NBC’s The Irrational is back! The series has been pretty great since its start last September. It is formulaic but has just enough creativity using human behavioral psychology to distinguish itself from other crime procedurals. The show has gotten a second season alongside a new season for its Wednesday crime drama Found. That is some great news for viewers who are fans of both primetime crime dramas. It is time to pick up where we left off in Alec Mercer’s (Jessie L. Martin) saga.
Episode eight Scorched Earth finds Mercer receiving a call from his burn specialist, Dr. Stuart Choi (Derek Lowe), to comfort a recently burned patient Izzy Coldby (Megan Best). Mercer tries to counsel Izzy to get past the trauma. She confesses to killing her best friend Chris (Tate Chernen) in a fire. He was able to pick apart Izzy’s scattered memories of the fire, he realized that the vodka sodas they were drinking did not contain enough alcohol to start a fire. He and his young assistants Phoebe (Molly Kunz) and Rizwan (Arash DeMaxi) were able to deduce that whoever committed arson and homicide was still on the loose.
Mercer and his recently divorced wife/FBI agent Marissa Clark (Maahra Hill) investigate the case with the help of Puck County Fire Marshall Tyler Ford (Spencer Neville). Their investigation leads to the three sisters, Anna Rixton (Emma Pedersen), Caroline Rixton (Amy Goodmurphy), and Molly Rixton (Jocelyn Gauthier) whom were questioned due to their relation to Izzy and Chris. They apprehend Chris’s ex-girlfriend, Kat Schmitt (Olivia Kate Iatridis) who turns out not to be the arsonist homicidal maniac. Three more fires broke out, all set with the same liquid paraffin that sparked the initial house fire.
With the further help of his assistants and his younger sister Kylie (Travina Springer), they set up a bed and breakfast for the people of the local Episcopal church. Mercer was able to talk to a local staffer with his dog named King (Jason Burkhart). He says that the church was going to buy off the land the three sisters currently own. Mercer, Clark, and Ford check out the nearby shelter and soup kitchen within the fires. They learn that the fires and the evidences set together were all planted by the arsonist to cover themselves.
Thanks to another behavioral experiment involving who profits from a business deal, Mercer began to look at the case differently. Instead of profiting from the fires, who is hurt by them? He then gets locked in by Molly whom set the office ablaze ,and unintentionally reigniting Mercer’s PTSD of the church bombing 20 years ago. He was able to escape through the fire with the use of a nearby fire blanket. Clark and Ford proceed to check up on Mercer with him thanking Ford for his assistance in the investigation. Mercer tells his divorcee that she does not have to check up on him anymore now that he has Rose (Karen David). He goes back to the hospital comforting Izzy that she has no part in Chris’s death. He also confesses that he still hasn’t gotten over a 20-year burn mark on his face. But he tells Izzy that she (and him) can get past the trauma and they both cry happy tears together.
Meanwhile, Clark and her partner/boyfriend Jace Richards (Brian King), catch up on the 20-year-old church bombing case. Richards confirms that Matthias was the man who scared Wes Banning in court at the end of the first episode. Richards pulls a Mercer theory in which the candidate who was running then might have been using the bombing to cheat their way into winning the election. A theory that Clark and Richard decided to tread carefully in the next episodes.
This episode was a good mid-season return. It manages to recap the story so far and how much more the pieces still need solving. What is ironic is it starts similarly to the first episode premiere involving a person mistaking themselves for killing their significant other. The overall arching plot of the church bombing case still annoyingly intercedes with the case of the week. It would be nice to leave it out for the remainder of the episode until the case is over with. It’s a good way for the audience to get reacquainted with the show’s formula after a long winter break. In any case, we’ll see how season one part two conclude in the coming weeks in NBC’s The Irrational.