Mr. Monk and the Wrong Man - Recap

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Fourteen years ago, Sarah McNally hears a scream from her next-door neighbor and sees a man walk out of the house. She goes inside and finds the couple that lives there brutally murdered.

In the present, Monk is testifying at a parole board for the man who was convicted for the murders, Max Barton. They’re interrupted when a lawyer comes in to clear Barton of the murders using new DNA evidence.

A security guard, Pauly Flores, is watching the news broadcast about Barton’s release and swears to himself. Stottlemeyer is concerned that Monk will take the news hard, while Disher is simply happy that he hasn’t screwed up for once. Monk is meeting with Dr. Kroger and is ready to quit detective work entirely, but Kroger suggests this might help Monk obtain some empathy. Monk doesn’t believe it and wants Kroger to take an apology letter to Barton. When Barton says it’s not his place, Monk figures Natalie should do it but Kroger is skeptical.

Monk and Natalie go to see Barton as he’s released. The detective tries to apologize but it doesn’t go well and Barton tells him to curl up and die. They try again later at his halfway home, but Monk is distracted by the fact that Barton has a tattoo of his head with a dagger pointing at it. They leave and Monk tries to convince Natalie to make out with Barton to help him get over it, but she isn’t big on that idea. They then get word that Barton is on a rampage at a hair salon. They go there and find he’s looking for his ex-wife, Sherry. Monk tries to get through to him and help find his wife, although he inadvertently figures out she’s seeing another man.

Monk vows to find the real killer and goes to the house where the murders take place. The new family can’t provide much info but Monk and Stottlemeyer check out the place and find scratch marks made by a dog that belonged to the victims. They determine it died a day before the murders took place and Stottlemeyer and Disher start checking the files.

At Pauly Flores’ house, he returns home from his security job to find Barton waiting for him. They argue over the crime that Barton went into jail for, then Barton kills his ex-partner with his belt.

Monk has had Natalie’s father set Barton up with a job but he isn’t doing anything but goofing off while complaining he has back problems from when he was in prison. Monk ends up doing Barton’s work for him but Natalie arrives with news of Sherry. They go to the church where Monk tries to stop the wedding, declaring that Max really loves Sherry. Max shows up and Sherry decides to take him back. Monk is convinced he’s really helped Barton, but as he leaves the neighbor woman Stacy arrives and continues to claim that Barton is guilty. She has a photographic memory and mentions how she saw the man leave the house with his empty hands. Monk realizes that there had to be an accomplice and the DNA evidence is from him.

Stottlemeyer and Disher check out Pauly’s death, where he was hung up by the neck with his own belt. They figure it’s murder rather than suicide and Monk realizes how Barton incriminated himself. They go to the chapel where Barton is now marrying Sherry. Monk interrupts again and announces that Barton really was the killer, and that he killed Pauly and made it look like a suicide. They can’t prove the belt used for the murder belonged to Barton… but they can prove that Barton took Pauly’s belt to replace his own. And Pauly’s uniform belt has his company insignia on it. Barton has to remove his belt and show it’s really Pauly’s, and is taken away. Later, Disher screws up again and Stottlemeyer is glad to admit that things are back to normal.