“Echoes,” the latest Netflix thriller drama miniseries, perhaps has an interesting premise, but its delivery stretches the line of conviction way too many times, making the show a rather underwhelming watch. Michelle Monaghan plays the role of twin sisters Leni and Gina, as one goes looking for the other when she goes missing. Threads of mystery are added to this basic plot through untold secrets from the sisters’ past, while there is hardly any other character to follow. Overall, one might try giving “Echoes” a watch without having high expectations of thrills or suspense.
‘Echoes’ Plot Summary: What Is The Miniseries About?
Gina McCleary is an established writer settled in Los Angeles with her psychiatrist husband, Charlie. Despite her loving and trusting relationship with her husband, the person Gina is still closest to is her twin sister Leni, with whom she constantly shares an online personal diary. “Echoes” begins with Gina growing concerned over her sister’s safety as Leni has not contacted her in the last two days, which is something very unusual for the women. Gina tries calling her sister multiple times and also leaving her messages in the diary app, until she receives a call from Leni’s husband, Jack. The call is something that Gina has been dreading, as Jack informs her that Leni has been missing after a robbery took place at their house, and Gina immediately flies to Leni’s place in Mt. Echo, which also happens to be the two women’s native town. Leni had settled here with her husband, and used to help Jack run their horse-rearing business. But one night, there was a break-in at their farm, which left multiple horses of theirs missing, along with Leni as well. Gina is a bit surprised at Jack’s reactions to the whole matter, as well as the fact that he has recently hired a young and attractive woman as a nanny to his and Leni’s young daughter Mattie; and also by the fact that Leni’s best friend Meg is not present in the search parties that are looking for the missing woman.
As the local police authorities, headed by Sheriff Floss and her trusted deputy Paula, try to find Leni in the woods that surround the town, Gina herself starts her own investigation as more and more things seem out of place to her. She returns to her family house to meet her father, Victor, and elder sister, Claudia, where she gets more hints of something going wrong in Leni and Jack’s lives. Young Mattie had told her about how her mother would often go missing and mostly stay away from the house even prior to the incident, and Victor hints that Jack and his farm were going through some serious financial troubles. Along with all this, certain memories from the sisters’ past also seem to get Gina worried, as she remembers flashes of a burning church, flailing arms from a bathtub, and dolls that they would play with as children. It is through clues from these dolls that she reaches a cavern near a waterfall close to Leni’s house, in which Gina finds her sister’s clothes and a book written by herself in which Leni has left her a message. In a shocking turn of events, it is revealed that Leni and Gina used to swap lives with each other every year on their birthdays and live the lives of each other for a year before exchanging again. This means that Gina, who we have been following for so long, is actually Leni, while the real Gina, who has been living the last year as Leni, is still missing.
What Incidents From Their Past Led The Two Sisters To Go Against Each Other?
From the note left behind by Gina, it becomes clear to Leni (the sister we have been following till now) that she will have to play both the roles from here on, and so she puts on the missing woman’s clothes and returns to her house with a feigned wound on her head. When her husband and daughter come out to greet her, people she has not seen for the last year as she was living as her sister in LA, Leni tells them that she had seen three or four men steal horses from their stable and had followed them when she lost control of her own horse and hurt herself badly. This is the same account that she gives to Floss and Paula as well, and then takes turns playing herself and Gina, who, Leni maintains, is staying at a nearby inn. Although Leni is back to her familiar surroundings, it is not really an easy homecoming for her, as she has no idea about whatever happened in the last one year between her and the people close to her, as Gina was playing her role during this time. She tries to find out what exactly has been going on between her and her husband and also with her best friend Meg, and finding out about a flip phone that Gina (as Leni) was using secretly during this time helps her in her research.
Meeting with the best friend Meg, Leni (briefly posing to be Gina) finds out that the two had had a terrible disagreement sometime in the past year, and Gina (as Leni) had even threatened Meg over something. Leni then gets hold of all the call records and messages that were sent from the number and finds out that Gina was up to selling ketamine illegally to drug dealers and that she was also having an affair with an old lover of theirs named Dylan James. Leni calls up Dylan and asks to meet him, and finds out that the man has been storing a lot of money in his cabin, along with a fake passport for Gina under a different name. What shocks Leni, even more, is the fact that Gina had actually told Dylan about the switch that the twin sisters made, and Dylan also quickly understands that it is not Gina who has returned but the real Leni. She convinces the lover to help her find Gina, to which Dylan agrees, but soon after, Leni finds out that Gina is alive and has returned to Mt. Echo, as she is working with Dylan on something sinister.
The following night, the women’s father, Victor, who has only recently told Leni about his terminal illness, throws a party at their house on the occasion of his daughter’s birthday, and Leni and Gina both attend. Although Leni seems very happy to see her sister alive and well, Gina does not reciprocate this happiness at all. Gina, instead, mostly spends her time at the party with Charlie, who has flown in for the party, and then with her father and Mattie. It becomes clear that the sisters have some dark history with each other, which is now coming to light and hampering their relationship.
Earlier, Gina and Dylan had tried to take away a large sum of money from Leni’s bank account, but ultimately could not, as Leni had already taken away the fake passport by then. However, Leni had then herself withdrawn the money in the form of a check and kept it with herself. The next day, Leni learns that Jack was actually getting involved in buying illegal horses in order to save his business, and this had already brought trouble to him as the sellers wanted their money instantly from him. The two are fearful of Sheriff Floss getting to know of this punishable offense as well, when something much more sinister happens.
Dylan James’ body is found inside his own car, which had been lit on fire after someone had stabbed him to death. The police now start to investigate the whole scene, and Leni receives a call from Gina, who tells her that the horse dealers are chasing her, thinking that she is Jack’s wife. Leni immediately drives to the dealer’s place and pays them off the entire amount that was owed, but soon after, she is arrested on the charge of suspected murder, as incriminating evidence has been found in her car.
By now, it has become very evident that the mystery in the “Echoes” series is entirely tied to the women’s past. Finally, the show makes revelations about it when it narrates the story from Gina’s perspective. From their very childhood, Leni and Gina would share everything in their lives, ranging from toys to even men later on. Although their relationship seemed to be the sweetest bond imaginable, Leni always had an upper edge over her sister’s actions, as in, she would often tell Gina what to do, which the sister would have to follow. It is as part of this edge that Leni would initially tell Gina that they should exchange their roles, and then both seemed to enjoy the whole deal of fooling people through such acts. They had met Jack during their teenage years, and Gina had gotten into a relationship with him. However, Leni liked him too, and she would sometimes get intimate with the young man posing to be Gina. Gradually, though, Jack started growing more interested in Leni, cheated on Gina with her twin sister (he was sort of cheating earlier too, but he was not aware of that), and ultimately developed their relationship, which got them married. More than being hurt at Jack’s actions, Gina disliked the attention that Leni was getting all of a sudden, and therefore got herself a boyfriend of her own—Dylan James. Their whirlwind romance was going great until Leni grew jealous of the attention Gina was now getting from someone other than her, and she cooked up a cruel plan to separate them.
During a Halloween party, while Gina and Dylan were spending intimate time at a small empty church, Leni set the place on fire secretly. While she did not really mean to harm the couple, she was unaware of the presence of another man in the church that night, who was sleeping inside and ultimately died from the fire. As the police started investigating the incident, Leni convinced Dylan to leave Mt. Echo, saying that the police would suspect both him and Gina for the crime, and that he should therefore leave town to protect Gina. When Dylan left, Leni convinced Gina that he was the one who had caused the fire, and had fled town because he was guilty; she, therefore, painted Dylan as the villain. Gina kept believing all of this until the previous year, when she was living life pretending to be Leni in Mt. Echo.
When she had met her best friend Meg, who also happened to be Dylan’s cousin, she saw that Dylan had returned to the town, and their unresolved romance once again cropped up. It was now that she told Dylan everything about the switch of lives that she and her sister did every year, and then Dylan told her the real truth about everything. Realizing that it was her own sister who had conspired against her, Gina now cooked up this entire plot of disappearance, through which she wanted to run away with Dylan and had been dealing drugs and removing money from Leni’s account in order to gather the money needed to run away. By this time Meg had grown angry at her for again getting involved with her cousin brother, but Gina simply cut all ties from her by threatening to tell the world about her secret relationship, which would bring slander to her character. After carrying out the first part of the plan, when Gina hid herself for a few days and then went to Dylan’s cabin, she saw Leni already there, and had to wait for some time before approaching her lover and coming clean to him about everything.
On the night of the party, she made a plan to meet with Dylan and run away that very night, but soon realized that Leni had once again made use of their matching appearances to trick Dylan away to his cabin. Upon reaching the cabin, Gina found out with horror that Dylan had been stabbed by Leni, who had fled the scene. Gina tried her best to save Dylan, but the man ultimately succumbed to his wounds, and his lover then put the car on fire, possibly to make the scene look like an accident. Gina had then been found and admitted to the local hospital, from where she had to run away, and then finally, she reached Sheriff Floss’ office and told her everything. Other than the yearly switch that she and her sister would make, Gina tells Floss everything about Leni’s crimes, and the woman is quickly arrested by the police.
‘Echoes’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Leni And Gina?
Floss interrogates both the twin sisters about the murder of Dylan as well as the man who had been killed in the church so many years ago, and gradually she learns of the shocking practice that the sisters have of exchanging their lives every year. Floss is overwhelmed by the sheer strangeness of the matter; she arrests both Leni and Gina and then has to leave both of them as she believes she cannot pin the charges on either of them because it would be difficult to even prove their real identities. Leni returns to her house, but Jack is furious with her actions over the past, and he clearly tells her that she is no longer welcome in his house or life.
The next morning, Gina visits her father and elder sister, and some more revelations are made, this time about the family. The twins’ elder sister, Claudia, used to hate Gina because she believed that Gina had pushed her down from a tower during their childhood, which left Claudia unable to use her legs and limited to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. However, Gina now reveals that it was Leni who had actually pushed her, and that she had then convinced her to exchange roles with her.
Also, as Victor now falls almost dead from his illness, he reveals to Gina another secret from their past—when the two twins were young girls, their mother was suffering from a deadly terminal illness and, unable to bear the pain any longer, she had asked Victor to relieve her of her misery. Knowing very well that she would not be able to survive long, Victor had drowned and killed her in a bathtub, just like she wanted him to do, but young Leni had seen this happen but never talked about this to anyone. Just before dying, Victor tells Gina about all this, as he believed it was Gina who had seen him, and therefore, she must have misunderstood him. As Victor dies, Leni arrives at the house and has an altercation with her sister, which leaves the house on fire, and Gina flees into the forest with Leni following her.
Inside the forest, Gina tells Leni what she has learned from Victor and tries to tell her that what she saw was not really true, but Leni does not seem to buy it. Leni asks Gina to return with her to their usual lives, but Gina disagrees and jumps into a flowing river, potentially killing herself. Leni returns to Mt. Echo, where Floss and Paula manage to find incriminating evidence against her in relation to the fire in the church during their young adult days. But when they go over to Jack’s house to arrest her, the woman has already left from there. She is seen at Richmond International Airport using a fake passport to fly away to Australia, where she possibly settles down. But before leaving, the airport security personnel tells her that someone exactly like her had taken a flight to Kansas the previous day, suggesting that Gina was indeed alive.
Sometime later, Charlie is seen publishing a book on this entire event, titled “Leni and Gina,” and a mysterious woman, obviously either of the two sisters, asks him a cryptic question during the book’s launch, which he answers. It was later revealed that Charlie had actually found out about the twin sisters’ exchanging lives every year but had never said anything because he believed it was better for Gina’s mental health to just play along. Upon returning home on this particular evening, he finds either of the two sisters waiting for him, and he lovingly pours her a drink. When he asks her about her presence at the book launch program, she tells him that she was never there and had only been waiting for him at his house, which further suggests that both the women have now come to LA. Charlie finally asks her whether she is Leni or Gina, and the woman replies that she herself has started to forget that now, as it clearly does not matter anymore.
“Echoes” ultimately provides rather unsatisfactory and unconvincing answers to the questions and the motivations that it tries to base the characters on. What it answers and tries to round up, though, is ridden with massive logical flaws. It is not even that the show intentionally leaves certain things unexplained, but it seems that certain points were either just left unattended or ended in haste. The very fact that two adult women could do something like this every year without anyone around them (other than Charlie, who is professionally trained in human psychology) realizing it seems silly. The bond that the two sisters would need to have to make this convincing is absent from the series. It is hard to think of any one particular area which massively stands out in “Echoes,” for all of it is equally dull and uninspiring, and the main mantra of the show seems to be—the more complexities, the better. That clearly does not work.
“Echoes” is a 2022 Drama Thriller miniseries streaming on Netflix.