BULL Review: “Callisto”

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By normal standards of television, this was just an average episode. But by standards, this was a pretty good episode, as we watch the trial analysis team travel to Callisto, a small town in Texas, to help a brilliant self-trained scientist, Carrie, who’s being sued by a big pharmaceutical company run by Wyndemere for patent infringement, as her revolutionary hemophilia cure she developed to save her sister may contain some of the same elements of their drug. Taking the team out of New York City added a much needed breath of fresh air to the show.

It’s also interesting that this small town in Texas, where plaintiffs file an extraordinary amount of patent cases because the townspeople almost always rule in their favor, is based on a real place: Marshall, Texas. It’s a fascinating legal oddity. Bull explains it as the halo effect. The plaintiffs hire the local lawyers, who the townspeople like and trust. The lawyers in Callisto also donate a lot of money to community improvement efforts. Similar things go on in Marshall, but it’s mainly due to the local judge, who has a reputation for racing through patent cases to get them over with as quickly as possible, which we see a little bit of here.

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Bull has been to Callisto before. It’s the only time he hasn’t won a case. He won’t say lost, because he didn’t, but he didn’t win. Turns out he went there as a hired gun and when the jury adjourned for the weekend, he was convinced he had them. They ended up ruling in sexy local lawyer Diana Spencer’s favor. Bull and Diana slept together (of course) and were together the whole weekend except for when she went to church. Although she didn’t talk to the jurors, her presence there and the fact that she sang in the choir convinced them to rule in her favor.

Small aside: Bull says that his first experience in Callisto lead him to realize he needs to trust people more and only take cases he cares about. However, the case we see him work on in the pilot, getting off the rich kid accused of murder, seemed to be one he just did for money. It takes away from the ickiness of the fact that he’s using large amounts of money to manipulate the justice system if he’s only helping those deserving of it, but as we saw in this episode and the two previous ones, he’s taking on those cases pro bono. It’s not a sustainable business model.

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It’s interesting and terrifying that so much of a defendant’s fate rests in the hands of twelve strangers with personal biases that could cause them to rule against you even if your lawyer presents a compelling argument. From the beginning of the case, Bull can’t employ his usual methods. He hires local hero Meryl, a cowboy-type who was prom king and star quarterback in high school, to be their lawyer, but his voir dire is cut short when a tornado siren goes off. The judge just randomly picks the remainder of the jurors so they can go to the shelter.

He can’t use a mirror jury, because when he brings in the people he’s chosen to watch the trial, the judge sends them away, saying that they don’t have any business in his courtroom. But Bull has a few tricks up his sleeve. He has his employee Danni get a as a waitress at the local bar so she can learn more about the people in the town. The jurors go there after their days at court, so she’s able to eavesdrop and determine which way they’re leaning. Most of the jurors can’t understand complex science, so he has Benny think of a way to break down the differences between Carrie and Wyndemere’s drug in a way that even children could understand.

He also paints Carrie as someone who cares about saving lives while Wyndemere is someone who only cares about money. Wyndemere had the tools to make the drug that Carrie did, and indeed she got the idea from looking at his research, but he didn’t because the cost of research and was too great for a drug that only a few people need. Bull has gotten everyone on his side except for the three jurors who do understand science. They need to hear the exact differences between what Carrie did and what Wyndemere has, but it’s time for closing arguments.

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So Bull pulls off his most complex and unethical scheme yet. He has Cable hack in the bailiff and judge’s phones, so they go off and show them a storm warning. The judge forces Diana to end her closing argument short. Meryl begins his when the tornado sirens go off. They all have to go to the shelter, where the plaintiff and defendant are put in a small room away from the jurors. They begin talking about the case. Wyndemere admits he could have never done what Carrie did. The jurors just happen to overhear this conversation, as their voices carry over an air vent. If the bailiff was concerned about separating them, why didn’t he stop their conversation once it was obvious other people could hear it?

But here’s the most unethical/craziest part of the scheme: THERE WAS NO TORNADO. Cable hacked into the town’s emergency system to make the sirens go off and made a fake news report that she got trending on Twitter. So illegal. Wyndemere decides to drop the case. Carrie is free to distribute/manufacture her drug, but Bull wishes that a jury could have officially declared him the winner. They go back to New York to celebrate. Overall, taking the team out of New York City provided a fun chance of pace for the show.

TB-TV-Grade-B

Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
Bull airs Tuesdays at 9PM on CBS

Read all of our reviews of Bull here. 
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Jennifer lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jtrof
Keep up with all of Jennifer’s reviews here.

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