Mindhunter returns with a thrilling second season!

Erica Navarette

With the season of Spook dawning upon us, I’m on the constant prowl for adrenaline-provoking, bone-chilling entertainment. With that said, what’s scarier than the idea that monsters are not so foreign, but rather that they live within and among us? Mindhunter is a Netflix original series that debuted in 2017 and made a splash in the cinematic universe as a crime-thriller series set in the US in the late 70s to early 80s. The show delineates the formation of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI through the endeavors of Special Agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench. The “older, jaded cop and the ambitious, naive 20-something-year-old cop partner” archetype becomes increasingly evident in these two as they interview “serial” killers– a term previously unheard of in a society accustomed to crimes of apparent motive. The murderers in the show are based on real-life criminals: Ed Kemper, Jerry Brudos, Dennis Rader, and several more. Ford and Tench interview them in the hopes that they may create a profiling system and prevent further crimes. We’re later introduced to Wendy Carr, a closeted lesbian in academia, who validates the psychological workings behind their theories. They dig to find what truly makes a serial killer: nature or nurture? 

I expected nothing less than excellence from Mindhunter’s second season which premiered on Netflix on August 16th. A product of writer Joe Penhall, director David Fincher, and Charlize Theron, this slow-burn series is unlike anything on Netflix. Not only is it visually stunning (hats off to Fincher), it follows a plot that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, clutching their pearls. There’s definitely something to be said about Mindhunter, in that a big-name movie director is collaborating to produce a TV show, especially one of a streaming service. The second season abruptly takes a turn and distinguishes itself from its predecessor with the introduction of the Atlanta Child Murders, an on-going case that Ford takes on. Now formally recognized by the FBI, the BSU uses their methods to catch a serial killer in the act. Despite being a show that ultimately follows true-crime cases, the creators manage to trap our attention with the fictional, personal lives of Tench, Ford, and Carr. I find that these subplots don’t detract from the main plot; instead, they help round out the main characters’ personalities. As a viewer, I’m able to pick their brains; it’s not only a psychological analysis of killers, but regular people as well. 

Like I previously mentioned, the visuals of the show are impeccable, evidenced by the camerawork, composition, and the set and fashion design. The signature camerawork of Fincher is evident in the dolly and long shots. With Mindhunter’s unique, narrow aspect ratio, the viewer’s eye is acutely drawn to movement and minute details. In addition to the masterful camerawork, the colors and wardrobe choices contribute greatly to the setting of the late 70s. Any cinephile would appreciate the meticulousness that clearly went into producing the show. The visuals of each frame contribute to the plot and mood, if one looks hard enough. There’s also something to be said about the audio within the show, specifically the dialogue and the soundtrack. Every word of dialogue is masterfully written and delivered, certainly a product of Penhall’s ingenuity and Fincher’s ability to work with such a stellar cast. At times, the dialogue seems drawn out or excessive, but I think that’s to be expected from a show consisting of hour-long episodes. Like I said, it is a slow-burn redeemed by moments of utmost fear and disgust and contempt. 

I’d recommend this series to those who have an affinity for cinematography, psychology, and/or true crime. There are some graphic parts, but Mindhunter isn’t a show that relies on scenes of traumatic brutality and gore to express the absolute destruction and greed of serial killers. It’s like a sophisticated Law & Order: SVU. All in all, I’d give Mindhunter S2 a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars.