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Mindhunter Review – The 3 Episode Test

True Crime fans have been spoiled over the last couple of years with the popularity of the Serial podcast, HBO’s True Detective, the Netflix Original Making A Murderer and that’s just naming a few. Well I’m happy to announce that if you’re a fan of the above then we have found your new favorite show: Mindhunter.

Mindhunter is a 10 episode Netflix Original about the birth of criminal profiling (i.e. how to spot a serial killer) and is produced by David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac) and Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road). It sure sounds like a winner, but is it worth your time? Find out if it passes my 3 episode test below! To hear this discussion on the podcast listen to Episode 6.

mindhunter season 1

Mindhunter: Episode 1

Episode Recap:

The series opens up in 1977 with FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) negotiating a hostage situation with a man who believes he is invisible. Unfortunately, he is unable to resolve the situation and the hostage taker blows his head off with a shotgun.

This event seemingly changes Holden and we see him struggling to answer the question, “Why do criminals commit these violent acts?” After the incident the FBI puts Holden on teaching duty where he connects with the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, Bill Tench (Holt McCallany).

The two eventually concoct a plan to answer the “Why” question. How are they going to do this? By interviewing serial killers of course.

Episode Verdict:

  • A lot of the questions Holden and Bill are trying to answer are common knowledge to us all today. Serial killers are often loners, intelligent, and charming… We all know this now, but it is fascinating to watch how these profiles were formed and what had to be endured to uncover their findings.
  • Holden and Bill make a great pair together. Holden is the young, curious agent who tries to push the envelope while Bill is more grounded, even taking on the father figure role at times.
  • I left the first episode wanting more. In fact, I watched the first 6 in a row.

mind hunter coed killer

Mindhunter: Episode 2

Episode Recap:

In this episode we get our first taste of an interview with a killer. Holden interviews Ed Kemper, the ‘CoEd Killer’ and it is as thrilling as you’d expect.

Ed is a highly intelligent and extremely polite individual, the kind of guy you’d like to shoot the shit with after work. That is until you find out the horrific murders he committed to over 10 young girls.

Oh yeah and there is the whole bit about him killing and performing sexual acts on his mother. But you’ll like him! It’s a weird feeling.

Episode Verdict:

  • A bit of a spoiler here, since I did run through this series in just 2 sittings, but this episode is the highlight of the season and the best example of what makes Mindhunter shine. It is so well done that you actually feel for these killers and want to find out for yourself why they committed their crimes.

mindhunter killer

Mindhunter: Episode 3

Episode Recap:

We are introduced Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), a social sciences professor in Boston who believes in what Holden and Bill are doing and urges them to pursue it full time. You can tell that the agents are beginning to take things more seriously and long to commit more time to their project.

They are further propelled into things when a detective reaches out for their help on a string of murders similar to Kemper’s. They provide their insights which leads to a confession from the killer. Finally, they begin to feel validated.

Episode Verdict:

  • At this point we’ve met everyone crucial to the story, have seen the interview process, and are beginning to see some results to the work they’ve done.
  • These 3 episodes pretty much sum up what you’re going to get from the remainder of the series. We’re going to get a few more interviews from killers and get to watch as they start putting the pieces together to create their profiles.

Mindhunter Final Verdict:

Mindhunter is another prime example of why a Netflix subscription is worth your well earned cash. Everything from the casting, directing, storytelling, and pacing are top notch. I truly felt as if I were in 1977 right next to Holden and Bill, solving cases and feeling all of the emotions they felt: amazement, confusion, disgust, and even guilt.

I enjoyed the series so much I downloaded the audiobook Mind Hunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit on which the events in the series are based on.

I was shocked to learn just how closely it followed the source material. So if you’re like me and would like a sneak peek at where the story may lead in season 2, do yourself a favor and grab the book. For those of you who won’t doing your homework expect to see stories revolving around: The Trailside Killer, Wayne B. Williams, and Thomas Vanda.

Oddly enough, BTK, the killer shown at the beginning of each episode, is not mentioned in the book although he may have been one of the 36 killers interviewed during their time with the FBI.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of true crime then watching this show is a no brainer. If you’re interested in history or psychology then I would strongly suggest you check it out. If you simply enjoy a well scripted series that will make it impossible to not exclaim “Yes, I’m still watching, play the next episode!” then please do yourself the favor and watch Mindhunter.

To hear this discussion on the podcast listen to Episode 6.

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