'Mindhunter' - "Episode 2" Recap & Review

After a solid pilot that sets up the premise of Mindhunter, it’s time for episode two to prove that the premise can work and be sustainable. Fortunately, that is a task that the show is very much up to. 

During the typical road school sessions, Holden hears stories of a man named Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton) who brutally murdered multiple women, beheaded them, and defiled their corpses. Upon visiting Kemper in prison, Holden discovers the killer to be eerily articulate and self aware. When Holden asks Kemper what he thought should be the punishment for those who commit such heinous crimes and can’t be reacclimated to society, the killer responds “death by torture.” The scenes between Holden and Kemper are truly riveting and prove that sometimes it can be better to tell and not show.

Eventually, word of Holden and Bill’s unsanctioned research reaches the ears of Unit Chief Shepard. He scolds the two agents, but ultimately allows the research in secret before moving them both to work in the basement. It’s a small victory for the two men, as they no longer have to keep their research a secret, but are now under much more scrutiny.

The only real flaw of the episode is a problem carried over from the pilot: clunky dialogue. This continues to be most apparent in the scenes with Holden and Debbie. A particularly egregious example is when, after eating an egg salad sandwich with Ed Kemper earlier in the episode, Holden accidentally calls it an “Ed salad sandwich” when eating with Debbie later on. This elicited a pretty massive eye roll from me. I can understand that Holden is obsessed with his research without a cheesy slip-of-the-tongue. 

Dialogue aside, Episode Two quickly establishes Mindhunter as a show reaching the potential of its premise. It manages to be riveting without ever being exploitative. It also manages to escape the trap most Netflix series fall into by being its own, fully satisfying viewing experience that still leaves this viewer wanting more.