This week’s episode of BULL requires more suspension of disbelief than usual. There’s always some suspension of disbelief involved with this show—we’re been asked to believe that Bull can determine two people are related based on an eyebrow twitch and that he can tell someone is lying by holding their hand—but this week deals with hypnosis, which Bull demonstrates in ridiculous ways. A young man, Troy, beats his father to death while golfing at Chelsea Piers, switching from normal kid to calculated killing machine in an instant. Amy, a psychologist and former colleague of Bull, asks him to evaluate Troy, as he’s pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
Bull decides that Troy was hypnotized into killing his father. Troy recently joined the Lumansic Academy, a quasi-cult that charges outrageous tuition for self-enlightenment run by a charismatic father/daughter duo, Thornton and Rachel Gray. Bull sends Chunk and Danni to attend an informational meeting at the academy, but only Chunk is invited back for orientation. Meanwhile, Amy brings Benny some sketches Troy drew after talking to Bull. He keeps drawing different versions of tridents, but he doesn’t know why he’s doing this, so it’s up to Cable to figure out the connection.
Bull hires a lawyer named Reed (Desmin Borges) to be the defense attorney, as he doesn’t trust Benny yet. Yes, just when I thought the show left the downer Benny is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s office subplot behind for good, it’s back. Benny confesses to sleeping with Erin, the client from the class action lawsuit episode. If you’ve forgotten who that is, don’t worry. That episode aired over a month ago. “Make Me” is airing out of order, which could be why this subplot felt even more intrusive and random than usual. Benny and Bull were on great terms last week, so it’s weird to see them at odds again.
Bull instructs Reed to use the word “red” eleven times the first day of the trial. This is admittedly very funny. Bull tells him to make it subtle, but Reed starts off by announcing that he’s ready to go, stressing the “red” of “ready” in a decidedly unsubtle way. Other attempts include him declaring the prosecution’s objection made him “red in the face” and using the Red Hot Chili Peppers as an example of something that could be a hypnosis trigger, then suggesting that the trigger could have also been something Troy read. It’s silly, but the show cast the perfect guest star in Borges, who’s so consistently great in You’re the Worst. He plays this scene perfectly.
Cable can’t find any connections between Troy and tridents except for a song on his computer by a band called Trident 4. Bull and Danni go back to Chelsea Piers to recreate the afternoon of the murder exactly, in hopes of finding the trigger that caused Troy to snap and murder his dad. If you’re at this point thinking that the trigger is probably the song Cable found, you’re exactly right! But this episode still has more ridiculousness in store before our main characters come to that conclusion.
As discussed, Reed used the word red an inappropriate amount of times on the first day of the trial. This resulted in every single member of the jury AND the judge wearing red the next day, thanks to the power of suggestion. Everyone on the jury is now completely convinced that hypnotism is real. See what I meant about suspending disbelief this week? Bull also discovers that Troy wasn’t supposed to be golfing with his father that afternoon. He had an appointment with Thornton, but he cancelled the last minute. Could Thornton have been the real target? Answer: yes. This week has no misdirection or subtlety whatsoever.
Meanwhile, Chunk has been enjoying his time at the Lumansic Academy. He’s grown to trust Thornton, so much so that he agrees to try out a floatation chamber to help open up his mind. Once Chunk’s inside and beginning to relax, the lights shift from soothing blue to angry red and Thornton reveals that he knows Chunk is working for Troy’s defense, grilling him about his involvement with TAC. At this point, I was excited. This show’s been at its most enjoyable when it leans into its more ridiculous elements and I thought they might have been going full-on soap opera. Chunk kidnapped by a crazy cult leader? Yes please!
But instead, Thornton lets him go and just tells him not to come back. Lame. Bull realizes that the trigger is the song (duh) and that someone set it as Troy’s ringtone, then called him. Once Rachel is on the stand, Reed asks her to call Troy’s phone. She asks the judge if he can really make her do that. The judge replies that Reed can’t, but he can, because court on Bull has only slightly more resemblance to real life than Judge Judy. Rachel calls Troy’s phone, which plays the ringtone, causing Troy to once again go into a murderous rage and try to kill Bull. Rachel wanted to kill her father.
It’s so insane that I thought the prosecution would insist this whole thing was staged and ask for a mistrial, but everyone just accepts it. Troy’s found not guilty. Bull wins again, and we have a needlessly long scene at the super cool red themed victory party. Benny confides his legal woes to Bull, who vows to help him out. That’s nice and all, but do any viewers really care about this whole U.S. Attorney thing? I know I don’t. More crazy courtroom dramatics, less seriousness, please!
Season 1, Episode 20 (S01E20)
Bull airs Tuesdays at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor