Monday, August 19, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mindhunter' - The Investigation in Atlanta Closes in on a Suspect with Bill and Holden Leading the Charge in 'Episode 9'

Netflix's Mindhunter - Episode 2.09 "Episode 9"

The investigation zeroes in on a prime suspect who proves surprisingly adept at manipulating a volatile situation to his advantage.

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 season finale of Netflix's Mindhunter.

"Episode 9" was directed by Carl Franklin with story by Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles and teleplay by Shaun Grant

An arrest and conviction are made in the Atlanta child murders. Is justice actually served for the grieving families though? 29 people are dead. This finale notes that it ultimately became a mix of adults and children. It also argues that Wayne Williams can be associated with many of the murders but can't be contributed to all of them. That's absolutely devastating because he is the only person to have ever been arrested for the crimes committed during this time period. The city and law enforcement were so eager to calm the rising tension within the city. They needed an end to this traumatic and terrifying time. But Wayne Williams is only convicted for two murders. He is currently serving a life sentence. As such, many prosecutors believe he is satisfyingly being punished for the crimes he committed on the citizens of Georgia. But him being attributed to many of these deaths isn't the same as him actually being convicted of them. It still leaves things open-ended in a way that could forever shape the families left behind. They will forever have the open question of whether or not to believe that the FBI got the right guy who killed their loved one. That's scary. The uncertainty is palpable. Holden operates with so much confidence and clarity. He sees this arrest as the validation of everything he has tried to do with this case. Wayne Williams fits his profile of the killer perfectly. He wasn't wrong to place all his hopes on identifying the culprit as a black man. And yet, he doesn't have any adequate responses for the racial politics at the heart of that decision. He feels so smart and capable for putting in the leg work that led to this arrest. And yet, Tanya is right to come him out for the police always looking at young black men as the criminals in any particular crime. They are always looked with suspicion. It's because of that certainty that many leads were overlooked. Resources were mishandled. In fact, it seems like closure is only brought to this case because of the pressure coming down from the bosses at the FBI and the Department of Justice. Ted Gunn swoops into the city to bring clarity to Bill and Holden about what exactly is occurring. Wayne Williams is arrested for murder. Local law enforcement just wanted to be the ones who made the arrest. For awhile, the circumstantial evidence connecting him to the crimes wasn't good enough for the District Attorney. It ultimately had to be though. There was nothing of significant value that could allow the task force to hold him or arrest him the night that he was pulled over on the bridge. The only evidence was a sleep-deprived officer hearing a splash in the river below. A body was eventually discovered nearby. Meanwhile, the fibers left behind at the crime scenes came back as matches to the carpeting at Wayne's parents' house and to the family dog. It certainly seem as if this is the guy responsible for all of this chaos. But again, those answers may not be reassuring to the public at large. Camille Bell doesn't want to believe that a black man could have hurt her son. She also doesn't see his case as ongoing. In the eyes of the law, this arrest closes all of these cases even though Wayne is only charged for two of the murders - both of whom happen to be adult victims. Holden believes he made a difference. And yet, he still misjudges situations and doesn't fully understand the political dynamics at play. He's not as wise to the world as the people who live in these communities and face this trauma actually are. He is actually far removed. Everyone at the FBI ultimately is. The devotion to this case means that Wendy is sidelined almost entirely for the conclusion of this season. That's incredibly disappointing especially since she came to the conclusion that she should speak up firmly for exactly what she wants in life. Meanwhile, Bill returns home to a near empty house. Nancy has talked about moving in order to help Brian. She saw that as the solution for the problems that plagued this family. Bill saw the value in waiting out the results of the investigation to ensure that everything remained healthy and solid for this family. But his commitment to his job and this case ultimately cost him everything at home. It didn't matter that he spent the weekends with Nancy and Brian. That still wasn't enough for him to truly connect with them and understand what was going on. Nancy felt that distance. She no longer had the trust and compassion of her husband when she needed it the most. That was scary. It also makes it so tragic for Bill. All of the three leads end the season alone. That shows that there is a profound loss attributed to this work. It runs the risk of weighing people down until they don't know how to exist in the outside world anymore. Of course, that then runs the risk of them being ineffective at their jobs because they don't know how to relate to people when they need it the most. This crime was solved but it may not leave the team in the best position for future success. They will get the praise and appreciation. But that may not be enough to fulfill their lives especially knowing that there are still so many killers out there who are operating in the shadows with no one coming anywhere close to identifying and arresting them.