Homecoming 1x05 "Helping" & 1x06 "Toys"
These episodes of Homecoming finally revealed the true motivations behind the initiative.
Colin visits his boss, Ron, at his home. While their wives are visiting the garden, Ron ask Colin to make sure everything is going smoothly, with an “or else” edge to his voice. It freaks Colin out, and he calls Heidi to take his frustration out on her, and treats her like she’s stupid. Just like the counseling sessions, this conversation is revealing of Colin’s character — manipulative and cruel — but also serves as some crucial exposition. Homecoming is meant to “treat PTSD like a cancer, something to be eradicated, not just managed.” Through the food they are serving at the cafeteria, the patients are taking a treatment that erases their negative memories. Colin reveals he knows about Heidi’s visit to Walter’s room, and berates her for being unprofessional and putting the mission at risk.
When she’s not being yelled at by her sleazy boss, Heidi manages to have a little fun with the patients. Walter plays a prank on Heidi where everything on her office desk is glued down, but Heidi gets him back later when she glues his butt to a chair and he falls in front of a group of guys. The prank war is officially escalated when Walter and some other patients leave a pelican in her office.
If only Gloria, Walter’s mother, got the memo.
Becoming highly suspicious of the program, Gloria drives around the Tampa swamp in the rain until she finds Homecoming. Even though it breaks protocol, Heidi lets Gloria visit Walter and they have a moment alone. Gloria tells Walter that the government doesn’t give away anything for free, and that he’s being tricked into being dependant upon them.
So far, Walter has bought into Homecoming more than anyone. He’s convinced that the more you put in, the more you get back out. Between skeptical comrades like Engels and Schrier, and his fearful mother, Walter has advocated for the initiative, and believes he’s getting help. While the podcast leaned more in Heidi and her perspective, the show has made the smart decision to make Walter its anchor. He’s full of blind faith, good will, and is highly introspective. He’s the best character to center the narrative around, and so far I’m really liking the way he’s being developed.
When Walter finally agrees to leave with Gloria, it’s because of their relationship, not because he wishes to leave. He tells Heidi he’ll be back as soon as he can. Another counselor tells Heidi that Walter can’t leave because at this point he will suffer withdrawals, and Heidi manages to get him to stay. This is upsetting to Gloria, and she calls Heidi a fool on her way out the door. Unable to accept that her son has put his trust in the government, she calls the Department of Defense hotline and pretends to be on staff. She claims Walter is being held against his will, and her complaint is printed. It puts a connection between the timelines for the first time.
It turns out the former client that Carrasco was alluding to was Schrier, who he finds at a landscaping gig. Schrier is basically unresponsive, looking totally shocked and upset. At the mention of Walter’s name, Schrier says that he “left him there” and clams up when Carrasco brings up Heidi. Schrier mentions his initial paranoia about Homecoming, but not in a way that Carrasco can comprehend.
Colin arrives in Florida and borrows a rental car, and practices how to confront Heidi in the rearview mirror. He’s practically a cartoon villain sitting outside of Fat Morgan’s, plotting his monologue. He takes a seat at a booth, and Heidi takes his order. She treats him like a stranger, since she has no memory of their relationship. He spies Carrasco’s business card in the jar, and he scoops it up. Colin follows Heidi to the laundromat, and because Colin is an absolute master manipulator, he pretends to be “Hunter,” who just got back from Afghanistan. Heidi falls right into his trap, and immediately warms up to him.
His fake name is apt, as Colin watches Heidi like a hunter would stalk prey. It only takes a long afternoon into night for Colin to woo Heidi, and they go to bed together. David Schwimmer is deliciously awful in the podcast, but if I had to go with someone else, it would absolutely be Bobby Cannavale. He is the ultimate charming bad boy, who blinds you with his smile and expressive eyebrows, even though you know right away that he’s bad news. Even though Colin’s entire relationship with Heidi has been abusive, this is an entire new side to his terrible scheme.
-Walter sure is interested in driving out west…
-These episodes dig into brand new territory. While the first handful of episodes were practically verbatim from the podcast, nearly all of the flashback material was brand new for those listeners. I was pleasantly surprised by the pranks, and thought the scenes with Gloria were enriching.
-I like Julia Roberts on the whole, but every so often I feel underwhelmed by her performance in a few scenes. Especially when she’s opposite Stephan James and Bobby Cannavale. They are both such charming bolts of lightning, but Julia keeps things understated.
-The long story that Heidi tells the patients and Walter while she “waits for the glue to dry” was fascinating. I was left wondering if the story was actually true or if she was just making up for the role-play, or stalling for the prank.
-I’m curious why Gloria thought the best course of action would be to contact the Department of Defense. She’s so adamantly against getting help from the government, but she single handedly ropes in Carrasco and his investigation.