“Overcomplicates itself with a premise that is meant to be mysterious“
Netflix’s Echoes follows two identical twins who switch their lives on their birthdays with a confusing narrative that gets lost in the mystery. A seven-episode limited series created by Vanessa Gazy, it presents a complex plot with more distracting subplots and questions left unanswered. Even though the limited series has an interesting cast, Echoes leaves the audience confused and is hard to keep up with.
The story follows Gina and Leni (both played by Michelle Monaghan), who live two very different lives. The former is a best-selling author who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Charlie (Daniel Sunjata), while the latter lives in the countryside with her husband Jack (Matt Bomer) and daughter Mattie (Gable Swanlund). Leni prefers domestic life over living in the Hollywood Hills and she has become a beacon in her community. She fashions herself with a braid over her shoulder, whereas Gina wears mascara with her hair down. Every year on their birthdays, the twins inspect their bodies to make sure there aren’t visible changes, and switch their lives to deceive their husbands, family, and friends. Gina and Leni’s devotion to this plan is rock solid, and they are convinced that nothing can go wrong as long as they keep a virtual diary of their lives. When Leni suddenly goes missing on the eve of their birthday, Gina is forced to return to her country home, and the past begins to unravel itself.
From the first episode of Echoes, it’s hard to distinguish which of the twins is Leni and which is Gina. Both of the characters are different in terms of how they dress, their accents, and how they style their hair, which becomes more and more frustrating when the series progresses forward. One of the biggest questions the series asks is who is responsible for all the past mistakes. Every location in the twins’ lives is a memory. The church that burnt down, the bathtub where their mother drowned, and their older sister Claudia’s (Ali Stroker) tragic accident that left her paralyzed — which the twins are responsible for. These memories are shown through flashbacks, which narratively makes sense since it weaves everything together. However, these subplots only create more questions, and the audience is left to wonder who is guilty of these crimes. On top of this, the present-day storyline related to Leni’s disappearance involves selling ketamine, stolen horses, and Gina’s relationship with her high school sweetheart, Dylan (Jonathan Tucker). These additional subplots complicate the series’ already distracting plot with police interrogations, and result in a very unsatisfying conclusion overall.
There’s a lot happening in Echoes, and part of the reason is that the show overcomplicates itself with a premise that is meant to be mysterious. The primary theme of the series, which is the distinction between good and bad, is blurred due to the mechanical details of Gina and Leni switching their lives. Exposition is the series’ worst enemy, and once the series begins to explain the twins’ complex lives, the secret languages, and the peculiar voodoo rituals they engage in, there’s really nothing interesting to say about it all. Another issue with the narrative is that the show never tries to determine why Gina and Leni deceive the people around them. There’s never an explanation as to why their deception is justified; rather, it causes more problems for them. Helmed by Monaghan’s dual performance, Echoes fails to create any kind of suspense or shock, and it would have been much better for the story if the series was stretched longer than the seven episodes.
Header image courtesy of Netflix