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Recap / Monk S 3 E 13 Mr Monk Gets Stuck In Traffic

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While he, Natalie and Julie are stuck in the middle of a traffic jam, Monk becomes suspicious about the car that caused it, thinking it was murder rather than an accident. He tries to solve the case while dealing with Natalie's increasing frustration, a driver who's angry at him for reporting her driving, and the killer, who is trying to get at the scene to retrieve incriminating evidence.

This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

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  • Accidental Kidnapping: Natalie climbs into the back of Galardi's dump truck to look for evidence. Unfortunately, she's still inside when Galardi finishes his business and drives off.
  • Ambulance Chaser: The first appearance of resident attorney Garrett Price.
  • Artistic License – Law: Exactly why did the California Highway Patrol officer Monk is riding with never once attempt to flip on his lights and siren, or speed up and cut the truck off, or for that record use his microphone to order Galardi to pull over? Also, the police car and the truck can't be going more than 45 mph. Watch the dotted white lines between the lanes, and how slowly the scenery passes when they show the shot from behind both vehicles.
  • Brick Joke: Monk had to feebly disguise his voice so that Crystal the reckless driver he reported wouldn't recognize him. Unfortunately for Monk, she was within earshot when he was talking to Price normally, and she realizes the truth.
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  • Call-Back: Monk mentions that he played with Willie Nelson.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Monk has to pretend to be one of these to the boss of a truck driver to get her rehired. His complaint was what got her fired in the first place, and she makes it very clear he won't like it if she gets angry...
  • Driving into a Truck: Ray Galardi, a construction planner, kills environmentalist Steve Marriot, then puts Marriot's body into the guy's old Volkswagon Beetle and loads it into Galardi's dump truck. He then drives the truck onto the highway and dumps it with the hydraulic lift, to make it look like an accident.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Krystal the truck driver actually deserves the complaint that got her fired.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Part of the reason Galardi killed Marriot when the latter claimed his illegal dealings were endangering a species of snake. He thinks Marriot made up the snake species, rather than believe that maybe, Marriot genuinely cares about the environment.
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  • For Want of a Nail: If not for Galardi having mistakenly switched his phone with Marriot's, then he would very likely have gotten away with his crime, as Monk would have been suspicious about the circumstances of the crash, but his investigation would have gone nowhere. Instead, Galardi's having to go back to the crime scene to retrieve his phone and then his poor impersonation of a paramedic (while committing another murder to get his uniform, to boot) end up giving Monk the proof he needs.
  • Ignored Expert: For most of the episode, the local police completely ignore Monk's warnings that the car accident was a little fishy. The look on the Sergeant's face when he figures out that Monk was right is priceless.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Galardi hoists Marriot's Volkswagen into his truck then drops it on the highway, making it look like Marriot got into a crash.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Ray Galardi, after killing Steve Marriot and making his death look like a car accident, realizes he mixed up his phone with Marriot's when he takes a call on his cell phone only to get someone asking for Marriot, meaning Galardi's own phone is on the body. So to get his cell phone back, Galardi stops his truck across the highway, walks into the accident scene, and lures a paramedic to an out-of-the-way area by claiming that his pregnant wife's in the back of one of the ambulances and needs to be checked on. When the paramedic is opening the back doors of the ambulance, Galardi strangles him, rolls his body under the vehicle, and steals his uniform so that he can switch phones back without anyone noticing.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The super-safety-conscious Monk unbuckles his seatbelt and sits on the edge of the car window so that he can get a better shot at the mechanics of the truck and keep Galardi from dumping Natalie onto the highway.
  • Pipe Pain: Ray kills Steve by striking him on the head with a pipe. He specifically picks out a pipe that is as wide as the steering wheel in Steve's Volkswagen to make it seems like Steve died from hitting his head against the wheel in the crash.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Monk would have easily gotten the local police on his side if he just managed to call LAPD who would instantly verify his credentials. Unfortunately, the highway has a really bad cell reception.
  • Potty Emergency: There's a whole subplot involving Julie's need of a bathroom. It's how she and Monk wind up meeting Korn, which actually becomes beneficial when the musicians give Monk an important clue that truly convinced him the "accident" was actually a murder.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: Really shines in this episode, as we meet Ray Galardi, see how he murders Steve Mariott, watch him load the body into Steve's car and then put the car into the back of a dump truck, and finally see him dump the car on the highway. The mystery revolves around Monk trying to proves Steve's death was no accident.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Ray tries to bribe Steve into backing off the environmental group off the land he wants to build on. Steve refuses and swears to see Ray in court. When the bribe fails, Ray moves to a plan B...
  • Trivially Obvious: Monk's first attempts to get in the good graces of Korn. Later he mentions he plays the clarinet.
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