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'Monk' Recap: 'Mr. Monk and the Critic'

Dee Doyle Dee Doyle
September 21st, 2009 8:21am EDT
MonkLast week's episode of "Monk" was one of those rare occurrences when it wasn't about whodunit, but rather about how they would prove it. The 'who' became pretty obvious early on, but the 'how' is the real question. It involved Natalie being even more annoying than usual, and unfortunately now that she was proven right she'll probably continue to be in weeks to come. Anyone else still miss Sharona? It's been so many seasons but her guest starring at the end of this final season is so exciting.

Monk and Natalie are out in the community theater because Natalie's daughter Julie has a role in it. Julie's waiting to hear back from college and intends to go into drama, so this is very important to her. First the episode opens with a pretty young woman getting proposed to and then pushed off a hotel balcony to her death. She knew the assailant and seemed very much in love with him. Monk frets over not having enough arm rests at the theater and he is forced to use the public restroom, although this time it turns out to be a sanctuary for him. The sweet men's room attendant becomes quick friends with the OCD detective. Natalie is anxious because a famous theater critic is at the show, sitting in one of the high boxes.

After the show Julie goes to the wrap party and Monk and Natalie walk into the crime scene of the young woman from before. Monk jumps on board to investigate and quickly figures out that the boyfriend was probably the killer. Natalie smells a cologne in the air but no one else notices it. The review of the play, done by the horrible critic Hannigan, comes in and it is especially cruel toward Julie. Natalie is infuriated by this and storms into his office. Hannigan is canoodling with his fiancee, the boss' daughter, and coldly shrugs Natalie's complaints off. Natalie smells his cologne and knows he is the murderer, but she can't convince anyone else of this!

None of the detectives believe her, even when she points out the viable motive which is that he didn't want his real fiancee to find out about the dead girl's affair with him. She makes Julie perform in front of everyone to prove the review was wrong, which only serves to embarrass everyone involved. To be honest, the young actress really isn't that great of a singer, so Natalie isn't winning her case. She hires Monk, and he asks the bathroom attendant Gilson if anything suspicious happened that night. Gilson goes to Hannigan and implies something 'odd' happened between them, and Hannigan brutally hits him over the head.

It is at the hospital where Monk figures out that Natalie was right all along. Gilson had taken Hannigan's place while he went and murdered the girl, under the innocent excuse that Hannigan was taking a smoking break. This gave him an air tight alibi, and Julie just happened to be performing at that exact moment so he tore her apart. Monk realizes they have no actual evidence against Hannigan, so they would have to trick him.

Monk © NBC Universal, Inc.

This was actually a clever moment on the show, and it was nice to remember that Monk is a manipulative man when he wants to be. He's not just smart because of the little clues he catches; he also knows how to catch crooks. He has Julie show up accusing Hannigan of rape at his business, and when the critic swears he's never seen the girl in his life, they have him caught. He couldn't have watched Julie's performance if he's never seen her! Case solved!

This was a good case, although Natalie's stage mother creepiness really doesn't add anything positive to her character. Julie gets accepted into Berkeley's theater program at the end, so the young actress may not be around much more on "Monk." It's almost over, anyway. These episodes, when the case isn't really about whodunit, can be the most interesting. Usually the crook's identity is easy to figure out, but it's the details that matter.

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

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Dee Doyle
Story by Chelsea Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer

Follow Chelsea on twitter at http://twitter.com/mustbethursday.