If Hungry Like The Wolf was a fine example of a typical Monkey episode, then Monkey's Yearning is a fine example of the flexibility of the Monkey format. The feel of this episode is that of a Western, with Monkey in the role of the gunslinging protagonist, only with his Magic Wishing Staff in the place of the six-shooter, and the demon-of-the-week in the place of the black-hatted antagonist.
The pilgrims meet a young boy on their travels when he steals some food from Pigsy. Monkey takes the boy home and immediately falls in love with the boy's mother - a widow. Her husband was the strongest man in the village but died when they were raided by a Tiger Demon. She abhors violence as a result, but knowing nothing of the nature of Monkey, invites him to stay.
Monkey stays to do chores and to teach the boy (though he has to get Sandy to teach him everything first), while the other pilgrims continue on the journey. Then the Tiger Demon's two hench-demons turn up and Monkey teaches them a lesson with his Staff.
Monkey has found happiness with the widow and her boy, but he cannot make a promise to her that he will never use violence. After he has confronted and defeated the Tiger Demon he realises it is not his fate to be a peaceful farmer, so he leaves the home to return to Tripitaka and the others.
The boy does not understand why Monkey is leaving, and the last thing Monkey hears from him is "I hate you!"
The other regulars besides Monkey are hardly in this story, and the demon-of-the-week only appears in two scenes (one a flashback to his killing the woman's husband), the focus of this episode is very much on Monkey, and on his relationship with the widow and her son. This really helps make this feel unlike the 'typical' Monkey plot.
That said, it is very moving and well done, with Monkey's 'emotional journey' conveyed powerfully by both the physical and voice acting. I'd go so far as to say this is one of the best of the series, and a high to end the Monkey Challenge on.
Of course there's no 'ending' to the series - no conclusion, no finale, no India. I don't even think Monkey's Yearning was supposed to be the last episode of season 2 anyway, I think it far more likely that At The Top Of The Mountain was the intended last episode.
Admittedly my only evidence for this is the presence of Buddha, who made appearances at the start and end of season 1, and at the start of season2, so it seems fitting she (he?) should return at the series end. Also I really, really don't think Mothers would have made for a satisfying ending of any sort.