‘The Irrational’ Episode 2 Recap & Ending Explained: Did Gene Poison CJ Wright With Polonium-210?

The second episode of The Irrational brings us a case centered on a very unorthodox murder. A woman is murdered by the use of Polonium 210. Well, there is another twist in the show—this woman is not actually dead yet. She realizes that she has been poisoned and contacts the brilliant behavioral scientist Alec Mercer to catch her killer while she is still alive. She truly believes she stands no chance and will die soon. Mercer has the most unusual case on hand, but along with his ex-wife Marisa, he begins the hunt and risks Polonium poisoning himself. Apart from this, there is also the original case with Wes Banning and the church bombing. Mercer tries to focus his mind, trying to bring back his memories regarding the event. The episode focuses on Mercer’s way of dealing with pressure and his ability to seek out dangerous situations, even though Marisa constantly warns him to call her first. Here is a recap of Episode 2 of The Irrational.


Spoilers Ahead

Why Was Mercer Experimenting With Odors?

In the previous episode, the trial regarding Wes Banning’s parole had started, and something unusual occurred, which made Banning destroy his own chance of getting out of prison. A man had shown up who was probably the mastermind behind the church bombings, which had almost killed Mercer. Mercer couldn’t recall the exact details of that night, and now that the mystery man had entered his life again, he wanted to remember something that could help him catch the guy who was responsible for the deaths of 13 people. As Mercer is a behavioral scientist, he knows that the sense of smell is linked with memory. So he started this interesting new hobby of experimenting with certain unique smells that could potentially unlock that hidden part of his brain where the memory of the bomber was stored. Initially, he too believed that Wes Banning was the man behind it all, but now, with the introduction of the mystery man, Mercer is certain that Wes was just a patsy. He had told the FBI about the man, but even they couldn’t find a proper angle from the CCTV footage that could show us his face.


How Did CJ Wright Get Polonium Poisoning?

The odor experiments continued in the background, but Mercer’s daily routine was interrupted by journalist CJ Wright. She had once written against Mercer’s credibility as a scientist and even questioned the validity of his field. But that was old news. CJ was on good terms with Mercer now, and she came to him with an unusual request: to catch her killer. She was working with a Russian informant named Yuri to get information on a notorious Belarusian man named Maxim Ivanov. CJ suspects she was poisoned by Ivanov while she was having lunch with Yuri. Their meeting had been disrupted by a public proposal, which Mercer discovered to be a PR stunt to distract CJ while her drink was poisoned. Mercer couldn’t find the man who did it, but following the online videos of the proposal, he ended up finding the man and woman who had faked the proposal. The idea was to investigate them, as they might know who the killer was. But they turned out to be actors who had simply acted out the proposal scene. They didn’t know anything about Polonium. Ivanov was connected with the Russian mob, and being a former KGB member, he could have had access to Polonium. Mercer first tried to get his hands on Yuri, who had been missing since he had last met CJ.

How Did Mercer Find Yuri?

Finding that the public proposal was fake wouldn’t have been possible if Mercer wasn’t a behavioral scientist. His instinct told him that the proposal could have been a case of inducing ‘attentional blindness’ in CJ, so that she kept looking at the proposal scene while her teapot was replaced by the spiked one. He asked his assistants, Rizwan and Phoebe, to use what Mercer had taught them to pitch an idea to bring Yuri into the open. If Ivanov is indeed the one who poisoned CJ, then perhaps Yuri was next on the list. Or perhaps Yuri was the original target, and poor CJ was just collateral damage.


Gene, CJ’s writing partner, told Mercer that Yuri was obsessed with chess, and this was opportunity enough to bring Yuri out in the open. Rizwan and Phoebe proposed a scheme to message Yuri that he had won a trip via a chess site he visited. That way, he wouldn’t suspect that it was a ploy to get him out in the open and have him murdered. Mercer received Yuri’s address and went to meet him, but someone had already made his entrance. Yuri was shot dead right in front of Mercer. Mercer survived the shootout, but the question arose: Why wasn’t CJ murdered in a similar fashion? Perhaps Yuri saw something and had to be eliminated in a slightly more crude way than the sophisticated method of Polonium poisoning. Mercer’s instincts told him that Ivanov wasn’t involved, as the hitman he would have sent would have been skilled enough to never miss the shot and take Mercer out.

How Did Brandon Schulz Become A Suspect?

The case was getting even more complicated, and Mercer’s time was running out. CJ could die at any moment. Rizwan and Phoebe approached her estranged daughter and told her about her mother’s condition. Phoebe did so as she remembered how she’d felt when her own mother had passed away, and she understood that CJ’s daughter had the right to know about her condition. Rizwan thought her to be a suspect, though. Mercer was viewing this case in a completely new way. Now that he was certain that Ivanov wasn’t involved, the question eventually became: Who else had access to Polonium? There was some far-fetched way that CJ’s daughter could have access to it, but there was no motive. There was another man named Brandon Schulz, former vice president of Bramble Corporation, a tobacco company, against whom CJ and Gene had written an exposé, after which Brandon had been fired. Tobacco leaves have traces of Polonium, and they could have been processed by Brandon, who had a motive to kill CJ. A charade was planned, and Brandon was called in for a fake interview, where he revealed that Gene’s cousin had a hazardous waste disposal plant where the tobacco’s Polonium was removed from the leaves and dealt with as per the norms.


Why Did Gene Poison CJ?

As Brandon pointed out, he had tried to bribe CJ to drop the article that he considered a hit piece on him. He considered CJ the main player, while Gene was an assistant and not a writing partner. Gene always had an inferiority complex, but he could never express it to CJ. This jealousy and living in the shadows type existence had gotten so infuriating for Gene that he wanted to take CJ out of the equation and, for once, enjoy the limelight himself. But he didn’t want to risk his career and wanted to prove to himself that he was smarter than her and deserved more, which is why he chose the Polonium way to take her out. He wanted her to solve her own case and thought she couldn’t, but the rug got pulled from under him when CJ showed her the tape recorder while he was confessing to the crime in the ICU. Marisa was standing by to make the arrest, and this is how the case was solved. Gene had gone through so much trouble to mystify the case that involved Polonium, Ivanov, Yuri, and Brandon. But in the end, he was caught because Mercer knew that killers always have the urge for someone to know about their crime. Gene gave in to this temptation and went to see CJ and told her about his ‘perfect murder.’ That was his downfall.

Final Words

The Irrational Episode 2 had a very convoluted case for Mercer to solve, which took absurd turns midway. There was less cohesion in the narrative, and things didn’t move forward organically, I felt. Jesse L. Martin, who plays Mercer, is a good performer and easily portrays the character with charm, which helps in explaining the convoluted plot. The second episode of The Irrational ended with Mercer remembering something about the bombing case, meaning Mercer’s odor experiments may have finally worked. It would be interesting to see what he found and the next case coming his way.


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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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