There is not a single weak link in this cast. Groff's obvious but what an ensemble. Especially the trio of Groff, McCallany, and Torv.
Jonathan Groff plays an inherently unlikeable narrator--but he oozes natural charisma and charm that makes him so automatically well-rounded.
So wonderfully paced it never got boring. So gorgeously shot it was impossible to look away.
Assuming the BTK theory is right, next season is bound to be absolutely nuts Even more nuts than this one!
Please use Anna Torv a little more next season. She had a criminal lack of screen-time.
Grim, but let's get darker. We know of certain interrogation methods and secret' papers. They're in the FBI. You join the dots.
Holden’s character devolved too quickly. His disillusionment could’ve been over seasons. When you're David Fincher, you know you have multiple seasons in the bag already...
You’d be hard-pressed to find something of Mindhunter’s unabashed, brazen quality on television this year, so binge it again and then…again.
Binge Mindhunter if you can handle the emotional turmoil again. You’ll probably need a break and a CT scan, but you’ll be okay…
1977 is the year of cigarette smoke fogging the male-dominated law enforcement offices. Prone to racism and sometimes sexism, David Fincher doesn’t forget we’re in the era moments behind federal bureau investigators’ grim discovery. Serial killers. Based off ‘Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas’, we are introduced to Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), the gruff, blunt do-gooder. Completing the duo is Jonathan Groff’s adamantly progressive Holden, whom Douglas is based off.
This isn’t a buddy-cop procedural, though. Fincher and Jonathan Penhall grind a procedural set-up into a cleverer, larger story. Compelling in its multi-layered structure, Mindhunter depicts Bill and Holden’s attempts, with Dr. Carr’s (Anna Torv) assistance in understanding serial killers, to avoid this kind of tragedy happening again.
Meanwhile, Mindhunter adds in a few loosely-connected ‘crimes of the week’ as the trio attempt to maraud the federal bureau’s stern rules and disapproval of their research. So you’d be forgiven if you don’t pay much attention to the unnamed killer who keeps cropping up. Quantico is still trying to define and legitimise behavioural analysis, but somewhere, a killer’s on the loose. And nobody knows.
As Holden and Bill dive deeper into their investigation, the pinnacle of horror personified awaits in Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton). It’s Groff and Britton’s tense head-to-heads that are undoubtedly the most brilliant.
Tragically, we observe Holden’s naive promise as an FBI agent warps into something callous and biased. So much for Dr. Carr’s faith in the “experimental conditions”, then. Holden’s techniques bolden recklessly, to everyone’s dismay. Especially his girlfriend Debbie (Hannah Morris) who is the most accurate source when she tells him she barely recognises him anymore.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll watch Groff, McCallany and Torv solve crime every episode. Wrestling with questionable ethics, jealousy and betrayal, the killers don’t need to do anything to crack the tense team. Fincher’s not reminding us of how America termed the phrase ‘serial killer’. He’s telling us of how that darkness can consume if not careful–and maybe it already has.
There’s no sympathy for the devil, so Mindhunter offers no sympathy for serial killers. But don’t be careless. Ed Kemper will tell you why.
Ed Kemper is a giant; bespectacled and eloquent. He’s friendly with the prison guards, well-spoken and mild-mannered. Admittedly, he’s odd and disturbingly serene. And Britton’s disturbingly good, regardless of whether you knew of Kemper or not.
An infamous murderer of several women and his grandparents, he indulged in necrophilia, decapitation and dissecting the corpses. Therefore when Kemper strolls into the room, towering over Groff and McCallany, you squirm. And when he speaks, so unrepentantly of his mother–so proudly–it’s appalling.
Kemper: “You see, Bill, I knew a week before she died I was gonna kill her. She went out to a party, she got soused, she came home alone. I asked her how her evening went. She just looked at me. She said, “For seven years,” she said, “I haven’t had sex with a man because of you, my murderous son. So I got a claw hammer and I beat her to death. Then I cut her head off. And I humiliated her. And I said, “There. Now you’ve had sex.”
The temptation to overdo a role as controversial as this is a thin line to walk across. Yet because of Kemper’s strangely ‘reserved’ nature, Britton avoids that risk. Dialogue from Torv’s Dr. Carr can sometimes sound like a textbook being recited to you. But Britton captivates Kemper’s odd half-slur, that distinctive, unapologetic noise you want to immediately recoil from. The other interviewees are just as awful, but the idea to cement Kemper at the beginning and end of the season is an important one. Symbolically and literally, he’s the true beginning and end of Holden’s journey. It’s so horrifying that when Holden realises, he nearly passes out.
But Kemper’s never getting out of prison (good riddance). Season two has a plethora of plot strands to go on, but after such a heavy barrage of intrigue placed on him this season, can he be of much more service next time? Is there a point? Fans will want it, surely–but why?
Placing Holden at the centre of this is clever, because heroes lead stories and if anything, Holden starts off as lowly and morphs into the opposite.
Littered with doubt, paranoia, egotism and hubris, Jonathan Groff’s Holden is the most intriguing maelstrom of a character. His first meeting with Debbie is incredulous, but even worse is what he actually says to her:
Holden: “What are you, a honey-trap? I’ve been warned to look out for women like you.”
Ego constantly reminds the team that he came up with the idea of audio-recording. Arrogance propels him to announce self-importantly, despite the lack of people to hear him, that “everything we do informs the future”. Even an inmate laughs at him and calls him crazy, proclaiming that there’s a “fine line that separates [Holden] from me.”
Yet we’re assured at every opportunity that Holden Ford is squeaky-clean. He doesn’t drink, smoke, and even uncomfortably quizzes Debbie on how many boyfriends she’s had. Then callously, he influences the firing of a headteacher he knows is innocent. By #1.8, Holden’s losing it. Though his instinctive withdrawal to Debbie’s heels is understandable, the fact that he blames her (“it’s just you”) is completely unfounded. She was simply trying to do something sexy for him. By #1.10, he even instructs Debbie to “shut up” then “listen”.
Unlike Bill, a seasoned agent who was brave enough to share his burden with Nancy (Stacey Roca), Holden faces suffers it naively thus alone.
But Groff’s magnetism is unrivalled in this, because he possesses a sweet disposition of affability and charm that makes Holden Ford sparkle. Frustratingly, his relationship with Debbie–which could’ve been very significant given the topic of this show–fell flat. Whilst Morris’ chemistry with Groff was undeniable–and the arc of Holden’s magnificent dive was one of the best things about the series–the rest of the series could’ve gone on without the pairing.
Perspective is strictly from Holden Ford’s eyes–but that doesn’t mean the trio don’t do their equal share of work.
Holt McCallany is exceptional as Bill–the reluctant angel figure to Holden’s devil. He trusts Nancy with his work as opposed to Holden, whose withdrawal from Debbie and neglect of her ruins them. Though he’s not exactly oozing gentlemanly charm, he’s honourable, honest and well-meaning. Anna Torv, who’s sinfully underappreciated here, is wonderful as the show’s moral compass. Often, it feels like Dr. Carr is the only one making any sense.
Again, it should be stressed that the reason Groff’s performance is praised so highly is because Holden really is that unlikeable. His drunken arrogance as he boasts and accidentally leaks secrets whilst Bill remains silent is evident of their differences. It’s remarkably hypocritical, considering the lengths they’d gone to try and shut Agent Smith up about the redacted transcript–only for Holden to spill all beans anyway.
And what truly makes Dr. Carr and Bill Tench steady supporting cast members is the fact that they do exist beyond Holden’s story. It takes very little screen-time to show us the extent of love between Bill and Nancy, who understands the hardships of his job immediately. Dr. Carr, however, remains more of a mystery. Unlike McCallany, Torv needs to be utilised more. Come on: it’s Anna Torv! Bring her wife over! Just drink the wine and forego the cans of tuna! Dr. Carr’s shown to be so marvellously intelligent–she’s an absolute asset. It’s about time she gets used as one–which is what Mindhunter does lack. It was well-balanced initially, but after ten episodes, viewers expect the main female lead to be fully-fleshed and the lead romantic interest in Debbie to live a life beyond Holden.
Jonathan Groff is nothing short of magical. But when your cast has such depth like Mindhunter’s, use it.
“So how about that ADT fella chilling in Kansas, ready for season two?”
Okay, so the only thing we know for certain is that ADT-Guy will be portrayed (and has been) by actor Sonny Valicenti. We’ve had little name-drops here and there for Charles Manson, and it’s not unlikely that given the era, Mindhunter will feature–in more detail–another prolific killer.
It’s a man with questionable facial hair and glasses. He works for a company called ADT. Credited simply as ‘ADT Serviceman’, he’s appeared in most cold open. And in the #1.10, he’s shown burning a picture of a woman he’s drawn…naked and tortured. He first appeared in #1.2, in which we saw him practising tying a knot and writing a letter. Throughout the season, he continues to crop up–albeit briefly. In #1.5, he was seen again, this time sending the letter. But who is he?
Firstly, you should know ADT Security’s a real company. And it’s that company serial killer Dennis Rader used in order to gain access to people’s houses. Better known as the BTK Killer (Blind, Torture, Kill) he murdered ten victims, seven of which by 1977, the year Mindhunter is set.
The basic facts? Well, he’s from Kansas, for starters. Secondly, he’s infamous for strangling and asphyxiating his victims to death, and then boasting of it by writing of his crime. That explains the letters. As for the fondness of drawing, a book buyer stumbled across something horrifically very recently…
Throw in the physical appearance, the likelihood of gaining a known villain, and someone Holden Ford can hunt down–as the real John Douglas did, whom Holden is based off–then this really fits like Cinderella’s gruesome slipper.
So don’t hope for chipper musical episodes next season, Mindhunter fans. This is about to get real.
FINAL VERDICT: Our constant obsession with serial killers remain strong to this day. Its permanent relevance and mind-twisting uncertainty with the core characters makes for a winning formula.
Is this the season of the year? It this the one series you must watch in 2017?
The answer written here says, unashamedly: yes.
Oh, we don’t expect half of you to agree with us. But have a hearty recommendation. Treat yourselves. Sometimes, it’s brilliant to have a series to watch where you can sit down for half an hour or a whole hour, laugh yourself silly, and squeal in joy over a kiss. However if you want to feel physically sick by television, try Mindhunter. This isn’t a “what if” of the future. Though it seems awful, it’s our history, present and future. The team’s problems seem rudimentary to us in 2017, but in 1977 when cops were too shaken to talk about serial killers and the phrase wasn’t even invented yet, it’s very different. Instead, they sound like sick-minded agents with crazed imaginations. (For Holden, that isn’t a stretch, but that article’s for another time…)
This isn’t a plea for anyone to pity-watch Mindhunter. Just check out the trailer. See Jonathan Groff in a handsome suit and a dapper haircut. Catch Anna Torv as a badass doctor. Holt McCallany as a tough, sweet-hearted cop. Treat yourselves to an ensemble that can truly gel and act, and you’ll find that the pay-off Mindhunter offers, whilst crumpling your brain, is worth it.
MINDHUNTER is streaming now on NETFLIX.
Season One Verdict: ‘Mindhunter’ [Netflix]