Friday, January 19, 2024

Echo Episode Four: Taloa



It is amazing what a little Alison Krauss can do for me. Taloa, the fourth of five Echo episodes, was in a lot of ways still as bad as anything Echo has managed to pop out. However, anytime one can appreciate a good song, it can lift it up just enough for me to think well of it.

Now we feature not a strong female Choctaw woman, but young Maya (Darnell Besaw), denied ice cream because the seller does not understand her American Sign Language. Observing this is Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio), who is enraged by said ice cream seller's behavior. He grabs him off the street and proceeds to punch the literal life out of him (it is unclear if the ice cream seller died as a result of the attack). Maya sees the aftermath, and proceeds to kick the visibly injured, potentially dying man before Fisk whisks her away.

As a side note, I think Kingpin's reaction was wildly over-the-top and excessive given the situation. Yes, the ice cream seller was a bit obnoxious to a deaf girl, but I don't think beating him up to where you almost if not actually kill him is the right response.

Back to present-day Oklahoma, where Kingpin is not upset or angry about seeing the person who shot him in the eye and left him for dead. Far from it: he wants to have their old traditional Thursday dinners again, just like before when he had his ASL interpreter killed for knowing too much.

As a side note, why not just get another henchman to learn sign language rather than go to the trouble of hiring one just to bump them off? Details, I guess.

Fisk wants Maya to be his successor as Ruler of the Criminal Underworld, urging her to return with him to New York. Maya is in need of wisdom, and who better than her estranged grandmother Chula (Tantoo Cardinal)? Chula tells her of how Maya's mother Taloa (Katerina Ziervogel) came to be born, not in a white hospital, but in the woods. Taloa had the gift of healing, which Maya could use now. Will Maya choose to join Fisk or return to the upcoming Choctaw powwow?

As part of the montage for the various characters while Maya sorts out her decision, we hear Alison Krauss' cover of Down to the River to Pray. It is a beautiful cover, and it does its best to make the situation into a very sad one as the various characters wrestle with their decisions. However, what I have found is that the music carries a lot of the emotional weight in Echo. It is not the performances, or the scripts, or the situations that do so. Down to the River to Pray, while a lovely song well-rendered by Krauss, simply should not be what sells the situation.

Taloa in some ways is almost comical. Kingpin is such a wimp, at one point screaming that Maya kill him with the same hammer he used to kill his abusive father. "FREE ME!" he screams, and one wonders why on Earth he would insist that only this one-legged, deaf, mute, potentially lesbian Native American should take his empire. D'Onofrio does try to sell the drama, but how can he when there is no drama?

At one point, Fisk is impressed with just about everything Maya does, down to shooting him in the head. 

Cox is wrong for the part because she is simply incapable of showing any emotion. Her facial expression never changes, and that is simply deadly for a show with her as the lead. 

One of the most curious elements is how Kingpin has some kind of technology to make Maya understand what he says without an ASL interpreter. A contact allows her to "see" Fisk's words turned into Sign Language. My thinking is that he could use that technology to go legit and make millions. Why waste it on just one person?

Taloa makes suggestions that there is some spiritual connection between Taloa and Maya which does not land. To be fair, the scene between Cardinal and Cox works well. That is due mostly to Cardinal and due to how the conversation is done mostly silently. I think that is more realistic than most of Echo has been.

Taloa is built up by Krauss and Cardinal. Everything else is not worth the limited time we have. With one episode left, Echo is leaving no mark.


Next Episode: Maya

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