Hunters, a fictional series from executive producer Jordan Peele about a group of Nazi hunters operating in New York City in the 1970s, debuted its first season on Prime Video just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A season two renewal took months, and with no news after that for almost two years, it seemed likely to be a casualty of the pandemic, destined to fade into obscurity, almost like a target of the series’ group who died of natural causes before they could be found and brought to justice. Fortunately, there is indeed a second and final round of this extremely violent revenge fantasy, one that shifts into even higher gear to close out its explosive narrative.
Familiarity with the events of the first season is definitely necessary to enjoy season two, which premieres just under three years later and also reunites its characters some time after they were last seen. As Jonah (Logan Lerman) faces anger from his former teammates, the hunters also meet rivals with similar aims who could easily be friends or foes, led by Chava (Jennifer Jason Leigh). While there are still many Nazi elements that the band has previously encountered, including Travis (Greg Austin) and the Colonel (Lena Olin), the bullseye they know they must find is none other than Adolf Hitler (Udo Kier) himself, who is actively preparing for the Fourth Reich to take over the world.
There is a distinct energy to this farewell season that makes the stakes feel impossibly high and acknowledges that these characters value their mission above all else. Jonah has a fiancée, Clara (Emily Rudd), who doesn’t know what he really does but is attuned to the fact that he’s not being fully honest with her. Millie (Jerrika Hinton) is in crisis, aware of the evil she faces and struggling to reconcile that with her legal responsibilities as an FBI agent. Lonnie (Josh Radnor) is having a hard time dealing with it all, and Joe (Louis Ozawa) appears to be fully under the sway of the enemy.
At a time when anti-Semitism is increasing dramatically throughout the United States and the entire world, this show has the potential to be extremely triggering. This is not a feel-good, happy series where things work out, and even if they do, it’s by no means without a great deal of emotional and physical scars. While Hitler sometimes seems like an old man rambling with few people listening to him, Travis is much more terrifying, embodying that same youthful energy and passionate drive that helped the real Hitler to win a democratic election. Travis is not merely someone espousing a political position: he feels a vicious hate for those who do not fall into his definition of a master race.
While this show is ultimately most entertaining thanks to the charisma and interactions of its characters, it’s the choice of dialogue that often proves most stirring. The direct usage of quotes attributed to present-day figures like Mel Gibson and Donald Trump is clearly meant to signify the timelessness of hate and the way in which further distance from the Holocaust has sadly not made the world a safer place for Jews. As the show reaches its dramatic climax in the sixth episode, it also hits an emotional high as it invokes the memory of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and the way in which these hunters see their work as serving those who have been lost.
Hunters must absolutely come with a content advisory, since brutal violence is featured in nearly every episode. But there also exists playful banter that makes this show a singular entity, one that manages to find humor in the darkest moments and to make its protagonists formidable if deeply flawed pursuers of justice, or at the very least vengeance. Its cast members, including the terrific additions of Leigh, Rudd, and Kier, deliver admirably, and Al Pacino also has the opportunity to add depth to his season one role. While much of this show’s unfiltered content may not feel entirely necessary, its stylized approach and vivid storytelling help to unearth very real and unfortunate truths about the nature of today’s world.
All eight episodes of season two of Hunters premiere on Prime Video on Friday, January 13th.