Mindhunter: Review of New Netflix Drama

How do you catch if you don't know how crazy thinks?


About the show

Set in the late 70s, Mindhunter takes your standard buddy cop show and turns it inside out. You can already sense the difference in the beginning of the show, when FBI Special Agent Holden (Jonathan Groff) is brought in to quell a hostage situation. He speaks with a deranged man and tries to get him to calm down using all that he was taught, to no avail.

After this gruesome event, Holden realises: the ‘book’ used to teach agents about murderers, is outdated. He sets out to change that, by writing a whole new guide for a whole new class of criminal: the serial killer.

He and his partner Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), who happens to be the head of the Behavioural Sciences department, travel from city to city, educating cops about the finer workings of murder. They stop at different convicted serial killers in between to get information on their inner workings, so they can profile and maybe even predict violent criminals. This goes against their Unit Chief (Cotter Smith), who, along with the rest of the world, thinks that this is a waste- what can be learned from these degenerates?  Remember, this was the seventies.

Mindhunter has an interesting premise and goes against the ‘solving-a-crime-an-episode’ trope. Rather, it focusses on the people already convicted and the stories, thoughts and processes they have to share, ‘their insights.’



Mindhunter has many interesting characters, from the lead Holden and his colleagues to their violent criminal counterparts. The main characters are well-developed and have strong arcs. Their conversations feel real. This fuels the entire series.

However, things may feel a bit forced with Holden and his girlfriend, especially in the start. It feels rushed, just like their relationship. But with time, it comes into its own. It also is used as a telling factor for Holden, and his own personal development.

For his partner, a similar approach is used. He, too, is seen in a different light at home. It is clear that he has marriage problems, amongst other things. His family background gives us insight into why he hates their visits to serial killers. It takes their toll.

Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), a Behavioural Psychologist, joins the team after consulting with them about their findings. She also has a professional history with Tench, but this hardly ever comes up. She is a strong, smart, independent woman and is keen on trying to keep both Holden and Tench on track, by helping them with a standardised questionnaire for the serial killers. She also leads a double life of sorts. She leaves her partner and moves to Virginia to continue her work at Quantico; she is ridiculed by her partner and fears the same from the people she knows. I suspect it made her decision easier, as she is shown to be uncomfortable at a soiree and leaves early. Her objectiveness is something the FBI and Holden and Tench need.

The serial killers they talk to in Mindhunter are based on real-life murderers. I was at the edge of my seat during every interview. It was unnerving, but entertaining at the same time. From Ed’s speech and mannerisms to Rissell’s vulgarity. I hung on to every word, especially with Ed. He is almost poetic, and his gravitas in undeniable. He definitely pulled me in, too.


My views of the show

I really enjoyed Mindhunter, from the first scene up until the last. It is not a cookie-cutter program. It differentiates itself from other crime shows from the beginning. It is not about the murders or solving them. It is about the inner-workings of both cop and murderer, and almost serves as a study in Psychology and Sociology. The conversations are gripping and interesting. Think of Silence of the Lambs, if most of the movie was Clarice and Hannibal talking, playing mind-games with each other. It is also wonderfully directed and scored.

It does, however, meander here and there. Especially with Holden and his personal life, as well as with the adversity they come across. That is easily forgotten though. I give this show a MUST WATCH.



Article Written By Uwais Khan
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