Alec Mercer absolutely hates testifying as an expert witness, but he does so for a very good cause in this week’s The Irrational.
Monday’s episode finds Jesse L. Martin’s character hitting the courtroom to help a friend of Kylie’s whose husband was killed in his home when police accidentally — or so they say — stormed the wrong house. The cops have Dr. Dustin Atwood (played by The Resident‘s Malcolm-Jamal Warner) on their side, a morally dubious character who “never met a police shooting he couldn’t justify,” Alec sneers.
As the trial unfolds, and the police department’s biases become clearer, the case seems like an all-too-familiar example of racist officers gunning down an unarmed Black man. But as Alec digs, he uncovers that the murdered man was about to expose wrongdoing by a multinational corporation… which also employed many of the officers involved in the shooting. At the center of everything? A dirty judge who changed the address on an existing no-knock warrant so that the whistleblower would be directly in the line of fire.
Back at the FBI, Marisa has a major breakthrough in the bombing investigation. Early on, she discovers that the bomb-maker’s suicide was staged: Someone killed him. And by the end of the hour, we know that although Peter built the bomb and Wes planted the bomb — meant to scare and/or hurt Muslims whose mosque was meeting at the church building in the months after Sept. 11, 2001 — another man named Matthias was the person behind the overall plan. And if Marisa doubts she’s getting close, the friendly back-off message she gets from a former mentor at the Bureau is all the confirmation she needs.
TVLine talked Episode 6, titled “Point & Shoot,” with The Irrational showrunner Arika Lisanne Mittman. Read on to hear her thoughts on the hour — and the rest of the season, which she promises will offer resolution to the bombing mystery.
TVLINE | This episode takes on more of a social message than we’ve gotten so far in the show. Why did you think this was a good time in the season for it to hit, and how did it come about?
When you’re starting a new show, you want your first few episodes to be very much, like the pilot, you want to show people what the show’s going to be like every week and kind of get people comfortable with your format and how you’re doing the show. We felt like by the time we got to Episodes 5 and 6, we could have the opportunity to branch out a little bit and try some things that we hadn’t tried yet. That goes in two totally different directions.
We really like the idea that this show doesn’t have to do a strict formula. We did Episode 4, which was a little more serious with the kidnapping. We did Episode 5, which was really fun and playful. And that was our Vegas episode. And we wanted it to take a little more serious turn. The idea came from writer Kirk Moore. He wanted to try out this idea of exploring bias in the justice system and the case of an unarmed Black man killed in his home… It’s a little different structurally, with the courtroom structure of it. And we’re just really happy with how it turned out.
TVLINE | As the episode started, I definitely expected it to be more about racism in police departments across the country. But by the end, there’s a bit of a twist on that. Can you speak to not having this be a straightforward police-racism case?
Our show is never straightforward. Our show is always about the irrational, right? So our show is always about when human behavior is irrational. And one of the biggest irrational behaviors is biases. We’re all different kinds of biases on this show. We felt like it was an opportunity to explore racial biases, and of course we’re going to put our own twist on it and try to show you something that you haven’t seen played out on other shows before.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about the church bombing. Marisa and Alec got a break in the case this week by learning about the existence of Matthias, the man who they think is the mastermind behind the attack. What can you tease about how the investigation will go for the rest of the season?
We are going to wrap up that story at the end of the season. We’re building toward a couple of episodes that are going to see that storyline front and center. I think there will be a satisfying, interesting resolution then.
TVLINE | So you’re not seeing that story go into a potential Season 2 at all?
You may see some offshoots of that story. There may be other stories based on that. But basically, that is the mystery of the first season. But the effects of that story are always with Alec’s character. It’s sort of his origin story.
What did you think of the episode? Hit the comments with your thoughts!