Life in the euphemistically named Behavioral Science Unit has undoubtedly affected the personal and social lives of Mindhunter‘s three lead characters. But in season 2 episode 4 things got a lot more serious for Bill than just making grisly conversation at barbecues.
We’ll get to that, but first up in the episode was an apparent validation of Holden’s hypothesis about the identity of the Atlanta killer. “Black male, mid to late twenties,” he informed the team after a simple A/B test out in the field. This earned a sarcastic “wow” from Wendy, who has clearly spent more time in inner city Atlanta than Holden, but unit chief Gunn was more impressed. Holden’s a real teacher’s pet right now, but it remains to be seen how long this can last.
Last episode there were signs that local government might not be thrilled about a serial killer hunt, and these were confirmed in episode 4, as the commissioner promptly cut Ford and Tench’s field trip to Atlanta short after learning that they were hunting a likely black murderer – not good PR for a city trying to prevent white flight and hold onto tax dollars. We’ve seen Holden stand up to serial killer and police chiefs in the past, but has he got what it takes to overcome that most controlling and Machiavellian of humans, the politician?
While Holden and Bill sweated through a thousand work shirts in a humid Georgia, Wendy and a nervous Gregg took on the interview of this week’s killer: Elmer Wayne Henley, an accomplice in the Houston Mass Murders perpetrated by Dean Corll between 1970 and 1973. Gregg choked, but even Wendy couldn’t get much out of Henley, who just didn’t seem to have a strong motivation for participating in the crimes. This recent spate of less fruitful interviews might not be as thrilling as the Ed Kemper variety, but they’re important in keeping the show balanced – not every killer i is going to be an articulate mastermind with buckets of insight.
The key takeaway from this sequence, which was easy to miss, came while Gregg was licking his wounds on the drive home. Gregg was ashamed that his lousy performance had been committed to tape, “where your colleagues can play it back”. This got Wendy worrying about the lesbian relationship story she’d shared in the interview, and yet I’m not sure why? I can’t imagine Holden or Bill caring one iota about Wendy’s homosexuality, so it’s unclear why her emergence from the closet is being so drawn out and emphasised in this show right now.
Episode 4, another confident and dense episode, had a sting in its tail. I knew Brian inexplicably peeing the bed last episode had to be bad news, and indeed it seems the child facilitated the murder of the toddler down the road from the Tenchs’ house. Moreover, it was Brian that apparently came up with the crucifixion idea. Eeeesh. Bill is surely going to get blamed here for his tendency to bring his unsavoury work home with him, though this may not be completely fair. We’ve seen next to nothing of Brian in the show so far, but the Tench household seems to be pretty copacetic, so what led the kid to this grim incident? As the team have been discovering in recent interviews, it’s not always about daddy issues or social standing, some people – disturbingly – simply have evil acts in them.
So far this season, Bill has been the one watching out for Holden’s mental stability, but this revelation might just have flipped the situation.