Don’t Trust The Vials

Homecoming Season 2 Review

In my opinion the most egregious omission of last years Emmy nominations was the near complete shutout of Amazon’s extraordinary series Homecoming. Based on a famous podcast, Season 1 dealt with two timelines: the relationship between a therapist and her patient (Julia Roberts and Stephen James) and an investigation into a complaint filed about that patient four years later — only by now, the therapist has no memory of any of her experiences four years later. Tautly written, superbly directed by Sam Esmail, and performed exquisitely by the entire cast from Roberts on down, the early buzz was such that Roberts’ nomination for an Emmy was considered a certainty from the minute it premiered. It’s easy enough for me to rant at the Emmys for ignoring Roberts in favor of that standby Viola Davis or either of the leads from Game of Thrones, but the entire series was one of the great accomplishments of 2019, and to see everybody — Esmail, Roberts, James, Bobby Canavale and Shea Whigham, all shorted was a travesty than could only be explained by the work of the evil corporation at the center of Homecoming sending out meals to the Emmy voters weeks in advance. (Then again, I’ve railed about their inconsistencies for so long, I don’t think they need any help.

Understandably, I was more than willing to see what happens when Season 2 finally dropped last week on Amazon. We all knew there would be no Roberts, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of Esmail behind the camera either. Good news, the series hasn’t been missing any of them so far.

If the first season of Homecoming hinted at Hitchcock at times, the second season sees writers Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz embracing it whole-heartedly. The episode begins with a woman awaking in a canoe with no memory of how she got there or even who she is. Helped by a passing stranger to retrace her steps (up to a point) she finds herself in a motel roof with a wad of case, and a photograph of an army unit with every face but hers x-ed out. Finding a vial that belongs to the Geist Corporation (the evil force behind all the darkness in the first season) she finds herself tracing things back to Audrey Temple (Hong Chau, who has in a very short time become one of the most astonishing actresses in TV) the secretary who in the final episode of the first season made a power play — and now reveals that she seems completely unsuited for the job.

The second episode showed the parallel paths of the two women — Audrey, trying to fix things for the new path, and clashing with the angry head of the Geist Corporation (Chris Cooper, once again demonstrating why he is one of the most undervalued actors anywhere) and the amnesiac, trying to figure out her connection to Audrey. The episode with the amnesiac walking right up to Audrey — and Audrey kissed her, called her Jackie, and asked: “What happened to Walter Cruz?” — the man at the center of the action of last season, and the only character directly linking the two seasons together.

If Julia Roberts was the central draw of Homecoming initially, you’d think Janelle Monae, a relatively new sensation would be an odd choice to succeed her as the lead. But in the first two episodes of the season, Monae plays Jackie much in the same way Roberts played Heidi — a lot like the audience trying to figure out what had happened to her, who she was before the main action, and what she has to do with the Geist Corporation now. She plays it very carefully, measuring everything she does. Chau is just as good, revealing that she is more the meek secretary than the power player she was in the finale of Season 1, utterly unequipped for the massive undertaking she’s apart of.

How did Jackie end up in that canoe? What happened to Walter Cruz (I guess the happy ending we saw in Season 1 isn’t the end for him). Just what’s in the Geist air freshener? I don’t know how many of those questions will be answer in the mere seven episodes of this season, but I can’t wait to find out. And If the Emmys don’t recognize some of the people behind Homecoming this time, that’s another crime Geist corporation has to be convicted of.

My score: 4.75 stars.

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David B Morris

After years of laboring for love in my blog on TV, I have decided to expand my horizons by blogging about my great love to a new and hopefully wider field.