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Mr. Monk and the Panic Room is the second episode of the third season of Monk.


Kurt Wolff.

Late at night, record producer Ian Blackburn is working late in his home studio, alone except for his pet chimpanzee, Darwin. He takes a call from his wife, pop star Chloe, then hangs up and ruminates about how nothing good in life lasts. Suddenly, the intruder alarm sounds. Blackburn quickly grabs Darwin and runs to his private panic room and shuts the door. 

The police arrive minutes later, responding to the alarm. The responding officers enter the house, announcing themselves. Finding the panic room door locked, they're forced to use a blowtorch to breach the door. They open the panic room and find Blackburn lying dead on the floor, multiple bullets in his body, and Darwin standing over him, holding a revolver. An officer casually asks the others if they should read Darwin his rights, and Darwin shakes his head while shrieking.

At Sharona’s house, Sharona is disappointed in Benjy, who is being patched up by Monk after he gets into a fight at school trying to defend another kid from bullies. Sharona scolds Benjy, saying there is never any excuse for getting mixed up in violence, even though Monk tries to defend Benjy's perspective. They are interrupted, though, when Sharona gets a call about the murder.

Monk and Sharona show up at the Blackburn estate where they meet Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher. The burglar alarm, they note, was set off at 5:09 AM when a neighborhood kid broke a window on the back door, but whoever it was got scared away by the alarm and fled before the police arrived. But Monk notices an oddity: the footprints walking up to the door indicate that the man was walking, but the footprints leading away from the door show that he was still walking after setting the alarm, instead of running away, like he wasn't scared.

Monk and Sharona are then introduced to Darwin. While Monk and Stottlemeyer go off on their own, Sharona realizes that Darwin is hungry. She goes into the kitchen to feed him a banana. Randy accompanies Sharona, despite her protests that Darwin could not kill anyone.

Monk and Stottlemeyer examine the recording studio, where they look at all of Ian's equipment. They also notice a cardboard cutout of Chloe. Stottlemeyer notes that Chloe was in Dallas and is currently flying home. Monk is distracted by a beeping noise, and  finds a pill dispenser with a built-in timer. Stottlemeyer immediately remembers Chloe telling him on the phone that Ian was on antidepressants. Monk, however, is curious: if the dispenser is set for 4:30, and the alarm came in at 5:09, then why didn't Ian take his pills? Then they go to the panic room, which is stocked so that someone can hide in it for a week. There is a brief panic when Monk accidentally "locks himself" into the room when he leans on the door panel, and is only rescued when Stottlemeyer reaches through the hole and opens the door.

Monk is stumped: the panic room is completely inaccessible from the outside, and there was no one else in there except Blackburn and Darwin. Moreover, Blackburn was shot four times, including twice in the back, once in the chest, and once in the head, which rules out the possibility of suicide. But Sharona is instantly taken with Darwin, and appalled to hear that, as the most likely “suspect,” the animal control authorities need to put the chimpanzee down.

Later at the police station, Sharona gets into a small argument with Randy about whether a chimpanzee like Darwin can fire a gun. Out of respect for her, Stottlemeyer agrees to test whether a chimp can shoot well. He takes Darwin with him to an empty interrogation room, puts an empty pistol on the table, and tries a variety of bizarre (and hilarious) antics to agitate the chimp into picking up the gun. What he doesn’t know, is that Randy has handed him a loaded pistol by mistake. The moment Randy, Monk, and Sharona realize this, they rush down to the locked room and yell through the glass that the gun is loaded, Stottlemeyer starts acting up even more. When Stottlemeyer orders, "Give me your best shot, you stupid primate!" Darwin fires. Monk, Sharona, and Randy dive to the ground as a bullet shatter the two-way mirror. Stottlemeyer walks out, carrying the gun (and remarkably composed), and says, “The case is closed.”

Sharona urges Monk to keep investigating. He does so, reluctantly. They interview the security expert, Kurt Wolff, who designed and built the panic room, and he assures them that it was impossible for anyone to get in. Chloe says that Ian had a depressive personality, and she can easily believe that he wanted to kill himself. Monk notices signs that Chloe is having an affair – a place setting for two and her wearing a man's shirt for the interview – but Chloe seems to lack both motive and opportunity: she was worth much more money than her husband, and was definitely on tour when he was killed.

When the animal control authorities insist on having Darwin euthanized, Sharona becomes desperate. She breaks into the animal shelter and rescues Darwin. Unfortunately, her license plate is captured on the shelter's surveillence cameras, easily identifying her to the police. Stottlemeyer and Disher come to her apartment and reluctantly arrest her. Darwin, however, is nowhere to be found and she refuses to tell them where he is. Before leaving the house, she sees Benjy and apologizes for having not understood his earlier situation with the fight he got involved in.

Monk visits Sharona in jail, and asks her to cooperate. She says she can’t. Monk returns home, and finds that Sharona has stashed Darwin there, tearing apart his apartment. Outwardly calm, he telephones Dr. Kroger, asking him to make an emergency house call. Shortly after Dr. Kroger arrives, Monk’s landlord also arrives, yelling at Monk for putting a for sale sign outside when he rents the apartment and saying that pets aren’t allowed. He removes his hat and steps forward to grab Darwin, who goes berserk and starts shrieking. Monk notices that Darwin calms down when the landlord puts his hat back on, indicating that Darwin is afraid of bald men. Monk says he's solved the case.

Monk, Stottlemeyer, and Disher look over the panic room while Kurt Wolff seals it for them. They say that they overlooked a vital clue: Blackburn was carrying a tape recorder, switched on, when the alarm sounded, which he carried into the panic room and dropped, so it must have recorded the shooting. They cannot touch it now, since it is damaged, but will be back in the morning with a technical expert.

Here's What Happened[]

Sharona is released from jail, and meets Monk, Stottlemeyer, and Disher at Blackburn’s house at night. Monk gives the summation: he remembers that Darwin threw a tantrum when the landlord removed his hat. Seeing that, it occurred to him that Darwin had similarly freaked out when the animal control officers came to pick him up, as one of them was bald. He's come to the conclusion that Darwin is scared of bald men because the guy who shot Blackburn was bald. Of which Wolff (whose head is shaved) fits the profile. Turns out, he is Chloe’s lover. They met when he handled security on one of her tours, and they schemed together to kill Blackburn, since Chloe preferred murder to an expensive and messy divorce.

Wolff built the panic room with a secret entrance, inside the built-in refrigerator. On the night of the murder, he snuck into the house through the secret crawl space and tripped the test alarm button on the control panel, to lure Blackburn into the panic room, where Wolff was lying in wait with the revolver that Blackburn kept there.

The idea was to stage a suicide: if Blackburn was found dead in a locked room, shot with his own gun, the only explanation would be that he had killed himself.  But the plan went wrong: Darwin jumped Wolff, allowing Blackburn to seize the gun, and in the struggle Wolff ended up shooting Blackburn four times: two in the back, one in the chest and one in the head.  Suddenly, the suicide theory was not an option. The best Wolff could do was to place the gun in Darwin’s hand, to frame him for the murder. So now they had to settle for the monkey being the fall guy.

While they lie in wait, Wolff crawls into the panic room through the secret passage, meaning to retrieve the tape recorder, and is caught. Monk confesses that they lied about the tape recorder having evidence to trick him into revealing his knowledge of the secret tunnel into the panic room, as it's empty. They quietly arrest him and take him out the main entrance in handcuffs.

Sharona, Benjy, and Monk, go to the animal shelter to bid goodbye to Darwin, who is being transferred to the San Francisco Zoo (a shot of a newspaper shows that Chloe has been arrested for murder). They also revealed that, because of Darwin's fear of bald men due to the trauma of his master's murder, the animal control agent from earlier will also wear a cap any time he attends to Darwin to avoid getting him to become berserk.


  • According to the Official Episode Guide, Ted Levine improvised Stottlemeyer's attempts to get Darwin to fire the gun. He even brought in the props himself.
    • The fez Stottlemeyer wears can be seen in the background in Mr. Monk is on The Run Part 2, on a shelf behind Disher when he and Stottlemeyer are investigating the check found in John Rollins' briefcase.