Spoilers for the entire first season of Homecoming follow below.
In the era of #PeakTV it can be difficult to suss out what is and isn’t worth your time, but the Amazon Prime TV show Homecoming somehow burst through that content bubble to stand out from the crowd. Of course it helps to have a movie star like Julia Roberts in the lead role giving one of her best performances in recent memory, but director Sam Esmail—who created and directs Mr. Robot and helmed all 10 episodes of Homecoming’s first season—brought a truly cinematic quality to Homecoming that sets it apart from a lot of other TV shows.
If you’ve seen the first season—and if you’re reading this, you should have—then you know that the twisty thriller came to a conclusion that managed to be at once shocking and emotional. All season long, the series had tracked the story of Heidi (Roberts) in two time periods, as she worked to remember what it is she actually did as the administrator of the titular Homecoming facility and what became of this dangerous, government-contracted program that aimed to wipe away traumatic memories from soldiers’ minds so they could be redeployed overseas—all under the guise of being a program that prepared soldiers for re-entry into civilian life.
In the past timeline throughout the season, we watched as Heidi built a rapport and genuine bond with Walter (Stephan James), a soldier and patient at Homecoming. But when Heidi discovered that the entire idea of Homecoming was to re-deploy the soldiers rather than actually prepare them for civilian life, she took drastic measures to overdose Walter on the memory-wiping medication so the Geist Corporation would have no choice but to send him home. Oh and she also took a high dose of the meds herself, which explains why she has no recollection of Homecoming in the present day timeline.
During the final scene of the finale, we see that Heidi in present day has recovered her memories and tracked down Walter to a small town in the mountains—just as they had discussed. She encounters him at a diner and they make small talk as Walter seems to not remember Heidi at all. Heidi decides not to tell him about his past or their relationship, holding back a flood of emotions. But then, after Walter has left, Heidi notices he rearranged the silverware just as he used to do with her pen in her office at Homecoming—a little in-joke nodding to her OCD-like obsession with clean lines. The final shot is of Heidi looking out the window at Walter, and it’s left to the audience to decide if Walter was consciously sending her a signal or not.
Some fans may be curious to know what the filmmakers behind the show have to say about that Homecoming ending, and co-creator Eli Horowitz (who also co-created the podcast off of which the show is based) tells THR there are two interpretations:
“The first is that he knows [who Heidi is] the whole time and he’s not messing with her, he’s being delicate with her, but he needs her to know,” he says. “The other one, I call it the ‘in the bones’ theory, where you don’t need to believe that Walter has remembered, it’s just that this is the same guy who when he saw Heidi messing with her pen, couldn’t help himself but mess with her too — so it’s the same person. But very much I would say it’s an open question.”
So is there a “correct” interpretation? Speaking with Thrillist, Esmail admitted he has an answer in his head but he doesn’t want to infringe upon a viewer’s ability to come to their own conclusions:
“It’s weird because this is one of those questions where it’s not a spoiler because you’ve seen the show and obviously hopefully everyone who is reading this right now has seen the show, but it’s a spoiler in the sense that I don’t want to ruin anyone’s experience. In a lot of ways, those two moments [with Walter moving an object] are connected, but the meaning of that depends on how you read that last scene and how you read what Walter is or is not trying to say to Heidi. I kind of want to leave it up to the imagination of the audience.”
My take on it? Walter knows there’s something about Heidi that’s familiar but he can’t place it, and him moving that utensil proves that their connection still exists, albeit subconsciously. I’d say it’s only a matter of time before he fully remembers her—although whether he’s willing to forgive and embrace Heidi at that point is unclear, and and it’s also unclear how much he ever truly figured out about Homecoming.
Esmail was willing to address that post-credits scene, however. Yes indeed, if you didn’t stick around for the credits of that Homecoming finale, you missed a crucial scene that teed up Season 2. Hong Chau’s character Audrey is seen getting Colin (Bobby Cannavale) to sign some sort of contract, likely to admit his role as the “fall guy” once Homecoming’s issues come to light. But when Colin leaves the room, Audrey is seen shaking and then applying some sort of drug to her wrist. So, what’s up with that?
“Look, I don’t want to spoil anything for Season 2, but we knew that that character was going to play a critical role. I think at the time I had seen Downsizing. I think it had just come out, and I was blown away by [Chau’s] performance. I just thought there was something about her—kind of the way you described it—even though she’s in the background and not foregrounded as much, you are going to pay attention to her. You are going to keep your eye on her. And that’s exactly what we wanted to do with that character. So, we reached out to Hong and luckily for us she was into the character and into the show that she wanted to come on and do it.”
Esmail confirms that Homecoming Season 2—which has already been ordered by Amazon Prime—will delve into the backstory of Geist Corporation:
“We’re in the writers’ room working all of it out and we’re definitely knee deep in it. So, yeah, everything you’re talking about in terms of the backstory of Geist and what’s going on with the medication is all under construction in the writers’ room as we speak.”
Weirdly, while we know Homecoming Season 2 is coming, we don’t know who’s in it. Both Roberts and James have played coy about whether they’re returning, although it’s probably a safe bet that Chau will play a larger role—not only because of Esmail’s comments, but also because you don’t hire an actor of Chau’s caliber to simply play a secretary.
Whatever Season 2 turns out to be, I’m in—especially if Esmail directs all the episodes again. He’s about to start shooting Mr. Robot’s final season so that could mean a delay on Homecoming Season 2, but it’d be worth it. The filmmaker’s decidedly Hitchcockian approach to this series was tremendous, and his direction played a vital role in not only building the tension throughout the season, but also narratively (and thematically) connecting these two separate timelines.
The entire first season of Homecoming is currently available exclusively on Amazon Prime.