Bull Uses a Mock Trial with Real Purpose in “Stockholm Syndrome”
“Crisis reveals character.” In a return to format, this week’s episode starts with the show’s trademark “person on the street” medley where random individuals chime in on a topic. Tonight, they are asked about how they would or have reacted in a threatening situation, such as having a gun pointed at them. The twist is that the final face to appear is Dr. Bull himself, explaining that situations like this are opportunities to see a person’s true self.
As per usual, the random individuals (but obviously not Bull) are new mirror jury members being led through an orientation by Chunk at TAC on their first day. This was a neat perspective that we haven’t seen before. Typically, we see the real jury selected and then the mirror jury just springs, fully-formed, from the genius of Marissa and Cable and appears in the courtroom to produce data for the many, many TAC screens during the trial. What do we learn right away from this behind-the-scenes peek? TAC jurors get paid $200 a day and get a hot lunch.
As Chunk escorts them into the building and through security, one of the jurors is noticeably subdued. Once inside, she ducks into the restroom, concocts something in her thermos, sets her watch timer, and drops the thermos in a garbage can in the hall outside the TAC mock courtroom. All very troubling actions and she doesn’t necessarily look happy to be doing it.
Chunk continues his slick spiel, introducing Marissa and Benny, each of whom has a rehearsed intro as well. We’ve always known that TAC is a smooth operation but seeing them in action is pretty awesome. Marissa spells out the task at hand and everything that is involved while Benny gives voice to every possible paranoid conspiracy thought a potential participant could have, thereby defusing those fears.
As the jurors are set up with their biometric monitors, our mysterious thermos-dumper is named as Laurel Guthrie (Christina Jackson, Boardwalk Empire) and directed to seat 18 in the jurors’ box. In the next room, Bull and Danny are having a chat about existentialism and the pragmatism of TAC as a business. Alerted that the jurors are ready to begin, Bull starts prepping Benny for his opening argument but becomes distracted when Laurel’s biometrics start going haywire. Seeing her duck in anticipation, Bull warns everyone to take cover just as the bomb in the thermos blows, causing the ceiling to collapse, effectively cutting off the mock courtroom and its occupants from the rest of the TAC offices and Cable.
Once the dust clears, Laurel appears with a 3-D printed firearm. Bull gets her to focus on him and starts a discourse, knowing that Cable can hear everything said and will feed him any information she can find through his earpiece. Laurel’s demand is simple: get her husband out of prison. Bull points out that since he pled guilty, there’s no grounds to appeal. She explains she wants the case reopened by the DA’s office.
Once he’s gotten her to admit that she’s not interested in killing anyone, Bull gets Laurel to explain her husband’s case. He’s a former pharmacist five years into a fifteen-year sentence for killing a drug dealer that he was supposedly in a turf war with. As she fills in the details, Danny realizes that she knows the case. Laurel convinces Bull that her case has merit since her husband took a plea deal even though the Feds had no evidence, only the testimony of an undercover asset who claimed to witness the killing.
Outside the mock courtroom, emergency services have arrived and Cable greets Lt. Thader (Evan Parke, The Get Down) who wants to make contact with the “terrorist” responsible for the bomb. Cable reminds him that he was the one who took Bull’s negotiation weekend course and informs him that Bull has it under control. Meanwhile, Laurel’s getting to the reason she picked this day to force a solution for her husband: he’s about to be transferred to the same prison that holds the brother of her husband’s alleged victim. Also, she reveals that the undercover source that bluffed her husband into taking a plea was Special Agent Danielle James.
Taking a firmer grip on the situation now that Laurel seems to have gotten everything off her chest, Bull agrees to take her case but won’t do what she wants – call the ADA, get her husband’s case reopened – and manages to get her to turn over the gun. As it looks like it’ll take about an hour for Lt. Thader and his team to get the debris cleared, he gets Marissa and Chunk on board to run a mock trial. Danny and Benny are incredulous that he’d reward Laurel’s behaviour in this way but Bull points out that she was never given a chance to hear her husband’s trial. To revisit Bull’s opening medley soundbite, the crisis is shining a light on some cracks in the team. It’s not like they’ve never disagreed before but this felt like the first time team members weren’t willing to trust Bull’s judgement.
With Benny prosecuting, Bull defending, and Chunk sitting as judge, they propose the trial experiment to the mock jurors. At first no one’s interested in helping out the woman who nearly blew them up and pointed a gun at them. However, Marissa had pointed out earlier that they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t naturally curious about and interested in being a part of the legal system. It takes Bull throwing in a “danger pay” sweetener, but they get the jurors to play ball.
Back in carnage land, Cable is contacting the ADA who got Laurel’s husband to plead out, Carey Weinbach (Daniel Jenkins, Elementary) for transcripts of the case and some live footage access to the prison cameras on Laurel’s husband. When he gets back to Marissa with the transcripts, he catches sight of Danny and lets Marissa in on the reason he never used her testimony in court – Danny was suspected of using drugs while undercover and so she would have been a liability on the stand.
With Benny and Danny facing him across the aisle, Bull puts on a game face of epic proportions. Using jurors who were struck from the sitting jury to read the testimony from the transcripts, Chunk quickly leads them through an abbreviated version of the original three days of trial before Laurel’s husband took the deal. When Benny puts Danny on the stand, Bull starts in right away, pointing out that she is no longer a Special Agent as she quit the F.B.I. shortly after the case. Benny points out that she was still F.B.I. when the case of originally tried and Bull accuses him of trying to time-travel. “We’re in a farcical, made-up universe of your own design,” Benny counters,”No one else is allowed to make up rules?”
Chunk gets to bang his gavel a lot this episode.
In between questioning sessions, the team convenes and although Bull congratulates Benny on teeing up Danny quite adequately, he guarantees that no one will believe anything she says by the time he’s done with her. Danny, already on edge and combative, dares him to bring it on. Marissa tries to caution Bull from pushing Danny too far with the information they have on her time undercover with the drug gang. “Danny needs to resolve her past,” he intones,”I’m going to attack her and it’s going to help.” Even Marissa doesn’t look convinced by this strategy.
With Danny on the stand, Bull immediately introduces information about how memory is a tricky thing, prone to degrading over time and easily manipulated. Danny stands by her account of the night of the murder and Bull asks her what drugs she had used that night. Under the pressure of his questioning, she admits that the gang leader would put a heavy-duty hallucinogen in their drinks and that she would drink it and induce vomiting afterwards. Bull points out that the ADA at the time of the trial didn’t think she was reliable enough to put on the stands and asks why the TAC jury should believe her now.
This crosses Danny’s breaking point and she storms off the stand, telling Bull she doesn’t care if no one believes her, that Laurel should be getting real help and this trial isn’t doing any good for anyone. In response, Bull puts Laurel on the stand and asks her to describe her husband and their close relationship. For the benefit of the jury, he highlights the fact and she has spent the last five years with no one except this desperate need to free her husband. Benny follows up by prompting her to apologize for her actions in the TAC offices and asking if she was really willing to sacrifice everything, including her own freedom, to get her husband out of prison. She is.
As the emergency services crew nears their goal of clearing the debris and freeing the courtroom occupants, closing arguments are made and the jury returns a not-guilty verdict, to Laurel’s relief and Danny’s disgust. But just as the rescuers burst in, Bull holds the jurors enthralled, explaining that he had shaped the narrative purposefully to draw out a not-guilty verdict from them. By asking Danny a few more questions – which Benny probably would’ve done on redirect but was asked not to by Bull – Bull swiftly changes the jury’s mind and even convinces Laurel of her husband’s guilt.
Throughout the trial, we’re given glimpses of Laurel’s husband being transferred to Rikers Island Prison and he looks exactly as she describes him – bookish, mild-mannered, frightened. As Bull draws out the final strokes in Danny’s testimony, we realize that he’s not as much a victim as he seems: he’s capable of killing just as he’s killed before. Bull points out to Laurel that her husband did everything he could to keep her from seeing that side of him and the energy that must have taken was impressive. As Laurel is taken away by Lt. Thader, Bull reassures her that they’ll do everything they can for her which is nice, if somewhat optimistic. Blowing stuff up in New York City isn’t a light offence by any means.
The team relishes the freedom of being able to leave the building. Everyone heads off for a celebratory drink, dusty and delirious with fresh air, and Bull mends fences with Danny, letting her know that he knows her reasons for leaving the F.B.I. had nothing to do with the Guthrie case and that he will always believe in her. Completely.
Bull airs Tuesday nights at 9pm PT/ET on CBS.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…