Bull Season 3 Episode 5
After a personal and emotionally charged episode on Cable’s death, it was hard to imagine what Bull could follow it with. This week’s episode managed to come in with something equally as powerful. Until the end. Again.
A rather daunting legal problem.
The opening was a shocker: a drug-dealing father killed by an unseen assailant he invited up to his own home despite his young son sleeping in the next bedroom. For openings, this was one of their best ones. Without showing us what happened, we got a sense of the brutality based on the boy’s reaction alone.
Not a lot of wiggle room there.
TAC weaponized trial science, a format Bull centered its episodes around. The tech, the team’s skill and Bull’s acumen made up a formidable defense. It’s reliant on data, on established fact. Basically: science.
But what happens when science works against you? What if gut feeling contradicts science?
He makes kids feel better when they’re sick.
Kudos to Jeremiah Birkett for a spectacular performance; Michael Harper was affable, modest and sincere. He was believable as a man accused of the unthinkable.
The idea the pediatrician and family man was a murderer seemed improbable yet his DNA match was undeniable.
Somehow, science was wrong. But even as details about the doctor’s past with prescription drugs cast doubt about his innocence, the team worked hard under the belief Harper was innocent, despite the science they often relied on saying the opposite.
I sense a punch line coming.
Each character contributed to the story in a way they haven’t before with the earlier episodes.
Chunk’s previous experience to get clients comfortable managed to glean a detail from Jody Harper. Marissa’s feelings about being adopted helped her uncover something that ultimately yielded the solution. Even newcomer Taylor ‘cheated’ by using her defunct Homeland credentials to obtain CCTV from Grand Central.
The characters are taking the cases more personally. Bull was not happy about the thought of Harper forced to make a plea deal when he was innocent. Marissa felt sorry for Harper when their case appeared to be aiming for a guilty plea bargain.
The team was more emotionally invested which added urgency that helped move the plot along.
You got a pop quiz coming up in constitutional law?
The “send a cheek swab into to find out what country your relatives came from” service came under the spotlight this episode. Genealogy companies have been in the recent news, so it wasn’t surprising Bull eventually did a story involving them.
However, the privacy issues it brought up should have been explored further. Instead, it was brought up only as a red herring. Also, I question how ADA Clark got away with what was essentially an illegal search and seizure in the first place.
Someone has to be held responsible for that.
Of course, the case wouldn’t have been thrown out due to Clark’s questionable methods obtaining the DNA match; it would have ended the episode too quickly.
For convenience’s sake, the issue of how the DNA was obtained was handwaved away. I thought this was a missed opportunity.
Who is Jackson McKay?
The discovery of a twin in the end was not a surprise, but disappointing all the same. Early on, Danny mentioned, “DNA migration” as another possibility and Bull’s example of the cotton swabs were intriguing.
Sadly, these were understandably weak defenses and discarded, but it would have been interesting to hear more. I suspected a twin’s DNA was going to be the next possibility.
Sure enough, Marissa and Taylor uncovered a secret: Harper was adopted and he has a twin brother.
It’s a nice twist, but part of me thought this was convenient. I’d hoped they managed to find a different solution or fight it out in the trial, but instead, we get the “evil twin” defense.
To the finish line…
It was satisfying to see Clark go from smug “I-got-you-now-mwhahaha” to sheepish remorse as he dismissed all charges after learning about Brandon McKay. But after three-quarters of an episode filled with angst and frustration, the evil twin reveal felt anticlimactic.
The last two episodes tackled tough cases. However, once again, the endings felt hastily put together. It was like reading a mystery until the middle when you jump to the end for the reveal.
The show still deserves kudos, though. The people who played the Harpers did a fantastic job in tugging at the heartstrings of both cast and viewers. And the TAC team was their usual brilliant selves as they struggled to help.
As usual, the last act of Bull dug up a twist or solution that was too neat and pat. Evil twin, really?
I understand when up against the irrefutable data of DNA, there weren’t many options. The idea of twins raised separately yet could turn out so different from each other was interesting, but never explored to its fullest extent.
At the very least, the episode should have taken the time to draw out the emotional moments when the Harpers and TAC thought they were sending an innocent man to jail. The segment about Harper bumping into someone in Grand Central was glossed over too quickly to have any impact.
This was also the first episode Taylor was on as an official member of the TAC team. I’m relieved they seemed to get along; interoffice fighting was getting to be a tired trope.
But Bull can’t survive on great team interactions alone. Their stories need to finish stronger. The episodes starts strong and end weakly. Quick saves may help Bull’s clients, but not the show. And that is a hard fact I hope they realize before it’s too late.
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