For twelve years, Adrian Monk has been hunting his wife's killer, struggling with his phobias and compulsions, and solving plenty of crimes.
But now his lonely quest is finally ending. "Monk Season Eight" is a brilliant finale for the long-running detective series -- the writers have a whole season to wrap up plot threads, sketch out futures for the beloved characters, and introduce a final round of bizarre crimes that only the OCD detective can solve. And of course, they finally address the main mystery: who killed Monk's wife, and why?
First, Monk (Tony Shalhoub) is hired by a former child star who starred in his favorite sitcom, "The Cooper Clan" -- and the reality might tarnish his favorite show. Among his other problems: voodoo dolls, UFOs, a Nigerian man whose wife was killed in a hit-and-run, camping trips with surly small boys, birthday parties, the murders of Dr Bell's new therapy group, a snobby theatre critic who apparently murdered someone while he was watching Julie's play, a dog Monk reluctantly adopts, and even the possible destruction of a good friend's wedding.
A familiar face returns to San Francisco when Sharona (Bitty Schram) comes back to deal with her late uncle's legal issues, but Monk suspects foul play. And Monk's longstanding dream of rejoining the police force is realized, but turns out to be... less than ideal. Finally, his ongoing investigation into Trudy's death twelve years ago takes a deadly turn -- not only is someone trying to kill him now, but an old secret from years ago reveals the truth...
There's a bittersweet quality to the final season of "Monk" -- on one hand, it's sad that the series is finally ending, and on the other hand it has some of the most particularly because it's the best season that the show has had in quite awhile. And the writers take care to wrap up various plot threads that have wound through the series (Trudy's murder, Monk's desire to rejoin the police force) and arrange futures for most of the characters.
And along the way, they provide a solid string of murder mysteries -- baffling crimes, obscure clues, and new eccentricities. And while there are many bittersweet moments, especially in the last two or three episodes, the season is peppered with some comedy as well (Monk hosts a hilariously squeaky-clean bachelor party) and some deliciously hilarious dialogue ("There is no Opposite Killer! If there was, you would have been killed by a falling rocket scientist years ago!").
And as for the ending... well, it has some major shocks and plot twists, and the mystery is rather brief and simple. However, the resolution of Monk's story is not just satisfying, but leaves you with a warm'n'fuzzy feeling.
Tony Shalhoub is, as ever, lovably oddballish as Adrian Monk; while his tragicomic performances are brilliant throughout the season, his performance in the final episode is shattering, raw and eventually uplifting. Traylor Howard, Jason Gray-Stanford and Ted Levine give solid performances (and their characters all get new romantic interests... some quite surprising!), and there are some excellent guest turns by Schram, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Virginia Madsen. But Shalhoub is the undisputed star of this season.
It's a wrench to say goodbye to Monk and the gang after eight long years, but at least the eighth season is a brilliant farewell. Here's what happened... and here's what Monk did about it.