Here’s a brief overview of the first four episodes of Echo, which itself feels like a brief introduction to Maya Lopez, i.e., the lead of Marvel’s latest miniseries. Maya made her entry into the MCU with Hawkeye, where she was hunting down Ronin, because Kingpin, her adoptive uncle, told her that Clint Barton was responsible for her father’s death. Well, Clint was responsible for William Lopez’s death, but Kingpin left out the part where Clint killed William because of the misinformed tip that Kingpin had given to Clint. When Maya confronted Clint, he told her about Kingpin’s true nature, and Maya apparently shot Kingpin in the head. Then she went back to her hometown, Tamaha, in Oklahoma, with the intention of destabilizing what was left of Kingpin’s empire. But, for some unknown reason, she also began to reconnect with her Choctaw roots and started feeling that she had some supernatural powers.
In the penultimate episode of Echo, Kingpin revealed that he was fine, despite taking a gunshot to his head. He planted a lens in Maya’s eye that was connected to Kingpin’s earpiece. The lens converted Kingpin’s speech into sign language speech, and the earpiece converted Maya’s sign language speech into audio. It was Kingpin’s way of apologizing to Maya and an attempt at reconnecting with her. He said that he was ready to give Maya a piece of his empire if she came back with him to New York and put everything else in the rearview mirror. Maya didn’t accept the deal and left Tamaha as well. Hence, Kingpin had to take some drastic steps to teach Maya a lesson.
Maya Gets Her Superhero Suit
Chula meets Skully to get her sewing machine. It’s a sweet little scene, and you see that there’s still love between the two oldies, even though their relationship was severed after their daughter’s death. But that’s followed up with a scene where Kingpin “randomly” runs into Chula, and it becomes evident that he is about to hold Maya’s loved ones hostage so that he can corner her and take her with him back to New York or kill her. Maya stops at a Roxxon (which is a company that has popped up all over the MCU and has been tangentially influential) restaurant and discards her lens because she wants nothing to do with Kingpin. Also, it’s a way of showing that people should learn sign language instead of relying on some AI-driven software to do their job for them.
The narrative shifts to the site of the Choctaw Nation Pow Wow, which is being infiltrated by the Tracksuit Mafia, or whatever is left of them after Maya set off that explosion in their warehouse. Maya sees the woodpecker—which is either the same woodpecker that she had injured as a child and was healed by her mother, or it’s a descendant of that woodpecker—and realizes that it’s a sign from her ancestors because the Choctaw people used to send messages via woodpeckers. That’s also when she gets a message from Biscuits regarding Chula and Bonnie’s disappearance. Maya promptly returns to her hometown and finds out that Chula and Bonnie are indeed missing.
Now, the scene where Maya sees her mother’s spirit, who tells her that the echoes of her ancestors will empower her, is supposed to be pretty moving. But the way it’s edited, and the fact that the showrunners simply rush through the story beats that involve the aforementioned ancestors and constantly undermine the exploration of Maya’s roots with the whole Kingpin subplot, robs the interaction of any kind of emotional impact. It feels like the showrunners had the blueprint, but then they didn’t get the time to actually flesh it out. So, they just presented the blueprint in its original form. In doing so, they tick all the checkboxes that allow a scene to qualify as a character-building moment, but beyond that, it has nothing to offer. Oh, and Maya gets her superhero suit. It’s detailed and intricate and represents Maya’s ancestral history.
Did Maya discover her superpowers?
The Choctaw Nation Pow Wow begins. The Tracksuit Mafia gets ready to attack Maya Lopez as soon as they spot her. Maya blends in with a troupe of dancers, and when she notices the woodpecker again atop a warehouse, she realizes that that’s where Kingpin is keeping Chula and Bonnie. So, she heads over to confront Fisk. Kingpin uses Bonnie as his translator and says all the cliche stuff about how he offered Maya everything and yet she betrayed him. They go back and forth about who is wrong and who is right. Maya says that Kingpin needs to let her family go because, firstly, they don’t have anything to do with Maya and Kingpin’s rivalry, and secondly, they are Maya’s real family, and Kingpin is not.
That gives Kingpin the motivation to kill all of them. But I have to point out that there is a sliver of an idea of a theme about the never-ending battle between Native Americans and white Americans. Kingpin, for some inexplicable reason, has tried to use and own Maya. He has never tried to understand and empathize with her. Now, he has come to her home to destroy and stake his claim on her mind, body, and soul. However, Maya refuses to let that happen because Native Americans have been historically oppressed by white Americans with brute force, and she doesn’t want history to repeat itself.
The issue is that this whole theme is very half-baked. At the cost of sounding repetitive, it checks all the boxes meant for Native American representation, but it’s not substantial enough to be memorable. The miniseries needed to give more time to Maya’s ancestral history, her rivalry with Fisk, and the parallels between Native Americans, White Americans, Maya, and Fisk, respectively. Since they don’t do that, the moment where Maya seemingly connects with her ancestors and activates her powers, as well as Chula and Bonnie’s powers, feels incredibly hollow.
What Happened to Kingpin?
Henry informs Biscuits that they need to take care of the Tracksuit Mafia before they can disrupt the Pow Wow in any way. So, Biscuits runs over the Tracksuit Mafia with his monster truck, and Henry shoots down Zane, thereby causing Zane’s rocket to explode in the sky like a firecracker instead of hurting any of the people in the Pow Wow. Again, if the showrunners would’ve given this altercation more time to breathe, the parallels between the oppression of Native Americans by white Americans and Fisk attacking Maya and her hometown would’ve been so impactful. But I guess this is enough to get fans and critics to label the miniseries as “grounded,” “gritty,” “realistic,” and “important.”
Anyway, at the end of Echo, Maya gives Kingpin a free therapy session by tapping into his memories of witnessing his mother’s death and then killing his father. Maya’s mother healed physical wounds, and Maya can apparently heal mental wounds. Her powerset probably includes telekinesis. Please don’t ask me if all this makes Maya and her family mutants. I don’t know how the MCU plans to handle all the mutant stuff. They hinted that Kamala Khan was a mutant, and then they didn’t even address it in The Marvels. So, let them introduce the X-Men properly and explicitly state who is a mutant and who is not, and then we’ll have that conversation. By the way, Kingpin’s “therapy session” is a very watered-down version of the character work that was done in the three seasons of Daredevil. But since that series is being rebooted, I guess this is what we have to deal with. It’s hilarious how Wisk is whisked away after the superpowered therapy session, and even though Vincent D’Onofrio tries to express the complex emotions that Kingpin is feeling about Maya, his father, and his mother, he looks hilariously confused. The following day, Maya reunites with Chula, Bonnie, Biscuits, and Henry. Where’s Skully? I don’t know. Maybe Graham Greene wasn’t available that day.
In Echo‘s mid-credits scene, we see Fisk listening to a debate about the need for an outsider as the mayor of New York City. Going by his expressions, he wants to officially take over New York instead of working from the city’s underbelly. That’s clearly the set-up for Daredevil: Born Again, and we are going to see Fisk and Matt Murdock deal with each other on the legal as well as the political front. I don’t think we are going to see more of Maya. She is comfortable in her hometown. She is done with Fisk. She doesn’t want his empire anymore. So, it’s quite possible that this is the last that we are going to see of Maya Lopez. I hope I am wrong, though, because if I am right, then the entirety of Echo was homework for Daredevil: Born Again. Marvel has been accused multiple times of never telling a complete story and continuously giving its viewers homework for their next projects. And, despite being a fan of Netflix’s Daredevil, I am not at all interested in Daredevil: Born Again, especially if it ends up being more homework for some other project.