Mindhunter Season 2 Reviews: Netflix’s Serial Killer Show Is Even Better in Propulsive New Episodes, Say Critics

Plus, just how scary is this version of Charles Manson?

by | August 19, 2019 | Comments

Most critics didn’t get to watch season 2 of Mindhunter early. Not supplying screeners for review on the title is baffling, considering that season 1 is Certified Fresh at 97% on 95 reviews. Reviews have poured in over the weekend as critics got to binging, and the new season is already Certified Fresh at 100%, which is no small feat.

Created by Joe Penhall (The Road) and executive produced by David Fincher (Gone Girl ) — who also directs three episodes in season 2 — Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), and others, Mindhunter tells the story of the genesis of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. In season 2, founding agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and consultant Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) see their unit get a boost within the agency when Assistant Director Gunn (Michael Cerveris) takes over from retiring Unit Chief Shepard (Cotter Smith), and the unit gets involved with the high-profile Atlanta child killer case.

Here’s what critics are saying about the new season in reviews.

Anna Torv as Dr. Wendy Carr, Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford, and Holt McCallany as Bill Tench in Mindhunter season 2 trailer screencap (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

Is It As Good As Season 1?

“‘Mindhunter’ is deeper, richer, and more affecting this go round, even as it steers away from studying proven killers.” – Ben Travers, indieWire

“Joe Penhall’s creation remains top tier in terms of cinematography, writing, character development, and music. Directors David Fincher, Andrew Dominik, and Carl Franklin masterfully capture the era and tone of the series.” – Mikkel Snyder, Black Nerd Problems

“Broken minds carry on in this second season, which is just as unsettling, intelligent and capable of crafting real art out of darkness.” – Alci Rengifo, Entertainment Voice

“Compared to the last season, ‘Mindhunter’ Season 2 works on a bigger canvas, but doesn’t lose any of its focus.” – Brian Lloyd,

How’s the Pacing?

“While the series benefits from giving everyone more to do, the pacing could be quicker.” – Robert Rorke, New York Post

“While Mindhunter: Season 2 doesn’t exactly race out of the gate as it builds on the foundation of Season 1, it remains a compelling and impeccably shot crime thriller.” – Jesse Schedeen, IGN Movies

“It already feels like the series is evolving and maturing, becoming more complex as the relationships start to change, both professionally and personally.” – Sam Loveridge, SFX Magazine

“The series is still far more Zodiac than Seven, but it’s also more propulsive now, with no fewer than three ongoing investigations.” – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Holt McCallany as Bill Tench, Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford, Joe Tuttle as Gregg Smith, and Anna Torv as Dr. Wendy Carr in Mindhunter season 2 trailer screencap (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

How’s the Cast This Time?

“[By the time you see her in episode 3,] you’re probably wondering what Carr is up to since she doesn’t have a ton of screen time so far. That’s a shame because if you have Anna Torv in your show, you should use her in every scene.”
Rachel Paige, Refinery29

“Every shot is deliberate, the dialog cuts like a finely honed blade, and all of the actors bring their A-Game.” – Mikkel Snyder, Black Nerd Problems

“[Groff] has a gift for seeming both confident and insecure at the same exact moment, making Ford both insufferable and sympathetic in the same breath. It’s a tough balancing act, but Groff nails it … McCallany plays Tench as a thoughtful, even introspective man who buries his emotions in a gruff exterior. Chain-smoking and knocking back liquor, to the outside world he appears to be a tough-as-nails, no-bullshit guy. But inside, he’s silently screaming, and McCallany does remarkable work bringing out the confusion and uncertainty in Tench’s eyes.” – Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

“After a couple of cracking sequences in which Holden and Bill interview the likes of the Son of Sam killer, and a handful of others, the show peaks with a stunning verbal confrontation with none other than Charles Manson … As tremendous as each of the performers playing the killers are, Australian actor Damon Herriman is positively electric as the charismatic cult leader.” – Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times

Mindhunter is a series about difficult conversations – with bosses, with family members, with serial killers – and none of that would work without its impeccable ensemble.” – Clint Worthington, The Spool

Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper in Mindhunter season 2 trailer screencap (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

Is It Scary?

“The series feeds more on the idea that knowledge and understanding of the human condition — in all its sometimes horrific glory — is what’s truly fascinating.” – Kevin Yeoman, ScreenRant

“The scariest thing in Mindhunter, Netflix’s 1970s-set serial killer drama overseen by the exacting-but-terrific director David Fincher, is always the chalk outline … There’s something a little idiosyncratic about a serial killer show that never shows serial killing. Yes, it shows us lots and lots of serial killers, but most of them are in prison, and the business of the show is talking to them, trying to get them to reveal their secrets, hoping to get just close enough to see to the bottom of their particular abyss without falling in. Mindhunter never shows us grisly murders themselves — it only shows the aftermath, in the form of those chalk outlines and the occasional crime scene photo.” – Emily VanDerWerff, Vox

Mindhunter’s most impressive accomplishment, though, is to weave an engrossing mystery without trivialising these real-life killers and their atrocious crimes. The series fascinates rather than unsettles.” – Ed Power, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“It’s chilling stuff that burrows under your skin, and not suited to delicate constitutions.” – Wenlei Ma,

Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford in Mindhunter season 2 trailer screencap (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

How’s the Directing?

“[The premiere is] a thoughtfully composed, immaculately color-coded episode of television that makes compelling use of light and shadow.” – Katie Rife, AV Club

“As with last season, David Fincher directs the first episode with his usual panache, especially during the cold open.” – Scott Tobias, New York Magazine/Vulture

“Those who slept on season one should take note; David Fincher is at his full power on Netflix and makes ‘Mindhunter’ a must-watch.” – Christopher James,

Albert Jones as Jim Barney in Mindhunter season 2 trailer screencap (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

Final Verdict?

“The long-awaited second season of David Fincher’s Mindhunter affirms the program as Netflix’s strongest drama.” – Brian Tallerico,

“It is effective, haunting, scary, and one of the most provocative shows ever and hands down one of the best shows of the year.” – Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

“The Verdict: For a series that has sat on the sidelines for two years, there’s an unexpected urgency and vibrancy to Mindhunter’s second season … at times it could do with a little more visual panache to help key sequences stand out. This is a small complaint, however, for an otherwise addictive and engrossing drama.” – Joe Lipsett, Consequence of Sound

“‘Mindhunter’ returns with a great season 2: David Fincher’s series is confirmed as one of the best on Netflix.” (review in Spanish) – Mikel Zorrilla, Espinof

Mindhunter season 2 is now streaming on Netflix

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