In episode 3, the adults and kids work on their trust issues while Terri tries to help Clara find her place at The Meadows, Marissa and Hanna track a drug shipment and Leo guides Sandy through using her new religion to help work through her issues with Clara. Carmichael supervises Sonia’s investigation of Hanna’s mayhem at the Passway facility.
Carmichael watches the trainees out in the exercise yard while listening to a news report about the incident that Hanna caused at Passway Pharmaceuticals in Belgium. Two people are dead, but Passway is denying all responsibility. Police assume the real Monica Gastner, the young woman whose identity Hanna stole to get into the trial, was the woman actually at the facility, so they’ve taken her into custody.
Carmichael calls Louis Dumont, the Director of Passway Pharmaceuticals, who’s sent him Monica’s file. Monica has a history of anxiety and depression, but no previous record of violence. The police have been at Passway all night questioning people. Dumont says that he’s kept them away from the area where Carmichael’s drug shipment for the The Meadows is stored, so it’s not in jeopardy. Carmichael doesn’t want to take any chances, telling Dumont to move up the shipment and take care of it personally.
Carmichael calls Sonia and asks her to go to Belgium to investigate the situation.
Marissa and Hanna are safely tucked away in a peaceful hotel. While Hannah soaks up a bit of nature, Marissa calls into work and asks how the new girl, Sonia, is doing. She discovers that Sonia can’t make it into the office today either. Marissa asks Hanna to fill her in on her misadventure at Passway while she tends to Hanna’s IV wounds, noting that Hanna might be dead if Marissa hadn’t showed up with a getaway car when she did. Hanna gives Marissa Clara’s metal medication capsule as explanation. Marissa immediately understands its significance. Hanna tells Marissa that Clara is at The Meadows. Marissa acknowledges that she knows of the facility, but she doesn’t know where it is.
Hanna says she discovered there’s a drug shipment about to be sent to the facility. She got a good look at the man who was writing the message on the computer, so if they identify him, they could use him to find the location of The Meadows and find Clara. Marissa tells her to give up on saving Clara because she’s out of reach now. But they are still on course for Hanna to leave for Canada today. Marissa doesn’t want to lose the opportunity to guarantee Hanna’s safety.
Hanna says that if they abandon Clara, she’ll eventually try to escape Utrax again. When Utrax kills her, Hanna will feel like it’s her fault. Marissa assures her that it wouldn’t be her fault and if she tries to help Clara, Utrax will discover she’s alive. Then all of Marissa’s plans to keep her safe will be ruined.
And if something happens to Hanna, Marissa will feel like it’s her fault.
Guilt is an emotion Hanna can work with. She points out that Marissa manipulated Clara into getting captured by Utrax by saying she was her mother. She gave Clara hope, only to take it away again. Marissa explains that she did it to save Hanna. Hanna replies that she didn’t ask for that. She reiterates that Utrax will eventually kill Clara and suggests that she and Marissa work together to rescue her.
Carmichael meets with Leo and Terri to decide what to do about Clara, who still isn’t cooperating. Leo feels the other trainees can be convinced to accept her back into the pack. Terri isn’t ready to give up on getting her to accept The Meadows as her new home. Carmichael gives them two days to bring Clara around before he “makes the call”.
Hanna scopes out the exterior of Passway, expecting the executive who’s working with Carmichael to be within view for some reason. Marissa tells her to remain outside on watch and call when she spots him. When Marissa hangs up, her documents forger arrives with a new Canadian passport for Clara, which will cost her double since it was a rush job.
Clara is now in a paneled sitting room instead of a cell as Terri attempts to understand her better so that she can erase her personality. Terri hasn’t fully assimilated into The Meadows yet, so she doesn’t completely understand the ramifications of her job, but Clara does. Terri still thinks she’s being nice and helpful to these girls instead of brainwashing them into being whoever the company tells them they are, in addition to being lethal spies and assassins.
When Terri enters, Clara tells her straight off that she’s not the same as the others and she will fail whatever tests they have planned for her. Terri questions how Clara knows what the others think like.
I guess Terri missed the part where these young women have spent every waking moment together since birth. 🤦🏻♀️ Of course, now they are all theoretically different people from the last time Clara saw them, so according to the staff at The Meadows, Clara is the one who doesn’t know her sisters.
Terri tells Clara that it’s okay to question. Clara correctly reminds her that it is at The Meadows- Terri shouldn’t ask too many questions either. Then Clara asks why Terri slept in the cell with her. She’s not up for Terri to pretend to care about her, especially after Marissa pretended to be her mother.
Terri: “I understand what it is to be the out one out in every situation.”
Clara: “Do you have a mother?”
Clara: “Then don’t try and pretend you and I are the same. We’re not even close. So how could you possibly understand?”
Marissa gives her frenemy and colleague Sonia a call using a locator app on her computer. She pours on the fake friendliness and apologizes for them getting off on the wrong foot, suggesting they go out for a coffee to start over. Sonia pretends to be receptive as she’s walking into the closest police station to the Passway facility, but begs off on the coffee date until a vague future time. By the time they hang up, Marissa knows Sonia’s location and can guess her assignment.
Hanna witnesses the Passway executive, Louis Dumont, making arrangements with the security guards at the gate to leave with a private shipment in an hour. He tells them to keep his departure a secret. Marissa probably won’t be able to get there in time to help, so Hanna steals a security pass from a nearby employee and makes her way into the Passway lobby, where she identifies Dumont as the Director of Innovation for the company. She texts the information to Marissa, who tells her to wait, but obviously that’s not happening. Hanna steps into the elevator before anyone recognizes her.
She gets out in the parking garage, where she has no cell service. A police officer is questioning the attendant, which allows Hanna to steal the keys to a car parked near Dumont’s (his keys aren’t on the rack). Then she waits.
Sandy finds a youth Bible waiting for her in her room. She opens it to a passage that exhorts women to be submissive and pleasing to men. Leo enters her room seconds later.
At least he knocks first, but that doesn’t change the reality of how closely these young women are watched. In order to time his visit to the second like that, he had to be watching her every move through the surveillance cameras.
Leo swears when he sees the bruises Clara left on Sandy’s face. Sandy brushes off his concern for her appearance, but it’s clear that she’s still angry as she asks where Clara is. She says she doesn’t want Clara to rejoin the rest of the trainees. Leo tells her he agrees.
Sandy asks about the Bible and Leo tells her that her parents sent it because she loved reading it when she was little.
Sandy, in a stony tone of voice: “I don’t remember that.”
Leo, smiling and friendly as he gaslights her: “I went to Sunday School for years, but I can barely remember a thing they taught us.”
That’s not surprising.
Sonia pretends to be an INL investigator looking into the illegal prescription drug trade when she questions Monica Gastner at the police station. Monica is totally over being wrongfully accused of this whole thing, since she’s already told her whole story. She explains again that there was a girl who grabbed her, gave her money and took her clothes and consent form.
Sonia calls Carmichael to inform him that according to Monica, the girl was young and nondescript, but strong. Carmichael watches Clara on his surveillance screens while he’s on the phone. She’s rubbing her arm where a new medication capsule was implanted. Leo explains that “She cut the old one out.” Carmichael wonders if she had help from a very strong friend who might still be alive. He checks the files to see what the old med capsule looked like and confirms that Passway’s name is on it.
Marissa calls Hanna’s phone while she drives to Passway, but Hanna is still in the parking garage with no cell service.
Sonia shows Monica a photo line up on her computer. Monica easily identifies Hanna as the girl who stole her identity. Carmichael calls Marissa to ask if she’s heard from Hanna. Marissa lies and says she’s in Paris and she thought Hanna was dead because that’s what he told her. He says he’s not so sure anymore and she should let him know if Hanna surfaces.
Dumont makes his way to the storage room where Utrax’s drugs are stored. Their main shipment is already on a truck, but he needs to pick up the next level doses that will turn the trainees into psychotic killing machines. There are police and Passway employees in the hallway who shouldn’t know about this extra shipment, so he pulls the fire alarm as a quick way to empty the building, then picks up the delivery once the hallway is empty. Hanna hides under the dashboard of the car she’s in until the garage is clear, then waits for Dumont. It doesn’t take long. She follows him out of the garage.
The drug trial wasn’t secret, so I’m not sure why the delivery to Carmichael is. They mentioned that the trainees’ dose would be stronger, which raises the possibility that this is an illegal side deal that isn’t even being covered up as a drug trial. But in that case, it’s odd that Dumont told the security guards about his private delivery. Maybe Passway just doesn’t want liability issues from the stronger version leaking out into the general public and Utrax is still attempting to keep everything about their program a secret.
Leo finds Terri sitting outdoors, trying to figure out how to help Clara. She tells him that Clara seems to want to destroy herself rather than accepting her place at The Meadows, because she’s clinging to the idea of her lost mother and can’t move past it. Leo is surprised that Clara would have such strong feelings, because she never met her mother. He wonders what it is, exactly, that she can’t let go of. Terri realizes that Clara needs to know if her mother ever loved her.
From the library window, Sandy watches Clara take a walk outside, escorted by two armed guards. Jules asks why Helen is reading The Catcher in the Rye when it’s such a phallocentric piece of BS. Helen reminds her that she loved it just last week. Jules scoffs at Helen for caring about what happened last week.
If there were any question of who the alphas of the pack are, this episode answers it. Sandy is the Queen Bee, indisputably the one who needs to accept Clara back into the social group- it’s assumed if she forgives Clara, the rest will follow. And Jules is the arbiter of social norms. She acts on the outside like a rebel, but she’s mainly defining the edges of the rest of the pack’s strength, tolerance and conformity levels in order to determine the pecking order. Who will push back against her and how hard?
Sandy sits down with them and asks if they believe in God. Obviously, Jules sees the Biblical God as a tool of the patriarchy. He’s just another man, and she prefers women. Sandy and Helen realizes she’s coming out to them. She tells them that she’s always been attracted to women, but Helen isn’t her type and she thinks of Sandy as a sister. Sandy thinks of Jules as a sister, too. Jules tells Sandy she can’t compete with God as a lover, anyway.
Dumont stops to meet a contact inside a diner, giving Hanna a chance to check her messages. When she hears that Utrax knows she’s alive, she goes inside the diner. She calls Marissa on her way in and gives her the address. Sonia uses facial recognition software to find Hanna and then traffic cams to locate the car she’s driving.
Once Hanna sits down inside the diner, she overhears Dumont on the phone arranging a pickup tomorrow. The truck he’s meeting pulls into the parking lot, so he goes back outside to meet it, with Hanna following.
Carmichael orders Sonia to “take” Hanna. She retrieves a special supersoldier gun from her trunk, then looks for Hanna in the diner parking lot. Whether her objective is to kill or tranquilize Hanna isn’t clear, since there’s an extra clip and drug tube in the gun case and Sonia doesn’t take either.
One should never be overconfident when it comes to taking out supersoldiers. Or anyone on this show, really. I lost count of how many times people are told someone is dead this season, when they aren’t. It was a tradition in S1 as well.
Hanna finds Dumont handing off the bag of drugs to the driver at the back of the truck. She films a little of the interaction while eavesdropping on their conversation. Dumont gives the driver directions to The Meadows. The facility is apparently very well hidden.
Dumont notices her skulking around the back of a van and comes over to question her. Sonia sees her but can’t shoot while Dumont is so close. Marissa pulls up and takes in the situation. She deals with Sonia first, following her into the storage area where Sonia tries to hide for a minute. Marissa is speaking as she rounds the corner, shooting Sonia in the head as soon as she sees her. Her gun has a silencer, so no one notices the shot. She closes the door to the storage area behind her.
Sonia went for her weapon, but had to pull it out of her bag. Since Marissa already had her weapon drawn, she’s still the stealth top of her class.
Dumont and the truck driver are still questioning Hanna’s right to be in the diner parking lot and drive a nice car. They’re lucky she doesn’t kill them just for that. Marissa races up and squeals to a stop. She jumps out of the car, already yelling at Hanna about the fight Hanna, her “daughter”, supposedly had with her father. Hanna quickly picks up that Marissa is pretending to be her angry mother and plays along. She gets in the car with Marissa and they drive. She explains that the truck is going to The Meadows, so they need to follow it. Marissa pulls over.
Terri gives Clara a letter that she says was written by her mother. She tells Clara the story that Utrax was supposed to give it to Clara before her first mission, but they’ve decided to give it to her now. Clara asks if Terri read the letter. Terri says she didn’t think it was her business
and anyway, she wrote it, so she knows what it says. She encourages Clara to read it, but says she can take all the time she needs.
The letter is loving and warm, telling Clara how much her mother wishes she could keep her. It’s exactly what someone who’s never met a missing loved one would wish for from them- as long as they don’t want any useful details like where the loved one might be found or other specifics. The letter could be a form letter used for every trainee when they wonder about their mother.
Clara cries when she finishes reading the letter. Terri puts an arm around her and says she knows the younger woman misses her mother. She asks what Clara would like to say to her mom. Sobbing, Clara asks why her mother didn’t want her.
Terri tells Clara that she was right- the two of them aren’t alike. But the other 30 trainees have been through the same things that Clara has and they won’t leave her. Clara asks if the other young women will forgive her. Terri tells her that there’s always been a spot waiting just for her at The Meadows. She can feel at home here.
As they follow the drug shipment truck, Marissa asks Hanna why she has such a strong need to protect Clara, even though they haven’t known each other very long. Hanna explains that when they were together in the forest, she could feel that something in them was the same. It was the first time she ever felt that. She was drawn to her, as if Clara is part of her family, a connection that supercedes the amount of time they’ve spent together.
As if to emphasize their growing mother-daughter connection, Hanna and Marissa discuss changing the music on the radio, deciding that Marissa’s music is meant for people her age, while Hanna likes younger music. Hanna tells Marissa she looks good for her age, a complement that also signals Marissa is past the first blush of youth.
It also echoes a complement that Erik paid to Marissa in S1, when he was holding her hostage. He told her that she was aging well and that some women improved with age. Marissa cared about Erik before he betrayed her to help Hanna’s mother. Hanna has moments throughout the season where she does a subtle Joel Kinnaman/Erik impression, the way even adult children can suddenly seem to become their parents for a moment. Marissa would be drawn to her for this feeling of familiarity, if nothing else.
Terri checks in with Clara via the control room monitors. Leo tells her that Clara has been standing alone, watching the rest of the trainees run for half an hour. She’s longing to join them, but isn’t sure how. Leo says that it’s his turn to help the trainees develop their social skills.
Sandy is in her bedroom reading a passage on forgiveness in her new Bible when Leo knocks on the door. When he notices the Bible in her hands, he says he’s impressed that she’s embracing her parents’ values. Sandy asks about Clara and Leo truthfully tells her they’re currently deciding what to do with her. She asks to see Clara before the final decision is made, exactly what Leo wanted her to say.
The staff are encouraging Sandy to be the traditional, people-pleasing conformist of the pack who shows others how to behave properly when they’re in doubt, both through modeling and intervention. This is a natural tendency of Sandy’s, as we saw at the end of season 1 when she refused to leave her room or even look out the window, no matter what, until an official announcement was made. But she’s also very adaptable and intelligent, which allows her to make her new identity seem sincere and authentic, while also being able to step outside of her persona just enough to pick up on subtle social cues, such as Leo’s implicit rather than explicit instructions. Like Hanna, she is already operating on multiple levels at once, though she isn’t as sophisticated as Hanna yet.
While they wait to follow the drug shipment onto a ferry, Marissa makes sure Hanna understands that this needs to be a surgical extraction, with minimal fighting, so they don’t get caught. Hanna asks what it’s like in Canada. Marissa describes it as a naturally beautiful wilderness that Hanna and Clara will both love. But she won’t be able to visit because it would lead Utrax right to them. Hanna wonders why Marissa is helping, if it means they’ll be separated. Then she examines Clara’s new Canadian passport.
Marissa gets a call from Carmichael. She tells Hanna it’s her ex-boyfriend, then gets out of the car to talk. Carmichael thinks Hanna killed Sonia and kept running. He wants Marissa to find her and bring her in.
While Marissa is on the phone, Hanna searches her things and finds the card Carmichael gave her. She looks through the call records stored in the car and discovers that Marissa has been communicating with him. Remembering that Erik taught her Marissa always lies, Hanna assumes the worst and leaves, searching the parking lot for another hiding place.
She hides in the trailer of a truck with loose canvas covering the sides. Marissa discovers that she’s missing and searches for her, quickly figuring out where she is. Once Marissa is inside the trailer, Hanna attacks her and they fight. Marissa is confused and doesn’t want to hurt Hanna, so she’s not as ruthless as usual, but Hanna is also a formidable opponent. Hanna puts Marissa in a sleeper hold until she passes out. “You lied to me. You always lie.” She leaves Marissa in the truck trailer and takes the car to continue following the drug shipment.
I’m not clear on whether Dover, England is just the port city for the ferry or if it’s also where The Meadows is, but we get a shot of Hanna on the boat watching the driver, then we’re there.
Clara approaches Sandy, who’s waiting for her in the cafeteria, and apologizes for attacking her. She says that she was wrong about The Meadows. Sandy agrees that it feels like home and tells Clara that it’s time she understood who her real family are. Then she takes Clara back to her dorm room, which has been fully redecorated according to her assigned identity, Clemency Jones. Sandy picks out an outfit for her and says “they’re giving you a chance.” As Sandy looks through Clemency’s scrapbook, Clemency asks if the others will accept her. Sandy says if they don’t, they’ll have to deal with her. Clemency changes into her new outfit.
Hanna follows the truck to another parking lot, where the driver removes the illegal shipment for The Meadows and hands it off to another driver in a car. She follows the car to The Meadows, but stops when she reaches the first sign for the facility. The drug car continues on, but Hanna jumps the fence and enters on foot. She hides her and Clara’s Canadian passports in the crook of a tree on the edge of the grounds to keep them safe while she gets Clara.
Then she runs to the brick wall that surrounds the school yard and starts listening for guards. She easily takes them out as she encounters them one or two at a time, taking their guns for her own use as she goes along. Normal footage is intercut with surveillance camera footage, suggesting that someone inside the facility is aware that they are under attack. Either they’re letting her continue in order to see how far she’ll get up against the guards by herself or the school isn’t all that well guarded this deep inside the perimeter, for all that it seems heavily guarded. It could be that they’ve underestimated the trainees as well as Hanna and just didn’t realize how many guards they actually need in these areas to stop the worst case scenario.
If the normal guard detail can’t stop one uncooperative Utrax escapee who was trained with a personal touch and tends to go in hot, imagine what would happen if most of the trainees decided they wanted to sneak out?.
Hanna finally makes it into the inner courtyard, where several of the trainees, including Sandy, Jules and Clemency, are happily chatting while taking a walk in the gardens. This is a revelation to Hanna. Last season, she saw Sophie’s version of a normal life, and has riffed on that ever since in her attempts to pass as a normal person in public.
In contrast, the Utrax trainees were in a camp that was essentially a prison lab. That’s what she expected to save Clara from at The Meadows. Now she’s seeing young women like her who are friends and seem to be engaged in pleasant, age-appropriate activities. Just as with Clara, it’s the family/pack she’s longed for, but she doesn’t know if she can trust it or if they’ll accept her. She stops and watches, confused about whether she should rescue Clara or let Clara rescue her.
Most of all, she’s heartbroken that Clara seems to have forgotten her so quickly. The rest of the group turn a corner and move out of sight. Clemency turns around and sees Hanna standing, watching her. She stops as well, also confused. Before either can act, Hanna is surrounded by guards aiming guns at her. She surrenders. Without a word, Clemency turns and walks away to rejoin her friends.
And so ends the typical streaming show’s 3 episode introductory arc, with Marissa unconscious in the back of a truck, Hanna captured and alone with her worst enemies and Clara brainwashed and back in the Utrax fold, or at least acting like she’s one of them. Sonia is dead, but all of the other enthusiastic villains are on site and ready to take advantage of both Hanna and Clara, while Marissa has no idea where they are.
Hanna was hit in the one place she’s vulnerable, her need for love and attachment. She doesn’t need a large pack of sisters like the rest of the trainees are used to, but she needs at least one other person. She grew up living with a parent who respected her and also taught her how to work with a partner. She’s still most comfortable working and living that way, whether the partner is another parental figure, a mentor, friend or lover. Based on S1, I think she likes having both a similar aged friend/lover and an older handler/mentor.
Marissa is a mother who will kill to keep her children safe, but she has difficulty showing warmth and sticking to one side, so people find it hard to trust her. These are the perils of being a spy and trying to have a few honest relationships.
Leo seems frighteningly good at his job, which makes me wonder what kind of brainwashing work he’s done before. Terri is sincerely trying to get through to the trainees, rather than exploiting them into their roles with a wink and a nod the way Leo is. It’s probably best for the trainees to have both types of personalities to go to with their issues, so different personalities and different problems can take advantage of their different styles, just like having a mom and dad. But the whole set up makes my skin crawl.
How many batches of designer children did it take to create brains that are so malleable that they don’t need to create personalities until late adolescence and even then will accept their creators’ templates, turning them into archetypes rather than individuals?
This is not normal teenage behavior.
Clara at The Meadows: Home Sweet Indoctrination Camp?
Hanna’s guilt about leaving Clara behind is understandable, since at the end of S1 she originally pulled Clara out of a life that was normal for her, but Clara was already thinking differently from the rest of the trainees. That’s why she was the one to go with Hanna (plus she missed a dose of her meds). She was going to act on that difference sooner or later and chances are that Hanna is right- she’ll continue to act on it. But Hanna also showed Clara how to explore her own needs while staying alive and one step ahead of Utrax.
By the same token, Utrax was always going to act on Clara’s differences/flaw sooner or later. We’ve seen how little Utrax values “flawed” products- they killed dozens of Hanna’s infant DNA siblings for no real reason. With Hanna gone, the matched set was no longer complete. And their secrecy was compromised because of Erik. But clearly Hanna’s wolf DNA was everything they’d hoped it would be.
Why not take the original group of tiny infants into hiding instead of starting over with a new batch? Or was Marissa forced to throw the rest of the experimental infants into the incinerator as her punishment for losing control of Erik? Whatever the reason for sacrificing dozens of baby girls, it shows that Utrax and their backers view these young women as products they own rather than human beings with rights. That attitude continued throughout their childhoods, when they had names instead of numbers and drug regimens instead of personalities. It still hasn’t changed now that they are coming of age and are having personalities forced onto them, along with a new drug regimen, one which will apparently include hallucinogenic murder stimulants.
Clara’s Journey: Hansel and Gretel and Utrax and Dehumanization
One of the main themes of the series is the dehumanization of Hanna, Clara, the other trainees, their birth mothers, Erik, Marissa, the Utrax soldiers, etc. and the causes and effects of that dehumanization. People constantly ask how Clara can miss her mother when she’s never met her and has never known a mother. The answer is obvious- Clara is a human being and human beings have an instinctive need for mothers/parents who nurture them.
Clara knows she needs her mother because at the end of season 1, Hanna gave her back her real name, told her about her mother and then in between seasons, taught her what family is. Clara saw Erik’s parenting in action. Even if it was only for a brief time, it was enough to connect to the deep yearning she’s always had inside her.
The way Erik loved and raised Hanna as his own daughter is the flip side of Clara and her mother. Characters also constantly point out that Erik wasn’t Hanna’s real father, even though he gave up everything for her and her mother, devoted his life to her in a way that few parents ever do, then died for her. How much more could he have possibly done to prove he was her father, other than donate an organ to her?
If Erik’s love for Hanna wasn’t an example of deep parental love, then it doesn’t exist in this world. Was he a perfect parent or person? No. Those don’t exist, even in stories. Perfect People aren’t actually good for kids, who need to see flaws in the people around them in order to eventually learn to accept their own flaws. Parents who are too perfect end up stunting their kids’ growth, since the kids’ never learn how to face and overcome challenges. As fairytales and Hanna (the series and the character) show, parents frequently become one of the challenges to be overcome- welcome to the joys of devoting yourself to your children. But look at how strong and resilient Hanna has become!
Sandy and Jules haven’t had a Hanna and Erik in their lives to act as such clear role models, but the staff at The Meadows are beginning to engage them in mentoring relationships to nurture them toward Utrax’s goals for them using their instinctive need to bond with a parental figure. This is a manipulation of the parental bond rather than a true bond. The trainees are being taught to use emotions as a weapon rather than learning how to fulfill their own emotional needs. Utrax is still denying that they are human beings with emotions at all, perhaps planning to continue drugging them until they’re killed when the company no longer has a use for them.
Hanna, the show, continues to use fairytale archetypes in its storytelling, as it did in S1. This season, Hanna acts as Clara’s benevolent fairy godmother, while Marissa takes over as Hanna’s fairy godmother. Leo acts as Sandy and Jules’ mentor/godfather, but there’s a touch of the villain about him since his loyalty is to Utrax rather than the trainees. His help serves his employer first and the trainees second.
Like Clara, Terri is a wild card, since she was hired and apparently trained without a full debriefing on the nature of the program she was getting involved with. She’s also just finished her own CIA training, so she shares a journey of self-discovery with the trainees. Terri was wrong when she told Clara that they don’t have anything in common. They are both more emotionally sensitive than the typical trainee or staff member at The Meadows, which sets them apart.
Emotional sensitivity is a required attribute for Terri’s job, but most of the staff who have it, like Leo, have separated their own emotions from their observations of others in a sociopathic way, just as the trainees tend to remain emotionally separated from their new identities (except for Sandy, who wants to believe, but who’s being teased out of her naivety by Jules). Terri is not a sociopath. She figures out who she is as a CIA operative and what her boundaries are through the situations she encounters this season and how she uses them to help the trainees. Her empathy allowed her to understand what Clara needed in this episode, but it also forces her to see the emotional toll The Meadows takes on her young charge.
Carmichael is here to remind us that according to Utrax and its employees, the trainees are proprietary products, not people. He is the Big Bad, the Cruella de Vil, the evil step-parent who doesn’t properly value the children whose care he’s inherited. Two days isn’t much time to fix wetware (the programming in Clara’s brain they depend on for her compliance) that the company has put 17+ years of resources into, which is installed in one of only 31 prototypes.
Carmichael’s lack of patience and creativity makes me think this must be one of many supersoldier experiments Utrax has running. Otherwise they’d reprogram the failed models, then reassign or sell them rather than killing them, in order to make back some of their investment. The only way it makes sense to completely scrap one is if they have enough competent models to market so that they don’t want their supersoldier reputation ruined by the occasional inferior model. Or else we are watching an excellent example of waste and incompetence among government contractors.
Carmichael functions as this season’s Witch in Hansel and Gretel, with The Meadows acting as the irresistible house made of treats. The Witch plans to lure the children inside, capture them, eat some and enslave the others. Utrax is the ultimate enemy, the evil, uncaring parental/magical authority that used Erik as Huntsman and Marisa as Witch to create/save the children, but then forced Marissa to throw most of the first batch into the fire when Hanna’s mother broke the fairytale’s rules and asked for her daughter back, also convincing Erik to break his covenant with Marissa as original witch when he saved Hanna.
When Johanna broke the fairy tale rules and proved to be a loving mother instead of a neglectful one, a spell was broken. Marissa was no longer ensnared in the role of Witch/Snow Queen and was able to become more complex and to continue growing. Erik was freed to be a loving father instead of the Huntsman. The cynicism dropped from their eyes, though it happened faster for Erik, who was already warm blooded. It took longer for Marissa’s ice cold heart to melt. This season, Terri, Marissa, Hanna and Clara continue to take a more active, complex role than many of their fairytale counterparts. They aren’t waiting for a prince or a male of any kind to rescue them. Hansel and Gretel is one of the few fairytales where the girl saves both herself and the boy from certain death through her own intelligence and actions.
Marissa and Her Utrax Children
When Marissa asks Hanna about her instant feeling of connection to Clara, I’m not sure if Marissa is simply asking about Hanna’s experience or if she’s also trying to figure something out about herself. It seems obvious why Hanna would be drawn to the other Utrax trainees and feel a kinship to them. They are the only people in the world who are genetically similar to her and who share her enhanced abilities. Using wolf DNA suggests that Utrax wanted the trainees to feel a kinship with each other their handlers could exploit to create bonded units. That’s probably why we see the trainees frequently split off into the same groups without the instructors making an effort to mix them up more.
Wolf DNA would also incline the trainees toward respecting authority and hierarchy. The benefits of that trait for a corporation that wants to build its own class of enslaved supersoldier/spies who don’t pose a threat to their masters is obvious.
Erik may have loved Hanna like his own, but he still raised her in isolation to be a soldier-spy, just as the other trainees were raised. Hanna had the homeschool version while the rest had the elite corporate school version. None of them had typical childhoods and all need to fill in large gaps in their experiences before they’ll be able to function smoothly in society. Hanna did much of that work last season, but not all of it. She’s grieving the loss of the only family she’s ever known and looking for someone to fill that hole. At the same time, the trainees are having their medication levels reduced and trying to understand how to have meaningful relationships with others, just as Hanna did last season.
Marissa has also struggled with meaningful relationships and her connection to the Utrax children. She chose not to have children of her own- last season it was implied that was partly because of the trauma she suffered from killing Hanna’s siblings. That trauma also made it difficult for her to kill anyone, even in the line of duty, a potential liability for a soldier-spy.
Marissa gets around this issue using her wits. When she does kill, it’s generally for personal reasons such as self defense, to protect Hanna or because of the grudges she had against Erik (which led to Lucas’ death) and Sawyer in S1, rather than an impulsive act in the heat of battle. In this episode, she kills Sonia without hesitation in order to protect Hanna, a move that’s been coming for a while now. She let Sonia live and continually outsmarted her as long as the threat was only to herself, but when Sonia’s orders changed and she became a threat to Hanna, Marissa’s tactics changed as well.
The original Utrax babies wouldn’t have been born if Marissa and Erik hadn’t talked their mothers into cancelling their abortions and signing the infants over to the company to be experimented on instead. Marissa and Erik were their adoptive parents in a way, so their parental feelings make sense. In S1, we saw the flashback to Erik and Marissa watching Hanna’s birth, like proud surrogate parents. Erik worked out his guilt over what he did when he worked for Utrax by raising and then dying for Hanna, eventually asking to be buried next to Hanna’s mother, Johanna, like Jean Val Jean completing his promise to Fantine in Les Miserables.
Marissa has taken over where Erik left off, in a lovely gender swap from the usual way that media portrays parental roles. For once, the dad raised the child and then was removed from the picture, leaving a wise and able stepmother figure to train the adolescent in adult matters. We already know that she’s working as a double agent, cooperating with an outside organization against Utrax, since she had them sweep for Utrax’s bugs in her apartment.
Marissa is also healing herself along the way. Whatever her backstory is, just like Erik, she was certainly damaged by the time she began the first Utrax mission. Between her interactions with Erik, Hanna, Clara and the other trainees, the splinter of ice in her heart is slowly melting and she’s realizing how much work with the Utrax children Erik left unfinished. She doesn’t want to be the evil Witch or the Snow Queen anymore. She’s ready to be the mentor, protector, good witch, fairy godmother.
Images courtesy of Amazon Prime.