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‘Helping’ – Homecoming season 1 episode 5 review

Heidi and Walter find a big Colin-shaped barrier in the way of their burgeoning intimacy

SPOILER ALERT!
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It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Or their job. Or their memory. The jokey intimacy that blossoms further this week between Heidi and Walter is sweet and funny – or it would be, were it not for the constant black cloud on the horizon that they can’t see and we can’t ignore. There are all kinds of lovely moments in this episode, but none more so than Heidi’s heart-breaking trip to the make-up counter. However ridiculous her reflection makes her feel, it’s nothing compared to how she feels when she sees Walter apparently joking and flirting with the receptionist.

Her discovery that it was all a part of his affectionate prank (gluing her stationery and phone to her desk at odd angles) is beautifully orchestrated, right down to the timing of the phone ringing and Julia Roberts’ smitten smile. Walter might show his feelings like a 10-year-old boy in a playground but he knows how to make her laugh. Of course, Walter being military means that this is going to escalate and it does. Heidi’s revenge (gluing Walter to his seat) is perfect, but his one-upmanship couldn’t have been any worse timed.

Colin’s emasculation at the hands of his boss sets off the only reaction a bully like him would have: take it out on his subordinate. He reads Heidi the riot act over the phone for her intimacy with Walter, all while she fumbles for her keys, trying to get into the office. The force of his fury, combined with our knowledge that Walter’s next prank is waiting on the other side of the door, leads to Hitchcockian levels of tension (note: Microsoft Word spellcheck recognises Hitchcockian as an actual word!) My guffaw at the pelican on the desk was half hilarity, half relief.

All this flirty japery dissipates when Homecoming leans into its sinister side in the future timeline. Colin, looking decidedly more dishevelled but no less douchebaggy, takes a secret trip to visit Heidi, only to be even more rattled when she shows no signs of recognising him. He’s even practiced his threatening monologue but never gets to use it. Whatever they gave her was strong stuff; her memory wasn’t jogged by his voice last episode and isn’t even tickled by being face-to-face with him this episode. What’s worse is the state in which Carrasco finds Schrier, the contact he alluded to in his ‘chat’ with Colin. The man is practically a zombie, near-mute and with motor skills so degraded that he can’t even open a plastic bag. He presses a leaf into Carrasco’s hands with a single-word plea: “Remember”.

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