|Season 8 (Monk)|
|Season 7||THE END|
Natalie tries to throw a surprise birthday party for Monk while he and the police investigate the mysterious death of an office building's maintenance worker, as well as their prime suspect.
At a downtown office building, janitor Bradley Foster is working late, sweeping up and emptying trash cans into his cart. While he's doing that, someone else is doing some work of their own in the basement utility room. The mystery intruder picks a lock and breaks into the room. Upstairs, Foster finishes up and rides the elevator down to the basement.
He turns on the compactor and starts dumping the garbage in when, suddenly, the machine jams. Foster climbs into the garbage compactor to remove a piece of metal that has become caught in the gears. As soon as Foster has removed the jam, the mysterious intruder comes out of the shadows and switches on the circuit breaker. Foster falls into the machine and is brutally ripped apart.
Elsewhere, Natalie tries to get Monk to the office and asks what he wants for his 50th birthday. Monk hates birthdays, particularly his own. They go to the squad room and everyone is hiding in Stottlemeyer's office with a cake. Monk begins to suspect something is going on and interrogates Natalie. When she can't answer, he accuses her of throwing a surprise party. When he threatens to leave, Natalie asks him to play along but he says he can't.
Monk is called to the Bradley Foster crime scene. As they arrive, Natalie promises that she's going to throw him a party no matter what. Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher exchange some somewhat insensitive jokes about Foster's death, with Stottlemeyer suggesting that his car will be a compact.
Monk notes that Foster must have been screaming for his life the whole way down. The building manager explains how he found Foster's remains. He insists it must have been an accident, like Foster must have forgotten to turn off the circuit breaker, but says that he turned on the lights when he came in. Monk points out that someone must have turned off the lights. The building manager adds that he's been looking at the security tapes from the building lobby and has noted that there was only one other person in the building at the time: a guy named Richard Meckler. The tape shows Meckler left around midnight but this isn't unusual since he works late very often. Monk wonders what he does.
Meckler is a patent attorney. The team tracks him down to a public reception where he is debuting the LaserVac, the world's first ever self-cleaning vacuum, and Kurt Pressman, the man who invented the machine. Monk arrives and is in awe of the device. Randy talks to Meckler, who chews nervously on a pen, and he says that he was gone by midnight and didn't see any strangers or anything that would have caused him to suspect something wrong.
Outside, Stottlemeyer is at the bar when he notices an attractive writer, T.K. Jensen, who works for a tabloid called Consumer Currents. He goes over and makes small talk about he bought a motorcycle based on the magazine's recommendation and was satisfied that it was just like the review promised.
Meanwhile, Monk talks to Pressman and expresses his admiration for his work. He wants to buy two and Pressman says he'll put him on the list. Pressman gets a Diet Coke for Meckler, who admits he can't tell what it tastes like. Pressman and Meckler's wife both try it. In the bar, Stottlemeyer tries to guess what TK stands for and admits it'll make it easier for him to track her down. At the reception, Meckler collapses a minute later and dies of a heart attack, even though Stottlemeyer and Disher attempt to perform CPR on him.
Later, Monk is at home enjoying his new self-cleaning vacuum and cleaning in Natalie arrives and Monk explains that Stottlemeyer convinced TK to loan him one of the vacuum cleaners. As they go, Natalie says she has to stop at her home to get her cell phone. Monk dials it and it rings in her bag. He figures she was trying to lure him to another surprise party. When she wonders why he can't go to a birthday party, Monk reluctantly agrees to tell her after closing the drapes and turning off the lights. He explains that when he was ten years old, he watched Cowboy Hank, a TV cowboy who was his hero. His mother hired Cowboy Hank to come to Monk's birthday party and he brought a rope to do tricks. He did all his tricks and everyone had a good time... and then everyone left. They didn't stay for cake or anything. The reason they came to Monk's party wasn't for his birthday; it was to see Hank, implying that they didn't care about him. Natalie is less than impressed and insists that he has to have a party and promises that she'll surprise him. Monk doesn't believe it and Natalie warns that it is on.
Stottlemeyer and Disher search Bradley Foster's apartment, and notice that someone has been there beforehand and taken Foster's computer and some of his tools. Natalie arrives and explains that Monk is outside in the hall because he thinks it's another surprise party. Monk finally comes in and checks every closet and cabinet to see if someone is waiting to jump out. Stottlemeyer assures Monk that Natalie will eventually throw the surprise party, but they currently have a murder investigation on their hands. Randy explains that Foster graduated from MIT in 1982, worked at General Electric for ten years, and then he dropped off the radar, when he started drinking and eventually found himself working as a janitor. Monk finds some shredded paper and thinks that it's confetti. Stottlemeyer finally gets him to focus on he case and Monk notices a pen cap that's been chewed on. It's an indicator that Meckler was in Foster's apartment recently.
At the morgue, Monk keeps checking the covered bodies but only finds corpses inside. The coroner confirms that Meckler was poisoned with a fast-acting toxin called sodium fluoroacetate. Randy points out that he was there and didn't see anything. Stottlemeyer believes that there has to be a connection between Meckler's death and Bradley Foster's death - he notes that Meckler must've killed Foster because he was the only other person in the building, and ten hours after that, Meckler was poisoned.
Later, Stottlemeyer calls TK back to the building and tells her that they're going to recreate the crime scene. She realizes that he brought him back just to learn more about her, but doesn't object. Monk tells Stottlemeyer that they're ready. In the empty reception hall, they reenact the sequence of events, with Stottlemeyer playing Meckler, Natalie playing Meckler's wife, Disher playing himself, with Monk playing Kurt Pressman, the one who brought the drinks to them. Pressman and Meckler's wife both drank from the glass, which means there's no way that he could have been poisoned. Disher confirms that Meckler didn't eat anything, and there was no poison in the pen. As Disher theorizes, Stottlemeyer tells TK to just nod her head and say "interesting."
Back at home, Monk has trouble with his new vacuum and can't get it to work. When Monk admits that he cleaned the filter, Natalie points out that the technical manual says repeatedly not to clean the filter, and points to the sign on the vacuum cleaner that says not to clean the filter. Monk puts his vacuum cleaner to bed and asks God to take him instead. However, he realizes that they can have Pressman fix it and prepares to rush off to visit him. When Natalie insists that Monk can't miss his appointment with Dr. Bell, Monk realizes that's where the surprise party is located. Natalie tells him that he's won and he'll be spending all his birthday parties alone from now on. Monk agrees as long as they can fix the vacuum cleaner.
Monk and Natalie go to see Pressman in his garage workshop. The inventor admits that he can't think about anything now that his friend Meckler is dead. Pressman mentions that Meckler was a close high school friend of his as well as his lawyer. Monk expresses his condolences and asks Pressman to fix the vacuum cleaner. He agrees to take a look. He puts on his toolbelt, and has to readjust it because it doesn't seem to fit, and he also doesn't seem to have the right tool to use. Pressman asks about the cases they're working on. Natalie suggests that Monk is close to solving it, and Pressman says it'll take until after Meckler's funeral to fix it.
As they drive, Natalie suggests that she and Julie come over with a birthday cake and have a small celebration. Monk notices that a black Cadillac SUV with Nevada plates is following them and tells Natalie to make a left turn. Stottlemeyer calls and explains that someone put a $20,000 contract on their life. The unseen hit man opens fire and Natalie takes evasive action. She inadvertently goes down a one-way into a workhouse and a security guard stops them. He is gunned down and Natalie and Monk flee into the buildings. Monk is forced to hide in either a dumpster or a port-a-john. Monk would rather choose death but finally goes with the dumpster. The hit men wheel the dumpster away, and decide to throw them in the river. They open the top of the dumpster and tell Monk and Natalie to come out. They get out and ask them for their last words. Natalie turns to Monk and tells him, "Happy birthday, Mr. Monk," and Monk realizes that he's been delivered to his surprise party. Natalie hugs him and boasts that she got him.
Later, Monk chats with Stottlemeyer and admits that he was surprised. Stottlemeyer admits that they acquired the Nevada SUV from the impound lot, and almost convinces him that they really shot the guard (he's still alive, and he was wearing blood packs wired to his body). Natalie brings in Pressman, who wishes him a happy birthday. As Monk goes to talk with someone else, Pressman takes his glass and slips away.
Stottlemeyer thanks TK for coming to the party. Meanwhile, Pressman takes Monk's glass outside, removes the ice cubes, and replaces them with some special ones from a container. He then goes back inside and places the glass back where he got it. The partygoers invite him to make a wish and Monk notices another officer loosening his belt. He remembers how Pressman loosened and adjusted what was supposedly his own toolbelt in his pathetic attempt to fix the vacuum. Monk has solved the case.
Here's What Happened
The self-cleaning vacuum was actually Bradley Foster's invention (Monk remembers having seen technical journals in Foster's apartment). He took the idea to Meckler, as Meckler was a patent attorney who also worked in Foster's building, and boasted about how it would be one of the greatest inventions of all time. Meckler conspired with Kurt Pressman to steal the idea, as they were high school friends. Meckler threw Foster into the trash compacter and then schemed to have Pressman pose as the phony inventor, and then they would split the profits. However, Monk notes that while Meckler was greedy enough to off Foster, Pressman was even greedier. He decided that he didn't need a partner any longer, so he poisoned Meckler. When Pressman points out that he drank from the same glass as Meckler and his wife, Monk looks at his own drink and realizes that his ice cubes are square but everyone else's are round. The poison was in the ice cubes, and Pressman drank from the glass before the ice cubes with the poison melted. Cowboy Hank arrives to lasso Pressman and the police take him away.
Later, Cowboy Hank puts on a show of his best tricks and leaves a happy Monk. TK admits to that it's never a dull moment and invites her for a normal date. He admits that his brakes are shot and he doesn't want to slow down. TK explains that her first name is Trudy and , realizing it won't work with Monk, says they'll stick with TK.
Natalie points out that Monk is actually happy and no one is leaving. He admits it's the best birthday he's ever had... and tells her not to do it again.
- Aaron Linker reprises his role as Little Monk in the flashback to Monk's birthday party.