OTT Review: Echoes is worth a watch for purely subversive reasons

What happens when identical twins swap lives — and not just for a laugh, but for some seriously twisted reasons? Check out Echoes, a new limited series


Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 1 Sep 2022, 9:20 PM

When I was in college, there used to be a set of twins in my batch. Identical. If you looked very hard, there was a slight difference in the jaw settings and eyebrows’ arch, but most times nobody bothered to subject either of them to intense scrutiny. I would, more often than not, mistake one for the other, and be informed — with some shaking of head — that I’d yet again failed to “spot the difference”. But then one day, they told me that even their mother, at times (if she wasn’t looking too hard that is), would get misled. I wondered aloud if they had ever toyed with the idea of “swapping lives”, and they would both laugh and say, “Maybe we will in good time!”

Echoes, that released recently on Netflix, made me remember my time in college with the identical twins. In this seven-episode limited series, Leni and Gina — played by Michelle Monaghan — are identical twins, with a bordering-on-creepiness “love” for each other, that takes on twisted dimensions because of the disturbing shared childhood trauma (no spoilers). Leni lives with her husband Jack (Matt Bomer) and daughter Mattie on a stud farm in Virginia — in the same small town where the twins grew up, and where their father and older sister also live. Gina lives in LA, where she’s a creative artist, and is married to Charlie (Daniel Sunjata). The two sisters, though miles and miles apart, speak to each other every day, and seem to exchange notes on every single thing that happens to them.

The series starts with the Virginia twin — Leni, you would assume — going missing. The LA twin — supposedly Gina — panics and fetches up in Virginia to take part in a search operation. And that’s when it is revealed that the sisters have, on and off, been swapping identities and lives. So, it’s actually Gina who’s gone missing, and no one other than Leni knows the truth.

Now, why they get into this charade is a complicated mind-bend… but, more importantly, Gina has to be “found” in order for Leni to get her life back. Adding to the twisty tangle are even more twists — a murder, a dogged sheriff (Karen Robinson) who is determined to get to the bottom of the rabbit hole, crimes from back in the day — while the plot see-saws between then (the twins’ growing-up years) and now (the current drama).

This is a promising premise, but Echoes gets ahead of itself by inserting some far-fetched surmises and by trying too hard to keep the mystery layering up. What happens is, despite some gritty performances — though Monaghan could have been less stony-faced (and, therefore, mostly expressionless) in both avatars — you come across turns where you are clutching at straws wondering what the hell is going on… more to the point: why, and then who?.

Having said that, this is an entertaining watch (the reviews have been pretty unkind, but I’m not strictly being a purist here), even though at the end of it you are likely to shake your head — before scratching it.

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