Netflix’s Mindhunter does a fascinating job of delving into the minds of famous murderers, trying to illuminate if not explain how and why they turned into the killers that haunt our nightmares. In Season 2, Holden (Jonathan Groff) and Bill (Holt McCallany) took on a whole host of real-life murderers, but the one storyline that had us on the edge of our seat had nothing to do with true crime.
Throughout the first season, we got tiny clues here and there that something was off about Bill’s adopted son, Brian (Zachary Scott Ross). He refused to talk or socialize and he stole gruesome photos of murders from Bill’s briefcase and hid them in his room. Those incidents were enough to raise a red flag with viewers, especially considering how closely aligned the behaviors were with the killers Bill and Holden were interviewing. In Season 2, the suspicions were raised even higher after a local toddler was found dead in the house Bill’s wife was a realtor for. To make matters worse, his body was stretched out in a cross-like pose, and we’d seen Brian fixated on the image of Jesus on the cross in an earlier episode.
The question the audience, and ultimately Bill, had to ask was had Brian killed this little boy?
“Basically what’s happening is Bill is being pulled in two different directions,” McCallany told TV Guide. “There’s a crisis in [his] family that [he] has to deal with, but [he] also has a new boss and a new assignment and new responsibilities at work. So it’s that tension that provides much of the conflict for Bill over the course of the season. But yeah, we adopted a son that has psychological and emotional problems and Bill is very much that kind of ’70s style father, who isn’t really sure how to deal with it.”
Ultimately it’s revealed that a group of local boys accidentally killed the toddler, and though Brian didn’t directly commit the murder, he was present when it happened and played a part in staging the body. That ultimately launches Brian into some social services mandated therapy, but the suspicion of his mental state still hangs heavily over the second season. Having spent so much time with violent criminals, Bill understands better than anyone how these kind of murderers are a product of genetic and environmental circumstances, and Brian appears to be following that dangerous path. His pre-existing psychological problems coupled with his exposure to this accidental death early in life, he could very well grow up to be the kind of person Bill has been interviewing in prison.
For now, Brian seems cleared of most, if not all suspicion, but if Mindhunter continues on to Season 3, we’ll be interested to see how Bill and Brian’s story continues to develop.
Mindhunter is currently streaming on Netflix.