It has been so long since "Monk" was full of deep, poignant emotion, but it's no surprise that it hit the audience with an emotional punch due to Sharona's return on the show last week. Sharona, for those of you just tuning in, was Monk's original nurse/assistant for the first few seasons. She was replaced abruptly by Natalie, and there are some fans who still believe the show has never been the same without her. I'm included among those fans. I still love the show, but there was a fire and an attitude that Sharona added to the cast which has been missing. It was back at full power in "Mr. Monk and Sharona," and that's why it was probably the best episode of the season so far. However they got Bitty Schram to return, it's wonderful to see her again.

Sharona was an important piece of Monk's life. He went catatonic after Trudy's death and it was due to her forcefulness that he managed to snap out of it. We may see him as damaged still, but he was only able to leave the bed thanks to Sharona. "She found me when I was drowning and saved my life," Monk said once. The episode starts with his vacuum cleaner swiping up a penny and then shooting dirt on his face. Sharona comes into the house and snaps into nurse mode, helping him to wash it off. He thinks she is Natalie until he opens his eyes, and then does a double take. Welcome back, Sharona.

Sharon's in town because her uncle has died; he tripped at a country club and she's suing them for personal injury/wrongful death. Natalie is delighted to meet her famous predecessor, and the two assistants seem to hit it off brilliantly ... at first. Sharona is offered a huge settlement, and she's excited since she can send her son to college now, but Monk sees the pictures of her uncle and suspects it was no accident. Sharona begs him to ignore it, but there's no stopping the detective when he smells something is wrong! They interview Perry Walsh, a golfer who witnessed the fall of Uncle Howie. His caddie saw it too and ran to get help since his cell phone died. Monk is certain this was no accident, but he's afraid to tell Sharona.

Sharona reunites with Stottlemeyer and Randy, the latter of whom seems instantly smitten by her. Some people seem surprised by this sudden attraction, but honestly in the first two seasons they were flirting all the time. It was usually snarky remarks from Sharona, but there was always a hint of something there. Her uncle had a history of suspicious falls, and when they go to his apartment, Monk is convinced he planned the accident so he could sue them. Sharona is upset, and then Natalie gets on her case for being upset over the money rather than the man.

Monk and his bickering assistants go to the golfer's house to ask him more questions, and Monk realizes after seeing a set of romance novels that Uncle Howie was having an affair with the golfer's wife! When Sharona pulls him into a closet and insists on a 'here's what happened,' the golfer Walsh hears it all. This enrages Stottlemeyer, and when everyone starts fighting, Monk runs away. Natalie and Sharona make their peace, with Natalie thanking Sharona for getting Monk out of his depression, and Sharona thanking Natalie for being gentler on him now that he's better. Monk is found at Trudy's grave and they decide to get Walsh.

They realize the phone is the key: he switched his caddie's battery, so if they get the phone it'll have Walsh's fingerprint on it. He overhears and they all race one another to the golf course. Monk gets punched so Natalie and Sharona attack Walsh together. That's an awesome, awesome scene. Sharona literally jumps out of a moving golf cart to tackle him! Ha. So the case is solved, and Sharona breaks her arm on that same damn step so she gets settlement money after all. Woo!

After a sweet goodbye to Natalie, Sharona hugs Monk goodbye. This is one of the sweetest moments since she left, with Monk gratefully hugging her back and closing his eyes tightly. Despite Natalie being there longer, she'll never quite be the woman who saved his life, and it is great that the show is giving him back that connection. Monk needs the people who love him despite his flaws, and Sharona's chief among them. It looks like she might be visiting again, and now that she's separated from her husband, she's dating Disher! Ha! Awesome. It doesn't look like Sharona will be a regular on the show again, so that might be all we get, but it was enough. Thanks for the closure, "Monk."

"Monk" is on USA Friday nights at 9 PM EST.

Image © NBC Universal, Inc.

Monk cast: Tony Shalhoub / Bitty Schram / Ted Levine / Jason Gray-Stanford / More

Story by Chelsea Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer

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