Over a year and a half ago, Mindhunter season 1 premiered on Netflix. I was still in uni. I do not remember anything. Actually, that’s a lie. I do remember frothing on Cameron Britton‘s good as hell performance as Edmund Kemper (The Co-ed Killer). Everyone is spectacular in this season but Britton is *kissy fingers*.
(I have named-dropped Britton in 99 per cent of my Mindhunter yarns and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.)
ANYWAY since it’s been forever and I don’t have a life, I re-binged all ten episodes of season 1 with the intent of doing a cute “Here’s What Went Down In Mindhunter Season 1″. Turns out I screwed up because trying to properly sum up one episode in one paragraph is bullshit. Trying to sum up X,Y, Z without Y and Z is also bullshit. So instead I give you “Here’s The Thorough Gist Of What Went Down In ‘Mindhunter‘ S1 Because I’m Already Three Episodes In & There’s No Turning Back.” Ignore the actual headline, it’s the only one that fit.
(I got lazy typing out Bill and Holden so Bolden is now a thing.)
IT’S 1977 BABY and FBI Special Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is a hostage negotiator turned hostage negotiator lecturer in Quantico, Virginia. It’s a very dry gig until Holden overhears his colleague give a lecture on near-impossible-to-understand killers. Consider his interest piqued.
Holden randomly meets Debbie (Hannah Gross) at a bar, who I completely forgot about. OOPS. La-di-da they fuck and start dating. But back to the hunting of the minds, Holden is very keen on studying criminal psychology so big boss Shepard (Cotter Smith) pairs him with fellow FBI guy / big tough guy Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) of the Behavioural Science Unit (BSU). Bill does Road School, giving classes / updating various police departments on what the Bureau’s up to and vice versa. Boom, lads on tour.
Holden and Bill first head to Fairfield, Iowa, where they attempt to tell the local cops that there’s more to murder than just motive and opportunity but it doesn’t go down well. A woman, Ada Jeffries, and her son have been brutally killed and the murderer is at large. The last thing the cops want is a lecture on psychology.
When Holden asks how they can help, veteran cop Frank McGraw (Thomas Francis Murphy) reveals the details of the horrifying double murder, hoping “fancy” Holden can spot something he hadn’t. But without more information, Holden admits he can’t help and Frank skewers him.
‘Crying’ by Don McLean plays on the radio, and that just about sums up episode 1.
Say g’day to our very first CREEPY COLD OPEN with a man in Kansas named Dennis (Sonny Valicenti). Right off the bat – BAD VIBES, BAD, BAD VIBES. And it’s probably because Dennis is Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer. Which stands for Bind, Torture, and Kill.
Meanwhile, Bill and Holden love to bloody bicker. They’re in California now and you know who’s also in California – Vacaville, California? Edmund Kemper.
With a little free time under his belt, Holden immediately sets up his first interview with Kemper but Bill doesn’t go because he think it’s a fucked idea. Can’t blame him.
When they meet, Kemper is terrifyingly self-aware of his murders. He also likes to talk about it a lot (***important***). He tells Holden that he thinks there are other killers like him out there – at least 35 in North America. Holden doesn’t believe him.
So Kemper replies:
Well, Holden, I’m not an expert. I’m not an authority. I’m just an extremely accomplished murderer who spent my adult life successfully evading capture until I gave myself up because I despaired of ever being caught.
Bill agrees to join Holden on his third interview with Kemper, after they’re asked to look into a case of a Sacramento woman who was beaten to near-death and her little dog’s throat was cut. Local police can’t see a clear motive but Holden thinks Kemper can help.
But, Big Boss is not a Big Fan of FBI agents getting chummy with a serial killer. But, Bill sticks his neck out for the cause.
“How do we get ahead of crazy if we don’t know how crazy thinks,” he says.
Access granted. And Bolden even get a whole basement to themselves to do their research.
CREEPY COLD OPEN NO. 2: Dennis stares at a house for a good bit before getting into his WHITE VAN. Again, BAD VIBES, BAD VIBES, BAD VIBES.
The boys are in Boston, Massachusetts now and here’s our first meeting with the powerful, major character Dr. Wendy Carr (Aussie actor Anna Torv). I love her, she’s a bloody queen. She’s also a social science professor, specialising in psychopathy. She advises Bill and Holden to study as many ‘sequence killers’ (‘serial killer’ hasn’t been coined yet) as they can and publish their results. Ford absolutely loves this action plan but Bill is a big “yeah, nah.”
Back in their basement, Bill receives a call – there’s been another attack on a woman and her dog in Sacramento. Except this time, it’s fatal.
On the scene, Bolden spot similarities between the murders and the Kemper killings. Holden suspects the crim is someone “physically mature, emotionally immature, socially undeveloped” and someone who “possibly still lives at home.” AND THEN, a local detective tells them that a very curious bloke randomly approached police at the scene of the crime – he asked a lot of questions… he “liked to talk.”
Long story short, they get the guy. And after another frankly disturbing interview with Kemper, Bill agrees to widen their research and invites Dr. Carr to join the BSU as a consultant.
CREEPY COLD OPEN NO. 3: Dennis is in… someone else’s house, checking locks… as an ADT security rep. He also really likes to follow the rules and is very light on his feet.
Bolden head to Virginia State Penitentiary to interview Monte Ralph Rissell (Sam Strike) – a convicted serial murderer and rapist. He has no remorse. Nothing too important happens here but driving away, Bolden get into a car accident and it really shakes Bill. For the first time in the season, Bill opens up about his wife Nancy (Stacey Roca) and their adopted son Brian who won’t speak.
After Road School in Pennsylvania, the men are approached by a cop who needs their help on a case. A young woman, Beverly Jean, has been brutally murdered, her breasts amputated post-mortem, and her body left in a dump.
Bolden suspect a local, Alvin Moran (Hamilton Clancy) could be the murderer, but his alibi is solid. And so the investigation continues.
Back in the basement, Dr. Carr has become a permanent part of the team and WE LOVE HER. She’s created a questionnaire for Bolden’s interviews so their research has order. Holden absolutely has a crush on her, probably because we only see Debbie for about three seconds every ep.
The episode ends with a Cranky Big Boss informing the trio that their research has been awarded a $200,000 grant, plus an additional $185,000. A sneaky Dr. Carr had spoken to a number of people outside of the FBI about the BSU’s work in the basement and now people are interested, and by people I mean Congress.
This entire scene is easily one of my favourites in Mindhunter history.
CREEPY COLD OPEN NO. 4: Dennis mails a letter. That’s it. But if this Dennis is Dennis Rader then this could be one of the many taunting letters he sent to the police, detailing the murders he committed.
We’re back in Pennsylvania, investigating the murder of Beverly Jean. Her fiancé, Benji (Joseph Cross) says he was watching TV on the night of the murder. He’s a big blubbering mess but Holden thinks there’s something off about him and there 10/10 is. In other words, he’s 3000000% the killer.
It’s later revealed Benji’s brother-in-law Frank (Jesse C. Boyd) had a bit of thing with Beverly. He was also sent to a psychiatric hospital when he was younger because he hit a woman in the face with a wrench. Frank claims it was an accident. He also says Benji isn’t actually engaged to Beverly. So then the cops bring in Benji… and Benji starts sobbing again.
The team visit Frank’s wife / Benji’s sister Rose (Jackie Renee Robinson), who despite being initially hesitant, reveals something did happen on the night Beverly disappeared. Rose also has visible bruises on her body. So according to Rose, a panicked Benji called Frank to come over to help with something. After two or three hours, Frank called Rose and asked her to come over too, with cleaning supplies…
Benji and Frank are arrested and the episode ends with Rose’s testimony but it’s unclear who killed Beverly, and who mutilated her, and Rose apparently doesn’t know either.
CREEPY COLD OPEN NO. 5: Dennis is married and while his wife fusses over their baby, Dennis… Dennis is practising how to tie a knot.
Episode 6 is 34 minutes and it concludes the investigation into Beverly’s murder. It begins with Big Boss offering Dr. Carr a full-time position at the FBI, which would mean she would have to leave Boston. She rejects the offer immediately but Big Boss asks her to “sleep on it” which is Big Boss for “Just take the job, mate.”
MEANWHILE, both Benji and Frank are in custody so Bolden ping pong between the two, trying to elicit a confession(s).
While listening to the tapes, Dr. Carr suspects that Rose is lying – that she actually witnessed the murder so the three of them are in on it together. However, the team have trouble trying to explain their findings to the D.A., who wants to pin the entire thing on Benji. Not even Dr. Carr’s quality, gold star, thorough explanation can sway the D.A.
Afterwards, Dr. Carr returns home to Boston and we meet her girlfriend (Lena Olin), who is definitely someone very important, very intellectual at the university. Unfortunately she thinks Dr. Carr is wasting her time with the FBI, which sucks. She also points out that no one at the firm knows Dr. Carr is a lesbian so she can’t be herself, which also sucks.
And we’re back in Pennsylvania. The D.A. has blamed it all on Benji because it’s the easier way out and I hate him. Frank (extremely dangerous) gets off on a lighter sentence and Rose will also head to jail.
As Holden says, “What difference does any of this make if we can’t communicate it to the people who matter?” So back in the basement, Dr. Carr says they need more subjects to find more patterns. More solid research means more understanding and more understanding means the D.A. won’t be a shithead next time.
Oh and Dr. Carr took the job. Hell yeah.
CREEPY COLD OPEN NO. 6: Dennis has a gun. And Latex gloves, and tape, and a jacket on his bed. Among other things.
We’re closing in on the end here so STRAP IN, this is a long one.
In this episode, we meet sick fuck Jerry Brudos (Happy Anderson), who’s locked up in Salem, Oregon. All of these monsters are obviously sick fucks but Brudos is a special kind of sick fuck. He likes to play games, lie, and lie some more. He even lies about confessing to his own murders. He also claims to have spoken to Kemper, who apparently called Bolden idiots. This is Part 1 of Holden Needs Help because afterwards, he tells Bill: “Do you really think Kemper called us idiots? That doesn’t sound like Ed to me.”
But we do learn some things about Brudos, like his fetish for high heels. So Holden brings a pair of heels to an interview which Brudos can have in exchange for #facts. And in Part 2 of Holden Needs Help, he very comfortably overshares – telling Brudos that his mum once caught him jerking off.
“If what we’re doing doesn’t get under your skin then you’re more screwed up than I thought or kidding yourself,” Bill tells him afterwards. #fact
Tough guy Bill is beginning to crack, and the problems at home are getting worse. During a night out, Nancy says she wants their son to see a child psychologist but Bill is hesitant. When they return home, their babysitter is upset because she found a graphic picture from one of the murders (the one in episode 1 – Ada Jeffries in Fairfield, Ohio) under Brian’s bed.
Nancy is initially pissed until Bill finally crumbles. He also eventually realises that the knots used to tie Ada up are nautical and Fairfield is landlocked.
Holden is starting to feel it. Debbie is done with exams and to celebrate, she invites Holden over for dinner and sex. Except, when they’re just about to do it, Debbie slips into some lingerie… and heels… the same heels Holden bought for Brudos. In denial, dickhead Holden blames his limp dick on Debbie.
There’s no creepy cold open in this episode. Instead a school principal named Roger Wade (Marc Kudisch) circles the words “Deviant”, “Pyromania” and “Torture” on a document given to him by Holden. Holden has dropped by to give a funsies presentation on ‘How To Spot A Kid Ed Kemper’.
After the preso, a teacher named Janet Ebner (Suzanne Hevner) pulls Holden aside. She tells him that when children are sent to Mr. Wade’s office for disciplinary reasons, he tickles them on their feet. And if the kids can withstand the tickling, they get nickels. Bit cooked.
Back in the basement, the team are busy trying to find a fourth member of their unit. They settle on Greg Smith (Joe Tuttle) whose dad is good mates with Big Boss! He is a mole! I hate him!
Bill thinks that the Mr. Wade business is a huge waste of time so when the school ask Holden to return, he brings Greg instead. Mr. Wade technically hasn’t committed a crime and Holden can’t decide whether or not his behaviour has the potential to grow into something far more sinister.
Big Boss ends up finding out about Golden’s little field trip, courtesy of Greg and he skewers Holden for it because a) waste of time, b) waste of resources. He is also extremely pissed that Holden is trying to predict crimes now: “Who are you, the fucking thought police?” Even Dr. Carr is annoyed at Holden for making the BSU look bad and for using it as an excuse to launch his own personal campaigns.
Holden later receives a call from the school who let him know that they’re on the fence about firing Mr. Wade. They ask Holden for his recommendation which he can’t give. So instead he says: “I cant’t say that his behaviour wouldn’t escalate to something more serious.” The school decide to “err on the side of caution.”
Holden is left to think about his choices and whether or not he just got a technically innocent man fired from his longtime job.
CREEPY COLD OPEN NO. 7: Dennis is sitting at a table in the jacket from Cold Open No. 6. He’s wearing a hairnet, he’s wearing Latex gloves. He’s getting ready…
We’re in Joliet, Illinois and it’s time to meet our next monster Richard Speck (Jack Erdie), who slaughtered eight women in one night. Bolden attempt to run questions from Dr. Carr’s standard questionnaire but Speck’s not having a single bar of it. Not even Bolden’s attempt to bond over Speck’s pet bird – which he brought with him to the interview – works. So Holden starts to speak his language, on tape.
“What gave you the right to take eight ripe cunts out of the world?” Holden says, much to Bill’s utter disgust. That’s right, Holden’s losing his fucking mind. “Some of them looked pretty good. You ever think you were depriving the rest of us?”
It works until it doesn’t and Speck TOSSES THE BIRD INTO A FAN, to remind us that he is in fact the psycho one.
On their flight back to HQ, Bill advises Holden to wipe the tape or at least the first three minutes of it. So back in the basement, Holden tells Snitch Greg to leave the “cunt” bit off the record. And while discussing their findings with Dr. Carr, Bolden coin the term ‘serial killer’.
Upstairs, Dr. Carr meets with Big Boss who tells her that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is looking into allegations of official misconduct. Speck has filed a civil rights complaint, mainly against Ford for [checks notes] “fucking with his head.” The OPR want to meet with Bolden ASAP and want everything Speck-related. Dr. Carr knows something’s suss when Holden tells Greg to forget about bringing the tape. Greg surprisingly lies to the OPR and tells them that the Speck tape has been erased.
Back in the basement, Dr. Carr and Big Boss have listened to the tape. Bis Boss is not happy. Holden does not see the problem. Dr. Carr thinks they should hand over the tape to be completely transparent but Big Boss doesn’t want to be caught in a lie. Since Speck is a shit stain, they all agree on the cover up and to forget the entire thing ever happened.
Except for Greg, the fucking Snitch, who SENDS THE TAPE TO THE OPR.
THE END IS NIGH. And we’re getting straight into it because there is no creepy cold open in episode 10. Instead, the mailman delivers a fourth letter to Holden from Kemper, who misses his Special Agent friend. Holden sticks the cards up on the wall.
In episode 9, Bolden were called to Adairsville, Georgia to investigate the rape and murder of 12-year-old Lisa Dawn Porter. Holden is 100 per cent sure he’s got the right guy, he’s real bloody cocky now.
A couple of minutes into the interview with suspect Gene Devier (Adam William Zastrow), Holden says aloud that the tape is nearly at its end and pauses the recording. In the seconds it takes him to flip it over and pop it back in its case, he starts speaking Devier’s language. He doesn’t re-start the recording. Bill notices. And this is when things start to get extremely fucked up again because Holden holds up a picture of 12-year-old majorette Lisa Dawn Porter and says “She looks pretty tasty in that outfit” and those are the only words I can type without wanting to vom. But it works. And just when Holden thinks Devier is about to crack, he hits the record button again.
Holden is so far up his own ass by now, he only listens to himself. He doesn’t care that a young cop he blabbed to went to the press and talked about his methods so normal people can read about what the BSU do over breakfast. He doesn’t care about the academic part of the BSU anymore, he doesn’t listen to Bill anymore, and he quickly breaks up with Debbie before she can dump him. And so, the shit begins to hit the fan. The OPR got the tape and fucking Greg doesn’t own up to it because he’s a cowardly piece of shit, even when Bolden pin it on Dr. Carr. Also, Kemper has attempted suicide and he named Holden as his medical proxy.
By now, Holden’s absolutely lost it. But instead of dealing with his shit, he flies to California to see Kemper. He’s been drinking, he looks awful. There’s ten minutes left in the season and I am so anxious. Kemper attempted suicide to get Holden’s attention, he wants to talk some more, he wants to know about the article – what Holden has learned from his research. The nurses on duty are called away. They’re alone. Holden suddenly remembers who the fuck he’s talking to. Kemper stands up. I shit myself. I don’t want to write about Mindhunter anymore, jesus christ.
So I’m not going to write about it, instead we’re going to watch these final minutes together.
Everything finally catches up to Holden and he collapses from the stress, seized by sheer panic and fucking fear. As he lays there, we hear Bill, Dr. Carr, Big Boss all warning him of the inevitable. And we’ve reached it. After stoking evil for 10 episodes, Holden finally has to deal with the consequences.
Season 1 ends with a final shot of Dennis, burning drawings of bound women.
Mindhunter season 2 is on Netflix NOW.Image: Mindhunter