Amazon Prime Video’s newest streamable original, Homecoming, is built on a throne of mysteries. What is Homecoming, the questionable facility at the center of the drama? Why does Julia Roberts’ Heidi Bergman remember absolutely nothing about her time working at Homecoming? And, most importantly, what on earth did Heidi do to her favorite patient, Walter Cruz (breakout Stephan James), on May 15, 2018?
Homecoming finally gives us the answer to its leading mystery with penultimate episode “Work” and season 1 finale, “Stop.” The results confirm neither of the series’ lead characters are the villains of this story. Rather, Heidi attempted to save Walter in the long run, while technically ruining his short-term future.
Of course, Homecoming's “medicine” is to blame. But, the final seconds of “Stop” suggests all may not be lost for Heidi and Walter.
The Amazon show’s central crisis begins coming into focus when, during a May 2018 flashback portion of “Work,” Walter tells Heidi he is excited for his next deployment thanks to Homecoming’s therapy. It is his last day in the program. Heidi feels guilty that she is partially responsible for manipulating this young man and sending him back to war But, there is something deeper at play: Walter tells Heidi his military buddy Lesky may be able to join him in his latest deployment. The only problem is, Lesky is dead. Lesky’s death is Walter’s greatest trigger, and now it’s gone.
Walter keeps telling Heidi he knows what to expect from war, but the veteran has no idea that is now a complete lie.
The treatments at Homecoming, which erase targeted traumatic memories and anything even tenuously associated with them via drugs hidden in mandatory meals, have worked too well. Walter is headed back into battle and he can barely remember the truly deadly task he’s up against. This is a win for defense contractors and the military and hell for anyone with a conscious.
So Heidi takes matters into her own hands. After Walter moves a straightened pen on her desk — the greatest sign of their little in-joke and relationship — Heidi asks her patient to get some lunch. For Walter, it’s an unexpected but nice request. For Heidi, she’s deciding to give Walter a double dose of the drugs peddled to the Homecoming patients under the guise of normal cafeteria food. Every week, the dose of the drugs in the food increases. This means Heidi is purposefully giving Walter a mega dose of the highest amount of the “medicine” possible. And, she’s also going to take a single dose of the highly medicated food herself. The effects of the drugs on a person without any tolerance is a complete unknown, but Heidi is willing to take the chance to protect Walter.
Heidi and Walter’s gnocchi lunch is actually delightful. Then the fallout hits. Following their meal, Walter is incapacitated and unresponsive in the Homecoming facility. It’s expected he will remain that way for a year, if not more, after ingesting such a heavy dose of the secret drugs. The veteran is sent home to his family and never committs “violent misconduct,” as his falsified discharge papers claim. Heidi’s boss Colin (Bobby Cannavale) is “hysterical”over this turn of events and asks how they’ll ever be able to deploy Walter. “I guess we can’t,” Heidi shoots back as she leaves Homecoming for good. Obviously, that was the whole point.
Then Heidi heads home. While Heidi was a “full-screen” Heidi during her conversation with Colin, Homecoming’s aspect ratio has shrunk by the time she gets to her mother’s house. This abrupt visual change tells us Heidi has lost her memories of Homecoming after eating the dosed food. Those memories will not come back until Heidi returns to the Tampa facility in 2022 and hears that giant white bird that tormented her in 2018.
We don’t find out Walter’s fate until the last 10 minutes of Homecoming. Thankfully, he didn’t die due to Heidi’s last ditch efforts to keep him out of the war. Rather, Walter suffered “adverse effects” for years, and is finally healthy again. Walter is living in one of those teeny towns outside of Yosemite Park — exactly the kind of place he and Heidi used to joke about disappearing to together. We know this because Heidi tracks him down after a lengthy road trip, another reference to their fantasy lives together. Now Walter’s greatest obstacle is building a deck for his house, which has become a monster of a project.
Heidi freezes when Walter walks into his local dinner, where she is sipping a cup of coffee. Walter ends up sitting down with Heidi, but it seems he doesn’t remember her after the dosing emergency. The “medicine” is apparently that effective. The pair talk about how they ended up in this random mountain town — Heidi lies for Walter’s benefit — and the deck. Finally, Walter leaves to continue his project. Heidi is heartbroken Walter doesn’t remember her, but is happy he’s okay.
Then, she looks down and sees he left her formerly straight fork askew. Just like with the flashback era pen earlier in the episode.
As Homecoming co-creator Micah Bloomberg told The Hollywood Reporter, the move either means Walter fully remembers Heidi or he, as person deep in his bones, simply couldn’t leave that fork alone.
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