Mindhunter Season 1: Review

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In Which the FBI Learns to Think Like a Serial Killer

Mindhunter is a new 10 episode original series from Netflix based on the true crime book of the same name by John E Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Douglas spent 25 years in the FBI, many of them developing the science of criminal profiling. The series is a fictionalized account of  Douglas’ time with the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit, where he worked with Dr Ann Wolbert Burgess and Robert Ressler to study and categorize the behavior of psychopathic criminals.

The first season starts before Holden Ford, the stand-in character for Douglas, and Bill Tench, the stand-in for Ressler, meet. Ford is an FBI hostage negotiator and instructor at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA. Tench travels the country teaching FBI methodology to local law enforcement agencies. He listens in on local concerns and occasionally assists with cases at the same time. Ford feels he’s wasting his time teaching a subject that’s too limited to students who don’t care, while Tench wants help carrying his slide projector, so their supervisor pairs them up.

While Shepherd, the supervisor, originally pairs the two as a way to get both to stop hassling him, it proves to be a stroke of genius. Local officers frequently approach Tench and Ford during and after their presentations with unique cases that seem unsolvable. These spark Ford’s instincts, leading him to seek out more information about crimes involving fetishes and repeat offenders: what would come to be known as the work of serial killers.

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