In a strange episode of BULL, the team is delivered their first semi-defeat when Bull takes on the case of an army lieutenant who’s charged with four counts of espionage, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 111 years in prison, after leaking a memo detailing reckless civilian deaths to a Wikileaks-type publication. All season long, I’ve been wondering if/when Bull would ever lose a case, but now I think I know why the show’s reluctant to go that route. When it tries to get serious, the show loses some of its winking fun, making it a subpar hour of TV.
Bull’s interested in the case from the get-go, but Benny is a lot more cautious. It isn’t as simple as a whistleblower heroically exposing a corrupt colonel. The article published online also revealed the location of a secret Army ranger unit, who were attacked shortly after. Three lives were lost. Curiously, Lt. Dale isn’t charged with the deaths, which seems like it would be a slam dunk for the prosecutors, so right away Bull knows something isn’t right. They meet with Dale, but she refuses to elaborate on why she wasn’t presented with those charges, making Benny trust her even less. Bull has to basically force him to take the case, which ends up hurting Benny in the long run while Bull escapes scot free.
It’s a tough assignment for the team. In a court martial, the defense is only allowed one rejection during voir dire. To make things more difficult, the team decides to research the jurors by the book, instead of employing their usual method of dubiously legal hacking. Nervous that the government could hack into their files, Marissa orders them not to use computers. Hers will be the only one even turned on, and it’s heavily encrypted and protected. The team decides to focus on eliminating a “nuclear juror”, one who could never see past the fact that Dale disobeyed orders to do what she did. The problem is, at least four of them could be nuclear. Bull ignores the team’s advice and eliminates one he thinks might be a leader, as that’s the most dangerous kind.
Turns out, Marissa was right to be paranoid. Someone does manage to hack into their system, through the printer and air conditioning of all things, purposefully messing up their data so that their juror profiles were all wrong. Quick side note, but it’s not clear how the team is tracking the jurors at all. They know when they switch sides, but it doesn’t seem like they have a mirror jury. We never see them and it seems impossible to get 12 military people with matching backgrounds on such a short notice, especially since they aren’t using the internet to find them. If Bull is just observing the body language of the jurors in court, why does he need his team? Anyways, Bull determines that the hack was done by Globe Spill, the Wikileaks-type organization, as he thinks that they have something to hide, giving them a reason to want Lt. Dale put away quickly and permanently.
He’s right, but he can’t prove it right away. The army whisks Benny away to show him a classified document. He’s allowed to see it under the discovery rule, but isn’t allowed to talk about it, which doesn’t make much sense. The classified document is the actual memo that Lt. Dale sent to the media. She redacted all of the information about the secret ranger unit, which means that Globe Spill found that out independently and filled in the blanks, giving them a juicier story. It doesn’t make much sense that the original memo, with the redacted information, would be classified. Everyone already read about it on Globe Spill. The show tries to explain this by having Marissa say some line about she noticed that the government’s over-classified documents while she was working for Homeland Security, but it still doesn’t make much sense that the army would do that unless they really had a vendetta against Dale, as the information could exonerate her.
Benny refuses to tell Bull what the document says, so Bull employs his Jedi mind tricks, asking Benny questions while holding his hands to feel his pulse and staring at his face to analyze his micro-expressions. Once he gets non-verbal confirmation that the classified document does indeed exonerate Dale, he meets with her to convince her that she should talk about it in court, even though talking about a classified document could get her another count of espionage. The thing is, Bull doesn’t tell Benny that that’s the plan. When Dale begins talking about it, Benny jumps in and reveals the information before she can get it out and is promptly arrested by a FBI agent watching the trial. It’s all very complicated.
While Benny sits in jail, Bull and Dale wait for the jury’s verdict. They come back not guilty on three counts, but guilty on one. That one count could give her anywhere from 10-20 years in jail. They eventually sentence her to 12 years to be served in a prison, but Bull does his thing and convinces the conveying official, who has a lot of authority in court martials, to amend the sentence. She gets one year, to be served at the base. Bull gets Benny out of a jail by giving the FBI the hacking signature Globe Spill used to infiltrate their systems in exchange. It seems like everything more or less worked out for Bull,as it always does, until the very last scene. Benny is handed an envelope. It seems like he’s being investigated for corruption. It’s unclear what this means, or who’s investigating, but it seems like things might no longer be all fun and games for the team.
Season 1, Episode 14 (S01E14)
Bull airs Tuesdays at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor