"...the visible world seems formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in fright." - H. Melville 1819-1891
REVIEW: I like the villain in this. The Judge is a vigilante who doesn't act as his own executioner, but rather hires killers just out of prison to do his dirty work for him. And it's not so much about putting hits out on people as it is amputating some part of their bodies so they can think about what they've done before they bleed out and get thrown to the pigs. And if the Judge hadn't also needed to send the offending body parts to the victims' widows, Bletch would never have roped Frank into the case and he would never have been caught. But that the Judge knows what the Millennium Group is, and actively WANTS a worthy adversary, means he could have become the Joker to Frank's Batman, or Moriarty to his Holmes. One finds and stops killers, the other recruits them. There's a good bipolarity to it. Alas, the Judge's hubris makes him trust the wrong man, and his latest recruit kills him. It's a bit of an anti-climax, because we never see it or suspect it until we're told it happened, and if there's ambiguity in Bardale's confession, and the hope that the Judge escaped to fight another day, they are dashed when his body is found in the episode's final shot.
If the Judge was worthy of Frank's attention, I'm afraid Ted Mann's script wasn't worthy of the Judge. It hangs way to much on lucky coincidence to advance its plot. Mann has trouble getting Catherine into the story, so he has her deliver a crucial clue she got from office gossip? Come on. The latest victim and his killer, just killed by the Judge for being incompetent, are put on adjoining slabs in the morgue so Frank can draw a connection between them, another lucky break that's completely mishandled visually to boot - Frank looks at blood under the killer's fingernails, so we know WHAT the connection is, but then doesn't tell Bletch the nature of the connection so that the cops keep thinking he's a lunatic?! Come ON. And lucky breaks keep happening. Frank and Bletch visit all the bars ex-convicts are known to frequent, and Bardale walks into their "last chance". The Judge admits to everything to Frank in a police interrogation room, but no cops were listening in. Even the nature of the Judge's immunity to prosecution is vague to the point of convenience. Annoying.
Still, there are some cool things in the episode. CCH Pounder shows up as a recurring Millennium Group forensics expert (wooo!). The murders are creepy, especially the first one where the camera keeps suggesting a guy will be killed because the way he eats coleslaw is disgusting. The bowling ball as a murder weapon. The Judge's speeches and his attempt to hire Frank, seeing in him the same thirst for justice, even if they don't define it the same way.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - An intriguing villain is somewhat wasted in a lazy script where things happen because they have to.