Let’s Talk about Echo Episode One
For years now, we’ve heard about the potential of an Echo series, one that stars the terrifying war machine named Maya Lopez.
We’ve also chronicled the struggles behind the scenes as pandemic filming issues caused turmoil and indecision.
Ultimately, Marvel could cobble together only five episodes of footage from what was intended to be a six-episode series.
That’s rarely a good sign, but I also never underestimate Marvel, Secret Invasion notwithstanding.
So, let’s talk about Echo’s series premiere, the one with the surprise guest star.
A Strange Start
I’m not gonna sugarcoat it.
The first three minutes of Echo are so strange that I briefly believed I’d accidentally played the wrong series.
We meet some sort of earth people who seem to be muddy until one of them washes spring water on her face. Then, she…glows?
Immediately afterward, a bird flies into her hand but then the ground shakes as if from an earthquake.
The 20 earth people appear likely to die by squashing…until the bird woman saves them.
Suddenly, her people reside above the surface, and some of their previous…I dunno, tree bark(?) sheds, turning them into people.
They’re Choctaw Indians, and the woman who saved them is named Chafa. She instructs them to follow here.
As she walks and her people obediently trail their Chafa, the scene cuts to two little girls in a tent.
We learn that they are telling each other stories about Chafa and their heritage.
Meanwhile, their parents and grandparents sit nearby, enjoying the conversation and the warm campfire. It’s a lovely setting.
The Bird Is Bad Luck
Later, the grandmother and her husband drive home, but the woman notices Chafa’s bird, which upsets her.
Soon afterward, Maya guilts her mother into leaving the comfort of their home on a rainy night to buy her hot cocoa.
You can guess where this is going.
As the grandmother frets, her husband jokes that ancestors must be whispering in her ear again. She doesn’t laugh.
Cue Maya and her mother in the car, when the parent realizes her brakes don’t work. Someone has cut them.
A car careens into the two women, killing the mother instantly and destroying the girl’s leg.
At the hospital, the grieving grandmother blames her son-in-law for her daughter’s death.
She believes that his shady business dealings have cost her daughter’s life. The grandmother says she will never forgive him.
At the hospital, Maya wants to see her mother to apologize for the car accident.
Her poor father, recently eviscerated by his dead wife’s mother, must decide how to proceed.
Ultimately, father and daughter leave for his new job in New York.
Maya begs her cousin, Bonnie, to come, but the grandmother won’t allow it.
This deaf child is now missing her mother, one of her legs, and her best friend in life.
This is the origin story of Maya Lopez, the adorable Choctaw girl whose father’s underworld dealings cost her dearly.
An Interesting Edit
Hey, do you remember how exceptional Hawkeye was? My wife and I do because we just rewatched the series last month.
Well, the editors of Echo apparently agree with us, as they heavily implement footage from that series in this episode.
The thought process here is that they already had filmed the scenes, and they’re better than the stuff that didn’t work.
So, the first episode of Echo feels like a rehash of Maya’s introduction in Hawkeye at times…and that’s grrrrreat!
Remember the little girl who loved her “uncle” we later learned was Kingpin?
Remember that scene when she did some MMA fighting with that dude and utterly wrecked him?
Remember when she caught Ronin invading Fat Man Auto Repair and killing her father?
Yeah, all of that makes a return appearance here because it’s also part of Maya Lopez’s origin story.
This is where we meet the distrustful Maya, who realizes Kingpin has betrayed her.
Thick As Thieves
Importantly, at her father’s funeral, Maya receives a text from Bonnie. The message implores Echo to reach out to her cousin.
Before that happens, Maya must learn the truth about Kingpin, as the story briefly fractures time.
To know the Maya of now, we must meet the “new in New York” Maya, a bitter miscreant who throws a motorcycle at a police car.
This short sequence works extraordinarily well in drawing us into Maya’s world, as her part of the scene is silent.
We only hear the noise when the motorcycle crashes through the windshield of the cop car.
Kingpin appears as they prepare to arrest her, causing the police to back away.
Kingpin expresses disappointment – through a translator, which is important here – and offers Maya a job.
Her first assignment has her working with Davy and Edgar, two men in suits who are about to invade the turf of Kingpin’s enemy.
They deem Maya’s presence as a babysitting assignment, as does the security guard at the site.
This dude makes the tactical error of getting handsy with Maya, who nearly shatters his arm. At this point, Davy and Edgar warm to her.
During the invasion, the other thugs put up a good fight, incapacitating Kingpin’s men.
At this point, Maya unintentionally calls upon her Choctaw heritage and triggers her Echo.
She can learn fighting moves instinctively.
Maya is one of only two people left standing at the end of this brutal brawl. And the other is…Daredevil.
Yes, Matt Murdoch had been watching this criminal operation and intercedes.
Notably, Maya holds her own against him in a one-on-one fight to the point that he eventually bails.
This impresses Kingpin, who chooses her as a worthy protégé.
Who Says You Can’t Go Home?
The episode quickly skims over the falling out that ultimately leads to Maya’s shooting him in the face.
The story never emphasizes the point, but Kingpin never cares enough about Maya to learn sign language himself.
Instead, the fearsome villain pays women to communicate with Maya on his behalf. That’s…not great uncle behavior.
After Maya’s relationship with Kingpin turns south during the face-shooting, she chooses to return to Oklahoma.
That’s the part of this story where my brain keeps getting stuck.
Five months after shooting the most mobbed-up dude on the East Coast, Maya rides a motorcycle to her hometown.
If you’re a Firestarter who is currently playing with matches, you shouldn’t go home. You’ll burn down your own place.
So, Maya’s actions here strike me as selfish and ill-considered.
Then again, she has been shot recently and needs someone to bandage the wounds.
Where would you go in Oklahoma for such services? Don’t you dare say a hospital! Are you even paying attention?
Lopez is a wanted woman. She cannot be seen like that.
Instead, she heads to Black Crow’s Skatelife, a place with the slogan of – I kid you not – Make America Skate Again.
Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, she meets her cousin Biscuits, a kindly guy with a dog.
You can tell that he’s family and a good person because he knows sign language and happily tells his dog, “Maya Lopez is back!”
What Kind of Skating Rink Is This?
Then, we get to the skating rink. A sketchy dude working the counter isn’t very helpful, and it’s immediately obvious he’ll betray her.
In fact, he texts someone and says that as long as the reward is still available, he knows where the “King killer” is.
So, yeah, that dude will face a reckoning.
Before that happens – and we’re apparently saving it for episode two or three – Maya encounters another cousin.
To his credit, this dude, Henry, presses Maya on many of the questions that bother me.
Maya apparently wants to undo the Kingpin, believing it’s time for a queen.
To do that, she needs her unexpectedly mobbed-up cousin to provide her with a train cart.
Maya is gonna hit a Kingpin building, Fisk Shipping.
During these discussions, a mortician treats Maya’s wounds. This woman is on call for Henry at the skating rink.
I have so many questions about this criminal enterprise. Why is the shadiest guy working the counter?
Doesn’t anyone ever notice that the mortician visits the back office a lot? And why is the skate rink owner also the emcee?
If this dude is so well-connected, aren’t there better uses of his time than Green Light Red Light?
Anyway, Maya’s cousin is apparently more ethical than her and protective of his community. He refuses to help.
We all know that Maya is gonna perform a full frontal assault of Fisk Shipping sooner rather than later, though.
Speaking of which, the episode ends with an IV drip that heavily hints that Kingpin has survived his recent face-shooting. Uh-oh.
Umm, this was…pretty good? I hadn’t expected that.
Then again, I’d lowered my expectations so much that I shouldn’t be surprised.
Yes, I had to shut off my brain for parts of the episode…but nowhere near as many as I’d expected.
Also, I’d estimate that six minutes of a 44-minute episode come from previously filmed Hawkeye footage.
The series probably cannot rely on that in multiple episodes as it advances the Oklahoma portion of the plot.
Still, I marked out at the Daredevil cameo and quite liked the action scenes in this episode.
So, Echo has exceeded expectations thus far.
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