This season sees Agents Ford and Tench in Georgia to consult on the investigation into the Atlanta child murders, and to implement their research findings on ground.

Mindhunter 2 review Compelling serial killer series turns its focus on race
Flix Netflix Monday, August 19, 2019 - 15:03

“You float my new pool / De luxe and delightful / Inflatable doll / My role is to serve you / Disposable darling / Can't throw you away now / Immortal and life size / My breath is inside you / I'll dress you up daily / And keep you till death sighs.”

These are lyrics from In Every Home a Heartbreak by Roxy Music, the haunting, creepy song, that opens Mindhunter 2, and in many ways, sets the tone for the second installation of the show. The series, which follows FBI special agents Holden Ford (played by Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), and psychoanalyst Wendy Carr’s (Anna Torv) groundbreaking work in criminal psychology studying serial killers, released its season two on Netflix on August 16.

And thankfully, Season 2 lives up to the high expectations raised by the very memorable and compelling Season 1 released two years ago. The show is based on Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, a book authored by former FBI agent John E Douglas and writer Mark Olshaker.

Mindhunter 2 has all the best parts from its predecessor – the riveting dialogue, tense interviews with serial murderers (who are often sexually motivated), camaraderie between the leading trio with glimpses into personal lives, and then some. Among the many complex issues that it deals with – such as homophobia and structural sexism – the most dominant one in this season is race.

As was revealed in the trailer for Season 2, this installation sees Agents Ford and Tench in Georgia to consult on the investigation into the Atlanta child murders, and to implement their research findings on ground. The Atlanta murders happened between 1979 and 1981, and claimed at least two dozen African-American lives, most of them children and teens.

We also see a change in leadership at the FBI, and while it appears that it’s for the better as it gives Ford, Tench and Carr more resources, and puts the special agents’ work in Atlanta in the limelight, we soon begin to see the politics, perception battles, and red tape that come with public scrutiny.

Ford and Tench grapple with the growing divide between the African-American community, who are worried about their children, and the lawmakers, a majority of whom are white. It is in situations like these that the show shines – it manages to handle complex issues without oversimplification, and without treating its audience as juvenile. Mindhunter 2 manages to portray white man’s guilt, and the moral dilemmas of profiling with all its layers, and without taking away from the characters in whom these manifest.

One of the best parts about Mindhunter has been the insights into how the study of criminal, deviant minds affects the protagonists themselves. While we saw how it managed to get under Holden’s skin, and play into his relationship with his then girlfriend in Season 1, this time, the focus shifts to Tench. We get a larger view of his family life, under pressure from a distressing incident, and it is one of the most intriguing sub-plots in the show. Equally appreciable is a glimpse into Carr’s personal life, and her struggle with the homophobia around her.

The series does bear some similarity in terms of pacing and treatment to Zodiac, the film on the infamous and unidentified Zodiac killer who murdered many in California in the 1960s and 1970s. David Fincher, Zodiac director and executive producer of Mindhunter, has directed the first three episodes. The direction for the remaining six episodes is divided between Andrew Dominik and Carl Franklin. However, Fincher’s expertise in building suspense, and dealing with the serial killer genre is unmistakable. The outstanding background score by Jason Hill is worth mentioning as well.

Ultimately, it is the extremely well-written dialogues that makes the series what it is. Unlike many cinematic pieces on violent crimes, there are hardly any slow-motion tracking, gory shots or even overt violence depicted in Mindhunter. Despite this, the dialogue and delivery bring out tension, power play, and vulnerability admirably in any situation. This is particularly visible in the recurrent interviews with the serial killers, when the precariousness of control is so palpable to the viewer, purely through dialogue and body language.

The only disappointing factor in this season, perhaps, is that we do not get as much insight as we had hoped into Dennis Rader or the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) Strangler who committed 10 murders in Kansas between 1974 and 1991. As in Season 1, Season 2 also teases us with glimpses into his life throughout the series. And while our protagonists are officially introduced to his cases, we will have to wait for Season 3 for them to get acquainted.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.