Netflix’s Mindhunter season 2, episode 3 recap

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

In episode 203 of Netflix series Mindhunter, Agent Tench and his wife deal with a horrific murder close to home as Agent Ford learns about the Atlanta child murders.

Previously on Mindhunter, FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) went into the twisted mind of David Berkowitz (Oliver Cooper), and Tench learned more about the elusive BTK Killer (Sonny Valicenti). As this episode begins, we see BTK (also known as “ADT serviceman”) in a library with the makings of a twisted drawing — hinting at his ongoing propensity for sexual sadism and murder.

After that brief glimpse into his twisted mind, Mindhunter gets back to Bill Tench and his wife Nancy (Stacey Roca), who’s had her real estate career stalled by a murder in her first listed property. Understandably, she’s nervous about giving the police her shoes, but Bill assures her it’s standard suspect elimination procedure. In order to deal with the situation, Tench tells Ford that he has food poisoning, leaving Ford to interview William “Junior” Pierce (Michael Filipowich) by himself. To add a sour note to the drama, Bill and Nacy’s son Bryan (Zachary Scott Ross) has wet the bed. While that’s not particularly abnormal, there’s a stereotype about serial killers often having been bed wetters.

As Bill approaches the murder scene, he makes a point to removes his wife’s name and number from the “For Sale” sign. He sees that there are adult and child footprints and that a toddler from the park had been crucified in the basement. There are no signs of forced entry. Later, at a public church meeting, Tench informs everyone that it’s unlikely the murder involved cults or actual ritual sacrifice. He does his best to their fears. Still, as we’ve seen, even Mr. Tench can be on edge sometimes due to his profession.

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Georgia State Prison

Rather than go it totally alone in the Pierce interview, Agent Ford meets Jim Barney (Albert Jones). He appeared briefly in season 1 as a prospective hire for the Behavioral Sciences Unit. Now he impresses Ford by being informed on both Pierce and their other interviewee, William Henry Hance (Corey Allen). When they meet Pierce, it’s obvious that he wishes to be seen as intelligent, insisting that he also speaks Spanish, French, German, “Libyan” and Apache. Ford seems bored throughout the interview, due to Pierce lacking the spark of intelligence. Pierce says he grew up poor, insisting that his confessions were all coerced. It’s especially groan-inducing to Ford when Pierce says he was declared “continent to stand trial.”

To get Pierce to speak more, Barney offers him some Mallomars, later noting that Jerry Brudos (Happy Anderson) became more talkative when they gave him a pair of women’s shoes (in fact, he got a little too excited about them). Pierce has told police where to find bodies, which he claims was part of his “clairvoyant” powers rather than a confession. While that seems ridiculous, it’s actually not the stupidest thing he could say. Though it’s rarer than pop culture implies, law enforcement has utilized psychics on more than one occasion.

In fact, page 137 of Douglas and Olshaker’s book, Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, says psychics may be used “as a last resort [and] as an investigative tool with caution.” So, oddly enough, this would be a case of the character being relatively intelligent, as there is some precedent of investigators placing at least a modicum of faith in such predictions (though they’re notoriously unreliable). It may be some inadvertent food for thought for Mindhunter fans.

Meeting Tanya Clifton

When Ford checks into his hotel, the front desk agent is unusually attentive, demanding she shows him to his room after she learns he’s FBI. Her name is Tanya Clifton (Sierra McClain), and she keeps her motives secret until she takes him to a restaurant after hours. At first, it almost seems like a date, but Tanya reveals that she wants him to investigate child murders in the neighborhood. Also present in the restaurant are Willie Mae Mathis (Crystal Lee Brown), Venus Taylor (Andrene Ward-Hammond) and Camille Bell (June Carryl). They trust Ford can help them solve the Atlanta child murders because he helped catch Darrell Gene Devier (Adam William Zastrow) in season 1. While local police treat the deaths as unrelated, their brutality suggests a serial offender.


When Ford interviews William Henry Hance, it’s the most confusing interview on Mindhunter thus far, and deliberately so. Hance blamed his murders on a white vigilante group he called “Forces of Evil.” His complicated story involves a stocking strangling murder he didn’t commit, and also a kidnapping demand for $10,000 for a victim’s safe return. Because Hance wrote on U.S. Army stationary from his base, he addressed the issue in his letter itself, noting anyone can get their hands on such stationery. His murders were brutal, though, involving beatings with a tire iron and running a woman over with a vehicle repeatedly.

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Ford later meets Garland Periwinkle (Brent Sexton) about the murders, and Garland hesitates to link the murders. Saying “The monster is poverty,” he notes different MOs for the murders. It’s also concluded that the murders negatively impact the city’s image, so they hate to publicize them. When Ford later speaks with Tanya again, he tells her the number of victims is not an anomaly. She notes that “those numbers have names.” It’s a poignant moment, both for the fictional characters and for those looking at actual crime statistics.

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Finally, Mindhunter hasn’t totally neglected Psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), although she’s not very prominent in this episode. She suggests the Hance and Pierce interviews were more successful than Ford thinks, noting the insight the give to post-crime behaviors. Agent Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle) also notes how, in the Hance case, the race of the victim may not always be the dominant factor.

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