|Season 4 (Monk)|
|Season 3||Season 5|
Monk solves a Halloween murder mystery while he and his brother Ambrose wait for their long-lost father to return home.
On Halloween, at Beach's Market, a clerk is getting an order on the phone and sends an employee out to deliver another one. Meanwhile, an armored car driver pays for his food and makes small talk with the cashier, and then leaves while chewing on a chocolate candy bar. Another customer, Paul Gilstrap, observes the driver. Carrying a small shopping basket, he follows the driver out of the store. Before the guard reaches his truck, Gilstrap asks for a light for his cigarette. Suddenly, gunshots ring out across the parking lot, and the clerk goes over to the window. She sees Gilstrap, the view partially obscured by another car, emptying a pistol into the driver. Gilstrap manages to wipe his prints off the gun before dropping it and running away.
Monk and Natalie are called to the crime scene. Monk notices several strange clues: for one thing, the driver was shot with his own firearm, so why are there no defensive wounds to suggest that he resisted before he was shot? Also, the police aren’t sure if any money was taken from the armored car, only that it was empty. As they talk, Captain Stottlemeyer chases away a pigeon that is nibbling the remains of the Neptune candy bar the guard dropped. Near the body, Monk finds the fresh stub of a clove cigarette, supposedly used to help people quit smoking but which almost never work. He figures that it belongs to the shooter since the guard has a different brand of cigarettes in his pocket.
Then Natalie receives a phone call from Ambrose. It is quite confusing at first since he does not know about Monk's new assistant. He has a message for Monk: their father is coming home.
Julie reluctantly agrees to go trick-or-treating in Ambrose’s neighborhood while Adrian and Natalie meet Ambrose for dinner. They all meet Ambrose in the house, and he is instantly taken with Natalie. They cooperate to clean up the house for the elder Monk's big arrival, though Ambrose insists that their father's study is off-limits (and has been for thirty years). Ambrose intermittently excuses himself to answer the door to trick-or-treaters. On one, he opens the door to Gilstrap wearing a Frankenstein's monster mask. "Frankenstein" says nothing, but he growls, and grabs at the bowl of candy Ambrose holds, and knocks Ambrose out when he tries to resist. Adrian and Natalie come running down, and scare the intruder away.
Stottlemeyer and Disher reluctantly answer a call to Ambrose’s house, even though no one can explain why the incident isn’t more than a Halloween prank. However, Ambrose is sure it was not a kid because he remembers that the attacker was wearing fancy and expensive Italian dress shoes that cost at least $420 a pair. As they leave, Randy casually takes a candy bar from Ambrose’s bowl, but Ambrose irritably tells him to put it back, as he's precisely calculated the amount of candy he will need (to the point that last year, he only had one piece of candy left over). Befuddled, Randy puts the candy bar back. Stottlemeyer promises to buy him a Snickers bar as they prepare to head back to the station to re-interview the cashier. As they leave, they also note that the driver was off-duty at the time and the truck was empty, meaning that if the shooter was after money, they didn't research.
After they leave, Ambrose takes Adrian up to the attic, to ask if he and Natalie are involved, or if she is seeing anyone. Surprised, Adrian realizes his brother has a crush on his assistant.
At the police station, Stottlemeyer and Disher take a statement from the cashier, who has been interviewed by a sketch artist (with Randy commenting that the police sketch somewhat resembles Kiefer Sutherland). The cashier notes that the shooter bought eight candy bars with cash, then walked out. When she saw him shooting the driver, she notes something else - he never looked in the back of the truck at all, meaning for some reason, he was after the driver.
While Adrian, Natalie and Ambrose set the table for dinner, another group of trick-or-treaters arrive, and one of them recognizes Julie from school. Natalie agrees to let her go with them, as long as she is back in time to meet Adrian’s father. As Julie's group is passing through a playground, Gilstrap in his Frankenstein mask attacks them again. He chases them away and looks through their candy bags.
Adrian is called to the playground, and looks around. He questions the kids, and realizes that only those who went to Ambrose’s house had their candy stolen. He then realizes that the shooting is tied to the candy thefts, when he finds a clove cigarette of the same kind that was found at the crime scene.
Adrian insists that there must be some connection, even if he isn’t sure what it is. One possible link is the fact that Ambrose has his candy supply delivered from Beach's Market, where the guard was shot.
Julie asks Adrian to accompany her for some last-minute trick-or-treating, and he agrees reluctantly. They cover a few more houses, including one owned by Paul and Mary Gilstrap. When Adrian politely refuses candy for himself, she tells him chocolate is good for his health; she herself eats a Neptune bar every night before bed. Adrian tells Julie they have to turn around to get back in time, but in the Gilstraps’ yard, he finds a dead pigeon.
He calls Stottlemeyer and Randy back, telling them that it is the same pigeon that was nosing around the guard’s body – he recognizes its markings – and now it is dead. He insists they do a necropsy.
While they are waiting at the house, Ambrose shyly asks Natalie out. She demurs, saying it would be awkward to get involved with her boss’s brother. Trying to let him down easy, she says she "maybe" would be interested in getting together sometime.
Adrian and Julie return, and they all sit up waiting for the elder Monk to arrive. When he doesn’t, Adrian and Ambrose argue, Adrian telling Ambrose to face up to the reality that their father is never coming back. Ambrose angrily counters that Adrian has never had any faith. In fury, Adrian storms upstairs and into their father’s study, which Ambrose has kept off limits since the day their father left. Ambrose sits on the floor in a sulk, eating through his leftover candy.
Adrian starts cleaning the room, when Stottlemeyer calls him. He reports that indeed, the bird was poisoned. Acting on a hunch, they performed a post-mortem on the armored car driver and found that he also had been lethally poisoned, and in fact, he was already dying when he was shot. He had been killed with an undiluted form of tetrachlorodrine, a very deadly poison that is even stronger than arsenic. Stottlemeyer and Disher are currently at the lab that produced the tetrachlorodrine, and have learned that some of it was stolen recently. It was only discovered when they caught the guy putting it back. The guy was Paul Gilstrap, one of their computer repairmen, but he denied everything, and with no evidence, they were forced to release him. Adrian immediately solves the case.
Adrian rushes downstairs, yelling at Ambrose not to eat the candy because it has been poisoned. He finds an empty Neptune bar wrapper, and Ambrose mentions that the bar seems to have tasted funny. Adrian tells Natalie to call an ambulance, but Ambrose calmly says it is no use: tetrachlorodrine has no antidote, and he will be dead in five minutes.
Here's What Happened
Ambrose is rushed to the hospital, with Adrian, Natalie, and Julie riding along in the ambulance. Ambrose says he doesn’t want to die without knowing the reason, and Adrian explains:
Paul Gilstrap wanted to murder his wife. He worked at a laboratory that made tetrachlorodrine. He stole some of the chemical, and used a syringe to inject the chemical into the Neptune candy bars that Mary ate every night. However, he couldn't just poison one candy bar, as that would have made people suspect him.
In order to camouflage the motive for her death, he poisoned several more bars, returned to the store, and slipped them back onto the shelf. The intended result was that his wife would now look like just another victim of an anonymous serial killer. Unfortunately for Gilstrap, he got caught trying to return the poison to the lab. Now he had to move fast to retrieve the poisoned bars before anyone could purchase them, as the police would hone in on him as the primary suspect if anyone died from tetrachlorodrine poisoning.
Gilstrap rushed back to the store and bought all the bars on the shelf, finding that two of the poisoned ones were still missing. One had just been bought by the armored car driver. Gilstrap realized he was in deep trouble when he saw the driver take a bite. If the driver simply collapsed in the parking lot for no apparent reason, the police would have found the poison in an autopsy. Thinking quickly, he followed the driver back to the car and approached him just as he collapsed from the poison. Then he grabbed the driver's gun from the holster, and shot him several times, believing that the police wouldn't bother checking for evidence of poison in a shooting victim. The other candy bar went to Ambrose's house, and Gilstrap has been trying to find it all evening long.
The ambulance is still 20 blocks from the hospital, and it doesn’t look like Ambrose will make it. He says he’s sorry for driving their father away, but Adrian insists that it wasn’t his fault. Then Adrian notices that there is still an unopened Neptune bar in the candy that the paramedic gathered up and brought with them. Adrian examines the wrapper from the one Ambrose ate, and finds that it expired 11 months ago – meaning it is the one Ambrose had left over from last year. Another Neptune bar, brought by the paramedics from Ambrose's candy dish, has not been eaten and is the poisoned one. Everyone collapses in relieved laughter, knowing that he will suffer nothing worse than stomach pains for eating expired candy. The poisoned bar is handed over to Stottlemeyer and Disher, who show it to Gilstrap when they intercept him at his home and arrest him for the driver's murder.
Ambrose returns home after being checked out at the hospital. Natalie has accepted a dinner date with him on Friday night. When they reach the front door, they are stunned to find a note from their father there, saying he came by the house but no one was there. He also says he is proud of Ambrose for finally leaving the house.
Background Information and Notes
- Second (of three total) appearances of Ambrose.
- The poison used in this episode, tetrachlorodrine, is entirely fictional. Ambrose points out it is used as an insecticide.
- The events of this episode are strangely never referred to in "Mr. Monk Meets His Dad".
- This episode had a different ending theme from usual.
- When Ambrose notices Julie's costume (as a doctor) he points out her stethoscope has a concave amplifier specifically designed to listening for heart murmurs. Thus she is specifically a cardiologist.
- The scheme that Paul Gilstrap intended to use to kill his wife (adulterating candy bars with a poisonous chemical, and putting them back into the stores, to make his wife's death look like the random victim of an anonymous serial killer) might offer some insight into a possible theory as to what was behind the Tylenol murders that happened in Chicago in 1982.