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Hunters Finale Takeaways and Urgent Story of Antisemitism in Season 2  

[This story includes major spoilers for Hunters season two.]

Adolf Hitler is brought to justice in the season two finale of Hunters.

The final season of the Amazon drama tracks the group of Nazi hunters coming back together from separate paths in Europe in order to go after Hitler, who has been hiding at a compound in Argentina for the last 30 years and preparing for the Fourth Reich.

When the season kicks off, the hunters are scattered to the wind, having had a falling out following the events of the first season that is later revealed to be a result of Jonah (Logan Lerman) taking things too far and killing a child on their last mission. In the first episode, Jonah is seen staking out a brothel in Paris — though he has a fiancée at home — waiting for someone, who ends up being Nazi Biff Simpson (Dylan Baker) from season one. Before Jonah kills him, Biff tells him that Hitler is alive and well and living in South America. This leads Jonah to reconnect with Millie (Jerrika Hinton), who helps him get the band of Nazi hunters back together for one last mission.

Over the course of the eight episodes, the group reconnects and works through their past issues, and eventually finds Hitler in episode six, “Only the Dead.” Instead of killing him right off the bat, Jonah brings him in and decides to give him a trial in Germany’s supreme court in the final episode.

“This trial was really an evolution in Jonah’s own moral journey. At the end, he, as a character, chose the light. He chose justice, a legal trial versus cold-blooded revenge,” Hunters creator David Weil tells  . “Being able to put Adolf Hitler on trial in front of the entire world, for them to not only bring him to justice legally but be able to really detract from his lies, poke holes in those lies, show the fallacies of his ideology, was potentially even more important than just sticking a knife, a dagger, into his heart.”

In writing this season, Weil wanted to bring the show, which is set in the 1970s, into the present day with the rise of antisemitism, Holocaust denialism and neo-Nazism, he explains.

“Telling this story felt even more urgent, even more important, and you’ll see echoes, particularly in the trial in episode eight, that speak to not only the violence and the genocide of the Holocaust of what Adolf Hitler perpetrated, but that also speaks to the kind of hatred, bigotry, prejudice, antisemitism, racism that lives on today,” he says.

Below, Weil also discusses Al Pacino’s return as Meyer Offerman, Jonah’s evolution over the course of the show, why he chose to make season two less graphic than season one and what comes next for the hunters.

What a finale! So, is it safe to assume Jonah is not retiring from Nazi hunting?

It is safe to assume that his birthright responsibility and legacy is still going to weigh very heavy on him for the rest of his life, yes. Travis is still out there, and Travis really is the character that brings us to the present with the advent of antisemitism, Holocaust denialism, Neo-Nazism. So, Jonah’s journey, his birthright, I think becomes more and more important as the years go on.

Hunters Season 2

Greg Austin as Travis in Hunters season two.

Amazon Studios

The finale mostly revolves around Adolf Hitler’s court trial. I’m curious, why did you decide to go that route, as opposed to having the hunters kill him like they originally planned?

That’s a great question. You know, season one of the show was a question. The question is: What is the difference between revenge and justice? And which one ultimately would you choose if you had the option to do so? So, season two became an answer to that. Though our hunters certainly killed other Nazis throughout the season, this trial was really an evolution in Jonah’s own moral journey. At the end, he, as a character, chose the light. He chose justice, a legal trial versus cold-blooded revenge. This show sort of shows the gray area there. It shows that there are many different forms of justice and revenge may be one of them, but for this character, in particular, and our hunters, collectively, being able to put Adolf Hitler on trial in front of the entire world, for them to not only bring him to justice legally but be able to really detract from his lies, poke holes in those lies, show the fallacies of his ideology, was potentially even more important than just sticking a knife, a dagger, into his heart.

Having a Jewish lawyer defend Hitler could be seen as a controversial decision — and it was by the characters in the show. Talk to me about that. Why did you make that decision?

What I wanted to do is have two Jewish lawyers who you see, in both of these characters — one is the prosecutor, and one is the defense lawyer. Hitler’s defense lawyer talks about how the right to a fair trial is a tenant not only of justice writ large, but also of Jewish morality. So, it was so important that this trial would not become a kangaroo court, that this individual, Adolf Hitler, was given the same rights afforded to anybody else under the law, such that no one could detract, in this fictional story of course, no one can detract and say, “This is a setup. This is a kangaroo court.” But as Ben really talks about in the series, if we don’t afford him those rights, who are we? Are we just as bad as those who deny rights to anybody else? And so, that’s why it was so important.

The finale also sees the colonel (Lena Olin) break Hitler out of custody as he tries to kill himself, thinking that she’ll finally be named his successor. But as Travis mentions, their group doesn’t take to women all that well. Why did she think she would be any different?

Oh, what a good question. I think Eva, in this fictional story, believed that her proximity to Adolf, her understanding of him, her relationship with him, that she could sway this person, and yet, his prejudices, his bigotry, his misogyny, reigns more supreme than any sort of relationship or connection to his own wife.

In the last few moments of the finale, we find out that Ruth had discovered Meyer was actually Wilhelm Zuchs, aka the Wolf, and he found out, so he tipped off the man who killed her. When Harriet tells Jonah this, it seems to reignite a fire in him. Is that part of why he decided not to retire?

Yes. Incredible catch and great question. The discovery that Meyer was behind Ruth’s death, which to me is one of the most catastrophic of the entire series, is the very thing that reminds Jonah that evil lurks behind every corner, in every shadow and darkness, and it rattles him. This is a character who believed he knew what he was doing, that he was in control of his own history and future, and what he learns once he discovers that Meyer was behind Ruth’s death is that he doesn’t know everything. There are secrets even larger than himself, and he’s rattled from that. I think Harriet says it best: “Evil doesn’t retire. Why should we? How can we?” And Meyers’ act of murder in [getting] Ruth [murdered] is a reminder of that.

Hunters

Al Pacino (Meyer Offerman) and Jeannie Berlin (Ruth Heidelbaum) in Hunters.

Courtesy of Prime Video

Do you think he’ll tell Clara this time around?

It’s a tragedy, I suppose, for Jonah, but his relationship with Clara, to me, is predicated on his retiring as a Nazi hunter. So, I don’t know if there’s a world where he can preserve his marriage to Clara, and also take part in hunting Nazis with the other hunters.

Going back to Travis, you could’ve killed him off but you left him alive. Why?

Travis surviving this season represents how the scourge of antisemitism, Neo-Nazism, Holocaust denial lives on through 2023. Unfortunately, evil will always exist, and as our characters say in the piece, “Evil does not retire. So, why should we? How can we?” We’ll always have to combat evil, so too does the lawyer, Frankel, [say] in prosecuting Adolf Hitler. We’ll always be there to come after you, to come after evil, and so Travis is a personification of the kinds of evils that we see today in our culture, in our society in 2023. So, it was important that the season was not tied up in a neat bow because life is not that way.

You touched on this some, but this story is timely as ever, unfortunately. What was it like tackling Hitler, antisemitism and Neo-Nazis amid everything that’s happening today?

Antisemitism is something felt by all Jewish people around the world and has forever, but I think that society and culture at large have seen, especially in the past few years, the scourge and virus of antisemitism in ways that maybe they hadn’t seen before. It’s something that I think Jewish people have felt forever, and yet, society and culture are seeing it in the way that we are. So, telling this story felt even more urgent, even more important, and you’ll see echoes, particularly in the trial in episode eight, that speak to not only the violence and the genocide of the Holocaust, of what Adolf Hitler perpetrated, but also speaks to the kind of hatred, bigotry, prejudice, antisemitism, racism that lives on today. And so, I hope that the series provides a sense of catharsis, of wish-fulfillment, even in this fictional way, in this trial in episode eight, that people can come away feeling that our hunters got some sense of justice, that there is some sense of characters fighting for their right to exist and winning. And that’s what I hope the series does.

Seeing the shots of Neo-Nazis outside of the courthouse in Germany seemed eerily similar to what was seen during the Capitol Riots.

Yes, absolutely.

Antisemitism has always existed, but when the first season came out, it wasn’t as prevalent in the news. Did that influence how you went about season two?

For myself, as a Jewish creator, antisemitism is always so deeply felt by me, and so, though, maybe society and our culture at large hadn’t felt the presence of antisemitism as deeply back in 2020, [but] I felt it so deeply. So, I think I took a very similar approach both seasons. This series is a reaction to, a response to, antisemitism. It’s an attempt to combat it. It’s an attempt to portray Jewish characters in a light and in a way that we don’t often get to see onscreen: Jewish characters with might, with power, with agency; Jewish characters who are badass, who are strong, who are benevolent, who are sexy — all those traits and qualities that are often not reserved for Jewish characters. So, I almost think, unfortunately, society and culture has caught up to understand and to see how urgent this series is because of the epidemic of hate, of antisemitism, of racism in our world.

Taking it back to the beginning of the season, which kicked off with the introduction of Chava. How did you decide to include her character as such a strong force this season?

Chava, played by the incredible Jennifer Jason Leigh, is one of the most unique and unpredictable characters in Hunters season two. Her entry into the world of Hunters was twofold. One, it was to reveal that there were other Nazi hunters out there, other bands like our own hunters with different moral codes, perhaps, working toward the same goal, potentially in a different way. And two, it was to introduce another family element to Jonah’s story as we’ll discover in episode three, as we learn her identity [as his great aunt]. Jonah’s loss of Ruth in season one unmoored him. It was a traumatic and devastating experience for him, and most importantly, it snuffed out the light from his life. And so Chava’s role in season two will be to reorient Jonah back toward his moral compass, back toward the legacy of his family and remind him of who he is.

Hunters Season 2

Logan Lerman and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Jonah and Chava, respectively, in season two.

Amazon Studios

I was surprised to see Al Pacino back in the trailer as such a main character this season when he died at the end of season one. What went into the decision to bring him back in flashbacks? Did you always know you wanted him in this season in some capacity?

Once Al Pacino signed on for this character — who, before he signed on, I had written by the end of season one, this character died — I was trying to ideate and come up with any which way that we could bring incredible Al Pacino’s mesmerizing and dangerous character of Meyer Offerman back into the series. And so, it’s really because of that. He and I had such a wonderful experience working together on season one. We wanted to continue the collaboration, and we both felt that the story of Meyer Offerman, of Wilhelm Zuchs, the Wolf, was not over, that there were more depths and dimensions even to explore in his story. So, over the course of many conversations and many months, we really spoke about who this character is and what his histories and secrets could reveal not only about Meyer but how they could affect Jonah and our hunters in the future. So, this season really is about the conversation between the past and the present, and how acts of the past, secrets of the past, how they affect our characters in the present.

The season one finale revealed that Joe had been taken to Hitler’s compound in Argentina. The end of season two’s first episode shows that he’s still there, but is now seemingly loyal to Hitler. Did you always know what direction you wanted to take him this season?

Well, I always wanted to create resolution for this incredible character of Joe, played by the amazing Louis Ozawa, but I knew that the road ahead for him was going to be difficult. His destination at the end of season one put him in the line, dead. So, he was going to have to journey through that darkness to be able to come out the other end into the light. Redemption was a real theme for season two, and I think Joe’s story is one of redemption, of reclamation, and of being able to contend with the greatest forces of evil and yet still find your humanity and your heroism.

Definitely. It was great to see him come back from what could’ve been the end for him.

Louis and I talked a lot about it, and what we both wanted for this character was to allow him joy. This was a character who had been through so much trauma throughout his entire life from the internment (as they called them) camps — which were really concentration camps in the United States, as we discussed in episode two, and you see the nuance of that language there — through the war in Vietnam. Then to be on this hunt for Nazis, be kidnapped by the Nazis and then be put through immense torture. He deserved joy and resolution at the end, so that’s what we wanted to deliver to him.

The beginning of episode two features a Sound of Music tribute. Talk to me about that.

One of the things this series does is it inspects cinema of late and old, and the ways in which Nazism has been portrayed onscreen and tries to disrupt that portrayal in some way, tries to show a biting truth. And so, Sound of Music was certainly a touchstone to that original scene and in pure Hunters fashion and Sister Harriet fashion, we tried to blow it up in some way and de-romanticize some of the events of that incredible film, but to show just a more sort of badass and biting and vengeful bent to that story.

Hunters Season 2

The Sound of Music scene in Hunters season two.

Amazon Studios

Over the course of the show, Jonah evolves a lot. What was it like writing the transformation of this very layered character?

It was an immense challenge. First of all, our greatest tool and weapon was Logan Lerman, who is one of the most talented actors and artists I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. This is a character who when we meet him, he’s 19 years old, he’s a kid, and yet the adversity that he faces, the unique challenges that he encounters is, it’s almost unbelievable. This is a kid who’s becoming a Nazi hunter and who’s journeying through this dark odyssey, this dark place, to bring these Nazis to justice, and ultimately in season two to come face to face with Adolf Hitler, and bring him to justice. So, it requires an actor of immense capability and incredible depth and dimension, and Logan is that actor.

But in terms of Jonah, himself, I mean, it was very important for me to bring in this naive, innocent kid growing up in Brooklyn in the ’70s and to have him contend with the darkness. One of the central questions of the series is: If you hunt monsters in the darkness, do you risk becoming a monster yourself? And Jonah had to go on that journey, had to delve into the deepest pools of darkness in order to try and bring justice to those monsters. And that does something to one’s soul, it does something to one’s character. And that’s the journey that you see Jonah go on over the course of these two seasons.

In the finale, he says they’re not monsters, and he seems to be at peace with what he’s done. Do you think Clara played a part in maintaining his soul and his humanity?

Absolutely. I think Clara is representative of the same light that Jonah’s grandmother Ruth embodied, a beautiful soul, an innocent soul, one whose moral compass was strong. So, I think it’s a real partnership between Jonah and Clara this season. Even once Clara knows what he’s doing, she still worries for his soul, she worries for what’s going to happen to him, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing. While Jonah this season certainly embodies the spirit of, well, do the ends justify the means? Clara says that they don’t, that the means are just as important, and that they can have a real imprint on one’s future, one’s fate, one’s soul.

Hunters

Hunters

Courtesy of Prime Video

Episode seven is told almost entirely from the perspective of this old German couple and their house, where they’re hiding Jewish families from Nazis. Toward the end, it’s revealed that one of the little boys in the house ends up being Chava’s husband. Why did you decide to tell this story in that way?

When you look at the Holocaust, they often say for every survivor, for every victim, everyone had a story. There are thousands, millions of stories. My grandmother’s was one of those stories. And so, one of the great ambitions that I had in creating the series was to be able to tell as many stories as possible. Now, certainly, we focus on the hunters, the descendants, or in the case of Mindy and Chava the survivors themselves, but I also wanted this season to be an opportunity to tell other stories, stories that within Hunters, we don’t shine the brightest of lights on. And so what was key for me was telling a story that was almost a fairytale, a folktale.

In the Jewish tradition of storytelling, fairytale and folklore is such a key part to our culture and tradition. So, I really wanted to tell this beautiful and harrowing, dark and yet hopeful fairytale almost of these two individuals, these righteous Gentiles, who protected the Jews, and then also of these Jews, who exuded such heroism as you see throughout that episode. So, it was an exciting way to sort of travel back in time and to tell a story — our series largely takes place in 1979, with flashbacks to 1976 — but to go back to the ’30s and ’40s and be able to tell a tale of what was happening in a fictionalized way, of course, but representative of something that may have happened in the ’30s and ’40s.

That episode excluded, this season in general seemed less graphic than the first. Was that intentional?

It was very intentional. I felt like in season one, we represented that level of violence, and we created that foundation. The whole purpose of the violence in season one was to allow audiences to understand the kind of violence that our hunters employ when hunting these Nazis, to show sort of where it came from. But because we do that in season one, it wasn’t as important to do that in season two. I never want violence to feel gratuitous. And so with season two, I leaned into representing violence in other ways that really wasn’t seen, which could be more terrifying than what is seen.

This is your final season. But in your mind, where do these characters go from here? If you would have had a third season, what would you have explored next?

I think for Jonah, in particular, the future is a forever battle for him. It’s a battle between normalcy and the superhero cape. It’s a battle between family and sacrifice. And so, his is a story that I will think about forever and contend with forever because I just think the road ahead for him will be a challenging one, and yet the end of it all, I’d be so curious to see where he ends up and what he ultimately decides.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

Hunters season two Prime Video now.

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