This week’s offering starts with probably the most shocking murder act we’ve seen so far – a son taking a golf club to his father’s head in the middle of a driving range.
Cut to Benny arriving for a client meeting, weaving through NYC traffic on what Bull terms “a mid-life crisis”, better known as a motorcycle. Bull has been invited by a Dr. Amy Levin (Meryl Jones Williams, ZEB: The Zombie), a forensic psychologist who treats the “interesting” patients. I immediately perked up when I saw this credit as I’ve been waiting since “E.J.” to meet the mysterious “Amy” Bull phoned at the end of that episode.
Turns out they used to work together (sort of). Amy quickly fills Bull and Benny in on Troy Dickerson (Brendan Dooling, The Carrie Diaries), by all accounts a good kid who enrolled in a cult and then killed his father with a golf club. He has no memory of the incident, captured by the driving range’s security camera. Both Bull and Dr. Levin notice a physical demeanour shift in Troy before he attacks his father.
Meeting with Troy, Bull has him focus on a spinning quarter to basically hypnotize him. In the trance, Troy admits that he can’t remember what happened despite trying everyday since his father was killed. Bull decides to take the case because he believes that Troy was brainwashed to kill.
At T.A.C. headquarters, a debate breaks out on the merit/effectiveness of hypnosis. Bull insists that they aim to have Troy acquitted on an insanity plea. Both Marissa and Benny are skeptical but Bull is adamant that Troy is not responsible for the murder, whoever hypnotized him is. “We find the trigger,” he says,”we find the real killer.”
Bull brings in Reed Kenwood (Desmin Borges, You’re the Worst) to defend Troy which makes Benny raise an eyebrow. Bull hints that Reed has a faith in the case that he doesn’t feel Benny is quite on board with. Benny and Cable head out to investigate the driving range instead, both riding there on Benny’s mid-life crisis. (Cable declines the return trip.)
Meanwhile, Chunk and Danny are checking out the Lumansic Academy, the cult Troy enrolled in, and its charismatic, black-turtleneck-and-blazer-clad leader, Thornton Grey (James McCaffrey, Rescue Me). Danny is unimpressed but Chunk points out that the presentation is staged to be stimulating and inspiring. He gives Grey full props for fronting a good show.
During the mingler, Thornton zeroes in on Chunk and gives him the V.I.P. treatment – oatmeal cookies, tour, and all. Danny tracks down the co-founder of the Academy, Thornton’s daughter, Rachel (Caroline Kaplan, Proof), to see what she can find out about Troy’s involvement in the cult.
Dr. Levin pops in for a quick chat with Benny, revealing her knowledge of motorbikes and the fact that she and Bull never dated before sharing some drawings of tridents that Troy had started producing, indicating that the programming he’d undergone was battling his subconscious as his mind tried to recall what he’d been made to forget.
Voir dire this time around involves an unscented candle, the power of suggestion, and the prosecution miscalculating their target personalities. Bull seems a little concerned with Reed’s lack of a poker face, but overall a smooth process.
Chunk’s success with Thornton is double-edged as evidenced by Bull’s endorsement. “Congratulations, you’re joining a cult. Now, please don’t kill us.” He’s about to go under deep cover in an organization designed to brain-wash and reprogram its participants. His mission is to find out every technique the Academy uses on its students, mostly by undergoing them himself.
When the case takes a twist and it appears that Thornton might’ve been the actual target of Troy’s programmer, Chunk is immediately (and oddly intensely) concerned for the cult leader. Bull is worried he’s getting too drawn into the Academy but Chunk shakes off his concern and heads back to meet with Thornton.
While Benny is prepping Amy for testimony, their conversation veers towards the issues that Benny’s been having with his professional confidence since being investigated. When she asks him to dinner, he demurs, citing a recent break-up (awww, so long, Erin) but it turns out that Bull had engaged her to be Benny’s therapist (paying her in baked goods, lol… so whatÂ doesÂ a “Better Than Robert Redford” taste like?). Benny is nonplussed. Bull is unrepentant.
Amy’s testimony goes well, swaying a couple of jurors, despite Reed’s clumsy application of Bull’s instruction to work the word “RED” into his examination.
Events speed up suddenly here. Bull and Danny recreate the day of the murder at the driving range and figure out the trigger while Chunk finds himself trapped in a flotation tank being interrogated by Thornton about T.A.C. and Dr. Bull. By putting Rachel on the stand, they prove that the ringtone on Troy’s phone for her caller ID was the trigger that caused him to kill his father (although she’d planned for him to kill her father).
Outside the courtroom, Thornton confronts Bull about sending spies into the Academy.
“Helps you to think of me as a cult leader, doesn’t it? Â Makes it easier for you to send people into my house to spy on me, to destroy my life’s work, to condemn my daughter as a killer.”
But Bull fires right back and, man, does Weatherly *ever* deliver it with intensity.
“Just as it helps you to think of your victims as students? Makes it easier to steal their lives and call it tuition?”
The episode’s wrap up is really satisfying, even more so than usual. The true Amy reveal is that she used to be Bull’s therapist which makes SO much sense when you consider the responsibilities he takes upon himself. Chunk and Danny commiserate about the “Cult of Bull” they’ve both bought into. And finally, Benny comes clean with Bull about the investigation on him and Bull steps up with the assertion that “if they come after [Benny], they’ll have to go through [Bull] first”. Bro-mance 4-eva, folks.
Bull airs Tuesday nights at 9pm PT/ET on CBS.
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