WARNING: THIS POST HAS MILD SPOILERS OF SEASON 1 OF “MINDHUNTER”
Understanding the minds of serial killers has been a mystery for many years and it can be a fascinating topic: why do they do what they do? What goes through their minds while doing it?
Those are a few of the questions Mindhunter addresses in its first season, already available on Netflix. Based on the true crime book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, the show follows the story of FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they work to develop an innovative investigative field incorporating psychology as a method to reveal motive in the 1970s.
When the audience first meets Holden Ford, he is a young agent trying to help during a kidnapping case that goes wrong. Even though the kidnapper is the only dead in the case, Holden is not at all satisfied with the outcome and tries to teach others in the FBI behavior techniques to avoid the situation in the future.
His attitude catches the eye of Bill Tench, who invites him to assist in road school, where the FBI teaches local police officers their techniques. During these trips, Holden decides to start interviewing killers to try to understand their minds. These killers are also based on real murderers and they vary a lot: Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton), for example, is very articulate and calm and describes all of his crimes with details. Jerry Brudos (Happy Anderson), on the other hand, is not as forthcoming and it takes a while for Holden to find out how to get him to talk.
As these interviews are getting more well-known within the FBI, Holden and Bill are joined by Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), a psychologist and the voice of reason in the team.
As the story unfolds, the trio learns how to better deal with the murderers and how to get the information they need. Holden, however, is the one who starts breaking rules and doing whatever comes to his mind to achieve his goals – completely different from the insecure agent we met at the beginning of the show.
David Fincher directs 4 episodes of season one and is also credited as an Executive Producer. His signature color grading makes it impossible not to notice he is involved in the project. Moreover, he’s been interest in murderers’ stories for a long time (i.e. Seven, Zodiac, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and he’s found a very unique way to tell these stories. Another name that stands out in the credits is Charlize Theron as an Executive Producer, even though she has no acting part in this season.
The cast in impeccable and all of them have interesting personal arches as well. Holden has a hippie and intelligent girlfriend (Hannah Gross); Bill has a son who won’t talk to anyone; and Dr. Carr has a secret relationship with another woman.
The most astonishing part of Mindhunter, however, is how clueless we still are, after all these years, to fully understand what triggers someone to commit crimes like that. Perhaps we will never find out completely, but we can definitely enjoy the process with this thought-provoking show.