‘Homecoming’ Season 2 questions whether we become a different person if our memories are gone
The season revolves around why Janelle Monáe's character turns up where she does and in doing so, also examines the varied responses to the existence of this 'miracle' drug
Part of the thrill of films like 'Bourne Identity' or 'Memento' is that just like the viewer, the protagonist is also 'an innocent'. Without a memory to bind them to who they are, both the audience and protagonist follow the same arc of following clues, piecing together narratives, and trying to lift the veil and solve the mystery of the most fundamental question of all. Who are we? A question we struggle to answer even when we have all our faculties intact.
Janelle Monáe, the lead in the second season, is the blank slate that the viewer follows after she wakes up in a boat in the middle of a lake with a cell phone with someone on the line, saying, "Hello, are you there?" She is so startled that she drops the phone in the water and spies a mysterious man on the lake's edge. When she cries out for help, he runs away.
Of course, the Geist's memory-erasing drug is to blame but the whole season revolves around why Janelle Monáe's character turns up where she does -- abandoned and alone. In doing so, the show also examines the varied responses to the existence of this 'miracle' drug and the actions people take 'inspired' by its existence. These include Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper), the owner of Geist Enterprise, who was the one who created and farmed the berries from which the extract is made but as a recluse, he has no idea of how to take back control of what he has unleashed on the world. We also see Francine Bunda (Joan Cusack), a high ranking military official, who sees only the potential military uses and is ok with steam-rolling over anyone who gets in the way of her plans.
We also see the return of Walter Cruz (Stephan James), Heidi Bergman's favorite patient, in a surprising turn of events that will thrill viewers. Another old face is Hong Chau as Audrey Temple, the assistant at Geist company, who suddenly finds a way to move up the ranks. We already know, thanks to the official trailer, that Temple will kiss Monáe's character but viewers will have to wait till May 22 to understand what that kiss signifies.
Between the larger mystery of Monáe's character and the future of the Geist drug, what we get in season 2 is an exploration of the human condition. What would you do to protect yourself and your interests? When does ambition become something more sinister? And most importantly, do we become someone else when our memories are taken from us? Just like season 1, there is a cinematic quality to season 2 as well.
The short seven 30-minute episodes are perfect for a weekend binge as the story spools forth, starting from the present, before backpedaling into the past from episode 3 onwards, before diving back into the present to end in a satisfying finale episode. The same scenes are depicted again after the context has been revealed, changing the meaning and import of what is being said in those scenes. There is some clever use of framing and editing to show the same scenes with two entirely different perspectives and it is nice to see the threads come together in the end. In a hat tip to its podcast roots, there is some good use of music to highlight the mind space of the characters. Each episode also closes with scenes with more auditory impact than visual that focus on natural sounds and no music. It gives an immediate grounded feeling at the end of each episode as we digest what has happened to the characters in that installment. Overall, a decent season that rounds off the story that began in season 1.
'Homecoming' Season 2 will premiere on May 22 on Amazon Prime Video.