Mindhunter has returned to Netflix with a second season and the show continues to grow from strength to strength, diving deeper into its story while simultaneously widening its audience. The show follows two FBI investigators, Holden Ford (Johnathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), as they interview felons convicted of incredibly violent murders.
It is essentially telling the story of the first investigations into serial killers, the term first being coined in the late 1970s. The show balances interviews with killers with the history of the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit, as a result, the show will often flip between being fascinating and terrifying. Here are the ten best episodes (in reverse order), as voted for on IMDb.
10 Episode #2.3 – 8.4 Stars
The third episode of season two was the final one to be directed by showrunner David Fincher and it establishes a lot of plot that will play out over the rest of the season. Holden, having been discharged from hospital, launches straight into interviewing again.
However, both the subjects, William Pierce Jr. and William Henry Hance, prove to be disappointing to Holden who deems them incompetent of answering his questions. It’s an interesting change for Holden, one that could be misunderstood as arrogant, because it marks him as the expert in this field proving he now needs a bigger challenge or to start fieldwork.
9 Episode #1.2 – 8.6 Stars
Arguably the episode that really sold Mindhunter to its audience. It is the first time that the two men interview a killer and it happens to be Ed Kemper, played incredibly by Cameron Britton. Britton, who was nominated for an Emmy for his performance, nails the eerie charm a lot of the killers in the show have.
As we listen to him delight over his brutal murders we can’t help but be drawn in, wanting to spend more time with him. It establishes that Holden was right to investigate these men and hints at even more fascinating conversations to come.
8 Episode #1.5 – 8.7 Stars
A great time in the show is spent following Holden and Bill as they travel the country teaching their theory and technique to local law enforcement. It’s an excellent way of teaching the audience what clues to look for and establishing what investigation (usually based on lie-detector and forced confession) had previously been like.
In this episode, the men get roped into a local crime that has the police baffled, allowing Holden to finally put his theories to the test. Never before has someone got so excited at the prospect of murder.
7 Episode #2.4 – 8.7 Stars
By this point, the Behavioural Science Unit is well underway and has more people on its team including psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr. Wendy has been an intriguing presence, mainly there for research and expertise this is the first time she conducts an interview herself.
As she interviews Elmer Wayne Henley she expertly gets under his skin despite him, initially, verbally attacking her. Big changes for Wendy also mean changes for the Unit as it begins to get bigger in this episode with Holden working on an active case in Atlanta.
6 Episode #1.9 – 8.7 Stars
There is no doubt that there is some star power in the killers featured on the show. The bigger the notoriety they had in the real world the more impact they have when represented on screen. This is certainly true when they interview Richard Speck.
Not only is there a fascination with him, but there’s also oddly a disappointment that he’s not as forthcoming as Kemper was. The interview scene, in particular, is one of the tensest not only because Speck is clearly insane but for what Holden gets him to say.
5 Episode #2.2 – 8.8 Stars
Another big name killer featured in this episode, the notorious Son of Sam. If the show just concentrated on the killing it would become repetitive, luckily its fascination is in the ‘why’ of the crimes. As Son of Sam confessed to being possessed by a demon why he did it is of particular interest to the FBI, not least because they think he’s lying.
The show, by this point, has been pushing how much these crimes are affecting Bill and Holden, and this episode is probably rated so highly because it begins a very grueling arch for Bill as his family is dragged into the sort of crime he’d be likely to investigate.
4 Episode #2.8 – 8.8 Stars
The last few episodes of season two are dedicated to the investigation into the Atlanta child murders. This episode marks the climax of that investigation as Holden and Bill finally close down on the first potential suspect using their, now, well-developed theory.
What’s genius about this episode is the way it portrays the monotony of police work, most of the episode involves the main characters doing waiting for hours and days. However, we are so invested by this point in catching the killer and in Holden proving himself right that the whole episode is filled with edge-of-your-seat tension.
3 Episode #2.9 – 9.0 Stars
The finale of season 2 is so climactic purely because it’s very anti-climactic. The Atlanta police have caught their very first real suspect. Going by what we know of Holden’s theory and the evidence placed against this man, the audience as good as knows it’s him.
We too become investigators as we compare his behavior to everything we’ve learned over the course of the show. While nothing can be proved, the episode effectively demonstrates how valuable Holden’s work has been as the audience finds itself yelling at the TV!
2 Episode #2.5 – 9.1 Stars
The episode we were waiting for since season one. Holden was asked who his dream subject would be, Charles Manson, and now he is finally given the chance to meet him. The scene in question is great not just for the pay-off and Manson’s performance but because it wonderfully intersects with the wider story.
With Bill’s adopted son under investigation for the death of a child, it’s fair to say he’s under a lot of pressure to look after his family. It’s a genius piece of writing to have this tension play out over an argument with Manson who built his own “family” and effectively raised them to kill.
1 Episode #1.10 – 9.2 Stars
The star of season one is certainly Cameron Britton’s Ed Kemper. By the finale of the first season, a newly single Holden, finds himself almost on friendly terms with this serial killer. While Holden is no doubt letting his personal life affect his judgment, as he goes to unofficially visit Kemper, it becomes clear that how Holden sees these men is starting to change.
As he gets inside their head to the point where he deludes himself, he understands them. As the season’s terrifying climax proves he could not be more wrong; he may know them but he cannot trust them, or understand them.
NEXT: Mindhunter: 5 Times Holden Was The Best Agent (& 5 Times Bill Was)