The Irrational is NBC’s newest—and one of only a handful—scripted new dramas this season, putting Jesse L. Martin in the hot seat as Alec Mercer, a behavioral science professor who lends his set of skills to law enforcement agencies and corporations to help solve mysteries by getting into the mind of the suspect. In the series premiere’s case, he got into the mind of Dylan, the Senator’s son, who was considered a suspect in the murder of his ex-girlfriend, but who Alec was not convinced was the killer.
Alec’s ability to figure out a person’s motives and deduce whether or not they’re telling the truth is an asset, not only to those being wrongfully accused of a crime they didn’t commit but even to those who are convinced they did the crime, as Dylan confessed to the murder.
What Alec was able to pick up was that Dylan had a very vague recollection of the incident in comparison to very vivid memories from his time spent at AA, which led him to believe that those memories were planted; his mind was essentially playing tricks on him. In one moment, Alec declares that memory is the great conman of human nature as it has the ability to lie to us and make us believe something that didn’t actually happen, which, if you think about it, is somewhat of a scary thought and an interesting concept for a TV show to explore… correctly.
The series is a police procedural in the most straightforward of ways with evidence somewhat falling in Alec’s lap as breaks in the case come without much heavy lifting. This may be a make-it-or-break-it for you, though I think many people will appreciate the simplicity of a series where the case is solved in the fourth act, especially amid such a complex TV landscape nowadays.
Alec was determined to prove everyone wrong who accepted Dylan’s guilty confession at face value—if he confessed to being innocent, we wouldn’t believe him, so why should we believe him when he says he’s guilty (it also begs the question: why can’t the police and other agencies do their job properly without external help? And how many times do they get the wrong guy and look the other way?)—but the investigation seemingly moved itself along. He knew Dylan didn’t do it, but he didn’t necessarily have another suspect until Lila was caught breaking into Jasmine’s place. He didn’t believe Lila’s story in the slightest as he paid attention to the little things and was able to call out her bluff trying to use one of her lipgloss’s as Jasmine’s. When she finally came clean, Lila had a motive, but she also had an airtight alibi, which made her innocent.
During that interrogation, Alec found a 5-year sobriety chip, which helped him pinpoint Ray, the only member at AA who achieved the milestone. He confronted Ray without so much as waiting for backup—because it’s clear that Alec is a bit of a thrill junkie and wouldn’t pass up finding out exactly why Ray committed the crime, and he wanted a front seat to see what he’d do next.
Of course, there seem to be moments of human nature that still take him by surprise; he was convinced Ray was the killer, however, he never expected him to point the gun at him and try to get away.
No one was too pleased with Alec’s thrill-seeking escapades, including his ex-wife, Marisa, who is conveniently an FBI agent, and Elise, the DA who seems smitten by Alec’s skills and determination. Is a love triangle bubbling up? Yes. But as Alec’s little sister underscored, Elise may be hot but she’s still shipping the “OG.” And it’s evident that while Alec and Marisa’s relationship may have hit a roadblock, there’s still a lot left to be explored between them, particularly when it comes to the overarching mystery of how he got that burn mark.
Alec plays with the story he shares publicly about his scar, but in reality, it goes back to a pretty dark moment in his life, one that triggered his obsession with the human mind—a bombing at a church that left him as the lone survivor.
As someone who enjoys the heck out of a murder mystery, or, any kind of mystery at all, I love that this is a bigger-picture focus woven throughout the cases of the week that paints a better picture of Alec and allows fans to get to know the intricacies of his person and what makes him tick. We’ll get to know him better by exploring weekly cases, but digging into his past and what shaped him into the man that he is today is also important and necessary, especially as he desires closure. Marisa was also a significant part of his life at that time since we saw that she was the responding FBI officer when he woke up in the hospital room, so we’ll also get insight into the beginning of their relationship—and what led to their seemingly amicable divorce.
The parole hearing for Wes Banning, the alleged bomber that Alec cannot place and has no memory of, didn’t go as planned as a mysterious figure peered through the door—going undetected by a whole courtroom—and forcing the suspect to tell the judge that if released, he will continue committing crimes and putting people in danger.
As Marisa underscores, someone else is pulling the strings, someone with enough pull that they scared Banning behind bars again, and it’s up to Alec to figure out who it is and why.
The series, which delivered a solid pilot episode and has a good foundation to build on, has promise—and given the NBC audience’s affinity for police procedurals, it definitely found the right home.
Is ‘The Irrational’ on Today?
If you’re looking to solve a new case of the week with Alec Mercer on The Irrational, you’ll have to be a bit more patient.
The Irrational Season 1 Episode 7, which aired on Nov 6, 2023, was the last one audiences will see in a while—and there’s a perfectly reasonable, even rational, explanation for it: there are no episodes left to air.
The former episode was the last scheduled episode to air on NBC, as the start of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, both of which have, officially concluded, halted production. That means they were only able to film 7 episodes of the season.
Now that production has been cleared, The Irrational will pick up filming once again and will air its final four episodes starting Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. So sadly, fans will not be getting any news episodes through the remainder of 2023, however, the good news is that 2024 is just around the corner.
The Irrational, starring Jesse L. Martin, scored an NBC series order at the end of 2022.
While you’re waiting for new episodes about the behavioral psychologist who takes on cases—and helps the CIA (along with his ex-wife) solve crimes—all while dealing with past trauma from a bombing decades prior, you can catch up via our recaps and reviews right here on CraveYouTV.
You can also check out another NBC series that’s also been filling the gap amid the strikes, Found, with reviews here.
The Irrational Review Season 1 Episode 7 – The Real Deal
The Irrational Season 1 Episode 7 attempted to pull off double duty as not only was Alec on a first date with Rose, but he was also using the 24-hour date to test a new romance theory just as the whole outing doubled as a murder investigation connected to one of her clients. That’s just how things go when you’re with Alec, and you have to be ready to roll with the punches, which Rose definitely was.
But if that all feels like a lot for viewers, well, it’s because it is. The plot of the “case of the week” was just a bit too complex to follow—and I’m not a fan of getting invested in the story only for it to bear no merit on the outcome (looking at you, Mr. Z!).
There were too many players featured and a handful of twists as Alec and Rose debated whether or not the Cézanne paintings were real or a forgery. Then, at the end of the day, none of it even mattered because Rose and Alec, who witnessed the murder of Henry, an art dealer, found out that the motive behind the death was love.
Their investigation revealed that Henry destroyed the final Cézanne created by Bridget, the artist behind the forgeries, after he spoke with them because he realized that people were onto their scheme and didn’t want to leave any evidence behind, however, Evan, the forgery appraiser, killed Henry in a fit of rage because he was in love with Bridget, who died of cancer, and was upset to see the only thing left of her destroyed so carelessly.
While murder mysteries are rarely ever cut and dry, it was a roundabout way of getting to the suspect.
There was also Rose’s client, Blair, who connected to the scheme through her ex-husband Carson but wasn’t completely crucial to the overall story aside from kickstarting the investigation by reporting her Orchard painting as a fake.
Seeing her move on from her ex, who admitted that he was cheating on her, however, coincided with Alec’s grand first date, the first since his divorce.
There’s something to be said for finally concluding that it’s time to move on, and, in Alec’s case, he was accepting that things with Marisa were officially over.
Rose, however, is such a good fit into his life—she’s basically the female version of Alec. The former M6 agent whose cover was blown now works as a crisis management expert, so she’s go-with-the-flow, good at reading people, and thrives on the action.
She’s also a good addition to his life—not only because they had great chemistry and they complement each other far better than Marisa and Alec—but because she can exist without always being involved. They are both established in their respective careers, so they can date without becoming co-dependent.
Moving on is a huge deal for Alec. At the end of the episode, there was a moment where it was clear Alec didn’t think he’d ever feel like this about anyone ever again after his divorce, but now he’s realizing that he simply needed to do it on his own terms after grieving and mourning his previous relationship.
He wasn’t ready for his next chapter until he was ready, so I hope Marisa doesn’t screw it up or make him have second thoughts.
Rose’s next client took her on a trip to Paris, but they both agreed to another date when she got back.
For Marisa, the news that Alec was once again dating was a hard pill to swallow, despite having moved on with Jace. I don’t think she’s ever faced her feelings, simply repressing them instead because she initiated the divorce and knew that they needed to move on. However, she never confronted how it would feel to have Alec move on while still playing a critical role in her life as a friend.
Marisa and Kylie hung out for the first time since the divorce, and while the “A” word was not allowed, it was established that they had a tight relationship before Alec and Marisa split. It was nice to see them get back to it, proving that once family means always family, no matter the external circumstances. They still cared a lot about each other and could have a relationship even if Alec wasn’t the middle ground as much anymore.
The bombing was not mentioned, so there wasn’t anything on that front, though I read it’s supposed to be a storyline that’s wrapped up by the end of the first season.
Phoebe and Rizwan conducted a control experiment that helped Alec and Rose solve the case, but other than that, they are two characters that I’ve found myself completely indifferent about. The story exists with or without them.
What did you think about the episode? Do you like Rose for Alec? Are you enjoying the cases of the week?
The Irrational Recap Season 1 Episode 6 – Point and Shoot
The Irrational delivered its most powerful episode yet, and in the same breath, found its footing. If future storylines are crafted as meticulously as on The Irrational Season 1 Episode 6, the series has made its case for sticking around as a permanent fixture on NBC.
We’ve seen Alec Mercer in many situations from investigating a plane crash to catching a cheater red-handed during a lively poker game, but “Point and Shoot” took him to the courtroom, working a case pro-bono that highlighted the unfair and corrupt justice system while trying to find a way to convince a handful of jurors on a case, who have already made up their minds before hearing the facts, to “do better.”
In the process, he squared off with a highly skilled and respected behavioral psychologist, Dr. Atwood (and yes, I jumped for joy when I saw The Resident’s Malcolm Jamal Warner aka The Raptor grace the screen in a worthy guest role!), whose reputation informed that he never met a police shooting he couldn’t justify. Alec himself said that there was no other worthy opponent to face off against Atwood in court other than himself—and both men made compelling points when arguing their case.
Atwood asked the jury to look at the situation from the perspective of the police, who stepped into a shaky situation as they were under the impression that they were entering the home of a dangerous criminal who may have been armed; their fight or flight reaction kicked in during the high-risk arrest.
Meanwhile, Alec countered that the Viper group is a skilled ops team that should assess and reassess the situation every second before resulting to pulling the trigger. He noted that there were many ways to de-escalate the situation that didn’t involve shooting a firearm.
And considering that the shooting killed an innocent man as the wrong address was written on a warrant—a case we’ve seen play out in real life even if the series notes that the storyline is fictional and not depicting real events—there’s a lot to deliberate.
Alec proved that there’s a reason he’s the best at what he does and observed the jury’s behavior, quickly noting that science wasn’t merely enough to win them over—they needed to be part of the solution. When he asked them to do better in weeding out the bad apples in the flawed system that’s not always about “equal justice for all,” they stood up to the task.
Joshua’s husband was propositioned with a hefty settlement, which didn’t sit right with him considering they were asking him to agree to a price of how much his late husband was worth. He was reminded that there was no “good outcome” in this case since an innocent man was killed, but that he should take the win. However, a quick glance at Joshua’s office led Alec to yet another conclusion that Joshua’s death wasn’t an accident but a premeditated murder.
While he never considered another option when taking on the case, simply following the upfront facts, it turns out that there was plenty of underlying information that took it in a completely different direction. Joshua wasn’t an accidental target of a tactical team, he was targeted because he was a building inspector who was trying to shine light on code violations by a very profitable investment company. All of the Viper officers also had a side hustle working as security for the property development company.
The pieces began to fall into place when the clerk, who was initially fired for writing the wrong address on the warrant, explained that Judge Haines was the one who signed off on it and the one who also overlooked civil cases concerning building codes.
Alec needed someone he could trust to prove it—and he formed an unlikely alliance with Atwood, who agreed not only because he wanted to protect his stats (and knew he lost the case) but because it was the right thing to do. They may not always see eye to eye, but in this case, it was evident that Judge Haines willingly signed off an order to kill an innocent man because he was going to destroy his side hustle of bribing people who wanted to go around building regulations.
When Atwood suggested that Haines help him cheat the system and cut through the red tape, he obliged, even giving him a number to an offshore account when the FBI walked in to ask him a few questions.
Again, there was never going to be a “happy” outcome from the case, but they were aiming for the best one possible, and catching a corrupt man who was responsible was a great start.
As for the bombing of the church, Alec’s ex-wife Marisa continued the investigation following Peter’s “suicide,” which Alec immediately called out as a forced suicide. The assumption was that Peter was spooked by the same person who got to Wes Banning during the court trial.
Marisa then asked Alec to sit out the investigation due to optics—he was there the night of the tragedy so technically, he could have had a motive to kill Peter—before questioning Peter’s mother, who accidentally spilled that she knew more than she was letting on.
In between her defenses of her late son, she revealed that Peter got the bomb from some “fancy man” on the internet. However, the plan was never to kill 13 people, he was simply targeting the church as part of a hate crime, though he accidentally set the bomb timer to 60 seconds rather than 60 minutes.
And thus, the investigation takes another unexpected turn, but there’s momentum, which is all that matters.
With not much to go off besides the fact that Matthias dressed nicely, it’s like finding a needle in the haystack, but I don’t know anyone more committed than Marisa to do this investigation justice… that is if they allow her to stay on considering she’s “too close” to the victim.
Marisa’s relationship with Jace was also brought up when a member and former boss from Intelligence visited her to bring up the “whispers” he’s been hearing. Work romances are always complicated, especially when they can derail a case or question your credibility, though they aren’t illegal, so we’ll see what comes of it.
What did you think of the episode? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?
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