I’m back with another review of NBC’s The Irrational episode two. This show is pretty decent so far. It’s cool to see a detective mystery show featuring human behavioral psychology at the forefront of the show. Jessie L. Martin’s Alex Mercer is pretty great at playing the opposite, loose version of Ed Green from Law & Order. He is fitting in well with the role in this episode and he’s getting a tiny bit more character development along with a few others in this episode. Some of the telltale signs of a person’s issues/reasons why they behave the way they do were caught immediately. So, here goes episode two.
Episode Two Dead Woman Walking finds Mercer experimenting with fire to shake up his memory of the church bombing. The FBI has a picture of the man in a shady 50s coat and hat from the previous episode noting that they are on the lookout for the man which is going to be a throughline narrative of the series. As of right now, he gets a new case of the week regarding journalist C.J. (Amy Aquino) who needs help in solving a murder. The catch is that it’s her imminent murder.
The origins started with C.J. covering a story involving a Russian spy dead due to polonium 210 poisoning. She was about to publish an article debunking Mercer’s behavioral science methods as “pop culture junk science” at one point. Until she realized she was wrong in her assumptions and decided not to publish it. Mercer pondered if C.J. wanted to take any experimental medicine to ward off the encroaching poison in her system which the latter decided was no use. She was willing to give any clue where to start with the case until the poison in C.J.’s system takes effect causing her to pass out.
After seeing C.J. off to the hospital, Mercer and his ex-wife/FBI agent Marissa (Maahara Hill) talk with her writing partner Gene. He informs that she met with a Russian oligarch whistleblower named Yuri at lunch, the scene of her poisoning. Mercer and his assistants Phoebe (Molly Kunz) and Rizwan (Arash DeMaxi) manage to locate his position after learning about his fondness for chess. He then proceeds to the marina at night where Yuri supposedly resides, ignoring his ex-wife’s instructions to wait for her. Yuri was shot by an unknown assassin with Mercer running for cover. For a good 5 minutes, he manages to engage in a reasonable conversation with the assassin to convince him to escape before the authorities arrive. Mercer lives to sleuth another day only to be hounded by Marissa the next morning.
Meanwhile, Mercer’s assistants try to inform C.J.’s daughter Nicole (Vanessa Walsh) of her mom dying. However, learning about both C.J and Nicole’s estranged relationship triggers Phoebe’s unhappy memories between her and her mother in obvious dialogues. Eventually, we do learn that Phoebe has been depressed about how her relationship with her mom ended in an estranged position before she got hit by a car crossing the road years ago. This prompts C.J.’s daughter to go be with her mother which could potentially be her final moments.
Meanwhile, turns out Yuri was not the prisoner at all due to no evidence of the poison on him. Through the help of his sister Kyile (Travina Springer), he finds out that the teacup at the scene of the poisoning was swapped. This was done by a couple of stage actors who do these fake marriage proposals daily. Mercer and Marissa ask the couple for their records for any more leads on the case.
Mercer and Marisa’s latest investigation threat leads them to a former tobacco company publicist who was fired thanks to C.J.’s expose of the company’s unethical marketing targeting kids. Mercer and his assistants lure a former tobacco employer named Brandon Schultz (Chris Cope) to a fake meeting to learn more about his connection to polonium 210. He reveals that to preserve the money the company needed, they had to dump a lot of hazardous waste with polonium 210 included. In turn, it was set up by Gene’s relative to hide any evidence or connection to…ding ding! Gene, the co-writer/publishing partner was obvious at the start.
Upon this revelation, Mercer goes to Alex’s place to stage a fake conversation about C.J.’s condition. He does notice that Alex tried to poison him, the same way he did with his boss. Luckily, he avoids this by pretending to drink it subtly in front of Gene. Gene, in desperation calmly gloats in front of a comatose C.J. saying he tried to play fair to solve her murder and proclaims he’s smarter than her. Unfortunately, C.J., pretending to be in a comatose state heard everything and taped his exposure with Marissa and FBI agents taking him into custody.
Mercer returns to her sister Kylie’s house to continue his memory experiment only to happen upon the realization that he finally remembered something from the church bombing 20 years ago.
Episode two continues to build on what is an intriguing sleuthing story with more character development in particular to Phoebe which makes the audience relate more to how and why they are the person today. Even though the dialogue sometimes is rather telling Phoebe quickly dismisses the similarity between C.J.’s mom and daughter relationship and her and her mother in the past. Can’t wait to see what happens next. Mercer’s sudden remembrance could prove key to the main storyline amid the many cases Mercer and his assistants will face throughout the season.