Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Monday’s season 3 premiere of “Bull”.
“Bull” isn’t messing around.
On Monday’s season 3 premiere, Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) returned to work three months after suffering a heart attack on the steps of the federal courthouse and with his near-death experience came a new-ish outlook on life. While Bull embarks on the long road to recovery, those around him made drastic life changes in his absence: Marissa (Geneva Carr) is now a married woman and Cable (Annabelle Attanasio, who left the series before the season began) has suddenly gone missing. It takes a while for everyone to learn what actually happened to Cable — and the mystery of what happened to her comes to a tragic end: She was one of 37 fatalities in a bridge collapse.
Cable’s unexpected death rocks the “Bull” team to its core, affecting each member of the team differently. After Bull wins his first case back from medical leave, he’s prompted to give the $2-million retainer cheque he receives from his new wealthy insurance company client to the dying woman he was up against in court. Why? He’s not quite sure but we’re nearly certain the loss of Cable and his almost-fatal heart attack has something to do with it.
Showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron spoke with ET about the biggest developments from Monday’s season opener, why killing Cable off was the only option, and whether Bull’s heart attack changes his approach to his life and career.
ET: What went into the decision to have Annabelle Attanasio’s character, Cable, killed off in the season three premiere?
Glenn Gordon Caron: We didn’t make the decision to kill Cable off. The actress came to us and said she had an opportunity to do something that she very much wanted to do and that would involve a tremendous amount of time on the calendar, probably more than a season’s worth of time and that she would like to be let out of the show. The only way to explain the character not appearing for that period of time is to have her die. Remember, three months have gone by in Bull’s life and none of the other characters know where Cable is. I don’t think there was another choice. You can’t have everybody show up one day and say, “Oh, she decided to move to Tucson!” That seems kind of unrealistic. She wouldn’t have said goodbye to Bull? She wouldn’t have sought him out somehow? She wouldn’t have sent an email? It felt like a really interesting story opportunity, and by the way, the episode is the beginning of a much longer story about how it is that Cable came to die on the bridge that day. It wasn’t something that we wanted or sought out, so much as we were asked to react to.
You mentioned that Cable dying was the only way to explain her abrupt absence. Did you entertain keeping her alive at all?
I think we would’ve broken a trust with the viewer. The show is fundamentally reality-based. That’s not to say we don’t have the occasional flights of fancy, but for the most part, it’s based in life. People don’t just disappear. Frankly, we’re also a show that revolves around a courtroom and revolves around life and death, so the experiences seem like a story opportunity. I very much responded to the synchronicity having this heart attack and now having to deal with this recovery and this happening at the same time. It spoke to something important. The title of the episode is “The Ground Beneath Their Feet,” and everybody in the episode is going through a period wherein the things they took for granted are shifting. In Bull’s case, his own mortality is taken away from him and he’s like, “Oh my goodness, I could die. I should pay attention to all these things I’ve never paid attention to.” It’s very much about that idea that we, for periods of time in our life, that we understand how everything works and how everything is going to be, and some outside force comes along and rocks us and changes us because we didn’t see it coming. That’s really what the episode is about and Cable not being there contributed to that in a meaningful way.
It’s interesting to see Bull’s reaction to the loss of Cable at the end of the episode. He surprises even himself when he gives the $2-million cheque to the woman he won his case against, admitting to her he’s not quite sure why he’s giving her the money. Is Bull trying to sort of start anew?
There are two answers to that question. The showrunner manual says I’m supposed to say, “Please watch so you can see what that would be.” But the second answer is, I don’t think he knows. He’s as startled by his decision to give her that money as she is and I think it’s a compendium of things — that discovery that he’s still alive and that if he does these certain things, he’ll be alive for a long time. It’s the realization that he lost Cable, that she’s never coming back. That his relationship with the people around him are shifting, as evidenced by Marissa’s marriage. The words that his ex-wife left him with. It’s all of that. It’s a stew in his head. The big two by four that hits him in the head this episode is when Marissa looks at him and goes, “You’re rich. You’re different.” That was the capper.