When will shady organisations learn that if they’re going to breed a squadron of teen girl super soldiers, their range of genetic enhancements needs to include an off switch? Yes, teenagers can fly under the assassin radar (as Hanna CIA baddie John Carmichael says, “Who’s really going to suspect an 18-year-old freshman in pigtails of state-sponsored murder?), but rebellion is built in. Brainwashed or not, at some point your murder-optimised darling will turn on you and when she does, you’ll rue the day you made her quite such an efficient killing machine.
Hanna, UTRAX, the forest, Erik and Marissa
Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles), the sole surviving member of the 2003 UTRAX generation of wolf-DNA-enhanced babies, is the most efficient killing machine of all. She has every genetic improvement plus a lifetime of survival and combat training from former military man Erik Heller (Joel Kinnaman). He was a UTRAX recruiter who developed qualms about his job convincing vulnerable women to sign over their unborn babies for experimentation by the CIA. So when Johanna Petrescu asked him to help get her daughter back, Erik fell in love with her and rescued the child from the secret Romanian facility, but Johanna died in a car crash during the escape attempt. Erik raised the girl – Hanna – as his daughter alone in the Polish forest, where he taught her to be lethal and to trust nobody.
After Erik’s break-in, UTRAX shut down the programme and ordered boss Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos) to salt the earth. Following orders, she killed the remaining babies by lethal injection and incinerated their bodies – an act that’s haunted her ever since. She was told that UTRAX was finished and would remain a secret, and so she went back to the CIA, always keeping one eye open for Erik and the missing child.
(Unbeknownst to Marissa, one year after Erik rescued Hanna, the programme was restarted under the name UTRAX Regenesis. Another cohort of female babies were sourced from adoption agencies and elsewhere, and for fifteen years were known only by numbers, experimented on, medicated and trained to kill. Why? Because UTRAX founders The Pioneer Group – a splinter cell of Nationalist Radicals in the CIA – planned to use the girls to assassinate a raft of young political activists before they grew up and changed the world.)
Season One: Sophie, Berlin and UTRAX Regenesis
Aged 16, Hanna grew curious about life outside the Polish forest where Erik raised her. He agreed to show her the world on the condition that they first find and kill Marissa Wiegler – the woman he says killed Hanna’s mother – before she finds and kills them. Wiegler though, was one step ahead. She discovered their whereabouts and captured Hanna, sending her to a Moroccan outpost for questioning. In the first of many efficiently bloody escapes, Hanna overpowered the guards, got out, and befriended holidaying English teenager Sophie (Rhianne Barreto), with whose family she travelled to France.
Marissa employed the shady services of ex-intelligence agent Jacobs (Andy Nyman) to hunt Hanna down. He found her in France but she fought off his goons and escaped to Berlin where she reunited with Erik. His ex-army pals hid the pair, and they enacted a plan to kidnap Marissa and use her to gain safe passage for Erik and Hanna out of the country. Erik killed Jacobs and tried to leave with Hanna on the plane that Marissa arranged, but Hanna had learned that he wasn’t her biological father and so refused to leave. Instead, Hanna smuggled herself to England where she was hidden by Sophie. Meanwhile, CIA agent Jerome Sawyer, who was behind UTRAX Regenesis, freed Marissa and captured Erik.
In England, Hanna lost her virginity to a boy named Anton and fell out with Sophie over him. Marissa tracked her down via social media, and took her back to the continent, where Erik (also no slouch when it comes to bloody escapes) broke out, hacked a computer that revealed the existence of UTRAX Regenesis, then tracked Marissa down and escaped with Hanna. Erik told Hanna the truth about her past as an experimentation subject for UTRAX, took her to see her mother’s grave in Romania, and to meet her biological father, who offered her a home with his family. Hanna rejected that in order to go and help the girls in the second UTRAX programme, which Marissa was shocked to learn about through Erik.
Hanna and Erik broke in to the UTRAX facility and attempted to rescue the brainwashed girls but only one – Trainee 249/Clara Mahan (Yasmin Monet Prince) – came with them. Hanna used the computer to show Clara her real name and that her birth mother was still alive. The other girls refused to disobey orders and were transported to a new facility. Hanna, Clara and Erik fought their way out but Erik was shot and Sawyer held them at gunpoint until Marissa arrived, killed Sawyer and let them leave. As a cover story, she shot herself in the leg and said that Erik had killed Sawyer. Erik died of his injuries, and Hanna buried him next to her mother’s grave after accepting him as her father. She and Clara escaped.
Season two: The Meadows, Clara, Sandy, Barcelona and the Pioneer hit list
Hanna returned to her forest life with Clara, whose drive to find her mother led her right back into the hands of Marissa Wiegler, now back with the CIA. Clara was taken to join the rest of her trainee cohort in English facility ‘The Meadows’. There, the super-soldiers were given new names, fake family histories and regular clothes, and educated about popular culture in addition to their combat training. Clara was renamed ‘Clemency’ but initially resisted integration because she wanted to find her mother, whom they said was dead.
Eventually, Clara accepted her place at The Meadows and found a friendship group with ‘Sandy’, ‘Jules’ and ‘Helen’, all of whom approached their new identities in different ways. Jules questioned their reality, educated herself about socio-political issues and came out as gay, while Sandy (Aine Rose Daly) swallowed her WASP backstory and found comfort in confiding online to her ‘mom’ , who was really CIA operative Terri (Cherrelle Skeete) who’d created the girls’ false families and posed as their family members online. Terri wrote a letter purporting to be from Clara’s mother when she gave her up for adoption, which helped Clara to accept her situation.
Marissa’s loyalty to the CIA at this point was being rightly questioned by her boss John Carmichael (Dermot Mulroney). Hanna sought out Marissa in Paris as part of her search for Clara, and Marissa sheltered and hid Hanna. She dyed her hair blonde, sourced a false passport and arranged for her to go and live in Canada with her former professor and his wife. Hanna though, was determined to find Clara. During their time in the forest, she had extracted a medication implant from Clara’s arm, and followed the name on it to a medical trial. Posing as another girl, she underwent the trial, during which she hallucinated and became violent, but also learned of the existence of The Meadows. Marissa tracked Hanna down and they planned to travel to The Meadows together until Hanna discovered that Marissa was lying to her about being in contact with her boss Carmichael, so Hanna attacked her and went to The Meadows alone.
There, Hanna was given the German identity Mia Wolff, but resisted integration. She was there to break Clara out, and couldn’t understand why Clara had chosen to accept her false reality. Marissa teamed up with Mannion, part of a resistance group aiming to take down UTRAX Regenesis and The Pioneers, and infiltrated The Meadows, where she was taken prisoner. Clara betrayed Hanna and their escape attempts were foiled.
The previous year, a drunk Carmichael had tried to recruit government attorney Robert Gelder to the Pioneer Group, and showed him the hit list of targets. Gelder refused on the basis of the targets’ young ages, but photographed the list and planned to leak it to a journalist in London. When Carmichael learned that his indiscretion was about to be exposed, he sent Hanna and Jules on an undercover mission to London, to find out where the meeting was planned to take place, and assassinate the journalist. He also sent Sandy and Clara undercover to Barcelona, where Robert Gelder’s daughter Kat was studying at university. In London, Hanna met with Mannion’s resistance group and tried to stop the assassination, but Jules was onto her and carried it out alone.
In Barcelona, Hanna tried to talk Clara out of assassinating Gelder by telling her how to find her real mother. In Gelder’s hotel room, Clara refused to carry out the killing, so Sandy – ever loyal to Carmichael – did it and ran away, leaving Hanna, Clara and Gelder’s daughter Kat, who escaped to a house in the Barcelona hills. Hanna returned to the hotel and got the hit list Gelder was planning to leak. There, she met Marissa, who had been kept prisoner by Carmichael until two of his people posed as resistance members to ‘break her out’, which was all just a ruse so Marissa would lead them to Hanna and the list. Hanna recognised Carmichael’s goon and warned Marissa, who shot her way out.
The girls’ hideaway in the hills was discovered by Leo from The Meadows, and he tried to kill Clara but ended up being accidentally shot by Carmichael. Then Marissa turned up, shot the CIA agents, helped Hanna, Clara and Kat escape, and made a deal with Carmichael. She wouldn’t tell his bosses that he was the one who let the target list slip to the whistle-blower if he took her and Hanna back so they can destroy the Pioneers from the inside. Kat flew home, Clara reunited with her real mother, and went off into the sunset on a fake passport. Back at The Meadows, Terri discovered Clara’s plan to meet her mother, but covered it up to allow her to escape.
All of which sets the stage in season three for Hanna and Marissa to attempt to stop the Pioneers from carrying out their world-changing assassinations using UTRAX assassins, perhaps with help from Terri and Carmichael, perhaps with hindrance from Sandy. Might redemption for Marissa, and a normal life for Hanna, be possible?
All episodes of Hanna season 3 will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on Wednesday the 24th of November.