Amazon Prime Video’s psychological thriller series Homecoming, based on a podcast of the same name by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, had a tightly written, well-paced and brilliantly acted inaugural season. Its conclusion, despite a few loose ends, felt mostly complete. It was a bittersweet ending, but an ending all the same.
And now we have a second season. If this seems to you that Amazon is cashing on the critical reception and popularity of the original season, you can rest assured that it is not. The plans for the second season were clearly laid out when the first one was in pre-production as many scenes from the first season get more context here.
Homecoming is about a titular facility established under a government contract by a certain Geist Group. While it promises rehabilitation for soldiers coming back home from overseas wars, it instead does something downright sinister and even evil. The soldiers housed in the facility are fed medicated food that erases their memory altogether. So instead of something like PTSD, there is no ill effect of the war — only there is a blank spot spanning several years. The ultimate purpose of the programme is to redeploy them and continue the cycle.
The first season had Roberts’ Heidi Bergman as the manager of the facility. She fell in love with one of the soldiers, Walter Cruz (Stephan James), eventually realised the horrors of what was done to him and others, and quit — but not before overdosing herself and Cruz with the medicine.
The sophomore outing tells a new story set in the same world from the perspective of a new protagonist, Janelle Monáe’s Alex, who finds herself adrift on a boat in the middle of a lake, wholly unaware of her whereabouts, or even who she is. She begins retracting her steps to find out what happened to her.
James’ Walter is the only major character that returns from the original season. While it felt like he was blissfully unaware of what was done to him in the finale of the first season, he gets flashes of the memories he has now lost and decides to find out the truth. Alex and Walter’s search eventually coincides, and it leads to the shady Geist Group.
The second season does not have the charismatic presence of Julia Roberts and Sam Ismail’s direction, though both are still listed as executive producers. But the writing saves the day. And the runtime of around 30 minutes really helps, especially since the pacing is just right. It does have its contemplative moments, but they never feel like a drag.
The new cast members were excellent. Chris Cooper as the owner of Geist was a surprise — both because it was intended to be so and also because Cooper did a sublime job in fleshing out a fairly minor character and make it way more impactful than it would have been otherwise. So much so that he was my the highlight for me this season. Hong Chau’s talents I have already witnessed in Watchmen, and she was great here as well. Joan Cusack also impressed in her minor role as a slimy government official, though I do wish she was the Big Bad this season.
Homecoming season 2 feel fresh and is as compulsive a watch as the first season.
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