'Mindhunter' season 2: How close is Jonathan Groff's sociopathic Holden Ford to real-life FBI agent John E Douglas?

While the show may not have highlighted all aspects of John E Douglas' character, it is safe to say that Holden Ford does have quite a few similar traits


                            'Mindhunter' season 2: How close is Jonathan Groff's sociopathic Holden Ford to real-life FBI agent John E Douglas?

 David Fincher's show 'Mindhunter' revolves around investigations by two FBI agents—Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany)—into the minds of dangerous serial killers. In the Netflix show, Ford is shown as a special agent who has ideas of his own on how to go about it.

 "When we know who the criminal is, we can understand what set him off," he says in a scene and wishes to interrogate serial killers to understand what really goes inside their brain.

His character is based on the celebrated retired FBI agent and serial killer "whisperer", John E Douglas.

Douglas's route into the FBI makes for quite an odd and interesting story. He originally wanted to be a veterinarian, then joined the Air Force and tried to get a degree in special education after volunteering with specially-able kids. When his funding was denied, he moved into industrial psychology. In his later years, when he came back home to discover her wife had her knee cut accidentally, he was drawn towards the angle of the spattered blood for evidence of foul play.

His mind was sharp and he noticed dark deeds instantly.

'Mindhunter' revolves around the investigations of two FBI agents—Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany). (IMDb)

Ever since the show released on Netflix, several fans have created theories around how closely Ford is depicted as Douglas.

A user wrote on Reddit: "A lot of people are analyzing that ford may be a functioning psychopath because of his lack of empathy but I was just wondering if this was true with the real-life John Douglas which Holden ford is based off."

It did start a series of comments on the thread and several users had insightful thoughts on the comparison between John E Douglas and his representation on 'Mindhunter'.

"I've met a lot of people who are of the opinion that Douglas can be pretty arrogant and that he isn't very open to hearing criticisms of profiling. I mentioned elsewhere, but I grew up in Fredericksburg (really northern Spotsylvania County) and that's where a big chunk of the prominent FBI profilers (Ressler, Van Zandy, McCrary, Haigmaier, etc) lived in the '90s, so I knew some of their kids, one well enough that I went to a few of their family's annual Christmas parties (never did talk to Douglas, but I saw him across a room once). From the scuttlebutt I heard, some people had issues with the way Douglas handled himself after he retired and thought that he was inflating the expectations when it came to the accuracy of profiling, especially after he left the FBI," one user wrote, while another said, "Yeah I found it really interesting how much his work-life impacted his family life, to the point where he was just incapable of having a family life and relating to his kids."

The first season ended at a tricky climax, which shows how Holden visits Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britt), and it leads to a panic attack. (IMDb)

The first season ended at a tricky climax, which shows how Holden visits Edmund Kemper and later collapses in the hospital due to an anxiety attack. One question hovering in our minds after that scene is, whether he too, is actually a low-key psychopath.

Moreover, season two will also shed light on his complex connection with the serial killer and whether Holden will visit him again. One user who has read Douglas's book 'Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit', called him "empathetic and "responsible" and said: "He definitely doesn't come off as a psychopath or anything close to that in the book. He talks about how he eventually had a breakdown from dealing with such a heavy workload, and later suffered from PTSD."

"He also mentioned how dealing with cases relating to murdered kids made it really hard to be around his own children. One thing that I noticed in his book is that he doesn't seem to respect traditions or conventions at all—he mentioned the list of banned swear words and how stupid it was, as well as how ridiculous it was that J. Edgar Hoover didn't allow women to be agents. So, that aspect of his personality is pretty similar to Holden," the user added.

Jonathan Groff in a scene from season one where he collapses due to an anxiety attack. (IMDb)

While the show may not have highlighted all aspects of Douglas' character, it is safe to say that Holden Ford does have similar traits as his inspiration. The series is all set to return on Netflix with season two on August 16. 

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