Hanna Forest Review
Amazon Prime‘s Hanna: Season 1, Episode 1: Forest reintroduces the viewer to the story-line of the original film but in linear fashion, foregoing the flash-backs employed in the source material. Though this story-telling decision ameliorates the episode, not every narrative and editorial-choice benefits Forest.
The way Erik Heller (Joel Kinnaman) infiltrates the high-tech infant nursery in Forest is dubious i.e. it’s far too easy. The staging of the exfiltration from the crashed car into the forest is down-right terrible writing. How did Erik Heller get out of the car with a baby in his arms without Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos) seeing him? She’s in a helicopter and can see everything yet suddenly can’t? The fact that quick TV editing is used to facilitate this escape is a lousy way to get characters out of a perilous circumstance they have been placed into to. Why doesn’t David Farr cleverly write Erik and the baby out of the car and the situation? Instead, a cut and paste editing job is employed to do so, stretching taunt the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. This pressure on the established reality of the episode quickly dissipates, however, once father and daughter are ensconced in their forest home.
The forest setting and what happens there is where Forest shines.
This episode of Hanna is an origin story. It shows the viewer where all of Hanna Heller (Esme Creed-Miles)’s skills come from and how they are possible. There are other genetic gifts, like her extra-sensitive hearing, that are hinted at in the episode but their full capabilities are not delved into.
Forest has many surprises in its succinct storyline, one of which being specific to girls of Hanna’s age. Hanna has her first menstruation during the episode and from her reaction to it (touching her privates, smelling her blood-smeared fingers, tasting them), her father didn’t prepare her for this special moment in her life. Regardless of whether he told her about it or not, Hanna does not share the event with him, even-though their father-daughter relationship is extensive.
This pattern, of keeping secrets, perhaps has only emerged as Hanna has matured. Or perhaps she inherently knew to keep this specific event to herself. I believe it is the former because of what else happens in Forest.
Hanna’s natural curiosity about the outside world initiates pivotal events in the second and third acts of the episode. It is that curiosity that brings Hannibal Barca‘s legions to their gates, exposing Hanna and her father to the outside world. Hanna’s naivete to the dangers she has been protected from is genuine but puerile. She means no harm but causes immense damage.
When Hanna escapes the confines of her forest sanctuary through an extraordinary feat of strength, will-power, and ingenuity, what she put herself through to abscond initially seems worth it.
The sweet taste of success, a chocolatey, peculiar favor inherent to her duplicity, has a very short life span. Chewing the nugget, talking to someone other than her father for the first time, letting herself be touched, all new, attractive experiences, and all not what they herald e.g. a resplendent new world. What really awaits Hanna through her actions is the morose world of her father and by Forest‘s end, that world shows all signs of getting darker.
To combat that darkness, Hanna endures extensive training.
The training montage in Forest is upgraded from the film version and is far more detailed, like the wilderness-based survival and perseverance curriculum a Special Forces soldier might be put through. It is innovative and grueling, designed to build strength, accuracy, stamina, marksmanship, and hand-to-hand combat fighting ability.
Though educated in soldier trade-craft, what Erik fails to teach Hanna, and what leads to the downfall of their forest existence, is not adequately teaching her about the outside world (e.g. about airplanes, helicopters, music, courtship, candy bars, etc.), enough so that interest in it is quelled. Instead, the outside world is left nebulous and Hanna’s curiosity and imagination eventually get the better of her young and inexperienced mind.
Marissa Wiegler, on the other hand, may be called many things but inexperienced and uninitiated are not among them. An espionage veteran, Marissa’s acquired skills are downplayed in Forest with the majority of the narrative arc centered of Eric and Hannah. Marissa is an empty vessel in the episode, a series of actions without personality, a Buhmann that has yet to bare its claws. There is little doubt that those malevolent talons exist but for this episode of Hanna, they are sheathed. What is on display in Forest is Marissa’s calculating mind and her ability to think ahead while covering herself and her actions. Those actions have haunted Erik Heller for nearly two decades and have only begun to stalk and haunt Hanna.
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