Warning: contains spoilers for the Hanna season three finale.
At some point on the drawing board for the Hanna season three finale, there was perhaps a version of the ending in which Hanna, her assassination-target-turned-lover Abbas and his six-year-old daughter Nadiya enjoy a sun-kissed moment at a coastal Mediterranean villa with whitewashed walls and a garden planted with orange trees and grape vines. That was the fantasy Hanna and Abbas created after spending their first night together in the safe house where he was hiding from Utrax assassins.
Instead, the season three finale had Hanna say goodbye to Abbas and Nadiya at Vienna airport, ushering them towards CIA white-hats Carl and Terri to receive their new identities and government protection. Abbas reminded Hanna about their shared fantasy future but she told him that she couldn’t go with them. She had to begin again somewhere nobody knows her to escape everything that had happened. “Maybe one day, you’ll have escaped enough to come back,” says Abbas. Hanna told him she hoped so and walked away.
Where is Hanna heading? To Boston, Massachusetts on a US passport under the new name ‘Grace Elder’. When the customs official asked if she’d be staying with friends there, she answered “hopefully”. Exactly why she’s heading to Boston we don’t know (Marissa’s sister Tracy’s phone number area code places her in Chicago, so it’s not there) but that’s where her escape begins. As Hanna walked to her flight alone, her musical motif, Karen O’s Anti-Lullaby, played as a reminder of everything she’s been through.
A fresh start
Walking away, alone, to a fresh start where she could start to get over the mountain of trauma she’s experienced, is the best choice Hanna could have made for its young hero. She’s what, just 20 years old by this point? She’s spent practically every minute since leaving the forest fighting for her life, and for the lives of those she loves. She lost her mother, her adopted father, her super-soldier sister, and her deadly-enemy-turned-adoptive-mother – who died helping Hanna expose the Utrax operation to the world. Hanna has earned the chance to live in the world and work out who she is and what she wants.
If the show had fast-tracked Hanna into oven-ready domestic bliss with Abbas and Nadiya, or chosen to keep Marissa alive and let her live out life with her ersatz daughter, it wouldn’t have served its lead well. Utrax, Erik and Marissa all made Hanna into a deadly weapon; now, she gets to decide who and what she is. Being alone and free to become whomever she decides to be, is Hanna’s true happy ending.
Freedom to choose
The freedom to rebel against authority, make your own choices and forge your own identity really came to the fore as a theme in season two of Hanna with the introduction of The Meadows. That’s where Utrax’s teen assassins were expected to blindly accept the false lives created for them, and to unquestioningly follow horrific orders. In season three, when Hanna watches political activist Abbas speak, his talk of being spoon-fed lies by the establishment chimes with her. She’s been lied to her entire life, even by the people she loved and trusted. Hanna is struck by Abbas’ words and passion, which is all part of her attraction to him. Older and already with a firm grip on his political identity and beliefs, Abbas would be a benign but nonetheless eclipsing figure for Hanna at this point in her life. If she’d jumped straight into a life with him, would it really be so different from being told what to believe by Utrax, or Erik, or Marissa, or any of the other figures who attempted to mould her into their vision?
On which subject, season three introduced Ray Liotta as Utrax’s shadowy Chairman Gordon Evans, the ultimate domineering ‘father’ who tried to shape the girls into his personal weapons. He’d had a trial run decades earlier, we learned, on Marissa Wiegler herself, or ‘Mary’ as her called his abused daughter. For decades, Marissa’s sadistic and estranged father had been pulling the strings on her career without her knowledge. He was behind the Pioneer group, and he presumably gave Marissa the traumatising order to kill the Utrax baby subjects after Erik rescued the infant Hanna.
That story choice positioned Marissa closer to the Utrax subjects, all of them having been traumatised at the hands of the same cruel figurehead. (There’s a sickening suggestion that Marissa was sexually as well as physically abused by her father, particularly when – creating a diversion for Hanna at HQ in Vienna – she asked “Daddy’s new pet” Brianna Stapleton, “Can he still get hard?”) While we’ve been watching Hanna, Clara and Jules reject controlling influences and question the narratives they’ve been fed, we’ve also been watching Mireille Enos’ Marissa do the same. She’s been on her own questioning journey, which culminated in her vanquishing the demonic father who shaped her.
While they’ve all been fighting to break free, Marissa has also been fighting for redemption, and in the season three finale, she achieved it. She killed her despicable father, stood down the soldiers about to execute Hanna, Abbas, Nadiya and rebel assassin Jules, and exposed the Utrax programme to the world, thereby saving the lives of the thousands of potential teenage assassination targets that would have been killed if Max’s algorithm had been put into practice.
All of that was distilled into an intimate moment when Hanna knelt by a dying Marissa, who’d been shot in the fight with her father. When Hanna asked how bad the injury was, Marissa repeated “It’s done”, perhaps referring to her years-long battle against her father, the fight against Utrax, and her own life. Each said they loved the other, then Hanna thanked Marissa and repeated three times “You are good” before kissing her on the forehead as she died. Hanna’s forgiveness, love and benediction was what Marissa needed to find peace. And Hanna needed Marissa to die in order to start afresh. If Marissa had survived, then like Abbas, she would also have proved too powerful an influence, and too great a reminder of the past for Hanna to be truly free.
With Utrax and Max’s hit-list-making algorithm exposed, the Chairman, Marissa and Sandy dead (shot by Jules to stop Sandy from killing Hanna, Abbas and Nadiya) free is what Hanna and the other girls are now. Free to start again, free to process the past, and maybe one day, when Hanna’s ready and if she so chooses, free to live in a whitewashed house by the sea with orange trees and grape vines. That’s up to her.
Hanna Season 3 is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.