BULL Review: “E.J.”

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returns after a three-week break with a messy episode that starts with a promising enough premise—Bull decides to help a brilliant but troubled young female CEO (Justine Lupe) after one of her company’s self-driving cars kills an employee—but devolves into a disjointed mishmash of themes and ideas that never fully come together. This episode just throws a lot at the viewer in hopes that something will stick. We have people’s fear of automation, a young woman dramatically mourning the tragic loss of a mysterious person, drug addiction, Bull posing as a hacker, a driverless car hacked into a killing machine, and an evil CFO who inexplicably murders two people in hopes of…raising the company’s bottom line? Getting money when the company fails? It really isn’t clear, but one can reliably count on this show to choose the most insane, left-field suspect and pin the whole case on them. If someone enters late in the third act, you can sure as hell bet they’re somehow responsible for the whole thing, no matter how far-fetched it seems.

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The episode opens with a tech employee, Adam, halting an update on E.J., a driverless car personified by an ethnically ambiguous male avatar with a soothing voice, because he has to rush off and watch a game. It’s 1:30 in the morning, but apparently it’s an Arsenal vs Manchester United game, which still doesn’t make sense because 1:30 in the morning in New York is only 6:30 AM in London, but whatever. Anyone watching this show should be used to them playing hard and loose with facts. While Adam turns to leave, E.J. menacingly flicks his lights on and runs him down. I’m actually surprised that movie about killer driverless cars hasn’t been made yet, so congrats to Bull for at least trying to be current!

Adam’s widow Erica is now suing the tech company, run by the brilliant young Ginny, in a wrongful death suit, which could result in her losing the company. Benny and Marissa are against Bull taking the case, as Benny doesn’t like the idea of driverless cars (we learn his grandfather was a cabbie) and Marissa worries that jurors can get too caught up in technobabble, but Bull insists. He believes that Ginny, who’s only 26, is capable of great things and doesn’t want her cut short. He takes a driverless car to visit her, immediately deducing that she’s based the speech patterns on someone close to her from the fact that E.J. used the word “unfortunately” twice. In case you forgot over the winter break, Bull is quick to remind the audience that he has THREE PhD’s in different disciplines in psychology.

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Ginny replies that it isn’t based on someone who is close to her. It’s based to someone who was close to her. Obviously this is the key to unlocking her psyche and her obsession with continuing the E.J. program, but we don’t return to this until much later in the episode. E.J. is named after Evan Johnson, a boy she loved as a teenager who she killed in car crash. Ginny isn’t going to let the memory of her dead love be destroyed so quickly, so she refuses to testify once it comes to light that E.J. was hacked. Someone—her coworker and best friend Carter—inserted a backdoor into the code, making it susceptible to hackers. If investors find out, they will leave the project, even though the fact that someone hacked E.J. makes Ginny’s company not liable in Adam’s death.

How does the team find out that someone inserted a backdoor? Cable finds a bunch of encrypted code in E.J.’s programming, but she’s not skilled enough in decryption to solve it. Luckily, she knows someone who is—a hacker named Sarcoma. But Sarcoma won’t talk to her. He’s only interested in talking to Goliath 9-18. Since no one knows what Goliath 9-18 looks like, except for the fact that he’s older, Cable has Bull come along and pose as him. She tells him he needs a makeover first and he emerges…looking exactly like he did before, but now with a leather jacket. Bull convinces Sarcoma he’s Goliath 9-18 but smashing a tablet (sure). It’s an amusing scene but a completely unnecessary diversion.

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The theory is that Carter hacked into E.J. and killed Adam, but then Carter turns up dead. He seems to have committed suicide, but he’s found in a driverless car with his seatbelt on. If he was going to kill himself, why buckle up? Bull and Ginny go for a ride in E.J., but when Bull mentions murder, E.J. goes haywire and tries to kill them until Cable hacks in and fixes it. Of course, the timing on this was suspicious, so it turns out Bull had Cable hack the car to convince Ginny to testify. She does and admits E.J. was hacked, letting her company off the hook. But it turns out Dean, the seemingly innocent CFO, hacked E.J. and killed Adam and Carter! It’s double murder! Why? I have absolutely no idea! Welcome back to Bull, everyone!

TB-TV-Grade-B

Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E10)
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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