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Mindhunter Season 2 dives deeper into criminal minds

  • Published at 08:13 pm August 27th, 2019
Charles Manson and Holt McCallany in Mindhunter| IMDB

The series portrays a decaying environment in cities throughout US, which reflect a country torn by the cold war and gives the sense of the growing phenomenon of the serial killer as a symptom of a larger evil

David Fincher, one of the greatest filmmakers of our time was born on this very day in Denver, Colorado back in 1962. So his 57th birthday seemed like an apt time to write about his latest release, the second season of acclaimed Netflix original series Mindhunter.

The serial killer drama series, created by Joe Penhall (renowned English playwright and screenwriter, best known for his award-winning stage play Blue/Orange) and directed by Fincher, is actually based on a true crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E Douglas and Mark Olshaker.

The series, inspired by true events, revolves around FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), along with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), who originated the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit within its Training Division at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. 

They interviewed imprisoned serial killers in order to understand how they think, with the hope of applying this knowledge to solve ongoing cases. 

Season one of the show was set between 1977–80 during the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Whereas the second season is set between 1980–81 and covers the infamous Atlanta murders of 1979–81.

The first episode of season two picks up right where season 1 left off, reminding the audience that we last saw agent Holden Ford being hugged by the serial killer Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton). Ford immediately has a panic attack and reeling from an almost near-death experience, wakes up restrained to a hospital bed. Throughout the season agent Ford seems to fight his recent episode and his inevitable panic attacks.

Unlike the first season, where Ford seemed to be the main protagonist of the story- line, Tench gets a lot more screen time and plays an important part in developing the story forward. The audience also get an in depth look into Dr Carr’s personal life, her new found girlfriend and their relationship dynamics.

The sudden change of leadership in the FBI is another important aspect of this season. This leads Ford and Tench into interviewing the notorious Charles Manson, who was the leader of a cult called The Manson Family that was active in California in the late 1960s. The BTK Strangler from Kansas also gets a fair amount of screen time and teases the audience of what is to come in the third season of the show. 

The main attraction was indeed the Atlanta murders, a series of murders committed in Atlanta, Georgia, between July 1979 and May 1981. Over the two-year period, at least 28 children, adolescents, and adults were killed, with black children the majority. Ford and Tench works on an active manhunt with the local police for the first time in the series. 

Like its first instalment, the music and cinematography of this season remains its major attraction. While Fincher only directs the first three episodes, he establishes a clear tone and style for the entire season, and is clearly seen in the later episodes directed by Andrew Dominik and Carl Franklin. Fincher uses heavy shadows and washed-out colors to create a sense of unease and discomfort.

The series portrays a decaying environment in cities throughout US, which reflect a country torn by the cold war and gives the sense of the growing phenomenon of the serial killer as a symptom of a larger evil. The season is set early in the Reagan administration and the dawn of '80s consumerism when African Americans have gained equal rights and become lawmakers, yet find themselves ignored by the Whites in every possible way.   

While some fans are complaining that Mindhunter: Season 2 was not exactly better than the first season, it is nevertheless one of the most compelling and flawlessly shot crime thrillers out there. It seems to start slow and wander around among Ford, Tench and Carr’s personal lives but quickly shifts its focus to the Atlanta child murders case, where the audience gets to see the team in action working on a massive open case for the first time in their universe. The new season dramatizes the infamous serial killings of that time and gives us a deep look into the African American society of US during that time period.

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