Hanna (TV series 2019-)

A review by Nalini Haynes

Hanna lives in the forest with her father, like so many stories involving hero’s journeys before her. She’s a teenager and restless. Wanting more from life, she emerges to befriend a boy, bringing human hunters down upon her father and herself. Cue an international escape and evade while the pair try to find safety once more.

Seasons 1 and 2

Each season has a story arc and a satisfying ending that progresses Hanna’s character development. However, there are “because plot” pivots, some of which are extremely aggravating.

In season 1, Hanna finds a building – think Dark Angel’s institution for genetically modified super soldiers – and frees the inmates. However, they don’t know her, don’t know that she is one of them, and they’re used to receiving orders. And they’re drugged up to the eyeballs, spoon-fed explicit instructions and taught to obey.

Super-soldiers or super-dependents?

Elements of training in Hanna appear to only serve the purpose of differentiating Hanna from Dark Angel, to Hanna’s detriment. Where Max and her cohort in Dark Angel were drilled and trained to be soldiers, the girls in Hanna are drilled, sure, but they’re doped up to the eyeballs. A doctor protests orders because the girls need to be constantly supervised and controlled. The majority of the girls were so docile that they showed no curiosity and minimal reaction to extraordinary events. Responses like that can get a soldier or assassin killed in the real world.

Because plot

And don’t get me started on how, at the drop of a hat, these girls are suddenly converted to semi-normal human beings with personalities, connecting with fictitious families they know don’t exist via text messaging.

That grinding noise? That was my teeth when officials released some of these girls into society for the first time ever to carry out undercover missions with hardly a faux pas between them. No training – especially not just a few months’ training – can substitute for exposure to the real world.

The same grinding noise occurred when Hanna went from forest-grown recluse to passing for normal in the real world on the basis of what her father had SAID to her in training. She’d never even seen images, knew nothing of mobile phones or social media or anything! But sure, she’s a supersoldier who can beat the bad guys.

Character pivot

And don’t get me started on how, after being trained to be a “good little Christian” to forgive and include Hanna, Sandy suddenly turns into an f-bombing murderous bitch screaming at another girl to “Just fucking kill him already!” Sure, she was trained to obey, but there was no apparent cognitive dissonance.

The verdict

Hanna tries to be the new Dark Angel. Its strengths are the international cast and setting, but its weaknesses are trying too hard to differentiate itself from Dark Angel without thinking through the consequences. Dark Angel has its flaws then Hanna took those flaws and lowered the bar.

Increasingly through the story, I ranted at the TV. Hubby kept saying “shortcuts, they’re allowed to take shortcuts”. In my opinion there is good storytelling then there are shortcuts that sacrifice good storytelling. Hanna fell to a new low with Sandy’s character pivot and other, similar, writing flaws.

If you enjoy Cursed the TV series, you may enjoy Hanna.

Series details

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Creator: David Farr
Production co: Amazon Studios
Stars: Esme Creed-Miles, Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman
Running time: 2 seasons so far, 8 episodes per season at about an hour per episode

Hanna