Mindhunter just released its second season.
6 out of 10 stars for a great FICTIONAL season. Unfortunately there are going to be a lot of people thinking this season is true and it’s not. I see a lot of lawsuits in the future for Charlize Theron (the producer) and Netflix. Maybe even John Douglas.
First let me say this season is very watchable IF you view it as fiction and with fictional characters. If you view it as anything close to the truth of what happened, you’ll be offended. Here’s why. The show was created around the work done by the original FBI profilers John Douglas (who consults for the show) and his partner Robert Ressler (now deceased so he can’t object) as well as Dr. Ann Burgess who helped them codify their meetings with convicted serial killers into a book they used to profile future killers (Sexual Homicide). Douglas wasn’t with the FBI for long before he had major personality clashes with both Ressler and Burgess and was then forced out of the FBI. He’s bitter and it shows from this season.
If you didn’t already know, Holden Ford’s character is based on John Douglas while Bill Tench’s character is based on Robert Ressler and Dr. Wendy Carr’s character is based on Dr. Ann Burgess. They are nothing like the real people. Ressler didn’t adopt a kid who went on to be complicit in the death of a 22 month old infant. Nor did Burgess have lesbian affairs which she let interfere with her work at the FBI. And Ford’s brilliant intuitiveness which the show credits for the success of the FBI’s profiling unit is also fictional. Douglas was never this brilliant. Gifted yes, brilliant no. One of the things that Douglas suffers from, which interesting enough is brought up in the show repeatedly, is that he became friends with serial killer Ed Kemper and considered him a friend. He took what Kemper told him as gospel when Kemper was actually yanking his chain most of the time. That gave Douglas a very myopic (near-sighted) view of everything.
So this season is like one long ongoing revenge fest aimed at Ressler and Burgess and the FBI (from Douglas who consults for the show). He invents a murderous son for Tench (Ressler) and a skanky lesbian lover for Carr (Burgess). And all season both of them are constantly backstabbing Ford (Douglas). If you can set all of that aside, it’s an interesting show to watch.
- In the opener for season 2, we see the BTK killer get caught by his wife practicing auto-erotica asphyxiation while dressed as a hooker (Park City, Kansas). Although every episode this season features the BTK killer in the opening, they never catch him.
- Next up is Bill’s home life. His wife wants him to socialize with their friends from church at a barbecue, so he tells them about work. While that makes him popular, it makes his wife Nancy angry. Bill encourages their adopted son Brian to play with the older boys, a move he’s going to regret very soon.
- At work, Bill gets the BTK case file and starts reading through it. The 1974 Otero family murder was particularly grotesque. The BTK killer sat in a chair and watched a nine year old boy slowly die of asphyxiation. It took 26 minutes. Then he hangs the 11 year old girl from a pipe in the basement and masturbates as he watches her die. (Way too much information for me.)
- Director Shepard tells Bill he’s retiring and that the new director, Ted Gunn gave up a top floor assignment in the Hoover Building to work with their profiling unit. Bill is called to Gunn’s office and Gunn asks him who is to blame for last year’s fiasco. Bill immediately blames Holden. So Gunn asks him if they should just fire Holden and Bill says no, without him the unit wouldn’t do well. No kidding (sarcasm). Fortunately, Gunn is a big fan of Holden’s. So he tells Bill to support Holden.
- Bill gets a phone call from Holden to pick him up at the hospital in Vacaville, California. That’s when Bill learns Holden went to see Ed Kemper alone and suffered from severe panic attacks. Rather than being sympathetic, Bill whines the entire way home with Holden and dumps all over him. And it starts to become clear that this season is about John Douglas making fun of his old cohorts at the FBI. Tench, who is based on Robert Ressler, is the old-fashioned, out-of-date, former military stereotypical bully who works 9 to 5 and then goes home while Holden Ford, who is based on Douglas, is a mild-mannered, brilliant, intuitive, trustworthy FBI agent who goes above and beyond to catch the bad guys. 🙂
- Director Gunn’s next meeting is with Dr. Wendy Carr and he approaches her the same way. He asks her who was to blame for last year’s fiasco and she immediately blames Holden just like Bill did. So Gunn tells her to support Holden and sends her back to her office.
- Finally Gunn gets to meet Holden and invites him into the executive kitchen where he makes him an omelet and tells him to call him Ted. It’s clear he came over to the FBI to work with Holden, not Bill or Wendy. Holden is the brilliance behind the team. Gunn also tells Holden he’s getting them an interview with Charlie Manson.
- While Holden is with Gunn, Bill and Wendy whine to each other about Holden and last year’s fiasco which they both blame on Holden rather than Smith.
- When Holden appears with the unit he tells Wendy and Bill that Greg’s the one who sent the tape last season. And Greg finally admits that he’s the rat who sold everyone down the river. 🙂
- The episode ends with a retirement party for Shepard and we learn that he was forced into retirement by the debacle at the end of last season (which incidentally was due to the fourth wheel on their team, Greg Smith who was unqualified for the job but hired through nepotism). Shepard leaves his own party to crap all over Holden, blaming him for getting fired. :0
- The episode begins with Bill visiting Kansas and reviewing the first murders of the BTK killer, the Otero family. This deeply disturbing set of murders starts with the killer murdering the parents in front of the kids then watching the children aged 9 and 11 slowly die, the first by suffocation and the second by hanging.
- After visiting the Otero house, the local Kansas cop takes Bill to meet the only surviving victim of the BTK killer, the brother of one of his victims whom he shot in the face. His name is Kevin and he describes in graphic detail how the BTK killer attacked him and his sister Kathy, how he was strangled and fought back, and how after he was shot he pretended to be dead as he heard the man murder his sister. He did notice the BTK killer was wearing a military watch and identifies it as the Otero father’s military watch that was stolen after the Otero murders. Sadly, there was actually a moment when Kevin fought back and got the BTK killer’s gun. He fired at him twice and the gun never went off, but by then the BTK killer got the gun back from Kevin and shot him in the face. If only Kevin had known the safety was on.
- When Bill goes home he finds the back door of his home unlocked and that spooks him. When he asks his wife she says she took out the garbage and acts like it’s no big deal. The idea that his wife is constantly leaving the back door open is very unsettling to Bill. Imagine working with serial killers and going home to an open door then imagining what could’ve happened to your own family.
- Bill and Holden discuss the BTK killer case and come across the symbol that the BTK used to sign his letters to the police and the media. It looks eerily similar to the one that the Son of Sam killer sent to the police and media. So they decide to go see the “chubby behemoth”, David Berkowitz. Wendy is angry because she wants to interview the killers on her list and Berkowitz isn’t one of them.
- Wendy and Bill meet at a bar and rag on about Holden again. As I said, this is quite obviously a revenge fest for Douglas. And this is where Wendy meets the skanky lesbian bartender that she uses for the season.
- Bill and Holden go to see the Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz, who claimed a dog told him to kill the six women he shot and murdered. Berkowitz has an unusually large head which is hard to ignore. I wonder if the reason Holden was staring at him so much during the interview was because of the very large head. Berkowitz says he came up with the Son of Sam moniker because the press had dubbed him the 45 Caliber killer and he didn’t like it. He also didn’t like that they said there was a sexual component to his crimes. He insists there wasn’t. He claims he was tormented by a demon inside of him. His neighbor’s name was Sam and he had the dog who supposedly spoke to Berkowitz. Ten minutes with Holden and Berkowitz finally reveals that he just found out he was adopted, searched for his biological mother and found out she never wanted him. Plus he’d just watched The Exorcist and had already sold the rights to his own book. Crazy sells. Unlike the BTK killer, Berkowitz never stalked any of his victims. He’d just drive around and pick a woman. He also never took souvenirs. But he did go back to his crime scenes to relive the thrill of killing.
- When they get back to Quantico, Bill and Holden discuss Berkowitz with Wendy and after Holden leaves, Bill and Wendy complain about Holden to each other yet again.
- When Bill gets home he gets a visit from the Fredericksburg, Virginia police, a Detective Spencer. They found a murdered 22 month old infant tied to a cross in the house Nancy has listed for sale (she’s a new realtor). Nancy’s reaction: “Did it stain the carpet? Did they break the window?” Wow. Douglas obviously hated Ressler’s wife because he made her a cold, calculating shrew in this season.
6 out of 10 stars. Very interesting. Very watchable. A bit frustrating if you know the background of the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) and the real people these characters are based on because this is FICTION.