The closing scene of Mindhunter season two lasts one minute and nine seconds. One minute and nine seconds of the freakiest shit in television. When I first watched this scene, I behaved like a person pretending to be a person watching a horror movie. I turned away. I grabbed my hair. I covered my eyes and peaked through my fingers, and I want to explain why. Because in subsequent viewings of the scene, I had no visceral reaction at all, but as a culmination of that season and with no understanding of what I was about to see, this scene dun messed me up a-a-ron.
The best I can figure it, the reason this scene was so creepy was because of three factors 1. The narrative of BTK in season two, 2. Not knowing where the scene was going to end, and 3. That damn music.
1. The Narrative of BTK
The opening scene of season two onwards amounts to the failed rehabilitation of BTK. Season one told the story of who this guy is and what he does, and then, in season two, we see him forced to acknowledge his “proclivities” and struggle to hide them in plain sight. All of this was initiated by a nerve-rattling scene in episode one of season two, where BTK’s wife comes home, notices her bathroom door rattling and, in slow motion, approaches the door for two painful minutes as we watch, semi-aware of what were about to see, fully aware of how unpleasant it will be. She opens the door to discover her husband pleasurably choking himself with a rope while dressed as a woman (that was even painful to write). So when we get to a hotel room in Junction City, Kansas in the last scene of season 2, with BTK fully realized, we know it’s about to go down in the worst kind of way. This was a culminating moment, and in a TV series like Mindhunter, culminating moments should be approached with caution. I was set on my heels and it made the subsequent repetitive body blows of creepiness unbearable.
2. Not Knowing
Even though I knew the scene wasn’t going to be pleasant, I did not have any guesses as to what we were about to see. And in horror stories, not knowing is the worst part. This scene capitalized on this phenomenon particularly well, because as it unfolded I kept guessing (incorrectly) what I was watching. I went through a series of false revelations that started when I saw BTK eye-fucking himself in the mirror and ended with the closing credits. It went something like this, “OH GOD! This is just like Silence of the Lambs.”
*BTK puts mask on*
“Oh no, he’s about to do that weird stuff from episode one again.”
*camera shows the video recorder*
“Is that a video camera? What is he filming? Why is he filming? Oh no…does he have a woman in there?”
*BTK kneels and the camera pans his trophies*
“Wait, what? He is just remembering all his kills?”
*BTK puts rope around his neck*
“NOPE. NOPE. I’m not watching this!”
*BTK strains against the rope* “Holy….”
“Oh thank god…I’m going to change my pants now.”
I felt like I was travelling through that freaky tunnel in Willy Wonka with Gene Wilder singing that creepy song. Except there was no Gene Wilder and the music was way worse.
3. That Damn Music
Nyun yun nyun nya. Its like an instrument meant to sound like a man, pretending to be a child making noises. That is the best I can explain how it sounds. But its effect? That’s like cold hands reaching under your shirt and grabbing your rib cage. It makes you look over your shoulder just in case. And it makes this scene so uncomfortable. Music is often best when you are not even aware its affecting you, this music announces itself and has its way with you and you can do nothing about it. Anyone who watched both seasons of Mindhunter was ready for the eyes of Ford and Tench to turn towards BTK, but this scene made me realize how powerful this vignettes were in affecting me and establishing the character. I wouldn’t mind a third season of Ford and Tench honing their skill elsewhere before turning towards BTK. But if we get the BTK hunt, I definitely have no problem with never having to hear that music ever again.
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