Monk – Episode 8-7 Review

Meat Loaf and Tony Shalhoub
Meat Loaf and Tony Shalhoub

“You remind me of a man.”
“What man?”
“The man with the power.”
“What power?”
“The power of hoodoo.”
“You do.”
“Do what?”
“Remind me of a man.”
“What man?”
“The man with the power.”
“What power?”
“The power of hoodoo.”
“You do.”
“Do what?”
…and so on.

Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. Ever since I learned Monk would have an episode called “Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse” that patter has been running through my head. It’s from the 1947 Cary Grant film The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, which is neither here nor there, but I never imagined that the man with the power would turn out to be Meat Loaf. (Of course there’s a difference between Voodoo, an actual religion, and Hoodoo which is more like what we see “practiced” in this episode.)

We’re quickly approaching the halfway point of Monk‘s final season and it’s enjoyable to see them serve up a classic who-dun-it, even if I didn’t find it difficult to pick out the killer. It was a fun ride to the end of the episode, with another strong performance from Traylor Howard as Natalie and an amusing guest turn from Meat Loaf, credited as Meat Loaf Aday.

Meat Loaf is super-duper world famous, in fact if you Google “meat loaf” he comes up before the food, and he needs no introduction. Granted, he’s more renowned as a musical icon then he is as an actor, but that’s how his show biz career started and early on he appeared memorably as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He’s the second actor from the film to guest star on Monk. Tim Curry guest starred as Dale the Whale in season two. Mr. Aday (given name Marvin, so no big surprise he chose a stage name) also guest starred on House last season and seems to be equally adept at drama and comedy. He certainly brought a nice light touch of humor to this episode as Reverend Hadley Jorgenson.

Also in “Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse” are three guest actors who have made previous Monk appearances. Michael Patrick McGill who plays Sgt. Steiner in this episode was also in “Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank” as an unnamed cop. Nice promotion. Sean Blodgett who appears as the coroner played the role of a CSI tech in “Mr. Monk and the Man Who Shot Santa”. David Grieco was also in that episode as Thorn, a member of the bad Santa’s gang. He plays the male paramedic in this one.

In this episode we’re allowed to see a very different side of Natalie. It’s apparent that, like Monk, Natalie hasn’t completely moved on from the death of her spouse. I think that’s a big part of what drew her to Monk and what keeps her by his side, despite her really lousy job benefits. For once Monk has to be “the level headed, brave one,” so it’s a different light for him too. Luckily, he pretty much rises to the occasion. The role reversal makes for a fresh and exciting episode.

“I’m sorry. Something about voodoo?”

70-year-old Martha Murphy (Anne Bellamy) power walks by the ball field where a little league team is practicing. Little Petey Cunningham (David Gore) is at bat. She’s greeted by his coach (John Lacy) who jokingly asks her to join the team. “You trying to kill me, Chauncey?” she asks.

“Don’t talk like that,” he tells her. “You’re going to outlive us all.”

That’s it. She’s a goner. Bye bye, Martha. You can’t say stuff like that in a Monk episode. Talk about bad luck.

Obviously Petey doesn’t have the best luck either, although for a moment it seems as if he does: it’s the traditional inspirational baseball moment, complete with slow motion and soaring dramatic music. You have to feel good for the little guy as he connects with the ball and sends it sailing out of the park. That is, of course, until his teammate finds the home run ball beside poor Martha, now dead with a baseball size dent in her cranium.

A few days later Martha’s family looks through her belonging and find a package. Inside is a voodoo doll with a baseball stuck to its head. The package was postmarked three days before she died.

Monk and Natalie arrive at the police squad room. Captain Stottlemeyer tries to fill them in on the voodoo doll mystery, but Monk is distracted because the desks have been rearranged. He’s so distracted he doesn’t notice Natalie’s strong reaction to the mention of voodoo. Stottlemeyer realizes Monk is not going to concentrate on the case and he orders Randy to put everything back in its original position. The entire squad pitches in. Seconds later everything is back in place. Almost. Stottlemeyer continues. “So here’s what we have. The doll was mailed three days before she died.”

Monk seems to consider the problem, but instead he’s concentrating on a trash can which is still out of place. He moves it to the correct location.

Later they go to the ball park to look at the “crime” scene and Monk questions Coach Chauncey and the team. “Did you know Mrs. Murphy?” he asks little Petey.

“No, sir. Am I going to jail?”

“Probably not.”

Mrs. Murphy being beaned by the ball appears to have been “an act of god” as Stottlemeyer puts it, but what about the voodoo doll? Randy jokingly suggests a witch doctor line up and they all laugh except Natalie who has a little cow instead. “It’s not funny. I used to laugh about it, too”

“About what?” Randy asks.

“Voodoo. Black magic.”

Monk is astonished that Natalie believes in voodoo. The rest of the gang tries to convince her that there’s a logical explanation, but they can’t come up with a good one on the spot, so Natalie clings to her belief. Disher gets a call. Another voodoo doll has been reported.

The gang rush to the apartment of Ralph Farris. Sergeant Steiner (Michael Patrick McGill) is at the scene and he gives them a rundown. The “victim” was a golfer who was recently struck and killed by a bolt of lightning. He shows them the newspaper article with a picture of the victim being taken away by paramedics. While going through his apartment the police discovered a package postmarked before Ralph’s untimely demise. Once Stottlemeyer gathers the courage to open the box, they find that it contains a voodoo doll with a lightning bolt coming out of its head. Natalie thinks this supports her voodoo theory. “Now do you believe me?”

“There is always ALWAYS a non-voodoo explanation for everything.”

Early the next morning, as Monk is vacuuming his apartment, Natalie arrives. Without so much as a surprise alert warning, she announces that she has a surprise. They’re going on vacation and it’s her treat. He’s tempted when he learns they’ll be staying on the 10th floor and he’ll be in room 1010 of a five star resort, but he’s reluctant to leave during an investigation. Natalie quickly offers to call Stottlemeyer to get his okay. She pretends to make the call, but Monk knows that he unplugged the phone to vacuum behind it. She breaks down. “I hate this case,” she tells him.

She confesses that the Captain called an hour before. They’ve found a third victim and a third voodoo doll.

Stottlemeyer and Disher are at the crime scene with the victim, Robert Boyd, who has apparently died of a heart attack. His niece, Angeline Dilworth (Claire Rankin), says she thinks the voodoo doll killed him. Angeline tells them she’s an ER nurse and she did everything she could, including cardiocerebral resesutation, but nothing worked. Monk and Natalie finally arrive, but Natalie won’t go in. Once inside Monk explains why she isn’t with him: “She’s all twisted up about this case…. It’s this voodoo stuff. She believes it.”

Disher gives Monk the facts. The victim was 64-years-old and the “big fish” owner of a cell phone company. “According to his niece, Angeline Dilworth, he’s had a bad ticker for years.” Angeline has also told them that her uncle was very superstitious and obsessed with the recent voodoo killings. Randy supposes it went something like this: “He opens the box, sees the doll, bob’s your uncle, his heart just stops.”

“’Bob’s your, Uncle’?” says Stottlemeyer. “That doesn’t sound right.”

This leads to a hilarious discussion between Disher and the Captain on the origin of the phrase, which takes place in the background as Monk investigates the scene. Monk notices a horseshoe above a doorway is hung upside down. He introduces himself to Boyd’s niece who recognizes his name. “I’ve heard of you. You’re that famous detective.” Then she introduces herself, “I’m Angeline Dilworth.”

Stottlemeyer interrupts them. Natalie just called from the driveway. She wants to go home. He tells Monk to go take care of her. Monk’s not at all sure how to do that.

Later Stottlemeyer and Disher go to the voodoo shop where all the dolls came from and question the owner Reverend Hadley Jorgenson (Meat Loaf). His business is booming with all the publicity from the deaths, but he denies any involvement.

Monk finds Natalie at home alone, sitting on the stairs. “Here’s the thing,” he tells her, “you can not be the unstable one. I can not take care of you, Natalie.”

Too late. Natalie is completely freaked out. She points into the kitchen, where Monk finds another box with a voodoo doll. This one has Natalie’s name on it and its little blonde head has been chopped off.

“I don’t know what’s going on here, but it isn’t hoodoo and it isn’t voodoo. Someone is just trying to scare you.”

Her name is misspelled (T-e-a-g-e-r) on the voodoo doll package and Monk wonders who would spell her name like that. “The Devil,” Natalie says terrified.

She’s convinced that she will soon be decapitated, even though Monk assures her that “Voodoo isn’t real. Okay? It’s a fairy tale.”

She explains that the day before Mitch was shot down she had been told by a voodoo priestess that he was in danger and the she should warn him. Based on that, she now believes in all things voodoo and she blames herself for not warning Mitch.

Stottlemeyer and Disher arrive and set up around the clock protection for Natalie. Randy is there the next morning. He tries to reassure her that she’ll be safe, but it doesn’t do much for Natalie’s nerves when he bites the head off a gingerbread man. “You really don’t believe in it?” she asks. “Witchcraft, voodoo?”

“I’m a Pisces,” Randy tells her. “We’re not superstitious.”

Monk and Stottlemeyer are in his office still trying to unravel the voodoo doll mystery. Monk notices whoever is mailing the packages uses labels instead of writing on the box. The Captain says they’ve ruled out their main suspect, Reverend Jorgenson, who has alibis for all the deaths. Stottlemeyer asks how Natalie’s doing. Apparently, not good. “She’s scared to death. I just talked to Randy. She hasn’t gotten off the couch all day and now she’s wearing one of those plastic dog funnels around her neck.”

Stottlemeyer has a suggestion. “You know, Monk. If she really does take this crap seriously, there is something we can do.”

Cut to a hilarious dark, foggy Exorcist shot of Reverend Jorgenson on his way to see Natalie.

“Call an Ambulance!”
“A different ambulance. This one’s cursed.”

Monk is comforting a still terrified Natalie when Reverend Jorgenson arrives. Monk introduces him and the Reverend announces “Sister, you have been cursed and without getting too technical, I’m here to un-curse you and Mr. Monk is going to help.”

He’s made a replica of the voodoo doll that was sent to her. She screams and hides, but they manage to proceed with the un-cursing. This involves chanting, mixing a potion and flinging around herbs including, much to Monk’s consternation, one commonly known as devil’s dung. He asks Monk to reattach the voodoo doll’s head. Naturally Monk does this in his own inimitable style as Jorgenson waits not so patiently. “It doesn’t have to be perfect!”

The Reverend announces the potion is ready and chants some more over Natalie. Eagar to get on with the un-cursing, Natalie grabs the dish and gulps down the potion. Jorgenson freaks. She wasn’t supposed to drink it. She was supposed to rub it on. “What are you, mental?” he shrieks. “911, 911, 911!”

Monk wants to know, “Is that another chant?”

“No! Call 911!”

Natalie writhes in pain as they wait for the ambulance to arrive. The male paramedic (David Grieco) asks what she drank and Jorgenson rattles off the list of anti-hex ingredients. Monk recognizes the female paramedic. It’s Angeline. “Small world,” she tells him and she says there’s no room for him to ride in the ambulance with Natalie.

He agrees to ride with Jorgenson in his van. As they speed after the ambulance, Monk remembers seeing Angeline’s picture in the newspaper with the second voodoo doll recipient, She was one of the paramedics carting the body away. Jorgenson says he knows her and he thinks she’s a good person. He then admits Angeline bought voodoo dolls in his store. Monk figures it out and he tells Jorgenson that “she’s the guy”. He explains that Angeline wanted to kill her rich uncle and she used the voodoo dolls to divert suspicion. She mailed packages to herself, found some appropriate dead people and planted the voodoo dolls in the packages with new labels. She poisoned her uncle and left a voodoo doll on his counter as well.

Just as Monk figures it out, Natalie gets a glimpse of her chart in the ambulance. Her name is misspelled just as it was on the voodoo doll package. Apparently she hasn’t completely lost her mind, because she figures it out too. Angeline can tell by the look on Natalie’s face that the jig is up. Behind them in the van Monk can see Natalie and Angeline struggling. He tells Jorgenson to ram the ambulance. They run it off the road and then rush to rescue Natalie, who has apparently already managed to subdue Angeline. (And this is after drinking an anti-hex potion. She’s tough.) Natalie jumps from the ambulance into Monk’s arms

“Superstition, curses, hexes, voodoo, they’re all just crutches that people use.”

In the final scene Monk lectures Natalie about rational thought as he compulsively touches all the parking meters on their way. “Natalie, if you let superstition rule your life you’re just avoiding any responsibility.”

Despite his awareness of the irony, when Natalie points out that he missed touching one of the meters (which he didn’t: she was just screwing with him) he’s compelled to go back and touch it again. Undaunted he continues his lecture.

Once again, for those who are disappointed with the lack of Trudy mentions in this episode, despite the fact that USA is heavily advertising that Trudy’s murder will be solved, it won’t be happening until the end of the season, so don’t bother to look for clues yet. The episodes we’re getting now are meant to be stand-alones. They won’t start to wrap things up until the last four or five episodes. “I don’t want to give away too much before these episodes air,“ Tony Shalhoub said in an interview right before the season debut, “because I think it will be a lot more interesting for people to discover things as we go along.”

There is no new Monk on October 2nd. The next episode, “Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy” will air on October 9th.

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