The following contains spoilers for Homecoming season 2.
A woman wakes up on a canoe in the middle of a lake, she has no idea who she is or how she got there. She sees a man on shore and screams for help, but instead of offering aid, he runs away. She eventually discovers her name, Jaqueline, on a military ID, and after a run-in with local law enforcement, she sets off to find answers about her identity and present circumstances. So begins Homecoming season 2.
Homecoming‘s first season played with time, revealing its narrative over alternating scenes from past and present. Season two is a little more straightforward, breaking the story up into two blocks that mostly follow a linear progression. Still, it might be helpful to view the events of season 2 in as chronological a way as possible. With that in mind, here is Homecoming season 2, “unfolded.”
We meet Audrey Temple (Hong Chau), as a receptionist in season 1 episode 4, “Redwood,” then again in episode 10, “Stop,” when she meets with Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale) to discuss the D.O.D. investigation into the Homecoming program.
Audrey gets a call informing her that the Department of Defense investigation into the Homecoming program will proceed. Audrey confides with her partner Alex (the woman in the boat at the season 2’s beginning, played by Janelle Monáe), who is a crisis manager by trade. Together they concoct a plan for Audrey to turn the investigation into an opportunity for advancement within the company.
Audrey tells Colin he has a meeting with Ron (his boss, played by Fran Kranz), which is untrue. She informs Colin that Ron has been fired (also untrue) and that Leonard, the Big Boss, wants to make the Homecoming issue go away. She convinces Colin to “play ball” and take the fall for the whole thing, in order to stay in the company’s good graces. This recontextualizes the scene of their meeting in season one.
Aubrey takes Colin’s confession, and news about the investigation, to Geist Group CEO Leonard Geist (Chris Cooper), who was completely unaware of the Homecoming program. Geist fires Ron and Colin and promotes Audrey in their place, thus elevating her to the position she pretended to have to pull the okey doke on Colin.
Audrey and Geist go to the D.O.D. hearing, which ends up little more than a formality. There they meet D.O.D. official, Francine Bunda (Joan Cusack), who, after hearing Audrey’s testimony about the drug used in Homecoming “treatments,” takes interest in the herb. Meanwhile, Geist decides it’s too dangerous, and plans to destroy the entire crop. The D.O.D. takes proprietary ownership of the herb, barring Geist from destroying it, and Bunda entrusts Audrey with managing the “partnership” between Geist and the D.O.D. Bunda tasks Audrey with throwing a party to celebrate.
Audrey tells Bunda the herb has no negative outcomes, so when Homecoming subject Walter Cruz (Stephan James) starts inquiring about his treatment, Audrey panics. Alex offers to handle Walter, and assumes the fake identity of military veteteran and advocate, Jackie, so she can ingratiate herself to him, and convince him to stop investigating his past. He gets suspicious of her, and when he confronts her, she tries to inject him with the drug, which he blocks and reverses on her. Alex escapes into a canoe, and minutes later, wakes up in the middle of a lake, completely unaware of who she is. She yells for help, and Walter runs away; this is where the season opens.
Walter leaves “Jackie” at the lake, and decides to drive to Geist to get answers. When he arrives at Geist HQ, he runs into Leonard, who recognizes him from the Homecoming files. They have a deep discussion about Walter’s experience, and about the drug itself.
Jackie retraces her steps, which leads her to a motel bar. She learns she was there the day before, accompanied, and checks the receipt to find a name, Alex, and room number. She gets inside the room, and finds a stash of cash and possible evidence of chicanery, including random empty Geist packaging. She gets Alex’s (or her own) address, buys a taser, then sneaks into their house. Inside, Audrey is leaving a voicemail for Alex, who hasn’t checked in. Audrey’s on her way out the door, and Jackie decides to follow her.
They end up at Geist HQ, where a party is underway. Jackie walks through the party, sees Audrey, and they approach each other. Audrey asks about Walter Cruz, and Jackie asks about Alex. Audrey has to put the pieces together for Alex, who thinks her name is Jackie. This very tense and awkward moment is made moreso by the fact that people keep greeting Alex.
Here’s where it gets good. Drinks are served at the party, in anticipation of Leonard’s speech —something they encourage him to do despite his very vocal anti-partnership sentiments. He does exactly what one would expect and goes off, causing a scene. Audrey cuts the mic, drops the balloons, and everybody cheers. Moments later, people start passing out. Alex sees Walter, dressed in a caterer’s uniform, walk by with a tray full of empty bottles.
Everyone at the party has ingested the memory loss drug, save for Walter, Leonard, and Alex. We know what happens next; it only takes one full dose for Heidi (Julia Roberts) to lose her memory in season one, and for Alex to lose hers at the top of this season.
Alex decides to stay with Audrey until she wakes up, because she knows what it’s like to wake up alone. Bunda has an existential crisis, which Leonard talks her through while she fades. Then he saunters away into the sunset with his dog, amidst the very crop at the center of Homecoming. Geist employees (and guests) get a taste of their own medicine, which is deliciously satisfying, even when you consider that some, many perhaps, may not have deserved it.
Walter, apparently unsatisfied with making The Geist Group pay, takes the Homecoming case files and drives off, presumably to inform the other participants of the truth. This season is a cool prologue to the first. Season one comes to a satisfying, open-ended conclusion, which is a fine place to leave it. Season two extends that ending, fleshes it out, and ultimately takes a different journey, to the same destination.