|Season 4 (Monk)|
|Season 3||Season 5|
Monk must prevent a killer from spoiling the party at Natalie's brother's wedding.
At a luxury resort hotel in Pebble Beach, photographer Frank Ruttle is taking shots of a wedding party. He is interrupted when he receives a call on his cell phone from a mysterious person. He arranges to meet the caller in the hotel spa, which is deserted at this time of day. Ruttle heads down to the spa, and picks up an envelope hidden under a towel, but it does not contain the money he is expecting. At that point the other person calls back and Ruttle angrily demands more money from the mysterious person for protection from the FBI. In the middle of the call, though, the line goes dead. As Ruttle tries to reconnect with the caller, a cell phone a short distance away starts ringing. As Ruttle walks over to investigate, someone grabs a rock and strikes him over the back of the head, knocking him out. The figure then tips Ruttle into one of the spa’s mud baths, drowning him. The attacker then puts an "Out of Order" sign next to the bath to prevent the body from being discovered.
At the police station, Adrian Monk, Natalie Teeger and Captain Stottlemeyer are throwing a birthday party for Lieutenant Disher. However, it doesn't go well since Monk has had the birthday cake Saran-wrapped in what he calls a "spittle shield", which causes the cake to burst into flames when Randy blows out the candles.
In the midst of the excitement, Natalie receives a call from her date to her brother Jonathan’s wedding, who has had to cancel due to appendicitis. Unable to face her family alone, Natalie resorts to accepting Randy’s offer, after first asking Monk (who declines), inquiring about another detective (who just married a parole officer), and even about a breaking-and-entering suspect (who was not cute enough to make bail) to accompany her. Seeing the name “Davenport” on the invitation, Monk, Stottlemeyer and Disher are mildly surprised to learn that Natalie is a scion of the Davenport family, the founders of the famous toothpaste company. Embarrassed, Natalie admits that she is not on good terms with her parents; they cut her off after she married Mitch, who wasn’t good enough for them.
Later that day, Natalie, Randy, and Julie arrive at the wedding reception, where her mother, Peggy Davenport, and father Bobby Davenport, are busy ordering everyone around. Peggy appears to be trying to avoid a Bridezilla incident, and the wedding photographer is missing in action. They are interrupted when Natalie, Randy and Julie show up. It becomes clear that Natalie's parents haven't contacted her in a while, as Peggy still thinks Natalie is bartending until Natalie points out that she works as an assistant to a private investigator. Natalie inquires about Theresa Scott, Jonathan's fiancee, whom he met a few weeks earlier in Hawaii. Evidently, she's been living on a healthy trust fund since her parents died in a plane crash in 1995. While all of this is happening, someone steals a set of car keys from a coat in the cloakroom.
Monk is so bereft without Natalie that Stottlemeyer drops by his apartment to check in on him, and he offers to cheer him up by looking back over the pictures from Adrian and Trudy’s wedding book. Stottlemeyer admits that he loves weddings - in fact, he admits that he met Karen while attending a different wedding reception. He also recalls Monk crying so hard with joy he could barely say "I do."
Less than an hour after arriving at the hotel, Randy is unloading his suitcases from the car and walking across the parking lot, observed by the mystery figure, sitting behind the wheel of a V70 idling a short distance away. At the precise moment, the driver floors on the gas pedal and rams Randy, slamming him against a parked van and knocking him unconscious. The driver promptly steps out of the car and runs from the scene.
Monk and Stottlemeyer rush to Pebble Beach upon hearing about the accident. When they arrive, Randy has just been stabilized and is about to be taken to the hospital. As he is being loaded into the ambulance, Stottlemeyer tries to ask him questions about the driver's physical description, but is unsuccessful. He notes to Monk and Natalie that Randy suffered a fractured right arm and left leg, and a few broken ribs, but had he not had two suitcases to minimize the force of the impact, his injuries could have been far worse.
Investigating the crime scene, Monk quickly finds several clues that suggest this was deliberate: water condensation on the asphalt that indicates that the AC in the car was on, and with the high humidity in the region, he figures the driver was sitting idle with the engine running for about twenty minutes. A pair of tire tracks nearby seems to indicate that the driver floored on the gas pedal when he saw Randy. He also finds some green mud on the gas pedals. Stottlemeyer is furious and demands to know why anybody would target Randy when it had only been an hour since he had arrived.
Their liaison from the local police, Lieutenant Bristo, comes over to them, and after exchanging greetings with them (during which Stottlemeyer makes it clear that Monk will be staying and during which jurisdiction is settled), notes that the hit-and-run car was registered to Natalie’s Aunt Madge. Monk wonders how the driver knew which car was Madge's, since he doesn't see any Volvo markings on the keys. Bristo also does not believe that any of the hotel staff were responsible, as they were all in a staff meeting when the attack occurred. Natalie is dismayed by the suggestion the police are making, that someone in her family is responsible for the attempt on Randy's life.
Before the rehearsal dinner, Natalie is angered when she finds her mother carrying an evidence bag with Randy's pants. She tries without success to return the bag to the police. And with Randy out of commission, Monk is reluctantly dragged into being Natalie's substitute date at the rehearsal dinner (during which he cannot help but try to separate the food of the boy sitting next to him). Theresa addresses the family at the rehearsal dinner, hoping they will all be great friends, and invites Natalie to a bachelorette party she is holding in her room.
After the rehearsal dinner, Monk and Natalie notice Stottlemeyer going around taking photos of wedding guests. He confides that he overheard Peggy mentioning the missing photographer, so he has volunteered to go undercover, and borrowed a CSI tech's camera. It turns out that Randy, confined to his bed upstairs, believes he can identify the driver - a medium-build white man wearing a red baseball cap and sunglasses.
After Stottlemeyer leaves, Monk and Natalie meet Jonathan and Theresa. When conversation turns to Randy, Theresa incorrectly refers to him as a sergeant, until Monk corrects her. However, as soon as she leaves, Monk becomes suspicious about the fact that Theresa has no living family nor any friends of her own. Monk asks, and Jonathan confirms that Theresa had an uncle, but he died with Theresa's parents in a Pan Am plane crash in 1995. Monk realizes he's caught Theresa in a lie: Pan Am went out of business in 1991. He wonders if Theresa is up to something.
In the hotel spa, one of the women disregards the “Out of Order” sign next to the only vacant mud bath and lowers herself in – causing Frank Ruttle's dead body to surface.
Monk and Stottlemeyer show Randy various photos of the wedding guests, but Randy doesn't recognize any of the photos. Monk also makes a futile attempt at signing his name on Randy's arm cast. With none of the guests visibly responsible, Monk asks Stottlemeyer to check for any photos of Theresa. Looking back through the photos, Stottlemeyer suddenly realizes that he has no good photos of Theresa. In fact, in all of the ones he did get of her, she turned her head away from him, like she doesn't want anyone to recognize her. This, plus the fact that she lied about her parents, convinces Monk and Stottlemeyer that she has to be hiding something. Their session ends when Stottlemeyer gets a phone call about Ruttle's body. Monk collects Natalie from Theresa’s bachelorette party and, mistaking the male stripper there for an on-duty cop, drags him along as well.
Downstairs, Ruttle's body has been laid out on a table for analysis. They haven't identified Ruttle yet, as Bristo theorizes the wallet has yet to be fished out of the mudbath. Stottlemeyer believes that the mud from the bath is a perfect forensics match for the sample that Monk found in the hit-and-run car. However, the victim cannot be the driver, because he has been dead for at least 36 hours. Monk notices developer fluid stains on the dead man's fingers and quickly deduces that the victim is the missing wedding photographer. Bristo promises to get search warrants by the next morning.
At that point Natalie notices the stripper. Monk says he brought him along for crowd control. As Stottlemeyer chuckles Natalie takes him aside and points this out. Monk is incredulous, even as Natalie points out the "Officer Feelgood" nameplate and Stottlemeyer points out the loose dollar bills in his belt at which Monk says he thought he lost his wallet. At that point Monk slips in the mud bath, getting his pants covered in it. When he yells for a wipe, the stripper throws him his shirt. Only now does Monk realize his gaffe.
The next morning, Monk, Natalie and Julie attend the wedding ceremony, with Natalie and Julie walking down the line as Monk picks up the dropped flower petals after them. Meanwhile, Stottlemeyer and Bristo obtain a warrant to search Ruttle's studio. As they search the studio, Bristo notes that Ruttle was broke, living from paycheck to paycheck, but according to his sister, he was looking at new houses he couldn't afford, like he was planning on coming into money. They find their smoking gun when Stottlemeyer finds a newspaper article with a wedding photo of Theresa from an earlier marriage, with her hair dyed blonde. He also notices two other things about the article - it's about the groom’s fatal fall from a hotel balcony in Philadelphia a few years earlier, and also mentions that the fall has been ruled a homicide and the bride is being sought for questioning. Also in the article is a photo of the primary investigator: Randy. Stottlemeyer rushes back to the wedding to break the news to Monk and Natalie.
Monk and Natalie realize why Randy was targeted. He investigated the death of Theresa's earlier husband five years ago, and assuming the article is true, she tried to kill him because she saw him and feared he would recognize her despite her changed appearance. Peggy refuses to believe any of this, feeling that Natalie is trying to sabotage her brother’s wedding for petty reasons. Natalie is still resentful at her parents for never approving of Mitch and treating him like an unwelcome guest.
Later, during the post-wedding reception, Monk offers to dance with Theresa, trying to get her to slip up. He comments that Theresa's dress still fits, as it's the same dress from the newspaper photo. He informs her that he knows that five years earlier, she lived in Philadelphia under the name "Darlene Coolidge". He also concludes that Frank Ruttle, having been the photographer at that wedding, discovered Theresa's real identity, and tried to blackmail her for hush money. Theresa responds by pointing out that he has no proof, and in a veiled threat tells him what she does to those who get in her way.
While this happens, Stottlemeyer searches Theresa’s room and finds parts of the disguise she wore when she ran Randy down, noting to Natalie that he is pretty sure he doesn't need a search warrant to go into a hotel room after checkout time. He produces the baseball cap, and a sample of green mud that they know will match the sample from the mud bath and the car. Natalie wants to immediately have Theresa arrested right away, but Stottlemeyer stops her, telling her that the evidence he found isn't enough proof to sway a jury. The only way to guarantee a conviction is if Randy identifies her as Darlene Coolidge. Stottlemeyer instructs Monk and Natalie to do whatever they can to keep Theresa from leaving the hotel while he goes to grab Randy.
Monk stalls with a long-winded toast (which includes having Julie read some poetry), while Stottlemeyer has to drag and carry the injured Randy downstairs and into the reception hall. Just as Monk reaches the end of his invention, and Theresa starts to drag Jonathan out, Stottlemeyer pushes Randy in on a bellman’s dolly, dumping him on the floor. As predicted, Randy immediately identifies her as Darlene Coolidge, a serial black widow who is the center of a previous multi-state investigation. He'd managed to hunt her until she'd claimed her third husband/victim in Seattle in 2001, after which her trail had run cold.
Theresa seizes a knife and holds it to her new husband’s throat, demanding that “Dad” get his private jet ready for her. Natalie steps in and seizes the knife, subduing Theresa.
Later, in her family home, Natalie is idling on the piano in the living room, when her mother takes Mitch’s photo off the wall and places it on the piano with the rest of the family.
Background Information and Notes
- Natalie's middle name, Jane, is revealed.
- There's no "Here's what happened" phrase or the flashback summation.
- The fountain in the hotel spa is the same fountain seen in the courtyard outside Dr. Kroger's office.
- Natalie's parents said they had Theresa checked out, so why didn't any red flags come up? Did they hire Marty Eels to do the digging?
- In "Mr. Monk and the Miracle", Monk and Natalie are surprised to see Randy with a mustache, even though in the article photo of Randy he has one. In that case, however, they are probably aware of the old article, but just find it surprising that Randy has decided to grow it back.
- Monk: The Official Episode Guide states that there are several points where lines are blurred between Natalie's character and Traylor Howard's personality. For example, Natalie parents' names are Bobby and Peggy, which happen to be Traylor's biological parents' names.
- Also of note is that there were some difficulties shooting the scene where Monk gets hit by Theresa's garter belt. Rob Benedict (Jonathan) was unable to make the garter stay in frame, so the gag eventually had to be handed over to the boom mike operator.
- In the entry for this episode, it was reported that the fact Natalie's parents' names share the same first names as Traylor Howard's real parents almost got the writers in trouble, as Traylor recalled her dad saying, "He was like, 'Well are we jerks? I don't want us to be jerks.' And I told him, 'Dad, it's not real!'"
- It seems odd that Natalie would claim that she kept Mitch's surname "Teeger" after his death to avoid being associated with the rest of her family. In reality, in most societies, if a woman adapts her husband's surname and the husband dies first, she generally will keep his last name unless she remarries. Since Natalie never remarried, there's no reason for her to change her last name back to her parents' name.