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Hanna: Season Three

"Marissa, even if you gave me the life I've always wanted, I wouldn't know what to do with it. I only know how to fight."

Like most young people in her age range, Hanna is in the process of figuring out what to do with her life. Before she can do that, however, she has to first re-infiltrate the Utrax program, derail the planned series of assassinations, take down a rogue faction within the CIA, and manage not to get herself killed in the process.

**Some spoilers ahead**

At the end of season two, Marissa and Hanna turned the tables on Utrax head John Carmichael and forced him into helping take down the organization. Hanna, in her Utrax guise as "Mia Wolf," rejoins the trainees at The Meadows, while Marissa supports her and directs Carmichael from the outside.

Utrax is about to become fully operational, with the trainees dispersing throughout Europe to begin assassinating people identified as threats to national security. The final run-up is being made under the supervision of Brianna Stapleton (Chloe Pirrie), who has pushed Carmichael out of the top spot in the project. She reports to a mysterious figure known only as "The Chairman" (Ray Liotta), who heads a rogue faction in the CIA responsible for Utrax and other shady dealings.

But all is not sweetness and light (metaphorically speaking) in Utrax-land. The targets have been picked out by an AI algorithm which surveils people as young as 13, and purports to predict which ones will eventually engage in "subversive" activity in the future based on their social media comments and school projects. (Shades of Person of Interest's Machine.) Ethan Williams (Sam Swainsbury), a CIA analyst who worked on developing the AI, became uncomfortable with the project and ended up on the target list as a result. Terri Miller, the CIA psychologist who built the Utrax trainees' cover identities, began having her qualms about the project at the end of season two and has started acting on them. Even some of the trainees themselves are beginning to question the whole project.
It's funny. They tell you so much about what you're supposed to do before you do it. "Forensic preparation." And not one word about what happens after.

Carmichael arranges for Hanna to be assigned the first operational mission. The target is a French-Algerian political activist named Abbas Naziri (Adam Bessa). Hanna obviously isn't going to kill him, but she and Marissa have to fake it well enough that Utrax thinks she did. Then, it's on to Prague to interdict the next kill mission, and the one in Rome after that, and so on. Their efforts are complicated when Hanna starts to take a more than professional interest in Abbas, and when Marissa discovers that The Chairman is someone she knows a bit too well.

Like the first season, and the latter half of the second, season three is a complex espionage chess match in which brilliant improvisation and attention to the smallest detail can be critical. My only complaint is that it seems a little rushed, like they were cramming eight episodes of story into six – a consequence of filming in the midst of the COVID pandemic, no doubt. A couple of confrontations were resolved in a bit too deus ex machina fashion for my tastes. Still, Hanna is in full badass mode throughout, and her story arc comes to a satisfactory conclusion: neither too happy-ever-after nor too much of a downer.

Episode List

3.1 Résistance
3.2 Grape Vines and Orange Trees
3.3 Nadiya
3.4 Look Me in the Eye
3.5 Eyeliner
3.6 Do Not Sleep

Quotes

Hanna, to a suspicious Sandy: "If I'd shot at your skull in Barcelona, I would have hit it."

"What you did to me, that wasn't discipline. That was cruelty, that was rage – jealous, possessive rage. And now you want me to inflict that rage on the next generation, and I won't allow it."

"Sometimes I hate the world. Sometimes... I wish someone would just come with a magic wand and change it so that I could love it again."

"Your bosses might smile and say they're on the side of right. You have no idea who they really are."

Other Things the Algorithm Turned Up

Some of season three's best acting comes from Léann Hamon, who plays a six-year-old caught up in the adults' conflict, and who reacts to it all exactly as you'd expect a six-year-old child to react. Credit also goes to David Farr and Selina Lim for writing a realistic character, and to directors Weronika Tofilska and Anca Miruna Lazarescu for eliciting a strong performance from such a young actress.

That's no knock on the rest of the cast. Mirelle Einos is at the top of her game as Marissa is forced to confront a personal adversary from a dark time in her past, a battle in which she struggles to maintain her usual espionage agent's professional detachment. Gianna Kehl (Jules) and Áine Rose Daly (Sandy) both give strong performances as Utrax agents who begin to doubt the party line and deal with their cognitive dissonance in different ways. And, of course, Esme Creed-Miles does an excellent job of portraying a more evolved and worldly Hanna who is still, deep down inside, the same girl who grew up alone in a forest and had never seen a Snickers bar before.

There are a number of nice little callbacks to the first season. At one point, a parent and child are hiding in a forest, and their cover is blown when the curious child wanders past the boundary set by the parent – just as happened to Hanna and Erik in the very first episode. The tense dynamic between Carmichael and Stanton parallels that between Marissa and her replacement Sawyer in season one. Marissa gets some assistance from a character named Carl Meisner (Justin Salinger), who was her assistant in the Paris CIA office in season one. There's also a dog named Bruno, the same name as the (fictional) dog in Hanna's memorized cover story.

At the same time, there were a couple of what should probably be called minor continuity errors. In seasons one and two, Sawyer and Carmichael both reported directly to a woman named Nichols. In season three, there is no Nichols. We're told that Brianna Stapleton is the Chairman's second in command, and presumably the one Sawyer and Carmichael had been reporting to all along. (So why not just name the character "Brianna Nichols"?) Also, in season two, it was established that the Utrax trainees were given pharmaceutical implants containing a drug that suppressed any inhibitions toward the use of violence. Hanna and Marissa's inquiry into the source of the drugs ultimately led them to discover The Meadows – a major plot development – and when Clara cut her implant out of her own arm, it was a declaration of independence from Utrax. In season three, the implants are never once mentioned.

We really only meet three of the "subversives" on the target list: Abbas, an ecological activist (Anna Kameníková), and an idealistic engineer (Klára Cibulová) working on solving "the mysteries of the universe" for her PhD. Some reviewers have equated the ecologist character to Greta Thunberg, but there really isn't much of a resemblance. As for Abbas, his "subversive" manifesto roughly equates to "think for yourself instead of accepting the conventional narrative." (Good advice in any situation, but hardly the stuff of insurrection.) It seems the algorithm is just a touch overinclusive.

There is a rather spectacular sequence where a car drives off the side of a mountain road and plummets into a ravine. In another episode, a key confrontation takes place on a cliff overlooking a river. Both the car and the river are CGI effects, but if the showrunners hadn't pointed that out in the bonus features, I would never have been able to tell.

Conclusion

While there could easily be another chapter or two, Hanna comes to a satisfying conclusion. It remains an outstanding series anchored by a fantastic performance from Esme Creed-Miles in the title role.

Season 3: three and a half out of four activists.

Series overall: 3.863 out of 4.000 predictive algorithms. (That's a precise calculation.)

--Baby M

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