Best exchange in the whole episode:
Monk: She's on the Internet!
Stottlemeyer: Oh, good. She made the cut.
And so ends eight years of classic characterization and a workshop on acting and writing. Monk may have followed a pattern (fitting, considering Monk's OCD), but it was also solid and knew exactly what it was doing. Not many shows can takes such diverse threads at the start of an episode and weave them all together so tightly at the end.
I had pegged the poison was on the wipes. The proof came when the judge picked up the wipe Monk dropped with his pen at the start of the episode.
Monk is one of the greatest TV characters ever. Full stop. Anyone else in the role would have played Monk as some loser. But you felt for Monk. You cringed for him as he was held prisoner to his phobias. You wanted him to get better. You may have laughed, but you were laughing with him, not at him. And the byplay between Stottlemeyer and Disher was always top drawer. Although I do fear a little for Summit that Randy is their new chief of police. And I knew, as soon as I heard Noo Joisey, Disher was going to be with Sharona. At least she didn't appear in the episode and ruin things.
I'm kind of surprised that the Judge killed himself with a full segment left to go. I thought they were going to drag it out, but they used the time to give Monk the next best thing to Trudy. Not another Trudy (there will never be another like her), but an extention of her. The fact that, with his OCD, he sees Trudy and not the Judge, tells a lot about his devotion to her.
I like where Monk is now. Monk hates to go outside, but he braved it to see Trudy's daughter. He sleeps in the middle of the bed. The last shot shows him with his usual jacket, but different pants and a shirt. He still has his OCD, obviously. But he's finally stepping outside of them. He's moving on after twelve years.
Those of us who appreciate solid television, not razzle dazzle, are going to miss Monk. But I'm glad he's alive. He'll live on in books, and maybe a movie or two (Tony Shalloub says he doesn't think he'd do a movie, but he'd never say never). And we will have eight seasons of great episodes on DVD.
Michael Richards not working out on the show is the best thing that could have happened. Good luck, Monk.