Review - Mindhunter Season 2
Joe Penhall and David Fincher return after a 2-year hiatus with the second season of their factional docudrama. This time around, the BSU (Behavioural Science Unit) branch of the FBI not only profiles, but also solves major national cases.
Season 2 starts right off from where the first season ended with Ford (Jonathan Groff) dealing with a panic attack and the rest of the team, lead by Tench (Holt McCallany) and Dr. Carr (Anna Torv) covering him from the major heads of the FBI.
Through the span of the season, two plot arcs are in place. The first (Episodes 1-5) are about the typical profiling of convicts of multiple murders, including the well-known real killers Son of Sam (Oliver Cooper), Tex Watson (Christopher Backus) and Charlie Manson (Damon Herriman). The second plot (Episodes 6-9) changes to a full-on investigation on the Atlanta Child Murders.
The first three episodes are directed by David Fincher, who makes clear the psychological state of the characters and their stance on the research/ each other. It marks an all new slate, forgetting the past differences, showing the team trying to work together as functionally as possible. With clear changes such as a new boss for the team and the possible obstacles they are about to face (Ford's unstable psychological condition), it sets up a lot of drama for this new season.
Episodes four and five are directed by Killing Them Softly's Andrew Dominik, presenting us with individual character arcs for the three main leads. Ford trying to open a FBI investigation on the murdered and missing children in Atlanta. Tench dealing with a nightmarish tragedy close to his family and finally Dr. Carr with both her professional and personal worlds marking a new evolution.
From the first season we knew the implications the job had on Ford's life, changing him to a level that alienates him from having a serious relationship. Even though that was previously touched on for Tench and Dr. Carr, it has come to full focus, especially for Tench with his wife, Nancy (Stacey Roca).
Each of the interview subjects has had an affect in some way on the progression of the characters, marking that fine line between law abiding citizens to extremely disturbing individuals. Both Tench and Dr. Nancy have been affected in some capacity, but Tench was at most part able to hold himself to his principals, until Manson.
On Episode Five there are two main guests. The return of Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton) and the highlight interview of Charles Manson (which is the same actor playing Manson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Besides the whole episode dealing with the Manson Family case, with a fascinating study on control and nature, it also delves into a great deep think study on Tench and his arc. One of the best things the show does is mix real life events (in this case horrible murder cases) and its fictional characters, with Tench probably being the strongest overall.
The final four episodes are directed by Devil in a Blue Dress' Carl Franklin. The part where the show takes a big turn into a full crime mystery, is by dealing with a real case about the 28 murders and missing young African Americans (majorly children) in Atlanta during the 1971- 1981.
From the first season up to this point there has been a long study period for these moments, proving that the FBI can use BSU's resources for national crisis, such as one of the biggest cases in American history. During these episodes, the show reveals what it had up its sleeve, the whole time. It truly is an ace of spades.
Through the investigation Ford, Tench and their associate Barney (Albert Jones) meet different obstacles preventing them from solving the mystery and catching the killer. From the Mayor and his cabinet, with their own political agendas for re-election, the polices' bias on the team's theories, to the African American community filled with anger and blaming the KKK for the state's bloody history. Even the team itself gets in the way, either from Tench's family issues, or Ford's oblivious ignorance about the mindless (but understandable) fury of the community with the governing system.
Including the Atlanta case, Dr. Carr stays behind in Boston continuing the interview with Smith (Joe Tuttle) and becoming more in charge while moving away from her life outside the office, very much like Ford in Season One. Even if we know that this method of the team will become standard in the FBI (based on current history), Mindhunter suggests that even with the right theories and research, abstraction of justice and human error are still in place, no matter how much the agents sacrifice.
The show has made a huge step up from the last season (which was already high) by showcasing the characters in real life situations with the heat of political change and dangerous minds. Every technical element from cinematography to sound design to music is to the level of a David Fincher film, and performances worthy of every praise. This is a show that fascinates me and makes me feel so dirty that only a shower can wash it all off.
Fincher has said that his plan is to make five seasons overall, but it can only happen if a lot of viewers tune in. If you are a fan of his work and prefer to watch a crime drama with deep dark themes and cases of real life murders, then this is for you (I really want Season 3 soon).