Let’s hunt some minds

Netflix has released yet another mind-boggling television series- Mindhunter. A team of FBI agents interviews serial killers in order to understand their psyche, to psychologically profile them and to prevent future such crimes. Riasat Raihan reviews the series.   

Netflix original ‘Mindhunter’ is a new series created by Joe Penhall based on the book ‘Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s elite serial crime unit’ written by John E Douglas and Mark Olshaker. It tells a story of a three FBI agents who travel across the country to teach local law enforcements the ways to deal with criminals in a FBI way.

As I had no previous idea about the show, and judging from the poster and title of the series, I assumed it would be either some supernatural stuff or FBI solving paranormal cases, giving a vibe of X-Files, the all time classic.

Now, after watching all ten episodes of the first season, I can say this is not the show I was expecting it to be. And that’s a good thing actually, because, this show is absolutely incredible in every imaginable aspect. The show basically breaks down into this- the story is about a FBI team. They are Holden Ford, Bill Tench and Wendy Carr, played respectively by Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany and Anna Torv. Now this team isn’t out fighting criminals on bridges or some rooftops or anything like that.

This team starts putting together psychological profiles to try to understand the criminal mind and try to prevent the crimes from happening. What seems to be the main storyline that the show follows is that this team basically travels to different prisons around the country, sitting down and talking to the most deranged of serial killers. They try to understand their minds, what made them the way they are, what motivated them to do the things they did, how they felt as they were doing it and all these things are put together as the psychological profile of somebody who would do something like this.

As you watch this show, you realise this is not an action packed show, neither a comedy. This is a rather slow one, thought provoking and meticulous psychological. This series makes makes you sit down and you tell yourself that you have been brought into all the discussions and everything on the screen. It’s a masterly created show made to stimulate your mind by engaging you with heinous of criminals and allowing you to look inside their minds. The pieces of the puzzle are so brilliantly implanted you will enjoy every bit of it. If you follow them as an audience, you will be moving from theories to the interviews, learning little bit then seeing how they apply that to real cases. Then they interview more inmates apply the found information  into the next cases. And slowly you get this building idea of how putting a brick over another bring in a wall.

When you step back and look at it by the end of the season you realise that the construction of the story is fantastic. And it’s after the sixth episode, you realise the real heartbeat of the show isn’t much about the FBI team and interviewing psychopaths. It’s really about this character Holden Ford and it’s following him and you know that you start to recognise the evolution of the character. You will see a beautifully put together slow-burn of a character and we see the work that he’s been involved. He is somebody that he wasn’t when this show began; a lot of shows don’t know how to do character progression or building a character properly. Yeah, they show a lot of things happening to the character but we don’t see the characters grow and evolve. Holden’s character evolves and understandably so when you realise all the traumatic stuff that he’s being exposed to all the time. Not just the ideas but also the gruesome crimes and a practical sense and character evolution are the backbone of what makes this show Mindhunter so exceptional.

But it’s not just ten hours of slow character development that we are talking about in this season of Mindhunter. The show runners know well enough to put in enough real-world cases along the way to take the information that they are learning, and to apply them to these real world cases that bit by bit we’re given these little mysteries to solve along the way! There are smaller crimes that they have to tackle and smaller issues they have to deal with also. That is something which keeps you satisfied as an audience from episode to episode on top of the overall arc of the show.

Bottom line is that Mindhunter is smart and beautifully paced and wonderfully constructed story of real characters. The performances from the actors are commendable. It’s a perfectly narrated show and one of the bests I’ve seen on Netflix so far.

Riasat Raihan is a member of the New Age Youth team.

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