Mindhunter thrills with tale of serial killer psyche
The latest crime drama is everything you’ve ever needed
By Anna Junker, News Editor
Before there was CBS’s Criminal Minds there was… Mindhunter. The American crime drama is Netflix’s new original hit and takes viewers back to the 1970’s and the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the FBI. It’s also a seriously great binge-watch.
The series is based on the true crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The show revolves around FBI agents Holden Ford, played by baby-faced Jonathan Groff and Bill Tench, played by the steely Holt McCallany. They are joined by psychologist Wendy Carr, played by the admirable Anna Torv, who was also the star of Fringe, if anyone even remembers that sci-fi show.
The pair of FBI agents travel across the United States, interviewing serial killers and recording their responses. Carr helps Ford and Tench develop a system to categorize the killers and possibly predict future behaviours (queue Criminal Minds).
The series also lays out how the term “serial killer” was coined.
Suffice to say, I was hooked from the opening credits, which stylistically, was very appealing revolving around a tape recorder and brief flashes of dead bodies (which seems like a nod to the original Exorcist) accompanied with the kind of music akin to the setting of a horror movie.
The show might seem routine – Ford and Tench go to work, educate local police officers on proper protocols laid out by the FBI, interview serial killers and come home to their respective families and girlfriends. It is, in fact, anything but routine.
Listening to the pair interview serial killers such as the likes of Ed Kemper, played by the formidable and incredibly chilling, disturbing yet completely riveting Cameron Britton. Ed Kemper, by the way, is a real life serial killer who, in the 1970s, abducted and murdered several women along with his paternal grandparents and his mother. You could say he has mommy issues.
In case it’s not clear yet, this show isn’t exactly for the weak of heart or stomach.
I need to take a moment and applaud director David Fincher who somehow doesn’t make Mindhunter play out like a series but rather a movie. Each episode weaves so perfectly into the next, the intro and credits are a harsh yank back into reality and I’m eagerly reaching for the remote to start the next episode.
Despite the brilliant performances by Groff and McCallany, I found myself wanting to know more about the stories of the serial killers than those of the Ford and Tench. Honestly, I could watch an entire series just on Britton’s portrayal of Kemper and nothing else.
What makes Mindhunter stand out from other serial killer dramas is, instead of the murders being solved within the hour, the murders are already solved and the killer is locked away. The agents investigating are looking into the how and the why, what makes the serial killer tick, what are they triggered by? They create a sort of relationship with each killer in order to get as much information out of them as possible.
The series relies on the compelling dialogue between agent and killer to move forward, unlike the car chase scenes of other crime dramas. This is what makes each case stand out, especially the performance of Britton as Kemper. You can almost sympathize with him until you most definitely cannot.
The show also provided a breath of fresh air with the likes of Torv’s portrayal of Carr. She is incredibly smart, cold, calculating and takes absolutely no shits from the likes of Ford or Tench. She will call out their misogynistic bullshit, of which there is a lot. Which is absolutely refreshing.
On the other hand is Debbie Mitford, played by Hannah Gross. In the show, she’s an underused and underdeveloped character that spends most of her time being Ford’s girlfriend. Her life is deduced to studying, drinking, smoking and welcoming home Ford after a long day of hard work dealing with serial killers.
Mindhunter has also been brilliantly set up for its second season, with the beginning of each episode taking the viewer to Kansas and providing a brief insight into the life of a certain skinny, mustached man. He seems like your average 1970’s white ADT serviceman at first, but Fincher slowly lets the viewer in, revealing without showing that something sinister is amiss.
But who is the mysterious mustached man? I’m banking that season two will reveal even more.
The show ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and no, I won’t give anything away other than to say that for an FBI agent, Holden Ford can be damn idiot.
Netflix has to hurry up and officially renew the series for a second season. However, with such high acclaim from critics, it’s likely the announcement will come soon.
It has also been rumoured and teased by Fincher that the next season will look into Charles Manson. I can’t wait to join the agents of Mindhunter as they delve into Manson’s mind, from the comfort of my couch.
Until then, I’m off to find the next best series on serial killers.