On October 13th, Netflix’s highly anticipated new series, Mindhunter, made its debut. Inspired by veteran agent John R. Douglas’s memoir, Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, the series puts a twist on it by fictionalizing the main characters and events to give more creative possibilities.
From the opening scene, it was clear that this would be an intense series. Set in 1977, the opening scene features Special Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) attempting to settle a hostage negotiation. The audience quickly learns that this isn’t the agent’s first go-around. He’s empathetic, smart, and patient. We were suddenly drawn to this character and were hungry for more information about him.
After the incident, Holden is resigned to teaching before taking on a more permanent position in the Behavioral Science Unit with Special Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany). The two travel the country teaching local law enforcement about FBI tactics, however, things take a turn when Holden wants to start studying the behavior of serial killers (although they are not called serial killers at this time).
He first interviews Edmund “Ed” Kemper, a man whose killings were extremely disturbing and whose interview gave more insight into his mind than Holden ever expected. Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) is the first to tell the men that their study has many benefits and in fact, eventually leads to her joining the team. This is where the series truly begins.
From this moment on, the audience gets to experience not only what these killers were thinking, but also what their study will do to Holden, Tench, and Wendy mentally. For the rest of the season, we see the transformation of all the characters. For Holden, the audiences watches him go from a the empathic agent to a monster. He quickly becomes a mad man who lets the idea that he gets to interview and sit in a room and talk to these dangerous men go to his head. His methods go from disorganized and scattered to a man who begins to utter phrases that these serial killers have mentioned to him in previous interviews. These phrases are rude, provocative, and downright uncomfortable. At one point we see the other law enforcement in the interview box shift uncomfortably as Holden bluntly says a phrases uttered by Ed Kemper.
For Tench, the study begins to affect his home life. His adoptive son wants to get to know him and to spend time with him, so much that he steals a murder photo that Tench was studying to try and connect with him. Tench, on the other hand, is becoming traumatized by everything and begins to take a step back after he tells Holden he won’t go back and visit killer Jerry Brudos. His character development is a natural one and one that someone would expect given the nature of the job. This is where Tench and Holden are unlike. Tench knows the job is getting to him whereas Holden lets it control him.
For Dr. Wendy Carr, the whole study leads her to see that their once on-the-same-page group is now starting to have differences in opinions and approaches. She sees that Holden needs to take a step back after she tells him that he really only has interviewed four dangerous men and that for him to start being all smug about their study, he’s going to need to interview more people. She’s the rational one of the group and despite keeping her sexual orientation a secret from the group, she encourages everyone to not keep things from each other.
Their character developments were fascinating to watch. To see how these dangerous men can affect good and honest people by just talking about their states’ of mind and their actions was truly a highlight of the series.
However, for Season 2 we would like to see the writers have a story for Holden’s now ex-girlfriend Debbie (Hannah Gross). She was a great character but lacked any sort of development. In fact, their relationship didn’t scream “chemistry” when the two first met in a bar. Their meeting went from a casual loveless talk to a full-blown relationship. It was confusing and a bit sudden. Now we get why they worked for awhile. Debbie’s sociology background allowed her to be able to have a conversation about human behavior, but besides that, the couple wasn’t something fans will be shipping for after watching Season 1.
By the end of Season 1, Holden’s transformation came to a sudden stop when the camera went to black after he had an uncomfortable and eye-opening conversation with Ed Kemper that sent him into a hyperventilating state. To see what happened to him, fans will have to wait for Season 2 (which has already been confirmed).
Overall we grade this intense series’s freshmen season with a B+.
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This review was written by Samantha D’Amico. If you want to follow her on Twitter, you can do so at SAM_iamXO. (Photo: Netflix.)