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Spoilers ahead for the Season 5 premiere of Bull on CBS, called "My Corona."
Bull is officially back on CBS, and the Season 5 premiere revealed how Jason Bull and Co. have handled the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. For most of the hour, it seemed like Bull's subconscious coping method was to imagine himself as part of musical numbers to some classic oldies tunes, including James Brown's "The Boss" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising," whether he liked it or not. Then, after the reveal that Bull had actually been dreaming while suffering from COVID, things got truly weird as Bull broke the fourth wall with a bonkers musical number, and the ending could mean big things for Season 5.
First, the bonkers musical number! Just when it seemed that the final credits were about to roll, a different song began to play: "How Can I Be Sure" by The Young Rascals. Although Bull the character had been the one "singing" throughout the episode, Michael Weatherly the actor clearly took over as the camera panned back to show the Bull set, the makeup trailer, Christopher Jackson leaving his dressing room, a Bull wardrobe trailer, and then the main cast sitting in chairs facing the camera in the office set, all with masked crew members in the background. The sequence was capped by Weatherly talking into the camera, saying:
It's great to be back. We missed you guys.
Other than giving a look behind the scenes at the hit CBS show, the final few minutes of Bull do give away a few key things about the rest of Season 5. First things first: if the show is willing to end its long-awaited season premiere on a scene that completely smashes the fourth wall with a pretty elaborate musical number filmed throughout the set, then it's hard to rule much of anything out for the upcoming episodes.
The show literally already pulled the "it was all a dream" trope by revealing that Bull's reality of working as a trial scientist without being able too see the jury was only the result of his illness, and then transitioned into a musical number with lip-syncing stars. (I do wish there had been an excuse for Christopher Jackson to sing.)
On a less crazy note, the end revealing that almost the entire episode had been Bull's fever dream means that the team won't actually have to spend the next 15 episodes attempting to do their jobs based on voice clues from jurors who they can't see. Instead, the courtroom will bring the jurors into the trials in the flesh, but socially distanced. While trials will still look very different from the first four seasons, Bull and Co. can do their jobs, and viewers will have something to actually watch without Bull having to somehow revamp itself entirely.
On the flip side of the reveal that Bull's COVID dream meant that the gloomy events of most of the hour didn't happen, the shortened episode count means that fans won't get more than 15 more episodes of cases in Season 5. Like several of CBS' other biggest series, including Blue Bloods and two of the three NCIS shows among others, the episode count for the 2020-2021 season is just 16 episodes due to the costs of production under COVID protocols.
With every previous season with the exception of the shortened fourth running for 22 episodes, and Season 4 making it to 20 before the shutdown, Season 5 will be the shortest by far, and one of those 16 episodes didn't achieve much. That said, Bull is a relatively procedural show, so Season 5 can be plenty entertaining with fewer episodes than usual, even if one of those episodes was a dream capped with a meta musical number