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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Hunters Season 2: Alternate History Hitler



I just binged the eight-episode second and final season of Hunters on Amazon Prime Video.  I liked it a lot more than the first season, and I liked the first season a lot, with some reservations.  Indeed, though the first season was an intensely personal story set in all-too real world, the second season was even more personal and managed also to be about the real world, our current real world, in fact.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

The first season ends with the revelation that Hitler and Eva Braun are alive and well and planning to take over the world from their secret compound in Argentina.  That revelation comes after the upending unmasking of Nazi-hunter Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino) as the German concentration monster Wilhelm Zuchs aka The Wolf.   The second season picks up the backstory of Offerman/Zucks but shows its mettle in the Hitler/Braun story, and how our band of Hunters finally brings them to justice.

It does such a good job of this, on so many levels, that I'd say it lifts Hunters into The Man in the High Castle TV series territory, and lands just slightly behind it. The relationship between Hitler and Braun -- their mutual contempt, with Braun thinking she's the logical leader of the Fourth Reich and Hitler telling her at some point that the most important accomplishment of her life will be that she married him -- is both surprising and convincing.  The battles of the Hunters and Nazis are exciting and unpredictable.

But the biggest strength of the second season, right up there with its achievement as alternate history, is the way it links its 1979 story by strong implication to the resurgence of Naziism and white supremacy that grips our country and our world today.  The January 6, 2021 attack on Congress, the shootings of New Mexico Democrats by a Republican who lost the 2022 election, reported just in the past few days, show how looming and dangerous fascism is in the United States right now.  Putin says his savage attacks on Ukraine are to root out Nazis but he and his military are the ones employing Nazi tactics in their atrocities and propaganda.  In the very last scene of Hunters, Jonah looks across a table at an outdoor cafe at someone who looks like Hitler.  We last saw Hitler locked up in a high security prison in Europe, so there's no reason to think the man at that table was Hitler.  But there's every reason to think that the imprisonment of the real Hitler has not put much of a dent in the would-be Hitlers at large in 1979 -- and even more so today.

If I had one quibble with this powerful story, it is that too many of the characters on both sides seem to be able to easily survive being hit and even riddled by bullets.  I could accept this happening once.  But even twice is too much, in terms of stretching credibility.

But there were also some masterpieces of scenes and episodes in this second season.  I thought the seventh episode, nearly a standalone story of a German couple who give shelter to several families of Jewish people, could easily have been an Oscar-winning movie in itself.  And the battle scenes throughout the narrative were as good as they get.

Inevitably, the question arises of how about another season?  I thought Amazon cancelled The Man in the High Castle a little too quickly after four seasons, and that's certainly the case for Hunters after two seasons and the crucial story it's been telling.  Given the precarious condition of the world in which we now live, I have a feeling we'll be seeing a continuation of the Hunters story in some format and venue before too long.

See also Hunters: Praise and Reservations


my interview of Rufus Sewell about The Man in the High Castle



poems about the Holocaust ... my review



my interview with Grzegorz Kwiatkowski


It's Real Life

an alternate history short story -- get it on Kindle, or read it free on Vocal


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