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Recap / Monk S 1 E 3 Mr Monk Meets Dale The Whale

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Monk is faced with another seemingly impossible case — Judge Catherine Lavinio is murdered in her home, but the primary suspect, Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck, is morbidly obese and immobile.

This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Batter Up!: Judge Lavinio is murdered with a baseball bat.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The leftovers briefly seen in the fridge, the intact chair in Justice Lavinio's living room (which Monk tries to put back into place), Sharona bragging about Christiaan Vezza being named for Christiaan Barnard (the surgeon who performed the first human heart transplant), and the tapes of the judge Biederbeck keeps in his luxury suite all prove to be important clues to explaining the murder.
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  • Chekhov's Skill: Dr. Vezza shows off his mimicry skills for Sharona during the investigation, including his ability to do a falsetto "feminine" voice, which eventually leads Monk to the solution.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Stottlemeyer warns everyone that Dale is the (very large) embodiment of this trope: he videotapes everything in his apartment, has a platoon of lawyers on speed dial ready to sue the city at a moment's notice, and can find or buy information on anyone at a terrifying speed.
  • Dating Catwoman: This episode is one of the first of many examples of this for Sharona (it eventually becomes a Running Gag)—she's interested in Dr. Vezza, who turns out to be the murderer in the crime (though as the trope name suggests, Vezza is something of a tragic villain, as his murder of Judge Lavinio was done at Dale's command, and he agrees to turn states' evidence to try to atone for his crimes).
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  • Foreshadowing: When Stottlemeyer and Disher are theorizing different solutions to the crime, the latter suggests that Dale actually murdered Lavinio at his apartment, then moved the body. Stottlemeyer points out that this isn't possible, as the 911 call came from the judge's house. Disher then discards the idea, but he turns out to be somewhat correct—Justice Lavinio didn't make the call (rather, the murderer impersonated her voice after killing her), and deducing when 911 was dialed is a key to the case.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: A "framing yourself" variant is key to the plot; the titular Dale 'the Whale' Biederback arranges for his physician Dr. Christiaan Vezza to murder a judge named Catherine Lavinio who issued a costly antitrust ruling against Dale, then stage the scene to make it look like Dale did it, even faking a 911 call fingering him as the attacker and making sure a witness sees a morbidly obese man (actually Vezza wearing a fat suit) disconnecting a smoke alarm in the house. This is completely impossible, because not only is Dale too fat to move, he couldn't even fit through the victim's door (or his own) if he could; he's basically like a ship in a bottle.
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  • Heel–Face Turn: "Dr. Vezza" turns out to be a disgraced former surgeon named Glenn Q. Sindell, who jumped bail after killing a child while operating under the influence of drugs. Dale learned Sindell's secret and used it to enslave him, eventually forcing him to kill Judge Lavino. At the end of the episode, Stottlemeyer reveals that the FBI told the cops all about it, and offers Sindell the chance at a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against Dale; Sindell wholeheartedly agrees, remarking that he hopes he can undo some of the damage he's done by helping put Biederbeck in prison.
  • In-Universe Nickname: "The Whale" is a nickname Dale has in the show itself. His housekeeper—and later Monk himself—call Dale "the fat man."
  • It's Personal:
    • Monk loathes Dale and even admits that his hatred is clouding his judgment. Dale himself later tells Sharona why: Trudy, who worked as a newspaper reporter, once wrote a piece criticizing Biederbeck and dubbing him "the Genghis Khan of world finance." The villain decided to take out a libel suit against both her and the paper, even though he knew he couldn't possibly win—he just wanted to see Adrian and Trudy squirm. The Monks were forced to sell everything they owned to pay for the court costs, and Monk admits that during the whole incident, he would see Trudy outside sobbing with grief.
    • The judge who initially refuses to let Stottlemeyer arrest Dale mentions that he and Justice Lavinio were close friends, and offers to personally serve the warrant if they can provide conclusive proof.
    • It's also implied that this is why Dale killed Justice Lavinio in the first place: she ruled against him in an antitrust lawsuit to the tune of $210 million, something even the super-wealthy Biederbeck admits is a big loss. He also likely didn't enjoy the idea of someone actually beating him at something, especially legally (Dale loves to brag about just how many lawyers he has waiting to sue anyone who crosses his path).
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: One of the first episodes to imply this about Sharona: Dale comments that he knows "how she paid for nursing school" in Florida. He doesn't specify exactly what she did, but considering that he was previously talking about his extensive pornography collection, it's easy to connect the dots.
  • Locked Room Mystery: An inversion: the question isn't "how did the murderer get into the room," it's "how did the murderer get out of his own room?" Every single clue points toward Dale the Whale as the guilty party, but he is completely immobile and unable to leave his bedroom (the door alone is too small for him).
  • Orgy of Evidence: Invoked; Dale "the Whale" Biederbeck has his physician Dr. Christiaan Vezza kill judge Catherine Lavinio and stage the scene to make it look like Dale himself did it...because bedridden Dale is the only suspect who could not have possibly done it. To do this, Dr. Vezza wears oversized boots to leave big footprints behind. He kills the judge with a baseball bat with the engraved initials "DB". He also deliberately sets off a smoke alarm and dons his own empathy suit (a giant fat suit) so that a passing neighborhood girl sees a "very, VERY fat man" disabling the alarm. Lastly, he fakes a 911 call, using his skills of mimicry to imitate the judge's voice and deliver the ace in the hole.
  • Rewatch Bonus: At the beginning of the episode, Dr. Vezza tries to take a plate of corn dogs away from Dale, saying "This stuff will kill you." Dale's response: "I'm not gonna die. You won't let me, will you...doctor?" At first it just seems like a taunt—but the denouement of the case reveals that "Vezza" is a disgraced former surgeon who jumped bail. He thus isn't a doctor any longer, and Dale knows it, so the line comes across as the villain deliberately reminding Vezza that he's being blackmailed.
  • Shout-Out: Arthur fans might get a few snickers at the fact that the lemonade girl who witnessed the judge's murder in "Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale" is named Sue Ellen.
  • Significant Background Event: When Monk is initially investigating Justice Lavinio's kitchen, he briefly opens the fridge, revealing a bag of leftovers from an Italian restaurant. Furthermore, the front of the fridge has a picture of Lavinio smiling with a middle-aged woman. Both prove to be important clues: the doggie bag helps Monk realize that the "cooking" which set off the smoke alarm must have been staged (Lavinio wouldn't have been preparing a meal if she couldn't finish her original dinner), while Sharona recognizes the woman in the photo as Dale the Whale's housekeeper, who turns out to have originally worked for the judge.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Dale the Whale's housekeeper worked for Judge Catherine Lavinio before Biederbeck hired her for a much higher salary. He then repeatedly pressed her for information about Lavinio, including the location of a spare key the judge kept hidden in the garden, which was crucial to pulling off the murder. Unlike most instances of this trope, the housekeeper is devastated to discover her role in the crime and begs forgiveness.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: After Dale shows Sharona what he looks like under his coverings, the next scene has Monk and Benjy waiting outside the bathroom, where she's been throwing up.
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