In fact, much of the second season feels flattened or repetitive, shucking entire elements from the first season (the exploitation/comic-book element, which contrasted Jonah’s innocent visions of revenge with the harsh, soul-eroding realities) for something more conventional. Granted, the cast is still having fun, especially Kane, who does a lot with very little (save for a jaw-dropping monologue in the last episode, she hardly gets any character beats to work with), and Greg Austin, who eats up the scenery as Travis, the Third Reich’s resident Anton Chigurh-type. Jennifer Jason Leigh even joins the cast as Jonah’s long-lost Nazi hunter aunt Chava, cagey and calculating as only she can be. Olin feels sidelined compared to last season, but it’s devilish fun to watch her Eva scheme to usurp the Reich out from under feeble Adolf’s tiny little mustache.
But the writing still feels overstuffed, Weil and his writing team pinballing from solemn reverence for the victims of the Holocaust to cheeky Mod Squad (Chabad Squad?) antics. Subplots and characters are picked up and dropped unceremoniously, and deep-seated character conflicts resolve at the pull of a trigger.
There’s something of “The Boys” in “Hunters”’s tongue-in-cheek atmosphere, from its giddy bits of gore to style parodies that send up everything from “The Sound of Music” to cheesy ‘70s sci-fi flicks. The penultimate episode is a standalone fairy tale set in 1942, about an elderly German couple and their moss-covered dream house. In isolation, it’s a really neat hour of television, feeling like the opening of “Inglourious Basterds” stretched out to an hour and directed by Wes Anderson (complete with cross-section dioramas of the quiet, happy lives the couple and their Jewish charges lived together, separated by walls). But then the hour ends, and you’re left wondering whether it was worth sacrificing one of the show’s final hours for this.
To its credit, the show is diverting to watch from moment to moment. It’s shot with heaps of atmosphere, the action scenes are well-staged, and Rupert Gregson-Williams steps into the composer’s chair for a bombastic, energetic score (and new, invigorating title theme). But you can feel the strain of a show waiting too long to tell its next chapter, only to be told it has to wrap everything up in just a few episodes. Not just the stories of our characters, both living and (especially in Pacino’s case) dead, but of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.