With the nearly overwhelming amount of content that Netflix is pushing out, it’d be easy for a program to fall through the cracks. With the release of “Stranger Things 2” this past Friday, another Netflix series that came out this October could be easily overlooked.
“Mindhunter,” which premiered on Oct. 13, 2017, was created by Joe Penhall and produced by big names such as David Fincher and Charlize Theron. The show follows the exploits of two FBI agents in the 1970s who are trying to delve deeper into the psyches of deranged killers to understand how to stop these kinds of crimes by developing a technique of profiling.
Agent Holden Ford, played by Jonathan Groff, and agent Bill Tench, played by Holt McCallanay, form an odd couple with Holden being a younger Sherlock Holmes type and Bill being a more experienced, grouchy FBI agent. They travel around the country to teach police officers FBI techniques while interviewing convicted mass murderers on the side. Helping them along the way is psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr, played by Anna Torv, who helps them look at their data to make it more viable for academic settings.
Solid performances of the main cast are a highlight of the show. Other great performances come from the actors playing real-life convicted killers. One that was exceptional was Cameron Britton’s unnerving performance as Ed Kemper, whose casual way of talking about his crimes can send a chills down anyone's spine.
This show is not like many other police procedure and true crime shows. While it has many moments of disgust, particularly the interview scenes, it doesn’t focus as much attention on showing you the violence as it does speaking about and understanding the violence. This way, you experience the terror and shock the same way our protagonists do. You learn about the horrors that have been committed as they do. This further immerses the audience into the story and gives a more psychological sense of dread the further into the show viewers go.
But the show isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, it's filled to the brim with style, with a solid soundtrack of music from the 1970s as well as excellent cinematography. David Fincher directed several of the episodes of the show, and with those episodes came a particular style of long, lingering shots and big title cards showing various locations. These choices add an extra layer to the show that makes it feel refreshing for the true crime genre. It also has several moments of humor that help keep the show moving and don't let it get too bogged down in the mud with the killers and their horrible crimes.
“Mindhunter” does have its problems, though. The pacing of the show, particularly the last three episodes, can be very slow. Several scenes in the last few episodes take much too long to end, and the subjects being interviewed aren’t as interesting as those seen earlier.
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The show, in many ways, lost its momentum toward the end.
Another problem is how the show glosses over of some terms. The show could do a better job of explaining the psychology behind what the agents are trying to accomplish. The show assumes that the audience has already watched enough true-crime style shows that they’ll be familiar with some of the terminology, which could make the show a bit confusing at first for people just getting into the genre.
Overall, the show is an incredibly engaging season of television. Stylishly directed with fantastic performances throughout, “Mindhunter” is a fascinating look into how the FBI began to research the science of profiling through interviewing some of the worst killers in modern history.
If you enjoy true crime, history and suspense, “Mindhunter” is a fantastic addition to the Netflix catalog of shows. I give it a 7.5/10.
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