"That is known as a victory lap," says Camille Bell, one of the grieving Atlanta mothers as Holden prepares to leave Atlanta behind. "It's supposed to be taken at the end of the race." During the scene, she's pointing to a television in a restaurant where a politician speaks about justice being delivered. Clearly seeking approval, Holden makes a promise that he'll continue looking into the unsolved murders, but the next day he's getting on a private plane back to Virginia and his pleased new boss tells him they're downgrading the Atlanta cases to "inactive status." He's got all the public recognition and institutional backing he always wanted. But at what cost?
As often as Mindhunter highlights the cleverness of its main characters, it also frequently notes how the profiling techniques, which in real life have long-since been discredited as useless, can flatten out the specifics of a person or the reality of a case. These tools developed by the agents can be manipulated, used to justify existing biases and reinforce dominant social codes, and that's what happens at various points in Season 2. In the same way he dismisses local suspicion of the KKK, Holden has ideas about Charles Manson that lead him to downplay the Manson Family's racism. He's so sure of his own brilliance that he avoids certain facts and emphasizes others to fit his ideology.
If there was a drawback to the second season, it's that the show occasionally flattened the domestic lives of its characters in an effort to make these larger structural points. Wendy's relationship with a bartender often felt rushed and essentially dropped away in the last episode; similarly, the plot about Bill and his wife Nancy (Stacey Roca) confronting their son about his dark, possibly sociopathic impulses occasionally lapsed into over-wrought melodrama. Holden's panic attacks, which were set-up as an important story element early on in the season, never really came back.
Despite those flaws, there's a meticulousness to the show's construction that makes me think some of these dangling, unresolved plot threads will eventually return. Fincher has hinted that there's a five-season plan for the series and the final moment of Season 2, which found the still at-large BTK Killer engaging in some terrifying autoerotic asphyxiation, continues to set the stage for the future. As long as Netflix doesn't abruptly pull the plug on the series, as they've done to some beloved series lately, Mindhunter will likely continue to double-down on ambiguity over certainty. At the very least, don't expect a victory lap.