Now this episode feels like “Mindhunter.” It opens with Holt McCallany going to Wichita, with some great “period” Wichita shots, and consulting on the BTK case. There’s a bunch with him and the other cop, a rather nauseating sequence where they walk the crime scene—“Mindhunter,” at its core, is basically just ‘What if “Criminal Minds” didn’t suck,’ after all—and then a great scene where McCallany interviews one of the survivors. David Fincher directs this episode too (he directed the previous one) and he definitely works a little more at the real-life horror and terror aspect of it.
And it’s only an extended teaser basically. A B plot. The A plot has McCallany bringing back the information from Kansas and having a brainstorming session with Jonathan Groff—again, it feels like “Mindhunter” all of a sudden, even with my far from complete recollection of the first season—and it turns out they’re going to need to go talk to David Berkowitz. Even though Anna Torv doesn’t think Berkowitz fits the profile of the serial killers the team is supposed to be interviewing. The first episode of the season had a lot of talk about where the B.S.U. (Behavioral Sciences Unit, you know it from “Criminal Minds,” right?) is going in the future but not a lot of what they would actually be doing as the season unfolds. This episode gives a little bit better of an emphasis on how the unit is actually functioning.
It’s the procedural.
And it’s a great one.
And then comes Oliver Cooper as David Berkowitz.
And then it really feels like “Mindhunter,” because slowly but surely there’s the fantastic interview sequence where Cooper gets to be phenomenal and Groff gets to show off his brains and McCallany gets to think, hey, maybe interviewing these guys is a good idea.
There’s character stuff with Torv and a little with McCallany (and family)—it appears Groff is losing some of his lead stature after last season’s girlfriend debacle (or so I remember it being)—and it’s good, but it’s nothing compared to the Cooper scene.
The episode plays a lot more like the season opener than the actual season opener plays, which isn’t not problematic, but it’s so good it doesn’t really matter. It’s focused. Last episode—same writer, same director—wasn’t anywhere near as focused. It felt perfunctory; this episode feels exploratory.