Why doesn’t Alec Mercer tell the truth about his burns in The Irrational?

THE IRRATIONAL -- Episode 101 Pilot -- Pictured: Jesse L. Martin as Alec Mercer -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)
THE IRRATIONAL -- Episode 101 Pilot -- Pictured: Jesse L. Martin as Alec Mercer -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC) /

Something The Irrational didn’t make all that clear is that Alec Mercer is the victim of a traumatic event. Why doesn’t he share the truth about his burns?

After the initial opening showing us Alec Mercer’s skills in a scary situation, we got to learn a little more about his backstory. He shared with his students that he suffered some serious burns. He actually used the story as a way to teach people about pain and empathy, as well as about psychology.

Of course, there was another element to it. A student couldn’t help but ask how the burns happened. So, Mercer told them a story. That story wasn’t true, but it allowed for the class to continue.

Why doesn’t he tell the truth? Well, it’s none of anyone’s business, right? It turns out that Mercer isn’t bothered by people asking. At least, he doesn’t seem to be. Instead, there’s another reason not to tell the story, and it looks like this is going to be a much bigger story for the whole of the series.

Why Alec Mercer doesn’t tell the truth in The Irrational

Mercer doesn’t remember everything that happened to him in The Irrational. We see some flashes of him seemingly being rushed out of some sort of building that is on fire, but that’s it.

The memory works in a weird way. The brain helps us forget traumatic things so that we don’t have to relive them. Anyone who knows me well enough will know it’s true. There are still things in my life that I can’t remember in full, and I know I don’t want to. In this instance, Mercer wants to remember. He needs to remember.

Only then will he tell people the truth about what happened to him to cause all the burns. Until then, they can get all sorts of wild stories that he comes up with to help keep the conversation moving on.

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The Irrational airs on Mondays at 10/9c on NBC. Stream it the following day on Peacock.