I cannot remember being this excited about the return of a show only to be this disappointed.
Season two (S2) of Homecoming (now streaming on Prime) fails on every level.
Storytelling? Not even.
Coherent character development? Nothing.
Imbuing characters with minimum common sense? Nuh-uh.
No Time For This
S2 thinks its being clever because it plays with the time narrative by starting in the present(ish) for a couple episodes then filling us in by continuing the story in flash back. It’s a fairly common way to tell a story but here it’s not well done. At all.
The first couple episodes are encouraging. They set a distinctly different tone than the first season, which can be good as it sets to establish itself without the original star, Julia Roberts (who, for some reason, allowed herself to be credited as an Executive Producer on S2). We start with an unknown, disoriented girl (later revealed to be Alex played Janelle Monáe) in a rowboat in the middle of a lake. We see a man on shore who runs away. By only showing us her perspective, we don’t learn who he is, and are as much in the dark about Alex’s circumstances as she is.
This is about as good as it gets.
The first two episodes are mostly her trying to find herself. But the shooting and the writing are so disjointed that we don’t really care if she figures it out. Especially when she does things like find a hotel receipt and decides to ambush the room rather than go to the front desk to see who checked in. Luckily a maid was in the right place to unlock the room and just leave. It’s as if someone won a contest to appear in the show and
maid made the walk-on-then-walk-off cameo.
Then there’s the guy who befriends her at the hospital. Why would Alex trust this guy when she doesn’t trust her doctor? Then he assaults her and steals her cash. Surely he was surveilling Alex and will make a comeback at a pivotal moment! Ummm. Yeah. That would require the show to eventually have a pivotal moment. Maybe producers wanted him to be a red herring. He was more like a bluegill with some pink veining.
Past Is Present
S2 is set a couple weeks after we last saw Walter and Heidi Bergman (Roberts) signal a recognition of their connection. I was left with the impression that this was some time after the nefarious Homecoming project had come crashing down. And maybe it still was, but S2 gives us the impression that Walter is more cognizant that something happened to him, and has his personnel folder, possibly given to him by Heidi.
Meanwhile we find out how mousey Audrey went from receptionist to power-wielding executive overnight. Turns out she’s Alex’s longterm girlfriend and are morphing into a pseudo power couple, with Alex as her ‘fixer.’
All this time Geist owner Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper) is just a simple man of the land, farming magic berries in the shadow of his über-empire, and had no idea they were being used to manipulate anyone.
His plans to destroy his crop is thwarted when a military officer, played somewhat amusingly by Joan Cusack, decides to declare the fruit a resource crucial to national security.
Other plot points include Aubrey and Alex deciding if they want a kid and, most importantly, what to name it, will the balloon drop go off without a hitch, and where does citrus fit in with the values of Geist Industries.
Despite having two strong, albeit flawed, female leads, it still ends up with a ‘white savior.” I have no idea what producers are trying to say or where they are going to go.
And — it all ends with a Jonestowne-sque drinking of the spiked Kook-Aid.
Everyone who drinks it will forget about their recent past. We should all be so lucky.
The truly sad part is there are some amazing actors in S2, but they are given nothing to work with. Granted, none of them have the weight or presence of Julia Roberts. But Janelle is a strong actress. Cooper is known for doing his thing and does it well. Bobby Cannavale has game.
But what none of them had was strong material to sink their teeth into, or any kind of coherent direction. Homecoming S2 is a complete failure from conception to execution.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
I have two recommendations.
- Do not waste 3.5 hours on this show
- Pour some cheap vodka in a glass and add a splash of red Kool-Aid and chug. The hangover won’t be nearly as painful as watching S2 and at least you’ll understand why things are happening around you.