SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains complete plot spoilers for season 2 of Homecoming. Stop reading now if you do not want to be spoiled.
- Homecoming‘s second season tells an entirely new story, but one in the same space as the first season.
- A mix of new and returning characters make for a compelling mystery plot.
- Below, we break the finale down by key character, and speculate on what could be next for Amazon Prime’s series.
The second season of Amazon Prime Video’s Homecoming was an interesting one. While it kept the engrossing half-hour mystery format of the show’s first season, the story itself was on a smaller scale. While the first season introduced us to the world of the Homecoming program, and the drugs that could do anything from relieve stress and anxiety to completely blanking someone’s memory, the second season mostly opted to tell a story within those same already established walls.
The first season’s lead, Julia Roberts, is gone in season 2, replaced by a new mystery character played by Janelle Monáe. Stephan James, who plays recovering soldier Walter Cruz, returns in a slightly reduced role, while Hong Chau, who played a recurring role in Season 1, returns to find her role greatly increased. Academy Award-winning character actor Chris Cooper also joins the main cast as Leonard Geist, the founder of the company whose drug operation is at the show’s center.
While the show’s Season 2 doesn’t wind up telling a dramatically huge new story, its seven half-hour episodes still form an incredibly compelling arc, particularly for fans of the story creators Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg told in the first season. The season mostly serves to fill in the blanks of that first season, and tell a pretty immediate aftermath. We see how some of the Geist corporate shakeups and maneuvering went down.
Homecoming only focuses on a few key characters, so it’s easiest to dive into the ending looking at how things broke down for each individual key player—and then think about how things could play out should the series continue.
Alex/Jackie (Janelle Monáe)
When the season opens, it seems like the story we have might be (no pun intended) uncharted waters. A woman we’ve never seen before (Monáe) awakens with no memory in a rowboat. Where could things go from here? She eventually picks up cues that lead her to believe that she’s a returning veteran, including a tattoo on her arm indicating that she was Airborne. However, things quickly start to fall apart when her “tattoo” washes off with water, and her story starts to have little holes here and there.
Eventually, she makes her way to the Geist headquarters, following the track of someone named Alex Easton, who’s information she found at the hotel room she traced herself back to. At the geist HQ we find our first twist—Jackie is Alex, and Alex is in a relationship with Audrey.
We backtrack a little and from the beginning see the real Alex; she’s a crisis fixer, almost like Harvey Keitel’s Winston Wolf character in Pulp Fiction. She solves problems for powerful people. Not exactly the most moral occupation out there. We also see her home life with Audrey, and that she’s the more go-getting half of the couple, while Audrey tends to be more reserved. She frequently encourages Audrey to be more ambitious at work, and, eventually, Audrey complies.
After Audrey has gained power and a new role at Geist, though, she learns that Walter Cruz—the soldier who was involved with Julia Roberts’ Heidi Bergman in Season 1, and had his memory erased—has been asking questions. Audrey is nervous, and Alex slips into problem solver mode. She creates a new identity for herself, as Jackie the veteran. She finds Walter—who’s been temporarily incarcerated—and bails him out of jail. From there, the pair meet up for a beer, and Walter becomes suspicious of her.
Jackie/Alex, through all of this, has Audrey’s “Roller” with her. The “Roller” is a version of the memory-erasing drug that is meant to roll on someone’s wrist, releasing a miniature amount of the drug; this is meant as a stress reliever.
After their initial meeting ended in a less-than-ideal fashion, Jackie fills a syringe with the drug from inside the roller. She plans to use it to once again blank Walter’s memory. When the two are on a walk though, and Walter having grown suspicious that “Jackie” is not who she claims she is, things go awry. Jackie tries to inject Walter with the syringe, but he is tipped off, and redirects it to instead go into her own arm. Within a few moments, she’s backed into the rowboat where we find her at the season’s start. Before too long from there, her memory is completely gone.
By the end of the season—these stories are told somewhat out of order—Alex has made her way back to Geist, but still doesn’t seem to entirely understand what is going on. She meets up with Audrey, who attempts to explain.
Audrey Temple (Hong Chau)
As we’ve seen in the first season, Audrey works at Geist. She’s a receptionist who’s frequently mistreated by her unethical and dim-witted boss, Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale, who returns for a brief cameo in Season 2). As a post-credits scene from the first season’s finale showed, Audrey has two things going for her entering the season: she’s set Colin up as the fall guy for the entire first season’s plot (the soldier memory-erasing scandal), and has her own “roller,” which she rubs on her wrist constantly to reduce stress.
As the season moves along, we see what led to her confrontation with Colin: it was basically all Alex’s doing. Audrey knew what was going on with Homecoming, but she hadn’t been put in any new role at all yet. Alex encouraged her, then, to lie about everything. She lied, at first, by scheduling a meeting with Colin and his boss, and not telling the boss that the meeting was scheduled. Audrey then went to the meeting and convinced Colin that she was his new boss, and got him to sign documents taking responsibility for the clusterf*ck of the first season.
When this happens, she eventually brings the documents to Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper), who runs the company and is its founder. While Colin and Ron (his boss) eventually find out about Audrey’s scheme and push back, Audrey does eventually rise up and take their jobs and they are both fired.
Audrey eventually covers for the company, but through testimonies finds a new partner/problem: the U.S. Government want in. An officer, Bunda (Joan Cusack) finds that the drug from the first season works, and wants the opportunity for the government to use it for, basically, whatever they want. She forcefully partners with Geist, and Audrey is left to manage. Her first task? Arrange a party to help the government sell the memory-erasing product to potential clients.
At this point, though, things go awry for Audrey. She delegates the planning of the party to employees under her (who were previously rude to her) and just when things seem to be going OK, Alex, memory blanked, returns. At the party, she has to cut the microphone off when Geist starts seemingly talking crazy about everyone there.
Before long, though, it becomes clear what’s happened: the drinks everyone at the party have been drinking have been spiked with the first season drug. People drop like flies, leaving Audrey for last. Audrey and Alex embrace, as both realize that her memory is about to go.
Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper)
Leonard Geist, played by the perpetually-underrated Chris Cooper, is a really well done character in Homecoming‘s second season. Where a character of this nature—the founder and owner of a big, seemingly-evil company—typically appears in a show, he’s something of a big-bad. Geist, here, is not that. He’s mostly concerned with his crops, with cooking, and with living in his greenhouse by his farm.
When he learns the nature of the berries (which are the source of the memory-erasing drug, and, thus, the roller, and whatever else is planned), he wants to totally dig the crops up by the root, and get rid of them forever. He wants no more of this. But Bunda, and to a lesser extent, Audrey, have different plans.
While Geist is mostly resigned to the fact that there might not be anything he can do about this plan to basically take over this portion of his company and use the product for god-knows-what, things change when Walter Cruz shows up on his farm. He invites Walter in, and after a quick pep talk, eventually the two hatch the scheme that closes out the second season—at the big Geist party, Leonard sneaks Walter in, and they spike everyone’s cocktails with the drug. All the people at this party get what they deserve. So we think.
Walter Cruz (Stephan James)
Walter, one of the main characters of Season 1, doesn’t re-enter the story until Season 2’s third episode, and it picks up right after the events of Season 1’s finale. While Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) is still the only one we’ve seen entirely regain memory in Homecoming, it’s clear that there’s something brewing in Walter. He’s already moved the utencils in front of Heidi just like he did in the first season in her office, and he did so at the diner here, too.
Not long after he leaves her office, he pulls over, feeling distraught. You can tell that he feels that something is wrong, but not sure what. Eventually, he looks into finding out how he was treated, when he realizes that he doesn’t have the scar on the back of his head that he realizes he has. When he goes to the VA to try to find out how or where, he was treated, the attendant won’t tell him, because his data belongs to a private corporation. Walter is fed up with this, tries to grab the computer, and eventually is arrested.
This is where he meets up with Alex/Jackie, who he doesn’t realize is out to gather information (seeing what he knows about the Homecoming project). Walter, though, is as smart as he is kind, and eventually figures out what’s happening. When Alex tries to hit him with the syringe, he turns it on her, and when he realizes what’s happening, he runs.
After getting to the Geist farm and finding Leonard (which….happens in a remarkably easy fashion), Walter and Leonard hatch their plan (which we eventually realize involves erasing…everyone’s memory).
After it’s all done, and everyone is passed out with their memory erased, Walter has one last confrontation with Alex. He tells her that she should go, and she says she will—but wants to be there for Audrey when she wakes up with no memory.
As the season ends, Walter walks out, finally with the file and information of his time in Homecoming, in his possession. He hops in his truck, looks over the file, and drives off as the season comes to a close.
What’s next for Homecoming?
If Homecoming returns for a season 3, it’s clear that the story will (should) once again center on the Walter Cruz character. He’s the central figure of the entire series, actor Stephan James is fantastic, and there are still plenty of open ends. While there would definitely be ways for other Season 2 characters like Audrey, Alex, and Leonard to return, the main storyline would be best served by entirely following what Walter does next.
The ending seems to hint that he will let the others in the Homecoming program know what happened to them as his next goal. A bigger question, for a potential season 3, though, would be whether or not Julia Roberts would return as Heidi Bergman.
While it’s certainly not easy to wrangle an A-list, Academy Award-winning actress to star in your series, the first season of Homecoming was a good one for Roberts. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Leading Actress in a Drama; the fact that she and James had excellent on-screen chemistry certainly doesn’t hurt.
With Heidi’s memory returned as of the end of the first season of Homecoming, and Walter’s memory maybe not being back, but him having a paper record of everything that happened, a third season would certainly be interesting should these two characters reunite. It would be an interesting task on the show’s writing force to create a new conflict, seeing as Walter, Heidi, and Leonard Geist are seemingly on the same page, and everyone on the other side has now seemingly had their memory erased. But that’s why they’re professional writers, isn’t it?
Either way, these aren’t things we have to think about too much as of right now; if a third season of Homecoming is ordered, it probably wouldn’t be released for a while, granted the COVID-19 pandemic and the already-lengthy wait time between TV seasons.
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