Echo 3 preps for a bloody jailbreak [Apple TV+ recap] ★½

Echo 3, writer Mark Boal’s fundamentalist patriotism slash fic about two men who will stop at nothing to rescue the woman they share, gears up for a very illegal raid on the prison holding her this week.

The two mercenaries tie up loose ends before their mission to save their wife/sister/CIA agent Amber Chesborough Haas. Plus, Amber and Prince’s parents kibbutz about the next best step to take for their kids. And an old enemy is finally taken out of commission.

Echo 3 recap: ‘Family Matters’

Season 1, episode 8: In this week’s episode, entitled “Family Matters,” Bambi (played by Luke Evans) and Alex “Prince” Haas (Michiel Huisman) have let their hostage Momo (Juan Pablo Urrego) go. They realized that Tariq Marwan (Vicente Peña) wouldn’t be paying to free his brother, let alone trading Momo’s life for Amber’s (Jessica Ann Collins).

Tariq would rather kill Amber. But Momo makes an impassioned plea to his brother: Let Amber go. After all, by not killing Momo, Bambi and Prince proved their humanity more than Tariq did when given the same ultimatum. Tariq doesn’t want to.

At the prison camp where she’s being held, Amber’s getting tortured pretty good herself. She flashes back to her CIA training, her childhood with Bambi, her courtship and marriage to Prince, her father’s attempted sexual assault of her when she was barely old enough to read.

She still hasn’t cracked (oh my what resilience… what does she believe in again?). But she is going crazy. She hallucinates Bambi killing Tomás (Alejandro Furth), and flashes back to when she was a co-ed who met the charming son of millionaire arms dealer Eric Haas (Bradley Whitford).

She’s not the only one who remembers Eric about now. Amber and Bambi’s mother Maggie (Valerie Mahaffey) goes to a Haas convention to get his attention and warn him their kids are down in South America making a real scene — committing crimes, kidnapping people, killing them. Maybe now’s the time to do something about all this.

Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak

Meanwhile, Mitch (James Udom) gives Bambi and Prince’s gang of mercenaries Colombian military insignia for their upcoming raid on Amber’s prison. Bambi tells the assembled crew that they’re doing this to bring back an innocent woman (questionable description of a CIA plant). He also says everyone should be ready to kill civilians, and that they should be doing this for honor and glory and because they want to “do something” with their lives. Sure, yeah, taking part in an American redneck honor killing is “doing something” with your life. Whatever you say, Mark Boal.

They kill Tariq in front of Momo to distract their opponents, and it’s finally go time. Bambi and Prince made up last episode briefly after all the little things they’d done to piss each other off and alienate each other over the years. But of course, the one thing that’s still hanging over them is the botched rescue operation from the beginning Echo 3. If you don’t remember that, Bambi had a choice between saving Prince and saving a different guy in their unit, someone with two kids.

Bambi finally admits that he made a choice and got Prince out at the other guy’s expense. It’s something Prince has been trying to get him to admit the whole time. What Bambi doesn’t say is that he did it specifically because Amber told him to. Not that that matters — these guys also say their “I love yous” to each other and reiterate that they’re family and all that stuff. Prince even says he joined the military to be like Bambi, because he looked up to him so.

Go time

Psychologically I don’t really buy that a 21-year-old would join the military to impress his girlfriend’s older brother, but this is the way of the world in Boal land. The military is at the center of all things in his screenplays. (Boal wrote The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirtyamong other things.) So it makes perfect sense to him that the scion of a military tech company would kiss a fat paycheck from his dad’s company goodbye and go join up to impress a guy he looks up to like an older brother (whose sister he then marries).

It’s all meant to be so second nature to these guys, all the loyalty and fearful protective urges and all that, but it’s a little creepy that Prince thinks nothing of the idea that he’d go kill people just to make a dent in another guy’s hard shell of stoicism.

“I’ll prove I love his sister by joining the military,” is one thing. “I’ll follow him into Delta Force black bag secret wars because I’m having such a good time with my friends” is another. And finally, we end up at: “To prove my love to this family I’m going to convince dirt-poor Colombian gunslingers to kill dozens of people whose only crime is wanting the United States not to destroy their homeland.”

It freaks me out, but hey, I was raised a Quaker, so what do I know? Next week we’ll see the big one Echo 3 gunfight, I hope it’s exciting at least — there has been a lot of time-wasting so far for a show about a “private war.” If I’m going to be told how important cool clandestine military might be, it had better be cool to watch.

☆☆☆

Watch Echo 3 on Apple TV+

New episodes of Echo 3 arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.

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