In this episode, “Teacher’s Pet,” Bull tackles the issue of romantic relationships between teachers and their students. The TAC team is recruited by Liberty to prosecute a high school English teacher that has slept with her 17-year-old student. His parents want her in jail, but their son claims to be in love. Can Bull win the parents’ case? More important, will the boy be able to cut ties with his teacher and salvage his relationship with his family? Read on to find out.
At a high school football game, player Jordan celebrates a victory with his team, but his excitement is cut short when the scoreboard screen plays a video that reveals his sexual relationship with teacher Susan Bryant. Jordan’s parents, who are at the football game, soon hire Liberty and, at her suggestion, Bull’s team to take down Susan, believing that she is manipulating their son.
The high school fires Susan, and the state strips her of her teaching license. But that’s not enough for Jordan’s parents. They want her in jail, but since New York’s age of consent is 17, they can’t accuse her of statutory rape. Instead, Liberty and Bull plan on accusing her of outrageous conduct since, because of her, Jordan has dropped out of school, lost contact with his support system and ended his plans of going to college.
Bull meets with Jordan and his parents, but it’s clear to him that the boy doesn’t want to be there. He confesses that he still loves Susan and that he’s moving in with her. The parents are understandably outraged, but it doesn’t stop their son from moving in with Susan and cutting off all forms of communication with his family. They tell Bull that they’d drop the suit against Susan if she’d agree to just stay away from their son. After all, he’s a minor and he has an entire future ahead of him.
Susan, on the other hand, has hired women’s rights attorney Wendy Anderson to represent her in court. Anderson uses the defense of true love and argues that her client’s relationship is legal and consensual.
Doing the Research
Susan, it turns out, has a husband, Jeffrey. She left him to be with Jordan. Jeffrey, however, still wants to work things out with Susan. While Bull speaks with Anderson in the courthouse, Jeffrey approaches his wife’s attorney and asks to speak with Susan. Apparently, Susan had messaged him, instructing him to only communicate with her through her lawyer. Anderson refuses to put him in contact with Susan and walks away. But Bull, noticing the man’s obvious emotional distress, offers to help him get back together with his wife.
Meanwhile, Cable digs up some dirt on Susan. According to her finances, she hasn’t slowed down with her shopping since she lost her job. And just what has she been buying? Prenatal vitamins. According to the time of purchase, the TAC team estimates that Susan is three months along in her pregnancy. If that’s true, that’d make Jordan 16 years old when they had sex, which could get Susan charged with statutory rape.
Liberty questions a psychologist on the stand and asks her opinion on the situation. The doctor believes that Susan suffers from a condition that encourages “relating down,” or engaging in relationships with people who are younger or less powerful than yourself. People like Susan want to feel superior to their partners and wish to be adored by them. The psychologist also suggests that this type of relationship will have lasting effects on Jordan since, according to this professional, 95% of relationships that begin as affairs end.
Meanwhile, Danny faces a question of her own: is she dating down? She’s begun dating a freelance surveillance photographer she’s hired that happens to be seven years younger than her. She feels adored in the relationship, but she doesn’t want to manipulate her younger partner. But before she’s able to open up about her relationship, she has to put the case first.
Uncovering the Truth
On the stand, Susan speaks of her love for Jordan, explaining how they met in class and how his drawing of the Brooklyn Bridge wowed her. But Liberty soon catches her by surprise by asking about her pregnancy. Susan insists she didn’t have sex with Jordan until he was 17 years old, and she soon reveals that the baby is, in fact, her husband’s. The TAC team is shocked. They were sure that Jeffrey was out of town during the time of conception, but after digging deeper, they realize Susan traveled to meet him.
Jordan is next up on the witness stand, and he admits that even though he knew Susan was pregnant with Jeffrey’s baby, he planned on raising it with Susan. He even turned down his dream of art school so that he could focus on securing a job to make money for his new family.
Making a Run for It
Outside the courthouse, a livid Jeffrey attacks Jordan and screams at his wife that she won’t raise their baby without him. He declares that he’s going to file for full custody, which, Bull realizes, will be easy for him to achieve. He orders his team to watch the young couple carefully because he believes that with the added stress of the child and a likely custody case, they will run.
Later, Danny and Bull sit outside of a NJ diner and await the approach of Susan and Jordan. Bull knew they’d head there since records show that Susan has a sister in Trenton and has often stopped at a diner on the way to her house. They approach the couple inside, and Bull asks to speak one-on-one with Susan. While they initially refuse, Bull and Danny threaten to call the police on Susan, who would surely be arrested under the Mann Act, which prohibits adults from transporting minors across state lines with the intent to have sex.
Once alone, Bull explains to Susan that Jordan is her “balcony person,” someone who watches her life from the audience and cheers her on. But because of their relationship, Jordan has lost his “balcony people” — his mother and father. He also informs her that he knows about her relationship with her father. He knows that she hasn’t spoken to him in 10 years. He had remarried and shifted his attention from Susan to his new wife and his step-children. Without her own “balcony people,” she’s sought a new support group from her relationships with men who adore her. Bull points out to her that Jordan is ready to give up his entire life to be with her and raise a child that’s not even his because he worships her. The realization that she’s ruining Jordan’s life hits Susan, and she wonders just what she’s done. Bull gives her the name of a therapist and encourages her to seek help.
After their talk, Susan approaches Jordan. She apologizes for everything, and even as he tells Susan that he loves her, she breaks up with him and leaves the diner. Bull holds Jordan back from running after her and tells him that he’ll find love again one day.
Back at the courthouse, Chunk encourages a nervous Jordan to speak with his parents and make amends. The boy walks over to them, and they immediately embrace.
What did you think of this episode of Bull? How do you think “Teacher’s Pet” handled the topic of student-teacher relationships? Let us know in the comments section below.
Bull season 1 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Bull Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)