TV Review: “Homecoming” is the Perfect Drama
Amazon Prime’s new series, Homecoming, started out as a podcast written by Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz. It boasted a huge following and a star-studded cast including Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer.
The Amazon series also serves up a prime list of actors. I mean, when you have Dermot Mulroney and Sissy Spacek playing bit parts, you know this is a great lineup. Not to mention this is Julia Roberts’ first lead television role.
Homecoming is a throwback thriller, so it’s light on action. Think more Hitchcock than Jack Ryan. The series is all about character relationships, so there’s a lot of dialogue. Storylines like this require top-notch acting to hook the audience, and this series more than delivers.
Director and executive producer Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) elevates the storytelling even further, using retro thriller details beautifully. Scenes that take place in the near future (2022) have a tighter, more vertical screen than the 2018 scenes. Esmail also amplifies background sounds like pens clicking, and a bubbling fish tank, which is reminiscent of the beloved podcast.
Homecoming centers around Heidi Bergman (Roberts). In 2018, she is the ambitious project administrator for the Homecoming Transitional Support Center. She counsels PTSD-suffering veterans like Walter Cruz (Stephan James), helping them work through their trauma before they return to civilian life.
Cruz is one of 18 soldiers at Homecoming, fresh off the plane from Afghanistan. He is persistently upbeat about the program, even when his paranoid buddy (Jeremy Allen White) pokes holes in the seemly positive vibe. Chemistry crackles between Walter and Heidi as they grow more familiar during their counseling sessions.
Heidi’s manic boss, Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale) is always out of the office, yet constantly checking in on her progress. He’s usually doing at least three things at once, giving us the sense that Heidi’s work at Homecoming is just part of the big picture. He uses his silver tongue to keep her motivated and focused, even when things start to crumble around her.
Four years in the future, Heidi is living with her mother (Sissy Spacek) and working as a waitress at a dingy dockside restaurant. She is approached by Department of Defense compliance officer Thomas Carrasco (Shea Whigham) with questions about Homecoming, but she has no recollection of her work there.
How she got from A to B is unveiled throughout the series.
In the 2022 scenes, Robert’s acting is superb as she struggles to remember her time at Homecoming. She explains, “I’m tired of lying. I think I did something wrong and I don’t know what it is.”
Homecoming was tailor-made for bingeing with 10 succinctly-packaged episodes. Every detail is well done, no aspect is over-indulged. Amazon has already ordered a second season, so now we have to wait patiently for more dazzling performances.