Echoes season 1 – who is Leni McCleary?

By Adam Lock
Published: August 19, 2022 (Last updated: November 10, 2023)
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This article, “who is Leni McCleary,” contains spoilers regarding the Netflix limited series Echoes season 1.

Access the archive of recaps, reviews, and news for Echoes. 

The identical twins and their devious scheme to swap lives annually is the core narrative in Echoes, but the catalyst for this story is the disappearance of Leni McCleary. Fans will be aware that the twin that goes missing isn’t the real Leni, but is in fact Gina. The real Leni returns to her childhood home, unsure why Gina has gone missing, desperate to find out the truth. Who exactly is this woman and why does her sister desert her?

Who is Leni McCleary in Echoes season 1?

The first of many complicated twists in Echoes is the realization that the twins aren’t themselves in that opening episode, but have swapped roles. The real Gina has gone missing and the real Leni is the one who has returned to Mount Echo to solve her disappearance. The real Leni worked on a ranch in her childhood town, was married to Jack Beck and had a daughter called Mattie. To tell them apart, this twin has braided hair and carries a Southern accent. She is the one left trying to solve the case and slowly figures out that Gina wanted to escape her life altogether.

After their mother’s death, Leni changed. She never cried over her mum’s death and became a cold person. She was the one who pushed Claudia and manipulated Gina into taking the blame. Leni became a controlling and emotionless person from this moment forwards, even stealing Jack from Gina as teenagers. Leni knew that Gina loved Jack, but still made him her boyfriend. Later they would share Jack, without him being aware, but Gina drifted apart from her sister. When Gina started dating Dylan, Leni became jealous of her sister gaining all the attention and she sought revenge.

Leni was the one who started the church fire, the event that had catastrophic consequences for all involved. This fire would kill a homeless man and lead to the sisters being questioned by the authorities. Leni manipulated Dylan into leaving town, telling him to run away to protect Gina. Leni would then use this against Dylan, forcing Gina to believe he was complicit somehow. Leni never admitted starting the fire and it would be many years before Dylan could show his face in town again. This one lie ruined both Gina and Dylan’s lives.

Leni married Jack and had a daughter. She was unfit to be a parent though, never wanting the responsibilities of motherhood. There’s even a scene where her daughter is left alone, drowning in water and Gina has to save her from death. They realize that Leni isn’t well, suffering from postpartum depression, and decide to swap lives, so Leni can have a break and Gina can try out parenting.

The switching worked wonders and the twins were happy for a while. Gina started to become apprehensive of the scam though and yearned her own life. Leni worried their switching days were numbered and became more controlling, trying to keep the lie alive. Gina realized Leni’s manipulative ways and planned in secret her own escape. Leni was completely unaware of this betrayal and returns to Mount Echo without any suspicions.

Gina’s plan involves Leni reclaiming her old life and Gina escaping with Dylan. However, the jealousy is still rife in Leni and she stops the happy couple from fleeing. Leni kills Dylan and tries to place the blame on Gina for this murder and the church fire all those years ago. The twins fight at the ranch and cause another fire. Leni has flashbacks to her youth and remembers her mother’s death. This traumatic event she witnessed of her father drowning her mother had tragic consequences, causing Leni to become cold and calculated. The traumatic childhood explains Leni’s motives, but doesn’t excuse them. If Leni had been the one to partake in therapy then maybe all this chaos could have been avoided.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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