In the ninth episode of the season, titled “Light My Fire,” Bull takes us to Kavanaugh, a small town where Dr. Bull spent his youth. But he doesn’t return for pleasure; he’s there to visit his cabin that’s been destroyed by a wildfire. After meeting the young man accused of both arson and murder, he decides to take on the case, defending the boy against unfair allegations. But will Bull and his team be able to save the young man from a town fueled by gossip? Read on to find out in the winter finale.

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The Crime

Charles Keller pops by his diner late at night, but all is not right. Seconds after he enters his establishment, it erupts in a fiery explosion, which soon spreads all over town and burns down 31 acres of the town’s land. Almost immediately, Peter Walsh, a young, misunderstood man, is accused of arson and murder. The fire department claims they discovered his fingerprints on a bottle of lighter fluid at the crime scene, and Peter was let go from his job at Keller’s Diner recently. But that doesn’t seem to be what’s fueling the case; the chief, as well as the whole town, seems to be punishing Peter for the misdeeds of his brother, who had been one of the local “bad kids.”

Bull relates to Peter’s unfortunate town reputation and what that means in this small town. As evidenced by his less-than-pleasant encounters with Fire Chief Walt Simmonds, a real estate agent named Joyce and others, the townspeople don’t care for Bull. He reveals later in the episode that his father swindled many people in town out of their money, promising them an investment in a new development but leaving before anything could be done. This connection, coupled with a lack of substantial evidence, convinces Bull to take the boy’s case, and he soon calls his team for support.

Selecting a Jury

Bull’s team discovers that Peter’s been arrested by the Sheriff five times in the past. It seems that whenever there’s trouble in town, they blame him first before finding any evidence. Bull tells the team that if they’re going to win this case, they have to prove to the town that Peter is nothing like his trouble-making family.

In court, Bull sets to find a jury that’s willing to look past Peter’s bad reputation. They weed through the jury pool, dismissing a man who seems hostile as well as the real estate agent, Joyce. The town’s too small to create a mirror jury, so they plan on using Joyce as a mirror jury surrogate; she’s a town gossip and will be able to tell Bull and his team what everyone on the jury is thinking.

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Doing the Research

As Marissa bonds with Joyce to obtain information about the jury, Danny digs into the fire department’s history. In the past year or so, there were two other fires with the same MO as the diner fire that were both deemed accidents. If they follow the same method of arson, Danny wonders, why wouldn’t they be considered arson as well?

Benny and Chunk take a short fishing trip nearby to clear their heads before the trial, but they become lost in the woods. Not able to get in touch with his colleagues, Bull asks the judge to reschedule the hearing, but the judge refuses. To accommodate, Bull fills in for Benny as a substitute lawyer until Benny can make it back. He questions the fire department Chief on the stand. And while Bull makes good points, the Chief argues with him and compares him to his father.

After court, Danny reveals that she’s examined the previous fires and has found evidence to suggest that a professional had committed the arson. Bull and the team now believe the real arsonist is one of the men in the fire department. He and Danny walk into a bar to confront the firemen. Bull tells the Chief that he believes one of his men is responsible. The Chief denies this claim, but Bull isn’t convinced. He orders Danny to follow the Chief’s every move.

Convincing the Jury

Peter takes the stand. As Benny questions him first, he discusses his passion for playing music and creating new and interesting instruments. Bull’s team wants to show the jury that Peter wouldn’t destroy anything; he’s too interested in creation. Benny then asks why Peter doesn’t go into town much. Peter admits that when he’s gone through people’s trash for items to turn into instruments, he’s been accused of casing homes. Then the prosecutor questions Peter, asking him why he doesn’t just leave if people in town have been so bad to him. Peter tells him and the jury that Kavanaugh is home to him; it’s where his mother is buried and it’s where he grew up.

Afterwards, Joyce approaches Bull and Marissa outside and chastises them for hurting the town’s reputation. She believes they’ve caught the arsonist, so defending him only makes the town look bad. After she leaves, Bull decides that they have to turn the town against Joyce before she turns the jury against their client. To do so, they decide to spread a rumor about her. Using Cable’s Internet prowess, they share false news that Joyce is negotiating the development of a 200-room hotel, a move that Bull knows the residents of the proud small town will protest. Bull even goes as far as to hire people dressed in business casual attire to pretend to be potential investors. He instructs one of the men to wave to Joyce as if he knows her. When she waves back, the townspeople assume the rumors are true.

In his closing arguments, Benny warns the jury of the effects of gossip. He informs them, many of whom are wearing buttons that say “No Resort,” that his team was behind the rumor about Joyce’s hotel. They seem taken aback by the news but, nonetheless, Benny’s words about the power of gossip ring true. After deliberating, the jury finds Peter innocent of all charges.

As everyone exits the courtroom, the Chief pulls Bull aside. He tells him that, after their confrontation, he’s been looking into the fires and he’s found indications that one of his men, Sam Keane, is behind it. Sam apparently was the first to arrive to the scene of the fires, likely because he had to hide evidence.

Bull believes Sam set the fires, but he isn’t convinced that he’s acting alone. Sam confesses to setting the murder and reveals that Joyce has been paying him to start them in an effort to advance her career. After Bull and Marissa approach her, Joyce is arrested.

What did you think of this episode of Bull? Did you enjoy seeing Bull’s hometown in “Light My Fire”? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bull season 1 returns Tuesday, January 3, 2017, at 9/8c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Bull Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)