"The Judge"


Written by Ted Mann

Directed by Randy Zisk

Edited by Stephen Mark

Aired November 15, 1996

Summary: Dismembered remains provide Frank Black with a lead to the Judge, a vigilante who persuades aimless ex-cons to enforce a code of murderous personal justice.


  Season One on DVD


  Full Transcript Available


Quote: "...the visible world seems formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in fright." —H. Melville (1819-1891)


Synopsis:  The cafe in a Seattle bowling alley. An ex-con, Carl Nearman, stares fixedly at a beefy middle-aged man putting away a healthy slice of pie. After following him into the parking lot, Nearman knocks the man unconscious with a bowling ball, and whips out a knife.

A severed human tongue is mailed anonymously to Mrs. Annie Tisman, a middle-aged widow. Why would anyone send such an item to someone so ordinary? Bletcher tells Frank that over the last four years, three people have received severed body parts. Police have found no connection between any of the recipients, and worse, no bodies. 

Frank, sensing an unusual element of mindfulness associated with the violence, sends for expert forensic pathologist, Cheryl Andrews. She detects a pattern change in the latest crime: for the first time, the body part was removed after the victim's death. 

Bardale, a violent habitual offender just out of the penitentiary, is approached in a bar by the mastermind behind the series of murders, a man who calls himself the Judge. The Judge offers Bardale a chance to "serve a higher purpose" — the meting out of personal justice. Bardale's first job for his new employer is the execution of his predecessor, Carl Nearman.

The body of the man in the bowling alley is discovered and identified as Detective Mellen, a retired Seattle cop. Frank realizes Nearman could never have plotted such intricate crimes. Someone of sharp intelligence must be orchestrating the murders. When Frank discovers that Mellen's false testimony had sent Mrs. Tisman's late husband to jail, he grasps the killer's motive. The killer is righting wrongs; employing men already prone to rough and violent justice to do his dirty work.

The Judge delivers his next sentence on Biggs, a landlord whose negligence caused the death of an elderly tenant. As executioner, Bardale is to amputate Biggs' leg below the knee while Biggs is still alive and conscious. Biggs' foot is found by a postal worker in a package. Forensic evidence leads the cops to where Biggs is hidden but it's too late to save his life.

Frank and Bletcher deduce that the killer must be another ex-con and are able to track down Bardale who leads them to the Judge. They take the Judge in for questioning who arrogantly offers Frank a job. He's certain he'll get away with it, and he's right. The cops have no tangible evidence, and must release him.

Though he eluded the authorities, the Judge didn't reckon with Bardale. On learning that the Judge manipulated conventional law to escape arrest, Bardale passes his own death sentence on the Judge for hypocrisy. Frank finds Bardale alone in the farmhouse kitchen, who tells Frank that the Judge was no Judge - he was a pig. Frank finds what's left of the Judge half-buried in the hog pen. 



- The hooded figure of the Judge

- Frank Black looks closely at a corpse

- Bardale prepares to execute Nearman

- Frank and Catherine discuss the situation

- Frank Black in his basement office

- Frank examines the latest body

- Cheryl Andrews performs an autopsy

- Frank and Penseyres consider the case

- Bletcher assists Frank with evidence


Media Review:  "At their best the stand-alone, moral tale structure of these episodes — O. Henry by way of Flannery O’Connor — capture a distinct feeling of millennial unease, the sense that the violence perpetrated is a direct result of impending apocalyptic events to which Frank and his family are inextricably attached." —Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine


Trivia:  This episode marks the third and final appearance of guest star Chris Ellis in the role of Millennium Group member Jim Penseyres. While it would seem from watching early episodes of Millennium that Penseyres was being established as one of Frank Black's primary advisors, the character would never appear on the series again.


Seen alongside Ellis is renowned actress CCH Pounder, appearing for the first time as Millennium Group forensic pathologist Cheryl Andrews. The character would hold a minor but pivotal recurring role on the series, appearing five times over the course of the show's three seasons.


It is the Judge who first calls the attention of Frank Black and Millennium fans everywhere to Mark 5:1-19, the biblical verses which identify Legion as the name chosen by evil demons who inhabit the bodies of men. He comments, "My name is Legion." Although the name would not be used again directly on the series, fans began to use this reference as a means of labeling the recurring evil forces on the show, identifying the demonic manifestations Frank Black would come to repeatedly encounter as Legion.


"The Judge" also contains the first of three noteworthy deals offered to Frank Black on behalf of dark forces or evil individuals.  "How would you like to work for me?" the Judge asks. Frank refuses, of course, but the offer would come to be repeated in "Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions."


Death Toll:  3


Title:  The episode's title is simply the name of its unique antagonist, the vigilante who calls himself the Judge. The evasive character's proper name is never revealed during the course of the episode.



"Danger" by Steve Goodman

"Short End of the Stick" by Donnie Fritz

"Ten Foot Pole" by Donnie Fritz



Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black

Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black

Bill Smitrovich as Lt. Bob Bletcher


Guest Starring:

Marshall Bell as the Judge
John Hawkes as Mike Bardale
Chris Ellis as Jim Penseyres
Stephen James Lang as Det. Giebelhouse
Brian Markinson as Det. Teeple

Michael Puttonen as Pathologist Massey
David Fredericks as Jonathan Mellen
Kirsten Williamson as Mail Room Worker
J.R. Bourne as Carl Nearman
Donna White as Annie Tisman
Eva deViveiros as Assistant DA Aquila
Kate Robbins as Marilyn
Beverly Elliot as Terry
Gabe Khouth as Parcel Service Employee


Production Credits:

Production #4C04

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Sheila Haley
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Consulting Producer Ted Mann
Consulting Producer James Wong

Consulting Producer Glen Morgan
Co-Producer Ken Dennis
Co-Producer Chip Johannessen
Co-Producer Frank Spotnitz
Co-Executive Producer Jorge Zamacona
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis

Executive Producer Chris Carter