Bull Season 3 Episode 1, “The Ground Beneath Their Feet,” brings the show back with some contentious change and a devastating revelation.
Major life events generally have major changes on the people they happen to. A heart attack certainly changes Jason Bull, though not necessarily for the better.
This isn’t the first time the firm has represented a less-than-savory client, but Bull has nearly always stood to represent justice, even if that meant standing by a Goliath against a Jason. With this particular Goliath, though…
…Well, he kind of sucks. His team certainly thinks so, at least.
To be fair, the episode does a decent job of making the CEO of an insurance company denying a claim to a dying mother something other than a complete monster. He seems to have genuine sympathy for her suffering.
Painful as it is to admit, the points are well made, too. The costs could affect others, and this mother is just one of many similar stories of heartbreaking life events. I’m not sure the ends justify the means, but they are there.
The biggest problem really is the behavior of Jason himself. Again, it’s one thing to stand by a Goliath for justice. Yet his own dismissive speech suggests it’s mostly about the money.
Yes, he’s always been arrogant, a show-off, and sometimes even brash. This feels like something else—something more and something worse.
Is this what nearly dying has done to our likeable, complicated character? If so, I don’t know that I appreciate it any more than Marissa, Chunk, Danny, or Benny.
Not included there is Cable. We’ve known for some time that, with Annabelle Attanasio’s departure, Bull’s youngest coworker will be missing from our screens. What we aren’t prepared for is the reason.
That the episode starts with a terrifying bridge collapse before veering to a case that has nothing to do with it seems strange at first. Then, slowly, it connects to the growing unease as nobody can contact their missing friend.
There are plenty of ways to write a character out. Given the events of last season, that’s certainly true here. Cable can easily decide she doesn’t want to rejoin her coworkers after all, especially given her boss’s current path.
Instead, we realize that the collapse is not random at all. Cable’s car is caught in the catastrophe, her body found in a mass watery grave below.
It’s a jarring loss, heightened by suddenness and the way in which it is revealed. Heightened, too, by Cable’s youth and gentle nature.
Bull is not a crime drama where characters stand in harm’s way each day. There are no wars, no zombies, no attacks on the human population. Loss is not expected here. Yet it is rarely expected in real life, either.
That the loss jars Jason’s humanity back into action is a small comfort. After somehow pulling out a win for the company, if convincing only two jurors can be called winning, he gives his pay to the woman and her family.
While the loss of Cable is felt with brutal clarity, having that packed into the subplot of a season premiere somehow feels wrong. Thankfully, we are told through interviews that we will explore it much more through the season.
From here, with the big bad client left behind, it looks like the show will return to much of its standard: odd cases, playful banter, and almost certainly a lot of miracle wins. Bull will still be different, but hopefully better than what he is right now.
I’m curious about the dynamics of the team going forward. This case burns bridges. Shared grief can help repair them, but I hope, even as we return to “normal”, that we don’t dismiss the impact of what such early discord can mean.
One other thing that may come into play: Marissa getting remarried to her ex-husband. It’s certainly feels quick, and, two seasons in, I’m unsure of the true nature of Bull’s jealousy, no matter what he says. On top of everything else, there are a lot of feelings to explore.
What did you think of this episode of Bull? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Bull airs Mondays at 10/9c on CBS.
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