Marissa’s Backstory is Front and Centre in Bull’s “Bedside Manner”
Is there any better feeling after weeks of turmoil than the return of a new-but-quickly-becoming-integral part of the weeknight lineup? After a two week hiatus (thank you, World Series and US Election), our intrepid jury expert and team are back in the action and this week, the action has Marissa’s name all over him… er, it.
We’ve grown accustomed to viewing Geneva Carr‘s Marissa Morgan as the brilliant and reliable Girl Friday to Bull’s visionary Crusoe, Mom to his Pop in the TAC family, carrying on whichever way Bull pulls the team in, and always with humour, logic, and expertise. So it is a delightful surprise (well, at least a surprise to Bull) to discover she has a Great Love in her past, a college classmate, a friend for sixteen years despite a failed romance, a man every bit as much a genius as Bull in his own field of gynecological surgery, but one whose gifts exclude any sort of socialized norm. Dr. Terrence Robeson (Tom Lipinski, Suits) has planted his flag atÂ the absolute pinnacle of his field but he couldn’t make a friend to save his own life.
Robeson is facing a malpractice suit for performing an emergency hysterectomy on a patient who was actually undergoing a procedure to help her conceive. The plaintiff, Erica Povery (Ami Sheth, The Blacklist), a young woman married to a US war vet, is an incredibly sympathetic presence and Bull realizes that Benny won’t be compelling enough to sway a jury’s warm-fuzzies in Robeson’s direction considering the client’s off-putting personality. Enter a familiar face, attorney Liberty Davis (Dena Tyler, Bestsellers), last seen in the pilot episode, The Necklace, where Bull pulled her off the long-suffering bench to replace her high-powered jerk of a boss at trial.
Robeson quickly antagonizes pretty much everyone on the TAC team – no mean feat, that – and the mock jury unanimously find him liable for malpractice. Even Cable was amazed at how quickly he tanked the jurists’ empathy readings. Recognizing the client’s God Complex is rooted in the fact he really is the best at what he does, Bull sets Marissa to create an algorithm to find jurists who are “deep pragmatists”, individuals willing to overlook really terrible behaviours in people who have extreme skills of value.
What they assemble is the “jury of gods” as Bull terms it, “uncompromising, arrogant Alphas”, who will identify with being better than the rest of humanity. Bull nicknames them with the names of Greek gods for the heck of it which also allows him to drop another Marissa tidbit – she minored in Greek mythology in college. The jury in this case is made up of only six and the plaintiff needs five to find in her favour in order to win.
Cable’s investigation into Mrs. Povery’s surgery uncovers the fact that Robeson didn’t just save her life with the hysterectomy, he appears to save her twice before she starts to bleed out, correcting errors on the part of the anesthesiologist and the surgical nurse. When questioned on the O.R. team he’d hand-picked, Robeson, deeply resentful for having to explain himself, gives incredibly detailed explanations for both and clarifies that they didn’t make errors, they behaved in ways he understood and could anticipate. His defense of his team and their work is a sudden glimpse into the first positive personality attribute Bull has seen.
Geneva Carr really shines in her moments of sharing about her relationship with “Terry”. Her patience with his regular personality implosions is saint-like and yet she recognizes how he seems to everyone else. She knows that to change him would make him less than what she loved, but that the brilliance of his mind wasn’t enough for her to stay with him. Bull spends a lot of time this episode looking closely at Marissa, responding to her with a more thoughtful air. It’s a beautiful relationship to watch evolve through this new development.
With Bull coaching her, Liberty scripts her trial questions to draw the attention of the jury gods and appeal to their self-absorption. The plan works well on the most part but Bull realizes something is up with one of the jury members. Digging into it a little, the team discovers the jury member has been bribed, a problem even though he’s been bribed to find Robeson not liable. Bull has a quiet word with him and an alternate juror fills his spot when the trial reconvenes.
When super-sleuth Cable tells Bull she needs access to the Atticus mechanical surgical arm that was used in the procedure, he gently nudges her in the direction of undercover shenanigans with Danny playing nurse and Cable… well, under some covers.
She hacks into Atticus and discovers that the true liability lies with the mechanical arm where there was an error in the calibration which caused Mrs. Povery to begin bleeding out. The error in the programming was patched a day later by the company, very quietly, but as the evidence was obtained illegally, the team needs to take a sideways route to the reveal the truth.
Liberty puts a company engineer, Dr. Greyridge (Gregory Jones, The Path) on the stand, ostensibly to vouch for the machine’s infallibility and Robeson’s expertise, and offers to demonstrate Atticus’ precision by playing a version of “the knife game”. The engineer is all good to go until she mentions casually that they’ve “rolled back” the Atticus software to the day of the surgery. Needless to say, he opts to keep his fingers, admitting-but-not-admitting that there might be a problem in the calibration.
In a final attempt to win the jury over, Robeson takes the stand after a pep talk from Marissa, faced with Benny at his most antagonistic, attempting to tap into something that ordinary mortals can identify with. Miraculously, Dr. Robeson the Almighty manages to verbalize his inability to interact with others outside a surgical theatre and the jury find him not liable. I almost think even Bull was surprised they were able to pull this one out of the bag.
Where does this leave the tragic situation of Erica Povery and her husband? Bull and Marissa seek her out on the steps of the courthouse – Bull to offer his services if she decides she wants pursue a case against the Atticus company, Marissa to offer a word of possible comfort (and MORE backstory) by revealing that she was adopted. “There are a lot of ways to make a family,” she reminds Erica gently.
Our group celebration scene is always a comfort (especially after the weeks we’ve been without) and Marissa and Bull unpack some of the revelations this case has presented. Marissa grapples with the news that Terry never wanted her to leave but couldn’t figure out how to convince her to stay. Bull reminds her that she’s followed her own compass as much as the great Dr. Robeson has and Marissa concludes that their relationship has taught her that she *can* be around genius men, she just can’t date them. I feel like the deepest truth that was laid out in the open this week for audiences is that while Bull may be the brains of TAC, Marissa is definitely the heart.
Bull airs Tuesday nights (now that it’s BACK!) on CBS at 9PM ET/PT.
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