Sam Daly

Hunters (2020) s01e09 – The Great Ole Nazi Cookout of ’77

“Hunters” must’ve had the same thought I did about hammering in the point “Operation Paperclip” was a real thing as this one starts with another of the show’s overly stylized, retro PSA videos. But it doesn’t need the history lesson for this episode, because this episode is where everything comes together. “Hunters” does the penultimate episode as a wrap-up, presumably so next episode can establish what the next season’s going to be like. A ground situation refresh. Love it.

And there’s a lot in the episode. A lot of it is even good. Jerrika Hinton having a showdown with Dylan Baker, then ending up dragging Baker along as a prisoner. It’s fantastic. All of a sudden Hinton comes to life again. She’s not moping about her love life, dying mom, uncaring dad, indifferent—at beast—colleagues (though Sam Daly appears again as her only office bud), or doing a purely expository investigation thing. She’s in a suspense thriller and she’s got to deal with Dylan Baker, who’s such a wonderful bastard.

There’s a good scene for Louis Ozawa, which is just an okay one for Tiffany Boone, but Ozawa gets some nice material this episode. Josh Radnor, it turns out, is able to make Kate Mulvany a lot more than she is on her own. It’s Radnor and Mulvany who find out the Nazis are going to execute their evil plan that night. No blackout from this one, however. Just a wanting John Woo movie.

It doesn’t start like a John Woo movie, it starts with Nelson McCormick almost able to direct an infiltration sequence. The team has come together. It’s time to stop the Nazis once and for all. Al Pacino’s going after Lena Olin and Logan Lerman wants to take out young Nazi Greg Austin, which leads to a painfully bad scene between Lerman and Austin. Lerman, doing his tough guy act this episode, is really not working out with this character development. He’s not able to do any of the stuff he needs to do. Meanwhile Austin’s able to weather the weirdest stuff in this episode and still get in some great deliveries.

But when it comes to action, McCormick certainly seems to be trying to do big action and he does it rather poorly. He’s seemingly confused, with the actors armed like it’s a John Woo movie, but the costumes still the seventies stuff, and the production values wanting. If they couldn’t do it, they shouldn’t have tried. “Hunters” has its definite moments, just rarely when it really needs them.

Like when the cliffhanger has Pacino once again acting like a complete idiot who’d never be able to track down and kill a single Nazi, much less a dozen of them or whatever. He’s always not thinking of something really obvious and important. It’s frustrating.

Hunters (2020) s01e03 – While Visions Of Safta Danced In His Head

Maybe it’s just knowing Logan Lerman started in a YA franchise attempt (he was Percy Jackson) or because he’s got the dagger in his hand during the awesome opening titles every episode, but I wasn’t expecting him to have a whole “I feel super-guilty about killing these Nazis who are trying to kill us” arc.

While the team gets their introductions—Carol Kane is great, Josh Radnor is great—Lerman hangs out with his civilian friends and frets about his lifestyle choices. Except he’s also reading his safta’s journal entries from the concentration camp and her young ghost, Annie Hägg, is haunting him while he does awesome Saturday Night Fever dance routines to show how carefree life can be when you don’t think about the Nazis.

And there’s very good reason to think about the Nazis—turns out they’re plotting to do something terrible in a couple weeks, just the latest in an annual list of terrible things they’ve been doing since the end of the war—like assassinating Kennedy.

The episode also shuffles second-billed FBI agent Jerrika Hinton quite a bit. She starts the episode in imminent danger from evil little Nazi hitman Greg Austin, but ends it completely out of that danger and free to go on her expository investigation. She meets up with a fellow FBI agent—Sam Daly (Tim Daly’s kid)—and it seems like it means something, but not really. Just more treading water in her investigation, more exposition drops, then some more of her home life problems. Turns out Hinton’s closest lesbian story arc doesn’t just remind of “Mindhunter,” it directly lifts from it.

There’s some great stuff with Dylan Baker, a fantastic “how to spot a Nazi” public service announcement commercial with Radnor and guest star Hailey Stone (not all White people are Nazis but all Nazis are White people), and some iffy “you’re the Batman in our friend group” reinforcement for Lerman.

So Lerman’s not the lead I was expecting and Hinton’s pretty thankless all things considered, but “Hunters” is still sturdy.

Even if the idea of an open all night comic shop in late seventies Brooklyn is wholly absurd. I could be wrong. But… it seems absurd.

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