Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Monk" series finale recap: "Mr. Monk and the End, Part II"

This week marked the final episode of USA's long-running detective dramedy "Monk," starring Tony Shalhoub as an obsessive compulsive detective. The series wasn't your typical edgy cable fare, but rather a sweet-natured, gentle comedy fueled by an unfailingly excellent performance by Shalhoub.
Because the series doesn't demand the week-to-week attention of serials like "Lost," I must admit that I lost touch with it for a while. But I made a point to check in on the final episodes because, while the series wasn't always a must watch for me, I've always had a certain amount of affection for its goofy charms.
Spoilers below
The show's last two episodes (the two hour finale actually started with last week's episode, "Mr. Monk and the End, Part 1") were in perfect keeping with the tone of the show. I think we can all agree that this series could only end with Monk finding the killer of his long-dead wife, Trudy. And it was also fitting that, though Monk felt some relief after solving undoubtedly the biggest mystery of his career, he also felt empty. His pursuit helped keep his wife alive in some way. Thus, I think it was appropriate that the series finale not only wrapped up the mystery of Trudy's death, but also gave Monk someone new to love -- Trudy's daughter, whom she had long thought to be dead. The daughter, played by Alona Tal (who, to me, will always be Meg on "Veronica Mars), turned out to have all the tenderness and patience of her mom, giving the ever-tortured Monk his happy ending.
As final episodes go, it was definitely one of the better ones I've seen in recent years. We saw every major character have some kind of closure. Randy was moving to New Jersey to be with Monk's former assistant Sharona. Natalie had a new boyfriend and her daughter is headed to college. And Monk is taking his next step toward a new life, which includes bracingly normal activities like going to the movies (but ONLY to theater 10!).
It was a nice, understated ending, for this sweet, modest series.