If dialogues could kill, David Fincher's 'Mindhunter' may easily pass for a double-edged sword. For a show that tells tales of monstrous serial killers, sharp-witted words might be the last resort to cast a spell. After a two-year-long wait, show creator Joe Penhall twists the knife in deeper with a racy pace and riveting plot. Welcome back to the dark, deadly, defiant world.
An original score by Bryan Ferry for his band Roxy Music—'In Every Dream Home, A Heartache'—plays as the BTK Killer is caught red-handed in a knotted lingerie-clad self-pleasing wank by his wife. It's time to draw the curtain—yes, the mysterious ADT serviceman is the serial killer Dennis Lynn Rader indeed! The lyrics stay with you long after the suspenseful sequence is over.
And every step I take,
Takes me further from heaven,
Is there a heaven?
I'd like to think so...
Most shows tend to bore audiences with tedious storylines in their second outing. Such is not the case with 'Mindhunter'. The first episode dives right back in where season one finale ended. Aloof, lying in a cold hospital bed, special agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) battles a lethal panic attack. "You're my first patient to walk out of here in 25 years," his doctor tells him.
Busy with summer brunch and family bonding, Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) immediately springs into action when he gets a warning call. Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) goes about her own business. But, wait! Here's the shocker: old boss Shephard (Cotter Smith) has put down his papers, or at least that's what he is saying!
Enter Ted Gunn (Michael Cerveris): the new Assistant Director at the FBI Academy. Pulling in a DC swagger, he comes with a fresh vision. Bigger, better, bolder game plans are in store for the Behavioral Science Unit. "Boy Wonder has the vapor," as Bill puts it and word is out about Ford's mental stress. Both, Bill and Wendy are set to keep an eye on him.
The theme of 'Mindhunter' may be harrowing, but isn't its treatment exquisite? Fascinatingly crisp and structured, the dialogues in each episode carve out motives so well that you can feel it flowing through your brain. It's almost as if the writers whisper sweet nothings into viewers' ears to fill their minds with rapture—only the images turn out to present savage monsters or gut-churning tortured victims.
Groff takes Ford's character to a more mature graph, except he's also popping pills. Without a doubt, this season too, he manages to outwit others with his brilliant "instincts". McCallany, on the other hand, impresses with his balanced act as the horrors of crime affect his family too.
Anna Torv brings a snub-nosed Carr on screen. Icy and standoffish, she asks the right questions when she feels out of the place: "Why was I even in that meeting?" However, she does find a new partner in bartender Kay Mason and that marks a new beginning for her.
A brilliant shadowplay, painted with light and dark silhouettes, illuminates every frame. The story puts on some speed with a full focus on Atlanta Child Murders and other gory, grisly serial murders. Moreover, there is enough drama from personal lives circling around the investigations to keep one hooked. The questions are sharp, curious, reasonable and the answers bring the real fun. A killer called William Pierce brags about the seven languages he speaks.
William Pierce: "Spanish, German, French, Russian, Libyan, Apache."
Jim Barney: "That's six."
William Pierce: "Well, I speak seven."
Jim Barney: "English?"
William Pierce: "Bingo!"
"I got all the good words," he confesses while relishing chocolate Mallomars. Charles Manson to David Berkowitz aka Son of Sam or even the prime Atlanta Child Murder suspect Wayne Williams—it's a marvel how the makers create an almost "living and breathing image" of the criminals on screen.
It is actors like Cameron Britton (Edmund Kemper), David Herriman (Charles Manson), Oliver Cooper (Son of Sam), Happy Anderson (Jerry Brudos) and Michael Filipowich (Junior Pierce), who deserve the trophy for bringing their A-game as serial killers.
If season one kept you at the edge of the seat, season two will not let you leave that spot. Ultimately, 'Mindhunter' not only manages to maintain the status quo but takes it one notch higher. Layers of depth mold the core structure.
The story may be based on the true-crime book 'Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit' written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, but the way its makers gloss over and swab colors on the small screen makes the Netflix series worthy of 4.5 stars. Splashing more sixth sense, spunk, and science, the show is your best buy at a classic guilty pleasure!