Clear your diary because Mindhunter is about to consume the next 19 hours of your life.
Gripping, fascinating, addictive and any other adjective you can think of, this is crime drama on steroids and better yet, actually based on real events.
Created by Joe Penhall and mostly directed by David Fincher, Mindhunter follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany). They travel around the country teaching police departments the techniques they need to catch criminals and murderers.
Holden Ford soon realises that there have to be more personality traits and other life aspects that these criminals have in common.
But in a time when the term ‘Serial Killer' has not even been invented, his ideas about criminal psychology are not particularly well received.
To humour him, he is given a basement office, a tiny budget and a timeline in which to prove his theories alongside his partner agent Bill Tench.
Along with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv from Secret City), the agents decide to interview imprisoned serial killers in order to understand how they think, hoping they can apply this knowledge to solve ongoing cases.
And so begins their pursuit of interviews with imprisoned serial killers around the country.
Based on actual dialogue taken from real interviews, they record and document their conversations and start to build profiles which they can then use to identify other killers and solve crimes.
As they begin classifying all of their data, and get excited about what they learn, they are more than surprised when their research provokes negative feedback.
Mindhunter Season 1
With ten episodes, the first season of Mindhunter takes place from 1977 to 1980.
One of the first prisoners to be interviewed by Ford and Tench is the notorious serial killer Edmund Kemper played by Cameron Britton.
He is the first to assist the two FBI agents in understanding how a serial killer's mind works.
And despite the main premise of the show being about the early days of profiling, there are additional storylines regarding the two agents.
Bill's adopted son Brian Tench (Zachary Scott Ross) is struggling and Bill's wife Nancy is having to do most of the work with him at home, leading to the near-collapse of his marriage.
Holden Ford is so focused on work that he has almost no life outside of the job which starts to become all consuming.
Mindhunter Season Two
The second season of Mindhunter, which has nine episodes, takes place in 1980 and 1981, with Ford and Tench investigating the Atlanta murders of 1979 to 1981.
The horrific case included at least 28 deaths, mostly children and is based on the real story of Wayne Williams.
He was charged and convicted for the murder of two adult men but was never tried for the killing of the children and adolescents which understandably caused outrage.
Mindhunter Season 3
I personally love this show so much that I wish I had better news when it comes to season three of the tv show Mindhunter.
Despite how successful the show was for Netflix, back in October 2020, executive producer David Fincher confirmed that a third season of the show is off the radar at Netflix. At least for now.
David Fincher said. “It absorbs everything in your life. When I got done, I was pretty exhausted, and I said, ‘I don’t know if I have it in me right now to break season three.”
But never say never, a spokesperson for Netflix said “Maybe in five years.”
If it does ever get made then based on the timelines we should see more of the BTK killer and it's also possible that a third season would feature appearances from the likes of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, or Jeffrey Dahmer.
Mindhunter Serial Killers
Each of the first two seasons had a primary focus. The first was to develop the theories and the second was to use that knowledge to stop a serial killer.
In order to do that there is more than one disturbing interview but when the insights lead to groundbreaking results, it's easy to see why the FBI agents invested so much time in it.
So which serial killers did Ford and Tench interview in Mindhunter?
In season one they interviewed Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton from Umbrella Academy) as well as Montie Rissell played by Sam Strike, Jerry Brudos played by Happy Anderson, Richard Speck played by Jack Erdie, and Dennis Rader also known as the BTK killer, played by Sonny Valicenti.
In season two Tench and Holden consult more infamous murderers, such as David Berkowitz, also known as Son of Sam, played by Oliver Cooper, William Pierce Jr. played by Michael Filipowich, Elmer Wayne Henley Jr. played by Robert Aramayo, and Charles Manson, played by Damon Herriman.
Is Mindhunter Worth Watching?
I cannot overstress how addictive Mindhunter is. Casting wise there is an uncanny likeness of the actors portraying real life serial killers (check out Ed Kemper).
The characters of Ford and Tench are nuanced and complicated with plenty of blurred lines that Ford is willing to cross in the pursuit of knowledge.
The work they conducted is revolutionary and it is one of the best Netflix Original available.
If you love solid crime drama then you have to watch Mindhunter.
Is Mindhunter A True Story?
As tv viewers, we are consumed with programmes like CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds…the list goes on forever, and the more we watch this crime-solving genre, the more that gets made.
While most are highly fictionalised and dramatic for the sake of being dramatic, they are largely based on some version of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit.
Thing is, that didn't actually exist until 1977 and that's where Mindhunter comes in.
An incredible re-telling of the origins of serial killer profiling, based on the pioneering work of agents John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker.
Mindhunter is based on their 1995 book: Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit.
The characters' names have changed but little else has in this frighteningly accurate look at their life's work.
Cast Of Mindhunter
Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford, a special agent in the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (BSU)
Holt McCallany as Bill Tench, a special agent in the FBI's BSU
Anna Torv as Wendy Carr, a psychology professor who joins the BSU
Hannah Gross as Debbie Mitford, Ford's girlfriend
Cotter Smith as Robert Shepard, the assistant director at the FBI Academy
Stacey Roca as Nancy Tench, Bill's wife
Joe Tuttle as Gregg Smith, a special agent newly assigned to the BSU as a fourth member of the team
Michael Cerveris as Ted Gunn, Shepard's successor
Albert Jones as Jim Barney, an Atlanta FBI agent
June Carryl as Camille Bell, a grieving mother of one of the Atlanta murder victims