|Season 4 (Monk)|
|Season 3||Season 5|
Monk enters the world of high fashion when he believes a young man accused of a model's murder is innocent.
In the men's department of a clothing store, Adrian Monk has a problem: he can't find his shirts. When the attendant is confused, an exasperated Natalie Teeger explains: not only does Monk only buy one make and model of shirt, he only buys those passed at the factory by "Inspector # 8." After an exhaustive search, the attendant locates some #8s, but Monk says something must be wrong. The shirts she has approved are not up to her usual standards.
Monk becomes unable to focus on anything else, even his next murder case. He is able to focus long enough to peg the victim's wife as the killer.
Later, Monk and Natalie track down Inspector #8, Maria Ortiz, at the factory. She recognizes his name from the fan letter he once wrote her and begs for his help: a year ago, her son Pablo, who works as a delivery boy, was arrested for allegedly beating a fashion model named Clea Vance to death with his bare hands. Shortly after the murder, Clea's roommate, Natasia Zorelle, approached the police and accused Pablo of stalking her. The clincher is that the police found a lot of forensic evidence that placed Pablo at the crime scene. With Pablo facing a potential life sentence, Maria has been unable to concentrate on anything except her prayers for him.
Monk reviews the case file and is skeptical that any mistake has been made. Nonetheless, wanting to give Pablo and his mother the benefit of the doubt, Monk and Natalie interview him at the jail. Pablo, who is illiterate in English but speaks the language decently, admits that he made deliveries to Clea Vance's apartment but swears that he never met her, much less killed her, which also calls into doubt the allegations from Natasia that he was obsessed with her. After the interview is over, Monk notices something in one crime scene photo that exonerates Pablo: the body fell right next to an emergency exit door with a large warning sign in English that reads "Do Not Open - Alarm Will Sound". To avoid setting off the alarm, the killer had to take a circuitous route to leave the room, but Pablo couldn't have known that an alarm would sound if he'd opened that door, meaning whoever killed her was capable of reading English, unlike Pablo.
Monk and Natalie reexamine the forensic evidence at the crime lab with Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher. The forensics technician who handled the investigation into the murder, Howard "Gordo" Gordon, assures them that it's a "slam dunk" – Pablo's DNA definitely matches the hair samples found at the crime scene and on the victim's body. He mentions offhandedly that he is also retiring at the end of the week, which makes Stottlemeyer suspicious, given how Gordo is only 46 years old. Gordo claims that he's been investing in real estate. Monk and Natalie, realizing that they aren't going to get help from Stottlemeyer and Disher, give up, and go off to question Natasia. At the mention of Natasia's name, Stottlemeyer and Disher are piqued and they decide to tag along out of interest.
Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher head down to the fashion house of British fashion designer Julian Hodge, who put on the show at which Clea was killed. Monk strikes up an unexpected familiarity with Hodge, who, despite all their other differences, shares the detective's obsessive eye for detail (he is even germophobic, as he asks for a wipe at one point). Hodge is irritated that he's being questioned about the case again, though admits that Clea was drunk at the show where she was killed, to the point that Hodge felt she "almost ruined it". This, combined with Hodge's instant dislike of Natalie (and vice-versa), and insults he makes about her blouse being a knockoff of one of his designs, leads an exasperated Natalie and Monk to realize Hodge had a motive for killing Clea.
Interestingly, Hodge takes an immediate interest in Julie, who happens to be tagging along when the group goes to the beach to question Natasia as she conducts a photo shoot. Despite her youth, Hodge propositions Julie with an appearance in one of his shows. Ecstatic about Hodge's offer, Julie begs her mother to agree, and Natalie reluctantly does, despite her reservations about Hodge's guilt.
When questioning Natasia alone, Monk catches her in several lies about Clea's stalker - namely, the fact that Pablo never made any phone calls or emails to her. He quickly suspects that she may have had a role in covering for Hodge.
Realizing that Monk is onto him, Hodge pays Natasia a visit at her apartment that night. She isn't surprised to see him after Monk's questioning of her at the beach, though Hodge is pretty sure that the cops don't yet know about their secret. She is concerned when she notices that he isn't smoking, which he admits is because cigarettes can leave a very noticeable odor that would tip the police off to him having been here. He tells her that, through no fault of her own, because Monk is on to him, she has to "go."
The next morning, Natasia is dead, sprawled across a mattress in her apartment. Gordo declares suicide as the most likely cause of death, having apparently overdosed on sleeping pills. He figures that Natasia must have gotten depressed with all the memories about the murder coming back up, but Monk quickly proves otherwise: although Natasia's fingerprints are the only set that have been lifted from the drinking glass that was in her hand when they found her, she is also wearing lipstick, but there is no lipstick impression on the edge of the glass, meaning somebody else wiped the glass clean of his own fingerprints, then put it back in the victim's hand. It becomes clear to him that he's made Hodge nervous.
Monk and Natalie accompany Julie to the dress rehearsal for Hodge's next show. Prior to rehearsal, Hodge brings up Natasia's death and assures everyone that they will be dedicating the show to her memory. While Julie is trying on clothes, Hodge, who happens to be short-tempered, suddenly throws a big fit, saying that it's his "thing" that any woman who wears his clothes has to wear them perfectly and straight. Seeing Hodge obsessing over the neatness, Monk suddenly realizes another detail that has been bothering him about the crime scene photo: Clea was beaten so savagely that her limbs were all contorted when her body hit the floor, yet the buttons on her collar were all straightened out. He realizes that Hodge killed her, and then took the time to straighten out her collar, unable to resist the urge.
Natalie rushes onstage and marches Julie off immediately. When Hodge asks Monk for an answer as to what is happening, Monk accuses him of killing Clea, and then using Natasia as part of his efforts to cover up the crime, and killing her to keep that quiet. When Monk points out Clea's straightened out buttons and Hodge's obsession with perfect outfits, Hodge scoffs, saying that straightened-out clothes are not proof of anything.
Here's What Happened
Later, Gordo meets Monk, Stottlemeyer and Disher in the room where Clea Vance was killed. Monk explains his theory: as he remembers Hodge mentioning when they first questioned him, Clea showed up drunk at the show. He was infuriated by Clea's unprofessional behavior, and in a fit of rage, he took her to a private location and beat her to death with his bare hands. Then, somehow, he managed to frame Pablo for the murder. The cincher is that they've just found some new hairs in an out-of-the-way corner behind a radiator, as there was a health inspection the day before the murder and a flypaper fell back behind a radiator during the attack. Because Clea had long hair, they know the hairs cannot be from her. Gordo takes the samples to the lab, while Monk hopes that these new hairs will be enough to convict Hodge.
The night of the current show, Natalie looks around the house and finds that Julie has run away to appear. She and Monk end up having to crash Hodge's show, and Natalie boldly marches on stage to remove Julie. Julie, feeling ashamed of herself, apologizes and they dismount the stage together.
During the after-show party, Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher confront Hodge, who pretends innocence. Gordo arrives with the hair samples, and Stottlemeyer asks him to tell them under oath who exactly the new hair samples belong to. When Gordo answers that the hairs belong to Pablo Ortiz, Stottlemeyer promptly declares Gordo under arrest on charges of accessory to murder and falsifying evidence. Gordo also feigns innocence, until Stottlemeyer explains that they did a background check on Gordo before they met him at the crime scene, and while he did make a big windfall a year ago, it wasn't from real estate like he claimed. In fact, Monk explains, his money came from a more sinister place:
Here's What Happened (2)
When Clea was killed, Gordo was the lab technician who did the forensics work on the investigation, which meant that he oversaw the logging of all the trace evidence. When the killer's DNA samples came through, he ran them and the DNA matched perfectly for Hodge. But rather than do his job and hand the information over to the investigators, Gordo decided that he could make an easy payday. He approached Hodge in secret and solicited a bribe: for a price, he'd bury any evidence that could incriminate Hodge. Gordo's thinking was spot on: Hodge knew he was trapped, and with all of the overwhelming evidence against him, he had no choice but to accept.
There was one small problem with this plan: in order to make sure no one looked at Hodge, someone needed to take the fall for the murder. Hodge suggested Pablo, a sometime delivery boy to Clea's apartment, who barely spoke any English and wouldn't have the money to hire a good attorney. Hodge seduced Natasia and convinced her to accuse Pablo of stalking her roommate. The police arrested Pablo, took hair and blood samples from him, and sent them to Gordo. All Gordo had to do from here was stick the labels from Pablo's blood samples onto Hodge's blood samples. Once this happened, Pablo didn't stand a chance.
Gordo says they have no proof of his evidence tampering, only for Monk to reveal that he incriminated himself when he swore under oath that the newly discovered hairs belonged to Pablo. They were actually Monk's own. He planted them at the crime scene, aware that Gordo was never going to test them.
Hodge and Gordo are arrested. As he's led away in handcuffs, Hodge makes one last spiteful remark about Natalie's dress sense, and she delights in describing his new wardrobe options in prison ("I hope you like orange").
Outside the county jail, Monk and Natalie watch as Pablo is released and tearfully reunites with his mother.
Background Information and Notes
- Gordo appears, though not addressed by name, in Season Three's "Mr. Monk Gets Fired."
- The way in which Monk proves that Natasia's death was not suicide is reminiscent of his first case as a detective, described by Stottlemeyer in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival."
- The "fan mail"- the first and only one Monk's ever wrote according to him- sent to Maria Ortiz reads this:
From the Desk of Adrian Monk
Dear Inspector #8,
I wish to express my deepest and warmest thanks for your stunning performance as a clothing inspector. It’s a pleasure to deal with someone who possesses such artistic integrity. Your job aptitude is something to be admired and inspired by. Every item which passes your inspection is impeccably produced and presented. The buttons are perfectly straight. The stitching is even and orderly. There are no hanging or pulled strings, marks, or wrinkles. The finished product is perfectly folded.
Thank you again. My appreciation knows no bounds.