Homecoming creators answer burning questions about season 2
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Homecoming season 2.
"Is it gonna hurt?"
"I don't remember."
That back-and-forth in the final moments of Homecoming season 2, between Audrey (Hong Chau) and Alex (Janelle Monáe), a couple who will soon have no memory of their relationship, perfectly sums up the latest seven episodes of the Amazon Prime thriller.
Season 2 began with a woman (Monáe) waking up in a rowboat with no memory of how she got there or who she is. In the immediate aftermath, she came to believe she was a military veteran named Jackie — but are things ever that simple? Through cuts between the past and present, it's revealed that Jackie is actually Alex, a fixer-type who lives with her girlfriend, Audrey, the Geist secretary who by the end of season 1 had seemed to rise to a position of power. But when Homecoming Initiative alum Walter (Stephan James) resurfaces and starts asking questions, Alex decides to use her skills to protect Audrey and take on the identity of Jackie to eliminate Walter as a threat. Unfortunately, Walter, still dealing with the memory loss caused by Heidi (Julia Roberts) overdosing him in season 1, won't back down and eventually becomes suspicious of his new friend. He leads Jackie out to the woods, prompting her to try to inject him with the Geist drug, only for Walter to block the attempt and accidentally push the needle into her arm. A panicked Alex jumps in a nearby boat and rows out into the water.
With the story now caught up to the beginning, the finale takes place on the eve and day of a big party at Geist. Before the festivities, Walter arrives at HQ and runs into CEO Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper), who is outraged by his recent discovery of what was done to Walter and other soldiers. Walter demands that Geist do something to stop all this, and they team up to do just that. Jumping ahead to the party, as military bigwig Bunda (Joan Cusack) gives a toast, Alex, who is trying to wrap her head around everything, spots Walter dressed as a waiter, wheeling away empty jugs with remnants of a red liquid. At the completion of Bunda's speech, the punch is flowing and everyone immediately collapses. Alex puts her cup down before sipping and looks over at Audrey, who hasn't drank hers yet. "This is what we wanted," Audrey says to Alex, who doesn't stop her from downing it. As Walter walks among the carnage he caused, Geist and Bunda have one last conversation in the berry fields, while Audrey starts to feel the effects, asking if it will hurt. On his way out, Walter tells Alex that she should leave. "I will," she responds. "I just know what it's like to wake up like that. Alone." She sits back down next to an unconscious Audrey. As Walter prepares to drive off, he opens the Homecoming files and sees the names of Heidi's other patients.
Got all that? Well, with so much to discuss, EW talked spoilers galore with Homecoming creators Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, who answered our many burning questions.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start at the end with a simple question: Worst party ever?
MICAH BLOOMBERG: [Laughs] I guess it depends on what you're into.
What does that scene look like minutes later? If the police show up, these would be the worst possible eyewitnesses.
BLOOMBERG: Yeah, that's probably a good jumping-off point for next season. Like, what do you do with all these people? Because they're all pretty confused and don't have many marketable skills right off the bat, so probably need an employment reintegration program and try to get them placed somewhere or something. So there's a lot of work to be done with those people.
What is the state of all those people? Like, Alex was completely wiped, while Walter was just missing a gap. Is it a case-by-case basis?
ELI HOROWITZ: There's some wiggle room. But I'd say it would be closer to the Walter dose. It's the overdose but not the injection. But it's flexible. As Leonard says, this is the pure stuff, straight from the berries, so I think no one really knows the full effects of that. Everyone else has been having this more pharmaceutical-grade versions, whereas this is concentrated, straight from the earth.
How should we view Walter’s actions? It’s both "Oh wow, that’s kind of messed up" and "Hell yeah!" There were plenty of guilty parties in attendance, but there were probably at least one or two innocents.
BLOOMBERG: It kind of reminds me of what Heidi did. In the conversations since season 1, I've met people who think what Heidi did to herself and Walter was heroic because she saved Walter from going back, and then I've met other people who've found what she did to be inexcusable and basically took the choice out of Walter's hands and made his decision for him, and that it was a selfish thing for her to do. So I think it really depends on how you look at it, and that's definitely something that came up in the writers' room a ton. Even discussions like, "How bad should the Geist employees seem?" so that the viewers have a sense of bearing about the consequences of what Geist and Walter were doing. So I think what we decided is that we liked some of the messy ambiguity of it, and I think it kind of comes down to the scene of Geist and Bunda in the field. He says he f—ed up pretty good and this is the best he could come up with, so he has a sense of right and wrong, he knew this has to be stopped, and he was improvising. And so there were was some definite collateral damage there.
HOROWITZ: And it's not only a question of who deserves what, but also, like your previous question, what's happening to these people? In some ways it's a little perverse, but you could look at it like you're giving them a fresh start, the same way that Alex got a fresh start and emerged on the other side of it as a different person. These people aren't poisoned, they're just reset in a certain way, so you can look at it as a new beginning.
Sticking to the ending, what is going through Alex’s mind as she realizes what is happening and lets Audrey drink it? Does she think she deserves it? Or maybe that they should be on equal ground?
HOROWITZ: Yeah, I think it's all those things. She doesn't even know this person anymore, so she's still getting her mind around that. And I think she is seeing how single-minded Audrey has become in the moments before that fateful toast. So I don't know if she would have orchestrated this herself, but she was willing in the moment to stand back and let it happen.
Micah, in our interview for the first look at the new season, you pointed to the season 1 finale scene of Audrey power-playing Colin [Bobby Cannavale] and then using the drug as something that “people are going to have to watch again with new eyes” after season 2, and that discussions around that scene gave the new episodes "its heart and spine.” So now that we've seen season 2, what was it about that scene that really sent you on this path and direction?
BLOOMBERG: It was just thinking about how that scene was possible, or different ways that you could put Audrey into that situation and allow her to topple Colin. Because when we wrote that scene it was like, "How would you convince a person in that space of time that this new reality exists that they need to grapple with?" So even apart from the fact that she's bluffing him, what type of confidence and mindset does it take to overpower somebody in that way? And I think that's what led us to her relationship with Alex and the way that Alex sees the world and the way that she sets up Audrey as she heads out into the world, because Alex believes that reality is what you present to people and you can sort of twist and affect and subvert what people perceive and what they think is going on. So I think that scene gave us the heart of Alex's character, but then also in the dynamic between Alex and Audrey it gave us the heart of our season, because Alex convinces Audrey of a course of action and then basically gets taken out by her own doing, and so Audrey is left to pick up the pieces and carry on. As we saw by the end of the season, she's more than capable of doing that — until things go wrong.
Talking to Stephan, he didn’t initially think he’d be back. You previously told me that Julia was always going to be one and done, but did you have a longer plan for Walter? And what did you want to accomplish with him in his return? You easily could have left him with what seemed like a happy ending at the conclusion of season 1.
HOROWITZ: We had a variety of second seasons. This is maybe going to sound ridiculous or pretentious, but all of these stories keep going and it's a matter of which one we want to point the camera at. Season 3 is the same sort of thing, where we have a few different possibilities that are maybe existing concurrently, and it's just where to focus our attention. But when we found a place for him, we were excited because he's such a great presence in the story and we saw the opportunity for this season to flip him entirely around, to go from a more passive character to a more active character, and from this place of pure goodness to a place of darker suspicion. We were definitely glad that we were able to build around him.
Speaking of building around, with the first season you had the podcast template to work from, so what was it like mapping it all out this time around?
BLOOMBERG: When we did the podcast, it was just Eli and I talking on the phone and putting the story together, and then the whole process of making season 1 was just bringing on more and more partners and having more and more people that we were working with. So when we went to season 2, it was this interesting experience of opening up our process to our new partners and the writers that we had, so it was a huge learning experience for us to do our process in public that way. I think the visual language of this season and the way it moves kinetically and the way that the pace works, which I think is so different from season 1, it's just a credit to all that. In some ways, it was just the same thing, we were talking about the season, because we don't work from a bible where everything is laid out and we have all five seasons. We're very much improvising this stuff as we go to a certain extent.
Season 2 ends with Walter looking through Heidi's files and then driving off. What is his mission now? He looks much more interested in the names of his fellow patients than he does in Heidi's name. Whether the camera is pointed in this direction, I guess we will see.
HOROWITZ: I would just say that there are a lot of names on that list and there's a wide-open road for Walter. That's a non-answer that you get. [Laughs]
I'm assuming we will get a lot of those as we start to look forward here. Like I said, there are a lot of names on this list, Heidi among them. She obviously wasn't in season 2, but is there a chance we see her again?
HOROWITZ: I think what we liked about that list is that it has a forking path built into it. You do see Heidi's name on there, and obviously that's a tantalizing idea, Walter getting back in touch with her. I don't know if he would be angry or interested; I don't know what sense he has of their closeness. But then at the same time, him getting back together with the guys, there could be camaraderie there, there could be more revenge, if there's anything left to revenge given that Geist has been toppled the way it has. Another non-answer, I guess, but what we like about that ending — similar to the ending of season 1 — is that you can kind of bring your own take to it and imagine where it might lead. And we will have to see where we pick up as we go along.
You mention the end of season 1, and when you answered our questions after that, you said you wanted people to interpret it how they wanted to. But considering how things played out here, can we definitively say that Walter didn’t remember Heidi at the diner? Clearly it jogged something, but he wasn’t like pretending that he didn't know who she was.
HOROWITZ: Yeah, I think we can say it wasn't just an elaborate prank that he was doing. But something we talked about in the room and amongst ourselves is that there are a lot of different ways to remember someone and there are a lot of different ways that it impacts your behavior. Does he remember on a subconscious level? Is this just a dynamic that happens when two specific individuals get together? Is it that, even if Walter has forgotten what happened to him in Florida, he just still has a hold on who Walter is as a human being? In a sense, all of those things are different forms of memory, whether you say it's in different parts of the brain or the blood or in the bones or whatever. So I think there's some version that it closes the door on, but the questions it opens up are much more central to the show overall, these questions of memory and identity. And to us, those are still very open.
I assume you won't tell us specifically if Audrey and Alex will be back, but what do we think the future looks like for those two? They essentially don't even know each other at this point.
BLOOMBERG: Oh, man. Well, the best I can do for you is it's interesting that Alex chose to stay. And the way I read that is she's not so much caring about any shared history that they have but she just knows what Audrey is about to go through, waking up in a confused state. So she just feels whatever connection they do have, it's worth not having Audrey wake up in that terrified, lonely way that Alex started the season. In a way, she's learned at least that in the story that has been told. And I think that's progress for a person like Alex, who had a somewhat cynical disposition. So what they would do, that's a great "What's next?" I don't know.
It almost would be the true test of love. If somehow after all this they don't have any memories of each other and still ended up falling back in love.
BLOOMBERG: Oh, right, that's true.
HOROWITZ: They do now have a very distinct shared experience.
In terms of a season 3, what can you say — or what will you say — about what that will look like?
HOROWITZ: What can we say? A lot of characters came together at the end, and then after that chaotic scene were kind of shot out in many different directions, so I'm curious about where any of those people go next, and if their paths ever cross again. So that's a wordy non-answer! [Laughs]