Homecoming evaluation: Season 2 of Amazon’s collection explores already-solved mysteries

Homecoming review: Season 2 of Amazon’s series explores already-solved mysteries

[Ed. word: This article accommodates vital spoilers for Homecoming season 1, and minor setup spoilers for season 2.]

The first season of Amazon’s Homecoming was a masterfully tense thriller, with every roughly half-hour episode slowly unfolding the central thriller of what was happening on the Geist Group’s shady Homecoming Transitional Support Center for veterans. Season 1 ended with a bespectacled Department of Defense auditor successfully appearing because the world’s nerdiest noir hero, fixing the puzzle, however leaving nobody higher off. Between the gorgeous a lot totally resolved plot and the truth that Julia Roberts wasn’t returning within the starring position she had in season 1, it appeared like creators and showrunners Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, who additionally created the podcast the show is based on, would flip the collection into an anthology present.

But that didn’t occur. Instead, Homecoming season 2, which was launched on May 22, picks up proper the place season 1 leaves off. While Horowitz and Bloomberg have recruited a stellar solid that’s doing their greatest to recapture the magic, the season feels essentially pointless and unfulfilling.

Janelle Monáe sits in a white room in front of a mirror or screen featuring a group of people sitting around a white table in season 2 of Amazon’s Homecoming.

Photo: Amazon Studios

The seven-episode season opens with Jackie (Janelle Monáe of Moonlight and Hidden Figures) waking up in a rowboat with no reminiscence of who she is. Her solely clues to her identification are an ID and a tattoo indicating that she’s an Air Force veteran. That intro would have much more punch if season 1 of Homecoming wasn’t about veterans being experimented on with a drug that makes them lose all reminiscence of their service so they may volunteer for redeployment. There’s one twist in season 2, revealed very early in its run, and the season by no means tops that second. Instead, it strikes again in time, then drags on by unnecessarily filling in gaps from the top of season 1, and explaining precisely how Jackie acquired in that rowboat.

Much of the story focuses on Audrey Temple (Hong Chau of Watchmen and Downsizing), who appeared in season 1 as a receptionist who by some means successfully ousted Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale of Will & Grace and Master of None), the oily head of the Homecoming venture. The scenes between Audrey and Colin are replayed to point out how she manipulated herself into the boldness of CEO Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper), who’s surprisingly earnest and hokey for the top of an organization scoring Department of Defense contracts.

Chau brings among the identical mixture of perkiness and malice she demonstrated as Watchmen villain Lady Trieu to Audrey, who’s desperately greedy for energy at an organization run by slick, inept women and men who would gladly stab her with a smile if it meant forwarding their very own careers. She finds a kindred spirit in Bunda (Joan Cusack), a high-ranking DOD official who sees limitless potential in Geist’s memory-stealing system. Cusack makes use of folksy allure and a way of sisterhood to tether Audrey’s rise to her personal ambitions, quickly taking management of the state of affairs as she entertains more and more horrifying makes use of for the drug.

Janelle Monáe examines a small object in her hand in a dingy hotel room in season 2 of Homecoming season 2.

Photo: Ali Goldstein / Amazon Studios

There’s quite a lot of potential within the examination of how ladies can compensate for sexism with absolute ruthlessness, however the corporate-intrigue plot is sharing house with an excessive amount of different materials that’s rehashing season 1. Walter Cruz (Stephan James of If Beale Street Could Talk), the veteran who spent most of season 1 in a battle of wits with Roberts’ Homecoming social employee Heidi Bergman, has began regaining a few of his recollections. Now he’s asking questions on his therapy, which may probably disrupt Audrey’s plans.

Walter’s story appeared properly resolved on the finish of season 1, and whereas it’s nice to see James bringing again the identical mixture of allure and sharp wit that made him such a standout on the present, his story lacks any novelty. It’s thrilling watching him slowly put the items collectively as he heads towards the season’s dramatic conclusion, and he does notably wonderful work reverse Monae as the 2 attempt to get data out of one another. But the scenes nonetheless come throughout as a pale imitation of the identical sport Walter and Heidi performed all through season 1.

Much of the season feels acquainted however diminished. The discordant music continues to resonate, however new director Kyle Patrick Alvarez fails to do something as intelligent as season 1’s director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), who framed the scenes the place Heidi was struggling along with her reminiscence in a approach harking back to cellphone footage. Alvarez tries to copy the impact with a collection of split-screens exhibiting how numerous plots are colliding, however that method actually simply attracts consideration to how disconnected the entire season feels.

Chris Cooper, standing at a podium, points upward in season 2 of Amazon’s Homecoming

Photo: Ali Goldstein / Amazon Studios

The writers often present glimpses of the very best components of season 1 as they mix pressure, absurdist comedy, and an virtually Kafka-esque examination of paperwork’s failings. Standout moments embrace Walter desperately attempting to get a Veterans Affairs worker to let him see data on his personal therapy, and Jackie volunteering for “testing” at Geist to attempt to get some solutions, then attempting to flee a room as a diffuser begins spraying gasoline into her room. Turns out she’s joined a client testing group for air freshener. But each the laughs and thrills really feel watered down in season 2, which by no means delivers something nearly as good because the pelican that tormented Heidi all through season 1, or the hunt Walter and a good friend go on to seek out out in the event that they’re really in suburban Florida, and never on some secret authorities island.

When Leonard learns about the way in which his firm’s drug was used on veterans, he insists that each one the crops used to make it must be destroyed, and additional manufacturing ceased. But when Bunda hears about what occurred, she’s simply excited that the drug labored, and that there have been no complaints from the folks uncovered to it. That battle parallels the guts of season 2’s plot. Homecoming season 1 labored extraordinarily properly, which will need to have produced a horrible temptation to maintain manufacturing rolling. But for each Bunda and Amazon, pushing for extra doesn’t go anyplace good.

All seven episodes of Homecoming season 2 can be found to stream on Amazon.

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