Joe Penhall’s slowburn psycho-analysing thriller returns for a second season with David Fincher pioneering the direction department yet again. All along the previous season, it carefully nudged us into empathising with Ed Kemper, a serial killer and necrophile, only to pull the plug on the act in the last couple of minutes. It did so by reminding us, along with Holden Ford, the kind of evil we’d been dealing with and were almost softening to. It was as smart as it was chilling, for how it made the audience go through the same arc as the character’s.

This is a tight-show, rather it has to be, for there’s a large amount of expository dialogue that has the hazard of getting brushed aside for being “too technical”. But if you pay attention, there’s nothing more fun than analysing human behaviour. The dialogues are clean enough to even make us understand when these investigators themselves go wrong. Like when they are being complacent with their investigations by basing assumptions solely on their current stock of research, without acknowledging stuff they don’t know yet. The show maintains a tight leash by designing conflicts that overlap the personal and professional lives of these characters. You cannot ignore a personal family tussle, as it is echoed later on in their investigation. Same with how some of the professional knowledge gives more insight to the characters’ personal lives. This is the beauty of Mindhunter’s writing.

In this second season, we predominantly follow one case of serial killings with alleged racial undertones, that rocked Atlanta for over three years, from ’79-’81. This is where the show gets into Zodiac territory. We get a genuinely frustrating investigation that follows a riveting too-close-yet-so-far journey. The build-up and tension is palpable, only to reach an immediate release that ends the season in a sudden manner. The status quo of all our protagonists change by the finale and we are left with an exasperating reality check on the politics in solving crimes. The bigger professional upgrades received by these characters are coming at the cost of many of their moral beliefs being shaken and tampered with.

The show also has a sharp and memorable aesthetic, and with how its scale has grown over these two seasons, I can surely say this is among the best psychological thrillers out there. It is also educative, another reason why it hooks you along with its compelling thrills.


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