"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monk: Mr. Monk Falls In Love

This was a rarity in the Monk canon. It was not only a serious episode, but one in which Monk seemed capable of touching another person and falling in love again. The title of the episode, in fact, suggests that he does fall in love.

There were other differences in the show. The murder of the taxi driver brought Stottlemeyer and Disher to the case, and Natalie and Adrian, but also a San Francisco Homicide task force -- i.e. two other detectives. Have I ever seen these guys before? I don't remember them. They were there for one reason basically, to contradict Monk's assertion that the prime suspect -- Layla with a Z, a beautiful social worker -- is not the "guy." In the face of mounting evidence, Monk refused to believe she did it.

At the same time, Monk allowed himself to be attracted to her, or rather, he couldn't help himself. When he goes to see her to warn her that the cops will arrest her, he admits that he could have called instead. Fighting every one of his instincts to pull away, Monk kept coming back to her. Joanna Pacula played Layla with complete sincerity. She did look like an angel when they first interviewed her. At no point, did I think she was playing Monk, like the other two detectives suggested.

As attracted to her as Monk was, she was attracted to him, too, a fact that was underscored in the dancing scene. Monk actually overcame his phobias about intimacy and after a hesitant start, he took her in his arms and they danced. It was a sweet moment, but it couldn't last. Monk's obsession with Trudy continues to hold him in check. Scrubbing the wedding ring symbolized his need to remain only Trudy's. Sad, really.

The Zemenian restaurant scene was fun, sort of a Benihana of Slavic food. Like the last episode on the submarine, Monk refused to eat. This time it was because of chef was playing with the food. One of these week's, Monk's going to have to eat something.

When the story of the butcher came out and Layla mentioned Emmerich by name, Monk's calling for 911 because the guy spat on the floor was over the top. But then, this is Monk.

The ending though was particularly poignant. Monk did the right thing. He save Layla and found the right "guy," but was it fair that an old woman was imprisoned when a war criminal, "the butcher of Zemenia," was never brought to justice? Yes, she stabbed him, but what crimes had he committed and never been tried for?

Ultimately, Monk's choice resulted in his losing Layla. There was no right answer, actually. If he let her confession stand, he'd lose her. Bringing in her mother and revealing that she was the killer, lost Layla to him, too. The final shot of Layla walking away and the door swinging closed on Monk sealed the deal. I doubt Layla will be back again.

Other points of interest:

Randy in date mode was like Randy at work, oblivious. By the way, Randy looked quite randy in the cab. I guess he hasn't been dating much lately.

When Layla kissed Monk for the first time, Natalie gave him a wipe, which he didn't use.

"Red light, schmed light. That's your argument?"

The cops should not have had guns drawn when they went to arrest Layla; there was no imminent danger.

Showing the murder in black and white was a nice touch, even though we've seen it before. But wouldn't the cabbie have some inkling that he was despised by the Zemenian community? Was he hiding in plain sight?

The mythical Zemenia reminded me of Freedonian.

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