Bull Season 3 Episode 3
A police officer is in the restroom when a black man stumbled into the room and startled, the officer shot him.
A woman is in the restroom when a man burst into the room and startled, the woman shot him.
This is not the first time.
This is a case that echoed our headlines and one so polarized I was surprised Bull tackled it. At the same time, I looked forward to seeing how Bull would play it out.
She’s a real person.
Bull (Michael Weatherly) met the Commissioner Scott over dinner. He was blunt; the situation of a police officer shooting an unarmed black man was not the first time. Scott, however, convinced Bull to at least meet with Officer Harris, whom, Scott added was also a person and her name is Tonya.
Can you undo it?
The episode had a ripped-from-the-headlines feel with the rallies, the shouts of “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and Bull was uncomfortable with even considering taking the case. However, after a talk with a remorseful Harris, Bull offered to reach out to the defendant’s attorney Malia Ford to try for a settlement.
Tell me it’s not true.
Back in TAC, we get a glimpse of discord regarding the case. Danny was upset at the possibility of them working on the Peterson-Harris trial. Benny and Danny vocalized the two versions of the situation: this was a matter of race or a matter of a woman trying to defend herself.
Ford was to the point: the civil rights suit wasn’t about money. Significant changes, she said, would only come with a ding in the City of New York bank account. Bull realized this case was going to the courts no matter what.
Bull’s strategy for the voir dire was always the highlight of an episode. And this was no exception. Bull needed ‘blink reactors’ or people who react in an instant, not thinkers. He wanted to deal with the case’s circumstances and keep race off the table.
It has to be colorblind.
As tricky and controversial as the case was, the episode was intriguing. The issues Bull dealt with were parsed out in small moments among the team: Chuck’s (Christopher Jackson) discussion with his daughter Anna, Benny (Freddy Rodriguez) and Danny’s argument in the break room and Danny’s passionate outburst about racism in a later scene.
That was not great in there.
The episode intensified as the trial continued. A bomb threat was called in, Cal Peterson’s previous history was questioned and Tonya Harris’s poorly executed testimony that was indefensible.
Bull previously warned Commissioner Scott that it was going to be bad no matter whose side wins. And I took that as foreshadowing for the episode itself. No matter who wins, it wasn’t going to be pretty.
One last thing…
But here’s where the twist came in. Bull often enjoyed throwing in the unexpected wrench in the works to turn the case one-eighty. I expected no different with this case.
However, what I didn’t expect was that it turned out it was never to be an issue about race at all. It was about greed. Peterson and Harris conspired to get millions from the city, banking on the public’s response to another police-involved shooting. Bull romanticized their partnership as looking past race or skin color or religion ‘long enough to rip off the City.’
I’d take a bullet for you.
It’s a great twist and unexpected. Yet I felt disappointed as well. Bull took on a very divisive subject and despite the dread of what the result may be, I hoped Bull was going to keep running with the ball all the way.
Instead, we get an episode that abruptly veered left, shed the issues about police shootings and racism. It opted for the ubiquitous culprit of greed.
Where this leaves us…
The cast was brilliant. The bursts of outrage and frustration coupled with the dedication of doing their jobs made them one hell of a team yet also very human. I liked how the team members reacted to their clients rather than just doing their jobs. And despite the occasional ripple among the TAC team, in the end, they walked away still as a strong unit.
The episode gave us great glimpses of each character and where they stood on the issue. Chuck’s reasoning with his daughter on the opportunity to build the facts in the name of justice was a favorite moment for me. Danny’s barely contained outrage, from the point-of-view of former law enforcement, was outstanding and even Ford’s train of thoughts about the injustices was poignant.
Two steps forward, way too many back…
This only made the resolution all the more disappointing, though. We know the cast has the chops to take on the grittier stories, yet here we are back again with Bull’s M.O. When the going (or drama) gets tough, the plot gets cliché.
So bravo for three-quarters of the episode, for tackling the tough issues and bringing it out in the open. Sadly, I wished the conversation continued into the final act. As Bull warned, it was going to end badly no matter what the outcome, but I think the audience was ready to see it and how the team dealt with it.
Instead, we get yet another retreat into safer ground. We were presented with an interesting twist and an unexpected ending that had both Peterson and Harris guilty. However, I can’t help feeling like the conclusion was a cop-out.
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