ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
Back in October 2017, I was searching for something to watch on Netflix and after a little while searching, came across a then-newly released show “Mindhunter,” set in the late 1970s in the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the FBI. Intrigued by the premise, I clicked on it and was instantly hooked, finishing the season in only a few days. After I finished it, I was so awestruck by how great a series it was and was left wondering when season two would happen. This past Friday, after nearly two years, season two finally happened and was released on Netflix.
For those unfamiliar with the show, season one focuses on FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), along with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), as they begin developing what would ultimately become the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit and lets the viewers “meet” serial killers from the past such as Ed Kemper, Jerry Brudos, and BTK (albeit through vignettes rather than the interviews seen done by the agents). Season two picks up right after the first and focuses on the tragedy of the Atlanta child murders of 1979–81 and sees interviews with some other known serial killers, including Charles Manson.
While I’m naturally an impatient person, I ultimately came away from season two glad there had been such a gap in time between seasons because that time allowed the writers and producers to really capture the tone and everything else they wanted, so I’m glad the time was taken to make sure everything was right. And ultimately, it worked because just like the first season, the second season’s writing was smart and sharp and very well done. I also really enjoyed how season two used season one as a jump-off point as far as the agents and investigators actually using what they’d learned in the course of the investigation going on, which allowed for just enough expansion to make the second season interesting.
With great writing, there must also be great actors prepared to carry out the scenes, and season two definitely has that. Groff remains excellent as the new yet brilliant Agent Ford, and he puts his all into this role for this season just like in season one. My favorite moments with Groff come near the end of the season when he becomes frustrated about the red tape he has to go through during parts of his investigation – you can see the frustration and anger building up in his eyes as seemingly everything goes against him while trying to put away the criminal behind the murders of nearly 30 children, and he does a great job. There was only one thing about his role that bothered me, however. In the final scenes of season one, we see Ford in the throes of a panic attack and we see him in a mental hospital in the season two premiere – however, we never fully see how that panic attack truly affected him and is basically forgotten by about the fourth episode, and I feel like there was a missed opportunity there given how prevalent mental health issues are in modern society.
McCallany was also excellent again as Agent Tench, Ford’s older and mature alter ego in the bureau. Tench’s character goes through the wringer in season two both at work and at home and you can see the weariness just dripping off of him, and McCallany turns in another great performance. It might not be for this season, but I truly feel he will get at the very least an Emmy nod for his role in the show at some point in the near future.
As weird as this may sound, I also have to give praise to the actors who portrayed the various serial killers during this season, all of them did an excellent job. I can’t imagine what it would have to be like to put oneself in that frame of mind, but all the actors did that and all of them turned in great performances this season.
While I overall enjoyed the season, however, I do have a couple minor quibbles. First off, I hope next season gives Anna Torv more to do as Dr. Carr because I felt like we didn’t see enough of her throughout this season. She did a great job with what she had, but hopefully a third season will give her character more to do and expand her role within the department. Also, I feel like the overall season should have been exactly an episode shorter – I just felt it dragged on just a little bit and cutting an episode would have made the season’s pacing just that much better.
Overall, I enjoyed the season very much and I would give it an A-minus grade. If you enjoyed season one and are a fan of other crime shows, season two of “Mindhunter” will be just the show to watch.