Netflix’s David Fincher-produced serial crime series Mindhunter takes viewers into the depraved minds of history’s most notorious killers. By way of a young, ambitious FBI agent doing groundbreaking research, it tracks the birth of modern FBI profiling with chilling and evocative scenery.
Set in 1977, the series follows FBI agent Ford Holden who petitions the Behavioral Science Unit to conduct research on the minds of society’s heinous criminals after a hostage situation ends in grim fashion. The first episode is a tedious yet essential watch.
The Netflix series poses the the core question: Are criminals born, or are they formed? It finds answers but not easy ones.
Based on FBI Agent John Douglas’ true-crime book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, Holden hones in on “sequence” killers, those who have committed multiple murders with sociopathic methodology. He hopes to build a model that will allow them to understand this new breed of era-specific killers.
The darkly lit series breaks away from the typical procedural drama, with no grisly scenes, police chases, or shoot-outs. Conversations the agents have with other cops, criminals, and suspects such as Edmund Kemper (the Co-ed Killer), Benjamin Barnwright, and Jerry Brudos (the Shoe Fetish Slayer) push the story along.
Each character becomes a tool for solving crimes, be it at the hands of an oversharing and affable man or the narcissistic liar who doubles down even when the evidence is stacked against him.
The cerebral nature of the show can bog down and slow the story. Outside of the research, detectives Ford and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) often find themselves entangled in separate cases in towns ill-equipped for crimes bigger than shoplifting or underage drinking. These business trips break up the monotony of watching Tench and Holden dissect their research.
The greatest shortcoming of the show is Jonathan Groff’s wooden portrayal of Holden. He never deviates from a mild demeanor, whether presented with horribly mutilated bodies or talking about kinks with his girlfriend. He holds tight to the stickler-for-the rules cop archetype which torpedoes the show’s dramatic range. Tench is the tough, street-smart balance to Holden’s persnickety demeanor. He offers a splash of personality against the stuffiness of the show. But instead of remaining as static comic relief, we see the costly toll his job takes on his mental health.
But the real stars here are the killers. Glimpses of Dennis Rader are interspersed throughout the show, whom many speculate will be the main subject of the already-greenlit season 2.
Cameron Britton’s portrayal of Edmund “Ed” Kemper is the highlight of the series, delivering an intricate performance as a self-aggrandizing, self-pitying, and lucid man who sees his crimes as payback against a mother who wronged him and women who “humiliated” him.
As the show progresses, the collection of interviews and crimes builds a complicated consensus: Society forges criminals who have been “failed” in some way, but some people are also born with “urges” to kill that become triggered by their upbringing or other external stimuli.
One polarizing detail is that all of these men committed heinous crimes as revenge against the embittered and abusive childhoods their moms dealt then. Or as a way to demean women. Producers contrast these developments against an era where most women had limited agency, and the effect is disturbing.
Mindhunter has great dialogue enhanced by stunning cinematography, but it’s too clinical. It sterilizes crimes by removing their emotional core from the story. But it goes all in on its subject matter, throwing high-level criminal and psychological terminology at viewers. Episodes range between 42 and 56 minutes, and they can feel like homework. But it’s a meditative series sure to delight fans of the true-crime genre.
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What that new ‘Jessica Jones’ character means for the season and the series
Friend or foe?
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones has been a revelation for women ever since it premiered in 2015. Not only did it present us with a deeply flawed and traumatized protagonist, it dealt with her history and insecurities head-on.
In Season 2, we still have a host of varied, complicated women; from Carrie Ann Moss’s struggling Jeri Hogarth to Rachael Taylor’s unraveling Trish to our newest character, played by Janet McTeer. It’s a pivotal role with DEEP complexity and physicality, the likes of which is rare for women in action shows – especially women of a certain age.
McTeer is first introduced as Dr. Leslie Hansen, a scientist linked to the ominous IGH, but we quickly learn that there’s far more to her. She has abilities like Jessica’s, but dialed up to 11; with her super strength comes a rampant rage – a dissociative disorder that’s a side effect of the experiments IGH actually conducted on her.
When that switch flips, she becomes incredibly volatile, but with an almost childlike fixation on the source of her distress. McTeer communicates all this with a clenched jaw and unwavering gaze – and that’s before all the stunt work.
“That was fun, you know, the idea of being someone who works really hard to control her emotions, control herself,” McTeer told Mashable at the Season 2 premiere in New York. “She doesn’t know how to do that particularly but she tries very hard in all kinds of different ways and doesn’t always succeed.”
And then there’s that Episode 6 reveal, the shaky word a disbelieving Jessica says after tracking her quarry back to the house where she lives: “Mom?”
At first, turning this new character into Alisa Jones feels like a bit of a MacGuffin for Jessica’s quest to figure out exactly who or what she is. The tragic loss of her family is one of Jessica’s most formative experiences, like so many other superheroes. It’s infuriating to think her mother was alive this long and that their paths never crossed. Alisa didn’t even seek her out.
Episode 7 addresses all of that in flashbacks, but it’s still maddening. Especially with an ostensibly retconned dead boyfriend plot for Jessica that ends up being her mother’s fault (that jacket reveal though…:crying emoji:).
As the season builds to a climax, it’s hard to reconcile those revelations with a forced mother-daughter vigilante bonding subplot. Sure, there’s a tenderness to Alisa tending her daughter’s bullet wound that we haven’t seen Jessica experience before, but Mama Jones is a ticking time bomb and combustion is all but inevitable.
By now, we know how this ends: Alisa goes rogue (Jessica with her, for a time) and there’s no reeling her back in. By the final episode, she’s lost the only person who could help her scientifically and joined Jessica in the dead boyfriends’ club – she also murders a detective in a surge of violent energy reminiscent of Kilgrave himself.
“I’ve never seen a woman play a part like this,” McTeer said. “I’ve seen men do it very often but you know, I’m a middle-aged woman, so that was fun. Hard, harder than playing it when you’re 25 because it’s very physical, but still great.”
“You do something like this and you hope someone will go ‘Oh, that’s a good idea, let’s do another one!'” she added. “‘Does an FBI agent have to be a man? Let’s make it a woman. Does that person really have to be a man? Let’s make it a woman.’ I’d like that to happen more.”
If any show was going to do it, it’s this one.
Jessica Jones Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
Offred is 1000% over it in new ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ teaser
The Handmaid’s Tale just served up an International Women’s Day teaser of Offred and her sisters fighting back. After a first season that explored women losing all their agency, Season 2 shows shows the women of Gilead refusing to be oppressed any longer.
The teaser is mostly a few flashes of footage and imagery – including Offred in front of a noose and a weeping Moira (Samira Wiley) – narrated with the emotionless cadence Elisabeth Moss perfected as Offred. She lists the requirements of the handmaid like commandments: “Wear the red dress, wear the wings,” and eventually, “Shut your mouth, be a good girl, roll over and spread your legs, yes ma’am, may the lord open.”
And then the teaser ends with a burst of frustration: “Seriously, what the actual f–”
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 premieres April 25 on Hulu.
Obamas in talks with Netflix about original shows, report says
Netflix Originals from the Obamas may be coming.
You could soon be watching Netflix Originals commissioned by Barack and Michelle Obama.
According to a report by The New York Times, the former president and first lady are in “advanced negotiations” with the streaming giant to produce a series of shows.
The proposed deal, the Times reports, would see Netflix paying the Obamas to commission exclusive content, which would “highlight inspirational stories.” Exactly how many shows and episodes we can expect, whether these will be documentaries, mini-series or otherwise, has not yet been confirmed.
How much the Obamas will be paid is also still unclear.
Netflix currently boasts 117 million members in over 190 countries — quite the robust platform for the already social media-dominant Obamas to potentially leverage.
But the Times surmised that Obama wouldn’t be using the platform as “a direct answer to Fox News or Breitbart.com,” writing:
Mr. Obama does not intend to use his Netflix shows to directly respond to President Trump or conservative critics, according to people familiar with discussions about the programming.
Netflix isn’t the only streaming service interested in content commissioned by the Obamas it seems, with the Times reporting that executives from Amazon and Apple had also “expressed interest in talking with Mr. Obama about content deals.”
Mashable has reached out to Netflix for comment.
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