Echoes, now streaming on Netflix, will do nothing to counter the notion that identical twins are creepy. While the seven-part series has received many negative reviews, it finished its first week in the number one spot on Netflix, dethroning Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. While I wouldn’t place this production at the top of my list, it has some good performances and enough plot twists to keep the viewer engaged. If you’ve run out of things to watch, give it a go.
(L to R) Matt Bomer as Jack, Michelle Monaghan as Gina McCleary in episode 101 of Echoes. Cr. Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix © 2022
Gina and Leni McCleary, played as children by Hazel and Ginger Mason, as teens by Madison and Victoria Abbott, and as adults in a dual role by Michelle Monaghan, grew up on a horse farm (we never really learn where the farm is located), but now live very different lives. Leni married her childhood sweetheart, Jack (Matt Bomer, who is a sight for sore eyes), and runs the farm with him, while Gina moved to Los Angeles, married her therapist, Charlie (Daniel Sunjata), and has become a bestselling author writing about her life as a twin. When Gina gets a phone call that Leni is missing, she wastes no time getting on a plane to help in the search.
The plot leans heavily on the bad twin/good twin myth. The town has always believed that Gina was the bad twin, blaming her for an accident that landed her other sister, Claudia (Ali Stroker), in a wheelchair, as well as the death of a local man in a fire that happened on Halloween. Gina’s lover at the time, Dylan James (Jonathan Tucker), left town shortly after the fire, but the police never had enough evidence to charge him with the crime.
Gina receives a cool reception when she arrives in town, but her father, Victor (Michael O’Neill), is happy to see her, as well as Leni’s young daughter, Mattie (Gable Swanlund). But is it Leni who is missing or Gina? What no one knows – except for the twins – is that each year on their birthday, they switch places. One stays on the farm with Jack, while the other is in L.A. with Charlie. Monaghan is terrific creating two very different women. Leni speaks with a southern accent, favors western clothing, and wears her hair in a long side braid, while Gina presents as the L.A. personality she has become, with designer clothes, flowing hair, and makeup ready-made for a runway closeup. While Gina joins the search, it’s Leni who later emerges from the wilderness.
Karen Robinson as Sheriff Floss in episode 104 of Echoes. Cr. Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix © 2022
Right off the mark, however, things begin to unravel. The local sheriff, Louise Floss (Karen Robinson), doubts Leni’s story that two masked men took her after setting the farm’s horses loose. Victor and Mattie are thrilled to have Leni back, while Jack seems more reserved about his wife’s return. And where is Gina? Why isn’t she there to greet her sister? Leni’s explanation that Gina is now staying in town is initially accepted, but when Sheriff Floss can’t seem to get the two women in one room, her suspicions grow. Gina/Leni, meanwhile keeps up the deception, portraying both sisters.
Madison and Victoria Abbott as Leni and Gina McCleary in episode 102 of Echoes. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022
Flashbacks begin to fill in the twins’ history. Their mother, Maria (Tyler Rushing), was the only one who could tell the girls apart. But after she died, Leni and Gina were free to begin their masquerade. Floss nails it on the head when she accuses them of using this role switching to avoid ever being held responsible for their crimes. Although she vows to be the one to see they are punished, doing so will not be easy.
The challenge for the viewer is keeping track of Gina and Leni. Just when it appears Gina is the bad twin, Leni turns the table. But does she? And one has to wonder whether the two men – Jack and Charlie – are truly in the dark about their wives.
As with so many streaming series these days, this one is too long. Sustaining the plot lines for seven episodes drains the suspense. Echoes might have benefited from condensing seven into four, or even creating a 90-minute film. As is, you will need lots of drinks and popcorn to get through this one.
Top photo: Michelle Monaghan as Gina McCleary in episode 101 of Echoes. Cr. Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix © 2022