Anna Torv spoke with Esquire and TVLine on Mindhunter’s cat storyline.
Spoilers for a subplot in Mindhunter follow below.
“I think it’s open to interpretation,” Torv said when I asked her about the storyline last month. “At first I thought, ‘Okay, is this representing all the faceless people that get taken by these killers every day?” This little thing [the stray cat] that no-one cares about—I mean, we find out about people that have been murdered because they have families who tell the police, but there are homeless people and prostitutes and street kids that nobody is missing, and serial killers target.” So that’s the symbolic read. Along the same lines, I wondered if Wendy trying to reach out to this stray cat and ending up with a bug infestation was a cautionary tale mirroring Holden, who’s becoming increasingly corrupted by his efforts to bond with serial killers. (Why yes, I was a pretentious English major, why do you ask?)
But then there’s the more literal possibility, that this is foreshadowing a creepy plot development for Wendy in the future. “Is there a serial killer in Wendy’s building who’s slowly starting out, and testing his bloodlust on feral kittens?” Torv pondered. “I think there are a lot of ways it could go.”
“I always take things a little too [introspectively], so when I first read it in the script I was like, ‘Oh my God, wow, this is actually interesting.’ I thought, ‘This little kitten is representative of all these faceless [victims] and we only notice the ones that are dead because they have families that are looking for them. And then here’s this little abandoned cat that no one is going to care about. And if that was a person, it’d be the same thing.’ That’s what I first thought when I read it, but that’s just because I’m crazy,” Torv adds with a hearty laugh. “I was making it so deep when probably she’s just, you know, feeding a cat.”
The actress later ran her theory by Mindhunter exec producer David Fincher, who quickly informed her, ‘Oh… no, that’s not it,’” she guffaws. Fincher then explained to her that the cryptic series of scenes were, at least in part, suggesting to the audience that perhaps “there was a kid in the building who’s going around killing cats. And it’s a birth of a new sociopath that we don’t quite know about. Because that’s how it starts — with [inflicting harm on] animals.”