Mindhunter Was The Greatest Show Ever

Matthew Donnellon

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Mindhunter debuted on Netflix about a two years ago.

I saw it there under new releases. A show about the origins of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI sounded intriguing. But, I put it off.

I shouldn’t have. It’s incredible.

And now I’ve waited two years for it to come back.

And it delievered.

The show focuses on two FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they start to use psychological principles to investigate crimes. They get push back because they bring new ideas to traditional detective work, as they work to see why it happened instead of just what happened.

Serial Killers have fascinated society since Jack the Ripper terrorized London. But, the show takes place in the 70’s so most of the modern nomenclature doesn’t exist yet. They don’t even know what to call the men they’re looking for because they haven’t coined the term serial killer yet.

They interview “sequence” killers and use their principles to assist local police departments. Those scenes are disturbing, and extremely well done.

Groff and McCallany do well playing characters that get along but deal with the outcomes of their work in much different ways. Tench realizes that these are real people being affected and his more world weary sense allows him to keep at arm’s distance. Groff plays the younger, idealistic, and self assured Holden and he’s enamored with his work and willing to push boundaries.

Anna Torv also makes an excellent addition to the team as the psychologist Wendy Carr. She gives the team a credible scientific standing which adds some cache to their unit, because many of the veteran agents think their research is useless.

David Fincher’s fingerprints are also all over this. Joe Penhall is credited as the creator, but I believe the idea for the show originated with Fincher, and he directed 4 of the episodes. You can tell that it’s made in his style. It’s eerie, suspenseful and it reminds me a lot of Gone Girl and the first two seasons of House of Cards. The dialogue is tight and well written. All of the serial killer scenes are well done, but my favorite writing comes from the moment Holden meets Debbie. It’s witty, and the back and forth is great. Edmund Kemper’s scenes are entertaining too, despite him being a monster.

There’s also a cameo from a very famous serial killer. I knew who it was immediately, but I think it might be a spoiler saying anything.

Season 2 picks up where the first season left off.

It was released relatively recently so I don’t want to speak about it too much here. But it’s great.

Holden deals with the events of season one. Bill’s family storyline takes a bigger stage this time around, and the team has a new boss who’s eager to show off to the higher ups what the BSU can do.

Also, Anna Torv’s Wendy Carr gets much more material to work with this season. The show examines her role in the team and how she wants to do more than just research. Also, she’s the only woman on a team of men. The situation now isn’t great for women in the workplace, but the show takes place in the 1970’s increasing her struggle. To add to it, in this far less progressive time, Wendy Carr was an out lesbian when she was a professor in Boston, but must hide her personal life when she moves to D.C. to be part of the team. The show gives the viewer a brief glimpse of how same sex couples were viewed at the time, as Wendy remarks that homosexuality was only recently removed from the DSM-IV as a mental disorder. Torv does great with her expanded role and gives a welcome alternative story line to Bill and Holden.

The pivot to the Atlanta storyline worked rather well and gave the show a chance to examine new perspectives as well as seeing how the BSU works as part of an active investigation.

So, I highly recommend it.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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