‘Echoes’ Characters, Explained: What Really Led To Leni And Gina Exchanging Their Lives Every Year?


The Netflix thriller drama miniseries “Echoes” is largely dependent on the two central characters—twin sisters Leni and Gina—and this article would be a brief discussion of the two figures. Much like a number of other aspects of “Echoes” that remain underwhelming, to say the least, the two main characters and their motivations are too confusing and disappointing in certain situations. This is a closer attempt to try to understand the sisters better, and perhaps pinpoint why exactly they would indulge in such a strange and horrible game of exchanging lives every year, something that is outright cruel to the people around them.

Spoilers Ahead

Character Of ‘Leni’ And ‘Gina’ Explained

As the series, “Echoes” puts great emphasis on the childhood days of the twin sisters, it is revealed that Leni was born first, and Gina followed shortly after. Perhaps in the same manner in which the elder of twin siblings often makes a great deal out of the fact that they have been born first, Leni takes precedence over her sister’s thoughts and decisions as they grow up. Despite having warm memories of loving nurture with their mother, the two girls could not enjoy their mother’s presence for long as she passed away from her terminal illness. Although their father, Victor, and elder sister, Claudia, were always around, the twins seemed to have grown slightly lonely, which in turn got them closer to each other. It was very early on that they started to enjoy confusing people with their similar appearances. Only their mother could tell the difference between Leni and Gina, and the girls soon found sport in replying together to Claudia or Victor’s calls when either one of them was asked for.

Gradually, as they grew up, this sense of harmless enjoyment began to change into a more mature understanding that they could kind of get away with their actions by confusing people with their identities. What becomes established through the narrative in “Echoes” is that it was always Leni who wanted to play this game of double identity, and it was always she who encouraged her sister to play along. Much like the animal that their mother would associate her with, Leni was as headstrong and sometimes stubborn as a lion. She was cunning enough to convince her sister to exchange roles with her when she accidentally pushed Claudia down from the tower. Whether Leni knew what the exact consequence of the switch would be is not discussed in the series, but after all, it did lead to Claudia hating Gina for the rest of her life for something that she had not done. 

When the girls first met the local horse handler, Jack, all three of them were at the age of physical attraction and adolescent relationships, and it was Gina who first approached the young man. Perhaps because of her grace, like that of a dove as described by their mother, Gina attracted Jack, and the two started their relationship. However, till now, in their lives, Gina and Leni had shared absolutely everything, to the point that their existence was never as individuals but always as a pair. Out of this same understanding of life and each other, they decided to share their lovers as well. When Gina felt that Leni was interested in Jack as well, she started switching roles with Leni, and then the latter would go over to make love with Jack. But perhaps what Gina did not really anticipate was the fact that Jack was in his late adolescent or early-adulthood age and was, therefore, prone to making decisions based solely on physical attractions.

After a few days, he started showing interest in Leni on his own, and Gina even saw them cheating on her. It was perhaps her sister’s decision not to tell her anything about this beforehand that hurt Gina, and then she also realized that her sister was growing emotionally intimate with Jack too, which meant that she was sort of being left behind from the rest of the company. Solely to get back at her sister, and to have a boyfriend of her own, she showed interest in a young man called Dylan James, who had just moved in at Mt. Echo. Dylan immediately showed his interest in Gina, and the two started their own relationship. 

There is a clear possibility to perceive Leni as a jealous and somewhat villainous character, as she indeed does try to get hold of everything and everyone her sister makes contact with. However, such a tendency can also be considered a rather common human rivalry that young men and women often become victims of at that immature age. Despite Leni’s jealous acts, there is not much indication towards her having any serious ill intentions toward her sister. When Gina and Dylan instantly hit it off during their first meeting at a local eatery, Leni looks on with unsettling jealousy, and she, too, tries to take her turn. However, unlike Jack, Dylan is immediately committed to Gina, and he does not show much interest in the sister. It is later confirmed through the dialogues that Dylan had only kissed Gina and never had any such involvement with Leni. The twin sister grew envious of this new bond that Gina was now having, and she wanted to break it off with the most twisted plan possible. Although she knew well enough that setting fire to the unused church would create an opportunity for her to get Dylan and Gina away from each other, she did not expect someone else to be inside the building that night, the man who ultimately died because of her actions. Instead, Dylan had to bear the suspicion of having committed the crime after he fled town, and Leni used this to further taint the young man’s character by convincing Gina that he was a murderer. Possibly still too trusting of her sister’s words at the time, Gina believed her with unquestioned simplicity. It is probably because Gina had so blindly trusted her sister all throughout her childhood and adult life as well, that she suddenly turned so much against Leni after the truth was revealed to her.

What Caused The Sisters To Exchange Roles? 

Although the twin sisters’ practice of exchanging lives with each other grew to be something casual and even entertaining to them, the origin of the practice itself had a dark and even sad connotation. Victor had actually killed his own wife in order to relieve her of the terrible pain she was suffering, and the couple had actually planned out the whole thing. They had understandably not told any of this to their children, as the three girls were still very young to even perceive what was happening. However, on the night when Victor was drowning his wife in their bathtub, little Leni had woken up from sleep and heard noises coming from their bathroom. Going over to check, she had been terrified by what she saw, for she believed that she had witnessed their father killing their mother. Leni did not tell this to Gina, and Victor actually believed that it was Gina who had seen him. Although he never said anything about this, it was perhaps clear from his actions that he considered Gina bad. Much later on, towards the very end of “Echoes,”  Gina says how this misrecognition on Victor’s part had turned her into “Bad Gina.” It was perhaps this feeling that later on pushed and convinced Gina to agree to her sister’s plans of exchanging lives, for she did not want to remain bad any longer.

Gina has, of course, been painted as the more emotional character between the two sisters, and this is made all the more clear through the trope of motherhood. After the entire fiasco with the burning church and Dylan’s escape, Gina had moved to Los Angeles to pursue her education and lived there for her professional career. During this time, she got close to her therapist, Charlie, who was the one to encourage her to write a book on her life experiences, and then, after a few years, the two married. Gina had gotten pregnant with a child around the same time that her sister Leni was also pregnant back in Mt. Echo, but Gina, unfortunately, suffered a miscarriage. Despite dearly looking forward to motherhood, she had missed out on the chance, and this affected Gina in a tremendously negative manner. When she pulled herself back and visited Leni, who had given birth to a beautiful baby daughter, the sister confided in her how she was not at all enjoying motherhood. It was during this exact time that Leni proposed that they once again start exchanging lives like they used to do at their young age, and she came up with the plan of living one entire year as each other. As the shallow plot and character motivations of “Echo” become clear here, the only reason for Gina to accept such a proposal was perhaps out of her sheer desire to be a mother. She perhaps did all of it for baby Mattie, and then the two sisters continued with the practice every year.

After a few years, when Gina returned to her own LA life, she found out that Leni had proposed her life’s tragic story of going through a miscarriage and the following depression to a publisher as a story. Gina, much more driven by emotions, was livid by her sister’s doing so, as she never wanted to tell the world about this story because it was too personal and intimate for her. It was now that she started to grow a dislike towards Leni, and then going back to Mt. Echo and meeting with the now adult Dylan gave her motivation for her entire plan. There is a possibility to think that it would have perhaps been easier for Gina to disappear from her life in Los Angeles and then reunite with Dylan later on. The only reason why she does not do so is perhaps that she does not want to ruin her sister’s life in the process, and that she shows a general concern for people around her, unlike Leni. That, and to give the show a plot, of course. 

“Echoes” really falters at giving any of the other characters much depth. Some efforts seem to have been given to Sheriff Floss and her deputy Paula, particularly with Paula’s proximity to Leni, but they come off only as police authority figures who side with truth and justice no matter what. Jack’s character seems to be there only for the sake of it, and his relationship with his wife also seems bizarrely distant, given the fact that they have been lovers since their adolescent years. Although it is possible that the once-lovers gradually grew apart and did not make any efforts to get to know each other anymore, the fact that Jack could never realize that his wife and sister-in-law were changing roles every year is hard to digest. Especially since Jack had known Gina too from that very same age, and he had been with both the women even by his own accord, meaning when he was not being duped by the two. On the other hand, Charlie had understood what was going on, perhaps because of his professional training in human psychology, and he had even maintained a close account of his own experiences with his (exchanging) wife every year. However, Charlie kept quiet about his realization, and he says that he did so in order to help his wife with her mental strains. While this itself looks dubious, the ending of “Echoes” shows Charlie almost like an eternal lover who would readily settle with either of the two sisters, for he loves them both. Perhaps only Netflix can churn up such bizarre impossibilities and walk away with them too.

See More: ‘Echoes’ Ending, Explained: What Secrets Are Revealed About Twin Sisters Leni And Gina?

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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