In the eighth episode of the second season of the Amazon Prime Video series Hunters, we get to see what happens when Hitler is brought to the UN to his trial for crimes against humanity. Jonah and the others try to reclaim their lives after the big mission is over, hoping for some kind of happy ending from the mess of their relationships.
This is the end of the road for the hunters. The big Kahuna has been captured and it’s time for the rest of the world to play catch up and learn what the team has been living all those years.
Two months after Hitler’s capture, the trial takes precedence over the news cycles. Jonah has also taken to calling Clara periodically and seeking a fresh start.
Understandable. I mean he’s trying to see if there’s anything left to salvage there, as his girl has been his life raft all through the hard missions.
He’s also been lying to her through that time. So, you can’t blame a girl for refusing to have any part of it and not picking up the phone.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: Trial of the beast
Meantime, it’s former FBI Agent Millie Morris that’s been left to deal with all the attention. There’s also glory and fame, but the rest of the team have wisely kept themselves out of the media circus limelight, preferring to be nameless.
There’s still the interrupting side arc of how Meyer and Ruth turned out but that’s just the showrunners tying up a thread that really didn’t add much to the main story. Certainly the pomp and ceremony of a trial of this much controversy should really take front and center here.
It does in many ways, yet the finale of the series is marred by the, frankly irritating choice, of the creator and the writers to put in something that, in the old days, would have just been a DVD “nice to know” extra. And what a trial it is.
The hunters are still undercover during the process, seeing this thing through. Everyone is here.
Roxy and Joe are disguised as members of the press. Lonny Flash goes as himself and so does Sister Harriet, back in her nun’s habit.
Jonah and Mindy blend in as one of the Jewish audience.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: Survivor’s bedtime stories
Creator David Weil has credited his grandmother’s bedtime stories in many interviews as the inspiration behind the series. She was herself a survivor of the World War II camp Birkenau.
The whole Hunters series is Weil’s fantasy fulfillment, the way superhero movies and comics give permission to young boys and girls to dream of empowerment, to be able to do the right thing by idolizing the godlike beings depicted on-screen. Weil wasn’t too satisfied with other Jewish outre revenge, what-if projects like Inglourious Basterds.
But rather, he gravitated to the nonfiction tone of something like Schindler’s List. What he did want was to put agency in his Jewish heroes, rather than getting a nod of permission to beat up the oppressor by non-Jews.
This finale episode is his attempt to bring it all together, to make his people feel how justice might seem like as if this had happened or if it was possible. It’s a prolonged cathartic moment where the survivors could level their j’accuse at the biggest murderer of them all.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: Hunters’ end game
So, when the Holocaust survivors take the stand, including Mindy from the hunting team, their testimonies are scathing powerful, at once a purgation and affirmation of their decades of suffering. I mean, in the series it’s the 80s, so it hasn’t been too long.
Of course, Hitler is found guilty by the court. Despite his initial charm at trying to make it seem that it was everyone else that had manipulated him, he has too much pride.
His work must be seen, acknowledged. He’s eventually tricked into confessing that he hates Jews.
He has indeed instituted the pogrom. He’s responsible for it all and the court determines he will be imprisoned for life, sans hope of parole.
High props to Weil and crew, making the episode also about how the Nazis try for a last-ditch effort by giving Hitler a poisoned capsule, that forces the court officers to get him to a hospital, was something you could see coming a mile away. It’s a perfect pulp storyline twist.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: A final rescue attempt
The Fuhrer is revealed, sans doubt, as a coward. Cowards will squirm out of their fate if at all possible and avoid accountability for their actions.
The poison capsule gets Hitler to the ambulance. Travis Leich, the American Neo-Nazi whose Eva Braun’s henchman and FUBU, is the one who delivers him to Braun after he’s hijacked the emergency vehicle.
Braun and Hitler are still trying to play their little games of Who Must Take Over. But Leich proves to be the game changer, shooting Braun and giving his loyalty to Hitler.
Fascism is a boy’s club again and after all. “People like a clear line of succession,” shrugs Leich and it’s hard to argue with that kind of Neo-Nazi mindset.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: Of course a high-stakes shootout
It’s all short lived as the hunters save the day by, how else, engaging in a high-stakes shootout. Weil’s theme of Jewish superheroes is kept intact, with minimal injury to the team.
Well, almost. Joe almost dies, but of course he doesn’t.
Leich is killed by Joe. The police take care of the rest of the Nazi goons.
Hitler is recaptured and we are left with a lingering shot of him starting to lose his mind in prison. The team members each get their apt happy endings, but with traces of bitterness for their PTSD.
Jonah, for example, has reunited and married Clara. Yet when they are in Miami for their honeymoon, he seems to have tracked down another escaped and disguised Nazi.
He locks eyes with a guy on another table, who orders in German.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: Empowering fantasies for the persecuted
Weil’s big project, to give an empowering revenge narrative to the persecuted people who suffered the most during WWII, has become a mixed bag of entertainment and obvious fantasy play. It’s got commendable ambition.
I mean despite all the missteps and frustrating stutters of pacing, not to mention the weirdly undeveloped ensemble of characters, this has been a pretty entertaining series. Season 1 had such a definite timbre and sense of tight storytelling that it was like a relentless and breathless kind of narrative.
Yet season 2 almost erased all that by being bloated and half-baked at the same time; a rare kind of combination of flaws. Rescued at time by the superb performances of Al Pacino and
Jennifer Jason Leigh, sadly not even their caliber could put enough shine to bad writing.
Meyer never quite recovered as simply a clever manipulator who lived in the sheep’s clothing of his victim. I never quite felt sympathy for the perennially outraged Chava.
Even when she died, I was just relieved, since her life of rage and murder was over.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: Making a mess of season 2
Chava’s life that must have been hard to enjoy at the best of times. I mean she couldn’t love herself, how much more could she have left for her relationships?
She wasn’t able to connect with her boyfriend Zeb, or her nephew Jonah. No surprise.
But there’s only so much two-dimensional character development an actress of Leigh’s skill can make into a breathing person. At best, the hunting team were tropes.
Jonah was supposed to be their sensitive yet tortured Batman. While we see Logan Lerman, who plays Jonah, grow up on the second season, his initiation into adulthood has the feel of being stunted and constrained by the need for revenge.
A valiant acting effort for Lerman, especially after season 1 left such a high benchmark. On season 2, even just keeping a straight face is a struggle for him.
Can’t say I blame him. All the absurd Jewish superhero stuff the showrunners make him do is beyond his thespian capabilities.
I’m not sure any actor is up to the lofty task.
Breakdown and review of Hunters season 2, episode 8: Three good episodes out of eight
Certainly, Lerman flubbed the young king archetype they sought to make him after he killed Meyer in the previous season. At the end of the series, looking back only the first episode, the seventh episode about the allegory of the mystery house, and this finale have stood up to my re-watch critique.
If Weil had wanted to create heroes that modern Jewish kids could look up to and admire, then he should have made better decisions. Either embrace the pulp nature of his story whole hog or aim for a gravitas that brings emotive catharsis to the persecuted of the real world.
As season 2 leaves with a mixed bag, aspiring hunters best look elsewhere for their role models. These guys gave it their all and it wasn’t enough.
You can stream both seasons of Hunters on Amazon Prime Video now.