Directed by Eva Husson
Written by David Farr
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “Utrax” – click here
* For a recap & review of 2×02, “The Trial” – click here
Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles) and Clara (Yasmin Monet Prince) are tasting real freedom off in the forest. Well, almost. Hanna uses the survival skills her father Erik (Joel Kinnaman) taught her, remembering his loving guidance. Then a drone catches sight of the two girls, so they have to run. Clara hides on land and Hanna hides below the water until the drone flies away, at least for the time being.
Elsewhere the Utrax girls are being transported to a place called the Meadows.
In Romania, Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos) is recovering well. She’s meeting with John Carmichael (Dermot Mulroney) about the events at the Utrax facility. He plays a recording of her in the aftermath calling for aide, explaining that Heller was dying and Hanna escaped, claiming she was shot in the leg when she shot herself. He confirms Heller died. Then he takes Marissa with him to a command centre where they’re going to go over everything from the start. Carmichael explains they’ve perfected the process with the Utrax girls this time. No more caged animal-type training. They’ll be eased into the real world.
We meet Terri Miller (Cherrelle Skeete). She’s in military intelligence, now switching over to work at the NSA. She’s being offered a “classified project” outside of the United States. Before she can even find out any specifics of the potential job she’s required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. And what’s at the top of the page? Operation Utrax. Terri signs her name immediately.
In the woods, Hanna and Clara come upon a truck. They loot a few guns for protection, then they’re off again. They stop a while, and they talk as if they’re two normal girls. Hanna notices a bump in Clara’s skin near the inside of her elbow, the latter telling her Utrax gave it to them to keep them calm. So she cuts it out of her friend: “You don‘t need this anymore.”
The Utrax girls are introduced to Leo Garner (Anthony Welsh) and Joanne McCoy (Katie Clarkson-Hill) at the Meadows. Things are different there than at the original facility. The girls are now getting identities via a “personalised character profile” to inundate them in their new existence. They’ve got more freedoms— they get an actual room, not a cell. Nevertheless, they’ve got no real past or history, it’s all a construct given to them by the CIA. They’re super-soldier girls built with “wolf DNA” but now they’re “state–sponsored murder” drones that’ll be blended into the fabric of everyday life on college campuses and other similar everyday environments.
Yet there’s still two rebel Utrax ladies out there, unwilling to be controlled or put down like wild animals. Hanna and Clara continue through the forest, stopping where they can at cabins to find themselves supplies. Clara’s not quite sure about this kind of life, living in the woods, though Hanna assures it’s the only way they’ll truly be able to survive. Funny how Hanna’s becoming exactly like Erik. And Clara is in the same position Hanna was in Season 1. She’ll probably want to track down her mother.
At the same time, the Utrax girls are being taught by Leo about “the world and how it‘s come to be this way.” He’s preparing them to face the dangers of the real world. Life at the Meadows is a hell of a lot more gentle than it was at the isolated Utrax facility. Girls like Sandy (Áine Rose Daly) and Jules (Gianna Kiehl) are no longer just Girl # Whatever, they have names, they have backstories. They can sit in a cafeteria together and talk about hot boys and hometowns and families with elaborate histories like shithead brothers and ill sisters. Later, we see Sandy brought in to talk about Girl 249 a.k.a Clara, questioned by Carmichael and Marissa.
Soundtrack: “Dig” by Joyeur plays while Hanna and Clara hike
When Terri’s brought to the Meadows she’s briefed about her job. Leo explains that, essentially, she has to help fill in the backstories of these 30 Utrax girls without real identities. So, she’ll have to chat with them on social media, reply to posts, and many other tasks. This will be so that any universities, friends, lovers, et cetera will be able to confirm that, yes, these girls are quite real. However, it’s also to fully immerse these girls in their own fake worlds because Terri acts as their family members, sending messages back and forth online. It’s a mind-numbing task to think about in reality, but such is the deviousness of the American government and its various law enforcement offshoots. It also holds the possibility for Terri to get deeply attached to some of these girls. And Sandy’s more into it than Jules, who urges it’s “not real.” She’s getting something out of it that somebody like Jules isn’t, probably because she has a longing for family, for a genuine connection with other human beings.
Clara stumbles onto a woman and her daughter in a cabin. She gets invited inside, awkwardly chatting with them. She talks about looking for her mother, Samira. It only takes a few seconds for the daughter to look Samira up online, showing that she’s in Bucharest. Marissa told Carmichael he needed to put something in place for when Clara began looking for her mother. This is definitely the CIA trying to draw Clara back into the arms of Utrax, confirmed only moments later once Carmichael and Marissa are gearing up a team to go snatch her up.
Of course, the mother and daughter have taken Clara towards the city. When Hanna manages to track her friend to the cabin, she’s there right as a military vehicle pulls up outside. She prepares herself for what may come next while more soldiers arrive and they spread out to search the surrounding area. That’s when Hanna comes out firing, taking down several soldiers, prompting the others to fire back. A propane tank’s ignited in the firefight and the cabin erupts in flames.
Simultaneously, at a hotel near Bucharest, Clara’s dropped off to find her mother. When she reaches the 2nd floor she doesn’t find her mother, she finds Marissa waiting for her in a dark room. Marissa says Samira’s dead, that she gave Clara up to the Utrax program. She tries to tell the girl there’s a better way of living at the Meadows. She offers a new identity, with the ironic name Clemency. Clara only wants her mother, and before she can think of running soldiers turn up to drag her away. While Carmichael sees it as a job well done there finally seems to be a moral weight beginning to crush Marissa. Not that she’s actually going to do the right thing, but it appears she at least feels that weight rather than largely ignoring it to save her own skin. She’s not happy to hear about the incident at the cabin, either.
We all know that Hanna’s too tough to let an explosion kill her.
It’d have to be a much, much bigger explosion to do that.
And when Hanna crawls out of the rubble, she goes straight to find Marissa.
Soundtrack: “No No No” by Cherokee Death Cats plays here
Killer opening for Season 2. I’d been anticipating this greatly, so to see this new batch of episodes begin strong, continuing directly after the events of the first season’s finale, it’s a fantastic shot of adrenaline. Obviously this series is headed in exciting directions. Can’t wait to see more of the Meadows, the new Utrax girls, and how this new Hanna-Marissa dynamic is going to play out.