|Season 2 (Monk)|
|Season 1||Season 3|
A law student offers to get Monk reinstated to the police force in exchange for his help in finding the kidnappers of her beloved grandmother.
Middle-aged law student Julie Parlo is returning home to her beloved grandmother, Nana Parlo, after an early morning jog when she sees two masked people carrying her grandmother out of the house, bound and gagged, still in her rocking chair. Before Julie can call for help, the kidnappers load Nana and her chair into their van and speed off.
Julie goes to Adrian Monk for help. Monk is willing to help but Sharona Fleming, hard-nosed as ever, demands to know how Julie can afford to pay Monk's consulting fee. Miserably, Julie admits that she doesn't have much money but offers Monk a different kind of compensation: she is on close terms with one of her professors, a nationally famous legal mind who can help Monk exploit some loopholes in the disability laws and get himself reinstated to the police department. Sharona is skeptical but Monk eagerly accepts.
Meanwhile, Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher and a police team take up post in Julie's house, standing by for when the kidnappers call back. While they are waiting, Julie passes around some homemade pastries. Sharona is surprised at how good they are, and Julie confesses that her real dream has always been to open a bakery, but her deceased parents wanted her to go into law.
The kidnappers call the house, and Julie picks up the phone, pretending to be alone while the cops try to trace the call (a pretense made difficult by the fact that Randy, who is hyper-allergic to cats, can't stop sneezing because of the dander from a lost cat that Julie found a few weeks earlier; and Monk is trying to gesture to Julie to wipe a crumb off her face). The ransom demand is extremely bizarre: they want Julie to buy turkey dinners for all of the homeless people in the Mission District, making sure they are distributed to the poor by having two officers go themselves.
Befuddled, the police obey the demand, with Monk and Sharona on ladling duty, and Randy disguising himself as a homeless woman as part of the "stake out". Sure enough, the kidnappers' second call leads Julie to a place where she finds Nana, alive and well.
Nana is unable to identify her kidnappers, she did seem to recognize their voices, and listened to opera. In addition, she stated that they never harmed her. In fact, they gave her all the pizza she ever wanted. The police's only clue is a photo of Nana taken during her captivity that was sent to Julie. In the background is a graffiti drawing of a symbol connected with the Lightning Brigade, a well-known radical group in the 60's.
The group's former leader, Ron Abrash, now a lecturer at Berkeley, is brought in for questioning, but he claims to know nothing (Monk, by now, is so sure of his reinstatement that he is hanging around the police station to an obnoxious level, and takes part in Abrash's interrogation – "What, are you guys doing, 'good cop, crazy cop'?!"). However, Monk, mostly out of compulsion due to Abrash's sleeves being uneven, requests that he roll up his left sleeve, which reveals that he actually still has a tattoo of the Lightning Brigade's logo, which leads him to deduce that the Lightning Brigade was in fact innocent of the crime (as the tattoo has three jags, each carrying a specific meaning, whereas the "logo" found at the house only had two slashes, none of which carried any significant meaning.).
Afterwards, Nana is discharged from the hospital, and Julie is interviewed by the news, where she states that Monk doubts that the Lightning Brigade was ever actually involved, and vows that he will find those responsible and bring them to justice. Meanwhile, in a house playing opera music, a mysterious man turns off the TV set.
Even Monk has doubts when Julie admits that she doesn't know the famous legal mind whose name she dropped; instead, she has a team of her classmates working on Monk's "case." Further doubts arise when Monk meets Julie's crack team, none of whom strike him or Sharona as particularly sharp (one of them is studying Spanish so he can take his bar exam in Peru, apparently unaware that he'll have to only practice law in Peru as a result, and another has ended up sending two people to be executed due to not reviewing all the facts). Yet, they manage to convince Monk that he can earn his reinstatement through a loophole in some recent disability legislation: all he has to do is pass a basic written test on police procedures.
Unbeknownst to them, however, a mysterious person is watching Monk, and then Monk ends up receiving an anonymous note telling him to go to the third floor of the library alone, as he shouldn't trust them. He attempts to do so, but Sharona catches up with him, citing that her being around is going to be "as alone as [Monk] can ever get." Monk doesn't find their contact, although he does find a book slightly ajar on the bookshelf as well as a book ladder nearby, so he attempts to put the book back on the shelf. Suddenly, the bookshelves behind Monk then collapse dominoes-style right as he is doing it, and Monk narrowly escapes death by grabbing onto a horizontal pole above. Stottlemeyer states that this action means that the person responsible is most likely getting worried about getting caught, and thus means they are getting closer to capturing the culprit.
Monk studies for the test and has no trouble answering any of the questions. Nonetheless, he decides to locate the kidnappers by asking Nana what she smelled and heard while she was being held captive. Nana first recalls that she smelled fresh bread, which Julie recognizes as coming from a local bakery. The van then apparently stopped for four or five minutes, but nobody got out. Monk and Sharona quickly deduce from the map that the stop was because they were waiting for the Third Street drawbridge to close. A few minutes after that, around exactly 8:00 AM, the van arrived at the kidnappers' house (Nana knows this since her watch was beeping to tell her to take her heart pills). Nana now recalls that the air smelled of eucalyptus trees and it was raining, despite Sharona pointing out that it hasn't been raining all week.
Monk and Sharona now drive the route, trying to retrace the kidnapper's footsteps. They quickly locate the bakery, and the drawbridge. Eventually, they arrive on the block where the house might be located, just a few minutes prior to eight o'clock. Monk concludes that the kidnappers' house is one where the sprinklers are timed to go off at eight o'clock every morning. This turns out to be useless when several houses have their sprinklers activate at the same time. Fortunately, Monk then notices in front of one of the houses a trashcan sitting on the curb, and a cardboard pizza box next to it (recalling that the kidnappers fed Nana pizza).
Since Nana recognized the kidnappers' voices, Sharona comes up with a plan. She gets out of her car, runs over to the car parked in front of the house, and sets off the alarm, then runs back. When the homeowners come out to investigate the noise, Monk snaps several pictures of them.
When Nana and Julie are shown the photos that Monk took, Nana recognizes the homeowners as the couple that visited her the week before inquiring about the stray cat Nana has taken in. The couple has been identified as Harold and Carol Maloney, who own an antiques store a few blocks away from Nana's house. They came by, claiming that their cat had run away, but they looked and found the cat was not theirs.
Monk now goes to the station confident of passing. But when it comes time to sit for the test, his obsessive habits make it impossible to get past the first question without endlessly re-sharpening his pencil, refolding the booklet page, etc. Time is called, and Monk has failed.
He is so distraught that he locks himself in Stottlemeyer's office, refusing to talk to him or Sharona. Through the door, Stottlemeyer tries to reason with Monk, guessing that he unconsciously failed the test on purpose, since he wants to earn reinstatement fairly, not based on a loophole. But Stottlemeyer's own reason leaves him when he realizes that Monk has used Stottlemeyer's office chair to barricade the door. Stottlemeyer angrily complains that the chair is an antique that his father gave him, and threatens to murder Monk if Monk has so much as scratched it.
In a daze, Monk opens the door, having just solved the case. He points out that Stottlemeyer just told Monk to be careful with the chair, and that the kidnappers said the same thing when they were carrying Nana out of the house. It means they were more worried about the chair they had Nana tied to.
Here's What Happened
Monk, Sharona, Stottlemeyer, Disher, and Julie confront Harold and Carol Maloney. While there, Monk realizes, they must have seen Nana's rocking chair, which they realized was a priceless antique. The chair is, in fact, sitting in plain sight in the Maloneys' living room, which they proudly describe as having belonged to Thomas Jefferson (there is a carving of the Monticello on the back of the chair, and evidence that suggests he sat in this chair while drafting the Declaration of Independence), and worth more than a million dollars (to be exact, actually cost $2 to $2.5 million, at the very least). The Maloneys' also planned to barter off the chair in an auction.
If the Maloneys had simply stolen the chair, that might have alerted Julie to its value, and they could not have sold it without questions being asked. Instead, they covered up the theft with the kidnapping and the fake ransom demand.
Julie swears that she recognizes the chair as hers, but the Maloneys innocently claim that they bought the chair at a yard sale, and produce documentation that seemingly proved it (although Julie claims that it was a forgery). It is their word against Julie's, with no documented proof on her side, since the Maloneys also claim that the dealer in question has passed away.
Dejectedly, Monk and company leave the house. Stottlemeyer and the others then question Julie as to whether she has any documented proof, to which she says she doesn't: Her nana bought the chair at a flea market 20 years prior, she doesn't remember which flea market it was at, and they don't even have photographs of the flea market. Monk suddenly realizes something: the Maloneys claimed they went to Julie's house looking for a lost cat, but Randy, whose allergies to cats are so severe enough that he sneezes up a storm if the house had a cat within a year, didn't sneeze even once when they were inside the house – meaning they don't have a cat at all, and went to the house simply to case the house before the theft. It's sealed when Julie pulls out a copy of the "Lost Cat" flyer she posted around town, which features a picture of the cat sitting in the chair.
In triumph, Stottlemeyer and the others march back into the house. Julie remains outside, calling Nana with her cell phone and gleefully informing her that she is dropping out of law school, now that they can afford to move to a bigger house, and open Julie's bakery (as she's implied to be planning on selling the chair).
At home, Monk sadly removes his police uniform from his closet rack and stores it in one of the drawers, presumably under the belief that it will be a long time before he'll even think about putting it on again. But once he's gone, Sharona, unwilling to let him give up, pulls it out and hangs it up again.
Background Information and Notes
- Rachel Dratch, besides being well-known as a regular on Saturday Night Live, is the sister of series writer and producer Daniel Dratch.
- Ron Abrash is played by Michael Shalhoub, Tony Shalhoub's brother.
- This is the first episode of Monk in which no one is killed, although an attempted murder on Monk was shown.
- In this episode, it is mentioned that Randy has an allergy to cats. But in the Episode "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect", Amanda has a cat, who somehow survived the explosion. How did he not sneeze then?