Mindhunter: Entire Season Two
August 20, 2019 12:33 AM - Season 2 (Full Season) - Subscribe

The FBI's Behavioral Science Unit enters a new era of importance, with access to more resources than ever before -- but can it survive the internal pressures of damaged trust, and the external sprinkles of insidious family drama??
posted by fleacircus (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I just started episode 3 so I have nothing of substance to add, except I was struck by how much Anna Torv resembles Carrie Coon. Someone please cast them in a movie together!
posted by orrnyereg at 7:26 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


The same actor who played Charles Manson in Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood also plays Charles Manson in this show. And he's fantastic.

Anyway, I think I'm 5 of 9 episodes down and it's so good. I remember it starting slow in season 1, but this season is just great. Slow but I don't want to stop watching. I'm really enjoying Bill Tench.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:53 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm not a huge fan of the subplot with Bill Tench's kid, however I liked the scene where Nancy first finds out about the death on the property she's trying to sell, and she leaves the sink running. Bill comes over like he might console her, reaching an arm out, but then just turns off the sink. Nancy for her part doesn't seem to even care. "No affection, offered or expected!" my SO and I laughed and laughed.

I spend a lot of time thinking about which actors' faces remind me of others', and I'm surprised I never thought of Anna Torv looking like Carrie Coon. It is known, though! I've probably missed it because of the hair and Coon's face is longer and squarer. I totally see it now though.

Jim Barney's actor, Albert Jones, makes the strangest reaction expressions. He always looks aghast, like he's seeing and hearing the most terrible and stupid thing, but when he speaks it's the right words, it's puzzling and reassuring each time. Holden's worthlessness in those interviews was so obnoxious.

Yeah the Manson scene did deliver.

I liked the look of nighttime Atlanta outside the window of Tanya's Chevette.
posted by fleacircus at 8:08 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


The kid stuff did feel a bit tacked on, but given how a lot of the killers this season were folks who were nurtured/parented into it (Corll's accomplice, Manson's family, etc), I could see it being there as a contrast. Still, it was the least interesting part and felt like it was sucking a lot of air out of the room during the Atlanta investigation.

The BTK stuff was fine framing, but as we know he won't be captured during the scope of the show, it was just more set dressing. Sort of wish they laid off a bit as if things continue - why develop a character who is years away from being caught? Gary Ridgway would be starting up in the next year or so (and Douglas involved himself in that investigation) so they have a different monster close at hand. I assume next season active killer will be, what, the Chicago Ripper Crew? That could lead to Carr goes down her real-life inspiration's Satanic Panic route.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:19 AM on August 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I just keep waiting for them to do some kind of hallucinatory episode where everyone sings, since they now have two actors who are well-known for work in Broadway musicals.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:20 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


"The BTK stuff was fine framing, but as we know he won't be captured during the scope of the show, it was just more set dressing. Sort of wish they laid off a bit as if things continue - why develop a character who is years away from being caught?"

The significance of BTK is that he's an example of how their theory is wrong. They don't think an educated, married, employed man could be a serial killer. They're doing a slow burn about this -- it's most explicitly touched on when Kemper pointedly notes to them that they've only spoken to killers who have been caught.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:34 AM on August 20, 2019 [26 favorites]


I appreciate how much this show elevates the quality of dialogue and discourse I'm unaccustomed to seeing in most contemporary series these days. It actually makes me nostalgic for academia!

The love interest storyline for Carr felt more shoehorned in than the stuff about Bill's kid being a proto-psycho, tbh. I get why they did it -- to keep Torv in the show while the character got shoved onto the sidelines during the Atlanta investigation -- but still. I guess the nicest thing I can say is that the girlfriend didn't get killed off after their first kiss, though I'm unfamiliar with whether this actually was based on Carr's real-life experience (or not).

I think it's interesting that we get to see the profiling techniques they developed in S1 deployed during a real-life murder spree in S2. Some of the imagery was heavy-handed and clumsy (Ford running ahead of a crowd of grieving black families with a blinding-white cross, for God's sake!) but it did highlight just how incompetent Holden still is at dealing with people who aren't serial killers.

It almost feels like the whole message of this season is "serial killers can be right under your nose, including the people you love and trust the most -- at one point, they were all just little kids raised by mostly normal, well-meaning parents."

Well, NO SHIT. If every serial killer was a gigantic, off-putting creeper with zero social skills, they'd be one-hit murder wonders instead (if they got particularly lucky). I posit that a better way to handle that would've been a season-long dive into Ted Bundy's crimes, though chronologically we're already a couple years past his killing spree, aren't we?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:50 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


"The significance of BTK is that he's an example of how their theory is wrong."

Yeah, Bill scoffing to the brother of one of BTK's victims, "This guy does NOT go to to church." Uh yeah, he does and that's how you're going to catch him, bro.

I absolutely love the mom of one of the Atlanta victims, with her large glasses. She's so great. I love how dismissive and suspicious (RIGHTLY SO) she is of Holden. I cracked up at, "There's some cornbread on the table. Take some on your way out. IT'S A DOLLAR."
posted by Aquifer at 1:37 PM on August 20, 2019 [12 favorites]


They floated the BTK dude all through season one too which was annoying as heck. At least they are investigating it a little now (when Bill joked about it clearing out the whole town of Wichita I shouted, "If only!").

I don't feel like Wendy's relationship is tacked on exactly, I mean it's woven in a bit with her sort of lifting her head from her life as a basement gnome dealing with the world only through mechanisms. It raised the stakes on the interview she did. She and Gregg seem hilariously super doomed to failure, but the little sliver of hope makes it exciting. She seems to be growing, and even Gregg had that little spark about essential characteristics, but c'mon she's just emulating her brave gf trying to be something she's not, and Gregg is a doofus; the smart money is on disaster. As it turns out in the interview, she comes to understand she's not just emulating her gf but that she has been stunted by her previous relationship so maybe she can grow.
posted by fleacircus at 2:54 PM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


About to start episode 8 and it’s a great season so far!

I didn't understand why the crosses were so important to the plan to lure the Atlanta killer out into the open, or why the show spent minutes of time with horror movie music on Holden running around with a cross. Strange.

Wendy’s relationship subplot is doing a good job of showing how Wendy isn’t as capable of understanding others in her personal life as she is in the office (much like Tench with his wife and son and Holden with...everyone). Asking to go to the little league game made me go “ohhhhh noooooo” out loud!

I love the developing buddyship between her and Tench and her and poor Gregg.
posted by sallybrown at 4:19 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


The significance of BTK is that he's an example of how their theory is wrong. They don't think an educated, married, employed man could be a serial killer. They're doing a slow burn about this -- it's most explicitly touched on when Kemper pointedly notes to them that they've only spoken to killers who have been caught.

I mean, I see your point. The thing that nags me about it is that they have examples of employed family men killing on hand and being suspiciously saved for Season 3. Big example - Gacy started killing while married and by this point had been caught and convicted. Bundy, too, for the educated and employed aspect. It feels like these folks conspicuous for their absences. I can see Bundy being skipped until Zach Ephron is available, but Gacy? While they are on the case of boys going missing with some sort of pedophilia tinge in the background?

Thinking more, I think I just really wanted more time spent in Atlanta so anything Not Atlanta gets my side-eye. You can interrupt the investigation into this community-devastating killing spree for Manson, but for anything else?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:00 PM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I thought this was a stronger season overall than the first, with the Atlanta plot line, Anna Torv being delightful, and the intra-office politics. That said, I could’ve done with a lot less of Tench’s son, which felt unrealistic at best, and Holden is so interpersonally inept this season, even with other members of law enforcement, that I’m not sure how he manages to exist.
posted by tautological at 6:41 PM on August 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


I loved this even more than S1, and I loved S1.

I actually really liked the storyline about Tench's son and wife (especially because she wasn't being a "chick" about wanting him to take time off to help with their son, you could see just how much strain she was under having to deal with it on her own 80% of the time).

I loved the little moment when Wayne Williams is one of the photographers at the body location (you only see him walking towards the camera for a brief moment). I also think that actor did a spectacular job of playing him as a profound narcissist and an excellent manipulator, able to fool most people into thinking he was a benign, friendly, helpful guy with just occasional flashes of what lurks underneath. That said, that whole case is really hard to pick apart, it sure feels like he was a convenient patsy for the child murders since they were charging him with two other murders anyway, and further testing has been ordered on any evidence still able to be tested. Williams has always maintained his innocence, for whatever that's worth.

I thought the BTK stuff was a little heavy-handed, but I get why they're doing it that way. The actor playing him is really good.

Ugh the scene at the party where Gunn unzips Wendy's top so she can be more attractive to whatsisname. Just ugh.

Bring on season 3!
posted by biscotti at 8:59 AM on August 25, 2019 [6 favorites]


That said, that whole case is really hard to pick apart, it sure feels like he was a convenient patsy for the child murders since they were charging him with two other murders anyway, and further testing has been ordered on any evidence still able to be tested. Williams has always maintained his innocence, for whatever that's worth.

If anyone hasn’t listened to it yet, I thought the Atlanta Monster podcast did a pretty good job explaining how some of the murdered children might have been killed in other ways, by other people, but that Williams almost certainly killed a subset of the potential child victims and not just the two adults. They explored the KKK angle that was hinted at by the show as well. My sense was that (like the show portrayed), authorities did a poor job gathering and preserving evidence initially as the crimes began, and then once they caught Williams, authorities dropped the ball again and didn’t put significant effort into tying him to the open cases (acting sort of like “well he’s going to jail and the killings have stopped...so whatevs!). The hot and cold federal/state investigation turned the whole thing into a morass.
posted by sallybrown at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


I liked this season a lot. The first season was ok, but the second is much better.

I also liked the subplot about the Tench kid; it added a new layer of meaning to all the scenes where they are talking about how killers are formed and the impact of their childhoods. Tench getting left with just his couch was a funny/sad commentary on their relationship.

I cringed every time the fourth investigator (Gregg?) got kicked out of the room so that the grownups could have an important conversation. That actor is doing a great job playing someone far out of his depth and apparently just barely smart enough to realize it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:41 AM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Spooky
posted by growabrain at 11:34 AM on August 26, 2019


So I like this season a lot, but I did find the Tench kid drama shoehorned. Having said that the pay off for me was the scene when the victim's mother comes to see his wife to let Ben known she forgives him. And she doesn't. The expectation is that she will be relieved, but instead she finds it even more disturbing.

I loved how the decision to hire Greg backedfired so spectacularly. They dismissed the black applicant (who from this season clearly would have been a much better fit) and ended up handicapping themselves with a glorified gaffer. I do hope they are able to learn from this epic mistake, but some of the office scenes with Greg are my faves.

I think they totally underutilized Wendy. At the end of the season you have Bill ruminating on the loss of his marriage, Holden wondering about his abilities and the work, and Wendy sad she dumped someone. They need to give her more.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:50 AM on August 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh and I forgot I had a question about the Tench child drama.

So they have a social worker who does drop in checks etc, but the mom was able to just move the kid? Wouldn't all of these people have to sign off on it too? And wouldn't that be kind of a big tip off to Bill? It just seems weird to me. I mean if these over your shoulder types were easily brushed off by a move, i would think Bill would be for it as it would mean not only less tension at home, but he could go back to a somewhat normal work schedule.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:12 PM on August 27, 2019


I thought of that as well. Either it's unrealistic, or she just did it and thought she'd get away with it. She has been deeply in denial about the seriousness of the whole thing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:39 PM on August 29, 2019 [4 favorites]


She could have told the court but just never told Bill, I doubt they could make a couple stay together even if they thought it was best for the child. As long as she doesn't move out of their jurisdiction I doubt the courts could stop that either.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:11 PM on August 29, 2019


This discussion reminds me—I liked the repeated detail of how Tench’s work gave him social currency in all sorts of situations. The knowledge he has of repellent things draws others to him even when they should know better. Especially because it pushed me as the person who chose to view this show, kind of doing the same thing as the social worker and the counselor—“tell me more!”
posted by sallybrown at 2:53 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


"She could have told the court but just never told Bill, I doubt they could make a couple stay together even if they thought it was best for the child."

They were very close to putting him in foster care already. Given the seriousness of his behavior, the mother's denial, Tench's work (which I think the social worker knew the boy was exposed to) and Tench's frequent and extended absences, I think that her making such a move so precipitously would tip the scales, even if she stayed within the jurisdiction. It's not about them not seperating, it's about how these decisions are affecting the boy and if she's doing things in cooperation with child services. Moving out without even informing Tench couldn't possibly have been. They'd give the mother a lot of leeway but I don't think she'd given them much reason to trust her judgment.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:04 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


Plus I doubt she would stay in the jurisdiction. She wanted a "fresh start" which to me means she wouldn't remain in the same area.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2019


I think they totally underutilized Wendy. At the end of the season you have Bill ruminating on the loss of his marriage, Holden wondering about his abilities and the work, and Wendy sad she dumped someone. They need to give her more.

Completely agree that they underutilized Wendy, but the end of the season it isn't that Wendy is sad that she dumped someone; Wendy spent a lot of the season getting marginalized by the new boss alongside starting up a new relationship with someone who professed being "completely open and honest" only to find that person was also quite content to marginalize her when the situation warranted. She lashed out at the safest target she had.

In short, the series did a good job of pointing out that all three of them have flaws similar to the people they study - Tench loves the recognition he gets from his stories (which is one of the strategies they use to get people talking) along with lacking insight into his family; Holden doesn't function well socially outside of the interview room (and even there he sometimes struggles); Wendy is juggling her different identities and secret.

Anyways, I was bemused at the end of the season that their "success" in Atlanta came down to a long, grueling period of stakeouts and surveillance instead of any of the profile being useful in finding a suspect.
posted by nubs at 8:21 AM on September 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


I liked the recurring thing where everyone has a ghoulish interest in the details of the cases. It's understandable but shown from Tench's point of view encountering it everywhere, it was a little chilling. It's also I think a pre-internet period behavior where news is pretty centralized and sanitized and everyone hasn't already been through the argument around Holden's medium essays or whatever.
posted by fleacircus at 1:48 PM on September 4, 2019


Really not liking this season. The first season was so innovative and different; this one just seems like a cliched police procedural. The whole subplot about the son just seems so fake and forced.
posted by octothorpe at 5:30 PM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


It is fun seeing the bits and pieces of Pittsburgh masquerading as Virginia and Atlanta though and a couple of friends of mine show up as extras.
posted by octothorpe at 5:46 PM on September 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm really irritated by the unrealistic plot point of Bill's wife and kid moving out. Impulsively over a weekend. After Bill has said that they think they have caught the guy and all of this will be over, which is exactly what she's wanted. But no, not going to entertain the thought for a second and will flip all the tables, disrupt my child's home life, go against the wishes and rules of all the social services, hire movers and go somewhere (??) into the unknown with no financial security or job or anything. Sure.

She didn't even leave him a set of sheets on the bed or a note or anything. That is an unbelievable level of hostility.

I felt somewhat similarly about Wendy cutting off her girlfriend because...? It seemed quite dishonest and unfair to me as well. She was literally commiting to her girlfriend in the minute before the doorbell rang but I guess she didn't mean it, so...

Come to think of it, all the characters on the show lack compassion or kindness. It's a rotten world they all live in.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:12 PM on September 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Was just at a party and had a long chat with with my friend Gregory who's been an extra in both seasons of Mindhunter. He was one of the guys with a flashlight in the "porn in the woods" scene and is in the retirement party for the chief and a few other scenes. He said that the actor who plays Tench is super nice and charming and that while Fincher was actually pretty nice and took the time to explain everything to the extras, he still made them do a hundred takes of some scenes.
posted by octothorpe at 3:02 PM on September 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


all the characters on the show lack compassion or kindness

Yeah, most of the main characters seem pretty detatched from reality at this point. I think this is best exemplified by Bill's retirement dinner performance, at the point when he adds, "and then he raped the head," which in the viewing seemed like "dude, they get the point." The way that scene was shot, I got the feeling he should be wrapping it up. Just as obvious seemed Bill's desire to talk to someone about this stuff. Nobody is connecting to anybody else, so if you're gonna ask about the work you're going to get it with both barrels.

The son thing was definitely shoehorned in. I think it's a great idea for a sidestory, but a 10 episode season was too short for it to get the focus it deserved. If they had 13 episodes to work with, they could have really brought both the son and Wendy's flailing into focus. That would be four plot lines coming together, though, and I'm not a scriptwriter but that in itself seems like it would be tough to build no matter what.

So we're in the late 70s here and Bill's wife taking off like that doesn't feel too radical. The son was involved in a murder, so they/she has to have been on the edge of moving in response to that even before Bill established his regular absences under the watch of CPS. I would want to rewatch, but I wonder if there might have been some foreshadowing between the CPS officer and Bill's wife (I should really look up her name). Knowing looks, eyerolls, I-told-you-so's, etc. Long story short, I knew someone who had a family-moving event involving a burglar around this time and they moved away within a month or so. Everybody knows Bill wouldn't have gone along with that, so let's bundle up a rebooting escape with a divorce (maybe).
posted by rhizome at 3:14 PM on September 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well I think if your job is interviewing serial killers that yeah connecting with other people is going to be difficult and three mains struggle with that. Holden really has no clue how to talk to people and yet when his now ex gf asks him to analyze what is going on-he nails it. So it's this weird dichotomy of having clear insight into people, but not be able to use that insight for healthy connections. That's part of what I love about it.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:09 PM on September 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


I really enjoyed this season. One detail that really gets to me every time it's shown is Holden's nearly empty apartment with 1 of every dish and zero decorations.
posted by codacorolla at 7:11 PM on September 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


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