This week on BULL, the team takes on the case of Jules Cafferty, a well-known defense attorney infamous for getting celebrity clients out of trouble after he’s accused of killing his fiancé Lauren, a dancer at basketball games twenty years his junior. Bull doesn’t initially want to take the case—Jules announces that they’re working together on live TV, so Bull visits him and decides to help. He also decides to let Jules be his own lawyer, using his penchant for theatrics to his advantage.
The episode opens with Lauren dancing at a basketball game. The show sets up several suspects for her upcoming murder—the basketball player who’s paying too much attention to her, the coach who yells at her for messing up the choreography, and the rival dancer who glares wickedly at her. She goes home where an unseen assailant drowns her in the bathtub. Jules is arrested for the murder because they have a witness who claims to have seen the two of them fighting and Lauren left him a voicemail where she seemed scared of him.
However, the weekly Bull viewer knows that none of these people is the real killer, as the show follows the predictable pattern of revealing in the final minutes that the actual culprit is the person you’d least expect. This show isn’t really about solving crimes—it’s about the strategy behind the trial—but it’s insistence on wrapping up all cases in the neat little packages by pointing at a last-minute suspect is growing a bit irritating as we approach the end of the first season.
Jules immediately begins to disobey Bull. Bull wants him to choose jurors who are low drama—he says Canadians would be ideal. Lots of failed jokes about Canadians this episode for some reason. Jules thinks he needs people who are going to get excited by his passionate speeches. Jules holds a rally to proclaim his innocence—Bull didn’t tell him to do this, but it works. The mirror jurors believe that he didn’t kill his fiancé, at least temporarily. Jules later defies Bull by cross-examining the prosecution’s eyewitness. He comes across as a jealous, angry man so Bull needs to do damage control.
Essentially, the conflict in this show is centered on Bull’s associates not listening to his instructions or messing up, then Bull having to find a way to fix it. If everyone just listened to Bull, the trials would be smooth sailing. It’s not the most exciting story pattern to watch. There’s also some odd moments this week. The prosecution puts Jules’ ex-wives on the stand. They all claim he scared them and was a monster. Jules cross-examines them and they all say he was the best husband and he never laid a finger on them. Were they lying about him being a monster? Isn’t that perjury?
The prosecution calls their star witness—a construction worker who say Jules and Lauren fight, intervening when Jules grabbed her. He’s soft-spoken, polite, and believable. This is the witness Jules cross-examines against Bull’s advice and he does not come off well. Bull decides to put Jules himself on the stand, where he surprise confronts him with new evidence. Bull’s team ran Lauren’s fingerprints and determined that Lauren is a “grifter” who’s assumed multiple identities to con people out of their money.
It’s a classic Bull move. A left field reveal that resolves the client of any guilt. The prosecutor tries to argue that it’s possible that Jules learned she was a “grifter” (everyone keeps using this very old-fashioned word) and killed her out of anger, but Jules genuine, emotional shock to hearing the news isn’t something he could’ve faked unless he was an Oscar-caliber actor. Jules reminisces about all the things he loved about Lauren to Bull—her laugh, how she tugged at her brow when she got tense.
This piques Bull’s interest and, wouldn’t you know it, Jules just happens to have a video of Lauren tugging at her brow. From this, Bull determines that the polite witness for the prosecution is really Lauren’s brother, another grifter who helped Lauren at with her cons. He’s the real killer. It’s one of the show’s more out there reveals and Bull’s explanation for how he determined this is one of his most ridiculous—the brow tugging thing is a physical tick. The witness did it too. The tick is genetic, so he must be her brother.
It’s like the show’s writers aren’t even trying anymore. They come up with more ridiculous twists and provide less and less explanation for Bull’s ability to solve them. This episode ends with another one of the show’s more annoying aspects—its need to constantly paint Bull as a near saint. Jules thanks him for his help and suggests that he’ll have more fans after this very public case, but Bull insists that he wants to stay behind the scenes. He’s humble, in addition to brilliant and charismatic. Too bad he’s also boring.
Season 1, Episode 19 (S01E19)
Bull airs Tuesdays at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor