Spoiler alert! This postmortem dives into the finale of the Michelle Monaghan twisty twin drama “Echoes.”
Actress Michelle Monaghan had more than two roles on her hands in Netflix’s “Echoes” series, playing twins Leni and Gina. As the series played out on Netflix across seven episodes, viewers got to see Leni play Gina, and Gina play Leni, as the twins switched lives as a result of their intense bond that surpassed even the ones to their husbands — Leni’s Jack (Matt Bomer), and Gina’s Charlie (Daniel Sunjata) — and gave Monaghan a mammoth acting challenge.
Before we get into who turned up to Charlie’s book reading at the end, and who seemed to want to pick things up with him romantically in his house in those final moments — and TheWrap got those answers from executive producer and co-showrunner Brian Yorkey and Monaghan — let’s quickly recap: Leni and Gina started switching roles from a young age for fun, but things got more serious when their sister Claudia was knocked off a water tower where the three were playing and fighting over a doll, leaving her unable to walk. Leni was in Gina’s role at the time, so Gina was forced to continue the story and took the blame and years of resentment from Claudia over the incident.
Later, as teenagers, Leni urged Gina to pursue a sexual relationship with horse wrangler Jack after Gina got jealous over Leni’s deepening relationship with him. Jack eventually married Leni, but it wasn’t until close to the end of the series that he found out he had been in a relationship with both of the women throughout his entire youth and eventual marriage. Feeling betrayed and disgusted, Jack told Leni to leave and never return, warning her off ever contacting their daughter Mattie again.
After Leni first gave birth to Mattie, and developed postpartum depression, Gina insisted on getting her sister a nanny, to give her sister time to heal and to protect the baby girl. But instead, Leni suggested a switch.
Every year the women would switch lives and husbands. They would keep each other up on the day-to-day via an online diary, however on their last swap, something changed.
Just before the series began, Gina rekindled her relationship with her teenage boyfriend Dylan (Jonathan Tucker) while she was playing Leni. Her renewed feelings for Dylan gave her a reason to want to escape her life and her sister, who we later learned was disturbingly protective. The reason for Leni’s obsessive concern for Gina was because she saw their father drown their mother, who was dying and wanted an assisted suicide, in a bathtub. Leni, though, never learned that their father did it with his wife’s wishes.
OK, all caught up? Then let’s get into those lingering questions and if there’s a possibility of another season of the show, as answered by Yorkey and Monaghan.
Why wouldn’t Leni let Gina go, chasing her into the water at the waterfall?
“More than Gina, Leni had relied on this sort of, I think, fiction that they were two halves of the same whole,” Yorkey explained. “She clung to that because to let that go [meant she] was going to have to face some really deep seated trauma that she had not put processed from childhood, and that Gina did not have. Leni watched her father drown her mother, and kept that a secret. Didn’t tell anybody. Ever. And her way to survive that, to keep that hidden and to not have to confront that reality was to cling to Gina and to cling to their arrangement, and this idea that it was the two of them against the world and that they really were one. And, as we saw, Gina met Dylan and was able to sort of reprocess what was going on, but Leni was never able to do so. And so, I think that what she was chasing is not only sort of the love of her life, in a way, but also the entire way of life she had constructed for herself.
What made Gina decide to jump off the top of the waterfall to get away from Leni, knowing she might be committing suicide?
“I think that her back was against the wall,” Yorkey said. “And I think that she realized at that moment, you know, after everything that happened, that her sister chased her to the edge of the waterfall. I think she realized this was never going to end … and whether she was literally anticipating, you know, the possibility of death or whether she felt she knew the waterfall well enough having grown up by it, that she would survive it, I don’t know. We talked about that question, and I kind of left the question up to Michelle, to decide in the moment and as she was playing it what she was actually thinking. But I do think she was saying, ‘I am doing the most drastic thing I can to end this relationship, because if I don’t, it’s a certain death of a sort anyway.’”
Which of the twins attended Charlie’s book reading at the end?
“Gina’s at the book reading,” Monaghan told TheWrap.
Yorkey said it was a “much discussed question,” but he and co-showrunner Quinton Peeples, made a decision “for Michelle’s sake, and for the sake of, you know, the production team, Roland, our awesome costumer. So Gina is at the book reading,” he concurred.
But who came to Charlie’s house at the end?
“I love that you’re asking these questions,” Monaghan said in response to TheWrap seeking more detail about the finale, adding, “I think it’s Leni.”
And Yorkey doubly confirmed that: “It’s Leni with Charlie at the end,” he explained.
Why Charlie was OK with having a relationship with both of the twins after he found out they were switching?
“I think as he sort of says in the later episode, he says — I think he says it to Leni — ‘I realized what you were doing, and I was willing to go along with it if that was what you needed, because I loved you both,’” Yorkey said. “So I really do think there is this kind of — it may seem twisted, but there’s also a way to look at not only what’s going on between the two sisters, but also with Charlie — that is, there’s this kind of radical acceptance going on. And he said, ‘If this is what you need to do, I’m going to play along with it. I’m not going to blow it up.’ Whether that’s ethically right, morally right, I think is probably up for discussion. But I do think Charlie was coming from a place of love. There are those in our sort of circle that think that he also thought he’d get a great book out of it, which he did. And I think that’s fair, and I think it’s probably a really great book. But I do think that at some level he decided to play along with it … not only because he was fascinated by it, but because he deeply loved these two sisters.”
Will there be a Season 2?
It certainly seems there are plenty of stories to mine at the conclusion of Season 1 — Jack cutting Leni out of his and Mattie’s life and whether he can do that or that Leni (or Gina) will let it stand, both twins having deep connections with the girl, and of course, many, many potential legal problems. And Yorkey said he could see another season if they were given a greenlight.
“Netflix and the audience will decide whether the show wants another season. I love the story as we told it. I also — Quinton and I have all sorts of — we’ve been we’ve been pitching each other Season 2 since even before we started choosing shooting Season 1 because these women are fascinating and this situation is super tangled. And like you said, there’s threads to follow. There is this very, very sweet girl who they both really really love, and Jack very angrily shut her two mothers out and said no. And you do wonder, is that going to be his position forever? Maybe, maybe not. What is the debt that he feels he’s owed? And certainly Sheriff Floss is not the type to let something go.”
Beyond a second season, Yorkey dreams of a Floss spinoff.
“We want Sheriff Floss to have her own show. Like it’s called ‘Floss Daily.’ And she just goes around the South solving crimes and bringing people to justice, and, you know, having snacks,” he said (dental pun intended).