Episode 2 finds Marissa working at an office in Paris while keeping Hanna stowed away in an apartment and making plans to move her permanently to Canada. Shockingly, Hanna makes other plans.
Carmichael brings Clara to The Meadows. She reconnects with Sandy and Jules and figures out exactly who pointed Carmichael toward her mother. With her name changed to Clemency, 249/Clara observes her new environment and takes action, then observes some more. Terri and Leo both step in to help her adjust to her new life.
Jules and Sandy sink deeper into their new personas while also soaking up their political and tactical training. Sandy learns that she enjoys acting as a big sister to the other girls, while Jules delves into literature and philosophy that asks questions about society and identity.
Marissa takes a car home to her apartment in the 10th Arrondissement, Paris. A Utrax van with a couple of not very subtle goons inside tails her, then stops outside to continue their surveillance. Once Marissa gets upstairs, she makes a phone call: “Vesuvius 2468 Control. I’m back in town. I’ll be returning to the company and I’d like a full domestic clean.”
She looks wistfully at the empty half of the closet where her ex boyfriend Olivier’s clothes used to be, then picks up the break up letter he sent her. He complained that they couldn’t have an honest relationship with each other and that though she blamed her work for her inability to fully trust him, he knew it was more than that.
The “cleaner” sweeps the apartment for surveillance devices and finds at least one listening device, hidden in a lampshade. Utrax couldn’t even bother to be creative about where they put their bugs. Wonder what organization the cleaning service belongs to. Marissa’s mysterious connections outside of Utrax have been brought forward into S2.
Hanna gets off a bus somewhere in the city. She’ wearing a baseball cap and nondescript clothing.
While the trainees are outside for physical training, Sandy notices two vehicles driving onto the grounds. Later, in the cafeteria, Trainee Helen (Severine Howell-Meri) asks Jules about the book she’s reading, JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Jules says that it’s the most important book ever and about the death of youth. When Helen looks at her blankly, Jules says it doesn’t matter. Helen asks what Sandy likes to read.
Sandy replies that she reads magazines. Helen shows Sandy an actress she admires in the magazine she’s currently reading and admires the actress’ skin. Jules scoffs at Helen for being taken in the by the “phony smiles, phony tans” in the magazines. Sandy points out that Jules is fake too, but Jules asserts that she’s more real than the women in the magazine. Sandy and Jules smile at each other, a little inside joke between them.
Helen wanders off to get coffee. Sandy asks if Jules saw the car that arrived earlier. Like Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of her novel, Jules is on an inner journey of exploration that filters what she sees in the outside world to fit her psychological needs. She didn’t notice anything unusual about the cars.
Sandy is externally oriented and aware of everything that happens around her, constantly putting the pieces together to form an ever changing map of her world and the people in it. She uses her own talents and needs as tools to make herself useful in the world as she perceives it. Sandy thinks the cars were bringing someone back to them- Clara.
Marissa goes to her first day back at work in her office, still watched by the goons in the van outside her apartment. Her assistant, Kim (Natasha Atherton), introduces her to a new staff member sent over by the Langley office, Sonia Richter (Emma D’Arcy).
Clara/Clemency has been held alone in a cell since her fight with Sandy. Leo is the first to try to work with her. He brings in a couple of guards and a smug attitude, asking if he can assume that she won’t try to rip his head off so he can let the guards go. Clara gives him a dirty look.
Clara or Trainee 249?
It’s beyond me why Leo thinks the best approach when he meets a traumatized Clara is to pretend that he’s her best friend already, when he’s clearly her captor and she’s never had any socialization toward smiling and making nice, thanks to Utrax. His approach might work with teenage girls taught to feel guilty over acting out or teenagers who’ve already assimilated into the culture he works for, but at this point, Clara has neither motivation. He can’t shame or guilt her into compliance, no matter how hard he plays that role.
He can still gaslight her, but he has to work a little harder.
By drugging the trainees out of having normal feelings for each other and keeping them from any sort of social/cultural awareness of community behavioral standards beyond the most basic, they stopped the girls from developing attachments and consciences. Clara began to develop both with Hanna. By telling her that Hanna and her mother are dead, they’ve taken everything from her and left themselves with no leverage over her.
Utrax and its employess’ actions show that they really haven’t thought through the most basic psychology of who they’re dealing with. The doctor who created the girls was afraid of them, so he drugged their personalities out of them for as long as possible. He seems to have convinced the CIA and Utrax that the girls would turn into machines if they were treated like robots, but synthetic wolf DNA isn’t robot DNA.
They heal quickly, so it’s plausible for them to work through their emotional scars, but they aren’t empty vessels and they won’t stay naive for long. Each of them brings their bio parents’ DNA to the table, with its strengths and weaknesses, which makes them inherently unpredictable, given how little Utrax bothered to learn about the parents.
This is one of the major flaws in Utrax’s genetic engineering program, which Clara is demonstrating to them. What little we know of her mother’s story speaks of a restless, independent spirit, traits Clara shares. Nothing about Clara’s actions so far suggests that she’ll just roll over and do what she’s told without question, unless she’s heavily drugged again. Leo would know this if he looked at her individual history instead of thinking of her as a machine who should accept the commands entered into her like code entered into a computer.
The trainees may be soldiers in some sense, but they didn’t choose this life. They were sold into it by their mothers. Right now, it’s the only life and world they’ve known and Utrax is working hard to limit their knowledge of the world until they’re fully indoctrinated into believing that Utrax is always right. Once the trainees are full agents who are out in the world, it’ll be up to their brainwashing to bring them home after missions.
Leo sends the guards out, even though Clara doesn’t respond to him. Then he repeats Marissa’s lie that Clara’s mother is dead. He says that’s why they don’t tell the trainees anything about their pasts. It’s for their own good, because the truth hurts. Then he adds in a bit of truth, that the trainees would be dead if not for Utrax.
We saw this last season, when we were shown that Erik recruited pregnant women who were about to get abortions. On behalf of Utrax, he offered them money to go through with their pregnancies, then give up their babies to the company.
Leo switches back over to lying, telling Clara that the only place for her in the world is with Utrax. Leo uses the same argument that Marissa has used to manipulate Hanna and Clara, that the trainees need the company and its staff to take care of them, because they have no other family and aren’t capable of taking care of themselves.
Clara knows she can physically take care of herself and saw Hanna doing the same thing. It’s the loneliness and lack of identity that brought her out of the woods. Utrax hasn’t figured out that their fake profile books won’t fill the craving for identity and meaning inside the girls in the long run. The profiles only feel like personalities to the trainees right now because they’ve never had real experiences or relationships.
Clara asks, “What happened to Hanna?” Leo tells her that Hanna shot at the people who were sent to get her. The guards were forced to fire back in self defense and Hanna ended up dead. He sits next to Clara to reassure her that Hanna brought on her own death. It’s not Clara’s fault. Clara turns and puts one hand around his throat.
Carmichael is watching through the surveillance cameras. Leo reassures everyone that he and Clara are both okay. Then he gets her to relax.
Points to Leo for not panicking and for talking Clara down.
Instead of punishing her, he takes Clara out into the control room and introduces her to Larry (Antonio Magro), one of the main security guards- maybe head of security? They look at wall screens showing the main camera feeds, including the cafeteria, where many of the trainees are socializing. Leo explains that this is happening right here and now. Clara is interested. Leo has figured out what will motivate her.
Sonia calls Carmichael to fill him in on Marissa’s movements. She thinks Marissa is acting normally. He instructs her not to underestimate Marissa.
Carmichael: “When I taught Marissa Wiegler at the training college, no one noticed her for 2 years. She was just average. Slept with a couple guys, smoked a little dope, did the bare minimum. Final exam, she was top of her class. No one saw it coming. Stay on her.”
Carmichael knows what Marissa’s MO is and can predict her, sometimes, but he doesn’t understand how she thinks and he still underestimates her skills. If he totally understood her, he could blackmail her more effectively and wouldn’t need as much surveillance. His main leverage over her is his superior position and clearance level in the CIA and Utrax. Marissa fought for a higher clearance level throughout S1. I suspect she’s still arguing for promotions. Erik severely damaged her career when he took Hanna from the original facility.
Later Marissa walks down the street in normal clothes, with Sonia following about 50 feet behind, in full view. She’s the most obvious tail in the history of spies. Marissa rounds a corner, where a hooded figure in black is waiting on a motorcycle, with the motor running. Marissa whips off her trench coat, puts a black hoodie on over her white shirt, and climbs onto the bike. Her pants are already black, because Marissa is efficient like that. The motorcycle pulls out and turns the corner, riding right past a completely unsuspecting Sonia.
Marissa stops at the grocery store, then goes to the apartment where she’s keeping Hanna. They cut Hanna’s hair, then dye it blonde, the required disguise for every brunette in hiding. Marissa calls an old teacher of hers, who now lives in the wilds of Canada, to confirm that she can send Hanna to live with him and his wife. She catches him fishing, hip deep in a forested lake.
The trainees are sitting in class undergoing their political indoctrination. The narrator of the film they’re watching explains that the 21st century world is a dangerous place. Utrax was created to provide preemptive action as the “preventative force that the world needs.”
In the Orwellian world of Utrax, the good guys are the hired assassins who kill people that haven’t committed any crimes yet. Due process and human rights are so 20th century. Utrax and the people who think like them would like us to believe that we don’t have time to make sure we’re going after the right suspects and that it’s fine to kill suspects in the field rather than bring them to trial and then send them to prison or risk them going free.
There are obvious parallels to police who use excessive force. But Utrax is actually based on real life paramilitary corporations, such as Blackwater, now known as Academi, who are given private contracts by federal agencies, such as the CIA, to carry out a variety of domestic and global operations involving the training and deployment of mercenary soldiers. There are many of these private military contractors operating around the world. They tend to be known for the number of scandals the companies have been involved in, particularly their human rights violations.
Clara joins the class of trainees. Sandy turns to look at her. Terri and Leo watch the scene on surveillance cameras. I can’t help but wonder how Hanna’s Black actors feel about the film narration in this scene, while in real life Black Lives Matter protests continue into their 5th month after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the US.
Later, Clara sits in her bedroom and looks out the window, into the distance. Like I said, she’s a restless spirit, always thinking, though outwardly she’s self-contained. Sandy stops by and Clara asks where they are. Sandy says it’s The Meadows. Clara asks where that is, but Sandy doesn’t answer. She doesn’t know either, because they are prisoners, under armed guard 24/7.
Sandy changes the subject, admiring the boots and outfit Clara was given to wear as Clemency. Clara is still in her blue trainee sweats. Sandy introduces herself by her new name and asks about Clara’s name. Clara/Clemency waves toward her profile book.
Sandy admires Clemency’s “family” and encourages her to write to them when she’s ready. She welcomes Clemency back
to the pack before leaving for her piano lesson. Clemency looks at her like she’s doubting her sanity, but flips through the book after Sandy leaves.
Clara is criminally underwritten, as Black characters so often are, frequently made to sit in silence while the characters around her do the talking. Yasmin Monet Prince is delightfully making the most of what she’s given, with her sidelong looks and body language, while still keeping it subtle. Hanna has had similar periods, where she was silent and still, observing, while the world swirled around her.
Finally, the return of Johanna’s lullaby for Hanna, the Anti-Lullaby by Karen O. This song was such an integral part of season 1 that it wouldn’t have felt right if it didn’t make an appearance in S2.
Hanna sleeplessly lies on her bed and fidgets with the medication capsule she removed from Clara’s arm. She might not be ready to give up on Clara and move to Canada. It would make Marissa happy to know that Hanna is safe, but now Hanna has her own Utrax hostage to worry about.
Back in the office, Marissa cheerfully brings a file folder to Sonia. Never trust a smiling Marissa. She sits on the corner of Sonia’s desk and recounts Sonia’s surveillance routine back to her. Then she tells Sonia that she’s not doing whatever Carmichael and Sonia think she’s doing. She won’t betray Utrax. Instead, she lost her boyfriend when she went after Erik and she’s trying to get him back. She’d appreciate some privacy while she does that. Marissa will contact Carmichael herself if she needs to communicate with him. She threatens bodily harm if she sees Sonia snooping around her private life again.
Marissa takes her folder and leaves. Sonia was silent the whole time. Marissa heads to an arcade, where her new forger contact is playing an intense round of pinball. She gives him a flash drive with Hanna’s passport photo and arranges for him to make her a Canadian passport and other necessary documentation. When he asks if it’s for the agency or personal use, she tells him to mind his own business.
Over dinner in the apartment, Marissa tells Hanna that it will take a few days to get her travel organized. Since Utrax thinks she’s dead, she’ll be safe as long as she’s careful to stay out of sight. So she has to stay inside, away from windows and off the phone and internet. Hanna is lost in thought and staring into space.
Marissa tries to impress on Hanna that this is a fresh start, which is what Erik wanted for her, but couldn’t make happen. Hanna asks where Clara is. Marissa says she doesn’t know and there’s nothing Hanna can do for her anyway. She wants Hanna to move on from Clara. But even without considering the wolf DNA, which probably encourages loyalty, both Erik and Johana were unable to move on from people they’d lost, so Hanna comes by her devotion honestly.
Terri watches Clemency/Clara as she putters in her room and considers her new clothes. Carmichael enters and introduces himself for the first time. He tells Terri that they lost Clara for a while. She’s a rebel, but they’re glad to have her back. Then he compliments Terri on the profile she wrote for Clemency, saying she found just the right emotional tone. Terri tells him it’s the kind of big, generous family she wishes she’d had. She was a “loved but lonely” only child. Carmichael thinks Clemency/Clara just needs more time.
While Sandy and Jules hang out in Jules’ room, Jules tells Sandy that she broke up with Aaron, her fake boyfriend. Sandy is shocked and asks how Jules did it. Jules looks at Sandy like she’s an idiot and says she “messaged him, obviously.” Aaron was upset, then Mom, “whoever ‘Mom’ is”, tried to get her to change her mind. Sandy is upset too, and tells Jules she swears too much after Jules throws in an F-bomb or two. Jules tells Sandy to date Aaron if she likes him so much.
Sandy criticizes Jules for making their keepers find her another boyfriend, as if Aaron was real. At most, they need to pull another photo from the archive and another “boyfriend” character archetype from the analysts’ manual. But Sandy wants to be the perfect self-sacrificing Christian girl, without even properly knowing what that is. She’s just sure always following orders is part of it.
Jules has finished The Catcher in the Rye and moved on to Julia Kristeva’s Strangers to Ourselves. Her head is filled with French feminism and 1950s repression. She tries to talk to Sandy about the heteronormative oppression she feels they face at The Meadows, but Sandy calls her on not really knowing enough about the world to understand what she’s even saying.
Jules may or may not have noticed the rest of the daily, normalized oppression the trainees face, but she’s landed on sexism and queerphobia as her starting points for rebellion against the strictness of their lives at The Meadows. The entirety of their situation is probably too much to face at once. She can’t do much about it right now anyway, between their lack of knowledge of the world and the fact that The Meadows is a heavily guarded prison.
Jules tells Sandy to leave her alone, since Sandy is unable to expand her mind. Sandy looks out the window and notices that Clemency/Clara, still in her sweats, outside taking a walk, followed by an armed guard. Finally, someone who might appreciate her help.
Hanna sits in her apartment, wearing a turquoise T-shirt that is the same color turquoise as the trainees’ sweats. She might as well be there with them, since she can’t bring herself to leave Clara behind, she’s still under Marissa’s control and Utrax is hunting her. She receives a text from Marissa, telling her to get ready to leave this afternoon. Marissa is listed as “Mom” in her phone, just as Terri is for the trainees. Hanna looks at Clara’s medication capsule one more time and makes a decision.
Later, Hanna knocks on the apartment door across the hall.
OMG, Timothee Chalamet answers. Good thing she brushed her hair and put on a nice coat. She tells her neighbor, Felix, that she’s out of coffee and asks to borrow some. He invites her in.
While Felix makes coffee, Hanna uses his laptop to look up the pharmaceutical company that made Clara’s meds and finds they are holding experimental drug trials. She sneaks out, stealing a wallet on her way and leaves for the pharmaceutical company site in Belgium.
Sandy writes a long note to Mom/Terri, telling her about Jules and her dislike of boys. She thinks Jules is confused and needs a friend more than ever. Then she tells Mom about Clemency, who’s been in a lot of trouble and needs a friend. Sandy is ready to step up for her, too. She feels it’s important to give back to the other trainees, since she’s received so much love from her family.
Clara and Sandy run into each other in the cafe. Sandy tries to make friends, but Clara confronts Sandy about what she told Marissa and Carmichael about the day Clara left the previous Utrax facility with Hanna and Erik. Since Clara believes Hanna is dead, she has some issues with Sandy helping Utrax find them. Clara remembers that Sandy was the only one who knew that Hanna helped her find her mother’s name.
Sandy tries to deny that she helped Utrax, but then admits that she answered their questions. Clara directs the conversation and it ends up sounding like Sandy was a willing participant. In reality, she had to be coerced into talking, but Clara assumes Sandy made decisions for her.
It’s an odd quirk of the writing and Sandy accepts Clara’s blame, when Marissa and Carmichael are the ones at fault. It’s understandable that Clara needs a scapegoat here and that someone with as much compassion as Sandy would feel guilty. But I want us to be clear that Clara’s capture wasn’t actually Sandy’s fault. She was also a victim.
Clara takes out her rage on Sandy anyway, because she can’t get to the people who actually hurt her. They have a physical fight that goes on until first Jules, then a couple of guards, get to the room. Clara is dragged out.
There are always guards in every public room, but suddenly not in the room with the utensils and boiling hot liquids, obvious potential weapons? That seems like an obvious oversight.
Sandy was wearing red, which seems to be a favorite for Marissa this season. Does red clothing mean guilt, while turquoise means naivety, or maybe unfinished business?
Marissa arrives at Hanna’s apartment, new fake Canadian passport in hand, but Hanna is long gone. Felix races to the door to catch her and complain that Hanna stole his dad’s wallet. Marissa takes charge, entering his apartment and quickly discovering what Hanna looked up on the computer.
Hanna reaches the Passway Pharmaceutical facility in Belgium, where a drug trial is about to start. She’s turned away as a version of herself, so she steals the identity of Monica Gastner, a woman who’s enrolled in the trial, and gets in without any issues.
Terri observes on the monitor as Jules rubs medicated cream into Sandy’s bruised neck after the fight. Jules thinks that Clemency should be put down for being such a troublemaker. They tease each other a little, then Jules tells Sandy to “be more careful next time.”
Jules is extra gentle and a little flirty with Sandy, but Sandy doesn’t pick up on the implications. Terri does.
Once she’s inside Passway, Hanna finds that it’s a 3 night trial. They’ll receive doses on nights 1 and 3 and be observed at all times. Hanna is taken to an examination room and given a sedative first. She’s told she’ll be thrown out of the trial if she doesn’t take it, so she does. A nurse takes her vital signs, then leads her to a room with a procedure chair, where she’s given the trial drug and told to watch a video of a forest.
The drugs make her agitated and woozy. An observer behind a one way glass panel asks her to indicate she’s okay. Once she does, he says to watch the video.
Carmichael and Leo watch Clara, who is back in her cell. Carmichael can’t understand why Clara is so different from the other trainees. She’s a flaw in the program before they’ve even deployed the trainees as assets, which doesn’t bode well for the future. Terri stops in to check in on Clara. She suggests that Clara “feels different, on some level.” Carmichael asks her to take charge of sorting Clara out. He’d like to avoid the personal and financial cost of cutting Clara loose.
With her enhanced hearing, Hanna picks up a conversation in another part of the Passway facility. Someone says that they can also explore reactions to the drug among the Utrax participants, whose reactions are expected to be even more intense. The drug is meant to remove all inhibitions toward committing maximum violence. It will be used only in extreme situations, of course.
Hanna remembers Erik teaching her that humans are dangerous and untrustworthy. If she encounters any, she should find him, hide, or as a last resort, attack. She’s plunged back into the memory of her initial capture by Marissa in the forest, combined with the exploding cabin from the previous episode. She panics, screaming and becoming violent with the people sent in to calm her.
It’s hard to tell what’s real in the next sequence. Hanna makes her way through the hospital while hallucinating and fighting off everyone she meets. Some orderlies and nurses start out as soldiers in the Romanian forest, but end up dead or wounded on the hospital floor. Eventually she finds a man working on his laptop in his forest office.
He’s conveniently writing a letter about the Utrax trainees, the drug trials and The Meadows. Hanna holds a gun to his head and asks where The Meadows is. She’s interrupted before she can get an answer out of him and runs down to the parking garage, where Marissa pulls up and yells at her to get in the car. They drive off in their getaway sedan.
Terri asks Clara if she can join her in the cell. Clara says it’s not like she has a choice, since Terri’s already there. Terri sits on the floor, next to the bunk that Clara’s on, and says that she doesn’t want Clara to be alone overnight.
Fun fact- For some reason, the only language Amazon will give me for S2 subtitles on my TV is Bahasa Melayu, the language of Malaysia. So, shout out to my Malaysian readers- Amazon Prime has you covered! On my computer, there are ~30 languages to choose from. Subtitles are helpful when I need to figure out which small Romanian town they’re talking about, for example.
Mom’s attachment to Jules’ original boyfriend is interesting. Why should Mom care whether Jules breaks up with him or not? Shouldn’t she just want her fake daughter to be happy? Has Terri been told to encourage rebellion in Jules?
Also, I love that the trainees, or at least Jules, seem to realize that “Mom” is the same person for everyone. “Mom” is becoming synonymous with a friendlier Big Brother.
Creating Identities- Who Are the Trainees, Now That They’re Off the Meds?
Utrax didn’t even have to work to brainwash Sandy into integrating her backstory into her identity while also continuing to report on her fellow trainees’ thoughts and feelings to “Mom”. Sandy figured out all by herself that she could ingratiate herself with the authority figures by becoming a source of inside information. She’s a natural spy.
Jules is an interesting case though. We’re not seeing her interactions with “Mom”, so we don’t know how much of her new feelings about gender and independence are real and how much might be Utrax deciding that her backstory should go in a different direction. Jules is intelligent and uniquely self aware, but malleable at the same time. She’s resisted thinking of the backstory as her own. If you wanted to change someone’s story to prepare her for a job, she’d be the trainee to choose. Sandy is intelligent and eager to please, but she’s very attached to her backstory. For her, you’d have to layer a new story on top of the Sandy story.
The Catcher in the Rye was written in the late 1940s and is frequently assigned as high school reading. It deals with alienation, depression, identity and phoniness, both on an individual and societal level. Some also think the main character of the novel, Holden Caulfield, might be a repressed gay man, homosexuality having been socially unacceptable in the 1950s. Others point out the numerous references to sexual assault in the novel and how much they upset Holden, though it’s pure speculation whether he’s been assaulted himself or is just sensitive toward the women (and men) in his life.
The trainees have ~16-17 years of their actual memories and development that they haven’t been allowed to process normally. Now that they are coming of the medications, the feelings associated with all of their prior experiences are eventually going to work their way to the surface. Some of them may react to bad memories that they were numb to before, whether it’s memories of sexual assaults or other events. At the very least, some trainees, like Sandy and Clara, are realizing that their emotional needs weren’t fulfilled during childhood and are struggling to cope with the lack of normal experiences and family relationships. A scrapbook full of pretend memories can’t replace real experiences.
At the same time as they’re being given a crash course in normalcy and the personalities they are expected to adopt, the trainees are also learning about the political realities of the world. Utrax is showing the trainees violent atrocities and telling them that enemies of the state committed these acts, in order to manipulate the girls into thinking preventative murder is necessary. And the trainees are meant to be the assassins who carry out these murders.
That’s a lot to pour into even an enhanced mind all at once. Hanna became overwhelmed by the urban world in S1, despite her enhancements. There are bound to be some excessive emotions among the trainees, even if the girls use the iron control they’ve been taught to help hold their emotions inside. The way both Clara and Sandy were quick to fight shows that their coping skills are limited, no matter what their intentions are.
Carmichael and Leo seem to think the trainees are empty-headed machines, with no emotions or experiences to process, while the soldiers seem to see them as even less human than that. People just can’t experience that kind of dehumanization long term without consequences. And people who think about others that way virtually always act on it by abusing and exploiting them sexually and violently. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t eventually see that storyline.
Jules is also seen reading Strangers to Ourselves by Bulgarian-French intellectual Julia Kristeva. Kristeva was born in Bulgaria but has lived in France since the 1960s. Strangers to Ourselves is an exploration of what it means to be a foreigner, outsider, othered, whether it’s within the culture one lives in or within one’s own mind. The concept of othering and feeling foreign is explored through history, literature, philosophy and psychology, going back to ancient times. Kristeva frequently speaks of the foreigner/stranger within as a doubling of the personality- almost an evil twin: “. . . an alien double, uncanny and demonical. In this instance the strange appears as a defense put up by a distraught self: it protects itself by substituting for the image of a benevolent double that used to be enough to shelter it the image of a malevolent double into which it expels the share of destruction it cannot contain”. (X) Society then as a group projects this malevolence outward to create the idea of the evil foreigner in our midst.
Jules is grappling with the dualities within herself- her real self vs her backstory, her affectionate side vs her warrior side. We saw Hanna go through the same search for identity while grappling with her dualities last season during her time with Sophie’s family. But Hanna already had a strong core identity to draw on, thanks to Erik, so she was able to work through her crisis once she understood the new environment and expectations she was facing.
We haven’t been given much sense of who the real Jules is, and Jules doesn’t know yet, either. We can guess that she’s intelligent, analytical and sarcastic, yet also vulnerable, but she might be trying the sarcasm on for size. It’s certainly a bit of a front. She seems to be questioning her sexuality, but that could also be a trait she’s been told to cultivate. We’ve seen items appear in Sandy and Clemency’s bedrooms when Utrax wants to steer them in a certain direction. Jules’ books are likely also not just something she chose on her own.
The question is, did Terri suggest them because she thought they’d help Jules with issues Jules is struggling with or are they part of Jules’ evolving backstory? Or both? The backstories would work better if they dovetailed with the personalities of each trainee and that seems to be Terri’s genius. She’s perceptive enough to understand what each trainee wants or needs. Will she also understand what they’re capable of? So far, only Marissa and Erik have understood Hanna, and then Clara, and even they’ve found it hard to predict Hanna’s actions.
Is Marissa A Prototype?
Carmichael’s story about Marissa’s school years reminds me to bring up my theory that Marissa is an early prototype for Hanna and the trainees. Marissa is quietly better than everyone else at everything else, except having a personal life, but she’s very careful not to flaunt her talents and she can’t seem to get ahead in her career. She remains connected to the program no matter what, has empathy for and an attachment to the girls no matter what, the way a family member would, and even thinks of them as her daughters. The show has explained this by saying she was in charge of the original program in Romania and feels guilty for killing most of Hanna’s siblings.
She is a physical, tactical and intellectual overachiever. We’ve been shown and told this repeatedly. She repeatedly tells the girls that Utrax is their only family, but Utrax is her only family as well.
None of this is definitive proof. It just makes me wonder if the things she says to Hanna and Clara were said to her first.
Genetic Engineering and Designer Babies
There’s a dark and a light side to genetic engineering. On the one hand, through a little selective breeding of plant species, we have agricultural crops that feed the world more efficiently. And through some amazing steps forward in the 20th century we can coax microbes into making vital medications. On the other hand, horrific things have been done in the name of building better humans and even animals. Eugenics isn’t a good look on anyone. This video is an easy to understand crash course on genetic engineering. The part that applies specifically to Hanna, about designer babies, starts about 8 minutes in. It discusses the logistics and implications of making designer babies, something that we are already in the early stages of.
Images courtesy of Amazon Prime Video.