Mr. Monk Joins a Cult - Recap

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Monk decides to get a beeper... for Natalie. And have her pay for it. Natalie isn't particularly thrilled at the idea, and notices an older couple watching them. Natalie recognizes them as the parents of Amanda Clark, who was brutally killed at a rest stop a few days ago. Monk figures they're going to beg him to try and solve their daughter's case, and agrees to help before they can even say anything.

At the rest stop, Monk examines the crime scene with Natalie and Stottlemeyer while Randy brings in Tom Donovan, a witness who says that "Father," the leader of the Siblings of the Sun, was at the murder scene and stabbed Amanda repeatedly, then carved a sun in her chest. Donovan then rushed her to the hospital but she died en route. It turns out Amanda left the cult a year ago and became a prostitute, and they figure Father killed her for revenge for leaving the group. However, Father has an alibi based on the testimony of Brother Zack.

Monk volunteers to go undercover and join the cult, but everyone figures that's a bad idea. Natalie ends up volunteering but when they approach a pair of cultists on the street, they quickly notice that she has a family and would be missed. Monk ends up volunteering to join them and they quickly whisk him away.

The two cultists, Sister Sally and Brother Ted, show Monk around Father's ranch. Monk asks them some questions about Father and his lack of concern about Amanda's death, but they quickly disavow Amanda as an ex-cultist. Monk then talks to Brother Zack, who testified that Father was in his cabin at the time but heard a beeping noise on the night of the murder. Monk checks out Father's cabin and finds scuff marks in the dirt behind the building. Father approaches him and offers him the answers he's seeking about the death of his wife.

Randy interrogates Brother Ted, who testified on Father's behalf, and Natalie lets them know that Monk is in the cult. Father is holding a revival rally and boasts of how he's never been sick a day in his life. He brings up Monk and gives him a piece of charcoal to hold. When Monk tries to wipe off the dirt, Father stops him and finally convinces him to give up his precious wipes.

Stottlemeyer finds Monk at the airport, selling flowers for money, and tells the others. Back at the ranch, Monk is organizing flower bouquets when Father brings him to his cabin. When Father has trouble with his unplugged hot plate, Monk volunteers to plug it in by the floor, and spots a plastic cap. Father then confronts Monk, saying he knows Adrian is a detective sent in to find evidence against him. Monk admits its true but confesses that he wants to stay with the cult so he doesn't have to think.

Brother Ted and Sister Sally take Monk to the bank to take out his life savings, but Stottlemeyer and the others pick him up and take him to Natalie's apartment. There they try to deprogram him without any luck: Stottlemeyer and Natalie can't get through to him and Randy almost converts. Finally Dr. Kroeger comes in and points out that Father is a millionnaire. When that doesn't work, he crumples up a picture of Trudy. Monk finally realizes what he's lost and breaks down sobbing. However, when Kroeger's beeper goes off Monk realizes the solution to the case.

Monk and the others go to see Tom Donovan at his corporate office, where he's there with his wife Susan. Monk accuses him of hiding something and notes that Father was at his cabin, and the supposed microwave sound was a beeper. Father has problems with his joints and secretly has a doctor come in to give him cortisone shots. Father had a secret door installed in the back of his cabin, explaining the scuff mark that Monk found. Since Father now has a perfect alibi, but Donovan identified him at Amanda's murder scene, Donovan must be the killer. However, he also has an alibi: an automatic photograph from when he ran a red light getting Amanda to the hospital. Monk figures that Donovan was having an affair with the prostitute, but when he realized his picture was taken, he had no choice but to kill her to cover up his affair from his wife. The photo now proves that Donovan is guilty: Amanda has her seatbelt on in the photo, but they check out and note that there's no blood on the seatbelt. Amanda had to be wearing it before she was killed, not after as Donovan claimed.

Later, Monk and Natalie are shopping when Father and his minions arrive. Father thanks Monk for clearing his name. He promises him anything and Monk asks him to do one thing: tie his shoelaces. Since Father can't bend over because of his joints, even though he claims to have never been sick, his followers are left to wonder how true his claims really are.