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Echo: Season One Review

“We’re family. No matter what.”

I have so many THOUGHTS after watching Echo. Not the least of which is that Disney and Marvel did Echo a disservice by dumping all the episodes on a Tuesday right after the holidays. Especially since there’s so much to love about this show. That said, it is not without some glaring flaws.

Let me start by saying Maya Lopez is a badass. Full stop.

Not for a deaf woman or despite being an amputee. These are simply the parameters in which she lives her life. The same as how a person navigates being 6’5” or 4’2”. They are aspects of her. They don’t define her.

Nor is it about her ethnicity. Through Maya, we are granted a peek into Choctaw culture. From their origin beliefs, to their history, and their current day practices. Representation matters. And Marvel made the effort to include consultants from the Choctaw Nation in all aspects of the production. This is a story lovingly told about their community by their community. And none of it is in juxtaposition to white people. It was a joy to behold.

It’s also why the treatment of Echo is such a travesty. If a show helmed by predominantly white and/or male actors succeeds or fails to meet expectations, it is judged on its merits and not as reflection of their culture or race’s commercial viability. The same can not be said for other communities. And in Echo’s case, these fears may have been misplaced. Despite lackluster reviews, the show premiered at number one on both Disney+ and Hulu.

Sorry, I’ll climb down from my pedestal now.

What did I love about love about Echo? At the top of the list is Alaqua Cox’s portrayal of Maya Lopez. Despite Maya’s internalization of rage and grief or her casual use of violence, you never cease to empathize with her. That is a difficult tightrope to walk. Knowing it was her first professional role makes it all the more impressive. And I LOVED that Maya is tough enough to rival Fisk.

This is followed closely by the attention to detail given to almost every facet of production. From the historical accuracy of the Choctaw culture, to the detail paid to the costumes, to the sheer badassery of the fight sequences. And a special shout out should be given to the sound design. Sometimes no sound is more impactful than the multi-layered concoctions that are now possible.

The only problem is that none of the things I loved seemed to add up to a cohesive story. For all its faults, the MCU is normally adept at layering personal dilemmas within the superhero narrative. But Echo is an anti-hero at best. She’s murdered without compunction and when we open the season, she has every intention of stepping into the void she created when she shot Fisk, AKA Kingpin. So is this a vengeance tale or a redemption arc?

Or maybe it’s a family drama. We bear witness as the death of Maya’s mother leads to the disintegration of a once happy family. Each wallowing in their isolated misery rather than coming together with love and support. For me, this was, by far, the most interesting storyline. However, since it is not the one that led to the kickass fight scenes or the final showdown, it was more hints and innuendos than actual story. That said, I have to mention how Graham Greene stole every scene, and how Cody Lightning made Biscuits so endearing, I dreaded what I was sure was his inevitable death.

The most obvious story arc is Echo’s origin story. Not the expansion of what occurred in Hawkeye, but the evolution of how Maya Lopez becomes Echo. I have never been a comic book aficionado, but it’s my understanding that the MCU has taken liberties with her comic origins in order to focus on her Choctaw history. Here she is shown as a warrior from a long line of powerful women. My only problem with this is the implication that Maya is some sort of hero. And while that may be true some day, it is certainly not the case currently.

Even more egregious than the dueling story lines is the fact that while Maya is the protagonist, she seldom drives the plot. With one notable exception involving some train car hijinks, Maya spends the whole series reacting to the obstacles thrust in her path. And the climax of the season is not a reflection of her character growth nor does it hinge on a decision she makes.

It’s no secret that The Powers That Be shortened the season. And there are plenty of rumors of budget cuts, extensive re-shoots, and massive re-edits. I have no way of sifting fact from fiction. Yet, it would go a long way to explaining the meandering plot and pacing issues.

I’ve done my best to be (relatively) spoiler free up to this point. However, there are several topics I can’t address without spilling some tea. So, if you’d like to watch Echo unsullied, this is your final warning.

First, we have to address the Kingpin in the room. Fisk is an amazing character. And in Vincent D’Onofrio’s hands he simply oozes menace. It seems like the intent was to make him into a modern day Mephistopheles. Offering Maya an empire to rule if only she’d come back into the fold. If so, then her decision to turn him down should have been the climax leading to their final showdown. It’s even edited to appear that way. But any impact Maya’s decision might have had is lessened by the fact that they are in separate locations and Fisk finds out from a third party.

Additionally, the emotional turning point occurs during Maya’s discussion with her mother, not Fisk. It hinges on Maya letting go of her rage and becoming a warrior and protector, like her foremothers. This too is an issue. Maya doesn’t choose to set aside her anger. Her mother heals her of it. Thus taking away Maya’s agency.

Finally, the final showdown sees Chula and Bonnie, as well as Maya taking on Kingpin's goons with seemingly supernatural abilities. As a reflection of how the Choctaw goddess’ powers flows through the generations of women, this makes perfect sense. As an origin story of a new (anti?)hero, it muddies the waters quite a bit.

I enjoyed Echo, and I’d dearly love to sing its praises. Yet the glimpses of greatness are outweighed by a flawed execution.

3 out of 5 Powwows


Skully: “Everybody should love something that much.”

Fisk: “Let me help you release this rage in a more constructive way.”

Henry: “if you want a body fixed… If you want a body gone… She’s the person you call.”
Maya: “Do you want me fixed or gone?”

Maya: “Kingpin had his run. It’s time for a queen.”

Tuklo: “To give life means nothing if I can’t protect it.”

Skully: “You used to melt like butter when I talked Indian to you.”

Chula: “Everything I’ve done has been to protect my family. However much it hurt.”

Maya: “I won’t let anyone hurt you. I promise.”

Fisk: You did what you thought you had to, just like I taught you. And I was impressed. And I think there’s a part of you that’s happy that I’m still alive.”

Fisk: “You raised a hand to me in violence.”
Maya: “Violence was always our language.”

Henry: “I don’t want you to become me.”

Biscuit: “Chula always says there’s nothing too broke to fix. If you want it bad enough, don’t throw it away.

Fisk: “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love you like a daughter.”

Skully: “I knew you’d come back for it. I just had to wait.”

Taloa: “Don’t run. Stay. Fight.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, the supernatural, and anything with a cape.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen this yet, so I only skimmed your review, but I am so excited to watch it once I get Disney+ back!

    I'll post a comment once that happens. (I'm mostly waiting for the Balenciaga show to be available, too. It's already out in the UK...)


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