Julia Roberts thriller Homecoming leaves some burning questions

Julia Roberts as Heidi Bergman in Homecoming. 


Amazon Prime

Are you done binge-watching Homecoming yet? The first season of the psychological thriller starring Julia Roberts hit Amazon Prime Video on Friday, and if you’ve already seen all 10 episodes, you might be scratching your head. Fortunately, I have a couple of answers/theories for some of the burning questions you might have. And some more questions of my own. 

But first, a warning: If you still haven’t seen the whole first season, stop reading now. Unless you don’t mind spoilers, that is.

spoiler alert

Director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) and creators Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz do a good job bringing some closure to Homecoming, which follows caseworker Heidi Bergman (Roberts) at a facility that’s supposed to help soldiers transition back to civilian life. Yet there are many things I still don’t quite understand from this show, which was designed from the very beginning to run for at least two seasons. 

What’s up with the trees?

It’s not only the constant chatter about Florida’s palm trees, which can easily be seen from Heidi’s office window. The whole Geist corporation is divided by departments named after trees: dogwood, willow and elm, to name a few. The Redwood department was the one in charge of the Homecoming program.

Then there’s the tree leaf Shrier (Jeremy Allen White) gave Carrasco (Shea Whigham) when Carrasco went to see him. I basically know nothing about botany, but I found an Easter egg. At the end of episode 9, titled Work, Colin (Bobby Cannavale) interviews Heidi in a flashback sequence that tells us how she got work at Homecoming. They’re both talking at a department of Geist called Manchineel. 

Google Manchineel and you’ll see the leaves of this tree pretty closely match the one Shrier gave Carrasco while telling him, “You’ll remember.” Carrasco hasn’t made the connection, or remembered yet, but Shrier was hinting Colin knows more than what we’ve seen him confess so far.

Homecoming

Stephan James as Walter Cruz in Homecoming. 


Jessica Brooks/Amazon Prime Video

While we’re talking about botany, what are they really feeding people at Homecoming?

At the beginning of episode 4, titled Redwood, we see some type of plant being harvested for the bright red, berry-like fruit in its interior. After the fruit is processed, a red liquid is distilled and delivered to the kitchen at Homecoming inside a box that’s traveled halfway around the world and has the numbers 14-10 printed on it.

We can only assume this liquid is then mixed with the food of half the Homecoming patients. Just half of them, because in one of the many phone conversations between Colin and Heidi, they say half of the patients are getting the placebo.

Shrier told Walter (Stephan James) he wasn’t taking the medication. That had to mean the regular pills, as he couldn’t have guessed about the medicated food, right? Was he fed the medicated food? That could explain the not-so-bright state he was in when Carrasco went to talk to him. In case he wasn’t taking the placebo, Shrier’s treatment would have been interrupted when he was sent home prematurely after trying to run away from Homecoming. That interruption could have had negative effects on his health.

“If he quits his meds now, he’s going to go into a thaw,” Colin warned Heidi in case Walter left Homecoming at week 4, when his mom went to try to fetch him. Did Shrier go into a thaw when he left? Could the thaw have negative effects?

What’s with all the fish?

Heidi’s name tag at Fat Morgan’s is shaped like a fish. And at Homecoming, she has a tank full of fish until she decides to get rid of the little creatures during her last week working there. The town Heidi and Walter keep daydreaming about is called Fish Camp.

Then there’s Heidi’s mom, Ellen (Sissy Spacek), who refers to her daughter getting the job at Homecoming with so little experience as “fishy.” Coincidence?

What is Walter’s American white pelican?

It was actually the sound of that type of bird that triggered Heidi’s memories to return. What will Walter’s memory trigger be? Will he recover his memory in season 2? Will he ever remember Heidi? And will their relationship remain platonic if he does?

Homecoming

Walter and Shrier eat at Homecoming.


Hilary B Gayle/SMPSP

What does Walter do for a living?

Is he really digging up gold like they joked with Heidi or does he have some other source of income that allows him to fix that nice little cabin in his spare time? Heidi did warn him it’s “gold country” in Northern California. “There’s got to be something left,” she anticipated.

Maybe he’s won Fat Morgan’s jar lottery and found black gold underneath his cabin. The jar was set at the diner by an AJ (Jacob Pitts) who both Heidi and her coworker, Dara (Frankie Shaw), accused of being a scammer.

“Is there Black Gold underneath your home? Drop your business card to find out more!!!,” claimed the message at the jar to get people’s business cards inside. Could Walter have visited Fat Morgan’s when Heidi couldn’t remember him? Did he find a way of making money?

Why is 2022 so lame?

There are no self-driving cars. Computers still have regular mice and keyboards. Thomas Carrasco works in an office full of cubicles instead of one with an open layout. To top it all off, the Department of Defense hasn’t discovered the cloud and archives all of its files on paper inside a giant warehouse full of boxes.

The only thing that could make 2022 Homecoming way cooler was if the movie Titanic’s independent sequel, Titanic Raising, had already been made by then.

Who is Mr. Geist?

Audrey (Hong Chau) mentions him when she informs Colin the Geist gang wants Colin to take responsibility for what happened at Homecoming. Colin seems quite jealous that Audrey has met Mr. Geist and has even gone to his farm.

Also, after Carrasco’s investigation is finished and he speaks to his boss, Carrasco tells her he’s going to be elevating the Homecoming compliance to the inspector general. Carrasco’s boss then calls someone saying she has an urgent situation. Did she call Audrey? Was that how the assistant got her promotion? Or did she actually call Mr. Geist himself?

What’s with the box Colin shares with his wife?

“We put it in the box and we move forward,” Colin’s wife tells him after he tries to explain what happened between him and Heidi. What did Colin put in the box? Was it a note explaining he slept with Heidi or was it something else? 

Is it really bad luck to fold laundry while sober?

This is about the only sympathetic thing Colin says in the whole show. And we know he had an agenda while he did. But he might have had a point after all. Don’t you think?

Tell me what you thought about Homecoming’s ending. Did I forget anything? Do you have even more burning questions you need answers to? Did you recognize the plant they harvest at the beginning of episode 4 or is it invented for this story?

I want to be that person who also listened to the Gimlet Media podcast this show is based on. Sadly, I’m not. If you have, tell me what happens.

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