Full disclosure: I’ve been reading Marvel comics since college, which was in 2008 for me. When I first encountered Echo in the Hawkeye series (read our Hawkeye series review), I wasn’t sure who she was. However, she started appearing more frequently in my Marvel Comics crossovers and series, even taking on the role of The Phoenix at one point, and I became intrigued. But when her Disney+ series was announced after her Hawkeye appearance, I found myself wondering why that was the case. As my Echo Season 1 Review will highlight, I still wonder why that’s the case.
While this is going to be one of my more critical reviews (not as harsh as Secret Invasion, but it comes close!), I do want to note that the “signs were on the wall” almost from the start. From the delayed release to the unconventional simultaneous release on Disney+ and Hulu (which has never been done before), it seemed like even Marvel wasn’t sure if people would like it. Based on what I’ve seen, the general consensus is that it’s only “alright” to “meh,” and I fall on the other half of that spectrum. This series didn’t know what it wanted to be, and you can sense that from the very first episode.
The series starts with a recap leading up to the events of the 5-episode season. Right from the start, it’s clear they weren’t just trying to “bring everyone up to speed” by showing clips of Maya Lopez’s childhood and her appearances in Hawkeye. They were also attempting to cram in their “this is all the MCU now!” logic by showing Daredevil and Kingpin during the “period” of the Netflix series. Hint: It doesn’t make things any clearer.
Case in point, AFTER all of this, we find Maya (five months later) trying to escape from Kingpin’s men, who apparently shot her at some point. When did they do that? How did she survive? We don’t know! And it’s just one of MANY questions I had along the way of this BRIEF journey.
Naturally, because it’s an MCU property and an “origin story,” we see Maya return home and encounter her “family and friends.” But is she there to “reconnect with her roots?” Nope! She’s there because she wants to “send a message” to Kingpin’s men (since she still believes he’s dead) and eventually become the Queenpin.
Why does she want to become the Queenpin? Why does she THINK she could be a Queenpin? Why would she return home and paint a very obvious target on her back for obvious reasons? I DON’T KNOW! Are you getting the picture here?
What follows is a haphazard attempt for Maya to discover who she is, what she really wants in life, and what her ancestors need her to be.
Now, I don’t want you to think I will bash this series the whole review because I’m not. There were some cool things that I deeply appreciated about this series, saving it from receiving the same score as Secret Invasion. For example, since Maya is deaf, ASL (American Sign Language) was prevalent throughout the series. It was done with tact, and it was heartwarming to see Maya’s family and friends knowing it and remembering it despite her being gone for so long.
Maya points out that the “one person who should’ve learned it didn’t” resonated quite a bit when I thought about it. Another thing I appreciate is the season messing with volume levels so that we could “hear what Maya hears” and how her “handicap” can be a blessing in disguise…most times.
That level of creativity is something I wish the MCU as a whole would use more often, but I doubt that’ll happen, given what we’ve gotten in recent times, both in the movies and on TV.
I also must praise Vincent D’onfrio once again for being Kingpin. Yes, he’s still not the same as he was in the Netflix series (on many levels,) but even with this “lesser content,” he eats up every scene he’s in, and he’s a joy to behold. I truly pray that when Daredevil: Born Again finally arrives (now that it hopefully has its act together), we can get back to what made this man such a menace and not just use him because of what he means to so many fans of the Netflix series.
I also want to acknowledge the representation given to the Choctaw tribe. From the actors used for the Native American characters to the various expressions of their people’s history, I hope people come to appreciate this very real tribe. They deserve more than we could ever give them.
But even with these elements that elevate the series, Alaqua Cox did a commendable job portraying the raw and hurting Maya; it just wasn’t enough to make it meaningful in any reasonable way.
For example, remember when I said Maya wanted Kingpin’s throne? Well, she did, and she, along with her “cousin” Henry, said multiple times that “she could do the job,” yet the show did nothing to highlight that. She didn’t “have a crew she could trust”; she just used whatever help was dumb enough to do what she asked (see: Biscuits, her other cousin) and hoped it would work out.
And then, despite her saying that she’d never get caught by Kingpin’s men…she got caught easily!!! Oh, and not just easily, but by the most stereotypical “white trash” folks you’re ever going to see on TV, and I don’t say that lightly. It was dumb to behold them, and it’s insulting that those characters were used at all. Not to mention, many of Kingpin’s “henchmen” were just as dumb and stereotypical. He’s the Kingpin!!! He really has no one better than the guys we saw to take out Maya?
As for the supporting cast, although I appreciate the Native American representation, the five-episode series didn’t allow much room to flesh out the characters. Those who did attempt to provide exposition for their backstories or explain their motivations, but it didn’t seamlessly align with what the series conveyed in other instances.”
Characters like Henry and Bonnie were as one-note as could be. The reason that’s bad is that Bonnie was supposed to be Maya’s “sister,” and yet they barely talk in the entire series! It was just plain odd that Bonnie messaged Maya constantly, and the latter never replied. Then, Maya was mad that her grandmother never reached out to her. Huh? How does that make sense?
Furthermore, the series was NOT in a hurry to go anywhere, and then when it reached its crescendos multiple times over, they failed to elaborate on why things went down as they did. For example, when Kingpin was able to talk with Maya, she didn’t kill him, and he offered her the throne. And then she…didn’t take it. Why? I don’t know!
Or, in the finale, when Kingpin was defeated, he just…left, and nothing was explained about Maya’s “touch” and what she really did to him.
And that, arguably, is the biggest faux pas that I must point out in my Echo Season 1 Review. Despite being labeled a ‘street-level series’ under the ‘Marvel Spotlight’ brand, the show follows Maya on her journey to unlocking superpowers. However, in the comics, she didn’t possess superpowers; she had a ‘mimic’ ability, allowing her to watch something and instantly replicate it. Here, they shoehorned in an ‘ancestral powerset’ that is only lightly touched upon. Despite that being ‘her power,’ she can somehow activate it for her family members. Okay…
This isn’t like Kahhori from What If… Season 2 (read my review of this better series!), where I was enamored with how well that story was told and the “uniqueness” of what they did. Those writers did more in 30 minutes for Kahhori than these writers did for Maya in five times the length!
On that note, the 5-episode season was undoubtedly a mistake, as it didn’t allow anything to be fleshed out to a great degree, and the ‘cliffhangers’ were anything but at times. Not to mention, they shoehorned in so many things it was almost egregious. For instance, Daredevil shows up and ‘conveniently leaves’ after he beats Maya. Oh, and while the fights were fun at times, they also had ones with WAY too many camera cuts away.
As I conclude my Echo Season 1 Review, I’m truly left shaking my head. This series…honestly doesn’t need to exist. While many will be happy with the VERY HAMFISTED attempt to set up Daredevil: Born Again at the end credits sequence, the path to get there was as cloudy as the visions that Maya had.
Echo Season 1 Review
While not the worst thing that the MCU has put out on Disney+, Echo fails to balance everything that it’s trying to craft and rushes out a story with confusing endings, plot twists, and characters.
- Beautiful Use of Sign Language
- Clever Use of Audio to Highlight Deafness
- Kingpin (Most of the Time)
- Rushed Plots
- Confusing “Cliffhangers” and Scenes
- Supernatural elements despite it being “street-level Marvel.”
- Echo Season 1 Review