Hunters season 1 binge-watch recap: Episodes 1-10
Three decades after World War II, Nazis remain an urgent threat to America in Hunters, Amazon’s new 10-part series about a crew of 1970s vigilantes — led by Al Pacino, in a wonderfully badass role — determined to find and eliminate Hitler acolytes secretly operating amongst us. A story about domestic white-nationalist terror and the brutal lengths one must go to stop it, creator David Weil and executive producer Jordan Peele’s show is at once a The Boys from Brazil-via-Inglourious Basterds revisionist history B-movie and an all-too-timely period-piece saga about resistance, revenge, and survival — and thus a stark corrective to recent Oscar winner Jojo Rabbit. Strap in for a binge-watch recap of blood, sacrifice, and the endlessly entertaining sight of Pacino felling Third Reich villains with his trusty blade.
Episode 1: “In the Belly of the Whale”
In June 1977, a barbeque at the Maryland home of Under Secretary of State Biff Simpson (Dylan Baker) is ruined when a Jewish guest identifies Biff as the Nazi who killed her family during the Holocaust. His cover blown, Biff murders everyone — including his own wife and kids, whom he derisively refers to as “swine” — although before executing his accuser, he informs her, “We’re here now. Everywhere.” He adds that the Jews “didn’t survive,” the just “marinated.” Shortly thereafter, clean-cut Travis (Greg Austin) arrives at Biff’s house to clean up this mess. Travis shoots Biff in the arm to make him look like a survivor of this slaughter.
In Brooklyn, Jewish teenager Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman) comes out of Star Wars defending Darth Vader as a byproduct of fascist, racist conditioning. He sees Carol (Ebony Obsidian), whom he likes, and is beaten up by her boyfriend Dennis (Gordon Winarick) after trying to sell him weed. At home, Jonah’s grandmother Ruth (Jeannie Berlin) chastises him for wasting his intellect on such illegal pursuits, which he defends as his means of supporting them. Later that night, post-Farrah Fawcett-inspired self-gratification, Jonah hears noises, goes downstairs, and witnesses a masked man shoot his grandmother dead, albeit not before she says, “You can’t hide.”
Sitting shiva for his grandmother, Jonah is approached by her old friend (and fellow concentration camp survivor) Meyer Offerman (Pacino), who gives him his card and offers his assistance, stating that he owes Ruth a debt for saving his life years earlier. Meyer muses that, per the Talmud, “living well is the best revenge.”
Jonah finds a secret box belonging to Ruth that contains a note reading: “I saw his scar… I believe without a doubt it is him.” The box also contains a red balloon sticker and a gold knife, which Jonah pockets. He reads a letter written by his grandmother that instigates a flashback to the 1931 raid of her German ghetto by the Nazis, during which her parents were slain before her eyes. Meyer rescued her from a similar fate.
In Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA chemist Gretel Fischer (Veronika Nowag-Jones) has her apartment’s plumbing fixed. Upon taking a shower, she winds up locked inside, deadly gas steaming out of her showerhead. Tough, no-nonsense FBI agent Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton) is assigned to investigate this murder by her New York boss Chief Grimsby (James Le Gros). Millie deduces that the woman was gassed, but is lied to and stonewalled by Gretel’s chauvinistic, racist NASA bosses. During an ensuing search of the victim’s apartment, Morris discovers a photograph of a young Gretel with Adolf Hitler.
Furious over the police department’s inaction, Jonah turns to a street gang for intel on his grandmother’s killer, only to be arrested. Meyer bails him out and brings him to his luxurious NYC townhouse, where they play chess. Meyer recounts a story about camp guard Heinz Richter, who forced inmates to play a game of human chess in which the Jews were the pieces (and each defeated piece was literally killed). Jonah finds Meyer’s war room behind a secret bookshelf doorway and steals a photo of the man who killed his grandmother. Putting two and two together, he deduces that this individual is at a toy store.
Accosting the elderly store proprietor, Jonah realizes (thanks to the man’s neck scar) that he’s Heinz Richter (Kenneth Tigar). Jonah is tased, tied up, and tortured with darts by Richter, but he breaks free, and the two scuffle. Jonah is saved when Meyer shows up and stabs the man through the neck. “You mistook us for pawns, when all this time, we’ve been kings,” Meyer coos to Richter as he dies. Meyer tells Jonah that he was working with his grandmother to exterminate “goddamn, gold-digging, grade-A Nazis.”
The robotic, sociopathic Travis beats up a congressman’s buddies with a bowling ball to convince the politician to change an upcoming vote on a Latin American trade deal. Travis succeeds, and is granted a meeting with The Colonel (Lena Olin), who, on a nighttime park bench, congratulates him and says he’ll be needed in the forthcoming creation of the “Fourth Reich.” With fanatical tears in their eyes, they both heil Hitler.
Meyer explains his history with Ruth to Jonah, stating that what he’s up to “is not murder… this is mitzvah.” Claiming the only way to handle this menace is to “let them know: not again. No more,” Meyer refers to his mission as “the hunt,” which he carries out with a diverse team that Jonah meets, recognizing them as people he’s previously seen before (because Meyer was having him followed for his protection).
Meyer admits to Jonah that the Talmud was wrong: “You know what the best revenge is? Revenge.” Then he proclaims, “We have trials ahead. A growing list of vermin. So let us get to cooking these Nazi c—s.”
- Establishing the show’s aesthetic template, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon employs twisting, rotating camerawork — and compositions marked by diagonal lines and canted angles — to suggest a comic book-y world thrown off its axis.
- Travis gets credit for being the first psycho to use the classic children’s book Are You My Mother? as a means of threatening a target.
- References to superheroes, movies, cartoons, and TV abound, thereby setting the series’ alternately grim and goofy tone.
Episode 2: “The Mourner’s Kaddish”
We see Jewish resilience, even in the face of Nazi monstrousness, illustrated by a concentration camp flashback in which a group of prisoners, forced by a guard to play Wagner, instead defiantly break into “Hava Nagila.” They’re then executed for their insubordination.
In Richter’s possessions, Meyer and company find a note about Karl Holstedder (John Hans Tester) which boasts a code that Jonah quickly deciphers. To investigate this Nazi further, the crew head down to the Ark, a clandestine command center built by Ruth to house their research and intel. During the elevator ride to this HQ, we’re treated to a tongue-in-cheek bat mitzvah fantasy sequence. Each member of Meyer’s team is introduced (replete with flashy ’70s-style title cards) as they’re called up to light a young girl’s cake candles: gun-toting nun Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvany), master of disguise Lonny Flash (Josh Radnor), black power activist Roxy Jones (Tiffany Boone), Vietnam vet Joe Torrance (Louis Ozawa), weapons experts Mindy and Murray Markowitz (Carol Kane and Saul Rubinek), and lastly Meyer and Jonah, the latter dubbed “The Codebreaker.”
Ark documents reveal that Holstedder, known as the “Pied Piper of Buchenwald,” forced camp inmates to partake in a sadistic singing competition in which those who hit the wrong notes were executed. He is their next target.
Millie shows detective Sommers (Tramell Tillman) the photograph of Gretel with Hitler. Meanwhile, Biff goes on TV and cries crocodile tears about his dearly departed family.
On a flight to Cape Canaveral, Travis explains to a peanut-allergic boy (and the kid’s mother) that letting nature weed out the weak and sick would be beneficial for society. He later ties up Sommers’ family and, via a cruel game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” forces the cop to reveal that he and Millie were looking into Gretel because of the aforementioned photo. Travis doesn’t let anyone live, including a flamingo outside.
Meyer tells Jonah that he assembled his team with the assistance of matchmaker Hilda Hoffman (Kathryn Kates), a woman determined, through her work, to replenish Jewish lives lost during the Holocaust. Following another fantasy sequence — this an exploitation movie trailer that Jonah imagines for himself and the Hunters — the team infiltrates the home of Holstedder, now a famous music producer. They discover he’s secretly broadcasting a German lullaby throughout the tri-state area. However, before they can decode the song’s message, Jonah is lured into danger by Holstedder, whom Joe kills with a bullet that also destroys the radio broadcast equipment.
Millie visits the home of Gretel’s brother Hans, who’s also dead. Though Hans’ wife claims he was a Red Cross doctor during the war, Millie’s sleuthing turns up concentration camp photos and a collection of teeth taken from Jewish children. She flees. Later, after sex with her nurse girlfriend Maria (Julissa Bermudez), Millie muses about the legend of Hansel and Gretel and its anti-Semitic undercurrents.
The Colonel photographs an American politician during Star Trek role-playing sex in order to make sure he helps pass a bill facilitating Latin American imports. She later declines to take a call from the smarmy Biff.
Jonah reluctantly attends his grandmother’s Kaddish. He bolts before it’s over, wracked by guilt over his participation in Holstedder’s murder — which manifests itself as ringing in his ears (something that also plagued Holstedder), and blood he can’t wash off his fingernails.
In two separate homes, a woman and a man hear the German lullaby; she writes down details about a bomb explosion, while he marks a lower-Manhattan spot on a map and writes the date “July 13.”
- From the bat mitzvah and movie-trailer sequences to references to Professor X, Bruce Wayne, and Scooby-Doo, the first two episodes of Hunters are thoroughly drenched in geeky shout-outs.
- Relatedly, the Ark, Travis’ game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” and Millie’s talk about “Hansel and Gretel” all help cast the material as a modern biblical/historical/pop-culture exploitation fable.
- Pacino’s thick Eastern-European Jewish accent is a delight, even if it falters every once in a long while.
Episode 3: “While Visions of Safta Danced in His Head”
Jonah reads one of his grandmother’s letters, initiating a flashback to young Ruth’s (Annie Hägg) arrival at Auschwitz. She undergoes a dehumanizing entrance process and encounters Meyer (Zack Schor), who tattoos a number on her forearm — an example of Jews being forced to carry out their own persecution. He gives her hope by promising to enjoy a sunset with her one day, far from this hell.
Watching Holstedder’s house, Lonny thinks he sees movement inside, and he, Roxy, and Joe investigate. Roxy winds up in a fight with a female Nazi and kills her with a chair leg through the chin.
Jonah is visited by Levi Libstein (Chip Zien), his grandmother’s friend and lawyer. Levi gives him a paltry inheritance and then imparts something more valuable: a story about Ruth, who in Auschwitz stood between a Nazi guard and an innocent woman — Levi’s future wife — in order to protect her. Like many others, Levi tells Jonah that he’s a lot like his courageous grandmother.
A brief interlude (fashioned as a ’70s-style kid’s TV program) finds Lonny and an adolescent African-American girl explaining “how to find a Nazi.” While that sequence treats Nazi detection as a joke, the following scene — involving German women prepping bombs in an underground facility — indicates these adversaries are no laughing matter.
Meyer visits Jonah at his place of employment: Babel Comics (another biblical reference), where he works alongside portly Arthur “Bootyhole” McGuigan (Caleb Emery). Jonah is angry about Holstedder’s slaying, and though Meyer tries to justify his actions, Jonah asks him to leave. At Coney Island, Jonah, Arthur, and their third mate, Sherman “Cheeks” Johnson (Henry Hunter Hall), smoke an enormous joint and debate the merits of Robin. Jonah argues that Robin has it made because he can ride Batman’s coattails while keeping the Dark Knight from totally succumbing to the darkness. Jonah appears to see himself as the Robin to Meyer’s Batman, just as Arthur imagines himself the Robin to Jonah’s Batman.
Stoned out of their gourds, the trio get their Travolta on and engage in a colorful fantasy dance number set to the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive.” The fun comes to a screeching halt when Jonah has a vision of young Ruth, in her striped-and-starred concentration camp uniform, staring at him on the boardwalk. Escapism from the truth, the past, and duty to family is not, Jonah realizes, an option.
Travis follows Millie as she meets a New York cop who informs her that 11 elderly people have recently died under mysterious circumstances, four of whom were war refugees — including Richter. Millie visits the Richter crime scene, where she deduces that he was killed by two assailants. She also locates Nazi memorabilia and a photo of Ruth near a synagogue (Richter was surveilling her). Posing as a cop, Travis gets his hands on a jacket found at the scene and steals the nametag for Jonah Heidelbaum before Millie can see it.
Joe and Roxy are developing feelings for each other. Sister Harriet and Joe are in possession of two keys, one belonging to Richter and the other to Holstedder. They trace the deceased duo’s movements to a Swiss bank founded by a Nazi collaborator. This is a potentially big lead, although earlier, Sister Harriet is seen making a phone call in which she says, in German, “They’re getting closer,” insinuating that she’s a double-agent.
Travis rebuffs Biff’s attempt to form a partnership. The Colonel also doesn’t trust Biff, but she does trust Travis, unlike her German minion Tobias (Jonno Davies).
Jonah visits Murray and Mindy, who confess that Meyer and Ruth had a complicated relationship (he loved her, but he also reminded her of her camp ordeal). They tell Jonah, “Ruth chose the darkness so you could have the light.” After Jonah leaves, Murray discovers that there are Morse code messages about dates hidden in the German lullaby recordings. Apparently, the Nazis were behind RFK’s assassination and the attempted 1973 assassination of Golda Meir, and their next planned event will take place on July 13, 1977 — two weeks from now.
Biff is visited at home by his mother-in-law Dottie (Celia Weston), who’s eager to help him cope with his grief (much to his displeasure). Millie, meanwhile, is annoyed that Maria allowed a priest to visit their home since it might expose their homosexuality — something Millie is eager to hide.
Jonah catches up with Carol and they head to Babel Comics. Along the way, Jonah again “sees” young Ruth, and takes it as a bad omen. He races to the store, and finds Arthur murdered at the hands of Travis. As he cries on the floor, Jonah is once more visited by the vision of his grandmother, who flashes him a look that indicates he can’t quit because this fight is now his fight too.
- Hunters is steeped in Jewish culture, be it through language (hutzpah, shiksa, safta), ceremony (the Mourner’s Kaddish, shiva), or decorative details (mezuzahs, menorahs) — all of which lend authenticity to its righteous anger.
- Refusing to shy away from the Holocaust, young Ruth’s Auschwitz ordeal is rendered in harrowing, heartbreaking fashion.
- This is the first episode to truly sideline Meyer, which makes sense narratively speaking but saps the proceedings of Pacino’s always-welcome magisterial energy.
Episode 4: “The Pious Thieves”
In 1938, Berlin resident Jakob Schneider (A.J. Shively) receives a family-heirloom ring from his dying mother. In 1942, Jakob is sent to Auschwitz, where he hides the ring by swallowing it. He falls in love with seamstress Helen (Anna Ewelina) and includes her in his escape plans. On the night of their departure, Jakob — before he can finish asking Helen to marry him — sacrifices himself so Helen can survive. The guard that kills Jakob steals his jewelry.
Guided throughout by a conversation between Meyer and Nazi-collaborating Swiss bank manager Frederic Hauser (John Noble) — during which the latter states that his institution’s founding principle is “they cannot take what they cannot see” — the episode begins with Jonah stonewalling NYPD detective Kennedy Groton (Victor Williams) about the identity of Arthur’s killer. Millie visits Jonah’s home, but he’s not there. Unbeknownst to her, Travis is inside, having been lying on Jonah’s bed staring at a polaroid of his friends, trying to affect a genuine human smile.
“I have no doubt that his Swiss paws are keeping Nazi eggs warm,” Meyer tells his team about Hauser. They plan to infiltrate the bank and check out the contents of box 630, which is what their keys unlock. Jonah demands permission to rejoin the crew, and Meyer explains to him that “personal revenge — payback — that comes later, Jonah. If ever.” What they’re after, Meyer contends, is justice.
Surveilling the bank, Harriet tells Jonah a story about his grandmother Ruth. At Auschwitz, Ruth turned down a secretary job from a Nazi doctor known as “The Wolf” (Christian Oliver), who fell for her after she saved Levi’s wife. By refusing this post, Ruth put Meyer in jeopardy, since the Wolf knew they had feelings for each other. Harriet won’t reveal what the Wolf did to Meyer, but Ruth’s guilt over having brought some horror upon Meyer is why the Wolf was No. 1 on her kill list.
Millie visits Jonah at Meyer’s home. Across a chessboard, she tries to get him to talk about his involvement in these murderous proceedings. Jonah wonders why good guys (like Bruce Wayne, Frank Castle, and Peter Parker) always have to do the right thing. Millie opines that choosing to do the right thing is what makes good guys who they are. Jonah confesses to nothing and tells Millie that she may be the one in over her head.
Having seen Maria at the hospital — where she’s caring for Millie’s mother, Viola (Myra Lucretia Taylor) — Millie apologizes for their prior fight. Sometime later, in bed, she tells Maria that she loves her, though a cold-faced Maria remains silent.
Biff convinces Secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps (Becky Ann Baker) to delay the trade bill, angering Tobias and the Colonel. Also frustrated by the trade bill hold-up is Katarina Löw (Megan Channell), a covert Nazi whose corporate presentation (fixated on “profit”) is interrupted by news that there’s been an accidental explosion in the basement bomb-making facility depicted in the prior episode.
Mindy infiltrates the bank but can’t find box 630. Harriet purchases blueprints of the building and they discover the existence of a secret room. Further sleuthing leads them to Kendra Conrad (Erin Davie), the only employee with access to that room. After much cornball wooing — predicated on his acting career — Lonny uses sex to procure a mold of Kendra’s key. The team stages a robbery as a distraction to access the room, facilitated by Harriet switching the guards’ guns. Jonah, told to wait in the van, disobeys and comes to Joe’s rescue, proving his worth.
In the secret room, Jonah deduces one wall is fake, and behind it they discover a hatch that leads to a basement filled with Jewish fortunes stolen by the Nazis. Millie takes photos of this plundered collection of jewelry, fine china, paintings, and glassware, and Jonah takes the ring that once belonged to Jakob.
We see the conclusion of Meyer and Hauser’s conversation, as the former shows the latter irrefutable proof of the Jewish loot hidden in the bank basement. Hauser’s stubborn denials, and nasty anti-Semitic slander, earn him a knife through the hand. He admits that box 630 is owned by Oskar Hauftman, “the Ghost,” whom Meyer thought had been dead for 30 years. Afterward, Hauser blows his brains out.
Millie demands intel from journalist Danny Rohr (Miles G. Jackson) on Meyer, about whom he wrote a few articles years ago. Jonah, meanwhile, tells Meyer that seeing all that pilfered Jewish treasure clarified the moral purpose — and importance — of their mission. “You’re one of us,” Meyer declares.
- Lonny’s chant of “Attica! Attica!” during the robbery is a fitting, and funny, shout-out to Pacino’s 1975 classic Dog Day Afternoon.
- Lonny gets the episode’s other amusing moment when he says he played “the kid in an X-rated Kramer vs. Kramer” during his threesome with Kendra Conrad and her husband.
- Hunters’ confrontation of fundamental, and unbearably grim, Holocaust truths — whether it’s stolen fortunes or the villainy of so-called “neutral” global players — is all the more impressive for being married to electric pulpy thrills.
Episode 5: “At Night, All Birds Are Black”
In 1976 Paraguay, Katarina Löw — wearing a doctor’s coat — inspects a room full of local children, and is disappointed to find them alive. She’s much happier with another room littered with kids’ corpses since it indicates that her nefarious experiment has worked.
In 1977 Harlem, Roxy leaves her daughter with the girl’s father, Darnell Williams (Moise Morancy). Darnell is an activist working for the “Free Huey!’ campaign and tells her she should be fighting for her own people. She defiantly states that she’s “bleeding for the worthiest cause in the whole f—ing world.”
Joe trains Jonah in combat. To underline why such skills are necessary, their sparring is intercut with Meyer telling Jonah about the Holocaust torture he suffered at the hands of the Wolf — including a claw scar down his chest — and the stamina it took to endure it. Meyer regrets not seizing his one chance to kill the Wolf and says he’ll hold Jonah to his promise not to hesitate.
To track down the Ghost (who apparently has only nine fingers), Meyer sends Jonah, Joe, and Harriet to Huntsville, Ala., where one of the Ghost’s top lieutenants, Dieter Zweigelt (Raphael Sbarge), is living undercover. Meyer, Lonny, and Roxy head to Westchester, N.Y., to confront Tilda Sauer (Barbara Sukowa), the Ghost’s former girlfriend and a Leni Riefenstahl-style moviemaking propagandist now working as a political consultant. Packing for his trip, Jonah finds a necklace owned by Ruth, sparking a flashback to his grandmother admonishing him for going through her things. Harriet then makes Jonah callously alienate Carol as a means of protecting her.
Tobias orders Travis to carry out a menial delivery errand, which the ambitious Travis detests. Biff meets with the Colonel, who agrees to give Biff a meeting with “The General” (her superior) if he stops delaying the Latin American trade bill. Biff thus tries to convince Juanita to flip-flop on her position with President Carter, but she’s unwilling.
After verifying Dieter’s identity, Jonah, Harriet, and Joe tie him up in a barn during his Fourth of July bash. He explains that he and other Nazis (whom he names) were recruited by America after WWII to work at NASA. As a doctor who experimented on Jews by drowning them in saltwater, Dieter receives some of his own medicine courtesy of Joe. That torture is cut short, and Dieter’s throat is slit, once Harriet goes AWOL, killing one Nazi in the party crowd and then abducting another, Moritz Ehrlich (Ronald Guttman). She drives off with Moritz, leaving Joe (who previously had a harrowing ‘Nam flashback) and Jonah to flee on foot.
In Westchester, Lonny learns he’s lost an acting gig to Richard Dreyfuss. Following Roxy making a scene at Tilda’s party, she, Lonny, and Meyer tie Tilda up and force her to watch her own movies. When she refuses to admit who she is, or provide information about the Ghost, they spoon-feed her manure. She won’t confess and badmouths Lonny as a has-been and Roxy as a disposable tool of the white man. In German, she calls Meyer the “great pretender, clever tongue,” and he responds by unexpectedly executing her, much to Lonny and Roxy’s chagrin. Lonny considers falling off the wagon but abstains, and finds Tilda’s red journal, which resembles the one owned by Travis.
Millie meets with Danny in Central Park. He says Meyer asked him to expose a Nazi he had discovered living in America (Hans Fischer); afterward, Danny uncovered thousands more covert Nazis on his own. He says he was blackmailed with child pornography — thus destroying his career — and Meyer didn’t help him during his time of need. He has a source that can prove all of this, and he and Millie subsequently go to a bar to meet that person. The individual doesn’t appear, and Millie is beaten up in a bathroom by two men who have incriminating photos of her and Maria.
While leaving Tilda’s house, Meyer’s car detonates thanks to explosives planted by Travis, who’s murdered Tobias’ henchmen in order to assume this assignment. He opens fire on the trio, but they escape.
The episode closes with the sight of Harriet driving with Moritz, who looks over his shoulder to see if someone is following them.
- A comical TV commercial spoof (“Huntsville, Ala. — It’s Some F—ed Up S—!”) underlines how Alabama, and NASA, courted Nazis to help win the space race.
- Traumatic outsider-dom, and the rage it inspires, binds all of the Hunters, as evidenced by Roxy, Lonny, and Joe’s subplots in this episode.
- Via Dieter’s Fourth of July party — replete with the national anthem sung in front of a Confederate Flag to a crowd that includes Nazis — the show makes a direct connection between Confederate culture and white nationalism.
Episode 6: “Ruth 1:16”
In the aftermath of last episode’s shootout, Roxy quits the team and returns home. Meyer assures Mindy and Murray that their daughter Amy’s (Hannah Reid Rubinek) wedding to Ben (Steven Kaplan) will proceed as planned, with security from the Jewish mafia. Joe is furious about “traitor” Harriet, and Lonny tells Meyer about Tilda’s journal — and then accuses Meyer of killing the Nazi “in cold blood.” Meyer responds by saying they’re in a war, and informs Jonah that the boy will be saying a prayer at the forthcoming nuptials. The reason? “For centuries, we’ve been persecuted because of these rituals. These are the very things that define us. That make us, us. Retreating from that, that’s defeat. And I’m not ready to admit defeat.”
Over a joint, Jonah reconciles with Cheeks and tells him about his new Nazi-hunting gig. Millie reconnects with Danny, who gets her an actual meeting with his contact, Tommy (Garth Kravits), who educates her about Operation Paperclip, in which the United States recruited high-ranking Nazi spies, scientists, and engineers to come work and live in America before the Soviets could do likewise. She relays this bombshell news to Grimsby, who promptly takes the case away from her. Concerned that she has now placed her loved ones in danger, Millie — mimicking Jonah’s handling of Carol — breaks up with a heartbroken Maria in order to protect her.
As for Harriet, she pretends to be a fellow Nazi to Moritz, but when her ruse falls apart, she knocks him out and stuffs him in her trunk. During this escapade, she repeatedly recalls her own childhood ordeal: being put on a train to the United Kingdom by her Jewish father (who gifted her a mezuzah) and then living at a Catholic School where, after much resistance, she acquiesced to the nuns’ demand that she assume a Christian name: Harriet.
Amy’s impending wedding has Murray in a similarly nostalgic mood. In repeated flashbacks, we witness his abduction by the Nazis alongside wife Mille and their young son Aaron (Aaron Markowitz). Upon arriving at Auschwitz, Murray refused to be separated from his boy, thus compelling the kommandant to execute Aaron at point-blank range in front of his parents. It’s grief Murray has been holding onto for decades, but when Amy tells him at the chuppah, “You can let go now, Dad,” he does, even saying “Amen” for the first time in 30 years.
Biff wins over President Carter (Ben Livingston), and throws Juanita under the bus, with a cornball patriotic speech in favor of the South American trade deal. When Juanita confronts Biff about it afterward, he scarily threatens to bury her in his basement. Furious over Travis’ recent failure, the Colonel sends him out with Tobias to eliminate Meyer.
At the wedding, Jonah falters while trying to recite the Birkat Kohanim prayer. He fares better with the Birkhas HaGomel prayer that Ruth used to say to him every night, claiming it “gave her superpowers.” In doing so, the spirit of Ruth materializes by his side, further bonding him to his past and heritage. He later tells Murray and Mindy that he now feels like “part of our people. Part of our tribe.” Moreover, he now believes he’s gained a new family member, since Murray admits he gave his chai necklace to the woman he loved — and Ruth (in a prior flashback) told Jonah that her coveted chai necklace belonged to his grandfather. Jonah tries to confront Meyer about being his grandfather, but is stymied.
At the conclusion of a lengthy wedding sequence (replete with a traditional hora), Joe appears and tells Meyer about his recent visit to an old army buddy (now in a psychiatric hospital) who gave him a name: Timothy Randall, the American alias for the Ghost. Lonny also arrives and reports that the journal is a late-19th-century sci-fi novel called Vril that was beloved by Nazis and functions as a veritable instruction manual for their coming war for world conquest. Harriet give Murray and Mindy a wedding present: Moritz, the guard who killed Aaron at Auschwitz.
Breaking into Meyer’s war room, Tobias and Travis set the place on fire.
- Jonah doesn’t love all Jewish superstars, as he grouses, “Art Garfunkel is the furry taint of famous Jews.”
- The repeated skyline sight of the World Trade Center towers feels like an act of defiance against murderous intolerance and oppression.
- Murray’s daughter Amy is played by Saul Rubinek’s real-life daughter, Hannah Reid Rubinek.
Episode 7: “Shalom Motherf—er”
Millie receives an envelope from an anonymous source (Travis) containing Meyer’s file on Richter. She takes this evidence to Grimsby, who asks her if she’s willing to break the rules (and “get comfortable with being uncomfortable with your conscience”) to get the job done.
Speaking of ethical dilemmas, Murry and Mindy struggle with executing Moritz. Mindy wonders if this revenge is for Aaron (whom she fears is watching them from heaven) or for themselves. Murray says he’s going to do it, but there’s doubt in his eyes.
Biff wins accolades for spearheading the passage of the South American trade deal. Suspicious Juanita gets Washington Post journalist Josie Parker (Angela Oh) to question him about his connection to Schidler Corp, a South American outfit to which Biff is intimately connected, and which will profit from the newly signed agreement. Biff threatens Josie to drop her inquiry, and returns home to find Dottie murdered. He scuffles with the assassin in his living room, eventually beating his brains in with the man’s own gun.
Lonny, Jonah, and Joe infiltrate the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs to procure a file on Timothy Randall. Accomplishing this requires attending a support group where Lonny makes an ass of himself, and then (having been kicked out of said group) locates the file. Joe opens up about the Vietnam napalm/little-girl incident we saw in an earlier flashback, which ended with him killing the injured child out of mercy.
Lonny, Joe, and Jonah find the Ghost (Bill Corry) at his home, where he’s on life support courtesy of some chemical-weapons-related malaise. They also realize he’s had plastic surgery to change his identity. They’re confronted by the Ghost’s daughter, Una (Mary Jo McConnell), who flees before they can subdue her. Jonah retrieves a music box and deduces that when it’s used in conjunction with the German radio lullaby, a new code materializes, indicating coordinates for the chemical attack scheduled for tonight.
An animated sequence dramatizes the allegorical bedtime story Ruth used to tell Jonah about a wolf that captured her and her sister. Jonah confronts Meyer about their connection, and he admits that he’s his grandfather. Before they can discuss further, Millie arrives at Meyer’s home with a warrant. After a brief search, she arrests him for Richter’s murder.
Rather than convince her to rejoin the crew, Joe urges Roxy to leave the city with her daughter. Jonah interrupts Murray’s attempted execution of Moritz. Millie tries to get Meyer to confess to his Nazi-killing business. He says that if her hypothesis is right, it means she’s being manipulated by their common enemy. She doesn’t believe his “convenient” story about an imminent attack.
Joe, Lonny, and Murray track Travis to Grand Central Station. They follow him to a subway car where he leaves a bag containing a bomb. Travis flees the train and Lonny follows, leaving Murray to disarm the device. Alas, he can’t. It detonates, killing him — and at the moment of his death, Murray thanks God for reuniting him with his beloved Aaron. At a chemical power plant in Buchanan, Harriet kills Una but the rest of the team is unable to stop another device from exploding, thus bringing about the (real-life) 1977 New York City blackout. The loss of power gives Travis the opportunity to stab Lonny in the gut.
Löw gets her deadly chemical cargo off a ship, and Tobias drives it away as all of Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty, goes dark.
- Hunters may know New York, but the Grand Central Station staircase Travis takes to access the subway doesn’t, in reality, lead there.
- Murray’s death indicates that, going forward, none of our heroes are truly safe — thereby upping Hunters’ stakes.
Episode 8: “The Jewish Question”
To the sounds of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” Jonah wanders through the chaotic blackout, seeing visions of Ruth, Murray, and Arthur who blame him for their deaths. Realizing Meyer was being honest about the Nazi conspiracy, Millie frees him and joins his crusade on a temporary basis.
Everyone reconvenes at Meyer’s candlelit base of operations, including Lonny (who’s magically okay). Jonah breaks the news of Murray’s death to Mindy. No one understands why the explosions weren’t followed by a chemical weapon attack. Harriet goes to Maryland to have the Ghost’s blood tested by old CDC friend Patricia (Francesca Faridany). Patricia reveals that it contains a virtually undetectable pathogen that only detonates (“like a plague”) after lying dormant for six weeks. Worse, there’s no cure.
Overseeing her nefarious operation alongside Löw, the Colonel states that their bioweapon will specifically target inner-city minorities, and will kill 12 million by month’s end. She once again orders Travis and Tobias to eliminate Meyer. Their rivalry for the Colonel’s affections doesn’t last long; at a gas station, Travis confesses that he was the one who killed Tobias’ brothers. Then he viciously kills Tobias.
Meyer asks Roxy to return to the fold. Jonah relays Murray’s final words to Mindy: “Hodu l’Adonai” (i.e., giving thanks to the Lord, because the Lord is good). She’s comforted by the knowledge that he’d reconnected with his faith. Jonah, however, is wracked by guilt. On the sidewalk, he asks Meyer why the good guys always have to do the right thing. Meyer says his superhero fantasies are “lies,” and that he’ll soon know “what it is to be a hero in this world.”
Meyer relates the reason he was unworthy of Ruth: at Auschwitz, the Wolf forced Meyer to choose between witnessing Ruth’s execution or killing innocent men himself. He chose the latter — 11 of them — which damned him to the darkness forever. Millie visits her sick mother, who knows her daughter is a lesbian and implores her to hold on to love. Jonah deduces that the explosions were a distraction to get the pathogen into NYC. Millie discovers that the Schidler Corp, an Argentinian food conglomerate, brought in a shipment via the ports. Apparently, Nazi-rocket-scientist-turned-NASA-superstar (and American celebrity) Wernher von Braun (Victor Slezak) was on the governing board of Schidler Corp, and though he apparently died years earlier, Meyer believes he may still be alive.
Meyer and Jonah ask for intel on Wernher from Simon Wiesenthal (Judd Hirsch). A debate ensues. Simon says, “This is a profession of angels,” and that if Jews compromise their morals, they will eradicate themselves. Meyer contends that like Moses, Esther, and Judah, he’s fighting for Jews’ right to exist. There’s no winning this argument, and Simon agrees to give Meyer what he wants so long as Meyer never returns. He also tells Jonah — who slams Simon’s “Atticus Finch routine” — that by working with Meyer, he’s desecrating his mother’s memory.
While staking out Wernher’s residence, Meyer finishes his earlier concentration camp tale, stating, “I became a different creature. The Wolf had won, and I never saw the sun rise again. It cost me my world. But it turned me toward the man I was destined to be. Now in darkness, I could protect the light. I became the night so that the day would live. That is the mark of a hero, Jonah. Not the one who does what is right, but the one who does what is necessary.” This emphasizes the notion, introduced earlier in the series, that Meyer is Batman, and Jonah is his Robin (his “light”), tasked with keeping him from totally succumbing to the darkness.
In her kitchen, Mindy is “visited” by Murray, who comforts her with news that he’s okay. He brings her to a beatific palatial garden where she’s reunited with Aaron. Once this reverie ends, Murray conveys Aaron’s final wish: that Mindy show Moritz mercy. She complies, by swiftly ending the Nazi’s life with a bullet.
A fantasy sequence game show interlude, “Why Does Everyone Hate the Jews,” has contestants verbalize stereotypical anti-Semitic slurs. The winning answer, of course, is “Because they’re Jews.”
Meyer, Joe, and Jonah find Wernher and tie him up. Under threat of electrocution from Jonah (here pushed to do awful things by Meyer), Wernher confesses that he worked with the Fourth Reich, and the Colonel, in exchange for space program support. He also reveals the Colonel’s true pathogen plan: to poison American inner cities via corn syrup.
Like Mindy with Moritz, Joe shows Wernher mercy with a single bullet. On his way out of the house, an empowered-by-vengeance Jonah walks by a vision of Ruth screaming, “No!” Biff, on the lam because of the dead bodies found in his house, arrives at the home of a comrade: Grimsby.
- It’s unclear why the Colonel thinks her poisoned-corn-syrup scheme will only exterminate unwanted minorities; it stands to reason that everyone loves candy, and will eventually be infected, including Nazis and Nazi sympathizers.
- The inclusion of Wernher von Braun and Simon Wiesenthal in this episode further underlines the show’s desire to blend historical fact and pulpy fiction.
- This is the first episode to skip the show’s chess piece credit sequence.
Episode 9: “The Great Ol’ Nazi Cookout of ’77”
A black-and-white TV show features American officials debating, and ultimately justifying, the Operation Paperclip policy. Harriet learns from Patricia — who references a past Vienna incident and claims Harriet has more heart than she shows — that the pathogen can be destroyed at 500 degrees. Lonny informs Harriet that Millie has found a factory in New Jersey that may be Schidler’s base of corn-syrup operations.
Millie notices that immigration documents in Meyer’s possession were signed by a Carmel Offie, whose name rings a bell. She later realizes why: Offie was an OSS officer under whom Grimsby worked. She races to Grimsby’s house and finds him with Biff, who’s blackmailing Grimsby into helping him disappear. She takes Biff hostage, and they head to the factory. Along the way, they trade barbs, including Biff telling Millie, “At the end of the day, Americans are just as racist as the rest of us.”
Travis disposes of Tobias’ body with a chainsaw and returns to the Colonel. She admits she knew Travis had killed Tobias’ siblings, and thought Tobias would wind up killing Travis. For having proven his Nazi mettle, he’s initiated into their white nationalist clan, via a creepy ceremony that involves Travis downing a glass of milk mixed with the Colonel’s blood.
Roxy has rejoined the team, and Meyer convinces Mindy to return to action. Seeing Moritz’s corpse, Jonah promises Meyer that when they find the Wolf, he won’t end the villain’s life with a single merciful shot (“It’s a debt I owe”). After Lonny reminisces about his unhappy childhood with a dad who didn’t believe in him, he and Harriet nab the Schidler plant manager. Harriet gets him to talk by putting a blowtorch to his crotch — which, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a very effective means of coercion.
“The day of judgement has come,” Meyer intones. A disguised Lonny poses as the plant manager in order to infiltrate the facility and turn the heat up on the pathogen vats, Jonah sneaks in via air duct and plants explosives, and Joe and Roxy disable the shipping trucks. Things go sidewise when, while leaving, Lonny is identified by Travis. Joe comes to the rescue, guns blazing, and in the chaos — and the ensuing explosions and vat leaks, which kill most of the Nazis inside (including, presumably, Löw) — the heroes escape, as does the Colonel.
Jonah chases Travis to a nearby warehouse and they fight. Jonah has a chance to kill him at gunpoint, but Millie, having just arrived, dissuades him by saying that it’s not what his grandmother would want. At the hospital, Millie’s mother passes away.
Their mission an apparent success, Meyer leaves Roxy to go “cut off the head of the snake.” As the Doors’ “This is the End” kicks in, Meyer gets behind the wheel of the Colonel’s getaway car. During their drive, she procures a hidden gun and fires at his head, causing their vehicle to take a dive off a bridge.
- Meyer concludes his early chat with Joe by suggesting that one day, Jonah will lead the Hunters. This is the first of two instances — the latter coming at episode’s end, during Meyer’s talk with Roxy — that foreshadows Meyer’s potential demise.
- Cheeks and Carol’s search of Jonah’s bedroom reveals a 400 Blows movie poster hanging on the wall, confirming that Jonah is a true cinephile.
- Harriet’s disgust with the smell of the New Jersey Turnpike is arguably the series’ most realistic moment.
Episode 10: “Eilu v’ Eilu”
The season finale begins with a one-year-earlier flashback to Ruth spotting Hans Fischer at the local market. She visits Meyer for the first time in 30 years and, in his grand study, talks about growing old and how they’ve changed, Meyer’s abandonment, and their grandson Jonah. According to Ruth, Jonah has “the light that you once had. And I won’t let them [the Nazis] extinguish it.”
Millie’s official report about this entire affair is dismissed by her (sexist, racist) superiors. Shortly after, Jewish congresswoman Elizabeth Handelman (Zoé Winters) offers her the opportunity to lead her own covert task force designed to bring Nazis-in-hiding to justice.
Harriet pulls Meyer out of the water following his car wreck (the Colonel is nowhere to be found). Recuperating, Meyer expresses his intense disappointment with Jonah for failing to kill Travis when he had the opportunity. Decrying Jonah’s inability to do the difficult thing when it mattered most, he says, “Words are small. Deeds are giants.”
Cheeks tells Jonah that Peter Parker, Jean Grey, and Dick “Robin” Grayson all had to kill a “big bad” to prove themselves. This strikes a chord with Jonah (since those are his kindred superhero spirits). He remembers that Ruth had files on the Wolf. He finds a letter of hers that recounts how, after the Allies liberated Auschwitz in January 1945, Meyer was plagued by dreams in which he said the Kaddish prayer before killing the Wolf — something he promised he’d do, should he ever get the chance to end the Wolf’s life.
A clue in the letter leads Jonah to Ruth’s cookbooks, inside of which are her files on the Wolf. Those, in turn, point Jonah to a cosmetic surgeon (William Sadler) whom Jonah believes is the Wolf. After an appointment with the doc, Jonah kidnaps him.
Biff murders the man who’s made him a fake passport and steals the guy’s name. Biff uses these forged papers to enter the USSR. There’s no such escape for Travis, who’s locked up in prison. He tells Millie he’ll eventually kill her and Maria. Next, the incarcerated Nazi meets with his parents. His dad is horrified by his son’s actions, but Travis’ crocodile tears sway his mom. On his request, she hires him a Jewish lawyer. Travis, however, doesn’t want legal representation; instead, he just wants a Jew to kill so he can earn the respect of his inmates, and thus recruit them for his Nazi cause.
Jonah delivers the Wolf to Meyer, who unceremoniously stabs his “golem” through the back of the neck. This should be a triumphant moment, but Jonah is troubled by the fact that Meyer didn’t say the Kaddish before executing the Wolf, as he’d previously claimed he would. Revelation rocks Jonah: Meyer is the Wolf.
Meyer/Wolf doesn’t deny this. He explains that, to avoid being hanged by the Soviets at Auschwitz, he killed Meyer and stole his identity. He contends that he never cared about Nazi ideology; he only coveted the power they could grant him, and “power breeds evil and the evil consumed me.” He gave himself his Auschwitz arm tattoo and chest scar, had reconstructive facial surgery to resemble Meyer, and spent the next 30 years living as a Jew (going to temple, studying the Torah, learning Hebrew).
Meeting Ruth again after 30 years showed Meyer/Wolf the light, and inspired the Hunt. “The Hunt is my penance because it gives me purpose,” Meyer/Wolf tells Jonah, who’s stunned by this turn of events. Though the ghost of Ruth begs him to spare Meyer/Wolf’s life, Jonah has an epiphany: “Who am I if I don’t do this?” He recites the Kaddish prayer, shoots Meyer/Wolf in the chest, and finishes him off by stabbing him in the heart with Ruth’s blade. Gazing up at Jonah as he expires, Meyer/Wolf muses, “It’s you. Meyer.”
Upon hearing what’s taken place, the crew understandably freaks out. Mindy bails, and Joe storms off and is abducted. Roxy, Lonny, and Harriet stick around and agree to continue fighting the Nazi menace under Jonah’s leadership. Harriet has new targets for them: eight high-ranking Nazis now hiding in Europe. What they don’t know is that Harriet has received this mission from an unknown puppetmaster, with whom she’s apparently in league.
In a closing scene that elucidates this episode’s recurring sight of boys running through cornfields and tossing red balls into the air, Joe is taken to an Argentine mansion, where he’s greeted by the Colonel. At an outdoor dinner table, he’s flanked by four identical little Nazi boys. He’s subsequently joined by both the Colonel — whose name turns out to be Eva, as in Braun — and her husband, an old mustached man named Adolf. The Führer lives!
- It’s severely disappointing that Pacino won’t be headlining a potential second season. Still, Meyer’s demise is a fitting passing-of-the-torch twist for a series that, at heart, is about Jonah.
- Jonah’s trip to the doctor’s office is infused with Marathon Man-style suspense. It’s a shame Sadler’s cosmetic surgeon doesn’t last very long.
- The final scene suggests that showrunner David Weil plans to take Hunters into explicit The Boys From Brazil territory, complete with Hitler creating a race of cloned Aryan tykes. Where’s Laurence Olivier when you need him?
Hunters (2020 TV series)