WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 2 of Mindhunter, streaming now on Netflix.
Netflix's Mindhunter has dealt with a swath of real-life serial killers, with the Son of Sam serving as a focal point of the second season, building on prisoners profiled from Season 1, like Ed Kemper. The stock of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit -- Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) -- rose, with more resources at their disposal.
With the team in demand, one request results in a meeting with the notorious Charles Manson. However, the interview doesn't go according to plan for Ford and Tench, leaving the agents questioning themselves.
So far, the team has been bulletproof. They're intimidated by the likes of Kemper, but still, they hold their own and flip the script on their subjects. That isn't the case with Manson, played by Justified's Damon Herriman, who went through a round of makeup that makes him a dead ringer. He also portrayed Manson in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood too, so he knows how to bring the character to life in dramatic fashion.
Herriman evokes the idiosyncrasies, from every twitch and fidgety hand movement to unmistakable raspy voice. Manson addresses his innocence with the agents, and finds a weak spot: Tench's son, Brian, is going through his own torment, witnessing and secretly enabling a toddler's murder, so when Manson tries to say he's wrongfully imprisoned, Tench is offended. He thinks the two older kids manipulated Brian; he views Manson as the mentor who guides the Brians of the world down the wrong path. Manson identifies that, and begins to poke at Tench's moral compass, without even knowing his secret. Ford panics as he sees his partner taking the interview personally.
Manson shuts down their psych work, and leaves Ford especially reevaluating so much of his experiences with previous killers. It even feels like Mindhunter is humanizing and redeeming Manson when he says he took the fall for those too weak to admit full culpability and exonerate him. He says he's not the mastermind, and gleefully tugs at the strings, knowing Tench is incensed. Sadly, Ford -- no longer fascinated with the bizarre yet mesmerizing criminal -- doesn't have a contingency plan in case someone turns the tables on them. Watching Manson dance around them and wreck their inquisition is intriguing, and the seeds he plants awaken Tench so much that when he returns home, he accepts the signs Brian is indeed displaying -- all psychopathic tendencies as a killer in the making.
For the second half of the season, Tench remains distant from the case they work in Atlanta, as his marriage falls apart and counselors work with Brian back home. It weighs on him, as he can't vouch for Brian any longer. As a result, his wife withdraws, because he won't take time off to be with them. It affects Ford on the job too, as he needs the help of his partner to catch the Atlanta killer. Ultimately, Tench goes back home when the case is closed, only to find his family has moved out.
Season 2 of Mindhunter is now streaming on Netflix, starring Jonathan Groff, Anna Torv, Holt McCallany and Stacey Roca.