the mugshot of John Kuramoto, their theft. Monk notes from the sheet that Kuramoto has a minor criminal background with two previous arrests and convictions for vehicle theft. Monk wonders, why has this minor car thief turned to stealing others' bikes?

Monk and Natalie go to Kuramoto's house to try answering this question. As they approach the door, a nervous Monk asks if he will need a tetanus shot after these events. Natalie finds Kuramoto's bolt cutters on the porch, and Monk comments that they are indeed nice. She doesn't see the bike anywhere and figures Kuramoto is out riding it. Peeking through the window, however, Monk is sure that Kuramoto is home - he's inside, eating junk food and playing video games. Reluctantly, Monk bangs his elbow several times on the door, and says that he is Encyclopedia Brown, and that he and Sally want their blue bike back and the name of Kuramoto's decorator. Just as they are about to give up, gunshots ring out as Kuramoto fires through the door. Monk and Natalie try to run, but one of the bullets strikes Monk in his left leg just below the knee.

Monk is taken to the hospital, where he complains about how his legs don't match (with one being in a cast and the other not). Natalie tries to cheer up Monk by pointing out that the surgeon has given Monk a total of 100 stitches. Monk's doctor, Dr. Levinson, comes in and tells Monk that he's very lucky - if the bullet had entered a few inches higher, his femoral artery could have been severed (the point given is that he would have died from severe blood loss). Monk asks Natalie about Kuramoto, and she mentions that he had apparently fled out the back door, and the police didn't find the bike in the house. The doctor notes that it seems odd that someone would kill for a bike. Natalie reassures Monk that the police are doing everything they can to track down Kuramoto.

Down at the police station, Stottlemeyer and Disher grill Vince, Kuramoto's cousin, for information on John's wherabouts. He doesn't know where his cousin is, even though Randy points out to Vince that he is staying at his cousin's house. Stottlemeyer proceeds to show Vince an evidence bag containing the bullet recovered from Monk's leg, which Randy explains makes Kuramoto a former cop shooter. Randy and Vince get into a small argument about the meaning of "former cop shooter," until an exasperated Stottlemeyer interrupts, and points out to Vince that if he knows where Kuramoto is and is lying to them, he could be charged as an accessory to attempted murder.At this, Vince mentions that normally John is a pretty nice person, until recently when someone paid him $3,000 to steal a bicycle. Vince doesn't know who hired his cousin, apart from the fact that John met someone in a bar. Stottlemeyer and Disher become very intrigued.

The next day, Monk returns to his apartment in a wheelchair, pushed by Natalie. She wheels him over to his desk, and apologizes once more for the events of the past few days. She tells Monk that she'll be just fine taking the regular salary instead of overtime. Stottlemeyer and Disher show up with some very good news on two fronts: the bullet from Monk's leg has been identified as a .32 caliber bullet. Additionally, Stottlemeyer notes that he and Randy are on their way over to Berry's house to question him about his bike, because the fact that Kuramoto was paid $3,000 to steal the bike suggests that there is something about it that is worth killing for. Natalie mentions that she didn't see anything about the bike that looked unusual (Randy suggests that the basket was made of gold, but Natalie swears that it was not). Monk theorizes that perhaps the bike's frame was hollow and something, possibly drugs or money, was hidden inside. Stottlemeyer insists on Monk coming along with them rather than sit around and wallow in self-pity. Stottlemeyer quickly grabs Monk's wheelchair and wheels him out of the apartment.

When they get to Berry's house, it takes a few minutes to get Monk out of the car and into the wheelchair (due to Monk having a hard time getting out of the car, not to mention that Natalie and Randy have a hard time figuring out how to unfold the wheelchair). As soon as Monk is safely in the wheelchair, they notice that Berry's bioengineering career also extends to his personal life: his house is very boxy-shaped (making it stand out from the other houses on the street), and he has solar panels on his front lawn, meaning he literally lives "off the grid". Stottlemeyer and Disher work together to hoist Monk's wheelchair up to the front door, and Natalie rings the doorbell, only to find that Berry isn't home. Monk suggests that they should call ahead before they go anywhere just to make sure the place is wheelchair accessible.

Just then, Berry pulls into the driveway in his ZAP Xebra, a solar-powered car which has three wheels and has a solar panel on the roof, making it "the future on wheels," as it doesn't use gas at all (Berry claims he hasn't had to deal with gas mileage in years thanks to his new car). Berry offers to adopt Monk some Brazilian rain forest in his name as a tribute to his sacrifice.

Stottlemeyer and Disher mention how Kuramoto was paid a lot of money to steal Berry's bike, meaning there must be something about the bike that makes it a lot of value to someone. Berry admits that he never heard of the Visionary Project, the group that sent him the bike, until the bike arrived, and mentions that Sarah Longon had brought the bike in. Monk brings up his theory that something was hidden inside the frame, but Berry notes that nothing could have been hidden inside the frame, because it was made of an eco-friendly material for better stability. This leaves them with a new question: why would someone pay to have an ordinary bike stolen? Berry mentions that the bike came with a complimentary letter, but as Monk has predicted, he's shredded, repulped, and recycled the letter, rendering it useless. Despite this, Stottlemeyer mentions that they'll check if the Visionary Project actually exists.

That night, John Kuramoto is walking through a graveyard, where he meets Sarah Longson, who happens to be the person who hired him to steal her boss's bike. Kuramoto gives Sarah an envelope, and the gun he used to shoot Monk, and in turn, she gives him his fee with a little extra added on for travel expenses. Kuramoto reluctantly says goodbye to Sarah, telling her that she can look him up if she's ever in Mexico. She says that she couldn't have said it better herself. She kills Kuramoto with a well-aimed shot in the back, takes his backpack, and then flees the scene.

The next morning, Natalie (by now basically Monk's virtual slave) wheels Monk into the graveyard. Monk is starting to snap at Natalie much more often, though she mentions that she's tired, having spent the whole night building a ramp for Monk's back door. They meet Stottlemeyer and Disher near the body. Disher reveals that Kuramoto's body was "conveniently" discovered by a group of cemetery workers. Stottlemeyer notes that a ballistics analysis of the slug found in Kuramoto's body, as well as a recovered shell casing, have allowed them to determine that the murder weapon was a .32 caliber, and hence made it safe for them to assume that he was killed with the gun he used on Monk. They figure that Kuramoto's employer must have met him here and then turned on him. Disher notes that the Visionary Project has never heard of Dean Berry, nor did they send anyone a bike.

Monk examines the scene (with Natalie rotating the wheelchair), and spots some tire tracks around the graveyard. They seem to be very unusual - they're not from a bike, as they are too wide, and they can't be from a car because they turn too much. Trying to look around, Monk accidentally falls out of his wheelchair.

As soon as Stottlemeyer gets Monk back up, he pulls his friend aside and tells him that from what he's seen, Monk is obviously more upset with Natalie than he is with Kuramoto, who is zipped up inside a body bag. Stottlemeyer warns Monk that while he may have caught a bad break and may be upset, he can't keep taking his anger out on her, and he's bound to lose Natalie if he isn't careful. He knows this because Monk is acting a lot like the way he has been in the past.

Later, when Natalie is pushing Monk up a hill while running errands, she drops her grocery bags and finally has a nervous breakdown. She is so caught up that she doesn't notice that the brakes on Monk's wheelchair have accidentally released, and hence it is a few moments before she sees Monk rolling away down the hill, and she rushes over just as Monk crashes.

Elsewhere, garbageman Ronnie O'Dell and his partner are emptying a dumpster into their truck when they find Berry's bike. Stottlemeyer and Disher come over to investigate. Ronnie mentions to them that he read about the bike theft on the police blotter, and mentions that the location of the bike (underneath the "nadir") allows him to pinpoint the day of the week and approximate the time that the bike was discarded, which is approximately 20 minutes after the bike was stolen. Stottlemeyer notes that the bike rack is only a half mile from where they are, and wonders: why did Kuramoto steal the bike, ride it a few blocks, and then throw it away? Disher notes that the basket is not made of gold as has been assumed up until this point. He also notes that the bell, the cable, and the lock have also not been found, but Ronnie promptly finds the bell inside (and cannot help but ring it to the point that Stottlemeyer becomes annoyed).

Meanwhile, at Berry's lab, his demonstration of the genetically altered corn seeds has been unsuccessful. They aren't sprouting as they should. His investors file out, disappointed. He mentions to Sarah that he checked everything twice beforehand and can't find the problem. Sarah remarks that she wishes she could be more helpful, but she also has to leave for China in a few minutes.

However, all is not lost, and Berry's mood is brightened significantly when Natalie comes into the lab riding the missing bike. As Berry is offering her an apology, Monk comes whirring into the lab on an automatic wheelchair (since the manual wheelchair had two accidents with it). Monk suddenly has a problem with the joystick that controls the wheelchair, and he accidentally pulls it out, causing the wheelchair to go haywire, knocking over everything in its path, and at one point, one of the wheels crushes Natalie's toes. Eventually, Berry shuts down the wheelchair and puts the joystick back in place.

Berry checks on Natalie, and notes that she is visibly dehydrated, seems to have malnutrition, and also sleep deprivation. While Berry goes off to grab his personal remedy to treat Natalie's lack of vitamins and energy, Monk soon realizes with horror what his actions have caused. Monk gives Natalie a wipe, and a big apology for being a jerk and taking his anger out on her. He also hands back her karma chips. As they prepare to leave, Natalie mentions to Berry to not leave his bike unlocked at the rack, though Berry mentions that he did lock his bike.

Hearing this, Monk stops, and realizes: the police have recovered the basket and the bell, but they still haven't recovered the lock. Monk asks, and Berry confirms, that the bike's lock was an eight digit keypad, just like the keypad for the lock on his vault, and Berry could set his own combination for it. Monk notices Sarah's backpack (which happens to be the one she took off Kuramoto), and when she confirms that she is leaving for China, Monk  turns to Berry and reveals that his seeds failed to sprout because Sarah had sabotaged the experiment, and he now knows what happened.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Sarah knew that she could sell the genetically altered seeds to a Chinese source. But she needed the combination to Berry's safe. It was a simple plan: she showed up at work with a new bike, which she claimed was a gift. It was an ordinary bike, except for the fact that it was equipped with a custom-built eight digit keypad lock. Sarah knew her boss well enough to acknowledge that he would never memorize a whole new set of numbers, such so that whenever he opened the safe, he had to instruct people to look away (Monk remembers how he and Natalie had to turn their backs to the safe when Berry was punching in the numbers on the keypad).

When Kuramoto stole the bike, he also stole the lock. He gave it to Sarah on the same night he was killed (the envelope he handed her contained the lock). She had designed the lock to make it easy to retrieve the combination. After killing Kuramoto, she returned to the lab, downloaded the combination onto her laptop, then punched the given numbers into the safe. Sarah was right: Berry had used the same combination on both locks (Natalie notes that it is human nature that people use the same combinations or passwords for everything that requires one). After opening the vault, Sarah swapped out the genetically altered seeds with ordinary ones, figuring that she'd be gone by the time anyone thought that she was involved.

Sarah scoffs, and tells Monk that he doesn't have any proof. Monk agrees - she's had a full week to hide the seeds - but then he tells her that he can prove that she killed Kuramoto after he drew too much attention for shooting him. Monk spots Sarah's sandals in her backpack, and notes that they are quite unusual. She claims that the sandals are made from recycled tires and are eco-friendly. Monk, however, explains that the sandals are "eco" but not friendly at all. At his request, Natalie pulls out one sandal and she shows him the treads on the bottom. Monk reveals that he remembers having seen treads just like these in the cemetery near Kuramoto's body. He thought they were tire tracks, but they turned way too much to have been from a car and were too wide to be from a bike, which meant that they were left by someone who wore footwear with tire treads.

When Berry asks Sarah if she is responsible for the things that Monk has just described, she practically confesses by throwing a beaker of fertilizer into his eyes. As Sarah makes her getaway, Natalie takes off after her, and Monk tries to follow them. Natalie catches up with Sarah outside the building, who pulls a pistol out of her purse. Natalie struggles with Sarah as she grabs for the gun, and the gun is sent flying. As Sarah grabs a marble pot, Natalie picks up the gun and forces her to drop the pot. To catch up to them, Monk has gotten out of his wheelchair, and he comes hopping up to them on his right foot. As he does so, Natalie whirls around, and being a little bit hyper, she accidentally pulls the trigger, and a round is discharged, striking Monk in the other leg. As Monk falls to the ground, he asks for more wipes.

Back at the hospital, Natalie makes a small apology to Monk for shooting him. She also assures Monk that he has all the karma chips he can get. She also notes to Monk the good news about having taken bullets in both legs: at least they both match now.

References to other worksEdit

  • When he bangs on Kuramoto's door, Monk says "Hello, Johnny! Open up, it's--it's Encyclopedia Brown! Sally and I want our blue bike back, and the name of your decorator," referring to the famous boy detective.

GoofsEdit

  • The bike that Kuramoto steals is actually a girl's bike. Notice the way the handlebars are configured. Yet, it's supposed to be owned by Berry. One wonders if Sarah Longson, being a woman and the original purchaser, may have just slipped up.
  • Monk tries a square tomato in this episode. In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum," Monk was said to be allergic to tomatoes.
  • Natalie mentions to Monk when trying to nag him into taking the bike theft that she has worked for him for five years. In real time, it had been four years since the episode "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring" had aired.
  • It seems unusual that in a suburban neighborhood like Kuramoto's, no one in the adjoining houses heard multiple gunshots or Natalie screaming for help. Under normal circumstances, at least one or two residents in that neighborhood would have had to have heard or seen something unusual at the time of the shooting.
  • Under normal circumstances, Natalie would have called the police after the bike was stolen. The cops would have interviewed them and had them interviewed by a sketch artist.

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