Mindhunter Recap: Assessing The “Why?”

By Daniel Hart
Published: August 16, 2019 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Netflix series Mindhunter Season 2, Episode 5


Mindhunter Season 2 Episode 5 presents conflicting ideas to why serial killers do what they do, centring around Charles Manson and his “Family”.

This recap of Mindhunter Season 2, Episode 5 contains significant spoilers. You can read the recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.

Episode 5 is all about assessing the “why?”, which is embraced by Wendy and Holden, but Brian is resisting in finding out the answers due to personal reasons.

Following on from learning about their son’s involvement in the murder of the toddler, Nancy is blaming herself and insists Bill does not go to work. He is called in, and he’s instantly given an earful from Ted Gunn regarding the Atlanta case and been dismissed.

Making matters worse in Bill’s personal and professional life, his son Brian will be mentally assessed and be put through the court protocols. His son will not be charged, but there will be plenty of questions about his upbringing. Episode 5 sees assessors looking at their home, Bill’s career and the behaviours of Brian.

The good news from the BSU is that Ted Gunn has secured an interview with Charles Manson; Mindhunter was always going to give us a Charles Manson centric episode eventually, which is probably why this chapter was longer than usual. Holden is quietly excited, keeping up his creepy admirations with serial killers. Before Bill and Holden interview Manson, they speak to Kemper; it’s clear that Kemper still has a hold over Holden, who speaks to him more as a friend than a convict. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss revisiting crime scenes, but Kemper has a way of drawing the characters and the audience in.

The Manson interview itself is as entertaining, which is not surprising. The entire scene was Manson preaching his beliefs while Holden chuckles at his jokes on the sidelines. Manson discusses at length how the world lets children down, and he was only bringing them in, which hits a nerve for Bill, who ends up reacting to all of Manson’s theories. This is a rather long interview, and the purpose of it was to display Manson’s way of speaking, but also to rattle Bill, who has personal problems at home. It’s a somewhat effective scene in Episode 5. At the end of the interview, Manson signs a book Holden brought in and asks for his sunglasses, which results in him getting sent to solitary confinement after he claimed he stole them.

Wendy hypothesises that the “race war” that Manson preached was likely to be a way of controlling his “Family” and that his children called his bluff when they began murdering people. Bill is again irked by the prospect that young adults can be at fault.

Near the end of Episode 5, the trio attends a party organized by Ted Gunn which has many wealthy people in attendance. There’s an uncomfortable scene where Ted zips down the front of Wendy’s dress slightly, and she immediately zips it back up. Wendy is also continuously having to fend off a man who insists they should go somewhere alone.

Mindhunter Season 2, Episode 5 ends with Holden receiving a call — there’s been another murder of a young child in Atlanta.

The Altered Tapes

  • The BSU talk about the Henley tapes — Bill gets defensive because Henley committed the crimes at 14.
  • Wendy’s relationship with Kay heats up, but obstacles come sooner rather than later when Wendy asks about Kay’s son and the opportunity of meeting him.
  • Holden interviews Watson on his own about Manson. Watson goes from Manson to Jesus — changing belief system halfway.
  • At the party, Bill tells Wendy about Brian.
  • While Bill can entertain the guests at Ted’s party, Holden manages to bore the crowd.

You can read the recap of the sixth episode by clicking these words.

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