“While Visions of Safta Danced in His Head” finds the best blend yet of historical injustice and stylized revenge, while another personal loss refocuses Jonah.
This recap of Hunters Season 1, Episode 3, “While Visions of Safta Danced in His Head”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Hunters Episode 3 allows the team and their various relationships to take center stage as Meyer (Al Pacino), having facilitated the meet-and-greet, takes on a slightly reduced role. This frees up space for a burgeoning romance, a deeply personal loss for Jonah (Logan Lerman), and probably the best episode so far in terms of how it blends its depiction of serious historical injustices with its present-day revenge plot, even if there’s a brief fantasy song-and-dance sequence in which Jonah and his friends get down to “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
We begin, as ever, with a flashback, this one triggered by Jonah reading one of his grandmother’s letters and detailing young Ruth’s (Annie Hägg) dehumanizing introduction to Auschwitz and meeting of a young Meyer (Zach Schor). It’s more effective than usual in that it emphasizes the persecution of the Jews as opposed to the atrocities of their persecutors; the sequence garners sympathy rather than righteous anger, though a ghostly vision of Ruth continues to plague Jonah throughout “While Visions of Safta Danced in His Head”, a reminder of the injustice that must be avenged.
An early action scene welcomes us back to the present day, as Lonny (Josh Radnor), Roxy (Tiffany Boone) and Joe (Louis Ozawa) return to Holstedder’s house and get into it with a female Nazi – Roxy kills her with a chair leg during the scuffle. The show hasn’t dealt with hand-to-hand fisticuffs much so it’s nice to see it here in Hunters Episode 3.
We’re also introduced to Levi Libstein (Chip Zien), Ruth’s friend and lawyer, who furthers the recurring notion that Ruth was fundamentally courageous and that Jonah might have, on some level, inherited that trait. Levi’s story of Ruth saving the life of his future wife is more valuable than the pittance Jonah inherits from his grandmother’s estate; in a story with such frequent and obvious biblical allusions, Ruth is becoming more and more the Christ-like figure of the narrative.
“While Visions of Safta Danced in His Head” also included the best fantasy interlude thus far, fashioned as a kid’s TV announcement in which Lonny and an adolescent African-American girl went over the tell-tale signs of how to spot a Nazi, including the dead giveaway salute and being white. It was a genuinely funny diversion, and while it was juxtaposed with a rather serious development involving the preparation of bombs, this feels like a good use of the show’s oddball tone.
Its lack of subtlety can be seen elsewhere, such as at Babel Comics, Jonah’s place of work from which he ejects Meyer since he’s still angry about the seemingly senseless slaying of Holstedder. Hunters Episode 3 provides plenty of bonding time for Jonah and his friends Arthur (Caleb Emery) and Sherman (Henry Hunter Hall), who get high at Coney Island and make the show’s underlying comic book sensibilities explicit by discussing the merits of Robin as the Dark Knight’s vital tether to light and reason. You can make your own deductions about who is Batman and who is the Boy Wonder here, but it’s a discussion that resonates with Jonah. This is also the lead-in to that aforementioned Bee Gees number, but it’s cut short by the haunting appearance of young Ruth, standing out on the boardwalk in her concentration camp uniform. Neither Jonah nor the show itself can indulge in so much time-killing filler as the stakes continue to heighten.
Travis (Greg Austin) and Millie (Jerrika Hinton) find themselves on the same trail in Hunters Season 1, Episode 3, investigating the mysterious deaths of elderly war refugees, including Richter from the premiere. She’s getting closer and closer to the truth of the matter, turning up Nazi memorabilia and photos of Ruth, whom Richter was surveilling, and which of course ties the murders back to Jonah. Travis is able to remove Jonah’s nametag from a jacket found at the scene, so the most direct connection is missing, but Millie is smart and determined enough to put two and two together.
“While Visions of Safta Danced in His Head” also continues to flesh out the individual members of the team. Joe and Roxy seem to be developing romantic feelings for each other. Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvany) is strongly implied to be a double-agent, despite having traced Richter and Holstedder’s finances to a Swiss bank founded by a Nazi; she makes a phone call warning someone in German that the noose is tightening. Mindy and Murray (Carol Kane and Saul Rubinek) reveal more of Meyer’s relationship with Ruth, and also discover hidden Morse code messages in the German lullabies which suggest the Nazis have already orchestrated several world-changing events – including the JFK assassination – and have another planned for July 13, 1977 – two weeks from now, and the date that was first referenced in the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode.
There is more division among the Nazi ranks, too. Travis and The Colonel (Lena Olin) don’t trust Biff (Dylan Baker), and the Colonel’s trigger-man Tobias (Jonno Davies) doesn’t trust Travis, and Biff’s mother-in-law Dottie (Celia Weston) arrives to help him through his grief following the deaths of his family – all details that are sure to resurface in subsequent episodes.
Hunters Episode 3 ends on a tragic note: At Babel Comics, Travis murders Jonah’s friend Arthur. The spectral figure of Ruth stands over the body as Jonah grieves, a reminder of how personal the story is becoming for him. This will likely be the motivation he needs.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.