Monk: Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door
by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 24th 2009 11:03AM
(S07E12) "Be a pirate. It's fun to be a pirate." -- Marge to Monk
For a short time in this episode, you saw a glimpse of what Adrian Monk's life might have been when he was happy and with Trudy. A woman came into his life, not a romantic figure, but one who nurtured Adrian, admired him, gave him confidence in himself and gently eased him out of the shell of phobias and obsessions that dictate so many aspects of his life. The woman, Marge, appeared as the lady next door, and in the gifted hands of actress Gena Rowlands, she showed us another kind of Monk. For that reason alone, this was a superb episode.
Because this show is essentially not about the crimes but mostly about Monk, it was overall an emotional and sad hour. What it showed, ultimately, I'm afraid, is that Adrian is still so damaged by his childhood and Trudy's death that he may never find true peace ever again.
For a time it seemed like this was going to be one of those episodes predicated on the "big coincidence." It just so happened that Marge appeared when the case began, and it just so happened that the Guiness World Records Museum was the site of a murder and it just so happened the prime suspect lived next door to Marge. It was all looking like it was too neatly tied together. Then they threw in the red herring of all red herrings, the competitive egg eater which really was a canard that went nowhere.
To the writers credit, I couldn't figure out how Togo, the Egg Eating Robot was integral to the plot. To the writers discredit, I couldn't imagine a criminal committing multiple murders for what amounted to a heist. Also, Marcus Giamatti who played John Keyes the neighbor/killer, just seemed smarter than a mere thug. (By the way, he's Paul Giamatti's older brother and they really look/sound similar). He was smart enough to steal Togo and set up a foolproof alibi, so why pull the trigger on the jewelry store clerk.
The jewelry store was major coincidence number two when Marge recognized the pin. If she doesn't, does Monk go off on her and concoct a way to implicated her in the crime. But that did occur after his psychiatry session. Adrian gushed to Dr. Bell about Marge, whom the doctor called a transformational relationship. In his twisted mind, Monk can't believe she could like him, possibly love him, and there must be a catch. With no catch presented, he creates one. It was perhaps the saddest scene ever on Monk when he realizes what he's lost by pushing Marge out of his life. I actually wept.
Gena Rowlands made this episode for me. Her role reminded me of her character in the film Gloria, only older. She was a no-nonsense old lady, not a stereotype at all. That's what made her so attractive. Her power to get Monk to "be a pirate" was exciting, not to mention getting him to do things he fights like mixing his vegetables or moving the furniture. However, by next week, I suspect the chairs will be back where they were...and so will Monk.