Janelle Monáe plays an amnesiac woman with a mysterious past who suspects that everyone around her is covering up a dark secret in the second season of Homecoming, Amazon Prime’s critically acclaimed psychological thriller. The first season, starring Julia Roberts, was an adaptation of the popular podcast of the same name, developed for television by showrunner Sam Esmail.
(Some spoilers for S1 below.)
The first season alternated between early 2018 and 2022. In the earlier time period, Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) is a caseworker with a secret government facility known as the Homecoming Transitional Support Center, in charge of treating a young veteran named Walter Cruz (Stephan James), recovering from trauma experienced during his last deployment. In 2022, Heidi is living with her mother in Tampa and working as a waitress. She is approached by a Department of Defense investigator named Thomas Carrasco (Shea Whigham) about a past complaint that Cruz had been restrained at the facility against his will. But Heidi has no recollection of Cruz or anything pertaining to his case.
We soon learn that the “treatment” at the Homecoming facility consists of gradually increasing dosages of memory-erasing drugs in the patients’ food. Clearly, something very bad happened there involving Walter and Heidi, and Carrasco is determined to uncover the truth, leading to a tense final confrontation.
Homecoming S1 earned rave reviews, particularly for Roberts’ understated performance. It currently holds a 98 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon had ordered two seasons of the show, so we were always going to get a S2, even though S1 wrapped up its story quite neatly.
Per the official S2 premise: Monáe’s as-yet-unnamed character “wakes in a rowboat adrift a lake, with no memory of how she got there—or even who she is. Her ensuing search for identity will lead her into the heart of the Geist Group, the unconventional wellness company behind the Homecoming Initiative.” That doesn’t give much away. But Esmail told TVLine last year that S2 will deviate substantially from the original podcast.
Esmail also said that a post-credits scene in the S1 finale—showing Geist employee Audrey Temple (Hong Chao) rubbing the memory-wiping drug onto her wrists to calm her nerves—was “a hint of things to come.” We do know Chao is returning for S2, along with James’s Walter Cruz, whose post-S1 efforts to rebuild his life hit a snag when, per Amazon, “he begins to realize that there’s an even more insidious version of the program underway—if only he can remember.”
Now we finally have a full trailer to shed a bit more light on what we can expect. We see the mysterious woman wake up in her rowboat, and a voiceover asks a series of questions about who she is, where she lives, her birthday, and so forth. Each time she responds, “I don’t know.” We catch snippets of the woman being treated in a hospital, entering the Geist lobby, and participating in some kind of strange support group. “I knew something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t explain it to anyone,” she says in another voiceover. “It was like the people around me were keeping a secret. Like we were in a movie. And everyone knew we were in a movie except for me.”
The amnesiac woman’s plight is almost certainly related to the memory-erasing substance Audrey was rubbing onto her wrists in that post-credit scene. It’s apparently derived from the fruit of a strange plant being cultivated on a farm, as part of a military R&D program. (That’s Joan Cusack in uniform declaring, “This is all critical military technology.”) Meanwhile, Audrey has been warned that an investigation is underway over a complaint—it’s unclear whether it’s related to the complaint filed about Cruz in S1 or to a new case.
We do see Walter Cruz visit the Department of Veterans Affairs in search of assistance, but the bureaucrat he’s speaking to just says “I’m sorry” and then freezes. It’s almost as if something is messing with Walter’s perception of time. And of course, Monáe’s character is clearly intent on asking too many uncomfortable questions as she tries to figure out what happened to her, despite being warned, “If you keep picking at this, it’s gonna start bleeding.”
What does it all mean? We’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out, but it’s a fair bet that S2 will employ the same strategy of alternating between two different time periods to tell its story, since the trailer seems to switch between past and present. Homecoming S2 debuts on Amazon Prime on May 22, 2020.
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