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Friday, December 4, 2009

Mr. Monk and The End Part 2 - Series Finale

The pressure of writing the last episode must be tremendous. Especially for a long-running show like Monk. The writers have to tie up loose ends, satisfy viewers' desire for the characters, and leave fans with a sense of closure. Closure, in fact, is the word Dr. Bell used with Adrian. Monk was looking for it and so were we.

But the ending is tough. There have been some shows that have stumbled badly at the end. Seinfeld, for instance, was a real stinker. But the memory of Newhart, which harkened back to The Bob Newhart Show may be the best-ever. Now, in the broader scheme of things, Seinfeld was a much better series than Newhart; in every way but the ending. Which brings us back to Monk. How did the writers navigate the Monk finale? Follow me after the jump and I'll tell you all about it.

As Larry David might say on Curb Your Enthusiasm, "Pretty, pretty good." The Monk finale was pretty, pretty good. It delivered closure, all right. The mystery of Trudy's murder was finally wrapped up. It was Judge Rickover, an ex-lover of Trudy's from her college days. He'd become a prominent judge twelve years later when he killed Trudy to keep secret that they'd had an affair that resulted in a child. Rickover had the midwife killed, too.

When Adrian figured it out and confronted the judge in the rain, holding a gun on him and forcing him to dig up the proof -- the midwife's body -- the drama was tense. Would Monk pull the trigger? He could have. Monk thought he was dying, but he didn't. Ultimately, Monk's vengeance was greater because he shamed the judge by telling him that he had killed three people -- the doctor, too -- all for a job. A job!

Shamed and knowing the jig was up, the judge took the pistol and killed himself. Craig T. Nelson very good in this role, the perfect foil because he can play smug, overconfident jerks like this guy. When Monk tried to sock him for insulting Trudy, you could relate.

It was great that it was Natalie who figured out about the wipes being poisoned; it showed that in all her time with Monk, she'd learned a thing or two. But curing Monk and solving Trudy's murder wasn't enough. Something was missing.

Think about how Monk watched Trudy's tape. Monk agonized listening to each sentence, and practically climbed into the TV set. When Trudy said, "You are my life," it was the same words Monk had for her.

"Take care of her," were the words the Judge said before he died, and even when Dr. Bell advised Adrian to let it go, it was a loose end. Monk had closure, but he still felt empty. There was a last mystery to solve connected to Trudy.

Molly. Trudy never knew her child had survived. Monk's meeting with her, a beautiful 26-year-old woman who resembled Trudy in many ways, was an emotional wallow. Adrian couldn't stop crying, and fortunately for him, Molly embraced him like he was a long lost relative. He was sort of. And like a proud new papa, Monk went overboard getting her to fill up his life.

The last scenes of the series were to tie things up with ribbons. Randy resigned to move to New Jersey and become the chief of police in Summit where he and Sharona would live happily ever after. Monk, who had contemplated adhering himself to Molly and adoring her 24/7, returned to his work as a detective when surrogate daughter told him he must. Speaking words that remind Monk of Trudy, Molly told Adrian that he had a gift and had to use it.

So as we heard a new song by Randy Newman -- "I Think You're Going to Miss Me When I'm Gone" -- Monk got called onto a new case with Natalie by his side. Leland was there and the game was afoot. Holmes and Watson on the case.

Other points of interest

-- How tight are Leland and Adrian? Leland promised Monk that he would kill the judge when Adrian couldn't get out of the hospital. Leland agreed to no trial, but Monk knew he was lying.

-- Even sick out of his mind, Monk realized there was something weird about the judge being so attached to that modest house. The sundial under a tree was the inconsistency that triggered Monk solving the murder.

-- Monk was finally able to sleep in the middle of the bed. Trudy's dream had been a premonition, and a message. He was finally happy again. Trudy was back in his life in the form of Molly.

-- Back on the job, Monk was no long buttoned up to the top button. Instead, he wore a pullover sweater under his jacket. It was in between the buttoned up Monk and the cop Monk with a tie.

-- Ending with Leland, Adrian and Natalie all going to a crime scene leaves open the possibility of future Monk reunion movies.

-- Great work by Tony Shalhoub in both parts of this finale. He really brought Monk full circle.

Great dialogue

-- Judge Rickover: "You're going to kill a federal judge?"
Monk: "Tonight, I'm the judge."

-- "I hate the great unknown."

-- Natalie to Monk: "Trudy sent you a gift. She sent you someone to love. It's what you've been missing."

-- Monk gushing about Molly: "You know the Internet? She's on it."

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