At the end of last episode, we met Echo, a character with a complicated history in the comics. Now we get to learn more about her, what her connection is to the MCU Ronin, and see a great car chase. And, of course, we get to see the ongoing Odd Couple relationship of Cint Barton and Kate Bishop as the titular characters. They cram a lot into “Echoes,” especially considering it’s a bit shorter than the last two episodes.
In the comics, Maya Lopez was the daughter of Willie “Crazy Horse” Lincoln. Willie worked for and, as often happens, was killed by Kingpin. Kingpin took on raising young Maya, fortunate in that Maya developed the power to gain skills by watching people, similar to Taskmaster. After a lot of twists and turns, Maya was sent to kill Daredevil by Kingpin, fell in love with his secret identity of Matt Murdock, and then felt her world spin around her when she learned Kingpin himself was responsible for her father’s death. Going off to find herself, she became the first to use the Ronin name and costume, later joining one of the teams of Avengers as Echo. More recently, she became a mortal host for the Phoenix power, but that won’t have an effect on this series for many different reasons. Echo has already been approved for her own series on Disney+ after her run in Hawkeye. She is one of the, if not the first, deaf superheroes, depending on how you feel about Hawkeye’s hearing loss in his limited series in the 80’s.
The episode gives us the MCU version of Maya’s early life, seeing her at school, excelling on assignments and learning martial arts from a young age. There’s part of one scene that, if not an outright hint at the Kingpin, is the showrunners trolling the fans, as happened with Quicksilver and the Fantastic Four during WandaVision. The adult Maya sees her father’s violent death, and gets a new purpose in life. Another interesting note is this version of Maya has a prosthetic leg, which is a different spin on things, and a way to accommodate actress Alaqua Cox’s real-life condition.
After the title card for the show, we see Clint and Kate tied to coin-operated style horses. Kate looks worried and Clint looks bored. The Tracksuit Mafia is all around them, guarding and mocking them. After a hilarious scene where Kate connects with one of the thugs in an unexpected way, Echo makes her entrance. Noting Clint’s hearing aid, she has his arms freed and they sign back and forth. Clint, staying on mission, tries to clear Kate from any connection with Ronin. Clint and Maya talk about technology, hearing loss, and the status of Ronin. Clint’s story is at least partially true, but Maya seems unconvinced. Clint gets tied up again, gives Kate a brief pep talk, and promptly escapes, surprising all the thugs and Kate as well.
What follows is an entertaining game of hide and seek amid the racks of the Tracksuits’ abandoned toy store headquarters. Clint shows he is dangerous even unarmed, and good at improvising weapons. Eventually, he gets his weapons back and mows through the thugs even easier. At least, until he squares off with Echo. The woman is dangerous and surprises him with her level of skill. He loses his hearing aid in the fight, complicating a lot of things. Kate has some difficulty with a guard who bears a strong similarity to Kit Harrington, an actor most recently seen as Dane Whitman in the Eternals movie. In a slick move, Clint frees Kate and they make a run for it, stealing a car and showing Clint has an appreciation for vintage automobiles.
The ensuing car chase features a lot of great driving, a remarkable lack of New York City traffic, and Kate’s introduction to trick arrows, which doesn’t go smoothly. I applaud the soundtrack, which is some great music from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Eventually, Kate reclaims her own bow and Clint uses a new trick from a fellow Avenger. The two barely get away, doing a new take on one of Clint’s big scenes in the first Avengers movie, and have a brief rest and conversation on the subway. Kate is stunned when he’s actually complimentary of her.
With more great music (Father Christmas by The Kinks), the two return to Kate’s aunt’s apartment. Interestingly, the move posters that decorate the place have the name of an actress named Moira Brandon. In the comics, that actress’ compound is what becomes the base for the West Coast Avengers, a team Clint founded and led for most of its existence, with Kate joining a later version of the team. Later, Clint gets a call from his youngest son. Kate has to help with the call, since Clint’s hearing aid is still broken, and Kate starts to realize just what Clint being there is costing him. Meanwhile, the Tracksuits are pulling out of their abandoned toy store base (which is just goofy enough to be perfect for “those idiots” as Laura Barton called them). Maya and Not-Kit have a talk about priorities and how the crew is run.
Waiting for their next bit of business, Kate makes a joke via text, and Clint shakes his head. They get something important taken care of, and then move on to a diner. Kate is still going on about Clint’s “branding issue,” and makes some suggestions he’s not going to go along with. Finally, he tells her why he doesn’t have a costume per se like so many others, and she disagrees. After Kate runs through some dog names, Clint tells her a bit about the Tracksuits, identifies one of their bosses as Kazi, and she comes up with an idea of what to do next.
They take a taxi to Eleanor’s place, discussing the various aspects of the strange events they are in the middle of. Clint is also worried about how things are piling up. Getting to the penthouse, Clint is impressed at what Kate takes for granted at this point. Hurriedly going to her mother’s computer, Kate starts getting information on several different things before getting locked out of Bishop Securities’ mainframe. Clint wanders around, taking in the sights and asking a few questions. The episode ends abruptly, when someone gets the drop on Clint. The fact that they were able to do this at all speaks volumes about this character.
What I liked: This version of Echo is really interesting, and Alaqua Cox portrays her well. The chemistry between Kate and Clint is fun to watch. I really liked the soundtrack of this episode. I’m intrigued by the very last scene. Kate’s reaction to seeing what Clint is giving up by being there was a good character moment and some good acting by Hailee Steinfeld. The car chase was great, Kate meeting trick arrows was fantastic, and the nod to another Avenger in the fight was nicely done. The nod to Hawkeye’s comic book costume was entertaining.
What I didn’t: I’d think Clint would learn by now about bringing more arrows, but in his defense, he wasn’t planning on a big fight when he geared up. They strongly implied Kingpin once in this episode, and arguably less directly twice before this. If this is the production team screwing with the fans ala WandaVision, I’m going to be very annoyed.
I thought this was another fun outing for Clint and his (unwanted) sidekick. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. I’m enjoying this series a lot, and can’t wait to see what they manage next.