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July 30, 2014

Monk: Mr. Monk and the Genius

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 26th 2008 11:28AM
gun monk(S07E02) I really thought this was going to be a superb Monk. It had all the elements of a top notch cat and mouse affair, starting with guest star David Strathairn -- so brilliant in Good Night and Good Luck as Edward R. Murrow -- as a chess grand master, Patrick Kloster. The set up was elegant; Kloster's wife hires Monk to investigate her murder because she is certain her husband will follow through on his perfect plan to kill her. Within a day, she's dead and the chess master has an airtight alibi. How did he do it? It was a Columbo gambit, and only a genius like Columbo -- or Monk -- could figure it out.

Unfortunately, this episode wasn't written by Levinson and Link. The clues to the mystery fell into place without any great surprise or twist. The wife was poisoned when she drank from a secret stash of oleander laced wine, which was never found. That was just Monk's supposition after swiping the flowers from the garden. That would be inadmissible evidence because he had no warrant to get them from Kloster's home. Then he actually tried to plant the evidence -- again, not very smart or Monk-like.




The scene that preceded the planting of evidence was the "moment" for the show. Leland suspected that Monk was about the "cross the line" and manufacture the evidence to get Kloster. In a well-written and nicely directed scene (Monk's face is shot in half-darkness and Stottlemeyer is shown as a mirrored reflection), Monk reveals that the wife touched his hands when she convinced him to take the case in a way that was just like Trudy. Monk couldn't just "let it go." He had to make Kloster pay for his crime.

But the way Monk finally figures out how the headstones were switched, by recognizing the castling move in a chess match as Patrick's method of switching the corpses, was too elementary. What goes unexplained is how on earth Kloster could have moved the headstones before the police appeared to dig up his first wife's body? How could he have done it without a trace? Monk was there for the exhumation and didn't notice a blade of grass unturned -- how likely would that be?

So, overall, an episode that promised a lot, but wasn't grand or masterful at all.

Other points of interest

-- Finally, a scene with Natalie bitching about her job and how much -- little -- she gets paid to be his assistant. Is Monk having money problems because of the house? He should have reminded her of that debacle.

-- Julie's flirting with the young chessman was cute, especially Natalie's pride/upset at how good her teenaged daughter is at getting to the guy.

-- It was a relief that Randy wasn't made to look like an idiot for a chance. In fact, his predicting that Stottlemeyer would in some way spill his coffee and he'd be forced to clean up the mess was very prescient.

-- Would Monk really have not endorsed the $5,000 check unless tricked into it? The guy has to pay his rent.

-- What a relief when Monk finally tells Kloster that he's sick of the chess metaphors! It was becoming a bore.

-- I liked the way Kloster was dressed like Monk in the first scene; no tie, buttoned up. As the episode progressed, his look became less and less Monkish.

-- The judge was played by Lawrence O'Donnell (The West Wing).
How satisfied were you with the way Monk solved the case?
Extremely satisfied25 (15.4%)
Just satisfied81 (50.0%)
Not very satisfied56 (34.6%)

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PJ

I thought the first 45 min. was excellent, and then it went to you know where. Very sloppy.

August 17 2008 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tess Capra

I don't think it matters how prompt Monk is with her check. I believe her accounts were frozen after her death, and the check won't be honored until the estate is settled, and then only assuming there's enough money. He should have asked for cash.

@ Bruce: Your signature on your check is a form of identification so you're making it easier to steal by not signing it. But regardless, the first thing you should do when receiving a check is write "for deposit only" on it so no one else can simply cash it.

July 28 2008 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ambrose

This [702] was the worst of all 95 episodes.
Poorly executed in every respect. I thought
last week's was weak, too. I hope this is fixed.

July 28 2008 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CR

Thanks for the Lawrence O'Donnell tip. Thought it could be him especially after seeing his character was named Lawrence Barr, but IMDB couldn't confirm it for me.

July 27 2008 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

I agree. The episode is supposed to be genius, but as smart as the plan is, there are plot holes.

July 27 2008 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff

"That was just Monk's supposition after swiping the flowers from the garden. That would be inadmissible evidence because he had no warrant to get them from Kloster's home."

Easy there chief. You aren't a lawyer and your statement isn't necessarily true. Did you consider that the Monk is not a "state actor"? He was hired by a private party, the wife, who may have had ownership interest in the house, especially if the estate has yet to be settled. Two different issues there by the way.

Did you consider, even if Monk was found to be a state actor, or if you are in certain jurisdictions depending on the statutes and case law, that exigent circumstances may exist and thus a warrant is not necessary

I'm thinking you didn't. Thanks for playing.

July 26 2008 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jean frank

I felt with this being the second episode w/o Dr Koger, that we are still seeing Monk loss...ie the way he was willing to plant evidence, not notice the headstones dance in the night etc...Maybe we will see the completion of this idea in future shows.

July 26 2008 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
divineparasite

I like the episodes where we see Monk's vulnerablity when it comes to his wife. The woman who was killed in this episode was killed even after Monk said he would protect her. When she died he felt it was his fault. Monk wanting to capture the man even if it meant planting evidence, I was expecting to see Monk erupt in anger again, at the thought that this man could/would get away with murdering his wife. I like those episodes that show that Monk is always either on the verge of breaking down or erupting in rage, it really shows the emotional rollercoaster that he probobly is everyday of his life.

July 26 2008 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bruce

You don't have to endorse a check (though that assumes it's made out to you and you are the one cashing it). I never endorse checks, because the second you do, it turns it into a bearer instrument. I deposit all checks made out to me without endorsing them.

Here, of course, if Natalie wanted to deposit it, she would need Monk to endorse it (but he wouldn't have to sign it over to her, as he did not).

July 26 2008 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jennifer

I agree. Great concept for this episode and just terrible execution. Clearly the show writers couldn't handle "genius" worth a damn. It was nothing but lame, except for the scene with Stottlemeyer. Is Monk really this dumb (and broke, and bullheaded about being broke)? Way too simplistic.

July 26 2008 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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