Season 1 Episode 15
The FBI pursues a Blacklister who metes out "justice" for those who are wrongly imprisoned.....
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A man walks along a snowy highway in a tattered suit carrying a paper bag. He has long hair and a beard. He seems dazed when a motorist stops and tries to help him.
He drops his paper bag. In it is a badge ID-ing him as an asst. U.S. attorney. The police bring a woman to him who says he's been missing for 12 years. She greets him in the hospital as Mark and IDs herself as Donna. She hugs him and asks where he's been.
Red meets a no nonsense man in a cowboy hat in a car with Texas plates. He shows a picture of a woman named Lucy Brooks, who is supposed to be dead. Red says she's alive and going by the name Jolene. Red wants to give him more info but the guy begs off saying he doesn't tell Red how to do his job. He says he'll find the girl. Red says he doesn't want him to find her since he knows where she is. He wants to know where she's been. He says she's already faked her death to elude him. She's the girl currently lining Tom up in her sights pretending to be a teacher.
At the teacher conference Jolene and Tom are debating "Lolita" as acceptable for kids to read with other judgier teachers. He ignores a call from Liz. Jolene is totally all flirty with him.
Red goes to see Liz at the Post Office and apprises her of the Mark Hastings case which is now front page news, the returned US attorney. He had worked on a drug cartel case and Red thinks he was held captive but not by the cartel. He thinks "the Judge" had him. He thought it was a "justice myth" until now, saying all cultures have a "court of last resort" for the hopeless. Prisoners can state their case and say they were imprisoned incorrectly and eventually their appeals letter reaches "the Judge." If freedom or life was taken unfairly, the Judge demands the same in return. "The Judge" is number 57.
Liz brings their theory to Ressler, Cooper and the gang showing them a case, from 12 years ago in which Hastings may have withheld evidence that sent a man to prison for...12 years. She shows other cases of missing law enforcement and judicial officials who have gone missing in similar cases of apparent miscarriages of justice.
The belief is the appeals letters are sent to a book depository in Virginia. They track down a man named Frank Gordon who works there, who himself was incorrectly incarcerated, he works for the literacy program that is apparently the front for "The Judge." They find the space he stays in in the depository. Ressler wades into the dark space alone. Frank punches him in the face. Liz gets off a shot but Frank gets away.
They found all of the appeals letters from all over the country. One of the prisoners gets their attention, a man scheduled for execution the next day due to a false account of killing Afghan civilians. The file leads back to Cooper who was there. Cooper scoffs and says the guy is definitely guilty.
Liz goes to see Rifkin. He has a woman named Ruth Kipling with him from the Amnesty Collective. She alludes to "The Judge." He says it's a myth. But he does say he was beaten by Harold Cooper on the orders of asst. US attorney Thomas Connelly. (Ruth is played by Academy Award-winning actress Dianne Wiest, so, obviously, she's the judge.)
Back in Orlando, Jolene hits on Tom some more in a bar. She claims to have a fiancé. He talks about the job and keeping secrets. She asks if he's good at that. He doesn't answer. She asks where Liz is. He asks after her fiancé. Then they start making out. A little kid walks in on them in the bathroom. She laughs and he apologizes. She claims she is too and walks out. Then she walks back in and gives him her room key.
An old man gets out of a car in front of a country home, it's Frank Gordon, he's talking into a cell phone about grabbing Connolly and Cooper if Rifkin is executed. Ruth meets him with a big pot and tells him it's "feeding time" and they head to the barn. The horse stalls are converted cells filled with prisoners. She hands them food. He seems freaked out by the prisoners. She reminds him he was innocent and these people are not since they put people like him-- and her father-- behind bars. He's worried the FBI is now on to them. She says until they're busted they're still going and if Rifkin dies for the others to carry out "the sentence."
Back at the Post Office they work on breaking down the Rifkin case. They find falsified documents and try to track people down. Cooper looks on from is office above. Liz tracks down one of the people involved who claims he tried to come forward to narc on Connolly who basically said they didn't have enough evidence on Rifkin and ordered Cooper to beat a confession out of him. Which, according to this dude, Cooper did and then helped to falsify the documents. The guy is freaked out that Rifkin, it would appear, is really going to die.
Cooper goes to see Connolly and tells him they have a problem they need to contain.
Meanwhile, the man in the black cowboy hat runs down Jolene's place, which is full of cash, a flash drive, and fake IDs. She's been many places Red has been. The man calls Red and says the girl wants to cause trouble and is either hitting a lot of little targets or is going to hit one big one.
Liz confronts Cooper and Connolly, US Attorney Connolly, is there. She asks to speak privately. Connolly won't allow that and Cooper tells her to speak freely. She asks about beating a confession out of Rifkin. Cooper says he did not railroad an innocent man. He admits to beating him and says Rifkin is paying his price for his crime. Connolly scoffs at her efforts to do anything about stopping the execution. Cooper tells her she should worry about her career.
Liz tries to reach the "clemency advisor" just as Rifkin is being strapped into the lethal injection table. Liz strikes out. Connolly and Cooper witness the execution. Rifkin looks at the witnesses and declares his innocence. Ruth looks at them and says "even God won't forgive you for this." Rifkin says "goodnight mother." Connolly looks relieved. Cooper looks conflicted. As they walk out Connolly says they did the right thing. Cooper agrees but says they did it the wrong way. Connolly notes he's poked around and discovered that no one is exactly clear on what it is Cooper does and that they're managing to take down amazing people not on their radar and asks how. Cooper says nothing. Connolly promises to appoint him to Director of the FBI when he becomes Attorney General and Cooper will then tell him all about the secret weapon they both know he has. When they go their car they are abducted by Frank Gordon and others and brought to the stables. Ruth/The Judge confronts them. Cooper toes the party line and she slaps his face.
Liz tells Red that Cooper has been taken. Red tells her to talk to Hastings, the man from the opening. Liz is worried that Cooper will die since "The Judge" is all about "eye for an eye."
The Judge yells at Cooper and Connolly and says if they did their job right she wouldn't have to do hers. She asks them how they plead. Connolly pleads not guilty. She says I find you guilty.
Red goes to see someone named Richard at a Navy outpost in VA. The man is a former Naval Academy classmate. He tells Red he made a helluva mess when he left and destroyed some careers, but not this guy's apparently. Red asks about the Rifkin case. Richard says rooming with Red was the worst thing that ever happened to him. Red says the men who want this information can be very "helpful" and get him back on track.
Liz tries to talk to Hastings who appears to traumatized to respond. He does, however, say "goodnight Mother" which Liz recognizes from the execution. They work it out and trace it back to Ruth Kipling and get her address in PA. Frank is about to kill them in a janky, homemade electric chair when the cavalry arrives in the form of the FBI and Red, who has the information that Cooper and Connolly need. He has a classified file from the Pentagon that proves that Rifkin had turned and become a terrorist, that part was what was actually covered up. He convinces her to surrender since he knew this was always about justice for her, not vengeance.
The men are released from the stables. Connolly asks Cooper what happened. Cooper says "my secret weapon."
Liz brings the pleas from the prison to Cooper who says to bring them to the Pentagon.
Cooper pulls her aside and says he'll understand if she feels the need to report him for admitting to beating Rifkin. She says they've had enough judgment for one day.
Cooper tells Red that saving his bacon doesn't earn him any leverage. Red says a war is coming and the break in to the Post Office and the disappearance of Diane Fowler is just the beginning. Cooper asks if Red wants his help. Red says not now, but when the time comes. He also tells him to reach out to his old Naval buddy Admiral Richard and pull a few strings to help him out.
Red goes to meet the man in the black hat. He shows Red the flash drive, it's full of pictures of Red, Dembe, Tom and Liz. Red says he thinks she's "finishing an operation" and he wants to see how it plays out. We cut to Tom at the bar contemplating his wedding ring. He takes it off, finishes his drink, and heads upstairs to her room. But when she kisses him, he rebuffs her. He says he loves his wife. She says "wrong answer." She says "Elizabeth Keen is not your wife she's your target." He says perhaps she was sent by "them" to test him but he says he said he loved his wife because that is what is he is supposed to be, that is his job.