What you need to know before watching Hanna season 2
Hanna is back, and the titular teen assassin (Esme Creed-Miles) wants revenge.
Amazon Prime Video's international action series based on the 2011 film of the same name returns for a second season on July 3, and while Hanna may be back in the forest that she called home before the events of season 1, she's a completely different person this time around. She's experienced the real world, learned the truth about her "father" Erik Heller (Joel Kinnaman) and the Utrax organization that created her, and suffered losing Erik after his season 1 finale death. As season 2 begins, she's got another Utrax assassin, Clara (Yasmin Monet Prince), under her wing as they attempt to evade capture, but Hanna's drive to destroy Utrax — and Utrax's determination to bring Hanna back into the program — means her dream of a peaceful life in the forest is just that: a dream.
Before you hit play on the eight-episode new season, EW got creator and showrunner David Farr along with series stars Creed-Miles and Mireille Enos to break down everything you need to know before watching season 2, from Hanna's new role as a protector to Utrax's deadly plan and more.
Charting new territory
While the first season's story told an expanded version of the film's plot, season 2 charts new territory, which is why Farr was inspired to make a series after he wrote the movie.
"I had it in my head from the beginning when we decided to make the TV show, I wouldn't have made the TV show just to remake a different version of the film," he says. "I always knew I wanted to explore who were these girls that Hanna had left behind in the Romanian facility and then she finds them again at the end of season 1. They're so rich with potential, these young women, they had been trained to be assassins, they're extraordinary but they know nothing about the world, and yet they're going to have to pretend to be ordinary people in the world."
Hanna's desire for revenge coupled with her worry for all the other teens being molded by Utrax represents a major driving force for her throughout season 2 and potentially beyond.
"At first she resists," Farr says. "But then she thinks, 'I've lost Erik, I don't know who I am, maybe the only thing I can ever be is one of these young women, maybe I should return to Utrax, maybe that's my only home and that's my only family.' That's the central dilemma of season 2 that I wanted to explore: should she stay or should she rebel against them."
Hanna is the new Erik
At the start of the series, Hanna followed all of Erik's orders as they hid out in the wilderness. But now that Hanna has experienced the real world and fought against Utrax, the dynamic has switched and she's essentially the new Erik for Clara.
"She is back in the forest, which is really wonderful. She's going back to her roots," Creed-Miles says. "What's interesting is how she shifts from that role of who she was in season 1 under Erik's shadow and wanting to emancipate herself from him, and then in season 2 she becomes that protector role with Clara stepping into Hanna's previous position and Clara wanting to escape from the forest and experience the world like she did."
While Hanna and Clara begin season 2 as sisters, it won't be easy for them to trust one another. "The dynamic between Hanna and Clara is influenced a lot by Hanna's inability to trust people because of the trauma that she's experienced and because of what is actually going on," Creed-Miles teases. "You never really know whether she can trust any character or not."
The battle for Hanna’s soul
Hanna's trust issues can be traced back to one person: Marissa Wiegler (played by Enos). The CIA operative and former Utrax head has given everyone whiplash from her constantly changing loyalties. From Hanna's enemy to ally, back to enemy, and back to ally, their complex dynamic has changed so many times that Hanna doesn't know what to believe. And perhaps Marissa doesn't know either.
"By the end of season 1, Marissa has reached a genuine and complete crisis of confidence in her role within Utrax as an organization and has surprising feelings of love and certainly a desire to protect Hanna," Farr says. "Hanna, of course at this point, doesn't know whether to trust her and given that the whole show is filled with familial distrust, so the Hanna/Marissa relationship in season 2 is absolutely a journey of trust and distrust."
Farr reveals that Marissa is desperate for Hanna to trust her, but will she be able to maintain that trust this time around?
"Marissa is deeply convinced that Hanna should not return inside this organization," Farr says. "Marissa has now become bizarrely almost like a resistance leader trying to keep Hanna away from it. But Hanna is drawn to it, to the emotional connections of these other young girls. Like any young teenager would be, she doesn't want to be alone. She wants to have family. But Marissa sees and knows the danger that sits within that. So there's a kind of battle for Hanna's soul between Marissa and the Utrax organization, which is fronted by Carmichael [played by new addition of Dermot Mulroney] in this season."
Enos is just happy that she got to share more scenes with Creed-Miles this season as Hanna and Marissa travel in each other's orbit more. "In season 1, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Hanna, we were always separated in separate storylines, and luckily in season 2 Hanna and Marissa get thrown together as cautious allies," Enos says. "Marissa decides to try to save her. Hanna, similarly to Marissa, she's a lone wolf and has a very hard time trusting anyone. It's a bumpy road but Marissa is tenacious and she just keeps making every attempt to protect this girl in even like a baffling way to herself, that she would go to such great lengths to save her."
But where do Marissa's real loyalties lie? "First and foremost, always to herself," Enos says with a laugh. "And in order to protect herself, she has to stay in the good graces of the CIA so she creates the lie in order to protect herself. And then of course when Hanna comes back into the picture, then her loyalty gets tied to her."
Creed-Miles says that Hanna and Marissa's constantly evolving relationship is her favorite thing about season 2. "Marissa is such a complex character and seeing the transition from archenemies in season 1 to kind of mother and daughter in a weird way in season 2 is just bizarre and wonderful," she says. "It's a testament to Hanna's ability to open up her heart and get to know people despite the fact that she has moments of distrust within that. She comes a long way."
The new villain
But wait... let's go back to John Carmichael. The new villain this season, played with a bone-chilling subtlety by Mulroney, is going to be a much different kind of foe for Hanna (and Marissa) to face.
"Season 1 had a real tough, nasty villain in Sawyer [Khalid Abdalla] who was going after Hanna. And for a while, of course, Marissa was also playing that role," Farr says. "What interested me in season 2 was to portray a very different face of Utrax. In season 2, Utrax is training these girls to be assassins but also needs to create identities for them so that when they go into the world they can pretend to be normal. And that's what we see a lot of in season 2."
Shifting the Utrax program to Phase Two means the trainees have a new home base, new skills to learn, and a new boss. "It's a very different season, it's not in Romania, it's not a dark dystopian facility anymore," Farr says. "They've been flown to England, it's beautiful, it's kind of like an English boarding school. They are being trained to be normal, whatever that means, learning to be model, American college girls. Someone is in charge of that operation, and I wanted a kind face, an avuncular face, and you don't trust him but he is on the surface very charming and very delightful. Dermot Mulroney came to mind for all of those. He's not a guy you're used to seeing, perhaps, in a thriller context, but he brings a completely different flavor and a different quality to it."
But while Carmichael seems kind and friendly, his ulterior motives may be the darkest this show has seen yet. And Marissa knows how dangerous the situation has become when she realizes Carmichael is in charge of things.
"John Carmichael was one of her trainers way back when, when she was a young up-and-coming operative," Enos reveals. "And she discovers at the beginning of season 2 that he actually has been overseeing all of the Utrax program from even as far back as when she was in charge. Marissa would like to stay as far away from the Utrax program as possible but she gets drawn back into it because she has to maintain her cover for John Carmichael."
As for the new Utrax training facility, Hanna has never seen anything like it before. "The Meadows is essentially a conditioning school that is used to turn the teenagers into the perfect weapon," Creed-Miles says. "They are assimilated into these prototypes of teenagers that give them the ability to disguise themselves in the world and carry out missions. And so it's an interesting exploration into identity and nature and nurture and Hanna is very confused by it."
Hanna season 2 debuts July 3 on Amazon Prime Video.