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Bull - Teacher's Pet - Review:"Praying Mantis"

Bull treats a very salacious topic thoughtfully in tonight’s episode, “Teacher’s Pet.” The episode focuses on the titular teacher, Susan Bryant, who may be simply a beautiful woman, as her lawyer argues, or a beautiful woman predator, as Bull intends to prove. This is the first time the team has been on the plaintiff’s side and it’s not hard to see why. When twenty-four-year-old Susan sleeps with her high school English student, Jordan, she is vilified. Not all public opinion, however, is against the teacher. As much as the team can talk about “if the genders were reversed”, there are still people on the street who would rather give Jordan a high-five than see him as a rape victim.

Even Jordan doesn’t have a good perspective on his situation. He’s in love with Susan and resents his parents’ civil suit against her. He storms out of Bull’s office, drops out of school, and moves in with his former English teacher. When Bull and Chunk come to visit, Susan announces that she will homeschool Jordan, once again disgustingly blurring the line between lover and authority figure. The team sees that she has Jordan wrapped around her finger and proving “negligent infliction of severe emotional distress” is hard when the victim insists he’s happy and in love.

There’s also the matter of Susan’s bulldog lawyer, Wendy Anderson, who proclaims herself a women’s rights advocate and seems to be ignoring the harmful double standard she’s upholding. It looks like she will steamroll Liberty, the opposing attorney, but Bull finds a way to use Wendy’s abrasiveness to their advantage. Bull decides to load the jury with people who respect authority and the biggest authority in the courtroom is Wendy. Liberty doesn’t even need to ask questions. She just needs to observe how jurors respond to Wendy’s aggressive questioning. It nets them the jurors they want and rattles Wendy in the process.

Liberty is game for Bull’s schemes. It’s always a delight to see her back in the courtroom. Liberty, despite being a supporting character, has one of the best arcs on the show. It’s great to see her grow from her first mousey appearance to the confident and passionate advocate present in this episode.

Liberty calls a number of experts more than happy to label Susan a pedophile (despite that being stricken for the record, no jury member is going to ignore that). There’s also the most predictable twist that could occur in this episode: Susan is pregnant. Danny resorts to some subterfuge to see how far along the expectant mother is. As Bull suspected, Susan’s due date confirms that she had sex with Jordan while he was still sixteen. Age of consent in New York is seventeen and Susan can officially be arrested for statutory rape.

Bull is way too smug about the baby reveal. There had to be another catch. Jordan is not the father of Susan’s baby, but impresses the jury with his vow to stay by her side during the pregnancy. Susan’s husband, Jeffrey, immediately angrily confronts her about custody and Susan and Jordan decide to run.

Bull and Danny track them down in New Jersey and threaten to turn in Susan for violating the Mann Act (so many rules you have to watch out for if you want to be a creep and date your student).

If there’s one misstep, it’s Bull’s following conversation with Susan. Maybe it’s because the episode has spent so much time pushing the audience to see Susan as a predator. It can’t suddenly switch and have her be Cinderella, waiting for a prince to save her from her emotionally aloof step-family. It seems rushed that Bull could talk Susan out of her affair with Jordan simply be reminding her she will be a mother and bringing up her past trauma. It also seems like he’s telling her that her baby will fix everything, which is certainly not the case with someone as messed up as Susan. Trading a codependent relationship for a shrink’s phone number was an anticlimactic end to the episode.

While the finale may have been a bit lacking, the episode did give us glimpses into the private lives of Danny and Chunk. Chunk bonds with Jordan over their football experiences and talks to Bull about his feelings after stepping away from the draft and a potential pro-football career. His decision had nothing to do with his sexual orientation and everything to do with simply being sick of the game.

Danny, meanwhile, is unsettled by the case. Her new beau, Gabe, is eight years younger and her employee. As she hears testimony about twisted power dynamics, the look on Danny’s face shows us she has a lot to think about. Gabe may be over twenty-one, but Danny wonders if she’s simply dating him because he is, as Bull says, “trainable”. Bull and Danny discuss “dating down”. Bull assures his friend that she’s not being a predator, but does ask her what she really wants from her relationship.

While this wasn’t my favorite episode of the season, it’s nice to see the rest of the team getting small emotional arcs of their own. It also looks like it’s the calm before the storm. Next week is sure to be a doozy.

Juror of the Week: Glam-ma Noreen

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Let me know in the comments!