“The Judge” (15 November 1996)
Writer: Ted Mann
Director: Randy Zisk
Editor: Stephen Mark
Quote: “Five hundred years ago, you would have been burned as a witch.” --Bob Bletcher to Frank Black
Overview: In “The Judge,” Bob Bletcher teasingly calls attention to the seemingly miraculous nature of Frank Black’s gift by associating his talents with witchcraft. Frank, of course, rejects the comparison. “Nothing I do is magic,” the profiler insists with a straight face and, for perhaps the first time since the series was launched, the casework that follows fully supports his position. This episode dutifully presents the usual stylized flashes of insight as imaginative extrapolations of the evidence at hand. Each and every one of the visions is clearly prompted by clue or cue seen, heard, or felt by Frank Black--and, by extension, the audience. Blood and tissue samples found under the fingernails of a corpse prompt our hero to reconsider the events of an early killing; the expert analysis voiced by a pathologist induces a visualization of precisely how a new victim was subdued.
Slowed down, taken frame-by-frame, the lurid visions seen here reveal details of the crimes never otherwise shown or discussed on screen and thus act as a compelling representation of the complexities of Frank Black’s investigative thought process. This is one of many Millennium installments in which the visionary sequences contain far more detail than could ever be properly absorbed by the audience during a traditional viewing--a veritable visual overload, especially for a collective total of eleven seconds of screen time. They reveal just how much artistic effort was put into crafting these fleeting displays on film.
While it may not be directly tied to the subject matter of Frank Black’s visions, mention must also be made of the portentous tête-à-tête that takes place between our hero and his unique opponent. When Frank asks for the eponymous Judge to provide his name, the livestock auctioneer turned vigilante insists that his true name is Legion. He explains that the chosen moniker is adopted from the story related in Mark 5:1-19--appropriately enough, a tale involving Jesus, a demon, and a herd of hogs. The grim meaning invested in that name was at once seized upon by Millennium’s fan base as an apt identification for the ominous force that was first seen in “Gehenna” and would come to make its presence felt more and more strongly as the series progressed. Mark my words: that evocative name, first cited in our review of the visions seen in the show’s second installment, will certainly mark future columns.
Connections: The Judge relates the parable of Mark 5:1-19, the story of Legion, and thereby provides both Frank Black and the audience with a moniker for the demonic presence previously glimpsed in “Gehenna.”
Trances in Total: 4 (0:11)
Gore Score: 10/10
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