This week’s episode of BULL was an improvement on last week’s premiere, mainly because the case Dr. Jason Bull took on was more interesting. This week, Bull and his team work to clear the name of a female pilot, the sole survivor of a crash. The airline and the NTSB are claiming pilot error to cover themselves, but Bull believes the crash was unavoidable due to the giant wind shear the plane ran into. After they run five different mock trials, they realize they have they work cut out for them—a shocking number of people blame the pilot for the crash just because she’s female, unaware of their own gender bias.
The problems from last week still persist, however. The show really, really wants us to think Jason Bull is cool. This week we learn that the reason Bull is interested in Captain Taylor Matheson’s case is that he’s handled all lawsuits involving airplane crashes for the past ten years. Why? He’s a pilot, of course. He also can play guitar and has not one, not two, but THREE PHD’s in psychology. He also uses his last name as a pun this week, which I’m surprised he didn’t do in the premiere—“The verdict you get depends on me. And that’s no Bull.” His team is impossibly cool too. Chunk, their in-house stylist, used to work for Vogue, but only because he couldn’t convert his college football stardom into a pro career. Cable, the edgy millennial hacker, wears a beanie everywhere so we know she’s hip.
The show is also committed to those YouTube-style talking heads that opened the premiere. They open this episode too—this time, the people talk about plane crashes. In theory, I guess it’s an interesting way to introduce the audience to the case of the week, but in practice, it’s slightly annoying. Same with the way there were random comments/status updates/tweets popping up on the screen when the airplane representative made a statement to the press. It was distracting instead of cool.
But let’s get to the case. Bull handles this one the same as he did last time. He runs mock trials until he determines what sort of jurors he wants, has the lawyer ask off-beat questions during voir dire so the jurors show their true selves, and then finds a mirror jury consisting of people who are exactly like the real jurors, according to some fancy, unexplained algorithm. The mirror jurors attend the trial every day, wearing a biometric tracker that Bull’s team analyzes to see how they’re emotionally reacting to different things. To enjoy this show, you have to set aside the fact that this “trial science” seems wildly unrealistic, for a lot of reasons. It would be incredibly expensive, time-consuming, and human beings are capable of doing unpredictable things.
There’s also the legal issues. I used the term “questionably legal surveillance” last week, but this week we see that what Cable/the rest of Bull’s team does is incredibly illegal. Analyzing a person’s Facebook page or YouTube videos they’ve uploaded for insights into their character is one thing. Hacking into their personal HR files at their jobs, as the team does for one potential juror, is quite another. Bull’s team is clearly breaking the law with their extensive hacking, but I doubt that they’ll ever have to deal with the consequences of this.
Bull’s appointed lawyer, who takes over for Taylor’s first one after it’s revealed he has a financial incentive for Taylor to settle the case, is able to win over all the jurors except for three. One, a woman, is divorced because her husband cheated on her with her secretary. The secretary looks a lot like Taylor, so when she looks at Taylor, she imagines Taylor’s copilot Ken cheating on his wife with her. Her copilot’s wife, Mary, believes that Ken was cheating on her with Taylor, as well. Ken was definitely having an affair, which may have distracted him and caused the crash.
Cable is able to determine that Ken was most likely having an affair with a passenger, Tanya, after accessing the plane’s Wi-Fi and analyzing everything everyone who used it did. I’m not sure if this is even possible, but whatever. She finds some tweets about a woman in 8D, who was just dumped by her boyfriend and who accosted the copilot when he went to the bathroom. Seems very convenient, but whatever. Taylor refuses to bring up the fact that Ken was having an affair with Tanya (she knew) at the trial, even though that information would win her the remaining jurors, as they would then blame Ken’s distraction on the crash.
Instead, Bull takes her to a flight simulator, where she recreates her actions before the crash and determines she didn’t lose control. She broke from protocol in order to crash the plane into an unoccupied street rather than a busy neighborhood. The plane was going down either way, but she saved hundreds of more lives with her actions. Her lawyer brings this up at trial and forces the jurors to confront their gender bias by telling them a story through pictures about a kid who stood up to a bully. They all assume it was the boy who stood up to the bully, when really it was the girl. Once people realize their bias, they tend to overcorrect for it.
Taylor wins the case, even though the lawyer’s gender bias explanation seemed a bit condescending to the jurors. I don’t think we’ll ever see Bull lose a case—he’s too cool to lose. The show will be taking a week off, so we’ll see if it keeps improving in two weeks.
Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E02)
Bull airs Tuesdays at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor