Binge Break: Finally, a fresh superhero origin story in Hunters

Al Pacino and Logan Lerman lead the haunting story that asks what makes a hero — and what makes a villain.


Kayli Reese, Managing Editor

It takes exactly one minute and fifteen seconds for Amazon’s new Jordan Peele-produced series Hunters to get super unnerving, and that feeling doesn’t even really go away for the next 10 episodes. By the time I got to the end, I was screaming at my laptop screen.

A show set in the ‘70s about a group of covert, self-proclaimed Nazi hunters tracking down former members of the Third Reich now living normal lives in America was going to be heavy. I also figured it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it was going to be this good.

Logan Lerman has graced my screen again for the first time in eight years, which was much too long to be apart. Somehow, he’s grown into an even better actor since his Perks of Being a Wallflower  days. He can manage to grip my heart with a look of pain and make me laugh with his delivery of expletive-filled lines. (Plus, there’s a dance break in one episode to Staying Alive, and this man cannot dance. It’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.)

Lerman  stars as Jonah Heidelbaum, whose superhero/anti-hero origin story starts when his grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, is murdered in their apartment. It leads him to the Hunters, a mismatched group of individuals with the shared goal of revenge.

What’s refreshing about this origin story, however, is that Jonah isn’t always convinced he’s working for a good cause and isn’t immediately down with the excessive violence. But the image of his grandmother in the uniform she was forced to wear at Auschwitz reminds him of the injustice allowed to roam in the world, even decades after the liberation of the camps.

Jonah’s grandmother was the one who founded the Hunters, Jonah discovers, along with her will-they-or-won’t-they counterpart Meyer (Al Pacino). I found Pacino in this role both an utterly terrifying and comforting presence, which led me to picture his character as a sort of god. He’s commanding, but not overwhelmingly so. He lets the story breathe and, rightfully, gives Lerman leading man status. The last episode of the season, however — that belongs to Pacino.

The show jumps back and forth between countries and time periods, often contradicting the ‘70s comic book vibes Pacino, Lerman, and company are living in with bleak, gray scenes from concentration camps. The torture shown in the camps often put me off my lunch, but it’s an important reminder of the underlying horror beneath the sparkle of the rest of the show.

Adding to the horror are the Nazis infiltrating the U.S. government and living lives of luxury, free from any punishment the past was supposed to bring. Travis (Greg Austin), is especially chilling as a man who doesn’t know how to smile and likes to lecture the people he tortures with the horrific ideas about the world he’s had implanted in his head.

Travis is also tracking FBI agent Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton), who creeps closer and closer during her investigation to undercovering the lies Nazis have been spreading. Watching Travis follow her as she tracks down the people he works for is the world’s tensest game of cat-and-mouse.

So many twists and questionable loyalties throughout the whole show lead to one of the most bingeable, entertaining shows I’ve seen in a while. Lerman, Pacino, and a comic book-esque story reminding us what it means to be a hero and what we sacrifice for the people we love: it doesn’t get better than this.