Mindhunter is quite literally a murderer’s row of acting roles. The show has an endless supply of warped minds for actors to try and inhabit, and this week saw the arrival of a very famous one. Yes, they just couldn’t resist it: Charles Manson.
I’m pretty Mansoned out by this point in television and film, but at least Mindhunter played on this, with the cult leader mocking the media circus that surrounds him and questioning what the interest in him says about the one who is interested.
Strangely enough, Australian actor Damon Herriman also played Manson in the other big title that depicted him this year, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. We only saw him in passing in Quentin Tarantino’s film, however, whereas here he had the chance to really get his teeth into the role, proselytising from atop a chair and doing a scarily effective job of explaining the Tate and LaBianca murders in terms of peace and love.
“No one ever dies, no one ever lives, those are two words in a leftover game,” he told agents Tench and Ford. “Everything is love man, there’s nothing that isn’t love.” Herriman’s Manson is articulate and an expert at manipulating the narrative about him, giving us a glimpse into how it was possible that he programmed a load of lost kids to carry out murder.
The Manson interview was a very enjoyable scene, up there with Mindhunter‘s best, though it was slightly annoying to see Bill get so triggered by Manson. Given the situation with his son Brian it made sense that Bill would be touchy about the concept of influence, but he was so unprofessional, and so played by Manson, that it felt extremely out of character. Driving back, Holden let Bill off extremely easy for essentially running the rare interview into the ground.
Speaking of Bill, it’s interesting how much distance he’s keeping from the issues at home right now. Every time you see him at Quantico you want to yell “go home, Bill!” at the screen. Be this as it may, the season does feel poised to feature a Behavioral Science Unit-style interview of Brian, likely to be carried out by Wendy Carr. Holden clearly has an empathy with people who have committed atrocities, and it looks like Bill is going to have to as he comes to tes with his son’s warped psyche.
Elsewhere in the episode, the BTK vignettes continued, the killer this time being seen burying the masks and outfits his wife previously caught him wearing. Why the show has chosen to put this particular killer certain stage is still unclear, but that’s partly what’s keeping these parcelled out moments so gripping.
Wendy, meanwhile, had a very tender and sweet scene with the barmaid she’s dating, who has the kind of wisdom that a bunch of degrees can’t get you but a ton of shifts behind a bar can. I’m rooting for them. Holden spoke to an eerily lucid Tex Watson, one of Manson’s acolytes, who had a very conflicting story to the one we heard from his former leader. I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of Manson in the show.
The bumper-length episode ended with a party at unit chief Ted Gunn’s house, where Bill told Wendy about Brian (but not Holden, he’d just be too interested) and Bill regaled FBI bigwigs with old war stories. No-one clears a room like Holden Ford, who didn’t command the room as Bill did. I don’t know how long Bill can stay in Ted’s good graces, though, given the situation with his son, which I’m amazed hasn’t led to so much as a quiet word at Quantico yet.
Finally, we closed the episode with Holden at home receiving a phone call, which actually played out as comedic because when the hell does anyone ever phone Holden? It was a work call, of course, Ford being informed of yet another abduction in Atlanta – I can’t see him letting this one rest, consequences be damned.