Saturday, August 17, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mindhunter' - Bill Learns About How BTK Operates While Holden Forces the Truth Out of Son of Sam in 'Episode 2'

Netflix's Mindhunter - Episode 2.02 "Episode 2"

To glean insight into the elusive BTK killer, Bill and Holden interview the Son of Sam, who makes a startling admission.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Mindhunter.

"Episode 2" was directed by David Fincher with story by Doug Jung, Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles and teleplay by Courtenay Miles

Bill Tench has long been strong, stoic and unflappable. He operates that way because he has a firm understanding of what his limits are. He has seen many horrendous things in this line of work. There has been plenty that has shaken him. And yet, he still presents as the rock that others can rely on. He may sit up worried at night over what might happen. That's his own personal burden to carry. He aspires to help crack several cases wide open. He sees the value in this work. But he also knows the dangers of taking this work home with him. He may examine the case files at home and on airplanes. But he also aspires to be respectful and professional. He knows how to rile people up when he needs to. His compassion skills need a little work though. His wife, Nancy, is frightened and startled by the news that a murder has happened at one of her real estate listings. She doesn't see this community as a place where such tragedy could happen. Bill knows all too well that murder can happen absolutely anywhere and does almost every day. He may always expect the worst from humanity. That's the way he has come to see the world because of the job he does. It still can get to him. He is still nervous when he returns home from a trip to Kansas and notices that the back door is open. He doesn't want his family to end up just like the Otero family did at the hands of Dennis Rader, aka the BTK killer. He is comforted by the fact that they are still perfectly fine. They continue to present as this loving bubble for him to escape the life he has at the office. But that weight of his professional burden is starting to seep into his home life. He worries about his family. And now, there is also a murder investigation that involves them. It's very scary and precarious. Bill has so much compassion and empathy for the young BTK survivor telling his story. He respects this young man's wish to avoid eye contact. He sees himself as disfigured and shamed by society. A walking target for this killer so long as he's still alive. He doesn't want anything to jeopardize his life once more. But that also paralyzes him in such a destructive way. Bill leads him through this traumatic night in agonizing detail. It's such a powerful sequence. It really is just two people talking and trying to get information across to the audience. But the raw emotions of this story hits so profoundly well. It's clear to see exactly how hard this one incident has forever itched itself in this young man's memory. Bill can sense that even though he can't see the man sitting in the back seat. He understands that he needs to make a difference. And yet, the profile that he and Holden create may not actually help the police catch BTK any time soon. They are still just putting these general ideas together as to how serial killers operate. The BSU has to come up with a new classification altogether after Bill and Holden interview David Berkowitz aka Son of Sam. That moment gives Bill the confidence that Holden is back at full strength. This is his first interview since his breakdown. He is wobbly to begin with but he gets the killer to admit that he isn't really schizophrenic after all. That was just a narrative he projected onto himself in order to carefully control everything about his infamous story. He craved that attention and it played into the fantasies that ultimately played out in tragic form in reality. He can't stand someone else being more effective at this kind of killing than him. As such, he takes credit for more of his rationalizations and motives than ever before. He does so because he sees Bill and Holden as the capable FBI agents who can call him out on it. But it also informs so much for the agents. They see a man who is a new beast altogether. Someone who operates outside of what their categories have created so far. What he says may help inform their investigation in Kansas. But it's also not a perfect science where this team can apply these lessons from the minds of serial killers onto the next one that pops up in this world. It's very delicate guess work that can provide results from time to time. Right now, it's fascinating and thrilling to see all of this information presented in a way that can still absolutely send a chill down one's spine.