Why The Time Jump In 'Mindhunter' Season 2 Matters

Patrick Harbron/Netflix

With that tense, terrifying Mindhunter Season 1 ending, one might naturally assume Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), and the Behavioral Science Unit would be taking a long break from chatting with serial killers. But a Season 2 time hop to 1979 reveals Holden is indeed still digging into what makes a murderer tick. According to the BBC, the '70s and '80s were a "serial killing peak," so Mindhunter's time jump serves to reflect the IRL social panic that once made the BSU so relevant and vital.

As a refresher, Season 1 didn't exactly end on a light note for the BSU. Season 1 of Mindhunter was set in 1977, when the FBI's research into criminal psychology was very much new and still not respected. Holden and Bill carried out their work in a basement, and eventually transformed their little spot into a working office after bringing on social science professor Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) and agent Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle). The team started to develop a standard set of questions they could ask serial killers, in order to study common behavior.

It was going decently well until Holden made a highly inappropriate comment to serial killer Richard Speck to get him to talk. Though Holden asked the comment be struck from the record, the line eventually made it to the press, leading to the whole team being investigated.

And it only got worse, with the season ending with Holden having a panic attack in the hallway after realizing he let himself get too close to serial killer Ed Kemper.

Patrick Harbron/Netflix

Not exactly the best place to leave Holden and the team, but Mindhunter Season 2 picks up when interest in serial killers has spread to a national stage, making the BSU's work more important than ever. In a July interview on KCRW's The Treatment podcast, executive producer David Fincher talked about how the time hop influences Mindhunter and the cases it explores in Season 2.

“In the 70s, post-Manson, post-Son of Sam, post-Zodiac, there really was, I don’t think you can say it was an epidemic, but there was definitely the feeling that the notion of this has gotten away from us,” Fincher said on the podcast. “There was this transition. I remember it happening with Son of Sam. When I left the Bay Area in the mid 1970s and our parents moved to Oregon, you go 300 miles north and nobody talked about Zodiac. It had been this festering thing that had never been brought to any kind of closure but no one cared about it [outside of the Bay Area]. [But] hen Son of Sam came, and it was Newsweek and Time, [on] the cover.”

It's clear with everything going on, Holden will not be content to just sit on the sidelines, especially now that the team has refined their methodology on tracking murderers. "The Unit discovered this technique for interviewing killers and understanding their minds,” Groff told ET Online, discussing how Holden inserts himself into the Atlanta Child Murders case. “Now he's obsessed with taking it on the field and seeing if it actually works in real life.”

Though the team may feel more comfortable that BSU has refined its systems, McCallany warns we'll see how this work negatively influences Holden and Bill. “Inevitably, they end up taking their work home with them because they become obsessed with trying to find these guys before they can kill again,” McCallany told ET Online. “They're constantly thinking about it, constantly going over it and over it and over it in their minds, and studying crime scene photos, and trying to put themselves into the minds of the killers, and they pay a price for that.”

Fans can hope that Holden and Bill will keep their heads on straight this season, but judging by how the last season ended, don't be surprised if things go pear-shaped in the end.