One of many nice injustices of peak TV is that even glorious exhibits starring big-hitters akin to Julia Roberts nonetheless handle to go underneath the radar.
Homecoming is a type of exhibits, a paranoid conspiracy psychothriller that streams on Amazon Prime Video. Tailored from a podcast sequence, the primary season’s 10 episodes with Roberts and Bobby Cannavale have been helmed by hotshot TV director Sam Esmail (Mr Robotic, upcoming Battlestar Galactica reboot).
The premise concerned a counsellor (Roberts) at a facility which handled returning troopers’ PTSD, together with Walter Cruz (Stephan James).
It was gripping, suspenseful and drew inspiration from the likes of Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock, an unsettling expertise by which you, just like the characters, have been continuously off-footed and saved at nighttime.
Roberts doesn’t return within the seven-episode second season and Cannavale solely pops in for a cameo, however their star energy is changed by Janelle Monae, Chris Cooper and Joan Cusack whereas James and Hong Chau are the one returnees among the many essential solid.
(In case you haven’t seen Homecoming in any respect you possibly can learn the evaluate for the primary season right here.)
RELATED: Julia Roberts and Sam Esmail interview on Homecoming season one
Choosing up quickly after the earlier season left off, by which the season-long build-up revealed troopers on the Homecoming facility run by non-public contractor Geist have been getting used as guinea pigs to check a memory-wiping plant extract in a botched try and alleviate stress and anxiousness.
This season opens with Monae’s character waking up in a dinghy on a lake, no reminiscence of who she is or how she acquired to be in her precarious place.
The ID in her pocket says she is a military veteran named Jackie. She sees a shadowy determine on the shore run off into the encompassing woods. Then she follows the path of her mysterious circumstances to the house of Audrey Temple (Chau), the Geist assistant-turned-executive, and ultimately to Geist’s company headquarters.
Temple’s sudden elevation to her senior position, which led to the profession demise of Cannavale’s Colin Belfast within the earlier season was one of many dangling threads left from the primary instalment, a thriller solved via flashbacks from episode three onwards.
However as with the earlier season, the extra you recognize about what’s occurring, the much less efficient Homecoming is.
Homecoming is a sequence that’s rooted in how unmoored it could actually make you are feeling, plunging you into the unsure world of its characters’ psychological state.
Beforehand, Esmail achieved that with not simply the uncomfortable vibe of the present, however his many spectacular, idiosyncratic visible prospers, such because the frequency from which he shot from above as they moved from room to room, making it really feel as if everybody have been rats working via a maze.
Sadly, the sequence is at pains to clarify all the pieces this season, and on condition that this continuation stems from the anticlimactic reveal of what Geist was as much as, the sum is lower than its elements.
Esmail stays an govt producer on the sequence however directing duties have been taken over by Kyle Patrick Alvarez (Counterpart, 13 Causes Why). Alvarez is a stable hand and doesn’t attempt to ape what Esmail did earlier than him. But it surely additionally robs the sequence of its visible efficiency.
There isn’t any equal of that scene with Shea Whigham’s character and the countless rows of submitting cupboards. Nothing to make you draw your breath.
The performances are actually sturdy and there are some intriguing character dynamics, significantly between Monae’s character and James’ Walter Cruz who’re accountable for a few of this season’s most suspenseful scenes.
However the story isn’t muscular sufficient to actually give the present the urgency and momentum of its predecessor.
Which ends up in the query with no clear reply: Why did they trouble coming again?
Homecoming season two begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, Could 22
Share your motion pictures and TV obsessions | @wenleima