Everyone has cause to be glum in the seventh episode of Mindhunter season 2. Holden’s being outsmarted by the Atlanta strangler, Wendy’s being sidelined back in Qauntico, and Bill, well, Bill’s in the unenviable position of having gruesome murders in both his day job and his family life.
The interrogation of last episode’s woodland masturbator was up first this episode, a case of jerking up the wrong tree for all involved. Pickett Yarborough was swiftly ruled out as a suspect, a couple of magazines and a few rolls of duct tape being all they ever really had on him. This was a necessary procedural step, if you’re Bill, a waste of goddamn time if you’re Holden. This disagreement spelt out the difference in the partners’ approach to their work: Bill wants the evidence to further inform their criminal profiles, Holden wants to get straight to using the profiles to lead them to the evidence.
More than anything though, Bill just wants to sleep. I like how the show hasn’t spoon-fed us Tench’s thoughts and feelings on his son’s nascent evil. At times it seems like work is a necessary distraction for him, others it seems he probably needs to go on leave. In some moments you feel the situation at home is really eating Bill up, in others you feel he just doesn’t care about his family that much and the BSU is his priority. One thing’s for sure, Bill’s not about to apologise for his line of work. With any and all case workers he’s very plainly explained what his 9 to 5 involves, knowing that they might make assumptions but clear enough in his own mind with regards to his parenting not to care.
Nancy’s visit from the mother of the dead toddler was one of the most intriguing scenes this episode, and played out differently to what we usually expect with these kinds of encounters in film and TV. Specifically, the mother was ready to grant full forgiveness, but Nancy wouldn’t accept it. She didn’t explain why, but you got the sense that deep down she couldn’t get on board with the mother’s characterisation of Brian as the attempted saviour at the crime scene. She fears – and on some level knows – that a portion of blame does belong with her son.
Wendy Carr hasn’t had a huge amount to do this season (and fine! I like it when characters come and go), but all of her scenes with bartender Lauren have been exquisitely pitched. Are you asking me to move in with you, or be your roommate? Lauren wondered this episode, and there was something painfully real about this situation, where one person in the relationship doesn’t know how much the other has to offer, and the other isn’t really sure either.
At Quantico, Wendy was taken off serial killer interviews, Ted trying (and failing) to sell her the opportunity with more office-based analysis work. I don’t know if there’s a motive behind this that exceeds plain, old-fashioned misogyny, but it doesn’t exactly help Wendy in her bid to get back out of the closet.
Down in Atlanta, the investigation hit a dead end, and there was nothing even that lady with the most reflective glasses in the state of Georgia could do about it. Holden seems to have detected the killer’s pattern but doesn’t have the resources to flush him out in the already stretched police department. Bureaucracy and red tape are also complicating matters – as local agent Jim Barney succinctly put it, the team is getting “buried in acronyms”. The scene with Holden chasing a protest with a cross was frankly a little strange and sat at odds with the tone of the rest of the show, but it remains an impressively intricate situation that the writers have created in Atlanta this season.
It doesn’t look like we’re going to get a real sense of closure on either Brian or BTK the final two episodes, so I guess we can expect the Atlanta strangler to be caught in instead – Lord knows Bill could use a win right now.