In the present day, we’re obsessed with stories of true crime and mass murderers (hey, 2019 is weird!), but it wasn’t always this way. Way back when, the idea of psychological profiling wasn’t even a thing, but it had to start somewhere. That’s where Netflix’s Mindhunter comes in, following the early days of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and their ongoing research to understand what makes serial killers tick. Ahead of season 2's anticipated August 16 debut, here’s what happened at the end of Mindhunter season 1 with our agents (and also murderers).
Season 1, set in 1977, largely revolves around simply getting the Behavioral Science Unit off the ground, much to the displeasure of the FBI. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is an FBI negotiator but is essentially “demoted” to classroom teaching where he runs into Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) who’s also working as a teacher but his work takes him around the country teaching FBI techniques to different law enforcement agencies. The two team up and start travelling around together.
Step 1: Meets Some Serial Killers
During their travels, at the request of local law enforcement, the two start consulting on crimes in the area. During this time, Ford wants to meet with Charles Manson (who is already in prison), but is denied his request; instead, he meets with serial killer Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton) the co-ed killer (who is a real person). Oddly, this is the beginning of a friendship between Ford and Kemper, much to the displeasure of the FBI back at Quantico. Though the FBI is not happy that Ford and Tench have started looking into this type of behavior of criminals, their work is allowed to continue... in the basement.
Step 2: Recruit Dr. Wendy Carr
Ford and Tench then reach out to Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), a social sciences professor in Boston, Massachusetts in hopes that she might start working with them. Carr is a closeted lesbian with a girlfriend back in Boston and is hesitant about taking such a high profile position to advance her career while also keeping her orientation a secret. She eventually moves to Virginia and is able to secure funding for her studies alongside Ford and Tench.
Step 3: Build A Serial Killer Questionnaire
The team starts trying to put in place a standard set of questions they can ask serial killers (and suspected serial killers), so they can track and monitor their behavior while also discovering common patterns. Their Behavioral Unit continues to expand, as they actually make their spot in the basement a real working office, and bring on an additional agent, Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle).
Step 4: Totally Screw Everything Up
Things are going well for the group, but then Ford goes 100 percent off book and makes a very lewd comment to serial killer Richard Speck (which I’m not going to repeat here!), and while it gets him to talk to the agents, Ford asks his comment to be omitted from the official transcript. The original recording is eventually discovered, landing Ford in hot water, which only gets worse when Ford starts talking about the FBI’s involvement with serial killers and these quotes end up in the press.
Throughout the first season, it’s often joked that Ford is maybe not the most observant, and this only adds to his reputation. The team is brought in under inquiry for hiding evidence; Ford storms out of the meeting. It turns out he also just recently broke up with his grad student girlfriend, Debbie (Hannah Gross), so he’s clearly seen better days.
Step 5: Everything Gets Worse
And then it only gets worse, when Kemper hears about Ford’s story in the newspaper, and how the agent called the two of them “friends.” Kemper attempts suicide and asks for Ford to come and visit him, which he does. In the hospital, Kemper maintains his mild-mannered demeanor while also telling Ford that he could kill him if he wanted to. Ford runs out of the room and has a panic attack, collapsing in the hallway outside.
Step 6: Add A Twist From Kansas
During the entire season, we’re also treated to short vignettes of someone living in Kansas, an unnamed ADT serviceman. While very little information is revealed about him on the show, we’re lead to believe we’re watching the infamous BTK killer (the letters stand for blind, torture, kill) during his early days, during which he tormented the Wichita, Kansas area for almost 30 years before he was captured.
And that's what you missed on Mindhunter.