Sword and Scale – True Crime Podcast
Sword and Scale is an American true-crime podcast.
The show delivers a unique take on the genre, blurring the lines between entertainment and reality to paint a breathtaking picture of how real crimes have shaped our society.
Sword and Scale relentlessly mines the dark side of human nature for its terrible truths.
It has been praised by psychologists, law enforcement officers, lawyers, authors, and true crime podcast enthusiasts around the world.
It has also been described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “brutal but also strangely entertaining” as well as being “sinister and darkly comic.”
Perhaps this true crime mainstay is best described by the show’s tagline, noting that Sword and Scale is a show:
“..that reveals the worst monsters are real.”
Mike Boudet is the creator and host of Sword and Scale. He launched the website and podcast in 2014.
The show quickly became a cult hit and amassed 1 million downloads in its first year.
Sword and Scale was praised by many media outlets and even topped the iTunes podcast charts.
By 2017, Apple listed it as one of “The 25 Best Podcasts” in their digital store.
Sword and Scale has garnered acclaim for its ability as a true crime podcast to provide commentary on the complex causes of crime in society.
It is also credited with covering unique or overlooked true crime stories.
Content and Style
Sword and Scale creator and host Mike Boudet is a pioneer and true artist when it comes to the painstaking effort he applies to the production elements of his podcast.
His audio engineering background shines throughout the series serving as a key differentiator amongst other podcasts in the genre.
Audio clips, soundscapes, and background noises are all woven throughout the deranged tales that Boudet skillfully narrates in a steadied demeanor that somehow makes these stories even more terrifying.
Episodes can also feature audio clips of commentary from experts in the field of psychology and or law enforcement.
They explore the stories of crime from different angles, giving insights into the mental capacity of the perpetrators while exploring possible motives for the crimes.
Sword and Scale also explores the origin stories of how these monsters unwound from society and took the shocking steps towards committing horrific acts against fellow human beings.
Each episode goes into granular detail about crimes that are often forgotten about or overlooked by mainstream media outlets.
Because the episodes focus on crime, they often contain graphic descriptions that are shocking and disturbing.
Sword and Scale is a true crime podcast that is not for the faint of heart.
The 5 Best Episodes
Sword and Scale has been a pioneering force for years within the true crime podcast genre and creator Mike Boudet has amassed an impressive catalog of episodes.
To help you become familiar with the show and to pay homage to one of the most acclaimed shows within the genre, we have identified and curated for you the very best episodes.
Each episode selected contains some unique characteristics while also displaying the tried and true Sword and Scale signature style of layered production and harrowing storytelling.
These are the 5 Best Episodes of Sword and Scale:
1. Episode #20: Ronald William Brown
I am not sure there is any other way to kick off this best episode feature on Sword and Scale without jumping headfirst into the deep end of human depravity.
This episode shows and proves that creator Mike Boudet is willing to travel to the darkest recesses of the human mind.
This episode also garnered the very first “18 and over” disclaimer that was narrated by Boudet at the onset of the episode.
Boudet states in the clearest and frankest manner possible that the content you are about to consume can cause significant emotional damage and if you carry onward in listening to the episode you are doing so at the risk of your own mental well-being.
Some may ask why a monster such as Ronald William Brown deserves to have a podcast episode detailing his heinous acts against children let alone having his name even being spoken aloud.
The chilling and sad fact is, there are deranged individuals populating our communities and neighborhoods and we must face their criminality against fellow humans with eyes wide open.
Ronald William Brown went to great lengths to infiltrate normal society by working as a puppeteer on a Christian Television Network’s kid show Joy Junction.
This is the sickest version yet of a wolf in sheep’s clothing parading around a community with pious righteousness all the while wreaking havoc in the dark.
If you are able to get past the computer-simulated readings of Ronald William Brown’s online chat logs, you are a braver soul than I.
2. Episode 33: Luka Magnotta
In this episode, Luka Magnotta is a Canadian man accused of murder, dismemberment, and mailing obscene materials.
He sent these packages to politicians and schools apparently to make a statement against the government but ultimately may have been self-serving his own narcissistic tendencies.
His personality has been described as “angelic” by those who know him, which also makes his gruesome acts even more confounding.
The various crimes that marked this episode are killing kittens, mailing a severed foot, sending parcels with animal feces and body parts, dismemberment, and murder.
As if the brutality inflicted on defenseless animals and his fellow man was not enough, Magnotta attempted to flourish as a star in the social media landscape by recording and displaying his acts online for all to see.
We can see the ghastly progression of Magnotta’s psychopathic behavior, starting first with the cruel, unthinkable torture and murder of animals and then ultimately the killing of a man.
This story is as equally riveting as it is revolting.
This is a true cautionary tale and even perhaps a slight referendum on the narcissistic tendencies that social media platforms have inflamed in an era of instant celebrity.
If you want even more insight into this story, I would suggest the excellent documentary titled “Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer”.
3. Episode #107: Jamie Rose Bolin
Jamie Rose Bolin was a 10-year-old girl who lived in Oklahoma.
She disappeared one day on her way to school in broad daylight. She was never seen again after that.
It is later discovered that she was murdered and kept by the perpetrator Kevin Ray Underwood in the same exact apartment building that her family lived in.
The thought of this young innocent girl being kidnapped, tortured, and abused just several doors away from her family residence is too much to even bear.
This story gets expanded upon by Rose’s mother, Gayla Strickland, and by Underwood himself, through the use of audio clips, a signature style of Sword and Scale production.
We also get a fascinating glimpse into the slow devolving nature of a maniac’s mind by a chronological reading of Underwood’s blog which he maintained with countless entries.
The blog posts, seeming to express typical loneliness at first, get more desperate and concerning as time winds on.
4. Episode #55: Killer Doctor
This episode is about a medical professional called Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who helped poor, disenfranchised women of all ages get abortions.
He also ran a pill mill, selling drugs illegally for massive amounts of profit.
The details of the filth, grime, and unsanitary conditions of his clinic are revolting.
My stomach literally turned upon the words being delivered from Boudet that spoke of cat urine and feces in the operating rooms, blood-soaked floors, and piles of bio-waste having been built up in a basement for God only knows how long.
Dr. Gosnell would perform illegal abortions on his patients well beyond the generally accepted term of length for a pregnancy.
As disturbing as the doctor himself is the group psychosis that must have overtaken his staff that continued to work at that facility despite the horrors of humanity taking place right in front of their eyes there day after day.
5. Episode #67: Killer Mother
In this episode, we learn about a woman Mitchelle Blair who killed her two children and then hid their corpses in her freezer for two years.
This episode is especially appalling because most of the time that she had the perished bodies in the freezer she carried onward in the household tending to other kids in her family.
The way she kept the deceased kids in the freezer was like something straight out of a horror movie.
During this episode, we get some compelling analysis from a psychiatrist who details the impacts of trauma and sheds some light on the type of systemic, generational abuse that can create a climate within a home for such unthinkable acts to take place.
I understand that it can be hard not to want to think or talk about a crime like this because it is so upsetting, but we must face these tragedies head-on as a society to at least recognize possible warning signs in the future.
The mother eventually got caught when she was served an eviction notice and authorities entered the home to serve on the eviction.
When apprehended, Blair apologized and took ownership of the crimes immediately.
She indicated the murders stemmed from the punishment of her two kids who had been sexually abusing her youngest child, a claim that was never substantiated.
Bonus Selection – Episode #82: 911 Dispatcher
This episode stands out from the rest of the catalog because it is not an analysis of a specific crime but actually an interview of a 911 dispatcher.
Throughout the conversation with Boudet, the guest dispatcher details the stressors and emotional challenges that come along with the job.
No matter how many calls you get, there will always be a few that will stick with you almost like an imprint was left on your soul because the nature of the call was so perilous.
Boudet interviews his guest about his own firsthand experiences as a 911 dispatcher and they also listen to and react to various 911 calls that received national attention.
One call, in particular, was a mother who called 911 to calmy and plainly state she just killed her own two children.
The contents and nature of the 911 call are beyond shocking.
The call gets even more distressing when the woman’s mother arrives on the scene to discover her grandchildren dead in their bedroom, murdered by the hands of her own daughter.
The screams of shock and horror that arise from the grandmother are almost too much to take.
Mike Boudet Controversy
It would be disingenuous to write an article about Sword and Scale and to not at least acknowledge some of the controversies that have followed creator and host Mike Boudet throughout his podcasting career.
Between social media spats, polarizing political commentary, and a breakup with the powerhouse podcast outfit Wondery Media, Boudet has had his share of public troubles.
Sometimes the boundaries being pushed within the Sword and Scale platform can be questioned by even the most diehard of fans.
I believe two truths can be held at the same time. Sword and Scale is a brilliant, groundbreaking true crime podcast and Mike Boudet seems to be a bit of a tortured artist with online behavior in the past that can be deemed questionable if not outright inappropriate.
You can check out a prior article in which we covered the Wondery Media breakup right here.
You can then check out a guest feature article, written by a major Sword and Scale fan, in which he ponders if Sword and Scale went too far on a certain episode. Check that article out right here.
Sword and Scale is a true crime podcast that I would recommend to anyone with even the slightest interest in exploring the true crime genre.
To deny the show’s ability to innovate and be a mainstay within the true crime genre is to deny the cold hard facts of the show’s impact on podcasting.
Sword and Scale provides a unique insight into the headspace of criminals and killers rarely felt from coverage of criminal cases in the mainstream media.
It also highlights the things we take for granted in life, like community, connection, and the care that we should be displaying for our fellow neighbors.
Sword and Scale takes audiences on a deep dive into the darkness of humanity and uncovers the cultural and societal impacts of crime.
It does so with groundbreaking interviews, thought-provoking commentary, and startling audio clips that will make you question your own mortality and belief systems.
Sword and Scale truly does reveal that “the worst monsters are real.”