‘The Irrational’ Ending Explained & Finale Recap: Did Mercer Catch Kevin Sanford?

The eleventh episode of The Irrational finally focused solely on the church bombing case that had haunted Mercer since the first episode. After a lot of ups and downs, culminating in the killing of Wes Banning, the series now had to get into who Matthias truly was. Jace had been left to die in the previous episode until Marisa found him in her house, and there was this additional angle of surveillance in the house. There was someone listening in on all of Marisa’s conversations, but she wasn’t aware of the fact that her house had been bugged. The episode got into it all and more as Mercer got closer to catching Matthias and solving the case. 


Spoilers Ahead

How Did Mercer Figure Out James Was Lying?

At the beginning of the episode, we saw a young Alec Mercer with his friend Ericson just days before the bombing of the church. Ericson saw a woman named Natalie distributing flyers regarding politician Kevin Sanford’s speech rally and asked Ericson to join. Alec wasn’t interested, and little did he know that he was going to lose his friend in the bombing. Marisa, in the present day, had lost Jace. Yes, sadly, he didn’t survive. Marisa was still disturbed by the whole episode, but she had to respond to a call from the FBI, who told her that they had caught Matthias. A man with tattoos all over his body was claiming to be Matthias. His real name was James Belfast, and he was the one who attacked Wes Banning while they were in the police van getting transferred from one prison to another. Mercer and Marisa were both surprised that he had come forward all of a sudden and was confessing to shooting Wes after he had threatened to kill his daughter. His story had a lot of flaws, and Mercer had an absolutely simple way to ascertain if he truly was Matthias. He asked him the amount he had given Wes to build the bomb, as the online chats mentioned a clear figure that was transacted. James couldn’t guess, or more likely didn’t guess, because he knew that he would be busted. It was enough for Mercer, though. He was certain that James wasn’t Matthias, but a greater point came up. Whoever Matthias was, he had the wherewithal to make convicted felons bend to his will and do the dirty work for him. He had gotten Wes this way, and now he had made James confess something, which he didn’t need to do in any scenario except here, when he surely had to have been threatened by somebody. Who else could be threatening him except Matthias? Marisa and Mercer both came to the same conclusion: to know the prisoners’ vulnerabilities, Matthias would have to know a lot of details about them, and it was only possible if he was in the FBI or was getting some help from an inside man in the organization. 


How Did Rose Help Mercer?

Rose came back into Mercer’s life, and she proved quite helpful in finding Silmar, a man who had become important in the case. As Marisa couldn’t ask for help from the FBI, fearing a leak, she had to turn to Rose. Rose was an independent investigator and had a lot of connections. 

Sanford was a womanizer, and it wasn’t a secret. Natalie, the woman seen in the beginning of the episode, was one of his mistresses, and Silmar, a man working for Sanford at the time of the bombing, knew about this fact. He was the only one who had gone missing after the bombing. Mercer asked Rose to help find Silmar, as the theory was that he had helped Sanford blow up the church so that he could kill Natalie, who was present in the church. Perhaps she had become a problem for Sanford in his budding political career, and he wanted to neutralize her but had to disguise the killing through the cover-up of an entire bombing. Mercer wasn’t too convinced by this theory, and soon Rose found where Silmar was. He was working for the CIA now, and he told Mercer that he had seen Natalie overdose in Sanford’s room during his election fundraiser event just two days before the bombing. 


Why Did Bob Kill Jace?

Mercer now had no idea why Sanford would blow up the church. Perhaps he was innocent, and the whole theory was kaput. But Mercer gave it one last shot, and it worked. Sanford had organized a fundraiser as he had just announced his run for president, and Mercer knew him and went in to have a word. Meanwhile, Phoebe and Rizwan looked around the house and found a photo where Bob Casvith, the FBI’s head of intelligence, could be seen in military uniform. The story was that Sanford had saved Bob’s life during a mission overseas, and Marisa recognized him, and all the dots were joined in her mind. Bob had killed Jace as he was repaying his debt to Sanford. Jace had stumbled onto some evidence, and Sanford needed Bob to kill him, and as Jace wouldn’t have felt threatened at all seeing his superior, he must have let his guard down, which ultimately led to his demise. Bob was Matthias, the inside man who was helping clear the road for Sanford’s presidency. Mercer decided to remove all doubt from their theory and test it. If Bob was truly Matthias, he would respond to Sanford’s message and come running to meet at a rendezvous to discuss their plan for the future. The message was made to look as if it had been sent by Snaford, and sure enough, Bob fell into the trap. Marisa and Mercer had caught him red-handed, but Sanford came and shot him. He had proof that Bob had given the money to Wes Banning to bomb the church, for he wanted to prove his loyalty to Sanford by getting rid of Natalie. Sanford was laying the entire blame on the now-dead Bob, essentially saying that he was the one who killed Natalie, planted the dead body in the church, and then had Wes blow it up. Marisa and Mercer knew he was lying, but could they prove it now? The chances were slim.

How Did Mercer Get Sanford To Confess?

Mercer met Sanford last time, but this time he came as if bearing a white flag. He had given up and wanted Sanford to not do any more damage, as he did not want his loved ones to suffer any more. He had seen that Sanford was practically untouchable and had killed Bob and scared Mercer’s sister Kylie, who was hacking into the system to get information about Sanford. Mercer’s entire ploy was to bombard Sanford with information and confuse him into revealing something about the night Natalie had died. The best way to do that was to bring up the fact that Silmar was alive and that he had seen Natalie overdosing in Sanford’s arms. He used this fact to create doubt in Sanford’s mind about whether he truly was safe. Mercer said that all he was trying to do was get both their stories straight so that he could get Marisa to drop the case. The problem he mentioned is that Bob wasn’t on the yacht that day Natalie died, so how could he have done anything to her? 


Mercer behaved as if he were mentioning all this so that Sanford could give explanations for the plot holes in his story, but Sanford’s sweating brow revealed he was getting nervous. Mercer said that Natalie was allergic to opioids, so she wouldn’t have taken the drugs voluntarily, making Sanford tremble as there was an eyewitness in Silmar, plus the fact that he now didn’t have the luxury of saying that Natalie had taken the drugs of her own will. Whether Mercer was bluffing or not is not clear, but it was enough for Sanford to admit that he had given her the opioids, mixed in her drink perhaps; he was quick to confess that he didn’t know she was allergic and could die of an overdose. That’s when Mercer broke the news to her that Kylie had hacked his microphone, which he had put in his pocket for the press conference later. The media now knew what a monster he was. It was all over for Sanford after that. 

Final Words

After a long and drawn-out cat and mouse chase, Mercer finally had his man. But there was something he had to deal with. He wasn’t yet able to process that a twenty-year-old case had been solved, but Phoebe was ready to leave his company and do an apprenticeship with a mentor elsewhere. After the harrowing incident with Wes Banning, she wanted a simpler life, and she knew she wanted to get it with Mercer. Surprisingly, it was Mercer who had helped her get the apprenticeship, as he knew exactly how she was feeling. Rose was back in Mercer’s life, but she was kidnapped at the very end, and it looks like there might have been some loose ends that Mercer didn’t tie up. 


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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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