Monk gets a murder case with the M.O. of one particular person written all over it. The problem? The obvious culprit, martial artist Sonny Chow, has been dead and buried for years.
This episode includes examples of the following tropes:
- Buried Alive: Chris Downey puts Monk in a coffin and buries it.
- Chekhov's Gun: The pillow that Natalie hits Monk with is revealed to contain the diamonds from a six year old heist.
- Coffin Contraband: Chris Downey, having stolen some jewels and needing a place to stash them before he was caught, put them in Sonny Chow's casket and "framed" him six years later to get the coffin dug up.
- Hastily Hidden MacGuffin: The jewels hidden in Sonny Chow's coffin.
- Imagine Spot: While he's buried alive, Monk has one where he gives The Summation to Trudy in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.
- Meaningless Villain Victory: Downey got the diamonds, buried Monk, and was in the process of making his demands to the police...And promptly died of a heart attack.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles: Downey buries Monk in the cemetery, but then he has a heart attack before he could negotiate Monk's location with the police. Worse, Randy points out that the cemetery has an extension, which only broadens the search radius.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sonny Chow himself is an obvious parody of Bruce Lee.
- Noodle Incident: Stottlemeyer tells Monk about an incident that happened on a trip to a convention in Atlanta: he got in a cab and recognized the driver as the guy who was the Special-Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's Atlanta field office until he accused the wrong guy of the 1996 Olympic Games bombing, which ruined his career. He brings it up because the case Monk and Stottlemeyer are working involves a suspect who officially has been deceased for six years, and Stottlemeyer is genuinely afraid of the consequences that might occur if he goes public and is immediately proven wrong.
- Power Outage Plot: An accidental version is how Stottlemeyer determines the general area where Monk is buried. Seeing that a traffic light has gone out, he figures that Downey accidentally cut its power line with a shovel and has his men start digging along its length.
- Race Against the Clock: After Downey buries Monk alive, the police and Natalie have limited time to find him before he suffocates. Stottlemeyer notes the problem is worsened because Monk (being claustrophobic) will probably panic when he realizes where he is and use his air up faster.
- Shovel Strike: Gravedigger Chris Downey knocks Monk out with a shovel before putting him in a coffin and burying him.