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Echo 3 Star Jessica Ann Collins on the Show’s Ambiguous Finale

Jan 28, 2023


This article contains spoilers for Echo 3.Mark Boal has written some of the most interesting war and military movies of the past two decades, thanks to his extensive career as a journalist. The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, and Triple Frontier all feature his unique take on both the courage of soldiers and the devastating consequences of their missions, along with the moral quagmire of their combat. His series Echo 3 recently had its finale on Apple TV+, and it was an excellent contribution to the themes in his oeuvre.

Echo 3 is a stylish show that follows the starts, stops, trials, and errors of an American woman’s kidnapping and the rescue missions which attempted to save her. Jessica Ann Collins plays Amber, a woman who has just married a wealthy member of the military (Prince, played by Michiel Huisman), who works with her brother, Alex ‘Bambi’ Chesborough (Luke Evans), as Delta Force operators in the American Army. When she is taken hostage while doing scientific research in Colombia, her husband and brother do whatever they can to save her.
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Throughout the show’s ten episodes, there are myriad tribulations as one mission fails, Amber is taken to Venezuela as a political tool, and another mission begins after some time. For most TV series, the penultimate episode of Echo 3 would serve as a proper finale; the ‘bad guys’ were defeated, the hostage was rescued, and the boy gets the girl. Boal shows his maturity as a writer with the recent finale, though, a strikingly ambiguous and mature episode that elevates the series as a whole. Collins spoke with MovieWeb about the fascinating finale and how her character evolved over the course of Echo 3.

The Ending of Echo 3

AppleTV+

The finale begins right after the previous episode, titled Scorched Earth, which had Amber finally rescued for good, thanks to Prince, Bambi, and others. The compound in which she was held captive is burned to the ground (a sight and phrase which will become important), and countless people were shot or burned to death in her rescue operation. Instead of being overcome with gratitude and joy, there’s a look of horror on Amber’s face, and the finale explores it.

In addition to the many deaths, the operation may have also become the catalyst for a war between Colombia and Venezuela. With a bit of survivor’s guilt and a lot of human empathy, Amber is devastated. This woman, who had been immersed in military ethics, is done with the violence. It’s the completion of a mature character arc which could be said to reflect the growing cultural realization of just how deadly war is.

“I feel like she starts the series surrounded by military persons. And so on a very basic level, she starts the series sort of accustomed to violence, not that she ever really condoned it. But at the end of the season, she’s pretty convicted about her feelings about violence; she’s really adamant about her feelings towards violence not being acceptable. That’s one arc right there,” said Collins. She continued:

She also starts the season already with a handful of traumas and secrets, but then she ends up enduring a trauma. And in that process, she goes through this post-traumatic growth arc in this weird way. It becomes the dismantler for any kind of persona or anything she’s built up about herself. So she ends the season sort of burned to the ground in a way, and really looking at the things around her, and trying to say, ‘Well, who am I, and what am I doing moving forward?’

A Season Finale That Questions All the Violence

Amber was raised with violence, her stepfather being a truly awful character who Bambi shot and killed in front of her as a child, preventing him from raping and hurting Amber. This ethos of violence and death as a protective mechanism has parallels with the military, and the idea of people fighting for our freedom. As she endures being a hostage, witnessing the complicated political and cultural environment around her, and ultimately realizing how much violence and death are caused in her rescue, Amber’s worldview and understanding of violence and the military experiences a shift. Echo 3 doesn’t downright tell the viewer what to morally believe in this finale, though; it’s not anti-military, but it’s certainly not pro-war. Life, and morality, are more complicated.

Related: Exclusive: Luke Evans, Michiel Huisman, & Mark Boal Discuss Echo 3

“I feel like there is a moral standpoint,” said Collins. “I don’t know if it’s defined, but I feel like we’re looking at violence throughout the series, and sort of […] peering in at violence and what it means, and what its consequences are, and what is the reality of something like that. And not just in a Hollywood trope way. So if there is a morality to show, I think it is simply an evaluation of violence.”

“But it’s funny,” continued Collins, “when you’re in it, in the making of something, you’re sort of really in your character. So as far as the bigger picture goes, you’re sort of a tree in the forest. It’s been interesting to me to watch it all come together and see this sweeping epic with everyone else that’s watching it, and getting to look at the bigger picture.” In short, the bigger picture and its moral mechanisms are up to each viewer to decide.

Echo 3 Ends with the Focus on an Ambiguous Amber

Apple TV+

The finale of Echo 3 finds Amber also having an emotional ambivalence towards her future, especially whether it’s spent with Prince. The series has always been class-conscious in its depiction of social hierarchies, power, and politics, and Amber, who married into Prince’s wealthy family, feels more disconnected from him than ever. However, even if he has called her a redneck, did kill countless people, and was working on a Senate run (which can sometimes be ethically worse than murder), he did save her, and he does love her. At least, he loved who he thought she was.

Related: Exclusive: Echo 3 Clip Finds Luke Evans Planning for War on Apple TV+

Something has fundamentally changed in Amber. On the beach, in one of Echo 3’s many beautiful shots, she tells Prince that their relationship is essentially over. She no longer is the Amber he knew, and his declarations of heartbreak don’t sway her. Right before the final bird’s-eye view of an overhead shot, though, there’s a small exchange of smiles between them, a glimmer of hope after all this bloodshed. Where do they go from here?

“I think it is ambiguous, at least to me,” explained Collins. “It’s as ambiguous to me as everybody else. Where I sort of dream of her going? I want the whole team back together, I guess. My dream is episode one, season two, she’s just snuggling Prince and cooking eggs for her brother or something. I don’t know, I still desire the happy ending at some point.”

Jessica Ann Collins Played the Wildcard for Echo 3

Apple TV+

The ending of Echo 3 was rather perfect in its own way, and a continuation of it may pop that ambiguous bubble that was blown and left in the air to hover at the end of the show. If Boal and Apple TV+ do decide to go forward with a second season, though, they would likely come up with some interesting ideas. Collins may want to continue the process, considering how freeing and collaborative her work in the series was.

“What I enjoyed most about playing Amber was the hall pass to be as creative and wild as possible in my choices. You know, Mark Boal was always like, ‘Okay, great. That’s your fourth idea. But what’s your eighth idea?'” explained Collins. “Normally I’m used to coming up with a few, or something like that, but I was pushed even harder to go further and find the wildcard, and in that, I feel like I learned a lot […] I think inhabiting that enigmatic space in performance was probably the most rewarding.”

Collins certainly flexed her performative skills throughout the Apple TV+ show, getting the most out of a richly complicated character like Amber. She portrayed the fear of being kidnapped and the PTSD of that experience in ways which bring to mind Brie Larson’s great performance in Room, but other times, Collins makes surprising choices that feel natural for Amber in their spontaneity. She zigs instead of zags, whether it’s in a surprising burst of stubbornness and violence (like Better Midler as a bitter captive in Ruthless People), or in her taciturn yet increasingly tender relationship with a fellow hostage who may be mentally ill (seeming almost like Jeff Bridges in The Fisher King).

Through fine acting and what she credits as “collaboration and conversation” with Boal and others, Collins delivered a standout performance which is epitomized in the show’s finale. Her character is figuratively “burned to the ground,” as Collins said. Maybe, like a controlled burning, the events of Echo 3 cleared the brush of Amber’s psyche, creating space for healthier new things to grow.

All 10 episodes of Echo 3 are available to watch on Apple TV+.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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