Review: New Amazon show “Homecoming” doesn’t quite find its stride

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first season of “Homecoming” on Amazon Prime.

Based on a podcast of the same name, Amazon’s “Homecoming” revolves around soldiers with symptoms of PTSD coming to a treatment facility to work through their trauma. Or, that’s what they think. The facility they enter is actually drugging them with an experimental memory inhibitor, and their goal is to get rid of the traumatic memories and redeploy the soldiers, who don’t necessarily want to be sent back to the field.

The soldier that the viewer follows is named Walter Cruz, played by Stephan James. Cruz has a specific traumatic memory that is targeted in his sessions. Eventually, he forgets about his trauma and is told he will be redeployed, even though he explicitly stated earlier in the show that he didn’t want to go back overseas.

My question is: why did he agree? The traumatic memory was gone, yes, but just because you don’t have specific trauma doesn’t mean you will suddenly be willing to go back to active duty. Cruz thought he was on the path to becoming a civilian, and there was almost no indication that he was even upset that he was being redeployed.

As a viewer, it was very frustrating to only see Cruz in his counseling sessions, though I understand why the show did it. The podcast version of the show was presented as the recordings of Cruz’s sessions, as well as a few other mediums every now and then as needed. This format works well for a podcast, but once you add a visual element, you are better able to notice the missing pieces in Cruz’s story.

Podcasts will regularly omit superfluous details since additional information could make the piece muddy and confusing. However, since the show is now in a video format, the creators were able to add extra details to assist with worldbuilding and character background. However, some of the choices they made didn’t really add anything to the show.

One specific incident that comes to mind is a moment where a character barges into his boss’s unlocked office while she is breastfeeding her child, and her breast is completely visible to the viewer. Why did the creators feel the need to include that moment in the show? I suspect it was for shock value, since the child was never mentioned again. I was definitely not expecting to see anything like that, that’s for sure.

Regarding the technical side of the show, I was underwhelmed and often confused when it came to the creative choices. The score of the show rarely fit the mood of the scene, and the camera work felt cheesy and artificial. It came across as though the director was trying especially hard to be edgy and artistic, but it was just too much.

Overall, I didn’t hate the show, but there were times where I felt I could definitely be doing something more enjoyable or productive with my energy.

Final Score: 3/5