Friday, September 27, 2019

Millennium: Season 1: Episode 4 "The Judge"

Written by Ted Man
Directed by Randall Zisk
Guest Stars: CCH Pounder, Marshall Bell
Air Date: November 15, 1996

Opening Quote: Though neither knows where lie the nameless things of which the mystic sign gives forth such hints; yet with me, as with the colt, somewhere those things must exist. Though in many of its aspects this visible world seems formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in fright.

- Herman Mellville 

"The Judge" is more of a puzzle episode, challenging Frank to connect a series of murders that appear to be unrelated. Four episodes into its run, Millennium continued to live up to its reputation of staging some of the most grotesque kills on network television, inspired by the Italian giallos. A stable of raging pigs also play a prominent role. 

A series of bizarre murders that involve the parts of victims mailed to apparently random people baffles the authorities. Frank is called in to consult with the Seattle P.D. Working with pathologist Cheryl Andrews (CCH Pounder) who would become a recurring character. Frank believes in a connection between the victims and the recipients of the remains, eventually suspecting they may be witnessing vigilante justice.

"The Judge" is introduced as a sinister larger than life figure who recruits ex-cons to deliver his macabre form of justice. When brought in for questioning he even offers Frank a job, not unlike the temptation of Christ in the New Testament. A lack of evidence prevents the police from making an arrest until one of the judge's own does him in.

An odd combination of the cautionary vigilante tale with some strong horror elements, "The Judge" could be viewed as a modern Dracula figure. The convicts he recruits would be equivalent to a Renfield doing the bidding of his master. The animal imagery in the episode mirrors Renfield eating bugs and animals in the novel. Frank serves as a modern Van Helsing. Once the case gets wrapped up Frank quickly exits the scene, glad the sordid business is over.  

The episode also mirrors the themes in "Gehenna", vulnerable young men in the population being used for nefarious purposes by a charismatic figure. The Gothic undertones of the episode also foreshadowed some of the shadier aspects of "the group" that would be explored in further episodes. 

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