What To Watch On Netflix That’s New This Week (Aug. 11-17)

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What’s up: A small, experimental team in the FBI interviews serial killers during the late 1970s. These conversations take place in the hopes the agents will better understand the human psyche. The work pushes the agents into mental spaces far out of their comfort zones, with the serial killers getting in their heads while the bureaucracy of the FBI repeatedly questions their work.

This season has a bit of a reset from the end of Season 1, which debuted almost two years ago. The second season begins with the team enjoying more resources, but the added opportunities also increase their personal risk.

Stars: Jonathan Groff, Anna Torv; David Fincher executive produced and directed multiple episodes. Charlize Theron also executive produces.

Sum-up: Netflix has made writing about this show so soon after the release a bit tricky. The company didn’t give critics preview screeners (outside of a couple New York City and Los Angeles-based fan screenings, according to The Hollywood Reporter). In a particularly atypical move, the Netflix media website also hasn’t offered photos from the second season to include in articles. The still image at the top of this particular article comes from the first season.

Given this situation ― which seems designed to keep critics from writing about the season before viewers watch ― I can only report back on the beginning of Season 2. That said, what I have seen has been great, which comes as no surprise.

Much has been written about Groff’s protagonist character, Holden Ford, being a potential psychopath himself. The first episode veers right into complicating this narrative, with Ford experiencing panic attacks in which he feels too much and relies on Valium to keep grounded.

While Fincher’s superb directing goes without saying, I particularly enjoyed how he made the famously bland Quantico base have a complex look. During the first episode, Fincher makes an interesting choice to repeatedly highlight the angles of doors inside the base, having the camera and characters focus on how open or closed these various doors are at different points in the episode. Much like the FBI agents who need to comb for clues, Fincher is a master of attention to detail.

Heads-up: The show heavily focuses on perversion and psychopathology. Following the agents on their trips into hell on earth doesn’t lend itself to a casual viewing experience. You have to actively decide if this nightmare is your kind of nightmare.

Bonus: The series “Every Frame a Painting” created a short but super-informative documentary about David Fincher’s directorial style and creative vision. Watching this roughly seven-minute video may give you a better appreciation of this new season.

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