For many years Mr O and I were big fans of a show called Criminal Minds that follows the investigations of the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit, a team of agents who focus on serial killers. It went a bit off piste when they introduced Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was in no way believable as a psychiatrist and the storylines started to get a bit samey but we loved all the “delving into the minds of killers” and the bizarre crimes.
The reason I mention Criminal Minds is because Mindhunter kind of goes hand in hand with it. This latest Netflix original is a dramatisation of how the actual Behavioural Analysis Unit was created… and it is fascinating.
Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany play Holden Ford and Bill Tench, two FBI agents trying to get inside the minds of “spree killers” (before serial killers were even a thing) with the help of specialist psychiatrist, Wendy Carr (Anna Torv). Through interviews with various well-known killers as well as by providing consultation on more disturbing local law enforcement cases the team starts to build out a portfolio of ideas and concepts.
Things don’t always go smoothly though. Note everyone at the FBI is on-board with the idea that criminals can be driven by things that go beyond traditional motives and the legal system is even less sold. Holden’s methods are far from conventional and are often likely not only get him into hot water, but also quite potentially too close to his subjects. All three members of the team find themselves becoming obsessed with the job and having it spill over into their personal lives and it’s hard to draw boundaries in whole new world.
I absolutely love the 70’s setting and the background of social change, especially around the role of women in society and all the main and supporting characters are so well written. Holden in particular is so interesting because he is an absolute barrel of contradictions and Wendy is such a badass, as is Holden’s girlfriend, Debbie (Hannah Gross). There is a great balance between the cases, the politics and the characters personal lives that keeps you hooked and the pace drives things along without ever feeling rushed.
The first season ends with a big cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This show came highly recommended to me and I have no reservation in recommending the first season to you. I can’t wait for season 2.