Maybe it was having Benny stare down a ten year prison term.
Maybe it was Jason Bull admitting he was frightened.
Maybe it was guest star Eliza Dushku’s captivating performance as J.P. Nunnelly.
Whether you choose one or all of the above, the game was raised with Bull Season 1 Episode 21.
This was by far the best episode of Bull season 1 thus far, and I’m thrilled to see this series finally hitting its stride.
First off, the case was riveting on so many levels.
Benny asked Bull to join him for lunch because he knew something was off, even if he didn’t want to believe his old friends and colleagues were setting him up.
When Benny’s former boss said he was there as a friend, I had to laugh. A real friend would have allowed Benny to turn himself in, not set him up to be handcuffed in a public restaurant by three SUVs full of FBI agents.
That was the first sign that this was going to be more than just a misdemeanor charge. They don’t send that many agents to pick you up for a slap on the wrist.
Benny’s former colleagues were charging him with tampering with evidence for which he could spend ten years in prison, and poor Benny never saw it coming.
Benny: I would never do anything like that, they know that.
Bull: I don't think they care, Benny. Look around, we're the only people in this room who didn't see this coming.
The only downside of this entire case was that it was obvious that the former detective had been the one who planted the evidence. I’d guessed it at the restaurant and was certain when he accosted Benny in the restroom.
But if that was the low point, and it really wasn’t all that bad, the high point was Eliza Dushku as J.P. Nunnelly. I loved her the moment she appeared on screen.
I don't know what you know about me but I'm a fixer, Mr. Bull. Sometimes I make things happen, sometimes I make things go away. That's how I got to be managing partner of my own law firm with offices in three states. People have a problem, I fix it. Mr. Colon clearly has a problem. Want me to take care of it?J.P. Nunnelly
J.P. was unapologetically strong and professional while still able to admit she knew little about trial science, but she wanted to learn.
That’s why she made the deal with Bull.
J. P.: In my experience, you prepare like a mad woman, you gather your facts, you assemble a narrative to support them. Pretty straight forward.
Bull: But that assumes that everyone hears those facts the same way you do, and with the same meaning, and that they draw the same conclusions that you do, but experience suggests that that's not always the case.
J.P. was thorough and tough, and apparently, she never sleeps.
And because she mentioned one of my all time favorite literally characters, J.P. won the Bull quote of the night…
J.P: I played a card that I can never play again with the U.S Attorney's office but you and Atticus Finch decided to go to trial anyway.
Bull: Don't you just hate people with integrity.
J.P.: No, but right now I really hate you.
I could see why Jason Bull annoyed her.
Bull started off as unknowingly condescending when he assumed the pretty woman walking up to the table must be the waitress, and then he segued into a strange sort of flirtation that involved getting so close he could kiss her.
J.P. quickly put a stop to that…
J. P.: I'll kick you so hard in the balls your dead grandfather will scream.
Bull: See, I knew you were going to say that.
Even Bull had to admit that his behavior was off and it had him turning all of that psychological expertise back on himself.
This was a case that hit a little too close to home, even for Jason Bull.
He's my friend and I'm frightened for him. Tell me I shouldn't be.Jason Bull
J.P. didn’t placate him and she didn’t coddle Benny. She did her job.
At first, I was a little perplexed as to why Benny cared where J.P. was getting her information about the case, but then I thought about it from his point of view.
Benny was being railroaded and it had to be by someone who was formerly on his team. At that point, you could almost see Benny mentally beginning to put the pieces together.
My favorite moment was Benny defending himself to J.P. for wanting a trial. He wasn't going to take a deal where he had to admit to doing something he hadn't done and he wasn't going to let a serial killer be set free without one hell of a fight.
I don't think I've ever enjoyed Benny Colon more than in that moment.
I almost felt bad for Jessup Wilson. His main goal was to put a serial killer behind bars, and when the original DNA test came back as mostly a match, he thought luck was on his side. He’d thought he’d dodged a bullet.
The only thing about those bullets you dodge is that they keep traveling and sometimes they come back to hit you right between the eyes.Jason Bull
This one did.
The other question this installment brought to mind had to do with Bull’s relationship with Diana.
Are they still a couple, and if so, are they exclusive? With her living in Texas and him in New York, an ongoing relationship seems difficult, but not impossible.
I liked Diana, but mostly because she humanized Bull.
I enjoyed J.P. Nunnelly because she’s an intriguing character all on her own, and she challenges Dr. Jason Bull in a way no one else has.
I’m thrilled to know she’ll be back for three more cases and can only hope that she’ll back for many more.
There’s only two episode left! Check back next week for my review of Bull Season 1 Episode 22.
Want to rematch the best installment of the series? Then you can watch Bull online here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.