Julia Roberts thriller Homecoming leaves some burning questions

The Amazon Prime show ties up a lot of loose ends by the end of its first season, but questions remain. Like that leaf Shrier gave Carrasco.

Patricia Puentes Senior Editor, Movie and TV writer, CNET en Español
Writer and journalist from Barcelona who calls California home. She'll openly admit to having seen The Wire four times. She has a mild-to-severe addiction to chocolate and book adaptations to the screen (large or small). She's interviewed Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Guillermo del Toro and Kenneth Branagh but is still waiting to meet Emma Thompson and Kathryn Bigelow. She's lived in Paris, Los Angeles and Boston. Now she's amazed by Oakland's effortlessly cool vibe.
Patricia Puentes
5 min read

Julia Roberts as Heidi Bergman in Homecoming. 

Amazon Prime

Are you done binge-watching Homecoming yet? The first season of the psychological thriller starring Julia Roberts hit Amazon Prime Video Friday, and if you've already seen all 10 episodes, you might be scratching your head over a few things. I know I am. 

Director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) and creators Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz do a good job bringing closure to Homecoming, which follows caseworker Heidi Bergman (Roberts) at a facility that's supposed to help soldiers transition back to civilian life. Granted, the show was designed from the start to run for at least two seasons, but after finishing the first one, I still have some burning questions. 

First, a warning: If you still haven't seen the whole first season, stop reading now. Unless you don't mind spoilers, that is.

spoiler alert

What's up with the trees?

It's not just the constant chatter about Florida's palm trees, which can easily be seen from Heidi's office window. The whole Geist corporation is made up of departments named after trees: dogwood, willow and elm, to name a few. The Redwood department was the one in charge of the Homecoming program.

Then there's the tree leaf Shrier (Jeremy Allen White) gave Carrasco (Shea Whigham) when Carrasco went to see him. I basically know nothing about botany, but I found an Easter egg. At the end of episode 9, titled Work, Colin (Bobby Cannavale) interviews Heidi in a flashback sequence that tells how she got work at Homecoming. They're talking at a Geist department called Manchineel. 

Google Manchineel and you'll see the leaves of this tree pretty closely match the one Shrier gave Carrasco while telling him, "You'll remember." Carrasco hasn't made the connection, but Shrier was hinting Colin knows more than what we've seen him confess so far.


Stephan James as Walter Cruz in Homecoming. 

Jessica Brooks/Amazon Prime Video

What are they really feeding people at Homecoming?

At the beginning of episode 4, titled Redwood, we see some type of plant being harvested for the bright red, berry-like fruit in its interior. After the fruit is processed, a red liquid is distilled and delivered to the kitchen at Homecoming inside a box that's traveled halfway around the world and has the numbers 14-10 printed on it.

We can only assume this liquid is then mixed with the food of the Homecoming patients.

Shrier told Walter (Stephan James) he wasn't taking the medication. That had to mean regular pills, as he couldn't have guessed about the medicated food, right? His being medicated after all could explain the not-so-bright state he was in when Carrasco went to talk to him. Shrier's treatment would have been interrupted when he was sent home prematurely after trying to run away from Homecoming. That interruption could have had negative effects on his health.

"If he quits his meds now, he's going to go into a thaw," Colin warned Heidi in case Walter left Homecoming at week 4, when his mom went to try to fetch him. Did Shrier go into a thaw when he left? Could the thaw have negative effects?

What's with all the fish?

Heidi's name tag at Fat Morgan's is shaped like a fish. And at Homecoming, she has a tank full of fish until she decides to get rid of the little creatures during her last week working there. The town Heidi and Walter keep daydreaming about is called Fish Camp.

Then there's Heidi's mom, Ellen (Sissy Spacek), who refers to her daughter getting the job at Homecoming with so little experience as "fishy." Coincidence?

What is Walter's American white pelican?

It was actually the sound of that type of bird that triggered Heidi's memories to return. What will Walter's memory trigger be? Will he recover his memory in season 2? Will he ever remember Heidi? And will their relationship remain platonic if he does?


Walter and Shrier eat at Homecoming.

Hilary B Gayle/SMPSP

What does Walter do for a living?

Is he really digging up gold like they joked with Heidi or does he have some other source of income that allows him to fix that nice little cabin in his spare time? Heidi did warn him it's "gold country" in Northern California. "There's got to be something left," she anticipated.

Maybe he's won Fat Morgan's jar lottery and found black gold underneath his cabin. The jar was set at the diner by an AJ (Jacob Pitts) who both Heidi and her coworker, Dara (Frankie Shaw), accused of being a scammer.

"Is there Black Gold underneath your home? Drop your business card to find out more!!!," claimed the message at the jar to get people's business cards inside. Could Walter have visited Fat Morgan's when Heidi couldn't remember him? Did he find a way of making money?

Why is 2022 so lame?

There are no self-driving cars. Computers still have regular mice and keyboards. Thomas Carrasco works in an office full of cubicles instead of one with an open layout. To top it all off, the Department of Defense hasn't discovered the cloud and archives all of its files on paper inside a giant warehouse full of boxes.

The only thing that could make 2022 Homecoming way cooler was if the movie Titanic's independent sequel, Titanic Raising, had already been made by then.

Who is Mr. Geist?

Audrey (Hong Chau) mentions him when she informs Colin the Geist gang wants Colin to take responsibility for what happened at Homecoming. Colin seems quite jealous that Audrey has met Mr. Geist and has even gone to his farm.

Also, after Carrasco's investigation is finished and he speaks to his boss, Carrasco tells her he's going to be elevating the Homecoming compliance to the inspector general. Carrasco's boss then calls someone saying she has an urgent situation. Did she call Audrey? Was that how the assistant got her promotion? Or did she actually call Mr. Geist himself?

What's with the box Colin shares with his wife?

"We put it in the box and we move forward," Colin's wife tells him after he tries to explain what happened between him and Heidi. What did Colin put in the box? Was it a note explaining he slept with Heidi or was it something else? 

Is it really bad luck to fold laundry while sober?

This is about the only sympathetic thing Colin says in the whole show. And we know he had an agenda while he did. But he might have had a point after all. Don't you think?

Tell me what you thought about Homecoming's ending. Did I forget anything? Do you have even more burning questions you need answers to? Did you recognize the plant they harvest at the beginning of episode 4 or is it invented for this story?

I want to be that person who also listened to the Gimlet Media podcast this show is based on. Sadly, I'm not. If you have, tell me what happens.

Correction, Nov. 6, 7:34 p.m. PT: The story initially misstated the number of Homecoming patients getting a placebo. 

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