Hunting For a New Show? Watch “Mindhunter.”
by Caroline Merck
Netflix has produced yet another hit series, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats--this time with “Mindhunter.” The show is loosely based on the non-fiction book written by former FBI agents John Douglas (writer) and Mark Olshaker (filmmaker). The ten episode series is the perfect show to binge watch in the new year. Chilling, yet intriguing, this show has everything from funny punchlines to gory scenes that leave viewers shocked.
Set in the late 1970s, the show follows FBI Special Agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), as they try to get inside the minds of serial killers and understand their thought processes. Ford is much younger and is more infatuated with the psychology of these killers, while Tench, who is older, employs more logical reasoning, as they travel around the nation interviewing and analyzing infamous criminals, such as Charles Manson and David Berkowitz.
The story begins in Braddock, Pennsylvania in the midst of a hostage crisis. A man named Cody Miller (David H. Holmes) took hostages and demanded to see his wife. Agent Ford is called to the scene and suggests that the other FBI agents should not show Miller his wife. As Ford is conversing with other agents, Miller shoots himself in the head, leaving a mess. This jaw-dropping opening scene foreshadows not only the gruesomeness that defines the rest of the series, but can be interpreted as showing Agent Ford’s constant struggle to get both positive outcomes and useful answers from criminals in high intensity situations.
The series then dives head first into the life of Ford, as he travels the country teaching people about how to navigate hostage negotiations. However, it is not long before he is more intrigued by the seemingly incomprehensible murder motives from some of the most famous American serial killers, better known as “black holes.” It is Ford’s interest in these murder motives that help him to meet Bill Tench, who invites him to travel the country along his side and give classes on what the Bureau is currently teaching. Ford accepts, and onward they go.
Throughout the series, the duo find themselves in Virginia, Iowa, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Kansas. They hold interviews with Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton), Monte Ralph Rissell (Sam Strike), Jerry Brudos (Happy Anderson), Richard Speck (Jack Erdie), and Darrel Gene Devier (Adam Zastro), in which they discuss the horrendous act and motives from the infamous Charles Manson, David Berkowitz, Vaughn Greenwood, Herbert Mullin, Posteal Laskey Jr., and Gerard John Schaefer.
While Ford and Tench travel the country, they also come back to the Bureau periodically to check in with the rest of their team, including Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), a psychologist who has teamed up with the FBI to better understand how the criminals’ lives have affected their current states of mind.
The viewers also get a glimpse of Ford’s personal life. He meets Debbie (Hannah Gross) at a bar one late night after work and they click immediately. The couple is shown throughout the season at their apartment together, at their best and worst moments. The duo bring out the best in each other, despite their opposing views on issues ranging anywhere from picking each other up at the airport, to how fast their relationship should be moving. Although the couple is not exactly on the same page at the end of the season, viewers should still expect to see them in the next season.
“Mindhunter” differs from other criminal investigation shows because of its focus on the “why” of criminal activity, rather than the “who, what, when and where” of criminal investigation. This show incorporates real criminals and digs deeper than its competition on the interesting life stories that really make it a drama.
The outstanding crime drama has already been renewed for season two, and has received high ratings, including a 96% from Rotten Tomatoes and was also nominated for a Satellite Award, with Jonathan Groff up for Best Actor in a Series and Best Drama Television Series. With more on the way, it is almost certain that the cast and crew should expect further recognition in the future.
Be sure to check out season one of “Mindhunter” on Netflix. With more episodes on the way, it makes for the perfect show to get lost in this winter.