Mindhunter, Season 1, Netflix Original

Mindhunter is a Netflix Original Series, concentrating on the Behavioral Science Unit of FBI.

Agent Ford and Agent Trench, who are responsible for making the FBI Agents familiar with the psychological aspect of crime and criminals, end up realizing that they are not really familiar with modern day criminals, leave alone understand their psychological background or emotional makeup.

In the first episode itself, Ford realizes his short falls and is quick to make amends by suggesting Trench that they should go and meet some locked up psychopaths to understand what and how they ended up choosing and killing their victims. Though Trench is late to warm up to his revolutionary ideas, however, the duo do end up interviewing one of the most talkative killer, Ed Kemper. Ed is a huge man, almost seven feet tall, with massive hands, thick glasses and smooth tongue. Holden Ford gets smitten with his first interviewee and Trench follows suit.

I believe that Mindhunter hits a jackpot with the Kemper episode. As I saw Ford and Trench sitting across Kemper, my heart raced and I was damn curious to know what prompted this sweet talker to kill and rape six women, in addition to his own mother and grandparents, doing sick things with their bodies and then keeping their body parts as trophies. As the story continued, major insights were shared by Ed Kemper. He is the first one to admit that the psychopaths view their crimes as a means to gain control and derive satisfaction and pleasure. Sex is just the tip of the iceberg. More often than not, it’s the violence they enjoy and seek to repeat.

After interviewing Kemper, the agents’ confidence surges and they are quick to follow with more gruesome killers, some of them great talkers and braggarts, while others are not even ready to concede to their crimes. Mindhunter progresses smoothly with these interviews being the axis, while the personal lives of Ford and Trench providing essential framework to the story.

The series is loosely based on the book by Agent Douglas, a real FBI official and Ford is an extension of his persona. Most of the interviewees are also real killers, though the stories are old, belonging to the Seventies, so I wasn’t familiar with most of them. It was the era when even the term serial killer was not coined. Even though a few had been arrested, yet their series of crimes was not investigated from the psychological point of view. FBI was merely acting as an extension of regular cops.

However, Ford and Trench along with Professor Carr managed to convince the higher ups that what they are doing, is not a closed room study but a revolutionary change in strategy to fight or rather beat crimes even before they occur! Ford tries to prove his theory by solving real time crimes and is quite successful at that.

As for the Netflix Original, it is a hand down winner. It’s not your regular detective series, but an engaging saga of gruesome murders, told first hand by the perpetrators themselves, without a whiff of remorse. Assault seemed so natural to these killers that the heinous crimes paled in comparison to their guiltless demeanor.

The twist at the end of the last episode has me in grips. Ford having a possible panic attack was the last thing I expected from the genius. Mindhunter is dark, engaging and addictive, and I bet no one can stop after watching one episode… Anupama Sarkar

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