Taking the reins from Julia Roberts, new series lead Janelle Monáe kicks off the second installment of Amazon Studios’ Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated series as a woman stranded in a rowboat. With no idea how she got there or who she is, the mystery woman has clearly crossed paths with the memory-erasing Geist Group. But her relationship to them, Heidi Bergman, and the Homecoming Transitional Support Center is completely unclear.
It’s tense. It’s gripping. It’s fun. Now, the bad news.
Over the next seven half-hour episodes, Homecoming follows Monáe’s character as she investigates her puzzling circumstances and gradually connects her predicament with the conspiracy unearthed in Season 1. (If you haven’t watched since 2018, at least do a quick read of the show’s Wikipedia page. Things get complicated.)
It’s a clever expansion that pulls faithfully from its foundation, weaving old plot points into the series’ stunning aesthetic for an apt follow-up worth a weekend binge watch.
We reunite with Homecoming participant Walter Cruz (Stephan James), current Geist exec Audrey Temple (Hong Chau), former Geist exec Colin Belfast (Bobby Canavale), and more. We also meet papa Geist himself, played by an appropriately zany Chris Cooper, and an overly enthusiastic Department of Defense rep, played by Joan Cusack. As always, Monáe is an electric presence that will draw your eye in every scene. It’s tense. It’s gripping. It’s fun.
Oh, and the finale is a total killer. Now, the bad news.
Like Big Little Lies, 13 Reasons Why, and a handful of other misguided series, Homecoming would have been far better off left to one season. As anyone interested in Season 2’s success can attest, the original Roberts-led miniseries was an impressive feat that relied heavily on its source material, Gimlet Media’s podcast of the same name, to wow audiences.
In its second outing, Homecoming becomes a stale retread of twists and atmosphere that went down better the first time. That’s not to say it won’t surprise you. Again: tense, gripping, fun. But in tying this story to the legacy of another, Homecoming Season 2 invites disappointment.
The lack of Season 1 stars Roberts, Sissy Spacek, Shea Whigham, Jeremy Allen White, and Dermot Mulroney is profoundly felt. Re-exploring a universe without some of its most memorable characters is always going to sting — a reality that’s only amplified by Season 2’s plot. There are many moments in which it would make sense for certain characters to reappear, but they weren’t asked/available/what-have-you and it shows.
What’s more, the fundamental structure of the series doesn’t change much. People forgetting things thanks to an experimental drug feels, ironically, like déjà vu. To take a page out of horror critique: Homecoming Season 2 shows the monster too much and by the end it’s just not that scary.
And then there’s the central message of Season 2 — which stands in stark and disappointing contrast with Season 1’s haunting finale. Without getting into spoilers, it’s difficult to explain how deeply the second season undercuts the first. It’s fun, yes. But important? No.
For those who loved Homecoming Season 1, Season 2 is a skip. It unravels too much of what we admired in the inaugural season and fundamentally cheapens the series legacy, giving you a net negative viewing experience. But for those who just liked it? Once more: tense, gripping, fun, Janelle Monáe. Enjoy!
Homecoming Season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.