Homecoming Season 2 (2020)
Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Written by Micah Bloomberg, Eli Horowitz, Zachary Wigon, Sarah Carbiener, Erica Rosbe, Casallina Kisakye, Evan Wright, and Patrick Macmanus
Choosing the perspective of a story is incredibly important. Deciding who will unroll the narrative for us affects how we perceive every character and each plot beat. Who ends up being seen as a hero or villain can subtly shift. The showrunners behind Homecoming decided to make the central character in their second season someone we had never met before. On top of that, she has amnesia and can’t even remember her name. By doing this, we are immediately sympathetic to her because we have no idea what is going on. By the end of the season, we know everything while she is still stumbling in the dark.
A woman (Janelle Monáe) wakes up with a jolt in a boat sitting in the middle of a lake. A man stands on the shore, too far away for her to make out any detail. She shouts for help, and he bolts. Using her arms, the woman rows to the shore. She finds a car key, but it doesn’t match a vehicle on the road’s side. The only thing the woman can figure out about herself is that she was in the military (she has a tattoo). Her story is directly linked to the experimental veteran’s treatment that went down in season one but not in the way you expect it.
In regards to that first season, we see only a few characters return like Audrey (Hong Chau), the secretary who took her fumbling boss’s position, and Craig (Alex Karpovsky), a Homecoming employee. We have quite a few new characters, most importantly Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper), who owns the biomedical company where all this started, and Francine Bunda (Joan Cusack), a Pentagon representative who finds the work Homecoming did extremely promising. How all these characters relate to one another and what role the anonymous woman in the boat as with them is all part of the unfolding story.
I found Homecoming Season 2 did an excellent job exploring the stark differences in thinking individualistically versus collectively. The Geist Emergent Group is a typical corporation where people are stomping each other down to climb the ladder of success. Audrey finds herself in a promising position now that Colin has been jettisoned. To prove herself to the boss, she takes on the Department of Defense investigation, knowing she is in over her head. However, that leads us to the other aspect of this season, that as long as an evil act can benefit influential people, it can be forgiven. The DoD isn’t that mad about Homecoming because it worked and made soldiers ready to be shipped out again without pesky PTSD.
The mystery of Season 2 is a lot of fun, and you are constantly given some crazy twists along the way. Every episode opens with a reveal and ends with one, pulling away the layers of the onion one episode at a time. However, I don’t think this season has the depth of character building that the first one did. I felt like I had a greater understanding of Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) in that first season. I most definitely felt like I was following a three-dimensional character when the show focused on Walter Cruz (Stephan James). You never get that here because the focus is on the wild plot than developing people. For instance, Bunda is a total caricature, an almost cartoon-like villain with no depth at all.
The show still knows how to set a mood, though. I think Homecoming is the real follow up for fans of the British series Utopia. It has that heightened reality aided by very distinct music choices. Both seasons of Homecoming repurpose classical music and film scores that create the perfect atmosphere of paranoia. I think season one’s selections were a bit better, but season two still fills you with that sense of dread. If you enjoyed season one, then you will, of course, want to keep the story going. I love shifting the focus to new and different characters each season while following the same core story. I just hope our characters don’t get lost in the twists and turns of the plot.