It's almost time for Hanna to emerge from a Romanian forest.
Viewers worldwide fell hard for the heroine of the Amazon Prime Video action series, which returns for its eight-episode second season on Friday, July 3.
Hanna, played by Esme Creed-Miles, is part confused teen, part deadly living weapon.
Hanna Season 1 was all about Hanna finding out who she was.
Over the course of that season, Hanna discovered that Erik, the man who raised her, actually stole her as a baby from the top-secret Utrax Program, which trains girls from birth to become sleeper agents/assassins.
Late in that season, she returned to the Utrax facility, seeking to free the other trainees.
Aided surprisingly by Marissa, who had been hunting “father” and “daughter” for years, Hanna and Erik destroyed the facility, but Erik succumbed to his cumulative wounds and died. Clara was the only trainee that chose to leave with Hanna.
How did Clara find the will to leave while the other trainees were too afraid?
“Why she is so different keeps lingering around [throughout Season 2],” explained Yasmin Monet Prince, who plays Clara. “It doesn't really get answered. But we start to figure out who she is. Hanna definitely helps her to express that rebellious side of her.”
On Hanna Season 2, an older, wiser Hanna, who is grieving, has to choose a new direction for her life.
“She needs to seek a new home, a new family,” explained David Farr, the series' creator. “One option is these young women she found in Romania, whom she would have been with if it hadn't been for Erik taking her away.
“The central dilemma of Season 2 is should Hanna stay with this family of young women and join them, become one of the young assassins in the Utrax program, or should she rebel, stand against that program and be alone,” he added. “These are much more active choices than she was making in Season 1.”
Hanna clings hard to Clara to help fill the Erik-sized hole in her heart.
“Hanna hides Clara away and does exactly what Erik did to her, protects Clara but also muffles her,” Farr said. “So, in a strange way, history repeats itself with Hanna in the role of Erik.”
But the pair don't remain together long, as Clara's need to find her mother takes priority, landing her in trouble.
“Clara still doesn't know who she is,” Prince said. “In order to know who she is, she needs to know where she comes from, and she needs to start from the beginning. Hanna gave her that glimpse. That's where her start is, and she needs to find who she is in order to go back and be who she needs to be.
"Even though she was so indebted to Hanna because she saved her, at the same time, Hanna taught her to take a risk, to do it.”
Utrax leadership wants to recapture Clara to understand her independent streak, which could prove dangerous for the program.
“It's a risk because you need to study your enemy,” Prince said. “They didn't want me running around without knowing what they were dealing with.”
Not only Clara but also Hanna, will end up at “The Meadows,” the new Utrax compound in Northern England, which promises explosive action.
“It's Clara's escape from [isolation] that leads Clara back to Utrax, but to a very different Utrax, to a very different training facility,” Farr said. “And Hanna follows her because she's concerned about her. That's the journey of the season.”
Another continuing storyline will be the redemption of Marissa, according to Mireille Enos, who plays her.
“She keeps stumbling toward some idea of redemption,” Enos explained. “I think it's confusing for her. I don't think she's ever made a choice that wasn't purely selfish in her life. She's bravely trying to do so. And she takes some lumps in the process.”
Farr describes Marissa's action as a form of atonement.
“In the past, she was in charge of this Utrax facility,” he said. “She did terrible things. She burned babies in incinerators. She was a monster, you could say.
"The journey of her redemption and return to some kind of humanity, the opportunity for that is presented through the character of Hanna. If she can save Hanna, it can go some way toward redeeming herself.”
Farr explained that his initial idea for Hanna involved a girl with a mother and a father, with neither of them her biological parents. Under this dynamic, Erik is the father and Marissa, the mother.
Enos can't envision Marissa as a maternal figure.
“I don't think she would describe herself as a mother to Hanna,” she said. “She's spent her life using her skills to protect the wrong people and destroy the wrong people. For once, she's trying to be the protector of someone that deserves it.”
As the trainees enter socialization training at The Meadows, Farr has given a new face to Utrax leadership.
There's John Carmichael (played by Dermot Mulroney), who Farr describes as “a kindly uncle,” as well as smooth, attractive Leo Genner (portrayed by Anthony Welch).
Mulroney is happy to be joining an international hit.
“That part made it a nice soft landing,” he said. “Also, David Farr wrote and helped me conceive of a really interesting character to add to this storyline. The whole thing is a trip.”
Carmichael isn't the charismatic man he appears to be at first.
“He's a top-level guy in the Pioneers, which is the only nicknamed, unofficial, untraceable, nothing on paper, inner-sanctum, radical splinter group of the CIA that is developing these assets for their own purpose,” Mulroney said. “Which late in the season I reveal to be dark, very dark.”
Welch, who also was excited about joining a show with as much buzz as Hanna, was fascinated by the concept behind the Utrax program.
“We tell the trainees we're going to give you the characters that are your mom, your dad, your sister, your school, where you grew up, and we're going to ask you to accept that as reality,” he said. “Not as something that you present to the world but as something you actually believe in.
"I was fascinated by the psychology of that, because of the longing that these girls clearly had, a sense of wanting to belong to something and serve a higher purpose.”
Leo has a darker side, which will come out later in the season.
“It's evident from the first couple of episodes that he's playing a role with the young trainees,” Welch said. “But that's something he's not in real life. That becomes more evident as the season goes on.”
An interesting twist this season is that viewers will receive the trainees' perspectives as well.
The two that are focused upon are Jules (Gianna Kiehl) and Sandy (Aine Rose Daly).
Sandy embraces the fantasy family given to her, treating it as reality.
“That's because she's come from having no emotional connections whatever,” Daly said. “At the end of Season 1, you see there's some curiosity in her, but it's not clear where that's coming from, and if it's the same thing as in Clara, where she really wants to break out of the system.
"Season 2 shows that she wants something more than she already has, and The Meadows gives that to her so easily. It's so easy for her to latch onto it.”
Jules treats her background material as fantasy and digs into more cerebral reading material than most of the trainees.
“Part of the identity they gave her was one that was very intellectually serious,” Kiehl said. “It might be very inherent in her, very natural to her to find answers to the more difficult questions and that difficult reading material provided that for her.”
There's foreshadowing that Jules and Sandy may become something more than friends.
“I can say for sure that they have a profound impact on each other, as far as being each other's first best friend,” Kiehl said. “Their connection stays throughout the season. And I won't say any more than that.”
Despite their sketchy history, and Carmichael being suspicious of Marissa's report about the fall of the Romanian facility, he invites her to join him at The Meadows.
“Sometimes, you have to work with the people you are most at odds with,” Mulroney said. "You certainly get the impression that Marissa and John Carmichael have an interesting, what, long-term friendship, colleague-ship, relationship, mentor-ship? It's hard to tell.
"That's one of the cool things about how the stories in Hanna are told," he added. "You don't get all the connections.”
Marissa feels compelled to accept his offer.
“She's probably smart enough to know that there's a lot of suspicion around the validity of her story and she needs to stay in the good graces of them, that she's safe so she can be useful,” Enos said. “If she gets thrown out of the club, there's not going to be as much she can do for herself and potentially for Hanna.”
Utrax, opening the world to their trainees through socialization, could be playing a dangerous game.
“Utrax want to control these young women, but they want to give them the illusion of freedom,” Farr said. “Hanna wants real freedom. That's her profound, deepest yearning, freedom to be who she wants to be in the world. But how does she get there?
“These girls don't really know what freedom is, and they're being presented with the illusion of it. But might they learn what it really is along the way? That's one of the things I want to explore this season.”
Are you looking forward to Hanna Season 2? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.