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Homecoming 1x03 "Optics" & 1x04 "Redwood" Review

Homecoming 1x03 "Optics" & 1x04 "Redwood" Review

Flashbacks

In order to prove that they really are in Florida, Schrier and Walter attempt to leave the facility to check out the surrounding community. Walter pours on the charm with the woman at the front desk, and she leaves to gather necessary forms for them to fill out. Schrier is skeptical of this story, and thinks she left to call security. So he steals some keys and hijacks a van.

He and Walter drive until it gets dark. Schrier continues to act paranoid, convinced that Florida wouldn’t be difficult to fake. Walter insists that Homecoming is meant to help them, and Schrier needs to buy in a little. They wander into town, and it all looks maybe a little fake. It reminded me of a theme park’s attempt at creating a city — all of the shops had obvious names, and all the buildings are a little too short. A light turns on, and Schrier attacks an old man who turns out to be a member of the nearby retirement community, not a security guard like they thought. The scene cuts to Heidi and Walter in a counseling session, and while Walter giggles during his recount, Heidi is less than amused. After the incident, however, Schrier seems a little more at ease that maybe Homecoming is a real place that’s able to help them. Walter insists on taking  the fall for what happened even it’s “annoying” and “weird” that he feels so much responsibility for Schrier.

Back at Heidi’s house with Anthony, things are not going well with their relationship. Just as they are on the verge of breaking up, Heidi takes a call from Colin. Again it’s clear that Heidi and Colin’s goals for Homecoming are not lining up, and it’s not obvious if Colin is even reading Heidi’s reports. He tries to get rid of Walter and Schrier, thinking it’s easier to expel them than risk the mission. Heidi is able to win Colin over by framing Walter as “the perfect case study” for the treatment. And then Collin speaks out loud for the first time what has only been alluded to up until now: are patients going to be getting a full dose of treatment during their meals?

Walter gets upset with Heidi when he sees Schrier’s room being packed up, since he thought he communicated that the van incident was his fault. She coaxes him to sit down and to have an impromptu session. He tells her a few more stories about his unit, including how he saw one of his comrades die a grisly death. The beauty of counseling sessions in a narrative is that they provide necessary exposition that feels natural, and it also doubles as character work. We learn more about the type of people Heidi and Walter are through their counseling sessions.

The show keeps including some of my favorite moments from the podcast, such as an early conversation between Heidi and Walter where they plan a hypothetical road trip. The nature of Heidi and Walter’s relationship was always a little difficult to pin down between Keener and Isaac, especially during these intimate conversations, because a romantic connection between them was always ambiguous. Stephan James’ version Walter Cruz brings a special energy to the dialogue that makes it pretty clear he’s flirting with Julia Roberts’ version of Heidi.

It becomes even more intentional when Heidi visits Walter’s room, and he’s pinned up a map of their hypothetical road trip. They have another long conversation, and before Heidi leaves they share a hug. This was an interesting inclusion. While it seems like their relationship might be heading somewhere romantic, despite the fact Heidi is his counselor, the hug didn’t read romantic to me — it seemed as if Walter was grateful for the progress he and Heidi had made together, and he was expressing his gratitude through initiating a hug. They look relieved, like it had been a long time since either had made any kind of positive physical connection with another person. It was jarring to see them go from coy and flirtatious to a genuine moment of friendship, but I thought it added a lot of depth to the scene. I also appreciate the ways that the show digs into Walter’s character. He is hands down my favorite character in the whole production, because I find him the most interesting. I was constantly craving more scenes with him and wished the podcast spent even more time inside his head, and I feel like the show is granting me that wish!

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Flash Forwards

The third episode of Homecoming opens with Thomas Carrassco, hovering over a “confirm” button on his investigation. His eyes bloodshot and exhausted, he does one last check for Heidi Bergman in the Geist employment database, and he sneaks down to find her bin number. If he was worried that Heidi’s employment bin would be difficult to find amongst the multiple shelves of evidence, he’s about to get more anxious. Carrassco stares in horror when he realizes that bin “452” isn’t just a singular box. There’s an entire wall of bins with associated with Geist. He slips one off the shelf, and the work begins. He finds a magazine article related to Homecoming, and finally finds her file. He checks her termination date, which strangely matches up with May 15, 2018, the same day that Walter Cruz was discharged from the initiative. What happened that day that forced both of them to leave the Homecoming initiative?

Anthony and Heidi meet up at a bar, sometime since their breakup. They catch up, awkwardly, and Anthony is shocked to find Heidi had left her job, since it dissolved their relationship the first time around. She presses about how the end of their relationship appeared to him, and at first it seems like she is trying to gain closure, but after a few pointed questions, it’s clear that Heidi is fishing for things that will jog her memory. Anthony looks aghast when Heidi admits that she doesn’t remember Colin, the boss that she was always ditching Anthony to take calls from. Heidi opens a box of materials from her old life, and turns on an old phone. She scans through the missed calls from Colin, confirming Anthony’s statements.

Thomas follows the trail to a place called Redwood, where they cross paths with Colin. Colin lies and says he doesn’t know anything about Homecoming or Heidi Bergman. Thomas inquires anyway, and mentions that the same day Walter was discharged for violent conduct, Heidi was hospitalized. It seems pretty damning, but Colin, the master manipulator he is, gaslights Carrasco and throws him off. Carrasco gets the last word, however, when he casually mentions he found a Homecoming client to talk to him.

Heidi shows her phone to one of her co-workers at Fat Morgan’s, and she tells Heidi that she has to try calling Colin. When he picks up and she introduces herself, Colin immediately hangs up. Everything he’s covered up has started to fall apart in less than a day, and if this is going where I think it’s going, he’s about to take drastic measures.

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Stray thoughts

  • The wide shot of the evidence room with the single block of light over Carrasco’s workspace that ended “Optics” is my favorite shot of the series so far. It’s striking and memorable.

  • I loved watching the skype call between Walter and Gloria. I appreciate the show taking the time to flesh out this relationship because due to the nature of the narrative structure, it was underdeveloped in the podcast.

  • So many of Carrasco’s scenes are filmed in a way that makes him look suspicious and nervous. Is this investigation not authorized somehow? Did Carrasco go rogue?

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