|Season 4 (Monk)|
|Season 3||Season 5|
When a childhood crush comes to Monk with a mysterious murder, Monk tries to win her heart by solving the case.
In the middle of the night, two men break into a house. The elderly housekeeper, Gladys Aquino, wakes up and runs downstairs, threatening them with a gun. One of them makes a grab for the gun, and she hits the intruder alarm. The men throw her into a table, and she receives a fatal blow to the head. One of them panics and yells that they need to flee, but the other says they need to do what they came to do - which is to go to an old painting hanging on the wall and deface it with spray paint. They do that, then flee.
The next day, the owner of the house, Sherry Judd, comes to see Adrian Monk. They are old friends from junior high school (Monk is still not entirely over his crush on her). She has heard of his reputation as a detective, and asks for his help. The police are baffled, since Gladys was a solitary person without an enemy in the world (and seemingly no friends except for Sherry), and it can’t have been a burglary gone wrong, because nothing was taken from the house.
While investigating, Monk recalls his crush on Sherry and we see several flashbacks to the time he helped Sherry out in junior high. (For the purposes of clarity, italicized paragraphs cover the events shown in the flashbacks)
In 1972, Adrian and Sherry are both attending junior high. Most of the other kids think of Adrian as a freak, but Sherry thinks he’s sweet. Monk is trying to work up courage to ask Sherry to an upcoming dance.
While Adrian and Sherry are volunteering as cashiers at a school bake sale, one of the school bullies, Leo, swaggers up to the table and snatches up a cupcake without paying for it. Adrian and Sherry object, and Principal Thicket, overhearing, takes Leo away for a stern lecture. Leo swears that he’ll get back at them for squealing on him.
Monk examines the crime scene and makes a few startling observations: the defacement happened after the murder, meaning the intruders stayed behind to do it; furthermore, Sherry doesn’t have spray paint in the house, meaning they must have brought it with them. Incomprehensible though it may seem, the intruders came specifically to deface the painting. Monk asks about the painting, and Sherry says that it isn't valuable, except to her: the portrait is of her great-grandmother, a famous suffragette and Sherry's heroine.
During their examination, Sherry’s ex-husband, Michael Norfleet, barges into the house. Sherry orders him out, saying that he’s not allowed to come near her, but he cites concern for her safety after hearing about the murder. While he’s there, he declares, he’ll write her a check for her monthly alimony payment. She accepts the check, but asks him to leave. Apparently, their marriage was not a happy one.
Sherry takes the painting to an art gallery after making an appointment with its restorer. To Natalie, it is obvious that Monk still has feelings for Sherry, and encourages him to ask her out, since they are both unattached. Just as Monk steels himself to do so, the art restorer appears, being none other than Sherry’s ex-boyfriend, James Duffy, known to them before as fellow student Jimmy Wagner (he explains that the name change is due to his mother remarrying when he was fifteen). Sparks immediately fly between them, and Monk is left behind. James promises to have the painting back to normal in no time.
While Monk and Sherry are both at their adjacent lockers, Monk is accosted by Leo, who lifts Sherry’s books out of her hands and into her locker, telling her that Thicket has ordered him to "be nice" to them. When Adrian objects that she doesn’t need his help, one of the "cool" boys, Jimmy Wagner, steps in and backs Sherry up. After Leo is gone, Jimmy asks Sherry to the dance.
A few hours later, Principal Thicket approaches Sherry, saying that someone has stolen the lunchbox containing the bake sale money, and someone has accused her. She denies it, but Thicket orders her to open her locker. Inside, she finds the lunchbox, which has been emptied. She swears that she didn’t do it, but Thicket points out that no one else knows the combination to her locker.
Sherry is put on disciplinary probation, but is still allowed to go to the dance with Jimmy. As he watches them through a window, Adrian sadly helps clean up the leftovers from the bake sale. Then he notices that one of the cake boxes has finger tracks in blue frosting smeared on one side – left by someone lifting the box that was on top. Monk remembers that the cupcake Leo stole had blue frosting.
Adrian then confronts Leo and two of his friends in the bathroom and reveals that he knows he did it, though he still needs to find out how. Leo, however, smugly tells Adrian he won't find out how he did it, nor will he let him as he and his friends ominously approach Adrian.
The investigation leads Monk and Natalie to a biker bar, to question two brothers, Travis and George Baptiste. The brothers panic and flee, touching off a bar fight in the process (Natalie has to save Monk from a blow when he stops to try and sweep up the broken glass). But one of the brothers drops his wallet, leaving behind the clue that Monk needs to solve the case.
Shortly after the aforementioned confrontation, Leo and his buddies shove Adrian into his locker and lock him in. It takes the school janitor an hour to cut him out again. Adrian stumbles out, gasping and shivering, but manages to whisper to Sherry that he solved the case.
Here’s What Happened
The summations are intercut.
Michael, Sherry’s ex-husband, is called to the station. Monk goes on to explain what happened: Michael hired Travis and George to break into Sherry’s house and deface the painting of her great-grandmother. Monk points out that he found a hand-drawn floor plan of the house in the wallet, something few other people would have known. Furthermore, the writer wrote down a "0" with a slash through the middle, just like Monk saw Michael doing when he was signing Sherry's alimony check. When Michael says there is nothing in her house that he would want, Monk agrees, the motive was somewhat convoluted: Michael wanted Sherry to remarry so he could stop paying her alimony (Monk recalls Michael resented paying Sherry alimony, calling it his "monthly pound of flesh"). He learned that her old sweetheart, James, was in the city and unattached, but Michael and Sherry were not on good terms, meaning he couldn’t just suggest that she look James up. Since James was the best art restorer in the city, the damage to the painting would send her to him.
Michael says there's no proof, only for Disher to announce that Travis and George were arrested in Las Vegas earlier that day, and Stottlemeyer expects them to make full confessions. Michael breaks down and confesses, pleading that no one was supposed to get hurt, as he thought Gladys had the night off. He is arrested.
Leo is called to Sherry’s locker, confronted by Sherry, Adrian, and Principal Thicket. Adrian explains that Leo stole the lunchbox and hid it in an empty cake box. Later, on the pretext of helping Sherry with her books, he took her lock and replaced it with his own (after emerging from his locker, Adrian noticed that Sherry’s was not reset to zero, per his and her usual habit). Still later, Leo opened Sherry’s locker, and planted the lunchbox after emptying out the money, then switched the locks back.
Leo says there's no proof, but Principal Thicket orders Leo to empty his pockets. Leo produces a handful of cash, which he swears is his. But Thicket finds a five-dollar bill that he wrote “Good Luck” on to start the bake sale. Thicket drags Leo to his office for “a little talk.”
The same thing happens in the past and present: Sherry thanks Adrian, telling him, "you were amazing," and gives him the flower she wears in her hair as a keepsake. In the present, she leaves with her new beau, James, giving Monk a melancholy pause.
Background Information and Notes
- The young Adrian carries his clarinet to school, indicating how long he has been playing.
- Grant Rosenmeyer is probably best known for playing one of the twin boys in The Royal Tenenbaums.
- Goof: the flashback takes place in the 1970's, and in the medium shot the five-dollar bill Principal Thicket pulls out of the stack is era-appropriate. However, when the camera cuts to a close-up of the bill, it is clearly a modern five dollar bill.
- Goof: Young Adrian said he had bought Led Zeppelin's record "Stairway to Heaven". The song was on Led Zeppelin's fourth album (so called "Zoso") and never had been released as a single.
- The phrase "pound of flesh" that Michael uses to mockingly refer to Sherry’s alimony is from Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice."
- Goof: In the boys' restroom of the school in 1972, the urinals are equipped with motion-detection flush operation, which was not developed until much later. The sink faucets are also modern.
- Reportedly, the present day case was originally going to be called "Mr. Monk Meets the Big Bird". Had that been produced, the premise would have been that Michael Norfleet hired the Baptiste brothers to poison Sherry's pet parakeet in hopes that she would reconnect with her old flame. James Duffy wouldn't have been an art restorer, but an exotic bird veterinarian.
- This is the only episode where Monk's mother makes an appearance outside of photographs and home videos.
Natalie: What was he like as a kid?
Sherry: Pretty much the same. Careful, smart, sad.
Adrian: (eats a cookie) Mmm... you’re an excellent cook, Mrs. Ledsky.
Mrs. Ledsky: It’s a gift... (indicates her stomach) and a curse.
Adrian: Here’s what happened...
Adrian: I noticed something when you were shoving me into my locker – which, by the way, wasn't very cool.