Hanna – Episode 1

This post analyzes the Amazon Prime television series Hanna using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.


This post contains spoilers from the Amazon Prime television series Hanna, so make sure you watch the show before you read further.

The 5 Commandments for Episode 1

Inciting Incident

The inciting incident for this episode is when Erik steals Hannah from the hospital and tries to escape with Johanna.

Progressive Complication/ Turning Point

There are a number of progressive complications that lead to the Turning Point of this sequence:

  • The car crashes during the chase and Johanna dies
  • Hanna disobeys Eric and crosses into a part of the forest he has forbidden her to go
  • Hanna meets Arvo, who gives her a candy bar
  • Hanna returns and is seen by the police but escapes

The Turning Point is when Hanna is spotted by the authorities when she is in the radar dish with Arvo.


When Hanna returns and tells Erik about the incident, Erik must decide if they assume that it is nothing and they are still safe or if they must leave because Marissa will send people.


Erik shows Hanna a photo of Marissa and they decide to leave their home, split up, and meet up later at a predesignated location.


Erik is almost captured, Hanna hears this on a radio, and she turns herself in to save him.

Value Shift

This value shift is a -/–. In the beginning, the are isolated but safe, but Erik knows they can not stay there forever and in the end of the episode, Hanna is captured and Erik is on the run.

Conventions and Obligatory Scenes for the Action Genre

Obligatory Scenes

Inciting Attack by the Villain – Marissa and her organization (CIA) conduct tests on babies

Hero Sidesteps responsibility to take action – Hanna doesn’t fight with all her strength in the beginning when Erik sneaks up on her, she does not take the threat seriously

Forced to leave ordinary world, Hero lashes out – Hanna lies to Erik about leaving the area

Discover and understand the McGuffin (the enemy’s object of desire) – Marissa wants to kill Erik and capture Hanna (for now)

Hero’s initial strategy against villain fails – To be determined

Hero’s All is Lost Moment, when he must change his approach in order to salvage some form of victory – Too early yet

Hero at the Mercy of the Villain – Too early yet

Hero’s Sacrifice is Rewarded – Too early yet


Hero, Villain, Victim clearly defined – Hero – Hanna; Villain – Marissa; Victim – Maybe Hanna too? Other children that were tested on? (To be determined)

The hero’s object of desire – stop the villain and save the victims

The Power divide between the hero and villain is very large – Hanna is alone, with only her father’s training; Marissa has many resources and men and an agency behind her

Speech in praise of the villain – Not yet; though Erik tells Hanna he has been training her to fight Marissa


For an action story, Hanna starts out with a bang: A car chase, a car wreck, a father training his daughter, and a fight with commandos. There is intrigue as to the origins of Hanna and what she is being trained by Erik to do. It’s a good start and will probably engage the viewers to continue watching.

More Story Analysis

If you want to see more applications of the Story Grid methodology, below are links to my analysis of various novels and television shows in blog posts and podcasts:

Story Grid Showrunners Podcast – Parul, Melanie, and I analyze hit TV series using the Story Grid methodology.

My blog posts analyzing other Television series – my person take using the Story grid 5 Commandments to look at my favorite TV series – Jack Ryan, Batgirl, For All Mankind, Hanna, and more.

Novel analysis – I analyze some of my favorite books using the Story Grid 5 Commandments and 6 core questions – First Blood, Old Man’s War, Waylander, and more to come!

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