Texas Comes Calling and the Team Takes on a Sociopath in Bull “What’s Your Number?”
It seems to be a trend with Bull that he’ll take a case as much for the cause as for the client. The episode this week begins with a horrifying structural failure – a skybridge suspended by a series of cables fifty-nine storeys in the air, falling to earth killing fifteen people touring the building for its architectural splendor and views of New York City.
When Assistant U.S. Attorney Olsen (Armando Riesco, A Gifted Man) who is in charge of prosecuting the real estate developer responsible for the collapse approaches T.A.C. to help with the case, Bull shares with Marissa the one encounter he’s ever had with the defendant, Andrew Withrow (Toby Leonard Moore, Billions) wherein he was able to discern through Withrow’s actions that the man has an overwhelming need to win and control every situation.
The team finds themselves a bit out of step to start since Olsen didn’t come to them until AFTER voir direÂ had already happened (seriously, who hires a jury consultant AFTER the jury’s already been selected?) and Marissa runs the jury members through the algorithm and announces that seven of the twelve are firmly entrenched in Withrow’s corner.
On the first day of trial, Bull is intrigued when the defense immediately requests a 48-hr delay on opening statements because Withrow’s elderly mother has been suddenly admitted to hospital. Bull approaches Withrow directly outside the courtroom, does a little micro-expression reading exercise, and sics Danny on the case when something doesn’t ring true. When court reconvenes two days later, all is made clear when defense counsel has suddenly morphed from nameless Attorney (James P. Engel, Big TV News) to familiar litigator, Diana Lindsay (Jill Flint, The Night Shift) last seen pantsing Bull, both figuratively and literally, in Callisto, Texas.
Â Always good at making an entrance, Diana grabs Bull by the … buns the instant she steps into the courtroom. Needless to say, it all takes our good doctor by surprise. And as we know, he hatesÂ surprises. Even when they wear nice shoes.
And the hits just keep on coming. After opening statements, Marissa calls Bull to let him know that T.A.C. headquarters is dead … and dark… in the water as the power has just gone out in their building, a building coincidentally owned by Andrew Withrow.
With no solution to the power cut presenting itself until a generator can be delivered the next day, Bull moves everyone to his apartment to work. Even Marissa is surprised by this tactic. It seems no one has ever ventured to this inner sanctum, a sparsely furnished, high-rise apartment with direct elevator access and a climbing wall. Chunk’s assessment of the look? “What’s below *minimalist*?” Of course, the new plant, a cactus, ties the whole place together…
Identifying project manager Sean Laheri (Samrat Chakrabarti, NCIS) as the most likely scapegoat for the defense, Bull sends Danny to meet with him before he can be put on the stand. Assigning Chunk to polish up the U.S. Attorney Olsen, Bull heads back to confront Withrow and have a little verbal sparring match with Diana. In doing so, he gets another chance to read Withrow’s reactions and also to let Diana know she’s probably defending a sociopath.
Cases involving Ms. Diana Lindsay, Esq, and Dr. Jason Bull are always full of entertaining little volleys. She buys off his mirror jurors and buries a witness under boxes of documents to prove Withrow couldn’t possibly oversee every little decision in his empire. He has a hard-no jury member dismissed for smoking pot before trial. She then gets a juror dismissed for bias. The prosecution finds another one who was favoring Withrow guilty of leaking information to the press. And so it goes…
Even their cozy (or as cozy as you can get in Bull’s apartment) evening over drinks looks more like two sharks circling each other around his desk. The potential for more is palpable but Withrow’s need to compete rears its … err, head and he text-summons her away from Bull’s side and carries her away in his expensive carriage, with a knowing smirk at the door camera. Our good doctor’s hackles are up and he spends the night at the T.A.C. offices (newly powered up again) strategizing.
Danny’s investigation of the project manager finds a man suffering the worst year of his life, fragile and medicated, wracked with guilt. He tells her that he was given $200,000 to keep quiet about the flaws in the building that let to the skybridge collapse. When she insists he testify, he recoils, stating he can’t relive the tragedy again. “But Sean,” she points out,”you already are. Every day.”
Once Laheri takes the stand and testifies that he informed his boss of the dangers of using sub-par materials in the building construction, the defense reaches out for a plea. This is a new situation for us to watch Bull watch Withrow in. As the lawyers negotiate, he gets to study the developer. A deal is struck but Withrow twitches just before taking his leave and Bull goes to warn Diana only to be interrupted by a call from Danny. She’s at Laheri’s apartment where the star witness has apparently committed suicide.
With Laheri out of the picture before the defense could cross-examine him, his testimony is thrown out and Withrow withdraws from his plea deal. This is all too convenient for Bull’s liking and he’s certain that Withrow had the project manager killed.Â Diana comes over for another cozy evening and reveals that Withrow will be taking the stand himself the next day, something she accuses Bull of goading him into. She won’t allow herself to believe her client is a murderer but Bull doesn’t really give her any hope that he’s anything but. She does allow herself to give in to a kiss but then heads home, leaving Bull looking a little conflicted.
In a side-plot, Benny and Olsen have a little talk about an investigation that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is opening on Benny (revealed at the end of last week’s episode, AKA “Benny’s Worst Week Ever”). Olsen demurs and tells Benny that they can’t be talking about this and Benny realizes that he’s probably right. He apologizes for the ambush and then briefs Olsen on how to cross-examine a sociopath. (You’d think every lawyer should know this, right?)
Team T.A.C. is winning the jury over but the job isn’t done yet and closing arguments are looming. Suddenly, they are visited by landlord and opponent in a magnanimous endeavor to purchase their services. Praising Bull’s use of “unique information,” Withrow bestows a $10 million check as a retainer for T.A.C. services. When Bull asks how he came to that very large, round number, he comments he knows everyone’s number. Bull returns the retainer and politely tells him to shove it. Once Withrow’s gone, Cable jumps into action on a classic Bull hunch.
As always, Cable’s superpowers reveal the dragon’s weakness. Olsen presents the actuarial values placed on human life that Withrow would have used to calculate the potential costs in the case of an accident. This drives home the cold manner in which he made his decisions to place building materials and deadlines over potential catastrophes and the jury convicts him on all fifteen charges of manslaughter.
In a final exchange before he is led away, Withrow comments that Diana Lindsay’s purpose was more than her ability as a lawyer. Knowing that she and Bull shared a history, Withrow plans on appealing his conviction on the grounds that she and Bull colluded during the trial. This doesn’t seem to rock their world much but, once outside the courthouse, Diana sighs and states,”Well, if we’re going to be accused of it, we might as well do it.”
Bull airs Tuesday night on CBS at 9pm ET/PT.
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