Mindhunter expanded our minds about Jonathan Groff’s incredible talent

MINDHUNTER - Credit: Patrick Harbron/Netflix
MINDHUNTER - Credit: Patrick Harbron/Netflix /
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MINDHUNTER – Patrick Harbron/Netflix /

Mindhunter season 3: What could have been?

If Mindhunter had stuck to its current schedule, Mindhunter season 3 would be premiering this fall. But the show is on “indefinite hold” at Netflix, with all of the cast released from their contracts. It’ll be an honest surprise if we see the show again—let alone the five seasons that David Fincher originally intended.

Leaving Holden Ford standing in his living room isn’t a terrible place to let go of the character; Jonathan Groff said so much with his character’s final look about where he’d been and how it still didn’t feel like enough. But it’s also sad because Groff would’ve had so much more to offer if the series had continued down its current path.

Season 2 ended in 1981 with the conclusion of the Atlanta Child Murders, but John Douglas suffered a massive medical episode just two years later in 1983. Overworked and exhausted, he collapsed in a Seattle hotel room and ended up in the ICU where among other things, a CAT scan revealed that the right side of his brain had ruptured. Douglas didn’t return to Quantico until April 1984; however, he continued to work for the FBI for another decade.

What’s most disturbing about this incident is that he had a premonition it was coming, and took out additional life insurance before he left for Seattle.

That’s a heck of a journey, and something Jonathan Groff would surely have knocked out of the park. We’ve seen how he illustrates Holden’s psychological issues; to couple that with physical recovery would be such a complex and affecting arc. He would essentially be destroying Holden and building him back up another time—a transformation that again, most TV shows never bother with because of the time and toll involved. But the deeper Groff goes, the better he gets.

Yet would Mindhunter have put Holden out there, since he already had one medical crisis at the end of season 1? Or would the writers have said, “Been there, done that”?

Season 3 (or season 4, depending on how much time the show would have elapsed) could also have gone into the BSU’s ascension within the FBI and what effect that has on Holden’s ego

. In an interview with Jonathan Groff for Douglas’ latest book The Killer Across The Table, Douglas described it as “You’re gaining power in that role—the power of institutional knowledge and memory and experience—and so somebody may not like you [but] they’ve got to put up with you.” Especially since Holden already forced one boss into retirement, and learning that caused him to have another panic episode, how would he navigate that increasing responsibility? We already know he dislikes bureaucracy.

There’s also room to explore his relationship with Bill, since the second season ended with Tench finding out his wife and son had left him. How would Holden attempt to support his partner after a devastating personal loss? How much would Bill let him, considering he kept so much to himself about his son’s situation? Ideally, it’d be great to see Bill and Nancy reconcile, but there’s a lot of potential there for both Groff and Holt McCallany to add to their already complex partnership.

Holden and Bill are a team professionally, but personally, they’re fairly guarded—far from the “buddy cop” cliche—and it’s worth noting that while both Douglas and Ressler wrote books about their time with the BSU, neither of them spoke that much about the other in said books. That’s not what you’d expect from people who spent that much time that close together. Why not have Mindhunter continue to probe that together but separate dynamic?

Especially if the writers did push Holden into a collapse, we’d have two characters at their lowest points with no one to turn to but each other (and Wendy), while trying to hold an ever-expanding unit together.

That’s more than enough good drama without factoring in serial killers like the ongoing BTK vignettes. Douglas continued to pursue several high-profile targets throughout the remainder of his career, many of which are detailed in Mindhunter as well as his other books, so there’s no shortage of cases to work.

But that also means there are so many more aspects of Holden Ford that we could discover as he continues forward as an agent and even as a human being, making it a true loss that Groff won’t get to keep illuminating his character. Even with everything we learned about him in two seasons, he had so much more left to show us.

There’s nothing more beautiful about acting than watching a great actor commit themselves completely to something, especially when it’s something they’ve never done before—something that’s new to all of us and we get to take the journey with them. That’s what we had with Jonathan Groff, Holden Ford and Mindhunter.

Jonathan Groff is an incredibly talented performer who’s accomplished so much and will go on to accomplish even more. But Mindhunter, with the way it allowed him to flex existing talents while showcasing him in a whole new light, ought to have given Groff more mainstream appeal that he so richly deserves.

This series proved that there’s nothing he can’t do—and maybe, if we’re lucky in a few years, we’ll get to see him pick up Holden Ford’s badge again, because there’s still a lot he could do with one of his most memorable characters.

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