“The road is my home; my home, the road.”- Hedwig Robinson.
Episode 7 of Hanna, Road, brings Erik and Hanna back together for a nostalgia filled road trip. They each visit a birth parent and discover that the road is their home now and they are each other’s family. To be together, they must be on the run, but that’s likely Hanna’s fate no matter what, now that they know what she looks like.
Marissa also continues to confront truths about herself, the road and family. She has a reunion with Erik at the hotel where he and Johanna brought Hanna when she was an infant. Marissa proves once again that she’s meant to do more than work 9 to 5 and be a Parisian housewife.
While I’ve enjoyed the Sophie interludes, Hanna is at its best when its 3 leads are together in some combination. This episode might be the best episode of the season for overall character development. So many secret truths are revealed and so much of Erik, Marissa and Johanna’s pasts are explored. Hanna learns more about herself than she has all season, both factually and genetically. All three leads face moments of truth that will define them from here on. Hanna has been renewed for season 2, so that’s a more meaningful statement than it would have been a week ago.
The episode opens on the Utrax facility in Romania, where Trainee 249 is listening to the morning announcements. She’ll have breakfast at 7, meds and a physical exam at 9, and then move on to her cultural studies and phys ed. She can direct her questions to a liaison officer. A camera watches her as she sits up straight, on the edge of her bed, and stares straight ahead.
Not exactly the environment Hanna was raised in.
At a lake in Belgium, some boys are daring another boy to jump off a high rock into the water. They question why he’s hesitating. The camera shows us that he can see helicopter propellers just under the surface.
Hanna and Erik found someplace inconspicuous to hide the helicopter they escaped in.
Hanna and Erik talk as they walk across a golden field. Erik wasn’t sure Hanna would leave Marissa to escape with him, but Hanna didn’t feel safe with Marissa. Erik tells Hanna about the program he and Marissa worked for, and which Johanna gave Hanna up to. “They experimented. Explored how certain mutations might affect a newborn child, to gain advantage.” He doesn’t know anything else about the science, since he was in recruiting.
Hanna assumes that her mother didn’t want her.
Erik: “Hanna, your mother was very young. She had a lot of problems. That’s why she gave you up. The moment she saw you, she changed her mind. She was pleading with me to get you out of that place. She died trying to save you. She loved you, Hanna.”
Erik wants to give Hanna the life she deserves. He doesn’t think it can be with him, because Utrax will always find them. Johanna told him the name of Hanna’s birth father. They haven’t met, but Erik talked to him. He’s still in Romania and wants to meet Hanna. Erik asks if Hanna would want to meet him? Would she want to live with him and have a normal life? Hanna wonders if it’s possible for her to live a normal live. Erik tells her that he’ll make it possible.
Olivier and Benoit are fighting an epic toy battle between monkeys and human soldiers. The humans are winning at the moment.
Marissa is on the phone fighting with Sawyer. Sawyer always believes he’s winning.
Marissa is still being watched in her apartment, rather than being put back on Hanna’s case. Sawyer says it’s because she didn’t bring Hanna in, but Marissa points out that she lost Hanna because of his mistakes with Erik. Sawyer knows that Marissa could have shot Hanna on the helicopter, but didn’t, so they’re at a stalemate.
Marissa asks why he doesn’t want her back on the case. It is strange to keep her completely isolated like she’s dangerous, when she obviously has the best intuition about Hanna and Erik. More than just Sawyer’s ego is involved, though he’s enough of a company man to let her think it’s just his ego.
Marissa gets off the phone and looks at her photo of Hanna sleeping, then looks out at her very obvious surveillance team. They aren’t even pretending to blend in.
The photo of Hanna reminds me of the photos parents take of sleeping babies, because they’re still, quiet and precious when they sleep. It’s like she was supposed to have that time with Hanna and the other infants, but this is all she has left of them.
Erik and Hanna find an abandoned train car to rest in. While Hanna sleeps, Erik takes care of his bullet wound. Because the bullet is still inside, it’s not healing.
That bullet is his metaphorical fatal flaw. He’s put everything into the love he feels for Hanna and Johanna. Like the bullet, his love and regret continue to damage him inside and won’t let him heal. His redemption for the sins of his life is caught up in doing right by Hanna, no matter the cost to himself.
When he’s done replacing his bandages, Erik takes out a printout showing the trainees at the Utrax Facility in Darabani, Romania, where Hanna was born. Erik’s plan involves them as well.
At the facility, Trainee 249 has her 9:00 meds and examination. Her senses are dulled, but she still notices the cute security guard. She sits through the doctor’s exam like a zombie.
Hanna asks Erik questions about her birth father as they drive to Romania. They will be driving through 3 countries, but all have open borders, so they won’t be stopped. Her father is married and has 3 children, all younger than her.
Sawyer gets a call from Norris, one of his superiors. They’ve discovered that Erik hacked into the Utrax files in Berlin. They predict he’ll go back to the Utrax facility.
Erik takes Hanna to visit his mother. When she answers the door, at first she only sees Hanna and tells her to go away. Once she sees Erik, she invites them in. Erik tells his mother that he came for his father’s guns, because he’s taking Hanna hunting in the east. But he doesn’t want his mother to mention it to Hanna, because it’s a surprise. He also asks if anyone came looking for him. She tells him no, instead of telling him Marissa was there. Erik had planned to leave right away, but his mother and Hanna decide they should stay.
At the Utrax Facility, the trainees run on treadmills and memorize fact about the US. They are treated like machines rather than people, in a setting that’s completely depersonalized. Their factual learning is similar to what Erik taught Hanna, but the methodology couldn’t be more different. Hanna ran free and learned who she was and what her capabilities were. She learned to control herself. These girls are drugged and caged. They don’t have a thought, experience or even movement that’s their own. They won’t have any internal control, because they’ve never experienced their own interiors.
Over dinner, Erik’s mother makes sure he knows what a disappointment he is to her and she feeds Hanna the lies she uses to save face with her friends. Later, Erik tells Hanna not to listen to his mother’s lies. His parents weren’t happy together, like she told Hanna. Instead, his father was always fighting the system and his mother hated him for it. She said his only duty was to protect his loved ones. Mrs Heller has forgotten that duty, since she calls Marissa as soon as Erik and Hanna are in bed.
The next morning, Erik wraps the guns in a blanket and puts them in the car trunk. His mother tells Hanna to be sure to drive by the big house with the lime trees on their way out of town. She’s always thought Erik should own the house someday. Erik asks his mother not to tell anyone they visited.
Too late. Marissa arrives three hours later. Sawyer and a platoon of friends arrive not long after that. Erik and Hanna are long gone. After a while, Hanna notices how exhausted Erik is, and offers to drive. Like Sophie’s friend Dan, she has a spiritual driver’s license. 😉 Hanna’s allows her to go really fast, because of her enhanced reflexes.
Mrs Heller tells Marissa that Erik was always trouble and asks if Marissa thinks he’ll hurt Hanna. When Marissa sees Sawyer, she grabs a chef’s knife and tries to escape out the back door. Sawyer’s goons catch her, of course, then cuff her.
As they lead Marissa to one of their cars, Mrs Heller has retreated to her bedroom to watch from the window. Clearly there’s not a respectable person involved in this whole situation.
Sawyer tells his goons to use Erik’s tire tracks to ID the car he’s driving. Marissa asks him why Erik is heading east. She’s still trying to figure out what Sawyer’s hiding. He tells his henchman to kill Marissa so she’ll stop causing trouble.
He calls Norris back to tell her that Erik is heading east, where the Utrax facility is located. She was right that Erik knows about it.
The trainees are brought back to the lab for another dose of medication. 249 is late, then she’s distracted by watching the forest, which she can see out of the window. Before she gets her dose, the facility is put on lockdown because of Erik, so the trainees are sent to their rooms. For their own safety, they’re told to stay away from the windows.
Erik explains to Hanna that they won’t get to her birth father’s house until the next morning. They stop for the night at the hotel where he and Johanna brought Hanna after Erik rescued her from Utrax. Erik asks for room 12, the room they stayed in that night.
Sawyer’s goons drive Marissa out to a deserted field under tall electricity transmission wires, next to a line of trees. They tell her they’re taking her to her plane. The airstrip is supposedly on the other side of the trees. This isn’t completely farfetched, since we’ve seen her use private airstrips. But I don’t think it would be so close to the wires, or at least the wires would have warning markers on them.
As the two goons walk her to the “airfield”, Marissa slips Mrs Heller’s kitchen knife out of her sleeve and slashes at them both, taking them by surprise. They probably checked her for a gun, but didn’t think to look for something as old school as a knife. In less than a minute, she’s got them both down, slicing the throat of one, then using his gun to shoot the other.
Sometimes it pays to be small, fast and overlooked.
Once they are in the hotel room, Erik tells Hanna about the night he spent there with her mother.
Erik: “We brought you here when we were trying to escape… We set you at the end of the bed, just there. You slept all night. We couldn’t sleep at all, we were so scared.”
Hanna: “Scared of what?”
Erik: “Scared they’d come. Scared you’d scream, wake everyone. Scared you wouldn’t scream. Scared you die on us. Your mother, she sang you a song, sitting at the end of the bed, just there. I loved her. Very deeply.”
Hanna: “I know.”
For that brief moment in room 12, Erik had everything he wanted in life. He earned his fatherhood that day and no DNA match could make it more real. But he lost his true love in the process and he’ll never stop feeling like he led Johanna to her death. As much as he loves Hanna, the loss of her mother overshadows their lives together.
The weight of making up for her parents’ sacrifices inadvertently gives Hanna a burden no child should have to carry. But it’s also given depth and empathy to Hanna’s soul, despite the isolation in which she was raised. She’s watched her father suffer and watched him carry on and love her anyway. Because of him, she developed a sensitivity to human emotions beyond just reading the changes in someone’s hormone levels.
Once Hanna’s asleep, Erik brings his father’s guns into the room and hides them. Then he covers Hanna’s bare feet with the blanket, tucking them in with a gesture that mirrors Marissa’s removal of Hanna’s sneaker as she slept.
Sawyer flies, then drives to the remote Romanian Utrax facility where the trainees are kept. He has to go through two levels of fenced security to get in (and so would anyone who tried to get out). He puts the facility on alert, waiting for Erik to arrive. Dr Kunek enters the security room, demanding to be told what’s going on. Sawyer rudely brushes him off. Kunek tells Sawyer that he has to show Kunek more respect, because Kunek is in charge, but Sawyer tells Kunek that, no, he’s not. Kunek walks out. Security informs Sawyer that their men are in place.
Sawyer stages an immediate coup everywhere he goes.
Erik and Hanna shop for clothing and necessities, which Hanna will take to her birth father’s house. They buy her a new suitcase, but scuff it up so it looks like she’s had it a while, and pack her new items inside. Now she appears to be a normal teenage traveler.
Marissa is driving the goons’ car, listening to their radio. They are tracking the car Erik is driving. She gets another call from Olivier, complaining about her leaving, demanding to know where she is. She silently hangs up on him.
I hope the show isn’t trying to tell us that she’s cold-hearted and terrible for this, instead of pointing out how domineering and impatient Olivier is. Secrecy and frequent, spur of the moment travel is part of Marissa’s job description. She appears to have been upfront with him about that and her other needs and limitations from the beginning.
If he’s discovered he can’t live with her lifestyle after all, fair enough. It’s his right to change his mind and break it off. But it’s wrong for him to act like she lied to him and it was wrong for him to assume he could turn her into the sort of woman he preferred. Marissa appears to be done with playing the “Parisian Housewife” game, so she’s no longer interested in jumping through his hoops. Good for her.
Hanna’s birth father lives on the 4th floor of a nice apartment building. Erik checks in with Hanna to make sure she’s still feeling okay about things. He says she should stay for one night. If she doesn’t like it there, she doesn’t have to stay.
Hanna asks what Erik will do. He tells her not to worry about him. She deserves a stable, safe life. Erik doesn’t think he can give her that, but maybe her birth father can.
They go inside the apartment building, where they tell the doorman they are there to see Emil Prodna, apartment 402. They take the elevator to the 4th floor and Emil meets them as it opens. He seems nervous, but excited. His wife comes into the hall to ask if this is Emil’s daughter. They were expecting Hanna, but not this early. Erik tells them that his business meeting has been moved up.
They all have dinner together, with awkward but polite conversation. Erik and Hanna answer questions using the fictional backstory that they live in Amsterdam, where Hanna goes to a very good school and Erik is in the pharmaceuticals business. Emil’s children show polite interest in Hanna, but nothing like the immediate acceptance and affection we saw from both Dieter and Sophie’s families.
Erik decides it’s time to leave and asks Hanna to walk him to the car. He gets Hanna’s bag out of the trunk and she asks him where he’s going and what he’s going to do. She can tell he’s planning something, but he denies it and says he’s just giving her some space. She asks why he always keeps secrets from her.
Erik: “Listen. You are safe here. He’s a good man. Please. Let me go.”
Hanna: “Why can’t I stay with you?”
Erik: “I have to do this.”
Hanna: “Promise me you’ll come back. Promise.”
He hugs her tightly. This way, he doesn’t have to look her in the eye when he lies to her.
Erik: “I promise.”
Deep down, Hanna knows it was a lie, but she respects his wishes, for now. Johanna’s song plays over the scene.
Trainee 249 paces in front of her window. She uses her exceptional hearing to eavesdrop on conversations in other buildings. An underling tells Sawyer that there’s been no sign of Erik near the facility.
Then a guard tells Sawyer that Erik’s car has been spotted in the Brasov Hills, near the village of Dorohoi, about 30 miles from the facility. He sends his men out to find Erik and Hanna, using as much force and violence as possible, of course. Marissa hears the notification of Erik’s vicinity on the radio.
For all that his household is a bit reserved, Emil is a decent man who wants to do right by Hanna. He tells her he’s glad she’s there and they’ll work out the details of her stay. As he prepares her sofa bed for the night, he asks her if Erik doesn’t want Hanna in his life any more. Hanna says she doesn’t know. Then he leaves to answer the phone.
It’s Erik. He’s calling from a rural pay phone to tell Emil that he’s not coming back. He confirms that Emil agrees that Hanna really is his biological daughter, and Emil agrees. Then he gives Emil an information dump that includes some elements of truth, but not the whole truth, so that Emil knows that Hanna is in hiding and can protect her properly.
Marissa drives straight to the hotel where Erik and Hanna stayed the night before. She pretends to be Erik’s wife, and asks if her husband and daughter are staying in room 12. Then she checks into room 11 while she waits for them to return.
Marissa hasn’t forgotten anything about that night, either.
Emil returns from the phone looking troubled and distracted. He tells Hanna that she only has to sleep on the sofa bed for one night, then they’ll look into getting her a room of her own. Hanna immediately guesses what happened. Emil can’t give her any useful information, so she takes off from the apartment building, with him chasing her.
He wants her to call Erik, but she doesn’t have his number. Emil can’t understand this possibility. Hanna wants Emil’s car so she can follow Erik. Emil puts his hand on Hanna, trying to calm her down and get her back inside. Hanna turns on him and sends him flying into a dumpster.
She’s made her choice of fathers.
Erik returns to the hotel and prepares for his visit to Utrax by siphoning gas into several glass bottles, turning them into makeshift bombs/Molotov cocktails. Marissa watches from her room, staying just out of sight.
Dr Kunek returns to the control room to let Sawyer know that the trainees have been locked up and inactive for a dangerously long period of time. Sawyer barks at him to shut up, not even bothering to listen to Kunek’s reasoning. Then he’s told that they’ve spotted Erik’s car at the hotel, so he wanders off to focus on his nemesis.
The manhunt is all that matters to Sawyer. Protecting the facility and what it houses is of no interest. He’s consumed by his rage.
Erik puts his bombs into the car and goes into the room to play with his guns. The phone rings. He answers, hoping it’s Hanna, but it’s Marissa. She asks him not to hang up.
She tells him that she knows where he is now and that he’s going back to Utrax. Sawyer is waiting there for him. Erik asks why she’s telling him this.
Marissa: “Because they lied to me and tried to kill me.”
Erik: “I don’t believe you.”
Marissa: “If I was still working with them, why would I call you now? I know you’re in the motel room. Why wouldn’t I just execute you? Why give you the chance? Why are you going back to Utrax? What did you find out? I need to know.”
Erik: “You’ve started the program again.”
Marissa: “What do you mean?”
Erik: “The Utrax program. I have a file. Photos. Teenage Children.”
Marissa: “If that’s true, they did it without me.”
Erik: “Sure they did.”
Marissa: “No, don’t-don’t hang up. Listen to me.Last time, when it was destroyed, they assured me that what we did would never happen again. They promised me.”
Erik: “You always lie so well, Marissa.”
Marissa: “Erik, I’m not in on this.”
She guesses that Hanna isn’t with him because he’s trying to keep her safe from Utrax. She says that even if he kills her, Sawyer and everyone who knows about Hanna, she still won’t be safe. And going to Utrax is a trap that he won’t get out of alive.
Erik indicates that he doesn’t intend to get out alive. Marissa realizes that it’s a suicide mission, which Erik plans to use to expose the program to get it shut down again.
She tells him that Hanna still won’t be safe, because the corporate structure of Utrax will still exist. And Erik will be dead, unable to help her. Marissa offers to help Hanna by giving her a totally new identity.
Erik asks why Marissa would do this. After hesitating a moment for dramatic effect, Marissa confesses that she thinks of Hanna as her responsibility. Hers and Erik’s. Johanna gave birth to her, but Marissa and Erik made her who she is.
While they’re speaking, Erik realizes that he can hear the same buzz coming from his room’s heater as is coming over the phone. He figures out that Marissa is in the hotel.
He asks Marissa for more detail, while he begins to search for her. She says they’ll work together. Erik looks in rooms around #12, startling the occupants, so that by the time he gets to #11, Marissa is ready.
They have a momentary stand-off, then Marissa puts her gun on the bed and tells Erik that the only way for Hanna to be safe is for them to work together. She begs him to trust her.
But Sawyer pulls into the parking lot at that moment. I don’t know if Marissa meant what she promised or if she was just reeling Erik in again, but I wanted to trust her. Erik is right, though. It’s impossible to tell when she’s lying (unless she has that horrible fake smile on), especially because she expertly weaves the truth into her lies. (She definitely wasn’t working with Sawyer, though.)
Marissa tells him she didn’t know Sawyer was coming. Then everyone starts shooting. Hanna is on her way there, driving Emil’s car. Erik makes it back into his own room, where he has a pile of guns. But the guns are old and not of much use.
Hanna makes a spectacular entrance, using the car as a weapon to take out a few operatives, then steals their guns, acrobatically takes out more as she makes her way to room 12, jumps through the glass door, rolls across the bed and lands on the floor next to Erik.
Erik tries to tell her she shouldn’t have come. She pats him on the head and tells him they’re leaving. She’ll cover him. He tells her she can’t do this, but she reminds him she had a good teacher and starts blowing away more of Sawyer’s men.
Sawyer stays safely in the background, crouched next to Erik’s car. Erik’s contribution to the fight is to shoot at his car, setting off the Molotov cocktails and sending Sawyer across the lot.
Hanna and Erik jump in Emil’s car and take off.
Marissa watched the whole fight safely from room 11. Once it’s quiet, but still fiery, Marissa takes a walk outside to view the damage. She doesn’t gloat at Sawyer, who’s just regaining consciousness, AT ALL.
Marissa gets another chance to see Hanna in action. I’m sure she’s smart enough to have noticed that Hanna saved Erik from certain death or capture, and that it was Hanna creating the game plan. Sawyer won’t put that together. You can’t see what you don’t think is possible.
Erik is one of those innately good people who can’t stay out of bad situations. In my Episode 1 review and recap I compared the Erik-Hanna-Marissa dynamic to Jean Valjean-Cosette-Javert from Les Miserables. The similarities have remained, and they’ve never been more clear than in this episode. We see just how much Johanna was Erik’s Fantine, not only a woman he cared about for herself, but a symbol of all of the women he failed and of the goodness he wanted to reclaim.
Both Erik and Jean Valjean take on the care of Hanna/Cosette as a way to atone for their sins, but the child also becomes their reason for living. The father figures are stuck in the past they are atoning for, with no emotional road forward. Cosette needs to find her own future and try to lead her father forward.
Marissa remains Javert, but she’s allowed more sympathy and complexity. Sawyer takes on Javert’s inability to adapt his attitudes to new information, while Marissa’s strength is her flexibility.
I’m fuzzy on the kid’s Les Mis roles right now, but I think 249 is Eponine, the child Jean Valjean left behind in an abusive home. Sophie seems to be a platonic Marius, Cosette/Hanna’s love at first sight who can be trusted with the lonely daughter’s future. Her social circle are the students.
I have a feeling that Dan might be gearing up to become Enjolras in season 2. He’s the leader and voice of reason of the gang, Marius/Sophie is his best friend, and he’s researching Hanna’s past. It’s been clear since he found her documents that the London Scooby gang will do their own research into Utrax. That’s how they’ll stay involved in season 2. Sophie and Dan will provide Hanna with information and a hideout that serves as a base of operations.
Marissa is turning into some kind of double agent, so it won’t matter that she knows about them. Maybe she’s becoming more of an opportunistic Mrs Tenardier than straight up Javert, leaving all of her options open for as long as possible.
With her intense focus, Hanna would make a great race car driver.
It seems OTT cruel for Utrax to forbid the girls from looking out the window. I don’t care if it’s to theoretically stop snipers or surveillance. Surely their facility design could have compensated for that with reflective, bullet-proof glass.
Utrax is like a much less interesting version of Marvel’s Red Room, where the Black Widows were trained.
Marissa takes advantage of being someone who’s underestimated. Plus, her strategy throughout the series has been to pay attention to the people someone like Sawyer dismisses, such as Mrs Heller or Sophie. Using her network of contacts, Marissa has gotten information before him every time. Sawyer uses brute force with people and less personal techniques like the tire track method. Those obviously have their place, but he doesn’t know how to effectively leverage his human resources.
Throughout the season, the song Johanna sang to Hanna in room 12 has been used over and over in the soundtrack, as if Hanna remembers it despite only having heard it a few times when she was so young. It symbolizes her mother’s love, and how much her mother was able to give her, even though she died. Johanna gave Hanna to Erik and, as we see in this episode with the comparison to the daily life of trainee 249, that’s made all the difference.
Images courtesy of Amazon Prime Video.