ECHO EPISODE THREE: TUKLO
My understanding is that the Choctaw nation is a matriarchal society. As such, it should not be a surprise that the miniseries Echo builds its whole mythos around strong female Choctaws. Tuklo, the third episode, keeps to its thread of starting with a strong female ancestor to our one-legged, deaf, mute, potentially lesbian Native American antiheroine. Surprisingly devoid of plot, Tuklo is almost filler for something that is not there.
Oklahoma Territory, 1800's. Young Tuklo (Dannie McCallum) wants to join the Lighthorsemen, a group of Native American guards protecting their people against all enemies foreign and domestic. She is told that she cannot due to her gender. "Women are life-givers. Men are life-takers," she is reminded. Nevertheless, she persisted. Tuklo eventually goes all Mulan and saves the Lighthorsemen from attack by the white man.
Moving on to present-day, Maya (Alaqua Cox) has visions of her strong female ancestors but is abducted by Vickie (Thomas E. Sullivan), an employee at the skating rink owned by Maya's Uncle Henry (Chaske Spencer). Vickie knows of the bounty on Maya and wants it. He holds Maya and Henry hostage, later taking Maya's cousin Bonnie (Devery Jacobs) when she comes snooping around. In comes Zane (Andrew Howard), one of Wilson Fisk's main henchmen, to collect Maya. Unsurprisingly, Zane kills Vickie, though what exactly happened to the two white trash women that make up Vickie's Bloodhound Gang is left unexplained.
Zane is about to fulfill his mission to kill Maya, throwing in Henry for good measure, when his New York Minute ringtone goes off. Maya and Henry, apparently, are saved at the literal last minute by Don Henley. Maya's temporary escape is for naught, for who happens to come to her hideout but none other than Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio)?
Tuklo is the only episode not directed by Sydney Freeland. Catriona McKenzie does the honors, and perhaps that is why Tuklo is slightly better visually than past Echo episodes. The episode begins in the style of an old silent Western film, complete with title cards. The action scene at the laser tag area of the bowling alley is perhaps an homage to The Lady from Shanghai (though perhaps that is giving them far too much credit). You also have a nice visual of Maya hung upside down with a disco ball above her.
Granted, this makes no sense to the actual story since it would have been easier to simply remove Maya's prosthetic leg and tie her up than literally hang her upside down in the middle of the rink. Details are not important when you can make it look nice.
The visual moments in Tuklo are what elevate it. Those are the only things that elevate it, for in reality, Tuklo does not move the narrative forward. What you have are the two stories: Tuklo and Maya, neatly split in half, with the second half being almost unnecessary. A lot of Tuklo's second half revolves around everyone waiting for Zane to show up, but there is nothing there.
There is a whole lot that either does not make sense or is unimportant. When facing almost certain death, why does Bonnie decide this is the best time to reprimand Maya for her failure to make contact? Why do the villains throw Maya's prosthetic foot at her rather than hold onto it, so she won't be able to escape? What did happen to Vickie's two girl conspirators? Who are they? Why are they there at all? There is mention by another of Zane's men that one of them drove off, but I do not remember if they were ordered to hunt her down. Our white trash trio kind of just came and went. Vickie's death is not unexpected, though again, looked nice.
Moreover, it is a cliche to have a cutesy ringtone for our henchman. That on top of having our leads saved at the literal last minute by said ringtone. Maya nor Henry do not appear all that surprised that things turned out the way they did, a very strange attitude to take. Fisk coming in is not that shocking.
That three people have a "story by" credit and a mere two people wrote Tuklo suggests that there really is no one overseeing things.
There are no performances here. Perhaps Howard's Zane can be given grudging credit for being a camp Russian henchman (at least he sounded Russian to me). Everyone else was just there, saying things and being thoroughly unconvincing about it all.
Tuklo showed that even with a director with a better visual style, no amount of nice or clever imagery makes up for lousy scripts.
Next Episode: Taloa