From the start of this series, the single most consistent message has been that of the importance of the team. The T.A.C. team is the epitome of the well-oiled, perfectly tuned machine. So how clever is it to present an episode that starts with a team-building exercise?
Governor Dean Whitfield (Robert T. Bogue, Guiding Light) dies when both his parachutes fail while leading his office team on a shared skydiving experience. The skydiving instructor, Walt Hyland (Paul Hickert, Royal Pains) Â also dies in an attempt to save him.
Months later, the governor’s widow (Tara Westwood, Unforgettable) sues the company, now being run by Walt’s surviving daughter, Dylan (Ana Kaye, Blue Bloods) for wrongful death. Mrs. Whitfield retains the fabulous recurring Liberty Davis (Dena Tyler, last seen in “Teacher’s Pet“) as her counsel and Marissa couldn’t possibly be prouder of how far the initially timid and unsure Ms. Davis has come since meeting the T.A.C. team.
Therefore, her horror in discovering that Bull plans on opposing Liberty in court, working for Hyland Skydiving’s defense, is no small thing.
Meeting with Dylan Hyland and her uncle Max (Frank Whaley, Luke Cage and a classicÂ NCIS episode called “Chained”) who will be representing the company in court, Bull gets a sense for the deceased man’s habits and priorities as well as a read on the daughter, determined as she is to protect her father’s legacy.
Talking out the legal implications and possible scenarios with Marissa, Bull strikes on the approach the defense needs to take in court – assuming Walt had done his due diligence for safety checks, someone must have sabotaged the governor’s parachute. Next step: find possible suspects.
The team takes a deep dive on the governor’s staff, those who were with him on the fatal day as well as those who weren’t. Danny tracks down his press secretary who reveals that there was an F.B.I. investigation looming in the governor’s horizon when he died. It would have affected everyone on his staff. This leads Danny to her old friend, Rick (Michael James Shaw, Limitless), for info on the investigation. He helps her out as a personal favor but insists it stays off the record.
In voir dire, Liberty is pulling out all the stops, using what she knows about T.A.C.’s tactics, she swiftly challenges all jurors who seem risk-adverse, knowing that Bull will have earmarked them because they’ll blame the individual who chooses to take risks rather than the company. Bull amuses himself by giving off red herring indicators to get her to accept the juror he wants the most.
Marissa questions this selection, wondering how he’ll benefit their case, which leads into one of the funniest exchanges we’ve seen yet in the show:
â€œHeâ€™s got a strong fear of losing control. I think heâ€™s a perfectionist, but outside the box, he needs to know the outcome before it happens.â€ – Bull
â€œYou just described yourselfâ€ – Marissa
â€œYou like Jacob because heâ€™s basically your mirrorâ€ – Benny
In order to retrace the steps of the governor’s team the day of his death, the T.A.C. team (sans Chunk, who is afraid of heights) take the four-hour long class the governor’s team would have taken which includes getting up in the plane. In doing so, they realize that there was really no good opportunity for anyone on the team to have cut the governor’s parachute line.
Once in the air, Bull tells them that they won’t be jumping … much to the dismay of Danny and Cable who were looking forward to the dive. Bull’s defense for not wanting to jump is that “[he doesn’t] have a fear. [He just has] a healthy respect for gravity.” Dylan points out that everyone’s been fully prepped. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t jump. Danny, Cable, and Marissa all take the plunge. Bull looks on with something like regret (or envy?) in his eyes.
Chunk is the team’s reassuring sounding board (maybe not for the first time) this week. He notices Benny photocopying some articles about cases he prosecuted in the past, leaving a door open for Benny to share about his U.S. Attorney problems… which he doesn’t take him up on initially. He’s also Marissa’s confidante when she has concerns about Max’s resistance to the trial strategy.
The examination of the governor’s senior staff is a study in variety. Some of staff are brutally blunt about their deceased boss. Others still toe the party-line about what and who he was. When Marissa points out that “mirror Bull” does not like the former chief of staff, Bull asserts,”There is no ‘mirror Bull'” despite data to the contrary. *lol*
When the F.B.I. investigation is brought into evidence in court, Liberty is infuriated by what she sees as a distraction ploy and Danny is conflicted by the fact that Rick is going to be pissed. All the staff members immediately plead the Fifth on knowledge of the investigation but insist that they had nothing to do with Governor Whitfield’s accident. Believing them, Bull has Max subpoena Whitfield’s deputy governor, who has, since the governor’s death, been sworn into office.
With the new governor on the stand, Bull has a chance to observe some interaction between his wife in the gallery and Whitfield’s widow, drawing the conclusion that the late governor may have strayed. When he instructs Max to bring this up, immediately casting the new governor as the best suspect for murdering his predecessor, Liberty finally blows her top.
Tracking him down outside of the courtroom, she accuses him of cheap gimmicks and not being able to handle the fact that she landed a big case and didn’t come to him for help. “I’ve learned so much from you, Dr. Bull, every time I’ve worked with you,” she quietly states in a sad tone,”But this time, I’ve learned my biggest lesson … so thank you for that.”
The next day, Liberty presents her own theory of the accident, calling Dylan to the stand to present video footage of her father the day he died which could be interpreted to indicate that he had cut the lines himself – in revenge because of some political actions the governor had taken which would effectively put Hyland Skydiving out of business – and then changed his mind at the last moment and tried to save him.
In preparing for closing statements, Bull counsels Max to save the company by admitting that his late brother had murdered the governor. As this would have been an individual’s actions outside the scope of his role as a company employee, the company would not be liable in the wrongful death suit. This forces Max to admit that he cut the lines, something Bull had figured out previously.
Once Max has turned himself in, Bull approaches Mrs. Whitfield (and Liberty) and convinces her that it wouldn’t be worth it to continue to punish Dylan now that the truth of her husband’s death has come to light. In a moment of really honest writing, she points out the he has dragged her husband’s name through the mud in the course of the trial and it looks for a moment like she might punish Dylan in order to punish him. Happily, she rises above it once he admits that it was wrong of him and apologizes.
Liberty and Bull make their peace as well with him admitting that she was right about why he took the Hyland case. She wonders if she should always be looking for him to butt in on her cases and he doesn’t say he won’t. He also points out that if she hadn’t pulled the heartless move of pointing the finger at Walt, he would never have realized that Max was the culprit. Crediting him for her heartlessness, she reveals that the biggest lesson he taught her was how to win.
The final scenes of the episode leave us dangling with possibilities. Danny opens the door to a possible relationship with Rick. Benny steps through that door Chunk opened for him earlier and divulges the details of the case from his past where he may have destroyed a man’s life by sending him to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And Bull takes the leap he couldn’t before, an activity statistically safer than cheerleading, a free fall where he can’t possibly know the outcome before it happens. And he does it with a smile on his face.
Bull airs Tuesday night on CBS at 9pm ET/PT.
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