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Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus is the fourth episode of the second season of Monk.


When a circus ringmaster is murdered by a high flying acrobat at a restaurant, all leads point to his vengeful ex-wife. But before Monk can find out how the pretty trapeze artist could have committed the crime with a broken foot, he must get Sharona to overcome her fear of elephants.


At a quaint sidewalk cafe, in the middle of the night, Sergei Cluvarias and his young date Ariana sit enjoying a late dinner. When the maitre d' asks Sergei to put out his cigarette, Sergei shows a bad temper and worse manners, yelling "This is how it started in Nazi Germany!"

The otherwise quiet evening is suddenly interrupted when a mysterious masked figure dressed as a ninja leaps down into the cafe from the rooftops above. The ninja then kicks a phone out of the maitre d's hand as he tries to call 911, then without warning, raises a revolver and shoots the luckless Sergei dead with a well-aimed shot. The ninja then leaps onto the awning, performs an amazing in-air somersault, and dives into the street before fleeing on foot.

The next morning, Adrian Monk, Sharona, Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher are investigating the crime scene. For a moment, Monk can't concentrate, because one of the patrol officers hanging out nearby is wearing mismatched socks. Stottlemeyer reluctantly sends the cop away to direct traffic, and Monk notices some interesting clues: all of the sugar cubes are missing from Sergei's table, but the sugar cubes are present at all of the other tables, and there's some sawdust on the ground by his table. The eyewitnesses' statements suggest that their suspect is someone who is a somersaulting ninja with incredible marksmanship. When Monk is told that the bullet was a .454 round from a Ruger Casull, a weapon normally used to stop elephants, he determines that the victim and the killer must have worked at a circus. Seconds later, he is proved right when Randy gets a preliminary identifying Sergei as the Master of Ceremonies, or ringmaster, at the Dratch & Denby Traveling Circus, which is in town this week.

The team travels to the Dratch & Denby Traveling Circus to investigate, believing that their suspect is someone on the circus's payroll. The sugar cubes lead Monk and Sharona to identify the circus's horse trainer, Ariana Dakkar, as Sergei's young date. As Monk questions Ariana at the stables, he discovers that she is an immigrant waiting to take her naturalization test. He also finds out that Ariana has a strong opinion as to who the suspect is: Sergei's jealous ex-wife Natasia Lovara, a trapeze artist who has the stage name as "The Queen of the Sky". In fact, according to Ariana, Natasia had made a previous attempt to kill Sergei six months earlier, but she was never arrested or charged due to a lack of admissible evidence.

As he continues to follow the clues to Sergei's murder, Monk makes another startling discovery: Sharona may not be as fearless as she seems. As it turns out, she does have one phobia: a deadly fear of elephants. When Monk finds Sharona in a tent and dismisses Sharona's fear as silly, telling her to just "suck it up," she becomes enraged by his insensitivity.

Meanwhile, Stottlemeyer and Disher suspect the circus's leopard and panther wrangler, Nikolai Petroff, who owns a .454 Ruger Casull revolver. They go to interview him while he's feeding the leopards. When they ask him to show the lockbox he stores his gun in, they find that someone has smashed the lock and stolen his revolver. Nonetheless, they take him into custody for further questioning.

Monk and Sharona go to interview Natasia. Monk is firmly convinced that Natasia is the killer: she is a skilled acrobat, and a former trick-shot artist to boot, meaning she is certainly more than capable of pulling off the high-flying and shooting feats displayed by the shooter. Moreover, she doesn't even hide the fact that she hated her ex-husband and is now happy that he is dead. But when Monk asks her to come with them for questioning, he finds that his theory has one problem: Natasia is confined to a wheelchair, because her left foot is broken.

Petroff is detained for questioning. He has admitted to being Ariana's ex-boyfriend, and was also training to be a trapeze artist himself. Monk firmly continues to consider Natasia his primary suspect, in spite of her broken foot. Randy notes that Natasia's story about how she broke her foot checks out: she broke it two weeks ago at a show in Kansas City when she fell during her signature triple tailspin move in a show. She did not go to the hospital because she is a Romany Gypsy, and is afraid of doctors. Monk realizes that this means no doctor saw her and no X-ray has been taken to confirm that her foot is indeed broken. Reluctantly, Stottlemeyer is coerced into having Natasia's foot X-rayed. But much to Monk's dismay, when the results come back, it is indeed shattered, so there is no way she could have been the ninja.

Monk tries to win Sharona back with flowers and apologies, but she refuses to forgive him until he makes an effort to empathize with her fear, the way she does with his every day.

Meanwhile, back at the circus, Natasia is approached by Edgar Heinz, the circus' elephant trainer. Heinz confides in Natasia that her "secret" is safe with him, as he would never do anything to hurt those he loves. But Natasia, it seems, isn't held back by such petty matters of the heart. Monk tails her, trying to catch her slipping up, suggesting that Natasia could have a high threshold for pain. He also can't help but notice that Natasia's foot cast looks fresh, like she replaced it recently. She confirms that she replaced her original cast as it was itching, but Monk is convinced she's not telling him everything.

Stottlemeyer and Disher eventually find the revolver dropped into one of the cannons used for the human cannonball act. They determine it's been fired recently, and it's also been oiled down to clean it of any fingerprints.

Monk attempts to patch things up with Sharona by helping her overcome her fear of elephants. He brings her to meet Heinz's elephant Dede - but at the demonstration, disaster strikes: Heinz practices an age-old routine with Dede, where he places a watermelon under her foot, gives a command, and the mammoth elephant gently places her foot on the melon without crushing it. But then, with another command from Heinz, Dede applies pressure to that foot, smashing the melon into pieces. In the next part of the trick, Heinz fearlessly places his head under Dede's foot, gives the first command, and the elephant gently places her foot on Heinz's head. But, unbeknownst to Monk, Sharona, or Heinz, Natasia has placed a walkie-talkie behind Dede's ear, and on the other end of the walkie talkie is Natasia herself, watching them from a booth across the midway. She gives the second command, and Dede brings her foot down and crushes Heinz's head, killing him instantly and sending Sharona's fear of elephants into overdrive.

As he does his best to comfort a distraught Sharona, Monk realizes Heinz's death was no accident.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Now armed with evidence, Monk, Stottlemeyer, and Disher confront Natasia in one of the tents (Sharona has to excuse herself when they have Dede brought in as their star "witness"). At Monk's suggestion, Randy looks behind Dede's ear and finds Natasia's walkie-talkie taped there, proof that someone commanded Dede to kill Heinz. And he also mentions that with regards to the Sergei angle of the case, Monk admits that the question he should have been asking was not if Natasia's foot was broken, but when her foot was broken. He explains that Natasia had one motive for killing Heinz: he knew she had killed Sergei a few nights earlier.

Monk remembers Natasia telling him that the first thing people learn is how to fall. Two weeks ago, she staged an "accident" to make everyone think she broke her foot. As a Romany Gypsy, her fear of hospitals came in handy, so no one ever thought to check if she was in fact faking her injury.

Natasia acted like her foot was broken and played it off perfectly. Then, that Monday night, she slipped out of her cast, donned a ski mask, and trailed Sergei and his date. She waited until they were in a crowded restaurant before she shot him. Natasia explicitly needed to have a lot of witnesses to the shooting, hence the reason she added all of her spin-moves and backflips. With everyone seeing the spectacular stunts, Natasia reasoned she'd be safe if everyone assumed she was crippled.

Natasia scoffs, asking for more proof. Monk mentions that he is pretty sure that her foot really is broken, and he explains when she really broke her foot:

Given her previous failed attempt to kill Sergei, Natasia knew the police would consider her a primary suspect, and she knew that the police were going to have her x-rayed. As soon as she returned to the circus, she had her foot broken by an outside force. She put her leg underneath Dede's foot, and on her command, Dede broke it it. Natasia figured no one saw her doing this, as everyone staying on the grounds was asleep (so she thought), except for Heinz, whose trailer was nearby. He hadn't been sleeping well, and that night, he happened to be awake and looked outside to investigate upon hearing an unusual noise. Natasia thus had to kill him to eliminate a witness.

Natasia demands proof, when both she and Monk know that the walkie-talkie that was used to give Dede the command to kill Heinz has been wiped clean of fingerprints. Then Monk points out that the walkie-talkie is new, meaning Natasia needed to put fresh batteries in it. He asks Natasia, did she remember to wipe her fingerprints off the batteries?

Meanwhile, Floppy, a clown that has been following Monk around and copying his movements, starts impersonating Stottlemeyer. Stottlemeyer, annoyed, arrests the protesting clown for impersonating an officer.

With this distraction at hand, Natasia makes a break for it, doubling Monk in the shins, hoisting herself into the seat of a nearby jeep and speeding out of the tent. Outside, she almost runs Sharona over, but is forced to brake when another elephant wanders into her path. As she is arrested, Monk runs outside and goes overboard trying to comfort Sharona, leading her to declare, "I've created a monster!"

Later, Sharona is shown feeding Dede and Benjy pets Dede. Monk stands nearby, and Sharona says that she thinks that she is over her fear. Monk says that they have to leave, because he thinks he stepped in something, Sharona assures him that he didn't, but they leave anyway, since Monk is insistent that he has. Sharona says while leaving, "But we just got here."

Background Information and NotesEdit

  • In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival," Monk says, "too many clowns," indicating that he is coulrophobic. However, during the summation in the tent, he seems merely annoyed by the clown imitating him and Stottlemeyer. His coulrophobia does show up again in the novel Mr. Monk Helps Himself when he has to investigate a clown's murder.
  • The name "Ruger Casull" appears to refer to the Ruger Super Redhawk revolver, which comes in a model that chambers the .454 Casull cartridge.
  • The term "Romany Gypsy" used to refer to Natasia is somewhat tautological; Romany (or Romani, or sometimes Roma) is considered the correct name for the ethnic group formerly known as Gypsies.
  • But the Ruger 454 Casull is not a Ruger, in fact it closely resembles a Freedom Arms 454 Casull model 83. There are no models in the Ruger family in 454 that appears to be a single action revolver, having a diagonal injection tube.


(Monk announces that Ariana is preparing to become a U.S. citizen)
Ariana: How did you know that?
Monk: That pamphlet in your bag. You're studying the U.S. Constitution — something no citizen would ever do.

(Sharona tips over Monk's careful pile of magazines.)

Sharona: "S.I.U." You know what that means?
Monk: Yes, I know what it means.

Stottlemeyer: Randy, take that thing down to the lab straight away.

Monk: I wouldn't bother. She's too smart. I'm sure she wiped it down. Then again, that walkie looks brand new... which means she had to put batteries in it. You did remember to wipe your prints off the batteries, didn't you, Natasia?


Monk: What are you doing, you don't smoke.

Sharona: I do now.

Monk: You.. you can't smoke in here, this is a hospital for God's Sake.

Sharona: So? Suck it up.