No. of episodes: 11
Release Date: October 13, 2017
With Netflix releasing oodles of Original TV series’, you can kind of forgive their hit and miss approach. Mindhunter is a crime drama that made it to the thumbnail list based on the true crime book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit. Netflix released the full set to avoid the frustrating “weekly episode” format that they sometimes assign.
This is not a miss. Far from it. Netflix has found their modern day, stylish Sherlock Holmes with a dose of Dr Watson.
Bizarrely, Mindhunter is proud of what it stands for. In fact, it references Sherlock Holmes at least twice. It has the right ingredients to become a staple TV show for Netflix, like Stranger Things, House of Cards and The OA. The premise is originally centred around Holden Ford, an FBI agent in the 70s, who becomes increasingly frustrated at a failed attempt to save a hostage-taker in a quirky hostage situation. He believes there is a certain way to understand the criminal mind, and sets himself on a journey to understand the psychology of murder, which places him in front of monsters.
This sounds interesting.
Mindhunter is not appealing due to its gritty aesthetics, although it could be argued that it’s greyed out appearance veneers its light undertone. Each episode and each assembled plot device are constructed around the lead characters. Anna Torv was my instant attraction to Mindhunter. She felt almost magnetic in Fringe. The talented actor is not the chief reason for the success. What draws you into this slow burner is the two FBI agents, Holden Ford (Jonathon Groff) and Bill Trench (Holt McCallan). Holden is such a slowly but well-developed character that you almost forget who he was at the start by the time the season reaches its conclusion. The nervous, bumbling, shy agent has a misplaced and often awkward conversation with his soon-to-be romance Debbie Mitiford (Hannah Gross), and you almost wonder how he ended up in the FBI. Debbie is a great supporting character that helps facilitate Holden’s development and break him out of his shell. Holden’s effectiveness would not be at all suited without his work partner Bill, a man with obvious reservations but who presents underlying interest in Holden’s ideas. I equally liked both of them, coupled with Wendy Carr’s (Anna Torv) influence on the two.
Okay, what about the murder mysteries?
Mindhunter sells itself as a murder mystery drama, but it has more elements than just investigations. A vast majority of the show is research into the science and psychology of a monster, which is why Anna Torv as a casting choice seems obvious when she has spent a good portion of her career fighting scientific terrorism. The psychology surrounding a serial killer, rapist, paedophile, is well-researched in today’s world and is nothing new, but the beauty of this show is the era it sets itself in. Enforcement authorities in the 70s would not have understood the mind of a serial killer or their motives. Mindhunter sells that era and that way of thinking. The three characters almost feel above the time they are in with their research and methodologies. The story progression in each episode is convincing, with the obstacles Holden facing providing almost a palpable sense of impossibility to change the way of people’s thinking.
Is it really as the title suggests, mind hunting?
Yes. The moments where the two work partners are interviewing a serial killer are Mindhunter’s most chilling. Each attempt to seek out information from the mind of a monster has a feeling of edginess to it. Almost like it is the last place they should be. When they get results, which then helps them with everyday investigations, it almost feels justifiable to the audience. As the season progresses, there is a real sense of opposing principles at times between the characters. There is such a stigma attached to killers that researching them feels immoral to others outside of this group. Holden holds such curiosity that he is almost eerie with his persistent research in some scenes.
So it really is that good?
It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a group of characters as much as I have in Mindhunter. There is something worth savouring about them. I have always found with shows where the characters must interact and discuss things on a scientific level if they are done correctly there is serious character development. Mindhunter chose the right direction. This could have easily been a TV show about nasty criminals, with brutality overshadowing the investigators, but what you have is a show that so wants you to enjoy the leads that you are incredibly interested in their home life, relationships and the era they live in.
Absolutely watch it. With the amount of new conceptual TV series’ released on a monthly basis, you just have to ensure you watch the well-delivered shows. Mindhunter is delivered very well.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.