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We Need to Talk About the Hunters Season Finale

The Amazon drama takes some big swings at the end of its first season. We’re here to break them down.
  • Al Pacino and Logan Lerman in Hunters. (Photo: Amazon)
    Al Pacino and Logan Lerman in Hunters. (Photo: Amazon)

    WARNING: As the headline suggests, major spoilers ahead for the first season of Hunters.

    Going into Amazon's Hunters, viewers could be forgiven for expecting something different from what we actually get. The show’s promotional materials sell it as an ultra-violent, Nazi-hunting dramedy in the vein of something like Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. But while Hunters certainly has its violent moments, and occasionally achieves a tone similar to that of 1970s exploitation flicks, its first season makes it clear that the show's core interests ultimately lie elsewhere.

    About halfway through the season, Hunters becomes less focused on the lives of its individual escaped Nazis, and more on the system that allowed so many to escape justice in the first place. After referencing several real-life government operations that took place during the 1940s and 50s, the show becomes, simply and startlingly, a furious indictment of western hypocrisy. At no point do those themes become more clear than in the show’s season finale, where two major plot twists take place, both of which redefine Hunters in entirely unexpected ways.

    The Wolf

    Al Pacino in Hunters. (Photo: Amazon)

    Throughout the season, Jonah (Logan Lerman, in a role that serves as a proxy for the viewer) is told about the experiences that Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino) and Jonah’s grandmother Ruth (Jeannie Berlin) endured together during their time in Auschwitz. Notably, we're frequently told about the interactions that Meyer and Ruth had with the camp’s Nazi doctor, Wilhelm Zuchs (aka The Wolf), who tortured Meyer for months on end, in hopes of destroying his relationship with Ruth. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise then, when we learn early on that The Wolf is Meyer’s No. 1 Nazi target (and was Ruth’s prior to her death).

    Then, in the show’s season finale, after the Hunters have successfully halted the Nazis’ plan to poison the entire American population, we learn that not everything we've been told is actually true.

    The revelations begin when — after being scorned by Offerman for letting Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton) take Travis (Greg Austin) into federal custody alive — Jonah decides to prove himself once and for all to Offerman, by tracking down and delivering The Wolf to him. Jonah does just that, thanks to a string of clues left by his grandmother, and not only does he find The Wolf hiding as a plastic surgeon, but he takes the Nazi doctor hostage.

    When Jonah shows his mentor who he's captured, Meyer’s reaction is surprisingly subdued, and instead of following the Hunters' usual Nazi-killing procedure, Offerman brutally and nonchalantly executes "The Wolf" with little-to-no ceremony. He doesn't even take his former tormentor's gag out before delivering the killing blow.

    Logan Lerman and Al Pacino in Hunters. (Photo: Amazon)

    Offerman's strange execution of the Nazi doctor triggers a series of flashbacks for Jonah, as he begins to recall moments from earlier in the season when Offerman’s present-day recollections and teachings didn't quite line up with Ruth’s memories of Meyer in the camps. Put together, the memories lead Jonah to a shocking revelation — that the man standing before him, the man who taught him everything he knows about tracking Nazis and bringing them to justice, is not Meyer Offerman at all. He is, in fact, The Wolf.

    Jonah’s revelation is quickly confirmed by Zuchs himself, who explains that he killed the real Meyer Offerman back in 1945 and took on his former captive’s identity, all in the hopes of evading execution by the Soviets. From there, he underwent plastic surgery from the same Nazi surgeon that Jonah captured, before moving to the United States and posing as Meyer Offerman for the following three decades.

    And just like that, everything we thought we knew about Hunters is forever changed.

    Logan Lerman and Al Pacino in Hunters. (Photo: Amazon)

    Built up as the trustworthy father figure that Jonah never had, the revelation that Pacino’s Offerman is, in fact, the man responsible for so much of the pain that his family experienced in the war, is a crushing blow for Jonah to reckon with. It forces us to look back at all the things that Zuchs said to Jonah throughout the series, and reexamine them in a new light. But what the reveal does more than anything else, is further drive home the very messages that Hunters had been playing with all along.

    By pretending to be a figure of moral righteousness, Hunters posits that Zuchs committed the same betrayal to Jonah that America did to the Jewish people following the war. As a nation, America positioned itself as the beacon of freedom and justice in the world, all while allowing whatever Nazis it deemed useful to continue living without punishment. Zuchs similarly vowed to bring Nazis to justice, without ever acknowledging his own role in the Third Reich’s atrocities. It is a visceral betrayal, and one that knocks the wind out of Jonah.

    It doesn’t take long for the shock to quickly give way to rage though, as the discovery of Zuchs’ lies finally pushes Jonah over the edge. Just moments after learning the truth, he sinks his grandmother’s knife into the Wolf’s heart, and completes his season-long arc from passive observer to active vigilante.

    It's a bold and surprising twist, but because it results in the removal of Al Pacino from its cast, it's the kind of risk that could backfire on Hunters in the future. The actor's performance was the highlight of the show's first season, and his involvement was undoubtedly one of its biggest draws from the get-go. By killing him off, Hunters is betting big on viewers feeling connected enough to the rest of the show's cast to tune in for a second season.

    The Colonel (And Her Husband)

    Lena Olin in Hunters. (Photo: Amazon)

    The Wolf reveal is just one of two major twists that Hunters pulls in its season finale, with the other revolving around the identity of Lena Olin’s villainous Nazi leader. Referred to as only “The Colonel” throughout the season, Olin's character was missing for most of the finale, following her confrontation with Pacino’s Zuchs at the end of the ninth episode, which concluded with both trapped inside The Colonel’s car as it careened off a bridge into a river below.

    Having pulled Zuchs from the sinking car herself, Kate Mulvany’s Sister Harriet says later in the episode that the Colonel died in the accident. However, in the finale’s final moments, we learn that that is not the case. Indeed, not only is The Colonel still alive, the show also reveals that she is Eva Braun, and that she's living extravagantly in an Argentinian compound alongside… a still-alive Adolf Hitler.

    A shocking and game-changing reveal, the twist does a lot to establish exactly what kind of alternate history Hunters takes place in. Because, as the finale makes clear, the show doesn’t just exist in a world where thousands of Nazis were allowed to live past the second World War, but one where the very leaders of the Third Reich are still alive and plotting in the 1970s.

    What Does This Mean for Season 2?

    Logan Lerman in Hunters. (Photo: Amazon)

    With Hitler still alive, and Joe (Louis Ozawa) being held hostage on his Argentinian compound, it's clear that Hunters' central dramatic battle is far from over. But just in case that didn't already leave the show in an interesting enough place, the finale also set up a number of interesting storylines for the second season to follow.

    For starters, the show teases that the Hunters may be taking their mission to Europe to hunt some of the escaped Nazis living across the pond, which could give the show an opportunity to further investigate how some European countries treated escaped Nazis following the war. The arrival of Biff Simpson (Dylan Baker) in Russia will undoubtedly come into play later as well, and Travis' attempts at building a Nazi army inside prison could be the perfect way for Hunters to examine how fascism and anti-semitism can rise up anywhere, no matter the country or institution in which they originate.

    Whichever direction Hunters goes from here though, the twists it took in its finale have helped set the show up for a second season very much unlike its first. Whether or not it can successfully capitalize on the opportunities it's created for itself — assuming the show is renewed by Amazon — will have to remain a mystery for the time being.

    The entire first season of Hunters is available to stream on Amazon now.

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    Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.

    TOPICS: Hunters, Prime Video, Al Pacino, Lena Olin, Logan Lerman