Two Years Of Making Mindhunter Took Its Toll On David Fincher

I admit: I've come to "Mindhunter" very late in the game. The show, which follows FBI agents Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and behavioral psychology consultant Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) working together to research the minds of serial killers, first aired on Netflix all the way back in 2017. I have only just started watching it this year, but even though I'm a little late, I am still supremely upset that there are only two seasons — the last having aired in 2019 — with no real sign of a third ever getting made.

The show is largely spearheaded by director David Fincher and is loosely based on the book "Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Criminal Unit" written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The appeal of "Mindhunter" is largely due to the examination of famous serial killers' minds explored through interviews mostly conducted by Tench and Ford, allowing viewers a peek into the motivations of famously dangerous men like Ed Kemper, Richard Speck, and Charles Manson. It is not your typical crime show in which each episode starts off with a murder and ends with a resolution, and because of its rejection of traditional crime show tropes and formula, "Mindhunter" often feels more like a psychological experiment than a basic crime drama. Thanks to the show's unique conceit, it has a devoted fanbase that's desperate to know what happens to Tench, Ford, and Carr; however, Fincher has made it clear that the show is on indefinite hiatus, largely due to the fact that season 2 was so difficult to complete. 

Making a show about serial killers turns out to be killer work

Fincher is no stranger to the world of serial killers. His films "Zodiac" and "Seven" go deep into exploring the minds of the depraved. His other projects like the American version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Gone Girl" also explore murder in ways that are steeped in psychological mire. "Mindhunter," though, is perhaps his darkest take on such a gruesome subject, but it turns out that the show's grueling subject matter wasn't the only difficult part about making it. 

In an interview with Variety, Fincher opened up about the difficulties he ran into when making season 2 — difficulties that included things like "fir[ing] the initial showrunner and toss[ing] out eight scripts" — none of which had an easy fix and caused major production delays (a two year delay and there wasn't even a pandemic yet!). Even Fincher himself had to relocate to Pittsburgh in order to help with the making of the show's second season.

The show also completely did away with the outline for season 2 (often known in the biz as a "show bible"), which meant that most of the second season had to be reworked on the fly. Because of this, "Mindhunter" was also without a bible for season 3, making the prospect of continuing the series even more daunting for Fincher since it would have needed to be written basically from scratch. All of this contributed to Fincher's burnout, causing him to decide to take a much needed break from his dark but beloved show. Unfortunately though, it doesn't seem like Fincher is ever going to pull a Ford and miraculously bounce back from his metaphorical "hug from a serial killer" to finally make season 3.  

So, is there ANY hope for a season 3?

When the show was originally devised, Fincher was hoping to put out a new season every year, give or take. But when complications caused the delay between the release of seasons 1 and 2, Fincher started to rethink things. Because the production complications and script issues caused so much of a problem, Fincher decided to take a break after season 2 wrapped. Now, he openly wondered to Variety "if it makes sense to continue" — a statement that made me gasp upon reading it. The BTK Killer is still out there, David! In Fincher's defense, he states in the interview that the stress of making season 2 made him question if he was "ready to spend another two years in the crawl space," which seems fair. But also, that's probably how Tench and Ford feel too! That basement is depressing! Set them free, David! Set them free with season 3!

Fincher did tell Variety — who states Fincher was hoping the hiatus would "reignite his passion" for the show — that he eventually hoped "to revisit it," saying, "the hope was to get all the way up to the late '90s, early 2000s, hopefully get all the way up to people knocking on the door at Dennis Rader's house." And yet, the further we get from the 2019 release of season 2, the less likely it seems that "Mindhunter" will ever see a season 3