ECHO Review: In a Time of Trouble, Run Home

Alaqua Cox, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, Devery Jacobs and Vincent D’Onofrio star in the spin-off series, now streaming on Disney Plus and Hulu.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
ECHO Review: In a Time of Trouble, Run Home

The greatest superpower is believing in yourself.

All five episodes are now streaming on Disney Plus and also on Hulu. I've seen the first three episodes.

Two years ago, Hawkeye brightened up a dark Marvel universe, capitalizing on the unlikely buddy team of Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld as they happily battled criminal forces, including Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) and the Tracksuit Mafia, led by the deaf yet deadly Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox).

Spinning off from that generally chipper series, Echo serves as the first entry under the Marvel Spotlight banner, meant to entice viewers without the requirement to spend 15 years catching up on everything Marvel has ever produced in order to make sense of what's happening. Nonetheless, Echo spends its first 30 minutes setting up its titular character's backstory, dating back to the establishment of the Chocktaw people, stretching forward to Maya Lopez' childhood, and covering her criminal past in New York City.

Yet it does all that with stealthy ease and crunchy, balletic action sequences that whet the appetite for what is to come. After whipping through the backstory and beginning where the events in Hawkeye concluded, Echo finds Maya Lopez returning home to the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, where she reunites with the major figures of her past and lays a path forward for her future.

Directed by Sydney Freeland, the first two episodes are quickly absorbing, move at near-lightning speed, and are pure pleasure. Episode three, directed by Catriona McKenzie, runs a bit choppier, which may be part of its purpose as the hinge episode of the series; only the first three episodes were made available for advance viewing, but I'm more than sufficiently interested to see what happens.

To me, the series feels like a big step up from the first three series in Marvel's Phase Five (Secret Invasion; Loki Season 2; What If...? Season 2), which were all uneven at best, as well as the movies (the seriously depressing Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and the ghastly, overblown Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3; I haven't seen The Marvels). Part of that is the darker tone, which puts it more in accord with the Marvel series that were first on Netflix (Daredevil and so forth).

The series is rated TV-MA, which is probably why it's available on both Disney Plus and Hulu. It earns the rating, due to its bloodier violence, even though it's not "splashy" or extreme violence. The violence is prevalent throughout the first three episodes, but I didn't walk away shocked or awed by its violence.

I was mighty impressed by the evocative mood and the skill of the storytelling, however. Here's hoping that they stick the landing.

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Alaqua CoxChaske SpencerDevery JacobsDisney PlusGraham GreeneHuluMarvelTantoo CardinalVincent D'Onofrio

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