The Irrational – Episode 1 Recap & Review


The Irrational episode 1 starts with Alec Mercer explaining why people are irrational. He argues humans rely on instincts which are almost always wrong. He believes one error in judgment can lead to a series of unfortunate events. On this day, he is dealing with a man who made an error and ended up with the FBI on his door.

The scene cuts to Alec and the FBI working a hostage situation. A man is holding a baby and a woman at gunpoint in his house. Alec takes charge of the negotiation as the FBI stands by waiting to get the perfect shot. Unfortunately for them, the man is holding the baby, making it hard to shoot him. 

Once Alec takes over, he makes the man see that he didn’t think his demands through. He questions what the culprit will do once he gets the plane. Will he kill the pilot and the child? What will he do with the bodies and so on? Ultimately, the man realises it is easier to surrender and gives himself up. 

Marisa, an FBI agent and Alec’s ex-wife, notes Alec’s ability to remove his emotions from reason is why they split up. She argues Alec’s method could have taken a horrible turn. On the other hand, Alec says he knew what he was doing. He used the paradoxical persuasion to get the man to surrender. 

The following morning, Alec meets up with Phoebe, his grad student assistant. She introduces him to Rizwan, the new psychology grad student. Aside from working with the FBI, Alec is a renowned professor of behavioural psychology. He starts his class by introducing himself to his new students and talking about the burn scar on his face. He explains he got burned when young and talks about how this situation led him to choose his career path in behavioural analysis. 

One student asks about how he got the burns and Alec lies it was a drag racing accident. In truth, he got burned when his family’s apartment got burned down. Alec doesn’t remember much about the details leading up to the tragedy and always lies to his students about what happened. He is working on remembering the truth. After class, he gets a call from the mayor asking to see him. 

The mayor wants him to look into the murder of a young woman named Jasmin. The suspect is Dylan,  the son of a senator. Due to her close relationship with the senator, the Mayor wants Alec to investigate if Dylan is the real killer. She promises she only needs to know so she can decide whether to protect Dylan if he is innocent. 

Alec is hesitant but the Mayor insists Dylan is not a killer. She has known him since he was young. She admits Dylan is going through a rough patch after his honourable discharge from the Marines.  He has a drinking problem but he is no killer.

Alec meets with the officers working the case and sits on Dylan’s interrogation. Alec is surprised that Dylan fired his army of lawyers and is confessing to the murder. As Alec watches and listens to Dylan’s confession, doubts the man killed his ex-girlfriend. He argues that Dylan barely remembers what happened to Jasmin. He believes Dylan has no clear recollection of what happened to Jasmin because he didn’t do it. 

Dylan is remorseful and believes he killed Jasmin. He claims he blacked out and doesn’t remember what he did to the gun.  All he knows is that he woke up after his blackout and found blood on his shirt. He went back to Jasmin’s place and found her dead. Alec finds it strange that a former Marine couldn’t recall what kind of gun he used. 

Alec visits the crime scene and meets with Marisa. She introduces him to Elise Bowen, the District Attorney.  Elise takes them through the scene and believes the case is clear-cut. Alec asks her to look further into Dylan’s confession. At the crime scene, Alec sees a sobriety chip and notes Jasmin and Dylan met at the AA. He also learns that Jasmin was a social media influencer. 

Later that night, Alec recruits the help of his sister, Kylie to look into Jasmin’s online status. He uses her to run an experiment on how fallible memory is. Kylie is pissed that Alec always does this to her. The conversation steers to Marisa and she asks if Alec has hopes of getting back with his ex.  Although Alec doesn’t answer, based on his facial expression, it is easy to tell he still hopes for a reconciliation. It is why he decided to temporarily move in with his sister. 

The experiment on Kylie inspires Alec to run the same experiment on his students. He gives the findings to Elise and tries to explain how and why Dylan is taking the fall even though he is innocent. According to Alec, it is easy to manipulate people’s minds. The case overwhelms Alec and he forgets he had a lunch date with Kylie. This forces Kylie to bring lunch to him. She finds him reading the news about a man named Wes, who is up for parole.  

Wes is the man accused of bombing Alec’s building. He was convicted of two counts of federal hate crimes, possession of explosives and building a bomb that led to the death of 13 and injuring 1. However, he was never convicted of the murders since the witness (Alec) couldn’t place Wes at the scene. This is one of Alec’s biggest regrets and is trying to remember what happened that night. As he talks with Kylie, Alec gets a new lead. 

He calls Rizwan and they attend the AA meetings, hoping to learn more about Dylan and Jasmin. Just as they start getting people to talk about Dylan, Alec gets a call from the detective on Jasmine’s case. They found a lead into a new suspect, Layla.  Layla turns out to be another influence that Jasmin outed for testing her product lines on animals. 

Layla claims she was angry and wrote threatening messages to Jasmin. She was caught trying to sneak into Jasmin’s house to find the threatening letter she wrote to the victim. However, Layla’s alibi checks out and the FBI is moving forward with charging Dylan for murder. Alec decides to follow up on the AA sobriety chip found in Jasmin’s house. Jasmin was only a few months sober so the chip didn’t belong to her and it was not Dylan’s either.

To follow the lead, Alec visits Marisa at home to find out if they managed to get fingerprints from the sobriety chip. He confesses that Dylan’s trauma while serving the Marines is triggering his own. He and Dylan have survivor’s guilt and Alec keeps having nightmares. Marisa pleads with Alec to see a therapist. They also talk about Wes’ upcoming parole hearing and they both hope he won’t be set free. Alec says he will attend the hearing and give his victim statement. We learn that he met Marisa through the case, of which she was the detective.  

As they talk, Marisa gets a message that the police have found a new lead on Jasmin’s laptop. They watch a video recorded by Jasmin talking about someone from her AA group stalking her. However, she never got to identify the person because there was a knock at her door. The police assume the person in question is Jasmin. 

Alec stays on the case and continues to dig deeper as the media and activists demand justice for Jasmin. Dylan insists he is guilty but Alec asks him to cooperate. Dylan informs him about Jasmin having an issue with a regular at the AA meeting. Unfortunately, Dylan didn’t get a chance to find out who Jasmin was talking about. Alec joins the AA and speaks about his accident, bringing up his traumatic memory.

Alec pursues the lead further and discovers the killer is Ryan, Dylan’s AA sponsor.  Ryan tries to kill Alec but, he is no match for Alec’s expertise. Alec uses his paradoxical persuasion to get Ryan to confess to the murder. Ryan claims he didn’t mean to stalk or kill Jasmin. He got scared when he visited her unannounced and she pulled her gun on him. He overpowered her and killed her. He then decided to drug Dylan and frame him for the murder. He even convinced Dylan he slipped on his sobriety and killed Jasmin.

After solving the case and surviving the murder attempt on his life, Alec gets an offer from Elise to occasionally work for her department. Kylie jokes Elise might have a crush on Alec. After his release, Dylan stops by Alec’s office to thank him. Alec advises him to seek help for his trauma but Dylan confesses he is interested in going back to school. 

Later, Alec and Marisa attend Wes’ parole hearing. They notice that the appearance of a mysterious man led to Wes changing his demeanour and changing his speech. They try to follow the man but they are unable to catch him. The board decides to deny Wes’ request for parole.  Alec and Marisa deduce that someone powerful was behind Wes and the prisoner is cared of whoever it is.

The Episode Review

This was a good introduction to the characters and Alec’s back story is intriguing. Jesse Martin is a phenomenal actor and there is no doubt that he delivers as Alec. The show like any other police procedural show, maintains a good balance of whodunnit, interwoven with the investigator’s personal lives.  In this case, Dylan’s trauma triggers Alec’s memory of the bombing. Alec is also still in love with Marisa and hopes to reconcile. There is hope for these two but we will wait to see more of their interactions before we decide whether to rally behind them.

If the pilot is anything to go by then we can expect fascinating psychology,  thought-provoking dialogue and good acting from this series. We are looking forward to seeing what the show has to offer next week!


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