I’ve a rule that rarely does me a disservice. In a show like Homecoming, the character who appears to lose their mind – shouting about sinister, paranoid plots and how everything isn’t what it seems – tends to be the one worth listening to. But it’s also usually the one who speaks up who has to be silenced. I’ve been known to be wrong on occasion, but I’m fairly confident that Specialist Joseph Shrier isn’t long for the land of the living.
If Homecoming was reticent about revealing anything in its season premiere, it’s downright uncooperative here. If anyone does understand what’s going on, it’s Colin, but he’s not about to indulge us either. What information we do get, doesn’t really seem to move anything forward; instead, it causes hesitation and wheel-spinning. Heidi’s off-the-cuff conversation with her mother (a typically excellent Sissy Spacek) reveals she’s likely been lying to herself as much as she is to Carrasco. Carrasco himself finds Walter’s mother as reluctant to speak to him as Heidi was, but she does react to Heidi’s name, leaving him stuck between two options: close the case or escalate it. Everyone he’s spoken to says there’s nothing going on, but Carrasco’s hunch won’t let him accept that at face value.
Shrier has more than a hunch. He’s convinced the facility isn’t what it seems, even down its location. Sure, they said it’s in Florida, but what confirms that, beyond the pineapples and palm trees? They also said that anyone can leave anytime they want, but Shrier’s episode and the subsequent locked door only confirms that as a lie. Shrier’s constant harmonica playing is a nice touch, a suggestion that he knows they’re in a prison, even if nobody else will accept it. A potential issue for Colin, Heidi and everyone else behind the Homecoming Transitional Support Centre is that people like Shrier and Cruz have been through hell together and have built a foundation of trust that isn’t easily shaken.
Roberts is excellent again this week. She plays Heidi with an unassuming charm that is rare for an A-list talent. She’s exactly the kind of person you’d open up to, which is probably why Colin has put her in such an important position. Major platitudes have to go to Jeremy Allen White as Shrier. White judges Shrier’s slide towards a paranoid outburst perfectly, delicately balancing the aggression and vulnerability that come with PTSD.