The Mysterious Death Of Frank Olson Will Always Be Fascinating


Netflix's documentary series Wormwood focuses on the mysterious death of Frank Olson. The investigation into Frank Olson's death leads to information about shadowy government organizations and infamous C.I.A experiments. But are the six episodes of Season 1 all you need to hear the story, or are fans to be left waiting for Season 2 of Wormwood to wrap the story up?

As the series explores, Frank Olson fell through the window of a New York City hotel, plummeting to his death — but whether his death was suicide or murder is speculated upon in the series. His son, Eric Olson, believes it to be the latter and Wormwood explores how Frank Olson's involvement with a shadowy C.I.A program known as MK-Ultra could have contributed to his death. According to the Los Angeles Times, the incident was ruled a suicide initially. Per The New York Times, further research into his death exposed that Olson had unknowingly been given LSD shortly before his death as part of a C.I.A mind-control experiment. According to the NYT, President Ford formally apologized to his family and offered them a settlement, which they said yes to. Per the Times, a CIA spokesperson "noted that the CIA’s most controversial episodes from the early cold war years, like Mr. Olson’s death, 'have been thoroughly investigated over the years, and the agency cooperated with each of those investigations.'"

Wormwood recreates the life and death of Frank Olson through interviews with those that knew him and dramatic re-enactments of his life. The six episodes of the first season cover a lot of ground, but those hoping to learn more about MK-Ultra may be stuck doing their own research. It seems that Wormwood was always intended to be a single, long-form documentary as opposed to an ongoing series. But just because the show is over doesn't mean that the show's director is done telling the story.

We can gauge the intention of Wormwood as a one-and-done series by its campaign as an Oscar contender for Best Documentary. The six-part, four-hour documentary seemed to follow in the footsteps of 2016 Oscar winner for Best Documentary, the eight-hour epic O.J.: Made in America, which aired as a mini-series ESPN (and as a movie marathon in theaters) prior to winning the Oscar. However, after O.J.: Made In America took home Oscar gold, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declared that "multi-part or limited series are not eligible for awards consideration." As such, Wormwood was not given the opportunity to complete in its original form — though it did also open in theaters, perhaps with the intention of presenting itself in movie format.

While Wormwood is a television series on Netflix, it's clear that the intention of the show was to come across more like a film than an ongoing show. Fans can expect Wormwood Season 1 to tell the entire story of Frank Olson's long, complicated history with the FBI, or at least as much as people know about. If more information is discovered about MK-Ultra or the mysterious C.I.A tests, there's a chance that another season of Wormwood could be produced. In fact, director Errol Morris let slip in an interview with Paste magazine that he's still digging into the case. So, while an official Season 2 may not be coming, fans may be able to look forward to what Morris calls "Wormwood Plus."

Morris tells Paste that while he's has his own theory of what what really happened to Frank Olson, there are still details that are worth investigating. He even teases that "there is a story that has not yet been told about all of this that is very powerful and interesting. And I’m still digging." Morris further explains:

"When governments try to cover up their tracks, sometimes they can be successful. Sometimes, they just don’t do the cover-up well enough. There’s little bits and pieces; shards of material that are left over, and the Olson case is an example of this."

With so many bits, pieces, and shards of information, it's likely that further investigations could help solidify what is presented in Wormwood, and that a Wormwood Plus could be a worthwhile companion piece to the original docuseries. So, while the Wormwood mini-series comes to an end after six episodes, whatever Morris finds upon further investigation will likely continue the story of Wormwood in one form or another. And, certainly interest in mysterious C.I.A business never wanes.