Jaguar 2021 Tv Series Review Netflix
A saga of Nazi war criminals on the run from determined pursuers, “Jaguar” is set in the 1960s, a period that saw another such story. It was in May 1960 that the Mossad tracked Adolf Eichmann down in an industrial neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where he had hoped to live the rest of his life in safe anonymity. It was not to be. The chief architect of the Final Solution, as the Nazis’ plan for the annihilation of all the Jews of Europe came to be known, was quietly bundled onto a plane to Israel and faced the dreaded forces he regularly imagined were pursuing him. They were doing just that. A fictional series, “Jaguar” manages to incorporate the impact of Eichmann’s fate on the consciousness of certain of its characters—former members of the Nazi military who had decided that a life in Spain would be far more comfortable for them than the Germany they left behind.
Eichmann’s kidnapping by the Israelis, these Germans brood, was an outrage, an illegality. Still, there’s little that seems to spoil the good cheer of the Germans, who dine regularly at one posh Spanish restaurant. For some, their connection with Spain went back a long way. During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, Gen. Francisco Franco’s troops had defeated the Loyalists—the anti-fascist side—with significant help from German fighter planes sent to fight the Loyalists. Franco’s government proclaimed itself neutral during World War II, which did not prevent the formation of an army of Spanish volunteers who would fight alongside German troops. Some 47,000 would enlist. As portrayed in the series, references to their sacrifice for a great cause are not rare in the society of Germans living in Spain.
“Jaguar” effectively portrays these Nazis who still harbor powerful feelings for the Third Reich. We witness celebrations of Adolf Hitler’s birthday in Spain by his still ardent devotees, who express the faith that he’s keeping a protective eye on them. There are testaments to the great gift this leader bestowed on the German nation—the gift of belief, a dream of their greatness.
But there is a society of another sort that has made its way to Spain in these years—survivors of the Nazi death camps. Among them, a number bent on the sort of goal that drove the Israelis who captured Eichmann. The first one we meet is Isabel Garrido (a haunting Blanca Suárez, a survivor of Mauthausen, who is working as a waitress in an upscale restaurant patronized by German customers. One night, as the guests are exclaiming over the sauerbraten Isabel has just served, she’s summoned to the table of an elegantly tailored diner who wants to know if she’s German. No, she quietly answers, she is not. But, the diner politely persists, she sounds as though she had lived in Germany a long time. Neighbors in Isabel’s apartment building similarly sense that there is something different, something hidden about this quiet and dignified young woman. There is, of course.
We have a strong hint of what it is in a brilliant scene harrowing in its unbearable clarity. “Jaguar” summons the reality of the deportation to the Nazi death camps through the simple means of a subway ride, taken decades after the war years by a passenger in a safe city worlds away from danger. That journey is soon transformed into a hellish vision—a world of terrorized men, women and children screaming in the darkness of a packed cattle car making its way to the horrors that await them. Isabel, that subway passenger, is back in that sealed train whose doors suddenly open; the people who have been jammed together for days rush to those doors, even as an SS officer shouts for men only. But Isabel, at this time a child of about 6, rushes out of the boxcar after her father. We see the desperate child, pursued by attack dogs, who will not stop running toward her father. And, finally, the face of the German officer who shoots and kills him. His name is Otto Bachmann (a sterling version of blood-chilling malignity delivered by Stefan Weinert ). Isabel will spend the better part of her life looking for Bachmann. And in this she will not be alone.
She will join a team of camp survivors on the trail of Bachmann—and of Aribert Heim, a Nazi doctor at Mauthausen responsible for hundreds of sadistic murders. She has come to be a part of their efforts—her code name Jaguar—despite the suspicions she aroused in them, namely the fear that this reserved woman might be something of a lone wolf with her own plans to rid the world of Bachmann, which would endanger the group’s larger mission for apprehending war criminals. Isabel’s absorption into the team will require a bit of adaptation, some of it somewhat rough. She learns from the others that there are ways to endure, to live.
The power of “Jaguar” is considerable, no small thanks to the caustic history it recounts, particularly about things like the “ratlines,” networks devoted to helping Nazi war criminals to flee. They were the product of people, of forces, whose detestation of communists was so much greater than the hostility they felt—if any—for some of the most notorious perpetrators of Nazi war crimes. The activities of the individuals and agencies who helped them escape are, for all their dismal nature, history worth revealing. And remembering.