MINDHUNTER (2017) – A DIVE INTO THE MINDS OF SERIAL KILLERS

Netflix’s Mindhunter premiered in 2017 but has since become one of the mesmerizing and exciting crime thrillers on television ever made. The show produced by Joe Penhall & David Fincher (of Fight Club, The Social Network, Seven fame), is based on Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit a true-crime book written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker.

The show covers FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench, along with psychologist Wendy Carr, who operate the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico. They interview incarcerated serial killers to understand how their minds work and their family background and triggers, with the hope of applying this knowledge to solve ongoing cases and create criminal profiles.

Season 1 introduces us to the two FBI agents and how they set up a basic working model of Holden’s idea and Doctor Carr, who upon hearing the idea, immediately reinforces their belief in the validity of researching the same. We see Holden as the genius thinker but who is poor at communicating with others and is generally annoying to everyone around him. Tench acts as the chain-smoking mentor, who grudgingly accepts that Holden’s idea might work and tries to control Holden’s more aggressive ideas. Dr. Carr, is the sophisticated expert in the field who is made an overseer of the project. Season 1 starts with their initial forays into the investigations and research focusing on the mind of the notorious Edmund Kemper or the “Co-ed Killer”, played brilliantly by Cameron Britton, who helps Holden and Tench understand the mind of a serial killer. Season 1 also covers how the term “serial-killer” was introduced into the modern criminal lexicon.

Cameron Britton as the 6’9” “Co-Ed Killer” Edmund Kemper

Season 2 follows the same pattern but it sees a new overseer entering the fray. It also focuses on two ongoing criminal investigations – the infamous Atlanta child murders of 1979-81 and the BTK killer. The team’s interviews other famous serial killers like Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Paul Bateson, David Berkowitz (.44 Caliber Killer), William Pierce and William Hance. However, the focus of the season remains the investigations into actual ongoing cases of that time.

From top left to right: The BTK Killer, Charles Manson, The Co-Ed Killer and the .44 Caliber Killer

The show currently is temporarily suspended but there are plans for more seasons. However, the first two seasons are extremely addictive and engaging for the viewer. The disturbing mindset of these individuals is put into focus and we see another, extremely gruesome picture of humanity. The series is more like the movie Zodiac rather the Seven – it revels in a slow reveal of the killers and of what comes next. It also hardly focuses on the crimes themselves but rather the impact of the crime and the minds of the people committing these and that of those investigating these.

The series provides the most possible tension with the least possible violence. It is a psychological thriller with rarely in gore or on-screen violence. Throughout the series, you feel as if you’re being stalked, like any moment a minor comment or action could unleash violence – especially in Season 1’s finale where The Co-Ed Killer lures Holden to the hospital as his medical proxy. There as he hears Holden talk about the type of serial killer, Edmund Kemper is, according to the FBI’s methodology, he suddenly gets up and intimidates Holden, towering over him at 6’9” and suggesting that he could break Holden’s neck without anyone hearing him or being able to help him if he wanted to and as he moves into Holden, we suddenly see it becoming a hug but that triggers within Holden, a severe case of panic disorder.

The Co-ed Killer Edmund Kemper and Special Agent Holden

One of 2017’s must-watch television shows, Mindhunter continues its performance in its second season as well. It makes up for an entirely absorbing guilty pleasure – if you’re going for Netflix & Chill, while watching Mindhunter, the “chill” is going to have to wait until you’ve devoured both the seasons. As someone glued to the show , if you’re going to indulge in a fast-paced, gritty crime drama, at least make it the classiest one on TV and that is Mindhunter, without a doubt.

(L to R: Special Agent Holden, Doctor Carr and Special Agent Tench)

JAY’S VERDICT

One of the best shows on TV. Definitely, definitely give it a watch.

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