The Call To Action
Hunters is an interesting series, one that tackles a pretty controversial topic that’s almost certainly going to turn heads and annoy a good portion of people. The dark, comedic tone and bloated episode length may put some people off but the opening 90 minute segment does well to set the scene to come, introducing our main players and preparing for the fight ahead.
Some of the dialogue is a little contrived and cheesy but the slick editing and smooth camera work are impressive enough to get invested in the story, even if this first episode serves as a “Call To Action” rather than getting to the meat of the narrative.
Episode 1 of Hunters begins in Maryland, June 1977. A man named Biff hosts a barbeque but one of the guests starts shaking, shouting at him and calling him the Butcher and a Nazi. With his facade broken, Biff grabs a gun from under the barbeque and proceeds to shoot everyone in the vicinity apart from the shaking lady, whom he addresses personally before eventually shooting her in the face.
Following the shoot-out, we skip over to Brooklyn. Three boys, including Jonah, leave the movie theatre as they discuss heroes and villains, before engaging in a drug deal with a boy called Dennis. Things go awry though when he tries to play him but Jonah stands his ground and refuses to give in.
Back home, Jonah’s grandmother finds his drugs in his bag and talks to him about his gift, along with how he needs to get out of the drug game. That evening however, he’s awoken in the middle of the night and rushes downstairs where he finds his Grandmother lying dead in her chair, having been shot.
In Washington D.C. a man with a briefcase named Travis arrives at the barbeque massacre as Biff talks about racism and ways to twist the law in America. He hands Travis the gun and an envelope, letting him shoot him in the arm to give the illusion that he’s the sole survivor of a shoot-out.
A bitter and angry Jonah sits through the funeral for his Grandmother before sitting outside on the porch at the wake and stewing in his emotions. Meyer Offerman arrives and they talk about the man he claimed to have seen leave, mentioning how he and Jonah’s Grandmother were originally in the camps together. “Living well is the best revenge”, he utters before handing Jonah his number and driving away.
Inside, Jonah looks over his Grandmother’s possessions, including several hand-written letters. As he reads them, we cut back in time to the camps as we see the devastation first-hand. Meyer saved her life and that’s how these two knew each other.
After a particularly weird segment involving a woman in Florida showering, we cut to New York City to find an investigator called Millie Morris given this woman’s case, whom we learn was gassed inside the shower.
Jonah winds up arrested for trying to score drugs but in the station, he finds a pattern on the wall regarding the location for a number of rape cases the officers are working on, telling them the killer is using a bus route. As he leaves the station, he berates the police for their lack of action in finding his grandmother’s killer.
Instead, he heads up to Meyer’s house and they sit together, playing chess as we cut to a surreal, nightmarish segment involving human chess pieces, going on to mention how he managed to slice an X into one of the officer’s neck. After their conversation, Jonah finds a hidden compartment in the bookshelf and proceeds to open it. Inside, he finds pictures and a number of investigative pieces surrounding the Nazis – including a picture of the car belonging to his Grandmother’s killer. However, Meyer arrives and tells him to leave, warning that this is too dangerous for him to pursue.
A grief-stricken Jonah leaves and heads to a diner where he orders chicken soup – but it’s not the same as his Grandmother’s. As he wallows in his own grief, Millie heads to NASA and interviews a couple of men, one of whom giving her a warning regarding the slippery slope she’s starting to descend for the investigation.
Jonah goes after the owner of the car from his picture but bites off more than he can chew. The man tasers him, proceeding to tie him down and interrogating him over his Grandmother and who sent him. After piercing his chest with several darts, a knock at the door saves him, giving Jonah enough time to blind-side the shop owner, leading to a nasty skirmish between them. Thankfully, Meyer arrives and stabs the Nazi through the neck, proceeding to divulge everything he knows about the Nazis and how they aren’t actually all gone – they’re operating in America in secret.
As the episode closes out, Meyer introduces his group to Jonah, and they toast to his arrival.
With a 90 minute opening episode, Hunters takes its time to get to the meat of the story but it peppers in a fair amount of slick shots and nice segments along the way. You really get a feel for 1970’s America here and these shots work beautifully against the contrasted styles. Some people may see this as messy, with the darker, violent segments juxtaposing to the bright visuals and Wes Anderson-esque scenes but to be honest, it works quite well to symbolize this bright facade hiding a dark underbelly.
The topic of Nazis operating in America will almost certainly ruffle some feathers, with some lamenting the humour and way this has been spun but if you can get past that, there’s some good stuff here that makes Hunters a really interesting series. It won’t be for everyone, and if you’re not sold on the first episode then that’s unlikely to change going forward, but if you’re sold on this concept, there’s undoubtedly a wild ride to come.