Tuesday, March 1, 2022

REVIEW: 'Naomi' - Naomi's Pursuit of Answers Leads Her to Another Person Willing to Exploit Her Powers in 'Homecoming'

The CW's Naomi - Episode 1.06 "Homecoming"

Naomi and her fellow students are buzzing with excitement in anticipation of the town's Homecoming event. The tension between Nathan and Anthony escalates when Anthony feels his hometown tradition is being disrespected by a military kid. Naomi discovers a potential new source of information, but they may know more than she bargained for. A revelation from his encounter with the bounty hunter sends Dee looking for answers about someone from his past. Zumbado has a run in with Greg and Jennifer.

"Homecoming" was written by Stacy A. Littlejohn and directed by Kent Faulcon

Is Zumbado genuinely trying to keep Naomi safe? For the entire season, it's seemed like his actions were done from personal motivation. He was trying to preserve his standing in this world. He was keeping secrets with the intent of furthering some plot he has in motion. It's all been very secretive. The show has enjoyed the mystery. That's probably been true for too much of the storytelling so far. It's created a rather one-dimensional character. Zumbado is simply suppose to be menacing. He unnerves the McDuffie family when they see him in public. Of course, the story also makes it seem as if he is constantly spying on them. He has appeared with his own agency before. From Naomi's perspective though, he is always there to keep track of what she's doing. She discovers the likely spaceship that brought her to Earth. His attempt at concealing that only worked for a short time. She is desperate for answers. She is growing stronger with her powers. She feels the urgency to use them when confronted. It's still awkward. She is no match for the strength Zumbado operates with. He has full control. He can redirect her blasts with a simple move of his hand. He's too powerful for her. Again, that's daunting when he's positioned as the villain. He's the one trying to exploit her powers for his own personal gain. That's all he has ever been allowed to be. His motives may be more complicated than that. His tactics are questionable. That's never in doubt. He cryptically says Naomi is too immature to handle the truth that he has. She wants it though. That's all the clarity she needs to thrive. She needs answers in order to feel like she belongs somewhere. Port Oswego offers that perspective to so many. And yet, the Homecoming tradition that the locals revere is overlooked both by the military outsiders and the show itself. It's all done with the purpose of alienating Naomi so she can go off on her own adventure for once. It's not that simple. She still needs people to look out for her. That backup is necessary. It leaves her vulnerable to attack. That provides Zumbado with the opportunity to save her. He does so with the promise to tell her everything. It wasn't good enough to warn her away from Dr. Bell and her work at STAR Labs. She had to endure the torture herself. That's terrifying but seen as a necessary hassle.

Zumbado has to ultimately follow through on his promise. All of this comes after he breaks into the McDuffie house to tell Greg and Jennifer they need to go on the run with Naomi. That too can be seen as an effort to keep her safe. She is too much of an open target in Port Oswego. That continues the argument of this town being special in some way. It's the place Dee heard about and saw as offering the bright future away from his service solely as a soldier. He has stayed here waiting for his love to find him once more. He may have to give up that hope entirely. He has Naomi now though. He still maintains a mission and purpose in this place. He knows Naomi needs to keep training. It's important. She's also a teenager who makes reckless, rash decisions from time to time. Dee can offer her some insight. He can't tell her the whole story. He doesn't know it. That continues to slowly be teased out. It remains the most crucial aspect of the season. Everything rests on Naomi's identity. That can make it startling when stories pivot around the other characters. That doesn't make them bad. It can simply come across as mismatched. The episode talks a great deal about Homecoming. It's mostly a story about the other high school students judging each other only to be proven wrong about their assumptions. It's a simple story overall. One that teams Nathan and Anthony together in a way that isn't always about each of them pinning after Naomi. That has gotten too repetitive. So has the tension between the locals and the military transfers. That's had more of an impact on Anthony because the history of this place means so much to him. Nathan knows what it's like to have history taken away. They can each see a new side of the other. That's beneficial. They extend that graciousness to the classmate who vandalized Anthony's float as well. She too is desperate to gain her father's approval. The stakes are really high for success in this town. That perspective is only seen briefly. That's because Nathan and Anthony know it's not worth it to blow it up into something more dramatic. Again, that perspective is necessary. It's just a less propulsive story than everything happening with Naomi.