In the second season of MINDHUNTER, FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), along with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), interview another round of notorious serial killers before putting their theories to an extreme test in the Atlanta Child Murders case. It’s not as interestingly wonky about psychology as the first season, and there are fewer riveting serial killer interviews, but overall I thought it was gripping, realistic, and excellent.
In this season, Bill and Wendy get as much if not more screen time than Holden, fleshing out the story and making it more about the unit than Holden’s journey. An interesting development is that the FBI is now completely supportive of the new Behavioral Sciences Unit, giving it resources, embracing its thinking, and expecting results. Holden and Bill revisit Ed Kemper (brilliantly portrayed by Cameron Britton) and interview Charles Manson (a fantastic scene) and David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer. During the Atlanta Child Murders, the agents are challenged by applying their theories in the real world, faced by accusations of prejudice (for profiling), local politics, bureaucratic incompetence and red tape, and a very savvy killer. Nothing is gained in this show without there being a personal or professional cost.
MINDHUNTER is great TV, and I’m excited about the third season, which I hope doesn’t take as long to air. It took an overworn trope–the FBI agent who puts himself in the mind of a serial killer–and completely reinvented it as something fresh and more than fresh, something real and believable. It also shows us once again how a smart show can be fantastic entertainment, following other great TV shows in raising the bar.