One of the most intriguing backstory mysteries in the Bull ensemble has always been how Benny ended up with TAC when he started out as Bull’s ex-brother-in-law. Secondary to that is the mysterious ex-wife herself. Bull has mentioned her in passing, but never with animosity… just regret. The two men seem bonded by a brotherhood that doesn’t need blood ties, a brotherhood of survivors perhaps?
Because, as it turns out, Isabella Colon (Yara Martinez, Jane the Virgin) is quite theÂ force of nature – the face and body of her own brand of life-coaching wellness regime, entrepreneur, and intrepid perfectionist – holding everyone around her to the high standard she sets for herself. In meeting her, we assume pretty quickly that her relentless, humourless drive is probably what caused her estrangement from both husband and brother.
The case that brings her back into Bull and Benny’s orbit is one that may cost her her company. Olivia Brooks, following the Bella Colon morning regime and drinking the product, dies of an anaphylactic reaction to bee pollen. Arguing that Izzy’s product was contaminated, Olivia’s husband, George (Lee Garrett, Limitless) is suing for $60 million and her lawyer, Franklin (Ned Eisenberg, Law & Order: SVU) Â reaches out to TAC.
It isn’t the first time we’ve met people who share a past with Dr. Jason Bull but Isabella is not just anyone and she arrives on the scene in full battle garb, exuding confidence but extremely guarded with both men. As the exposition rolls out, we learn that she and Benny haven’t spoken since he declined her offer to be Bella Colon’s legal counsel. The fact he chose to work for Bull after the divorce was salt in her wound it seems.
The TAC team makes no attempt to hide their curiosity about Bull and Izzy’s history but he deflects it into a Benny and Bella situation, indicating that healing their rift is of more importance than any salacious tidbits his short marriage could provide. In polling the shadow jury, the team discovers Isabella’s fame is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, jury members recognize, admire, and try to emulate her. On the other, she is such an icon of perfection, they feel the need to find her liable to make her more human.
Even Chunk’s usually effective costume prep does nothing to sway them. Changing the signature style of such a well-known fashion plate hits all the wrong buttons with the jury members. It takes a more subtle change, suggested by Bull, to soften Izzy’s look enough to appeal to the jury but even so it’s going to be challenging to convince them that she is anything but flawless.
The case takes a few twists to keep things interesting. Izzy’s Chief Operating Officer, Allison (Andrea Morales, Subdued), whom Bull refers to as the “hardest working person [he’d] ever met”, admits to out-sourcing the potentially lethal smoothie product to a different production centre to meet Isabella’s schedule, where cross-contamination could’ve taken place. Two of the jurors start up a romantic relationship which throws a weird dynamic into the mix that the TAC team then has to recreate in the shadow jury (what Chunk terms “a zoo experiment”). It also turns out that the grieving husband was cheating on his wife before her death, giving him motive to poison her using her known allergy.
Ultimately, though, this episode is about Bull and Benny and Bella. Bull can’t seem to stop analyzing his ex-wife and that causes her to push back even more, including firing TAC at one point. Bella can’t shake the big sister role she takes on whenever Benny’s around, seeing him as vulnerable, needing to take care of him and yet always ready to criticize and try to get a rise out of him. Benny can’t help feeling a little smug that he’s in a position to save the woman who pushed him through law school and egged him on by the most annoying means possible to be the incredible lawyer he is today.
“You push people away when you demand more than they can give,” Bull counsels Izzy when she questions some of the choices that have led her to this point in her life. The genius about the writing in this show is that Bull is probably shedding a little light on the lessons he learnedÂ from their relationship as well. As he confesses later when she accuses him of studying her more than loving her,”I just wanted to know the real you…I needed all of you to love you.”
As a final Hail Mary move to humanize her in the eyes of the social media world (and thereby the jury), Bull and Bella perform a very public, very human, very genuine scene where her vulnerability is designed to go viral with Danny placed nearby to direct the attention (and cel phones) of bystanders to the couple as they squabble.
The biggest reveal for me is that what finally ended Bull and Isabella’s marriage was a miscarriage and how each of them reacted in the aftermath. In a final, intense moment of vulnerability, Izzy tells him that she didn’t need him to heal her, she needed him to mourn with her. Recognizing the irony of her words, Bull replies that trying to heal her was the only way he knew how to mourn. Woah. Okay. And when she leans in for a sad but sincere kiss that one can’t help but feel was a long time keeping, we wonder who really healed more in this encounter.
If we needed any other indication that this episode was exceptional to the routine of the series, the final scene seals it. Rather than the TAC team celebration and resolution, we have Bull and Benny and some fine scotch resolving a few unanswered questions about their relationship. It sends us all off with a warm feeling deep down. And it’s not just the scotch.
Bull airs Tuesday nights on CBS at 9PM ET/PT.
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