Review by Sean Boelman
From the creator of everyone’s (least) favorite hate watch, 13 Reasons Why, comes Echoes, a new mystery-thriller that is almost as baffling as the infamous teen drama. With a ludicrous story that somehow manages to be both deathly boring and one of the most confusing things you will ever see in your life, this is just an altogether unpleasant watch.
The show follows two identical twins harboring a dark secret — they have been switching lives with each other since their youth — when their lives are torn apart when one of them goes missing. It’s a premise that’s crazy enough to be intriguing, if only the writers had crafted a compelling mystery to build on it.
It can be extremely hard to keep up with what is happening in this series, and it’s largely due to poor writing. Characters that are identical twins (and played by the same actor) can be tricky to work with, but this show just absolutely fumbles the ball. More often than not, you can’t tell who’s who, and not in an intriguing way.
The only real differences between the characters are that one has a Southern accent and one doesn’t. But sometimes the one that doesn’t have the accent is faking the accent, and vice versa. And apparently one wears their hair to the left and the other to the right, culminating in one of the most ridiculous scenes in cinematic history in which a character parts their hair the other way to prove that she is the other twin. It genuinely makes no sense.
When you add in the fact that the series is told with a nonlinear storyline, with lots of flashbacks to things that happened in the past and may or may not be called back to in subsequent episodes, what you have is an indecipherable mess. And worse yet, the story that is needlessly convoluted isn’t all that interesting in the first place.
It’s a shame, because Michelle Monaghan is a talented actress who deserves much better than this. Dual roles of this sort are often a shoo-in for awards consideration given the amount of work it takes to pull off two characters believably, but the writing doesn’t give her any room to do anything that even remotely resembles believable.
Visually, the series is about as gray as they come. A lot of other successful mystery series, like Mare of Eastown, have some sort of visual style to them, but Echoes is just muted. It certainly doesn’t help create any energy, which could have been a lifesaver given that the writing is in such desperate need of a kick.
Echoes is, simply put, not worth your time. For the first six episodes, you’ll probably be bored and confused out of your mind, only for the seventh episode to conclude with a preposterous finale that will leave you wondering why you even wasted your time on it in the first place.
Echoes streams on Netflix beginning August 19. All seven episodes reviewed.