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For the character of the same name, see Ruth Kipling.

”The Judge“ is the fifteenth episode of Season 1 of The Blacklist and the fifteenth episode overall. It first aired on March 3, 2014 on NBC.


A bearded, long haired man wearing an ill-fitting suit is stumbling along a rural Pennsylvania road, when he is approached by a passing motorist he drops the paper bag he was carrying and the motorist finds that it contains his identity documents, revealing that the man is Max Hastings, a Federal Prosecutor who disappeared 12 years earlier. At the hospital it is revealed that Hastings has suffered severe emotional trauma.

Raymond Reddington meets the Cowboy and asks him to investigate Lucy Brooks. Red tells The Cowboy that he does not want her found as he knows where she is, he wants to know what she has been doing for the previous 6 months.

At the Teachers Conference, Tom Keen is ignoring calls from Liz.

Red arrives at the Post Office and tells Liz that the re-appearance of Hastings indicates that a myth of someone called The Judge, who extracts revenge for wrongly convicted prisoners, is true. According to Red, prisoners write their appeal containing who they feel is responsible for their wrongful punishment and it passed through the prison system until it ends up in a book depository in Monroe, Virginia. The Judge then reviews the appeal, and if it is valid, extracts revenge on the basis of an eye for an eye. Liz briefs the team and says that Red believes that Hastings was incarcerated by The Judge because he held back information on an alibi witness for a man convicted of armed robbery called Leonard Debbs. It was believed that Hastings had been murdered by the Reynosa Cartel, whose leaders he had just indicted. Donald Ressler says that Debbs was released 2 months ago after serving 12 years. Harold Cooper theorizes that Hastings has been released after serving the same amount of time. Liz also says that there are more victims of the Judge, including a homicide detective, an appellate court judge, and 2 prosecutors. She says that they believe the appeals are being processed by a book depository run by a prison literacy charity in Monroe Virginia. Aram Mojtabai suspects that Frank Gordon, a convicted killer now on parole, is the contact but he has disappeared.

Liz and Ressler visit the book depository and find Gordon, but he escapes. In the cellar, where Gordon was living, they find appeals from prisoners all over the country, including the supermax prison of ADX Florence. Among the files is one on a prisoner called Alan Ray Rifkin with a sticker attached saying that the appeal has been granted. Liz checks into Rifkin's case and finds that he was convicted in 2003 of fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and is scheduled for execution the next day. The actual crime he committed was massacring a village while with the Taliban. Aram tells Liz and Ressler that the investigating officer was Harold Cooper.

Cooper tells Liz that he is convinced of Rifkin's guilt and he will lose no sleep after watching his execution. Cooper also says that the prosecutor was Thomas Connolly, a candidate for Attorney General.

Liz visits Rifkin in prison, he is with Ruth Kipling from the Amnesty Collective who is serving as his designated spiritual advisor. Rifkin tells Liz that he only confessed after being beaten by Harold Cooper on the orders of Tom Connolly.

Tom and Jolene share a drink in a bar and talk. They then start to make out in the men's room, but are interrupted by a child. Jolene gives Tom her room key.

At a remote ranch, Frank Gordon receives a call confirming that the kidnapping of Cooper and Connolly will proceed if the execution occurs. He then helps Ruth Kipling feed the prisoners. While the distribution of the food is occurring, one of the prisoners calls Kipling “Mother”.

Meera Malik reports that there is an alternative log for Rifkin's transfer with an unexplained 2 hour delay in transport. Liz goes to see US Deputy Marshall William Munson and he tells her that there was delay and that Connolly ordered Cooper to get Rifkin to confess. When Cooper had beaten a confession out of Rifkin, Munson falsified the log and had Rifkin treated in his cell. He also says that he informed the Amnesty Collective about these events. Cooper meets with Connolly about containing the Rifkin problem.

The Cowboy searches Jolene's apartment and finds evidence of several trips abroad, some false identities, and a flash drive. When he reports to Red, Red realizes that she has been in the same places as him. The Cowboy says that she either has lots of little targets or one big target.

Liz goes to ask Cooper about her new information. Connolly is present and both accept that Cooper beat a confession out of Rifkin. Connolly tells Liz that as all judicial options have been exhausted, how the confession was obtained does not matter. Liz is told to protect her career, not to worry about innocence.

Liz tells Ressler that the new evidence cannot be considered, she is dismayed that the letter of the law is overriding the spirit of the law. Rifkin is executed, still protesting his innocence. Rifkin's last words are “Goodnight Mother”. Harold Cooper, Tom Connolly, and Ruth Kipling all witness the execution. Cooper and Connolly discuss the Post Office's recent success rate in arrests. Connolly says that after he is promoted to Attorney General, he will make Cooper the FBI director and learn about Cooper's “secret weapon”.

As they leave the execution Cooper and Connolly are kidnapped, and taken to Kipling's ranch.

Liz calls Red and informs him of the situation, he tells her that she needs to talk to Hastings.

Kipling sentences Connolly and Cooper to death, because they coerced a confession from Rifkin.

Red visits an old friend, Admiral Richard Abraham who is not happy to see Red, as he was disgraced after Red's disappearance and treason. Red asks him about helicopter operations in Afghanistan at the time of the attack Rifkin was accused of aiding. He agrees to help when Red says that the people who want the information can help his career.

Liz visits Hastings but he is still traumatized. As she leaves he says “Goodnight Mother”.

Liz asks Aram about Ruth Kipling since she has heard about Rifkin's last words. Liz says that her organization was the one that Munson spoke to, and they find an address for her in Pennsylvania.

At Kipling's ranch/prison, she brings Cooper out of his cell to a makeshift electric chair, preparing for his judgement.

Red calls Liz and she tells him that they know the location, he tells her that he has new information on the Rifkin case. Ressler and SWAT find the ranch, however Kipling decides to go on with Cooper's execution. Liz tells Ruth that someone with high level access is coming with new information.

Red enters the building where the prisoners are being held, he tells Kipling that Rifkin and his Taliban friends had massacred the villagers because an American agent had been hiding in the village. The US Army had extracted the agent hours before the Taliban arrived, and fearing bad publicity for leaving the village to its fate, covered up the existence of the agent. Red convinces Kipling to surrender because her overriding concern was not revenge, but justice. Although Rifkin's confession was beaten out of him, it was a true confession. To support his story Red shows Kipling the official classified Pentagon report on the incident.

At the Post Office, Cooper tells Liz to send the other appeals, that were sent to Kipling, to the Department of Justice. Cooper asks Liz if she is going to report his actions concerning Rifkin. She replies that there has been enough judgement concerning others.

Red meets with Cooper and tells him that in the future he would like Cooper to remember the events of this day. He also asks him to aid Admiral Richard Abraham.

Red meets with the Cowboy who shows Red photographs of him and Liz on her flash drive. The Cowboy offers to take her out, but Red says no, he wants her to continue her operation.

Tom enters Jolene's room and removes a romantic assignation because he loves his wife. Jolene says that is the wrong answer, because Liz is his target not his wife. Tom asks if “they” sent her to test him. He says that he loves his wife because it is his job.

Press Release[]

AN EYE FOR AN EYE – When a prominent Prosecutor is found after being missing for 12 years Red believes that this is the work of Ruth Kipling also known as “The Judge.” Only a myth, the Judge runs an underground criminal appeals process in which those who have wrongly imprisoned and punished others are judged and punished themselves. Meanwhile, Red investigates the woman who tempts Tom while in Orlando at a teacher’s conference.

Number on The Blacklist[]

  • 57

Unanswered Questions[]

  1. What is the “war” that Red referred to?
    1. A: Could be Red against his adversary. In “Milton Bobbit”, Red tells Elizabeth Keen about the syndicate that hired Tom Keen.
  2. How many other people, in addition to Assistant US Attorney Thomas Connolly, are asking about the Post Office task force's ability to locate the major criminals? Connolly stated that Cooper was exposing the criminals that no one else knew about. In “Face/Off”, Troy (as Archer) is told he will be investigated since his arrest “Blitzkrieg” is using information from non-FBI sources. In “Anslo Garrick”, Anslo Garrick tells Raymond Reddington that the black market has noticed the increase in arrests.
  3. How many of The Blacklist targets are/were based on the myths and stories spread by the black market?
  4. Why did Lucy Brooks have low value and discontinued banknotes in her apartment?
    1. Russian rubles
      1. The 10 ruble banknote was last printed in January 2010 and has been replaced by a coin.
      2. 10 rubles are roughly equal to 0.3 United State dollars.
      3. The name is incorrect: it is written 10 ДОЛЛАРОВ (10 dollars) instead of 10 РУБЛЕЙ (10 rubles).
    2. Chilean pesos
      1. The 100 peso banknote has been replaced by a coin in 198x-199x.
      2. 100 pesos are roughly equal to 0.2 United State dollars.
  5. What will happen to the relationship between Harold Cooper and Elizabeth Keen? She was shocked that the new evidence was irrelevant and the execution could not be stopped. While she may not report Cooper, her trust in him has been damaged. Cooper told Keen to protect her career, not worry about a wrongful execution. Cooper's bad example of “leadership by example” could easily be copied by the rest of the task force.
    1. A: The lack of trust Cooper has for Liz along with the faulty FBI background check places her in Meera Malik's position. Due to the lack of trust he and Ressler may have for her, Liz will have to ally herself with both Malik and Red.
    2. A: Cooper has been damaged in her view, this may cause her to favor Red, as he honestly admits to his criminality.
  6. Why did Red leave the United States Navy?
  7. Why did Red's desertion/treason cause such chaos when he left? What was his rank and/or security clearance?
    1. A: Classified US material appeared for sale and Red was presumably vetted and cleared.
  8. How was Richard Abraham disgraced when Red deserted?
    1. Q: He was an admiral and had not been assigned to a dead end posting. I am referring to the fact that he had not been “Reassigned to Antarctica”. The navy could have refused to promote him above captain.
    2. Q: Abraham had achieved the highest rank in the United States Navy. It is not obvious what makes his career ruined, because further promotion in rank is not possible.
    3. A: Shortly after Red went missing classified United States material appeared for sale on the black market (“Pilot”). Anyone who was closely associated with Red would be assumed to be a security risk.
    4. A: The bureaucratic mind does not believe that someone could share a room with someone and not be privy to their innermost thoughts. According to some Abraham should have known that Red was going to disappear. Soontir Fel was assigned to the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing after his students defected. The officer tells Fel that he knows Fel is innocent, but the defection was a public relations disaster. Evir Derricote and the rest of the wing suffered similiar fates.
    5. A: Naval Support Activity Mid-South recruitment is not a high profile posting.
    6. A: Millington, Tennessee could seem like “Antarctica” for a naval officer. Abraham could have had enough connections to allow promotion, but as he said his career was ruined and his wife divorced him. At certain ranks the seniority system often ensures promotion, but not a requested assignment.
    7. A: He could have been referring to his assignment and the loss of his credibility in the Navy.
    8. A: It was not specified if he actually is an O-10 Admiral versus an O-9 Vice-Admiral.
  9. How can Harold Cooper help Richard Abraham? How much influence does he have with the military and/or United States government. What does Abraham need help with?
    1. A: He will be able to increase his security clearance, or at least indicate that the FBI approves of him, possibly by suggesting he takes up a liaison position.
  10. Who are Lucy Brooks and Tom Keen working for?
    1. A: Tom could likely be working for Red's Adversary, whom is planning to use him to attack both Liz and Red.
    2. A: In “Mako Tanida”, it is revealed that Lucy and Tom shared the same employer of Milos Kirchoff.
  11. Does Raymond Reddington have a previous connection with Brooks? He stated she faked her death to avoid/escape him.
    1. A: Anything is a possibility. Lucy could have worked for Red at one point, but disappeared soon after. It may explain why she may wanted Eric Trettel to fake her death to discourage Red from looking for her again. Maybe Lucy and Red had a disagreement in their original deal, causing her to leave.
  12. Why did Cooper and Thomas Connolly feel that Alan Ray Rifkin needed to be convicted for the murder of the villagers by beating him? Was not his collaboration with Al-Qaeda enough for a life sentence?
    1. A: A full trial may have led to the revelation that there was a CIA asset in the area just before the attack. Rifkin and his Al-Qaeda friends did massacre the village and so he deserved the death penalty.
  13. If Thomas Connolly makes Cooper the director of the FBI, then will the incident in Kuwait (“Gina Zanetakos”) become public knowledge? Or will Connolly cover up the incident because he agreed with Cooper's actions?
    1. A: It is possible that if Cooper is named the director of the FBI, Connolly will likely cover up the incident in Kuwait. Red and Alan Fitch know about the incident very well. Add the information on the brutal beating and confession on Rifkin, trouble is on the horizon for Cooper.
  14. Will Red use Cooper's actions against Rifkin as a blackmail weapon?
    1. A: Red has already told Cooper that when the time comes he will expect Cooper's support.
    2. Q: Cooper could attempt to evade Red's expectations, his tolerance of Red is waffling/wavering and he might fear being controlled by Red more than publication of his illegal and/or questionable actions.
    3. A: If Cooper tries to resist Red's expectations in his assistance, the likelihood of his actions in the Kuwait incident could be made public unless Connolly has plans to cover up what happened.
    4. Q: Red could use the conviction of Rifkin, and possibly other incidents, to blackmail Connolly. Public exposure of the forced confession will result in embarrassment for the United States government.
    5. A: It is implied that Connolly knew the real reason that Rifkin had to confess, and so he was acting in the interests of National Security, rendering Red's knowledge useless.
    6. Q: Public exposure of a forced confession will result in embarrassment that the government does not want. Consider the wrath and rage directed against the War on Terror. Connolly and Cooper could be fired to appease the public.
  15. Why did Red personally deliver the file to Kipling? In other Blacklist cases he has not intervened so publicly.
    1. A: If the information had been delivered by anyone working for the government, Ruth Kipling would not have looked at the file as she would have been convinced that it was a forgery prepared to save Cooper.
    2. Q: What evidence did Red have that he was not a government agent? Revealing his identity would be a long-term negative event for the Post Office task force.
    3. A: Red told Ruth Kipling who he was when he entered the stable block, his name and position on the FBI's most wanted list would mean that she is likely to have heard of him. The fact that he was allowed through the cordon of FBI agents would show that he was colluding with the FBI.
  16. What will happen to the Amnesty Collective organization now that Ruth Kipling has been arrested? The bad publicity will damage its reputation.
    1. A: Depends on how good their public relations team is, it could be spun that due to the intransigence of the Justice system, she had to act against the corruption.
  17. Why did Lucy Brooks/Jolene have 2 hotel keycards? Hotels usually limit keycards to 1 per guest since they do not want to be sued if a guest is a victim of a crime.
    1. A: Maybe Lucy asked for 2 keycards in her attempt to try and seduce Tom for information as to who he works for.
    2. A: Policy varies between hotels and motels.
  18. When Kipling was being taken to her cell, other prisoners stood up when she passed. Had her identity as the Judge spread that quickly?
    1. A: Her work with the Amnesty Collective would be well known. That alone would engender respect.
  19. Will the Department of Justice review the prisoner's pleas that were written to Ruth Kipling? They ignored the pleas that were sent through the legal channels.
    1. A: Given what Kipling did to the officials in torturing them just because her father was convicted for a crime he didn't commit, they may levy the maximum punishment and sentence her.
    2. Q: I am referring to the prisoners that wrote to Kipling, will they get a second trial and/or case review?
    3. A: Probably not, since a panel of judges must be convinced that the new evidence is genuine and could undermine the initial verdict. One alibi witness does not counter 2 eye witnesses, unless the eye witness testimony can be undermined in some manner.
  20. What was the significance of the phrase “Goodnight, Mother”? Both Max Hastings and Alan Ray Rifkin said it.
    1. A: The prisoners at the Ranch, called out to “mother” while they were being brought their meal, so part of Max Hastings brainwashing could have been to call Kipling mother. Rifkin had no other support and so Kipling had become a surrogate mother for him. It was Kipling's misfortune and Cooper's good fortune that Liz made the connection.

Slanders on the FBI[]

  1. Why were Cooper's guards defeated in public? While Kipling does have experience in kidnapping, the other victims presumably did not have prior warning and were taken by surprise.
  2. Security for the United States government seems sub-standard. In “Pilot” Red walks into FBI headquarters and is not identified until the computer confirms his wanted status. In “The Judge”, he meets a navy admiral and is not identified by anyone else. His ability to enter the Syrian embassy in “Madeline Pratt” was because of his contacts and the Syrians might see Red as an asset; they only went after Red after Madeline Pratt blamed him for the theft.
    1. A: In “Pilot” the only pictures of Red were 20 years old, age enhancement software is good, but not instantaneous or 100% accurate. In the current age of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; it would be foolish for the FBI to rely on such methods to arrest a person in a very public place. If the updated pictures were used in “The Good Samaritan”, “The Alchemist”, and “The Cyprus Agency; when the FBI was looking for Red; then they have been withdrawn and the 20 year old photos are on the official FBI internet page.


  • The crime for which Rifkin was convicted and imprisoned appears to be based on the infamous Juba scandal, where an American sniper stationed in Iraq went rogue and committed numerous killings while allied with insurgency.


Main star[]

Guest star[]


  • John Leonard Thompson as Mark Hastings
  • Mary Ward as Donna Hastings
  • Jacqueline Knapp as Anne Lance
  • Warren Kelly as Burt
  • Robyn Hatcher as Rosa
  • Gregory Porter Miller as Federal Warden
  • Jimmy Gary, Jr. as Guard
  • Charlie Romanelli as Farmer
  • John Mondin as State Trooper
  • Victor La Mantia as Prisoner



External Links[]

Season 1 Episodes
 · Pilot  · The Freelancer  · Wujing  · The Stewmaker  · The Courier  · Gina Zanetakos  · Frederick Barnes  · General Ludd  · Anslo Garrick  · Anslo Garrick: Conclusion  · The Good Samaritan  · The Alchemist  · The Cyprus Agency  · Madeline Pratt  · The Judge  · Mako Tanida  · Ivan  · Milton Bobbit  · The Pavlovich Brothers  · The Kingmaker  · Berlin  · Berlin: Conclusion  ·