Mindhunter Is A Lesson In Criminal Psychology

My obsession for retro is well-known, and it’s a particularly gratifying experience being in North America to observe the nuances of this geography from the 70s in a web TV series. The fashion, the architecture, the make of the classic cars, and the means of communications (obviously no mobile phones in the 70s) is a revelation of sorts & a journey back in time. It was fascinating to watch ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ in the backdrop of the 80s more specifically for its anecdotes related to the pre-PC era. Then again, the CNN series on the 60s, 70s, and the 80s which took me on a nostalgic history of North America. And a couple of days ago I binged watched ‘Mindhunter’ on Netflix, a crime psychological thriller from David Fincher and Charlize Theron.

Set in 1977-79 years the series is based on the book ‘Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit’ by authors John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker following the adventure of FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), and a seasoned agent named Bill Tench (characterized by Holt McCallany). Ford and Tench are FBI agents from the Behavioral Science Unit interviewing a bunch of serious killers (not “serial” killers) incarcerated for their gruesome crimes in an attempt to understand their attitudes which made them commit those heinous acts! The entire Season 1 was a fun nostalgic ride back into the 70s (I can’t wait for Season 2), it’s unlike any other TV series or movie you may have watched in the detective/murder mystery genres, it’s engrossing, and without question it introduces a new narrative about criminal psychology.

It’s the 70s and we’re given to understand that criminal psychology is in its infancy. Given it’s nostalgic aura, my first viewing of the few episodes of ‘Mindhunter’ was nothing short of excitement but as the story moved along with more killers being interrogated I was intrigued by the realism that unfolded in front of me, knowing that the killers weren’t fictional! For instance, the towering personality of Edmund Kemper (portrayed by Cameron Britton) who solely targeted hitchhiking girls and was captured in the 70s is a real instance of a serial killer. As also, Richard Speck (played by Jack Erdie), and once I knew they were genuine my interest in the series piqued manifold. (You just can’t ignore the physical resemblance of the actors with the original personalities.)

Essentially ‘Mindhunter’ manages to break an impression without pretence, that serial killers aren’t born and genetically wired to commit serious crimes, in fact their vicious family environments & disturbing experiences is manifested through their gory, deplorable activities. Now the question that reigns supreme in the minds of agents Ford and Trench is whether they could record and analyze the incidental behaviours of those serial killers which might help the justice system to apprehend a murderer before an innocent life is violently ended. It remains to be seen if they succeed in their mission.