A man sets up his mistress at a hotel room and goes to see her as she prepares for their night out. The woman, Callie, thanks him for setting her up with a room with a balcony. Room Service has delivered the man's favorite, chocolate-covered strawberries. He has one and then Callie comments that she thought he was ashamed to be seen with him. The man asks her out onto the balcony and gives her an engagement ring, and Callie promises that he won't regret it and apologizes for calling him so much.
An hour earlier, Natalie takes Monk to the community theater to see her daughter's Julie singing premiere. Monk is uncomfortable at sitting in a seat that someone else has been in, and having to share armrests. Natalie notices John Hannigan, a local newspaper critic, entering a box seat on the mezzanine. She's worried that he'll be tough on Julie, since he doesn't usually come to community theater performances. Monk has to go to the restroom and insists on going home since he doesn't use public facilities. Natalie refuses to leave and he has no choice but to go to the men's restroom. However, the men's room is beautifully decorated and arranged and the attendant, Gilson, cheerfully greets Monk and dotes on him.
Monk returns to his seat and the show begins. Natalie keeps checking on Hannigan, who checks his luminescent wrist watch dial. Julie performs her first number, made up at her normal age. Later, Monk and Natalie go out and notice Hannigan. Natalie speaks loudly of Julie's talent in front of him but Hannigan dumps a cigarette lighter and unopened pack of cigarettes in the garbage and leaves. Julie comes out, still wearing the old age makeup from her second later number. She plans to go to the cast party wearing the makeup.
As Natalie and Monk walk to the car, they find Stottlemeyer and Disher investigating Callie's death. Stottlemeyer believes Callie, a waitress at a local restaurant, committed suicide but Monk wants to take a look. Monk examines the room and notices several discrepancies with the suicide theory. She recently took a shower and ordered champagne for two. There's a chocolate-covered strawberry with a bite mark and Stottlemeyer orders it bagged. Natalie notices the odor of men's cologne, although no one there is wearing any. Monk realizes her date showed up unexpectedly and killed Callie. Stottlemeyer goes out to look at the balcony but he refuses because of his fear of heights. Despite that, Monk realizes where Callie was when she was pushed and Stottlemeyer finds a ribbon from Lasky Jewelers. They figure it's from a jewelry box and might have been a ring. Monk finds footprints indicating the killer was kneeling and they realize the killer proposed to Callie.
Disher arrives with the paper and tries to keep Natalie from seeing the review. She insists and discovers that Hannigan panned Julie's performance, saying she was forgettable.
The next day, Monk and the others go to the restaurant where Callie worked. Her co-worker says that Callie was private about the man she was dating, but figures he was married. Callie's datebook refers to her boyfriend's name beginning with a J. Natalie continues to obsess over the review and Stottlemeyer suggest she confront Hannigan, who works nearby. She quickly leaves.
At the newspaper, Hannigan is meeting with his fiancée Diana, the owner's daughter, and talking about their upcoming marriage when Natalie comes in. Hannigan is unrepentant and collects his lunch from a delivery boy from Callie's restaurant. As they talk, Natalie notices the scent of Hannigan's cologne and realizes it's the same as the one from the hotel room. She goes back to the station and tells Monk and the others that she's solved the case: Hannigan is the killer. Stottlemeyer points out that Callie died during the time that Julie was performing but Monk points out that they were there and saw Hannigan the entire town. Finally she calls in Julie and has her sing, proving Hannigan couldn't have forgotten Julie. Everyone is impressed but Stottlemeyer warns that it's still not enough to arrest Hannigan.
Later, Natalie calls Monk from the police station. She's been arrested for trespassing. The next morning, Monk comes to get her out and Natalie explains she was going through Hannigan's garbage. She continues to insist that Hannigan is guilty. Stottlemeyer brings Hannigan in and the critic agrees to drop the charges. Natalie refuses to drop the mater and shows them a Chinese dumpling she took from his garbage. She claims the bite mark on it matches the bite mark on the chocolate-covered strawberry, but Disher admits they couldn't get a cast or make a match. Hannigan explains that most stage mothers are unstable and tells her to stop living vicariously through Julie.
Later, Natalie tries to write a check to Monk for $300 to hire him. He points out that his paycheck to her bounced so he can't take it. Natalie persists, insisting that Julie is taking it badly, and convinces Monk to take on the case. They go to the theater and the manager, Mrs. Carothers, explains that Hannigan usually sits front row center and he specifically requested the mezzanine box seat for that night. Monk discovers that someone unscrewed the light bulb in the exit sign so it would be darker. Monk notes that they saw a living person and goes to the men's room. Gilson is there and welcomes him back. Monk asks the attendant if anyone could have snuck out of Hannigan's box seat, observing there's an exit. Gilson explains that the exit leads to the back alley behind the theater and wonders why Monk is asking. Monk explains what happened and admits that Natalie might be right. He asks if Gilson saw anything that night but the attendant says he didn't.
That night, Gilson goes to see Hannigan at his parking garage. He gives him a gift and wants to talk to him about the night of the murder and explains that Monk came to see him. Gilson wonders if Hannigan was involved in anything but the critic says it was a coincidence. He asks Gilson to carry some boxes and then viciously clubs him down and loads him in his trunk.
Monk and Natalie are called to the hospital where Stottlemeyer explains that someone attacked Gilson, knocked him into a coma, and dumped him off at an off-ramp. Natalie believes Hannigan did it. Monk notices that there was a gift box with nicotine gum in Gilson's pocket. He also finds the man's watch and discovers it had a luminescent dial. Monk admits that Natalie was right. The man in the box seat that night had a wristwatch with a luminescent dial, but Hannigan uses a pocket watch. The critic convinced Gilson to sit in with him, giving a fake story about needing to take a cigarette break without being seen leaving. They switched places for 8-10 minutes and then Hannigan ran to the hotel, threw Callie off the balcony, and ran back. However, Stottlemeyer warns that they can't prove anything. Monk thinks about it and then gets an idea.
Stottlemeyer and the others go to the newspaper office to meet with Hannigan. They bring in Julie, who claims that Hannigan was at the restaurant with her and he drugged her and then tried to rape her. Hannigan claims that he has no idea who Julie is and has never seen her in his life. Stottlemeyer points out that Julie has his business card but Hannigan swears that he was at home the entire night. The captain has him look carefully at Julie and confirm he's never seen her. Hannigan swears before everyone present he's never seen Julie. Monk points out that Julie was in the show that Hannigan claims he saw that night. Hannigan insists Julie wasn't at the curtain call but Natalie points out that she was made up as an old woman for the final routine. Hannigan would have recognized her as a young woman from her first performance, if he had been there. Hannigan asks for a lawyer but as he's escorted out, Natalie points out that Julie isn't forgettable now.
Later, Monk is at Natalie's apartment when Natalie and Julie get a letter from the college she applied for. Monk agrees to read the letter once he opens it, and takes it home to use his letter-opening equipment. Natalie insists he do it there. Monk very slowly opens it and very slowly reads it, pointing out the bad print. He finally reads that Julie was accepted and Natalie and Julie scream, interrupting him. He insists on starting over and finishing the entire thing. While he reads it again, they slip out to celebrate.