Long and last, I finally managed to watch the second season of the Mindhunter series. I loved the first season (see here), not surprisingly since the focus of it is the creation of the behavioral unit in the FBI and the struggle they had in getting themselves recognized and established. On top of that, there is plenty of analysis of early socialization and social surroundings as influential for human behavior, agents look for patterns in behavior to create theories and approaches to understand behavior, in this case of serial killers, so this obviously interests me as it links so nicely with my research.
In this second season of the Mindhunter series, agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) continue to work with Dr Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) on understanding serial killers but the dynamic between an academic and agents is becoming better and they are starting to function as a team. In addition to that, this series portrays their personal lives more than the previous one, which was really interesting. We learn about Wendy’s academic background and a relationship with her supervisor who was also a senior academic and used the admiration she had for her to control her. She left academia because of it but in the FBI, struggled with admitting she was a lesbian. When she uses this personal story to connect with a serial killer and get him to talk, everyone assumes she invented the story to get the convict to talk. In addition to that, we see her facing sexual advance from a senior male official who was at the party and her struggles in navigating personal relationships due to the coercive one she had before where she lost her voice and the ability to stand up for herself and say what she wants and also act on it. In Bill Tench’s case, we follow a family drama of his adopted son being involved in the murder of a toddler and Bill finds himself in a situation where he needs to understand the behavior of his son thus presenting a conflict between personal and professional, and also a work balance conflict due to issues he is having with his wife who is struggling to deal with the situation herself. A fascinating personal story, in some ways humanizing agents and removing that mystique that we usually have with these roles but also opening up some important questions on work-life balance, the conflict between personal and professional as well as sexual misconduct in the workspace, coercive control, etc.
In terms of the behavioral unit, we see a conflict between working based on intuition and evidence, which was really interesting. Holden is guided by his intuition as well as evidence whereas Bill and Wendy are more inclined to follow evidence and look at all sides when trying to solve a crime of missing Black boys in Atlanta. There is also a story of racial relations here, which was nicely portrayed because when Holden insists that the serial killer of Black boys is a young Black male in his 20s or 30s, which he bases on intuition and evidence, but mainly insists on intuition that the perpetrator is Black because he could not have kidnapped and murdered so many Black boys from the area as a white guy without being noticed, the Black community insists that the KKK clan is also considered because of their historical relationship with the Black community. When the Black community finds out that the perpetrator the FBI is looking for, several members involved in the whole case either as campaigners or interested members of the community, react negatively and say that looking for a young Black male perpetrator is what every police officer is always looking for, which was very poignant. Whilst I understood where Holden is coming from and what he was saying and doing throughout the series made perfect sense to me because of my research, I could also understand why the Black community would be dismayed to learn that just based on some theories and intuition and without actually having evidence or a suspect, the FBI is looking for a Black male. I think that this was interestingly portrayed albeit it could have been explored more.
I particularly enjoyed, because of my research, all the discussions between Holden, Bill, and Wendy about cases, interviews they conducted with serial killers, and argumentation they used with the Police to steer the investigation in their desired direction. There was less interviewing in this season than in the first one, but it was still well made with lots of debate on early socialization, relationship with parents and social surroundings, and how this affects human behavior.
Mindhunter is an outstanding series and definitely, one of my favorites on Netflix.
Thank you for reading.