There is an anxiety hanging over Hunters’ season 1 finale, “Eilu v' Eilu.” Everything goes a little too well, a little too quickly. Hero Jonah Heidelbaum (cutie Logan Lerman, now in Nazi-killing mode) feels rejected by his surprise grandpa Meyer Offerman (Oscar-winner Al Pacino). Within minutes, Jonah has remembered a stray conversation with his late grandma Ruth (Jeannie Berlin), figured out the identity of Meyer’s greatest demon — Nazi doctor Wilhelm “The Wolf”' Zuchs (Christian Oliver) — kidnapped an aging Zuchs, and tied him up in Meyer’s home as a gift.
The Wolf is supposedly dead by the 42-minute mark of a 67-minute finale — something is rotten in Denmark (or, more accurately, the Upper West Side).
That’s because Meyer isn’t Meyer at all. “Meyer” is The Wolf, and has been for over three decades after murdering the real Meyer and stealing his identity. Adolf Hilter is alive, too, as the final scene of “Eilu v' Eilu” reveals. In the last scene of the episode, we see the Führer thriving in Argentina on a compound with four terrifying, nearly identical children. To make matters worse, the villainous woman viewers have known as “The Colonel '' all season is actually Hilter’s lover, Eva Braun (who in real life died with Hitler in a bunker).
In about 20 minutes, Hunters flips everything we believe we know. So we turned to the series’ co-showrunner and executive producer Nikki Toscano, who built Hunters alongside creator/co-showrunner David Weil. Keep reading for Toscano’s full explanation on “Eilu v' Eilu’s” biggest surprises — and what they mean for a possible season 2 as Hunters awaits a renewal from Amazon.
Refinery29: Was the final reveal — that Hitler is alive and living in Argentina — something that was always in the DNA of the show?
Nikki Toscano: “Once we got into the writer’s room, David had a pretty clear vision for a lot of what he wanted to show. Of course, there were some things that were subject to change once they were sent through the writer’s room machine. But [the Hitler twist] was something that early on David had planned, and we tried to preserve it as we were going through because it was such a fun reveal.”
Before we get the Hitler reveal, we see four blonde children emerge from a field behind the compound. Should we be worried about Nazi clones?
“I think that we should be worried about the entire Nazi community. If we’re forecasting anything, it’s that. And in theory it’s a throwback to Hitler youth.”
Speaking of being worried about Nazis, what did you want viewers to ultimately take away from the series by the time they get to the finale?
“Obviously anti-Semitism and racism are on the rise. We always knew we were going to be drawing a parallel between 1977 and the world we’re living in today — and how alarmingly similar those two things are.
“One of the biggest things that we were hoping people take away from the show is that anyone can wear a superhero cape. You’ve got this fantastic group of Others, all of whom have been persecuted, but not persecuted for the same reasons. It’s important for us to recognize underrepresented voices and allow them to don this superhero cape … It’s meant to be a story of empowerment.”
The show is about killing Nazis, but the memory of Ruth also appears in the finale to beg Jonah not to murder The Wolf. Where does the show fall on the morality of its premise?
“It’s a question that every one of our characters is asking themselves, with maybe the exception of the Nazi … It probably begins and ends with Jonah. Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is ask: If you’re fighting evil, do you become the monster that you’re hunting? We were always meant to ask the question, ‘Is it justice? Is it vengeance?,’ and have that be a fluid part of the conversation. When you’re battling evil for the greater good, do you have to sacrifice your soul?”
Did creator David Weil know the Meyer twist going into the official writing process?
“We knew very, very early on that was going to be something we were building to. It was really just about maintaining and managing everything that we needed to do in order to have a lot of things retroactively make sense if the audience were to watch it a second time around. Then they could see some of the clues were there without [us] blowing the reveal.”
What was the first clue you remember dropping so the twist would make sense by the end?
“There were so many little things that we planted in there from the first episode, when Meyer is washing his hands in the sink like a surgeon. There are obviously larger reveals, like what we saw in episode 5, when Tilda seemingly is seeing through Meyer and we’re not sure what that means.”
Was Tilda a Nazi? She's so obstinate that it's hard to figure out if she was, or if "Meyer" had an ulterior motive for killing her.
“She was really a Nazi. But that [concern] was the intent. The intent was asking, How far are they willing to go before they actually confirmed it? Meyer shooting her was hanging a lantern on not only who he was, but a forced confirmation of who Tilda was.”
Harriet the Nun is a character who definitely has murky loyalties, even at the end of the season. What can you tease about whom she is actually working for?
“We had always intended never to answer the question, only to ask it. If we’re lucky enough to get a season 2, her motivations and agenda will be explored. But as far as the first season goes, we know she’s doing something dubious. The question you’re meant to walk away with is, Is it for the Hunters or is it against them?”
Why did the Nazis decide to kidnap Joe, an Asian-American man, and smuggle him to Argentina for a meeting with Hitler?
“This guy has largely been a weapon his entire life. Right at the moment where he begins to question that and question if that’s what he really wants to do, who he wants to be, the Nazis recognize he could be used as a weapon for them.
"You’ll see a lot of soul searching, in terms of if there's a season 2, as far as who Joe is, what he’s motivated by, and how the Nazis are able to use him as a tool for destruction.”
The fact that all the Hunters believe Jonah and his wild-but-true explanation for killing “Meyer” is shocking. Why does everyone accept it?
“What we hoped to play most in that scene was incredulity on the part of the Hunters. At the end of the episode, if you were to pop in on them, all of them in some kind of way would be confronting the fact that they're not sure they can believe this. They may be going to Europe if there is a season 2, but I think it’s going to be a question that they continue asking.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.