'Bull' Showrunner Breaks Down the Big Season 2 Cliffhanger (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday's season finale of Bull.
Bull's season ended on a heartbreaker. Literally.
On Tuesday's sophomore finale, titled "Death Sentence," Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) won his greatest trial yet -- a death penalty case that proved to be one of the most challenging and difficult of his professional career -- but he didn't have time to celebrate his latest victory. Moments after stepping outside, Bull immediately knew something was wrong, lying down on the top steps of the federal courthouse and dialing 911. "I think I need an ambulance. I think I'm having a heart attack," Bull tells the 911 operator, leaving his well-being and mortality (we're 100% positiveBull will survive!) in limbo.
Following the season closer, ET spoke with executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron about the decision to have Bull reach this place of uncertainty, how this experience will change his outlook on his life and career moving forward, and early plans for the third season.
ET: What was behind the decision to take the leap forward and have Jason Bull suffer a heart attack at the end of the season?
Glenn Gordon Caron: It was a reaction to what I was seeing and to what I think Michael [Weatherly] was feeling. For Michael, when he went and did the first season -- the show was in New York, his family was in Los Angeles -- I know he felt a sense of dislocation. He would try and jump on a plane every few weeks to see his family, which takes a toll. Physically, he was surprised at what an enormous enterprise it was to make 22 episodes of a show like this. The way I write the show, I think, is a little more demanding on him, but he enjoys it. The combination of all that really started to hit him around Thanksgiving: Whoa, this is a lot of work. But it takes a toll on your sleep. It takes a toll on your family life. We were talking about that, and at the same time, the network was starting to say, “Do you have a place you’re heading at the end of the season?” I’ve always been attracted to ideas that when I first say them to myself, I go, “Oh, no.” And this was one of them. I thought, “Why not?” It’s something that happens with fair regularity to a lot of people, and they come back from it, but it humbles you and it knocks you off your feet. It’s a wake-up call.
How did Michael react to the idea?
I bounced it off Michael and he loved the idea. We were hatching this around Christmastime, so we had four months to seed it into the show. If you go back and look at the episodes, there are these little breadcrumbs that we dropped along the way. We both were really excited by the possibility and I’m not aware that anyone’s done it before, which, in and of itself does not make it a good idea. I was intrigued by how do we move forward? What’s the next step? How does this guy rebuild his life now that forces greater than him have given him a wake-up call? Knocked on his door and said, “Hey, you’re doing a lot of things wrong, man.” It’s going to be an interesting year.
This is a traumatic experience for anyone to have to go through. How does Bull resolve this near-death moment?
And particularly someone who’s alone. He doesn’t have a wife to stand next to him. He doesn’t have a significant other. He doesn’t have children. He doesn’t have people to rally around him, other than the people he’s constructed at work, many of whom he’s alienated over the course of the season -- that isn’t to say they won’t be there, they will – but it’s not the same as having family and loved ones.
How does this change Bull fundamentally as a person, as well as how he approaches his life and his career?
Now, if I told you that, you wouldn’t have to watch season three!
We really saw Bull going through a personal crisis this year and it all came to a head in the finale. Were multiple factors to blame for Bull's state?
At the beginning of season two, there was this myth that he had never lost a case, that he was right far more often than he was wrong, but point of fact this season, we saw him lose a case with the young schoolteacher and that shook him a little bit. As you get a little older, your world vision gets a little wider and you start re-examining certain things you took for given. One given that he always had was "I'm the smartest guy in the room," but you can be the smartest guy in the room but not the smartest person at everything. That's starting to take root. He's starting to understand that he's not happy in certain areas of his life and he's not quite sure how to get his hands around that. That's a lot to wrestle with when you're supposedly a student and a teacher of human behavior. It's that and the unexpected pranks that life plays on you: waking up and finding out that your ex-wife is getting remarried.
In the finale, Marissa (Geneva Carr) toys with the idea of leaving Bull's team, but ultimately decides to stay. Why was it important for her to go on that journey this season?
To me, she's always been two things: She's always been the mother tiger of the company. At the same time, she's always been the most ardent protector of Bull, but also the one who will look him in the eye and tell him the truth -- which she does when she tells him one episode earlier, "You're a mess. You're not taking care of yourself. You're not the disciplined person I used to know." At a point, that becomes a burden and if you watch the episodes, it's not that Bull takes her for granted; I'm not sure he's aware how much of herself she gives to him and to TAC [Trial Analysis Corporation]. In the midst of him having this crisis and behaving more and more erratic, it seems right to me that she'd go, I'm not sure I can bear this. I'm not sure that I'm giving so much of myself to this place and this person that there's nothing left for me, and that she would flirt with the idea: Maybe I need to change things in my life. Yet, there's this moment when Bull is figuring out who the killer might actually be and she's watching him do this, it's almost as if she's falling back in love with him. She's reminded of all the things she's always admired about him and why he's a special person to work with.
Though her presence was brief, we got a glimpse into Bull's relationship with his ex-wife, Izzy (guest star Yara Martinez). What are the chances she'll return?
I would hope she'll be back. Truthfully, the scene in the last episode where Bull goes to see her and the scene that opens the finale are the only times we saw her this season. But I would hope we'd have her back next season.
Will there be a significant time jump when the new season kicks off?
If you think of the finale as taking place as May, the premiere will take place in September. Real time.
Looking ahead to season three, what are you planning to tackle?
I would love to enrich what we started this year, which is intriguing cases married with a deeper sense of discovery of the characters that make up TAC.