Homecoming is a five hour series released by Amazon Studios today. The star of this series is Stephan James, a twenty-four year-old Canadian actor who plays the role of Walter Cruz, a soldier traumatized by the death of a friend.
4 out of 10 stars. This is a dark series with a lot of unanswered questions.
Heidi Bergman is a counselor who runs a soldier wellness center called Homecoming. In this facility soldiers are given rooms, meals, counseling sessions, and activities to help them recover from PTSD. What they don’t know is that they are being dosed (through their meals) with a drug made from the seeds of a Vietnamese root that is highly experimental. They are never told they are participating in this drug experiment and they are never given the option to leave. Over the course of six weeks their dosage of this drug is increased until the memories that caused the PTSD are wiped out, along with a lot of other memories.
Walter Cruz is a soldier traumatized by the death of a friend, Letsky, that he ordered to ride in another vehicle. That vehicle was hit with an IUD and Letsky was killed. Cruz is trying to deal with the anguish of Letsky’s death and the guilt that’s making him miserable. He also has developed romantic feelings for Heidi.
Colin Belfast is the corporate executive determined to get rich from the experimental drug called 20-10 launched by his company, Geist. In order to separate himself from the legal implications of doing an experimental drug trial on humans without the required consent, he hires a middle-aged homely woman who recently got her counseling degree and has very little experience, Heidi Bergman. She is easily molded into the automoton he needs.
The series begins with the investigation by a DOD (department of defense) employee to an anonymous complaint phoned in by Walter’s mother, but no one is cooperating in the investigation. Thomas Carrasco is the low level government employee who gets the assignment and carries out the interviews, but Thomas takes his job seriously and actually cares about finding the person responsible for Walter’s disappearance. What follows is a terrifying look into the implications of letting corporations (who have no legal responsibility) perform drug testing. The result is a nightmare with a very sad ending.
There are some reviewers who have described the ending as “satisfying”. If you’d like our two cents, read on. SPOILER ALERT!
While Heidi was counseling Walter one of their ongoing jokes was that Heidi had never been on a road trip with a boyfriend, so Walter planned on taking her with him to Fish Camp, a small town in Gold Country, California, where he said they’d find a cabin by a creek and pan for gold all day. He even had a map of California to plan this trip (he’s from Georgia and the facility is in Florida). At the end, when Heidi finally begins getting her memories back, she goes there and finds Walter, who has completely lost all of his memories of the war and after, including his memories of Heidi. He doesn’t recognize her but he does talk to her at the diner. Then he goes back to working on the deck for his cabin by the creek. Not exactly a happy ending, but certainly better than what happened to Shier, the other man from his combat crew that ended up at Homecoming and left a mental vegetable.