Wednesday, February 8, 2023

‘Hunters’ Season 2 Review: An Intriguing but Winding End to the Series [Spoiler-Free]

TELEVISIONPRIME VIDEO'Hunters' Season 2 Review: An Intriguing but Winding End to the Series...

Hunters’ first season was released right around the rise of the pandemic in early 2020 and became a personal hidden gem I and many others latched onto during quarantine. While it didn’t attain the level of popularity of some of Prime Video’s most notable hits such as The Boys, the show garnered itself an extremely loyal fanbase due to a plot that always kept you on your toes and a great ensemble cast. Then came the production hiatus from superhell. The show had been renewed back in August of 2020, but the long time period without any word of the show left fans (me included) resigned to the fact that the purported season 2 would never come. Fortunately, Prime Video followed through, though the announcement of the new season was accompanied with the knowledge that season 2 would be the show’s last. As such, fans were left wondering if the story would get a fully realized, complete arc as it came to a close.

Overall, the team did a good job in wrapping up the threads that were left hanging from season 1, using them to coax the story forward into its second era. However, this season came with a noticeable tone shift from the first one that at times made it feel like you were watching a completely different show. While season 1 struggled at times to find its footing, plot-wise it was absolutely insane in the best way possible — balls to the wall crazy (check out some of the craziest plot points from season 1 here). Season 2 contained all the action of season 1, with even higher stakes on the line, but I just don’t think it was possible to match the shock factor of season 1, choosing to move forward with a more measured, metered tone.

This season’s plot was focused on taking down Adolf Hitler, who was shockingly revealed to be alive in quite literally the last minute of the season 1 finale. Though the storyline was intriguing, the pacing and lead-up to the main conflict felt slower and more ambling than one might expect for a season that only touts eight episodes — less than the first season had. Despite the new knowledge concerning Hitler and Braun as well as the return of Greg Austin as the frighteningly unhinged Travis plus a new mission, everything doesn’t truly pick up until episode 6, leaving lots of information to be crammed into a very short window; even then, the narrative is broken up by the seventh episode — which is truly spectacular with its pseudo-anthology-style storyline in relation to the rest of the season, but not at all plot-driven. Once you hit that point of episode 6, you’re locked in, but by that point, there’s not much story left to be had.

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Additionally, I found the way season 2 was structured to be extremely jarring at times, pulling the pacing in two completely opposite directions. After last season’s truly shocking reveal that Al Pacino’s Meyer Offerman was none other than infamously sadistic Nazi doctor The Wolf (and his subsequent death), there was no way to bring Pacino back without going back in time. And while it’s understandable wanting to hold on to Pacino’s acting prowess which is once again on display for another season, his past storyline didn’t necessarily add anything vital to the overarching theme of the season. While it reveals context for how the Hunters came to be (and a certain event that you will be shocked to discover), the constant flip-flopping between 1975 (when Meyer’s story this season takes place), 1977 (when season 1 took place), and 1979 (present-day when season 2 takes place) wasn’t always easily visually distinguishable and could make the transition between storylines discombobulating at times. The two fundamentally different stories being told (Jonah’s vs. Meyer’s) also left viewers torn in two different directions. Separately, both plotlines were fine enough, but together, they both took something away from one another by pulling the audience’s attention in opposite directions due to the lack of a unifying factor.

That’s not to say that season 2 had no redeeming qualities. Having truly stepped into the leading role this season with Meyer out of the picture in Jonah’s timeline, Logan Lerman brings a more mature, confident, and darker feel to Jonah than the innocent kid we saw fighting to find his way in season 1 (along with a truly spectacular hairstyle — a most sincere thank you to the show’s stylists. You’re doing God’s work), allowing him to shine. The actor continues to deliver at a high level, simultaneously bringing nuance, mystery, and earnestness to a character that’s changed quite a bit in the last few years.

Amongst the hunt for Hitler, audiences also get to catch up with the Hunters’ lives on a personal level — which have all gone in wildly different directions than when we last left them. Jerrikka Hinton and Tiffany Boone bring a genuine, grounding feel to the season as the two continue to struggle in their own separate ways to find what’s right for them in this journey, Millie toeing the line of darkness we saw Jonah flirting with in season 1 and Roxy still grappling with the dealing urges to protect the world and protect herself for her daughter. Josh Radnor is as eccentric as ever as the one and only lovable Lonny Flash (whose story kind of takes a complete tonal 180 this season) while Louis Ozawa’s Joe finds himself in a terribly sticky season-long situation post-kidnapping that has you anxious for him the entire way through. And after all this time, audiences finally get to know what shenanigans Sister Harriet was up to last season.

Some of the characters’ new arcs felt like branching off in an entirely different direction (a lot of seemingly random romance thrown in there) while some didn’t, but any deviations weren’t anything you couldn’t roll with. Additionally, the newcomers definitely brought a different feel to the screen, shaking up the OG team’s dynamics. I personally adored Tommy Martinez as the kind and sensitive (doesn’t seem like adjectives you’d attribute to a Nazi hunter, but it worked) Georges and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Chava, though abrasive at times (for valid reasons), definitely pushed the narrative forward in unexpected ways — though at times, it felt like the writers were trying to pseudo-replace Meyer. The ensemble as a whole continued to deliver this season, and we thankfully got to see rather rounded-out arcs for most everyone (Jonah’s ending is a bit ambiguous) rather than leaving off on a terrible cliffhanger, which is a blessing in this day and age of rather abrupt cancellations.

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Overall, I found the final season of Hunters to be an entertaining enough watch, satisfying in that you’re not left with any looming questions from season 1, and that you can rest easy knowing once and for all what happened to the characters you loved so much from the show’s initial run. However, I just don’t think this production ever got to truly realize its full potential. Whether that was because of COVID cutting a grand narrative plan short or writing that could never quite manage to completely find its footing in terms of narrative balance, I’m confident that viewers will find this season to be an overall satisfying conclusion to the series all things considered.

The final season of Hunters releases tomorrow, January 13, on Prime Video. Season 2 stars Logan Lerman, Jerrika Hinton, Lena Olin, Carol Kane, Josh Radnor, Greg Austin, Tiffany Boone, Louis Ozawa, Kate Mulvany, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Al Pacino. As always, stay tuned for more updates and new content. Need a refresher of what went down in season 1 before you binge season 2? Check out our season 1 recap as well as the rest of our content on the show.

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