I am sure that most of you can relate to the post-Mindhunter binge feeling that I am experiencing. We waited two years for season 2, but oh, it was well worth the wait. Season two stepped it up a notch with the list of serial killers and cases that Ford and Trench investigate. In my breakdown, I am going to talk about what I think are the main points of this season, although I really enjoyed every aspect of this season.
Ford’s Panic Attacks
After going alone to see the “Co-Ed Killer” Ed Kemper by himself and getting a rather creepy hug from him, Holden suffered his first panic attack and was subsequently hospitalized. Unfortunately, no one knew he was with Ed, so he is mostly just missing for a few days putting pressure on Bill to cover for him. After getting a call from Holden once he is coherent enough, he is brought back to Quantico.
Holden talks with Wendy about his panic attacks later and she thinks that he needs to be better about managing his stress. This does become a concern for both Bill and Wendy privately, and they both agree to watch him closely for signs of more attacks. He does have another on screen attack when talking to the now former Assistant Director, Robert Shepard, after learning the consequences of his actions with the tape last season that was redacted at his request.
We don’t see him have another and the only other indication that he is still having issues is that Bill once says to him to “take his Prozac” after they have been arguing but, that could just be Bill upset about Holden’s ignorance at Bill’s personal struggles this season.
New Assitant Director
Like I already mentioned, there was fall out from the tape that Agent smith sent last season. While Holden did claim the blame was his, it was Assistant Director Shepard that paid the price when he was forced into retirement. However, the new Assistant Director is more open to the work that Holden and Tench are doing.
He is concerned about Holden and that he can sometimes be a little too much, but he also sees the value of his vision and believes that the profiles that are being built will change the way the FBI works moving forward. He pushes Bill to become Holden’s “Blinders” to keep him focused but also not rustling too many feathers. He is very good at pulling strings and getting anything that Holden requests, even an interview with Manson.
To me, the biggest drawn back with the new Assistant Director is that he doesn’t seem to value Wendy Carr as much. At one point she continues doing interviews with the imprisoned serial killers while Holden and Bill work on the Atlanta Child Murders, but then Gunn pushes her back into the basement. I guess, if you look at her role within the job this makes sense, but I also think that she could be a bigger asset.
Agent Gregg Smith
Agent Smith was a later addition to the team last season and had trouble grasping the content that the unit is working on. When Holden asked Smith to redact some parts of a tape he does, but then sends a full tape anonymously. This led to the OPR investigation that forced retirement of Assistant Director Shepard. In a group talk, Holden calls Smith out assuming that he would be the only one willing to jeopardize their work. Smith admits to it but then then group moves forward with Smith still on board, but now they know his limits. Plus, with the new Assistant Director I think they feel less pressure to be so straight and narrow in the interviews.
Personally, I think my favorite part of last season was the interviews with the serial killers they are using to make these guidelines. Ed Kemper is easily one of the best. These interviews continue this season but in a lot of ways take a back seat to the active murders and the application of their incomplete curriculum. Here is a list of all the interview Serial Killers this season
Berkowitz is the famous “Son of Sam” killer. After Bill is asked to look at some BTK killer files, Holden and Bill talk with Berkowitz seeing some similarities with the cases, like the symbol and contact with the press. The infamous “Son of Sam” murders took place from July 1976-July 1977. Int total Berkowitz killed six people and injured a seventh. His story was that he was told to kill by his neighbor Sam’s dog. He did plead guilty and was sentenced to six life terms in prison.
As portrayed in Mindhunter, this was a fabricated story that Berkowitz admitted to making up but refused to accept that the murders he committed were in anyway sexually motivated. He tells Holden and Bill that he would return to the scene of his crimes to relive them and that he would masturbate to that and that he thinks that the BTK killer would do the same.
Both William Pierce and William Henry Hance are interviewed as directed by Wendy to help build their profile pool and guidelines. Holden finds neither of them as interesting as Kemper or Berkowitz because they are not as education or intelligent. Pierce is interesting because he was in prison and then paroled 1970, although the Psychiatrist thought he was still dangerous. This proved true when he went on to kill nine people, seven women including the daughter South Carolina senator and two men. He was arrested again in March of 1971.
William Henry Hance
Like I already mentioned, Holden goes to this and the Pierce interview but doesn’t find them interesting. He goes with Atlanta Agent, Jim Barney because Bill is dealing with personal stuff I will talk about in a minute. William Henry Hance was convicted of murdering three women in and around military bases and then wrote to the police on Military stationary. He was put to death in 1994, and later another murder in Indiana was credited to him.
Elmar Wayne Henley
This is another interesting interview but was conducted by Agent Smith and Wendy Carr who become distracted with the Atlanta Child Murders. Smith really fumbles this, but luckily Wendy can pick it up and learn some things. Henley isn’t a serial killer; he was a recruiter for a serial killer Dean Corll. Henley was initially a victim of Corll who talked his way out of being killed and then lured victims in. He would then watch Corll abuse and kill 28 teen boys. Henley looked up to Corll as an important figure since his own relationship with his father was troubled. Later Henley ended up killing Corll himself telling Wendy that he was tired of it and that he was in fear for his own life.
In the process of this interview Wendy admits that she too is gay and was preyed upon by a mentor. Everyone praises her for making this up on the spot, but this is true for Wendy.
Ed Kemper was a big part of season one, so I am not going to get too much into his stories. Holden and Bill do stop in to see him since he is located at the same prison as Manson, who they are there to interview. The important question here that they ask is about returning the crime scenes. Kemper admits to returning to scenes and taking trinkets, all to relive the fantasy and stay the compulsions. He also suggests that Manson is an imposter and that they should really talk with Tex, a member of the Manson family.
This was probably one of the most exciting to hear about being in the show. I think that we can all agree that Mason is certifiable, but he was able to recruit teens and then talk them into killing, although he himself never actually murdered anyone. He denies any wrongdoing and twist things to make them seem like the other person’s ideas. He truly gets under the skin of Bill by continuously calling the teens “your children” which is unknowingly hitting close to him for Bill.
While this was not my favorite interview, I think they did a fantastic job catching the essence of Manson. He is a master manipulator and he was able to manipulate even Bill. There was also the sunglasses that he asked for from Holden and then lied saying he stole them.
Charles Denton Watson Jr.
Better known as Tex Watson, central member of the Manson Family. Watson was involved with both the Tate murder and the LaBianca murders as part of the Helter Skelter vision of Charles Manson, who was looking to start a race war. He tells a drastically different story than Mason but admits to everything he did and the influence he felt from Manson. Later when talking to Wendy, her and Holden agree that Manson was able to prey upon just the right teenagers for his family.
Bateson is the last interview of the season. After not getting out of him what they wanted, Gunn pulls Wendy back to the office and tells her that they can train agents to interview instead, that her work in the basement is more important. She doesn’t like that she is pulled back to the basement but doesn’t protest.
Bateson is assumed to be a serial killer because he is thought to be responsible for several murders of gay men although he was never convicted for them. He did, however, serve time for the murder of Addison Verrill a film industry journalist. He was released from prison in 2003 and it is unknown if he is still alive or where he lives.
Wendy this season was really the only disappointment for me. I feel like her relationship wasn’t really that interesting and was only added to give her screen time. She does still struggle with being a gay woman and working with the FBI, but I really think they could have done better by looking more into her work.
The Tench Family
Bill this season is pulled in several different directions. Between the Atlanta Child Murders that have him traveling, his work in his office to help Wendy keep a timeline for their training protocol, and his home life it is no wonder he isn’t focused.
Early in the season it is discovered that there was a murdered toddler at a real estate property that is being shown by Bill’s wife, Nancy. Into the investigation they learn that Brian, their adopted son, was there for the murder and even suggested that they put him on the cross. Nancy clings to the idea that it was so the child would come back to life. This leads to heavy monitoring by a case worker and physiatrist visits. Brain also severely regresses by wetting the bed, playing with old toys and no longer speaks. There are a couple scenes, like getting out of the house and staring at a girl on the swing, that make us aware that Brian is NOT okay. Let’s not forget that the only time he speaks later is to inquire if the fish died in Bill’s story. Nancy though, refuses to see the issues and just wants things to go back to normal until she decides that maybe the best thing is to move. Bill is reluctant to move and in the final episode he comes home after the closing of the Atlanta Child murders to an empty home.
Atlanta Child Murders
This is a case that really dominates this season of the show. Holden is first made aware of the missing and murdered children when he is in Atlanta interviewing both William Pierce and William Henry Hance. Tanya, an employee at the hotel asks him to a meal and introduces him to Camille Bell and the other parents of the missing and murdered children. He takes the book of information that Bell has collected and is interested in helping but without permission there isn’t much he can do. Really at this point he must wait for more bodies.
In the meantime, Holden runs an experiment in Baltimore with kids getting in a car with a black man and then being approached by a white man. He thinks that the unsub in Atlanta would have to be black, that he would be more trustworthy to the victims where a white man would raise flags and generate more witnesses. This leads him to create his profile of a 20-30-year-old black man.
It isn’t until there is a kidnapping in Atlanta of a black boy that the FBI are called in. This is standard protocol in all kidnapping cases. Although there are already twelves murders, they believe that this is only a kidnapping and they are expecting a ransom call at 6pm as indicated by a caller. While they are waiting on the call, Holden gives his profile to the Commissioner who doesn’t seem to like the idea of hunting for a black man or that there is a predator in their city. When no ransom call comes and Holden’s theory that there was no kidnapping is proven, the Commissioner kicks out the FBI. Apparently, a predator is not good for an election.
Holden stays up to date on the case, but it isn’t until murder seventeen that the FBI is finally called back in. While Holden is firm in his profile, he meets a lot of resistance and most people think that this there is Klan involvement. There was a tip called in about where to find a body, but Holden doesn’t think that this is a wise use of resources and doesn’t believe that there is anything there. Instead, Holden pushes to look in known location of other kidnappings and bodies since they have confirmed that serial killers like to relive their fantasies. There they find several bodies of some of the missing children and porno magazines with seaman and fingerprints.
This leads them to a plumber. Holden knows based on his profile that this is not their guy, but he entertains the idea until another child has gone missing and found in the time period that they were holding him.
Jim does some interviewing with Pat-man’s mother, one of the missing boys. He learns that most of the missing boys know each other and that there were a few houses that they all like to hang out at, including a house that was already investigated that had several pictures of young boys. However, the dump site for this boy is the same location the prank caller gave them making Holden realize that the killer is following the investigation.
This has Holden wanting to hold a memorial to draw out the killer. He talks with Camille Bell who moves the march to two of the location where boys were taken, and Holden promises to have crosses set up. This becomes an interesting web of red tape and Holden ends up running through the streets of Atlanta with a cross.
With more bodies, the mayor puts out a reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer and there is a charity concert being put on to help pay for the investigation. Holden thinks that this is another opportunity to draw out the killer by hiring men as security for the concert, but he then runs into more red tape in getting flyers made and misses the opportunity.
They then veer off looking into Klan members and even get a promising lead, but it turns out to be just talk and not actually linked to the case. With the twentieth boy murdered they finally get an interesting push in the case when the news reports that fibers were found on the body. This lets the killer know that this can be trances pushing him to find a new way to dump. With that boys are now being dumped in the water leading them to start a mass patrolling of all the bridges in the area. They patrol for weeks and it is to the point where the money has run out and they are on their last night of surveillance when a recruit hears a splash. Jim then pulls over Wayne Williams who we saw at the fake call location. Wayne even assumes that he is being pulled over about the boys.
From this point it becomes cat and mouse and politics with Wayne. They find several things in the car on the initial search but none of it was bagged and when they return to Wayne the next morning it is all gone. Later a neighbor tells Holden that he witnessed Wayne burning things early in the morning. Not only that but the woman he claims he was going to meet doesn’t even exist, however, there isn’t any real evidence that ties him to the murders. He remains calm and confident, even buying Holden and Bill food when he knows they are tailing him. When the body is found in the river a few days later the pressure really heats up, but it isn’t until they confirm that some fibers match Wayne’s house and that he becomes a flight risk that he is arrested and charges with two adult murders.
To this day, all these child murders are technically unsolved although they have recently been reopened.
Since season one there have been these Kansas inserts that show Dennis Rader, the BTK Strangler. He was active at this time although he wasn’t caught until years later. The scenes with him are always wild from him posing for pictures to him tying himself up.
When the case comes across Bill desk, he investigates it, but it does take a back seat to everything else going on. The interview with Kevin, Kathy Bright’s brother and the only BTK survivor, was probably my overall favorite scene this season. It was so intense and full of emotion even though we never saw Kevin’s face. If the show is renewed for a season 3, I would love to see this investigated more.
This continues to be one of my favorite Netlix Originals with it’s stunning cinematography and deep delve into the study of Serial Murderers. I am not only axiously awating the announcement for season 3, but hoping that it airs sooner than two years from now!
You can check out both season one and two on Netflix!