Recaps

In Bull, We Trust When Playing the “Name Game”

It’s the common nightmare of the modern world: the stock scam. The irresistible chance to invest in high-yield, fast returns. The tantalizing opportunity to own a home, a new car, maybe take a holiday. The horrifying reality of having it all disappear in seconds.

Our good doctor returns to our Tuesday night television with not one client, but thousands who have lost their savings to an “Alternative Investment” branch of a well-reputed bank. In the process, he risks T.A.C.’s solvency and puts Benny in a difficult professional dilemma.

It all starts with a school teacher, Erin Howland (Laura Breckenridge, Blue Bloods) who discovers the boiler room phone centre from where her bank, Brannigan Trust, offers its customers “the deal of a lifetime”. She tries to report the scam to the authorities to no avail and it’s Chunk who brings her story to Bull, a longtime client of Brannigan Trust.

Photo Credit: CBS

When T.A.C. takes the deep dive into all the victims of the Alternative Investment division, four thousand two hundred and eleven come to light and Marissa is rightfully anxious about the risk they are taking on this single class action case.

In taking on the third largest bank in the world and fronting the costs of bringing in and housing the scam victims from all over the country, T.A.C. could realistically lose everything themselves if they fail to unanimously convince the federal jury. While Bull is clear-sighted but eager to take the leap, Benny has his eye on the potential pay-off if they win which Marissa immediately (and somewhat correctly) points out is exactly the same mentality as put their four thousand-plus clients in the position that they are currently in.

The case is even trickier than usual and it’s fascinating to listen to how Bull and Marissa narrow down the target juror demographic. The general mock jury pool is sympathetic to the victims but still finds for the bank. Even with credible witnesses and victim statements, Bull needs a stronger narrative push to incite the jurors on this case to find for the plaintiffs.

He wants jurors who won’t trust blindly, who are naturally skeptical. A jury made up of people who tend towards brand loyalty would find for the bank as an established institution but the “disloyal” jurors he’s looking for don’t believe the sizzle over the substance and will look beyond the name for the motives of the company.

Photo Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS

Complicating the situation is the ongoing federal investigation into Benny’s past case, a belligerent Judge Vortuba (Kurt Fuller, Psych), and Benny’s not-that-subtle infatuation with their initial client, Erin. In a unique twist, Bull is unable to assist in voir dire (thank you, Judge Grumpy Pants) but points out afterwards that this time, they get to “shop” for their witnesses as they have so many to choose from.

Our fearless leader, ever the fan of team-building exercises, challenges the T.A.C. members to throw in for the victim they feel will be the most influential in convincing the mock jury, offering a $5000 bonus for the winner. The competition turns everyone into a boiler room broker, flaunting all the positives of their candidate and ignoring any negatives. What was particularly entertaining was how quick they were to throw each other’s candidate under the bus. After initial pitches, there’s no clear front-runner for star witness in the victim pool.

As it turns out, it’s not a victim they need but a predator. Sofia Dern (Cristina Rosato, The Art of More) was one of the boiler room brokers and, boy, does she ever light up a room (when she’s not kicking stuff over). Benny wants to treat her as hostile but Bull convinces him that the way to go is to play to her ego and let her brag about her wins.

Of course, then she doesn’t show for trial and Bull goes off to track her down. In his absence, Benny puts Erin on the stand where the defense succeeds in making her look both uninformed and naive. In the aftermath, Benny makes an effort to reach out to her. “We all make mistakes. Sometimes well-meaning but still life-changing,” he tells her and shares his recent experience of realizing he’d sent an innocent man to prison for nine years. Romantic shenanigans ensue and I’m pretty sure that was not in Bull’s game plan.

Photo Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS

His actual plan borders on indecent – dropping in to Dern’s luxury auto show room where she slinks up to him, purring about the car – then test-driving said vehicle right up to the steps of the courthouse. Her testimony is all that T.A.C. could want – smug, snarky, and revealing the “Suckers List”, the list of clients Brannigan Trust targeted with these stock offers – but Bull feels that Erin’s poor showing on the stand still leaves them behind.

He insists that Benny call the Brannigan Trust C.E.O., Griffin Fuller (Ian Lithgow, Girls) to the stand before the defense can but Benny takes the pit bull whistle too literally and comes across as a bully to Fuller’s calm demeanor. Always adaptive, Bull tracks down Dern one more time, betting on her “transactional” nature and offering her incentive if she helps with the last hold-out juror.

With Judge “Tuba” catching them in the transactional act, as it were, the plan both nearly backfires and benefits them at the same time (super weird loophole in the law) but T.A.C. pulls it all out of the abyss and wins the day for their clients. Bull’s cottoned on by this point that something’s awry with Benny and gives him a ride home in his sweet new luxury sedan in order to give him a chance to share.

As Benny told Chunk previously, he’s not ready to share with Bull and retreats to his home without unburdening himself. However, he might be ready for something else when Erin shows up on his doorstep, looking to invest in something more meaningful than money. With the X Ambassadors soundtracking the moment with the lyrics “living life like renegades” the credits on a crucial episode roll as former counsel and client embrace in the hallway.

Bull airs Tuesday night on CBS at 9pm ET/PT.

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