I am finally all caught up with Netflix original series Mindhunter and Season 2 was just as good as Season 1, but in a good way. I am continuously impressed by the writing of this series which which really balances out the real events with the fictional and delivers them in seamless detail.
Synopsis: As the season introduces viewers to serial killers like Son of Sam and Charles Manson, the central focus of Season 2 comes in the form of the Atlanta Child Murders from 1978-1981 where a predator victimizes 29 black children in different neighborhoods in Atlanta.
Holden’s Panic Attacks
While Mindhunter Season 1 and Mindhunter Season 2 ended and began with Holden Ford suffering from panic attacks. While it has been teased in the beginning of the season that this could pose some issues when it comes to interviewing serial killers who mess with one’s own mind, Holden seems as focused as ever on perfecting his profiling techniques, believing in the process absolutely, especially when it came time to use it in cracking the Atlanta Child Murders case. Holden’s single mindedness becomes both a bane and a boon this season but the character remains consistent from the first season, especially when it comes to dealing with lesser known killers whom he deems are trifle to their study.
Bill’s Family Issues
Mindhunter Season 2 takes away the focus on Holden to give attention to two other lead characters of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. The season picks up from its establishment of Bill Tench’s family finds them involved in the death of a toddler in Bill and Nancy’s community. As it turns out, Brian was a witness to the toddler’d death and even pitched the idea of putting the little boy on a cross to resurrect him. Brian’s silence in the “accidental” death and the subsequent process that the family needs to undergo puts a strain on Bill and Nancy’s marriage and his job as he divides his time between breaking the case and being there for his family as his son regresses and draws even deeper unto himself.
I liked the season’s approach to Brian’s case as Bill is confronted time and again with the possibility that the child could be displaying similar traits to the sociopaths they encounter, with his seeming lack of understanding and remorse with what had transpired. The fact that he remains quiet and reluctant to engage is also a red flag that makes audiences doubt his true state of mind. Holt McCallany effectively portrays Bill’s helplessness as he tries to reach out to his child, who refuses to open up, scaring him even more, knowing what he knows of killers’ early behavior.
It can be recalled that Brian took one of the crime scene photos from Bill’s office in season 1. Could that have been the beginning of his deviancy? The question begs to be answered but by the end of the season, we are left hanging. Bill also finds himself distracted half of the time while he juggles his professional and personal life and we can expect that the sh*t to hit the fan in Season 3.
Wendy’s Double Life
Being a woman and a professional in the 70s is tough, especially in the FBI. Wendy is made to feel the need to prove herself time and again with a boss who sees her as too fragile to do the gruntwork for their research. Its obvious that the BSU’s new boss, Director Ted Gunn sees her as a means to an end, given her academic credentials but really does not respect her ability to do anything other than process data. This makes it even more difficult for her to open up about her sexual preference, which, back in the day is considered a sexual deviancy.
Apart from stepping up with the interviews, Wendy has been instrumental in shining a spotlight on discrimination that women and now, LGBT folks still feel in the workplace, as if gender diminishes one’s capability to excel in one’s profession. Wendy also steps in to help Holden and Bill deal with their personal and mental health in this season. Without her, these two would have fallen apart. Thank you, Dr. Carr.
The MVP for this season would have to be Jim Barney, the FBI field agent from Atlanta that the BSU passed up on so that they could hire Greg the traitor. Despite Greg’s betrayal though, he has shown some useful insight on some of their cases and volunteered to do the interviews when Holden and Bill were too busy to work on their research. But he is far from what Jim brings to the table. Jim was exceptional this season. Apart from saving the Atlanta interviews when Holden felt that the subjects were beneath his expertise, Jim also worked the Atlanta Child Murders case with Holden and Bill, providing valuable insights, showing great intuition gleaned from years of experience, and a dedication to the solving the case that weighed more than Holden’s drive to be right about his profile.
As Director Ted Guns courts media attention with the FBI’s brand new profiling technique, we see Holden and Bill go through the hoops in dealing with politics, public perception and the pressure of delivering the right perp. This gets increasingly more difficult as each aspect clouds the other and hinders the agents from executing their plans to weed out the suspect.
As the case is closed to unsatisfactory results on their first major case (at least by the FBI on the ground), the agents are left to deal with the aftermath as the bureau celebrates a questionable win. While the profile was on point all along, victory could not be claimed as the suspect is only tried for the death of two adults, mainly because politicians felt that it was the safest way to ensure that they will stay in power and win the favor of the public. The real life Atlanta Child Murders that killed 29 black children remains unsolved to this day. And that is a sad thing to learn.
All in all, Mindhunter Season 2 escalated everything it presented from the first season, and it did so with a conscious effort to remain consistent in its storytelling. While it introduced high profile murderers, it did not rely on these names to draw in the audience, but rather focused on how their insights contributed to the big picture. Also, Cameron Britton deserves an Emmy for his performance in this show. How this guy manages to make me like a serial killer is an extraordinary feat in itself. Also, the Atlanta Child Murders distracted the agents from its investigation on the BTK Killer so that’s an overarching story that needs to be explored. Season 3 can’t come fast enough.