This week’s episode of BULL felt both aimless and rushed–it’s the first time we’ve never seen the opposing side at trial and this week’s opponent was pretty large: the United States of America. Bull helps JP on the first of three cases he promised her, defending a cyber security firm who doesn’t want to give their server information to the FBI, even though the FBI claims the servers contain communications between terrorists responsible for blowing up a midtown Manhattan hotel’s ballroom. Bull’s on the side of the government, but the owner of the security firm is JP’s oldest client, Gideon Tilden, who comes into the office with his number two Harry Kemp.
The episode opens with Harry looking at the time on his phone while in the bath, anticipating the blast that shakes the city. He then goes to work the next morning and looks at his bank account–he’s suddenly $100 million richer. From the opening scenes, we know that this bombing had nothing to do with eco-terrorism. Harry clearly just got paid in connection to it and it seems very unlikely that an eco-terrorist group would have $100 million laying around. The FBI thinks eco-terror because the hotel was hosting a conference dedicated to maximizing profits in this age of eco-deregulation.
The main conflict this episode is the right to personal privacy versus servicing the greater good and catching bad guys. Bull’s on the side of servicing the greater good, as are most of his staff, but especially Cable, who leaves work rather than help with the case. A guy in her building was severely injured in the explosion. However, the audience knows, or at last can confidently assume, that the FBI is wrong about the eco-terrorism angle. Therefore, looking at the group’s communications wouldn’t even help solve the case.
Bull and JP flirt, argue, and flirtatiously argue, as is their pattern. The cyber security firm gives over their server to the FBI, but leaves it encrypted. Apparently, their encryption is so great the FBI won’t be able to crack it, at least not in any time in the foreseeable future. But guess what? Cable, the twenty-something child, knows someone who’s such a great hacker they can do what the American government can’t in less than a day. Sure. Benny gets the encrypted server and Cable gets it un-encrypted.
Bull changes his mind about the importance of the right to privacy after Cable confronts him with some information she found on him on the server. Bull’s always claimed to hate lawyers, but he took the bar twice in Texas and failed both times. This is a bit unbelievable–Bull is supposed to be a genius and thousands of non-geniuses pass the bar every year, but whatever. Bull realizes that without the right to privacy, people won’t take risks, as the fact that their failures would be forever preserved for all to see would dissuade them from trying anything difficult or new.
He’s changed his mind, but so has JP. His arguments for turning over the server convinced her and it shows in her closing statements. She doesn’t believe what she’s saying and the jury is falling asleep. Bull fakes a coughing attack, gets a five minute recess, and gives her an inspiring speech about the right to personal privacy that she repeats to the jury. The jury returns a non-guilty verdict. The cyber security firm doesn’t have to turn over their files.
But what of Henry? Danny has been following him every night, accompanied by incredibly dramatic and unnecessary movement. She finds that he goes to the same super secure apartment each night at midnight, but she can’t access it and there’s no information about the name on the door online. She plants a listening device on him and Bull and JP confront him with the recording.
Turns out Henry is into incredibly high stakes gambling. Super rich, bored people apparently bet on mundane, impossible to predict things like what time major airlines actually touch down in cities. Henry’s lost $65 million, but he sold the information that three people would be at the hotel the night of the explosion for $100 million. Who did he sell it to? Who wanted these people dead? The show never explains, but it conveniently managed to make it so there’s no gray areas here. Bull was right to defend personal privacy and the servers wouldn’t have helped anyways. It was an uneven episode that doesn’t give me high hopes for next week’s season finale.
Season 1, Episode 22 (S01E22)
Bull airs Tuesdays at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor