'Mindhunter' - "Episode 10" Season Finale Recap & Review

Mindhunter is series that is focused on the human mind, both of the serial killers involved in the study and the agents conducting the research. This is similar territory to David Fincher’s own Zodiac, which starts as a true crime thriller, but later reveals itself to be about the obsessiveness of man. Episode 10, the season finale, brings those themes of obsession to the forefront in what has become the best new series in a long while.

Holden and Bill quickly discover that, against their recommendation, a polygraph test has been administered to Gene Devier, their main suspect in the Georgia murder case from episode 9. Bill still thinks Devier is the culprit, but concedes there is doubt. Holden, so confident and bolstered by prior successes, is 100% certain they have the right guy, and is even convinced he can get the man to confess. This is Holden at his most confident and reckless, a potentially dangerous combination for the fate of the research group.

Potentially the only thing that could be worse than Holden failing at his interrogation of Gene Devier is how successful it actually turns out to be. He uses the same approach he used with Richard Speck, matching what he expects Devier wants to hear and making himself relatable. He even begins using phrases he’s heard Ed Kemper use in the past. At first, this disgusts the local cops in the room. When Devier confesses to the crime, they can’t help but respect the results.

At this point, Holden feels invincible. When Debbie breaks up with him due to his changing personality, it barely phases him. When internal affairs questions him over the full Speck interview, he goes from dismissive to borderline antagonistic. For a man whose job it is to study the grey area of the criminal mind, he’s started to look at the world in a black or white, right or wrong manner. Specifically, he’s right and if you disagree, you’re wrong.

As I said in my review of episode 1, I was originally unsure of Jonathan Groff’s performance as Holden Ford. As the series progressed and Holden became more confident and overzealous, Groff really started to shine. He charted Holden’s arc perfectly, turning in a truly magnificent performance. The best example of this being the season’s penultimate scene.

As the finale is beginning to draw to a close, Holden is given word that Ed Kemper attempted suicide and listed Ford as his emergency contact. Holden arrives to speak with Kemper, but the mood is different than their usual encounters. Under a less watchful eye now that he’s in an infirmary, Kemper can stand face to face with Holden and could get away with anything he wanted before a guard could stop him. It’s here that Holden finally cracks. It’s hard to be smug when being stared down by a serial killer. Holden races out of the room in a panic before collapsing in the hallway. As a doctor is called to help, words of advise that Holden ignored all season run through his mind. This is where his work and attitude have gotten him: collapsed on a hospital floor on the other side of the country, in the midst of a panic attack. Groff is exceptional here, and this would have been a perfect place to end the season.

Unfortunately, there is one more scene to go. After catching brief glimpses of him in nearly every episode of the season, we witness the ADT Security man burning sketches of women being tortured. Then we cut to black. That all of those brief teases were just building up to another brief teaser is disappointing. Even more disappointing is learning that the BTK Killer, for which the character is based, wasn’t caught by police until 2005. This puts him way outside of the timeline of Holden Ford and Mindhunter as we know it. If the BTK Killer becomes relevant in the future of the show, great. But it’s not exactly the note that this inaugural season needed to end on. Luckily, the BTK scenes were so sparse and inconsequential that they’re easy to overlook. This is not the story of killers. This is the story of Holden Ford. And what an amazing story it is. 

To take a page out of his playbook: if you disagree, you’re wrong.