After waiting nearly two years for the second instalment of Mindhunter, this new season packs a serious punch, being equal parts impressive and traumatising. The unpredictable genius, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and his mismatched partner, the hard-line mentor Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), return as mismatched FBI partners. Aided by the rigid intellectual, Dr Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), the trio continue to relentlessly push the boundaries of examining imprisoned serial killer’s psychology in the hope of catching one red-handed. Between director David Fincher’s chilling aesthetic (who sets the tone with the first three episodes of the season) and a storyline as raw as sandpaper, you can’t help but place season two among the certified binge-worthy.
Netflix has always had it’s finger on the pulse when it comes to the timely subject matter of their originals but hasn’t always been known how to produce shows that can comfortably sustain their own growing pains. Season One wisely exploited society’s reinvigorated fascination with the dangerous and deranged, exposing us to their minds in a way we had never seen. Season Two explores much of the same while bringing something new to the table for viewers to sink their teeth into. Most notably, the harrowing soul exploration of Tench and Dr. Carr. While Tench’s arc focuses on tragedy that plagues his home life, Dr. Carr’s explores her new-found, complicated relationship. Though distinct, they are simultaneously shaped by each of their colleagues’ desires and faults which starkly echoes the events that occur in their careers. These elements help show that Mindhunter can bring the serial as well as the killer, and begin to develop its characters.
At the beginning of the season, a shell-shocked Holden Ford quickly shakes off his mental health woes with the introduction to his new boss, Director Gunn (Michael Cerveris), who swiftly sets him back to what he’s best at, hunting. Caution is thrown to the wind, in a similar vein to Holden and Tench, resuming their fascinating interviews country-wide. The much-anticipated interview with Charles Manson (Damon Herriman) did not disappoint. Sporting the same role in Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, it’s clear that Herriman has mastered Manson’s identity down to a tee, making you even momentarily ask yourself, “maybe he was just misunderstood this entire time” – just momentarily.
Holden and Tench’s work eventually brings them to the city of Atlanta, Georgia to interview one of their participants. While here, Ford is approached by a woman with an issue that at first looks like a case for local law enforcement, but quickly spirals into something more sinister that Holden is compelled to see through. What Holden doesn’t expect is the mountain of obstacles in his way, from the FBI, to the city’s locals, and various political forces.
This season is rife with the blatant social commentary of the era. After all, it’s no secret that life in America in the late 1970s and early 1980s was still very difficult for women and people of colour due to many systemic shortcomings. The trio’s endeavour to detail psychopaths and battle bureaucracy holds a mirror to society, revealing its worst aspects to the world. The result of this work causes complicated and riveting outcomes and it’s this depth that further curbs Mindhunter’s growing pains.
Having been greenlit for five seasons all up, one can confidently speculate where this series is heading. The BTK Killer (Sonny Valicenti) is still laying his path of sadistic bloodshed and won’t be caught until 2005, giving the show over two decades to work with as it’s assumed we will eventually watch him being caught.
There is also much work to be done when it comes to the behavioural profiling of serial killers, with the team only touching the tip of the iceberg. This season also gave a strong sense that Tench’s child may have a mind that Tench himself is helping to hunt down, which could make for a tragic climax. However, since the real Tench didn’t have a child nearly as screwed up in real life, and that both partners retired from the FBI years before BTK was caught, the show will probably eventually become less based in truth as we continue to see the characters – something that the show’s success is attributed to. While this may be the case in the future, for now, Mindhunter has kept its signature sizzle. Season 2 is best served in one sitting.