Mindhunter: Ford’s future and potential killers in Season 2
True crime fans are celebrating Netflix’s recent announcement that their original crime drama series, Mindhunter, was renewed for a second season. The show is a perfect blend of documentary storytelling and fictionalization, focusing on the history of how the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit was born.
Director and executive producer David Fincher’s hit series is based on the true crime novel by real-life agent John Douglas, who not only inspired the lead character, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), but worked for the FBI Investigative Support Unit for 25 years. Douglas recognized that serial killers had a specific psychological insight that was worth investigating in order to build criminal profiles.
Douglas, along with his real-life partner, Agent Robert Ressler, studied and interviewed the same serial killers who have been portrayed or discussed in the series. The two agents also initially coined the term “serial killer” and helped the FBI finally embrace the importance of criminal psychology and profiling.
The factual components of Mindhunter are mainly told through the real stories and portrayals of the serial killers, their crimes, and even the interviews. However, the dramatization of the lead characters sometimes does hit a little close to home.
At the end of the first season, Ford was left crumpled on the floor in the middle of a panic attack after an intense, emotional moment with serial killer Edmund Kemper, played by the brilliant Cameron Britton. While Douglas’ experience doesn’t match Ford’s characterization exactly, what ultimately led to the agent’s retirement from the FBI and criminal profiling was the job itself.
According to The Telegraph, Agent Douglas suffered from “nightmares and sleepless nights,” and the work was beginning to impact his family life. He even contracted viral encephalitis at one point, but continued hunting serial killers and interviewing them after recovering. In 1995, though, the agent finally called it quits after the “psychological trauma” proved too much.
With Ford experiencing an anxiety attack at the end of the season one finale, where will the character go from here, and how much of that will be inspired by Douglas’ own trauma? Will the second season start with a time jump, or will it pick up right after Ford’s confrontation with Kemper?
During that final scene, Ford may have come to the realization (in the most unpleasant way) that the profiling business was starting to get into his head. If he is ready to admit that he’s been getting too close to the minds of these serial killers, it could lead to an interesting character arc in the upcoming season.
Not only will Ford likely be questioning how the work is affecting his health, the agent will also have to deal with his partner, Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), and colleague Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) who have hit their own breaking point with Ford and his impulsive (and arguably effective yet controversial) actions that have threatened to destroy the unit he helped create.
Ford’s future will not only be determined by the FBI and his own psyche, but by who he and Agent Tench will be interviewing and next. Douglas investigated a number of serial killers, providing a vast amount of inspiration for writer Joe Penhall who has already planned a five-season arc for the series.
The second season cases and interviews will ultimately be determined by the time frame the audience comes back to when the new episodes air. Season one begins in 1977, but in order for a five-season arc to cover the span of the 30 year B.T.K. killer investigation (which plays a significant role in the first season as well as Agent Douglas’ career), Fincher and his creative team will have to make a few time jumps along the way.
Who Could Make An Appearance In Mindhunter Season 2?
In episode 10, Ford subtly namedrops Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, aka the “Son of Sam,” as a couple of killers “on the wish list” of who the agents want to interview next. It’s highly possible the two infamous figures will actually be portrayed in the second season and not just discussed about by Ford and Tench like they were in season one.
Along with them, there are a number of other cases and killers we might see the agents investigating or interviewing, following in the same footsteps as Agent Douglas.
The B.T.K. or “Bind, Torture, Kill” killer wasn’t apprehended until 2005, but like we saw from the first season of Mindhunter, he began murdering people in the 1970s. Depicted in various short vignettes at the beginning of most of the episodes from the first season, Rader obviously won’t be caught this early on in the series, but Fincher may or may not keep up with the brief clips so that the audience can continue following the notorious murderer as he persistently terrorizes Sedgwick County, Kansas.
Theodore “Ted” Bundy was convicted of murder in 1979 and received a total of three death sentences between then and 1980. Bundy confessed to killing 36 women in several states during the 1970s, but it was believed the number was actually much higher at over a 100 deaths.
The serial killer, rapist, and necrophiliac was executed in 1989, but his apprehension in the late ’70s places Bundy in the right circumstances to appear in the second season as an interview subject for Ford and Tench.
John Wayne Gacy
Known to some as the notorious “Killer Clown,” John Wayne Gacy sexually assaulted and raped a number of teenage boys and was found guilty of murdering 33 young men in Illinois in 1980. Investigators discovered some time later that Gacy’s killing began in 1972. Most of his victims were buried in a crawl space under his house, with some remains also being found in the Des Plaines River near Gacy’s home. The “Killer Clown” was eventually executed in May of 1994 by lethal injection after he was sentenced to to serve “12 death sentences and 21 natural life sentences.”
One of the most disturbing cases comes from an infamous Wisconsin killer who inspired a number of different horror villains in the cinematic universe, including Psycho’s Norman Bates, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface, and The Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill.
Ed Gein was more well-known for his obsession with his dead mother, grave robbing (including using skin and body parts to make various objects, such as skin suits, lampshades, or bowls made out of skulls), and necrophilia more than the one murder he was found guilty of in 1957, or the other homicide he confessed to after his conviction. Gein died in 1984 in a mental health institution from cancer and respiratory illnesses.
Also known as the “Stocking Strangler,” Carlton Gary was convicted of killing seven elderly women in Georgia between 1977 and 1978, falling in a time frame that could allow Ford and Tench to assist in the investigation during the second season. Gary was said to have used mainly stockings in the murders, and also sexually assaulted and beat the victims before strangling them. Gary was convicted in 1986 for the killings.
Agent Douglas’ direct involvement in the “Trailside Killer” case would make this particular one an ideal plot point for season two of Mindhunter. Carpenter was convicted of killing 10 people from 1979 to 1981 on hiking trails close to San Francisco. Apparently, Douglas provided the local investigators with such a detailed and unique profile of Carpenter that some of the officers either expressed doubt, or thought he was a psychic. Carpenter was eventually apprehended in 1981 and given a death sentence for his crimes.
Charlie Davis was convicted of killing five women in Maryland in the late 1970s. He used his position as an ambulance driver to target his victims. After kidnapping, raping, and strangling the women, Davis would dump their bodies on roadways that happened to be along the same route where he drove his ambulance. This enabled Davis to be the ambulance driver that would also later pick up the bodies of his own victims when a call would come in after they had been discovered.
Agent Douglas ended up interviewing Davis early on in the 1980s. What made this particular interview interesting was that it was apparently the first time Douglas approached a killer without knowing a single thing about them, and yet he was still able to “pinpoint the who, what, when, where, and why of his crimes effortlessly.” If the second season experiences a time jump, Davis could make an appearance. Perhaps instead, though, he might be a potential interview in a possible season three.
As a paranoid schizophrenic, Herbert Mullin provides an interesting insight into the rare cases of serious mental health illnesses causing an individual to act violently and would be a great case study on the series. Mullin murdered 13 people in the early 1970s because he believed that doing so would prevent earthquakes in California.
During the same time, Edmund Kemper, who was actually in the middle of his own killing spree, told investigators that: “Herbie was just a cold-blooded killer… killing everyone he saw for no good reason. I guess that’s kind of hilarious, my sitting here so self-righteously talking like that, after what I’ve done.”
With the time period tying the two killers together, and seeing how Kemper and Mullin certainly fall on two different spectrums, it would be fascinating for Ford and Tench to pay a visit to Herbert Mullin, who believed that his victims consented in order to save California. Mullin ultimately received a life imprisonment sentence after being charged with multiple counts of first and second degree murder.
In 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted of killing two men and was then later accused of being a participant in the “Atlanta Child Murders.” The Atlanta Police Department claimed that Williams killed 23 out of the 29 African-American children that were murdered between 1979 to 1981. Williams is currently serving life in prison and was never actually convicted of those additional killings, but was tied to them due to “convincing circumstantial and DNA evidence.”
Unless Fincher decides to do a 10-year time jump in the second season, it’s unlikely that Donald Harvey would make an appearance. However, like most of the killers on the list, Harvey was another one of Agent Douglas’ interviewees that the writers could include at some point in the series.
Known as the infamous “Angel of Death,” Donald Harvey confessed to killing between 70-87 people, but it was “impossible to substantiate that claim.” The former nurse’s aide killed over a span of about 18 years, murdering hospital patients in Ohio and Kentucky. In 1987, Harvey plead guilty to killing 37 people and claimed that the killings started in 1970.
Harvey nick-named himself the “Angel of Death” because he claimed that he murdered those patients in order to end their suffering. However, as reported by the New York Daily News, many of the murders were “clearly provoked by rage, hatred or jealousy.” Also, some of his victims were not even patients at the hospitals he worked at.
One of Harvey’s victims was his roommate and lover, Carl Hoeweler, who he apparently poisoned with arsenic to prevent Hoeweler from leaving their shared apartment. Three neighbors, as well as Hoeweler’s father and brother-in-law, died. Harvey intentionally gave one friend hepatitis B, and even a neighbor’s dog also died after being in Harvey’s presence. The “Angel of Death” was able to poison so many of his victims outside of work because at one point or another, he prepared meals for each of them.
Harvey confessed to either poisoning patients with cyanide, rat poison, or arsenic, as well as smothering some of his victims. He was sentenced to multiple life sentences but was eventually killed in prison after he was assaulted and beaten by another inmate in March 2017.