Saturday, November 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'Homecoming' - Everyone Is Questioning What's Real and What's a Performance in 'Toys'

Amazon's Homecoming - Episode 1.06 "Toys"

Outside visitors, though well-intentioned, may disrupt the gradual transition back to civilian life.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's Homecoming.

"Toys" was written by Shannon Houston and directed by Sam Esmail

The audience is left to always be questioning just how truthful any of the characters are being in any given moment. There are times where we know that they are obviously lying. Colin creates an entirely new persona in order to forge a new relationship with Heidi in the future. He makes up this identity of a soldier returning home after two tours who refuses to sign divorce papers. Part of that may actually be based in reality though. The audience doesn't know a ton about Colin's background. We have seen his marriage though with his wife being incredibly exasperated by how frequently he is on the phone yelling at his employees. The audience has seen how belittling he can be. And so, it wouldn't be surprising in the slightest to learn that his marriage has failed and he is clinging onto the past because he still wants to see it a certain way instead of what it actually was. That could all be driving his actions throughout this lie. But he is mostly doing this in order to get close to Heidi once more to see if she represents a threat to his career and the company that he works for. Homecoming failed and that's likely because of whatever happened between Heidi and Walter. They both suffered severe consequences because of it. And yet, the Heidi in the future is able to articulate how she doesn't feel like she is living her truthful life. She believes she gets up every day only to put a smile on and go through the motions of what's expected of her. She has to care for her mother and work as a waitress. It's nothing too exciting. She has this feeling that she was destined for a completely different life. And yet, no one has been able to give her any clarity as to if that happened or if this is where she is destined to be. She has accepted that there are portions of her memory that she has completely blocked out. But here, she slips back into therapist mode in order to help this man. Colin builds this whole fantasy in order to test her. He knows that she will take the bait. However, it gets much more intimate than he was probably expecting as well. It didn't seem like he was plotting to sleep with her. That may just be another layer of the ruse that he has to maintain in order to keep up this dynamic of total honesty with Heidi. He can sense it's heading in that direction and chooses to pursue it. Or it could just be a man in a position of power who knows the truth of what happened abuse one of the victims of this program that he oversaw. No matter what though it's absolutely despicable especially when Heidi feels so empowered to live as her authentic self once more not knowing what that will actually entail.

Meanwhile, Walter's mother, Gloria, is able to see the deceit of Homecoming right away. She doesn't trust the government with her son's mental health. She believes being with family is the only way he'll be able to adjust to civilian life once more. She doesn't want him talking about everything that happened to him overseas. She has a strong urge to protect him. She is absolutely right to point out the horrors of her son just being passed off to another corporate entity altogether. The Department of Veteran Affairs can't help her. Geist is a private company with their own records. She can go down to Tampa and demand to see her son. But Homecoming doesn't advertise where its facility is either. She believes that her son has essentially been kidnapped and can't leave whenever he wants. That's true as well. Heidi and Craig discuss the disastrous side effects of withdrawal should Walter leave now. They show a genuine interest in him even though this is the exact same point in the program when Shrier left as well. The audience has seen the consequences of that action. As such, it's important that Walter gets the help that he desperately needs to ensure that he doesn't end up the same way. However, Heidi is also presenting herself as the only person who can help him. Walter decides to go because his mother is worried. He decides to stay because Heidi makes him believe that their relationship could become something more. It's so absolutely manipulative and potentially destructive. She uses whatever tools she has in order to maintain the integrity of the program. She cares about Walter on some level. She didn't put up the same resistance when it came to Shrier leaving. But her actions lead to the complaint being filed that will eventually launch Thomas' investigation. Gloria turns to the government for help in saving her son. She fears that he will be severely harmed by this program. She too puts on a performance to make herself sound more credible with this complaint too. She does whatever it takes to ensure that the Department of Defense looks into things in time to save Walter. That doesn't happen though. The bureaucracy of the government means that Thomas doesn't get to it for another four years. As such, the repercussions are already explosive for Heidi, Walter and Shrier.