In the series Mindhunter, there is a story arc in which Debbie is caught (emotionally) cheating on Holden. See this answer for a good summary.

This story arc starts and develops over a single episode, culminating in

the relationship breaking apart, with Debbie chasing Holden as he leaves the building.

At the very start of the next episode, the story arc is wordlessly closed off, seemingly with no effect on the rest of the series. It is never mentioned again, and the state of the series is returned to how it was before the story arc began. The viewer is never given a resolution to the issue, leaving it as a loose thread.

What is the purpose of including this story arc in the series?

1 Answer 1


I think it is intended to show that Holden is not emotionally available to her at this time. She cannot connect with him as she had in the past because his work is so encompassing of his time, energy and emotions. As Holden becomes almost transfixed by the subjects of serial killers, we see his character getting more deeply emotionally connected to murderers.

I believe the writing here wants to show how much his obsession with these killers is taking out of him and what he is sacrificing for his work, namely his relationship with Debbie.

The break-up happens with 20 minutes left in the season finale. It is very likely they will revisit this in the second season which has been green lighted by Netflix. Either way he would rather get back to someone like Ed Kemper than work on the relationship - we don't have time to see if he will be emotionally impacted by the relationship ending.

  • I think you're commenting on the gradual breaking apart that happens after the story arc I'm talking about - I was specifically asking about the single-episode story arc which includes the cheating. This story arc is ended at the very start of the next episode at the laundromat, and could seemingly be removed (especially because the story arc you're talking about is very related and more flexed out). Sorry if that wasn't clear.
    – Birjolaxew
    Feb 27, 2018 at 10:51
  • I think that Bryan answered that; it was to show just how emotionally cut off Holden was. As you suggest, cutting it out of the episode would have no impact on the story. That, to me, suggests that he's clearly very distant. Feb 27, 2018 at 13:13
  • @Phlegon_of_Tralles It just seems weird, given that they have a more "soft" breakup over the following episodes due to the same reasons. The writers go nuclear first, withdraw that, and then do the same thing gradually. I can see that it is the most likely explanation for the story arc though.
    – Birjolaxew
    Feb 27, 2018 at 17:11
  • 1
    Writers went "nuclear" perhaps to draw parallels to the impulsive nature that Holden develops over the course of the first season and the evil men he studies during the day. Feb 27, 2018 at 20:11

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