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The Unanswered Questions and Biggest Mysteries Left on The Irrational

The mystery around the deadly church bombing is heating up on The Irrational, as new romantic pursuits begin to blossom.

By Jill Sederstrom

Behavioral science professor extraordinaire Alec Mercer (Jesse L. Martin) and his trusty team have already brought down some dangerous killers on The Irrational — but there’s some mysteries that still remain unsolved.

How to Watch

Watch The Irrational on NBC and Peacock

Whether it’s the truth behind the church bombing that left Alec with burns on most of his body, or the status of some burgeoning new romances, The Irrational left fans with some lingering questions that have yet to be answered. 

Here are some of the biggest unsolved mysteries to date: 

What’s the status of the bombing investigation on The Irrational

Alec Mercer, wearing a blue blazer, looking into the distance.

It’s been nearly 20 years since a church bombing killed 13 people and left Alec as the only survivor, but the investigation into the brazen hate crime is starting to pick up steam decades later.

For years, investigators believed the bombing was the work of a “lone wolf attacker.” The suspect, Wes Banning (Ben Cotton), was convicted of two counts of federal hate crimes for possessing explosives and building the bomb and locked away. He was never convicted of the murders. 

But Alec and his ex-wife Marisa (Maahra Hill), an FBI agent who led the investigation, begin to suspect there’s more to the case when a shadowy figure appears at Wes’ parole hearing and Wes suddenly tanks the hearing in fear of the unknown man. 

Convinced Wes didn’t act alone, Alec and Marisa set out to find the truth. 

Who is the third man in the church bombing? 

Marisa, Alec Mercer, and Jace Richards looking at each other while standing next to a wood table with a box on it.

After Alec remembers seeing a delivery van at the scene of the bombing, Marisa links the van to a member of the New Apostles, a fundamentalist movement, with the help of her new love interest and fellow FBI agent Jace (Brian King). 

Together, Marisa and Jace find members who headed up the local chapter of the movement at the time of the bombing and discover a new possible suspect after eliminating those who were dead or incarcerated at the time. 

Elated, Marisa and Jace rush to the home of Peter Shelby at the end of Season 1, Episode 5, hoping they are “finally going to get some answers.” But, they arrive to find Peter dead. 

Although investigators initially suspect a suicide after finding Peter hanging along with a handwritten suicide note at the scene, Alec is convinced the message is written under duress. 

“This man wasn’t looking to end his life. He was forced into the noose,” he told Jace and Marisa in the next episode as they looked over photos of the crime scene.

When Marissa finds one of the chairs had a scuff mark and small chip at the bottom, suggesting someone had kicked the chair out from under him, she agrees that it looks like murder. They suspect a third unknown man—likely the same person who showed up at Wes’ parole hearing—killed Peter because he was “tying up loose ends.” 

Alec Mercer and Marisa, with her arms crossed, standing together looking at a character.

Marisa gets a telling clue about the third man’s identity during an interrogation with Peter’s mother. She claims Peter did set off the bomb, but didn’t mean to kill anyone and accidentally set the timer for 60 seconds instead of 60 minutes. 

“He said no one was supposed to die. He only wanted to get the church. It was six months after 9/11 and those Methodists were loaning their church to a mosque,” she said of his desire to “return this country to its roots.” 

She also confirmed that a third man known only as "Mathias" had been part of the plot. 

“Peter was in way over his head. He didn’t build the bomb. He got it from some guy he met on the internet,” she said.

Investigators now believe Wes made the bomb and Peter planted it, but that Mathias was the true mastermind behind the deadly bombing. Tracking him down, however, won’t be easy. With only a few clues to go on, like he is “fancy”, white, and wears a “flashy gold watch,” the FBI is determined to still flush out the killer. Just who Mathias is and why he wanted to target the church remain a mystery.

Showrunner and executive producer Arika Lisanne Mittman has promised that viewers will discover “at least some—if not all of the questions—about that case” by the end of the season. 

“That backstory’s going to play through the season,” Mittman told NBC Insider.

Will Marisa and Jace find love at the FBI? 

Marisa and Jace Richards sitting on the couch with their faces close to each other with an orange light illuminating the scene.

When they aren’t tracking down killers, Marisa and Jace have been dipping their toes into some romantic waters, but just where the relationship will go from here isn’t clear. 

The pair have some obvious commonalities, like their passion for justice, but Jace is also all too aware of Marisa’s complicated past with Alec.

I’m not going to lie when it comes to Alec, it’s still hard for me to know where I stand,” he confessed in Episode 5. 

“You’re the one I want to be, Jace,” Marisa assured him.

But we’re still not convinced the romance between Alec and Marisa is fully extinguished. Will Jace and Marissa find happiness? Or will Alec and Marisa find a way to resurrect their love story?

Jace Richards and Marisa sitting next to each other in a dimly lit room.

Even Mittman is leaving that possibility open.

“The question’s going to be, will these two find their way back to each other or are they going to continue in the same kind of patterns that they’ve always been in?” she said. “They’re going to have to figure out, like, how do we work together? How do we continue to work together as a team without being a couple anymore, you know?” 

Is romance in the air for Alec and Rose? 

Alex Mercer and Rose Dinshaw on season 1 episode 7 of The Irrational

Marisa isn’t the only one looking for love in new places. Alec is also venturing back out into the dating world with former MI-6 agent turned corporate fixer Rose Dinshaw (Karen David). 

The two first met during a complex kidnapping case and then had a lengthy “24 hour date experiment” as they shared many meals and tracked down a killer connected to an art forgery ring in Season 1, Episode 7. 

“I’d say our date yielded a lot of data, how well we work as a team, how much you like playing bad cop,” Alec joked as the days-long date reached its end. 

“What a fan of brie you are,” Rose added. 

Despite Rose’s undercover past, Alec said he’s sure “there’s someone real in there” and added that he would “very much” like to see her again. 

At the episode’s end, Rose had to jet off to Paris to handle yet another client emergency, but it’s clear we haven’t seen the end of this relationship. Just where it will go from here, though, is anyone’s guess.