The sixth episode of The Irrational brings yet another interesting case for Alec Mercer to solve, but this time, the case also brings the focus back to Mercer’s own insecurities and issues with being vulnerable and empathetic to a situation, apart from the usual academic reading of someone’s behavior. The Irrational Episode 6 begins with Marisa investigating further in the church bombing case, and she too gets a heads up about the ‘optics’ of the case, where she may be seen in a bad light given that she is solving her ex-husband’s case with his own help. Her budding relationship with her FBI colleague, Jace, is also brought into question. The rest of the characters take a back seat, except Mercer’s sister, Kylie. She becomes the beating heart of the story as she fights to help his friend Mason get justice for the wrongful death of his husband Joshua, who was gunned down by the city’s Viper Squad.
What did Marisa find out about the church bombings?
In the previous episode, a man named Peter Shelby had committed suicide, but when Mercer joined in to look into the apparent suicide, he pointed out several things that proved that it was actually a murder. Marisa knew what the perceived idea in the FBI would be if Mercer took on a further role in the case. Technically, Mercer, too, could have been the murderer, as he had a motive as well. Marisa didn’t want any complicated problems on her hands, as the case was complex enough. A third person, possibly the one who had shown up at Wes Banning’s parole hearing, had killed Peter Shelby. Clues were drying up, and Marisa had to act fast after removing Mercer from the case.
How did Mercer help Mason?
Away from the church bombing case, he noticed Kylie was in a spot of trouble. She had been protesting Joshua’s wrongful death at a local courthouse. The Viper Squad was a fierce and armed tactical team that dealt with extremely dangerous criminals. But Joshua was a simple building inspector, yet he had been gunned down in the middle of the night by four officers of the Viper Squad who had barged into his house. The case against the District of Columbia was filed by Mason, and he wanted justice for his husband’s death. His case seemed weak, as the Viper Squad had the ‘No Knock’ warrant to break down Joshua’s door and deal with the situation as they deemed fit. They actually had the wrong house. There had been a typing error in the warrant, and the clerk deemed responsible for that had been fired. It was a tragedy, and yet Mason felt that the Viper Squad acted impulsively, and the trigger-happy officials needed to be punished.
Kylie wanted Mercer on board as an expert witness to influence the jury by making them aware of the Viper Squad’s irrational and deadly behavior at the shooting scene. Mercer’s opponent, in a sense, was the famous experimental psychologist Dr. Dustin Atwood, who had been hired by the city council as an expert witness for the Viper Squad. The case began, and Mercer tried to sway the jury into believing that the squad was guilty of negligence and that them being at a wrong address couldn’t be used as an excuse. Even if they thought that they were breaking into the house of a dangerous drug dealer, they could have used a less reckless protocol, and probably Joshua would have survived. Mercer’s techniques of persuasion, both in Court and on national television, led Mason into the case, and he was offered a deal to settle the case outside of Court. But then Mercer got information about Joshua’s job and his relation to the judge who had signed the ‘No Knock’ warrant that made Mercer question everything.
Why was Joshua killed?
Judge Haynes, who signed the warrant, was a corrupt man. It turns out he was taking bribes from corporations that wanted him to assist them in helping their buildings get built, overriding the regulations. Joshua, a sincere and honest building inspector, had found out about Judge Haynes and how he had deliberately sanctioned illegal buildings in exchange for hefty sums of money to be transferred into his bank account. Haynes got an opportunity to end Joshua’s investigation into the matter when he received the Viper Squad’s request for the warrant. The drug dealer’s house was on the same street as Joshua’s, and just changing a number on the house address meant the squad would barge into Joshua’s house. As the computer system was down and all the clerks had to write the warrants out manually, he thought he would simply chalk it up to human error. But first, Mercer got in touch with Mason, who helped procure Joshua’s final reports that he was working on, which hinted at the corruption. Mercer joined hands with his rival, Atwood, and asked him to bribe Haynes to gauge his reaction. Haynes not only agreed but was hasty enough to give away his offshore account number, to which Atwood would have to transfer the money. Mercer had already called in the FBI, and they were just waiting for Haynes to admit being involved in corrupt practices.
What has Mercer learned about empathy?
The case helped Mason get some closure, as the Viper Squad was dissolved, as many of its officers worked for corporations on the sides that were involved in bribing Judge Haynes. Who knows how rampant the corruption was? But the dissolution was just the beginning. Mason, however, wasn’t at peace. Just having compensation or dissolution of the Viper Squad couldn’t bring him that. Kylie was there to support him, and Mercer learned his lesson. He was critical of Kylie’s habit of watching reality TV after a tense episode, like she had when she was stopped by the police for questioning. Mercer started ranting every time he saw someone behaving in an irrational way or suppressing their feelings. When he saw Mason being uneasy with the Court’s decision, he didn’t start his ramblings about how that was the best decision in the given scenario, but on the contrary, he stayed with Mason’s discomfort, as he had learned to stay with Kylie’s unease. He figured it was important to be there for people without hiding behind academic reasoning.
The Irrational Episode 6 gave depth to Mercer’s personality in a very interesting way and showed us that he was indeed a caring brother, even though earlier episodes had shown him leaving Kylie for his work most often. Mercer didn’t seem to mind much when Marisa removed him from the case, but Marisa was finding it difficult to resolve the ‘optics’ situation going on in the department. She tried hard to not let Jace, and her relationship get out in the open but got a heads-up from her seniors about the bad optics. She did, however, work under pressure and got hold of Peter Shelby’s mother, who gave a clue to catching the mystery man present at Wes Banning’s parole hearing. Now, with Mercer off the case, she had to catch him, and the only lead was that his name was Matthias, and that he had had an online conversation with Peter some 20 years ago, where he convinced Peter to make a bomb to blast the Methodist church, as they were giving their land to a mosque despite the 9/11 tragedy. It would be interesting to see how Mercer gets involved, and if he remembers something about Matthias, that could help Marisa.