Mentoring Authors One Scene at a Time – Thriller/Military/Non-Fiction/SF/Fantasy
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.
I think we’ve seen enough of the series to determine the Beginning Hook. Most of this is seen through flashbacks in Episode 3, and the end of the Beginning hook is at the end of Episode 1, but we wouldn’t have the whole picture until episode 3 was complete.
There are 5 core scenes in the Beginning Hook, and since this is the Thriller Genre, they will all turn on the global value of life and death.
Inciting Incident: Erik works for Marissa, who works for an agency called UTREX, finding pregnant women who no longer want their babies. He convinces Johanna to give up her baby, Hanna, to UTREX who will do experiments on her. This is the life/ death/ unconsciousness of the baby Hanna.
Turning Point: Johanna changes her mind and asks Erik to help get her baby back, thus saving Hanna’s life.
Crisis Question: Does Erik risk his relationship with Marissa and his well paying job at UTREX to rescue Hanna, saving her from an unknown fate?
Climax: Erik decides to do the right thing, thinking of a human life over his own wealth, and helps Johanna steal Hanna back.
Resolution: Johanna is killed during the escape, Erik and Hanna escape to Romania to live in off the grid in the wilderness until they are found and hunted by Marissa’s people when Hanna is 16. Hanna is captured and Erik escapes. Before the separate, Erik tells Hanna he has trained her all this time to kill Marissa.
The Beginning Hook – After convincing Johanna to give up her baby, Hanna, to be experimented on by UTREX, he decides to help Johanna rescue Hanna when she changes her mind, but Johanna is killed during the escape and Erik trains and raises Hanna in the wilderness until his old boss finds them and captures Hanna.
After escaping Marissa’s agents, she flees to Berlin where she meets up at a pre-arranged location with her father Erik
Eric and his old military buddies raid a weapons depot, are discovered by the police, but escape and Marissa comes to investigate the location the next day which allows Erik’s team to tail her.
Erik must decide to risk his team being captured or killed by either remaining on the defensive against Marissa or bringing the fight to her and trying to capture her.
Erik devises an elaborate plan to capture Marissa
One of Erik’s team betrays him and then helps him in the end right and Erik foils all of Marissa’s plans and captures her using deceit.
This value shift is a -/+. In the beginning, Hanna is on the run and can’t find her father at the rendezvous location, but after she does find Erik, Erik’s team avoids Marissa’s trap and capture her by trapping her instead.
Forced to leave ordinary world, Hero lashes out – Hanna wants to help Erik during his raids, but she does not know the way the city works and Erik refuses resulting in some fights.
Hero’s initial strategy against villain fails – Erik captures Marissa. If this is his first strategy, then she will be probably escape in the the next episode or two.
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? (To be determined) (The hero becomes the victim?)
The hero’s object of desire – stop the villain and save the victims; it’s possible we don’t really know who the victims are yet.
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 – Too early yet, though Erik has warned Hanna that Marissa is dangerous.
More action, Hanna defends herself against a drug dealer, there is a shoot out at the weapons depot, and the end involves a very complicated sting reversal. Hanna still desires her freedom and a more normal, comfortable life than Erik is offering her.
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!