Netflix’s Mindhunter season 2 premiere recap

Photo: Mindhunter: Season 1.. Patrick Harbron/Netflix
Photo: Mindhunter: Season 1.. Patrick Harbron/Netflix /

Mindhunter’s second season kicks off with a freaky glimpse at the “ADT Serviceman.” We also see Holden Ford in recovery as the Behavioral Science Unit broadens.

The season 2 premiere of Mindhunter begins in Park City, Kansas, where we see a woman (Katherine Banks) return home with groceries to some strange sounds coming from her bathroom. As she cautiously approaches, she realizes it’s the door knob.

When she opens the door, she is horrified to see a man tied up on the floor, wearing a creepy mask. As she flees, the man manages to free himself, attempting to explain himself. It’s immediately apparent that she’s his wife and that he’s the mysterious ADT serviceman (Sonny Valicenti) from season 1. Also, true crime readers/watchers will surely recognize the man as a depiction of Dennis Rader, the notorious BTK killer.

Next, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, FBI special agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) is tasked by his wife Nancy (Stacey Roca) to socialize at a barbecue. Her plan is to use the BBQ to help her real job as a realtor. Unfortunately, the discussion seems to inevitably drift off into Bill’s work, where he discusses meeting people like mass murderer Richard Speck (Jack Erdie). She doesn’t like it, for obvious reasons. Not only does it overshadow her, but it casts a dark shadow over what’s supposed to be a nice get-together.

On the bright side, we see Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is recovering in Vacaville, California, after suffering a panic attack. As we saw in season 1, the panic attack was triggered by an awkward exchange between Ford and serial killer Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton). Kemper had attempted suicide, listing Ford as his emergency contact. Shortly after Ford arrived, and after hospital staff had dwindle, Kemper threatened that he could kill Ford before anyone could stop him. Then Kemper gave Ford an awkward hug which was just too much to take.

Mindhunter season 2 trailer: Manson, BTK and Son of Sam. light. More

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Mindhunter gets back to brass tacks when Don (Andy Umberger) shows up with some “BTK” files regarding 7 known victims and one attempted victim—Anna Williams, who was away from home all day, arriving later to find her phone line cut. The BTK made his attempt known with a poem and her driver’s license.

The episode also briefly mentions the Otero family, Kathryn Bright, Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox ⁠— cases stretching from 1974-77. Lieutenant Drowatzky (Jeb Kreager) took over the case. It’s also revealed that FBI assistant director Robert Shepard (Cotter Smith) is retiring, and the seemingly more sympathetic Ted Gunn (Michael Cerveris) is taking over.

There’s still lingering controversy, however, regarding gaps in the tape recorded interview with murderer Darrell Gene Devier (Adam Zastrow). Regarding this, Tench defends Ford, despite some of his questionable interview methods (which involve feigning empathy with the killer’s desires). Tench is instructed to keep Ford on the right track.

Ted Gunn also says he wants to cancel the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigation. Later, the Behavioral Science Unit’s psychology specialist, Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), discusses Ford as being too impulsive. Gunn also tasks her with keeping him in line, with full transparency and more of a delineated method to their interviews with murderers.

When Ford comes back, Tench chides him for his loose methods. Things ease up when Ford mentions the panic attack and agrees to more rigidly follow Trench’s rules (though, if we’re being honest, Trench himself certainly bent the rules in season 1).

When Ford meets with Gunn, it’s clear that Gunn wants clearer results. He says he can get rid of the investigation, but only if Ford plays ball. To sweeten the deal, he promises he can get them to speak to Charles Manson (Damon Herriman)!

More cases and a truth revealed

In assessing their future, Carr, Ford and Tench gloss over interesting cases, such as what they call “the first black serial killer,” William Henry Hance, who killed 4 women in 1978, and whose first victim was white. They also mention William Pierce, Jr., who killed at least 8 people between 1970-71. Carr makes clear her lack of interest in interviewing Manson, as he doesn’t fit their work thus far. However, Ford’s all about the opportunity, being that Manson is so infamous. The other special agent, Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle) sides with her. However, everyone seems to know Ford will get his Manson interview.

Another big Mindhunter moment is when Holden confronts Gregg about sending the offending Richard Speck tape to OPR. They had claimed the tape had been recorded over, as Ford’s interview technique drifted way off into offensive territory. Still, the controversy subsides, and it’s clear that Gunn will supply them with researchers, transcribers, technical support and reasonable means for a training curriculum.

Echoes of Kemper’s hug

Ford tells Carr about his panic attack. She suggests that to empathize with a psychopath is to negate the self. While they discuss the event, Carr side-glances the female bartender (Lauren Glazier), suggesting a romantic interest. Carr emphasizes that Ford needs to be mindful of symptoms from now on. Later, at Shepard’s retirement party, Trench makes a rousing announcement. However, when Ford takes the microphone to praise Shepard’s legacy, Shepard walks out.

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When Ford goes outside to meet him, Shepard lashes into him about his unprofessional conduct and how it actually forced him into retirement. This results in another panic attack for Ford. At this point, one wonders how he’ll be able to interview deranged murderers if he keeps having these problems. In any case, events in Mindhunter will put this character’s skills (and health) to the test.

What are your thoughts on Mindhunter? Let us know in the comments!