I’m one of the best binge watchers on the planet so this weekend I knocked out the 10ish hours of Netflix’s new Mindhunter in roughly 10 and a half hours. I know, I know the bathroom breaks were the act of a weak man. Nonetheless, I very much enjoyed it and give Mindhunter the prestigious Feitelberg Streaming Television Program Grade of a B, but I won’t kick anyone out of bed if they didn’t like it (there are shows I would kick a woman out of bed for disliking, I’m ashamed to admit). In fact I’d do something I rarely do in this life, I’d understand.
While the show opens up with an intense standoff that ends in a gruesome suicide, that’s pretty much all the action you’ll get for the next ten hours. There’s no storyline where they must figure out then find killer to save his most recent captor’s life, a la Criminal Minds. There are no murders that you bear witness too, you’ll occasionally catch a glimpse of a gruesome picture but never are you party to the act itself. What you will get is a look inside the mind of how both serial killers are created, and how the FBI’s BAU was as well.
Want the ghastly details of how the “Co Ed Killer” came to be? What made him into the man he was, the one who killed his mom then beheaded her and had sex with her face? The one who killed ten other college girls and had sex with their bodies as well? Cameron Britton will deliver you an unreal performance as Ed Kemper. Jerry Brudos, a serial killer of four women, is another necrophiliac and if you’re interested in seeing a guy jerk off into a stiletto then boy has he got a scene for you.
But that’s what the show is. It’s discussions and interaction with serial killers, not serial killings. At times it moves ploddingly but as a program about science that’s to be expected. Science and psychology move slow, they’re not immediate revelations. Changing minds and fighting through the red tape and bureaucracy of the FBI is an assignment that can move at a glacial pace and the show can represent that at times. There are some very intense and captivating scenes, particularly when Holden and Bill are using their newly devised tactics and understanding to coerce confessions from brutal killers. But that’s as “thriller-y” as the show will get.
At one point Bill Tench, one of the behavioral scientists who started the BAU (not his real name), pitches the new idea to his director as “how are we supposed to catch crazy if we don’t understand it” and that’s kinda the perfect way to describe the show. If you want to see crazy studied, this is up your alley, if you want to see crazy in action, try the Kardashians.
PS – I do love the way they set up s2 throughout the entirety of s1. There are man brief clips of Dennis Rader becoming the BTK Killer but never any actual killings. I’ve never really seen a coming season play a part as a background storyline throughout a different season like this, thought that was a pretty interesting twist rather than the classic shock moment right before credits roll.