What The Irrational lacks in compelling characters, it makes up for with exciting cases.
The Irrational Season 1 Episode 2 delivered another case for Professor Mercer where a good friend of his sought his help to find her killer before she passed away.
It was an emotional hour as the show dived into complicated relationships between parents and their children and colleagues.
There was also a nod to the season conflict introduced in the series premiere, where Mercer couldn't remember the circumstances under which he sustained severe burns.
The hour saw him try to trigger his memories by recreating a smell that dominated the air on that tragic day.
CJ's case was interesting, and it all related to its introduction. Rarely does someone participate in the hunt for their killer.
It was stuff straight out of a whodunit thriller like Knives Out.
CJ: I need your help solving a murder.
Mercer: Oh yeah. Whose murder?
Hearing CJ ask Mercer for help solving her murder created enough intrigue for someone to stick around for the rest of the story.
To solve the case, Mercer began by looking into the obvious suspect, and an oligarch ought to do it.
Solving the case was difficult because the clues were scant, and they would mostly dry up as soon as Mercer followed up on them.
This was one of the interesting choices the show made that I pointed out in The Irrational Season 1 Episode 1 review.
The show has a particular way of going about the cases where anything the protagonist finds feels earned instead of stumbled upon. It keeps someone engaged so as not to miss anything significant.
The pitfall was that it could lose people when they missed something small.
It happened to me where, for a moment, I couldn't tell where the characters suddenly appeared from. It might have been my grisly bear.
That would be made worse by how much the episode tackled. There were so many leads to follow that it was confusing.
One moment, we were after an oligarch; the next, some guy was interviewing for a job. Hopefully, that won't be a recurring theme where they burn through the leads at a breakneck speed.
In shows like this, it is perfectly normal to try and figure out who the killer is so that at the end, when there's a reveal, you can scream, "I knew it!" even if you didn't.
The cases featured several potential killers but eliminated them in remarkable fashion.
Every one of them was presented with a motive (admittedly some weaker than others), and then they would be written off after someone else took precedence.
Among one of the proposed killers was CJ's daughter.
Through her, the show tackled the nature of relationships, especially between mothers and daughters, which led to a bit of insight into Phoebe.
In the series premiere review, one of my wishes was to get something deeper about Phoebe and Rizwan.
We learned that Phoebe's mother passed away, and she still carried some of that pain because of their troubled relationship.
While that revelation gave some autonomy to the character, it didn't feel like stakes were involved as far as progressing the storyline was concerned.
It was interesting to know, but how does it affect her moving forward? Will it be a great driver in the narrative?
As far as I could tell, it was a one-time thing, and I doubt it will be brought up ever again.
So we were back to where we started, wanting to know more about Phoebe and Rizwan.
One thing they could do would be to get them in romantic pairings. That usually does the trick.
We got a little taste of the dynamic between Marisa and Mercer on The Irrational Season 1 Episode 1.
This episode dove into that even more, and the question that arose was: why did they end their marriage? They seemed perfect for each other.
Mercer: Marissa put together a list of logos from businesses and organizations from 20 years ago. I'm hoping to narrow it down.
Kylie: Smells like an excuse to spend time with your ex-wife.
Marisa was the brains of the operation, while Mercer was the brawns. She cared for him greatly and didn't hold back on reprimanding him when he crossed a line.
Maybe they will do this later, but the show needs to show the very thing that caused the breakdown in their marriage because right now, they are still married as far as I'm concerned.
One thing I missed in the series premiere was that apart from solving cases, Mercer was still a professor, and as such, he had the duty of sharpening the minds of the young folks under his care.
There is no better way to learn than in the middle of the lesson; his research assistants benefited greatly. While everyone had to wait for the class during the scheduled time, Phoebe and Rizwan were learning concepts in real time.
It finally made sense why many students covert the teaching or research assistant spot in universities. That is where all the knowledge usually is.
Irrationality was explored in two ways in the episode, one major and another minor. The minor was with the shooter at the docks, where if he were a professional, he would have acted a certain way, but his actions betrayed his amateurship.
The major irrationality was Gene falling into a trap set expressly for him.
The killer, out for revenge, wants to look the victim in the eye at the moment she realizes he's won. Whoever did this to CJ will never get that satisfaction. What kind of victory is that?Mercer
Any rational person would have avoided drawing suspicion to themselves like a plague, but he had to go there. He had to feed his ego.
Gene thought that he'd committed the perfect crime. It had all the elements of a perfect murder story. Pride. Revenge. A virtually invisible murder weapon, but couldn't stand the fact that no one knew about it. Some of the world's most notorious killers might not have ever gotten caught if it hadn't been for their fatal narcissism. But rarely do their victims get a chance to talk.Professor Mercer
Apart from irrationality, the show gave a nod to the popular sub-genre of murder mysteries, thus exploring the nature of crimes.
- I'm still not a fan of Mercer and Kylie's interactions. They seem very unnatural.
Over to you. What did you think of the episode?
I saw you rated the series premiere quite highly. Does that rating still stand?
Hit the comments section with your thoughts.
Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on X.