The Irrational is a police procedural series created by Arika Mittman. The NBC crime thriller series follows the story of the world-renowned behavioral science professor Alec Mercer, who uses his unique expertise in psychology, body language, and emotional, and facial cues to solve the most twisted and high-stakes cases. In this, he is helped by his tech-savvy sister and his ex-wife, who is also an FBI agent.
The police procedural series stars Jesse L. Martin as Alec Mercer, Molly Kunz as Phoebe, Maahra Hill as Marisa, Travina Springer as Kylie, Arash DeMaxi as Rizwan, Ella Cannon as Lila, Soma Chhaya as Jasmine, and Teach Grant as Clay.
The pilot episode of The Irrational begins with Alec Mercer explaining to us the irrational choices people make even when it comes to their health and future. He goes on to say that we assume that other people are making rational choices by considering their pros and cons but they are really not. Most people decide what they want to do based on their instinct rather than any rationality. He explains further that instincts take people from one error in judgment to another and when it becomes dangerous that’s when he is called.
We see a man with a gun holding a baby in a flat with the FBI surrounding the building. That’s when we are introduced to Alec as he is writing something in his notebook. He is interrupted by Marisa, who asks him if he has any solution for their current situation and Alec picks up the phone to talk to the guy holding a woman and a baby hostage. He asks Alec if he is another negotiator and Alec replies that he would never work in law enforcement because the pay is too low, and he also tells him that he is a college professor.
Then Alec tells him that the FBI only brings him in when they don’t have many options left. Next, he congratulates him for taking the baby hostage because when other people try to do the same thing they either get arrested or killed, but because of the baby he is safe. Then the abductor tells Alec that he wants what he asked for meaning a helicopter.
Alec tells him that the higher-ups have authorized a helicopter and it will be here soon. While in the background Marisa and other agents are telling Alec that there is no helicopter but Alec still tells the abductor that a helicopter is coming. Then he asks him about what kind of helicopter he wants and what he is planning to do with the helicopter when it gets here, and also about what he is planning to do with the baby and the helicopter pilot after he has escaped. Putting more and more pressure on the abductor leaving him no choice but to surrender.
After the issue is resolved and Alec is getting ready to leave the scene he is stopped by Marisa. She asks him about what he did back there and he explains to her that he applied a theory called Paradoxical Persuasion, in which if you embrace someone else’s idea completely and force them to think it through, they will back down thinking it was a terrible idea in the first place.
When Marisa asks Alec, how would he know that the abductor wouldn’t have just started shooting people? Alec replies there are always outliers but this method works about 95% of the time. To this Marisa says that she is still impressed by how he can completely separate emotion from reason and that is the reason that she married him but it is also the reason they are not together anymore. Marisa asks Alec to say hello to his sister as he leaves.
In the next scene, we see Alec pulling up in a vintage red car to Wylton University where he works as a professor of Applied Psychology. As soon as he gets in the building he is greeted by his research assistants Phoebe and the new guy Rizwan. They update him on his daily schedule as he heads towards the class. In his class, he first starts by introducing himself and then he goes on to explain the burn marks on his face saying that over 60% of his body was burned, and he had to stay in the hospital for three years.
During his treatment at the hospital, the nurses used to rip the bandages off of him in an instant instead of doing it slowly, assuming that ripping the bandages faster was a better option. This theory seemed interesting to Alec, as to why people repeatedly and predictably make the wrong decision in their lives and with enough research, he could change that.
When a student asks Alec about how he got the burn marks, we get a flashback of several people suffering with burn marks with some sitting in the ambulance getting first aid. Then Alec deflects the question and moves ahead with the class.
After the class, Alec gets a call from the Mayor who asks him to look into the murder of a young woman named Jasmine Curtland who was murdered last night. The suspect in the murder is her ex-boyfriend Dylan Hayes, son of Senator Laura Hayes.
The Mayor explains to Alec that Laura is a political ally and if these allegations go public her campaign could come to harm but if Dylan is not charged, it could later look like as preferential treatment. To which Alec replies that it is preferential treatment and he’s not interested in taking the case. The Mayor then tells him that Dylan is a war hero with honorable discharge. She also tells him that he had a drinking problem but he was in AA and he had no history of violence.
Then the Mayor asks Alec to find out if Dylan is guilty or not because if he isn’t she will try to keep his name out of the press and if he is guilty of killing Jasmine. She will give the DA authorization to move ahead with their case.
Next, we see Alec in an interrogation room standing in a corner with two police detectives interrogating Dylan. But to his surprise, Dylan confesses without any pressure or provocation. Then the detective asks him to tell them what happened from the beginning. Dylan says that it was the anniversary of his war buddy’s death and he wanted a drink but he went to an AA meeting instead. Initially, he thought he was fine but later he ended up in a bar where he ordered some beers and realized that he was near Jasmine’s place.
He went over to Jasmine’s house where they had sex. When asked about the nature of their relationship. Dylan tells the detective that they had an on-again off-again relationship because Jasmine thought that he had to work through some of his issues. Then, Alec asks Dylan if he used a condom while having sex with Jasmine to which Dylan replies that he was pretty sure that he did wear a condom. Next, Alec asks him about the position in which they had sex, but before Dylan gives an answer to the question he is cut off by one of the detectives.
Then Dylan is asked about the fight he and Jasmine had that night, to which replies that they had a big fight and Jasmine told him that it was really over this time. The detective then asks Dylan if he owns a gun, to which Dylan replies yes. When the detective asks if he had it that night, Dylan answers that the gun was Jasmine’s so that she could protect herself because she had a stalker once. When Alec tries to go into the details of the murder Dylan says that he doesn’t remember what exactly happened because he had blacked out at the time. When Alec asks Dylan if he had blacked out before to which Dylan replies yes and when Alec asks him about how it felt when he shot her.
Dylan starts to break down but after Alec puts a bit of pressure on him he says that he doesn’t remember anything except pulling the trigger. After they get out of the interrogation room the detectives express that they think Dylan is the culprit to which Alec says that he might be mistaken about his confession.
Alec goes on to explain that when we remember things we remember images, and specific details just like when Dylan started his story he was telling it with specific details but as soon as he got to Jasmine’s place he started repeating the phrase “one thing led to another” and he doesn’t even remember what kind of gun he fired despite being a former Marine. That’s the reason Alec isn’t convinced that Dylan killed Jasmine but now he is more confused by the fact why would Dylan confess to a murder he didn’t commit.
Then Alec heads to the crime scene where Marisa joins him. At Jasmine’s house, we see her lying dead on the floor with a bullet wound in her chest. The DA comes over and explains the nature of the crime to both Alec and Marisa. The detective then goes on to say that this case is pretty simple because Dylan confessed. Alec disagrees with the detective because he thinks that Dylan’s memory of him killing Jasmine is not correct.
Next, we see Alec sitting on a couch while his sister Kylie, looks at Jasmine’s videos online where Jasmine is influencing people to buy a lip gloss. When Alec asks Kylie how popular Jasmine was on the internet she replies that Jasmine had over 250k followers. He then asks her if any of these followers could be a potential stalker and she jokingly replies that all of them are stalkers.
Some sibling banter ensues until Alec gets an epiphany and he thinks of an experiment about why anyone would confess to something they didn’t do. The next day he meets with the detective and tells her about the experiment in which all of his students while put under specific circumstances confessed to something they didn’t do and if Dylan didn’t murder Jasmine, the person who killed her is out there.
The next day in Alec’s office Kylie drops by with some lunch and Alec tells her that Wes Banning is up for parole. Banning is suspected of two counts of federal hate crimes for possessing explosives and building the bomb that killed 13 people, to which Kylie adds that he also injured one implying that Alec’s burn scars are the result of the bombing by Wes Banning. When Kylie asks how they could even think about letting Wes Banning out, Alec tells her that he was never convicted of the murders themselves but only for building the bomb. Alec then goes on to say that he might not remember his past because he couldn’t place Wes at the crime scene which resulted in him never getting convicted of the murders but he can help Dylan remember his past. To which Kylie replies that Dylan doesn’t remember that night because he was drunk and alcoholics usually lie, and this gives Alec an idea about where alcoholics tell the truth.
Alec goes to the AA meeting but before that, he meets his research assistant Rizwan outside. He asks for Rizwan’s help with collecting some information about Dylan. That’s where he meets Dylan’s sponsor and friends. But before he could get anything he was called away by the detectives because someone was caught illegally entering Jasmine’s house.
When Alec reaches Jasmine’s house he finds a woman who is pretending to be Jasmine’s stalker but we soon find out that Jasmine’s destroyed her beauty line and she sent threatening letters to her in response. She was there to steal them before the police found them. Alec tries to tell the DA that this adds another layer to the mystery and then he remembers a 5-year sobriety chip at the crime scene but Jasmine was only sober for 8 months.
This revelation gives Alec an idea and he goes to Marisa’s house to find out if there were any prints on the sobriety chip. It’s late night and Marisa tells him that she will find out the answer for him but is it really the reason he stopped by? After getting inside Marisa asks Alec about his well-being and how Dylan’s trauma from Afghanistan is bringing all of Alec’s trauma back because Dylan and Alec survived while their friends died. He tells her that Wes Banning’s parole hearing is coming back.
Marisa asks Alec if he is planning to go to the parole hearing and Alec says that he is because his injuries could sway the people in charge to take a decision against freeing Wes Banning. Their discussion is interrupted by a phone call informing Marisa that they had found a video in Jasmine’s laptop in which she says that she wasn’t feeling safe anymore and she had told someone from the AA meetings that they weren’t for each other but the other person wasn’t willing to take no for an answer and just as she had finished saying that a knock on her door pulls her away from the camera.
The next day Alec meets Dylan in prison and asks him about the sobriety chip. Dylan tells Alec that someone from the AA meetings who came regularly was relentlessly hitting on Jasmine and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Alec and Rizwan again go to the AA meeting where they pretend to be alcoholics but talking about his past Alec starts to remember the bombing that gave him these lifelong scars. He tells everyone that he can’t remember a single thing about the bomber who ruined his life and killed his friends.
After the meeting ends someone from AA tries to start a conversation with Alec, but when Alec sees Ray, who he suspects for the murder he gives him the sobriety chip saying that he dropped it and Ray says thank you for giving it back to him. Then Alec asks Rizwan to call his ex-wife Marisa and tell her to get there as fast as she can.
Outside, Alec tries to stop Ray from leaving the parking lot by telling him that he visited Dylan and he doesn’t remember actually shooting Jasmine. He also tells him that for years he thought the day he was burned was a Sunday but later he found out that it was a Saturday. Alec’s stalling tactics don’t work and Ray begins to suspect something resulting in him pulling the same gun he shot Jasmine with on Alec.
Ray kidnaps Alec at gunpoint and they leave the parking space in Alec’s car. During their ride, Alec tries to put pressure on him the same way he put pressure on the abductor at the beginning of the episode. This results in Ray confessing to the murder of Jasmine, and he also confesses that he drugged Dylan and planted all of the memories. Dylan didn’t even go to Jasmine’s house. After a police car starts chasing them Ray starts shooting at them in return and in order to save lives, Alec crashes his car.
During the crash, Alec remembers something about the night of the bombing and he opens his eyes in a hospital with Marisa sitting on the bed beside him and Kylie sitting in a chair. After he wakes up they both ask him about his well-being.
After getting out of the hospital, Alec visits Dylan and tries to tell him that his memories can be fixed, not only the memories of Jasmine’s murder but also the memories he carries with him from Afghanistan. Next, we see Alec heading to the parole hearing of Wes Banning, where Wes apologized for what he did and he also takes full responsibility for his actions. But before he finishes his statement he sees someone that changes his tone completely from trying to get out on parole to admitting that if he got out he probably will bomb some more churches. Alec notices this and follows the person but they get away. While Wes Banning’s parole is denied.
Episode 1 – Ending Explained
By the end of the pilot episode, we find a new mystery for Alec to solve. The mystery person who just by showing up changed Wes Banning’s mind about getting out of jail and in fact made him say some pretty damaging thing that could also affect any future parole hearings. The DA Elise also asked Alec to work with her on some cases. So, we will probably see Alec teaming up with her in future episodes.