Tora Bora in the City
Episode 2 of Echo 3 starts in Colombia and we meet another of our protagonists. Her name is Violeta Matiz, a hugely popular and respected journalist. Her meditation session is interrupted by her daughter, who wants her hairbrush.
Ernest, Violeta’s husband, has been contacted by Prince’s father to help out with the kidnapping. He asks for her help to see if any sources of hers could help them in the right direction.
In the forests, we see the rebels transporting Amber to a secured location. “Secured” is not in the sense of the word or military norms but a crowded area that singularly belongs to the rebels. They have spotters and allies covering an entire stretch, making it an almost impenetrable fortress in the local authorities’ minds. They are currently positioned in Bogota. Violeta meets with the Senator associated with FARC, who confirms that a younger version of their organization has taken her hostage.
But, the deal is strictly transactional. All the rebels want is a ransom for Amber. The journalist then proceeds to meet with Enrique, a local leader of FARC and someone in a position to make final decisions. He is offended by the proposition and veiled threats of the military attacking his base. Violeta leaves with valuable information and transmits it to Ernesto. Bambi and Prince arrive at the US Embassy and first meet with the head of security Amick Dunn. But the real operator of the place is the Chief of Station, Natalie Foster.
Although Prince’s tone is derisive at first, Natalie turns out to have a handle on the situation. She is in full control through a small room she operates in the basement of the embassy, keeping the CIA and Colonel Pereira together in the same room. They have in fact also located the whereabouts of Amber and have got the information that the kidnapping is a business deal. They report the same status of the neighborhood as completely hostile to the armed forces to Prince and Bambi.
But as it turns out, there is indeed a problem. The rebels who have captured Amber have found the beacon Prince put in her bag and identified it as military-grade equipment. They suspect she might be associated with the DEA or the CIA and has come to the forests to spy on her. Amber tries explaining what it is but they do not seem convinced. One of the men from the rebels is sent to the University to talk to their young leader, Graciela, who runs the resistance from that place.
Although she hesitates to talk to Amber at first, she agrees to do so when she sees an opportunity to prove her mettle to the higher-ups. Prince is still of the opinion that they should attack themselves and rescue her. But Bambi asks him to be calm. When Graciela and her girlfriend talk to Amber, they decide not to release her for money and pull off the deal. Violeta reveals that she has been kidnapped before with her sister but unfortunately, her sister was killed in the crossfire.
Natalie informs the American duo of the rebels’ decision and Prince wastes no more time in procuring the guard and weapons to strike them that night. Fortunately for them, Amber is spending the night on the terrace, which is easily accessible from the outside. But when the duo reaches the spot, they find her gone. A member of the rebels comes upstairs to meet them but retreats when they allow him to go.
The entire neighborhood now knows that they are in the area and unites to hunt them down. Pereira has his snipers positioned in a triangle. He asks to protect the “purples” (Americans) and kill the “tangos” (Rebels). The two Americans now have to make it out of the place and do so by killing the untrained rebels on their tails. Some criminals from the most wanted are dead but a younger child, whom we saw earlier with Amber, is also killed when he picks up a gun.
The Episode Review
The last few minutes of episode 2 were executed at a frenetic pace and the stinging realism Boal has previously created. Most of that confronting was overwhelming at times and done with a sedate sense of theatrics. The recreation of a Colombian neighborhood allied with the rebels felt familiar. It added to the appeal of the setting.
The sprinkle of nervous shots where nothing really happens but anything can happen with some changes was very effective. The introduction of Violeta in the mix and her story about her sister is perhaps leading to an unfortuitousness end. With her, Echo 3 now has all the elements of modern society – government, press, army, and the marginalized – running the show.
What remains to be seen now is how this mix of colliding values and morals comes together and moves the story forward.