In this episode of Homecoming, Shrier makes a break for it and we discover just how much of Heidi’s memory is missing.
Season 1, Episode 3: “Optics”
The episode opens with Thomas Carrasco struggling over the decision to close or elevate the complaint about the Homecoming project. We see an extreme close-up of his finger hovering over the “enter” key on his keyboard, but he’s still obviously uneasy about this case. He does a bit more research to find Heidi’s employment file, then heads to a warehouse to search for it.
There is some excellent camerawork here, first in the close-up of the keyboard, then a blackening of the screen so you only see “Click to confirm” waiting eagerly for Thomas’s action. It’s also visually pleasing to watch the overhead shot as he descends the spiral-like office staircase and makes his way through rows and rows of boxed files as motion-sensor lights click on and off.
Back in 2018, Walter is trying to convince Shrier that, yes, they really are in Florida! They tell the woman at the front desk that they just want to go out for a while and get a beer. She is visibly flustered and says she needs to find a “form.” She excuses herself and goes to alert someone that they are trying to leave the building. In the meantime, Shrier grabs some keys off the desk and runs out, hopping into a Geist van. Walter is hesitant, but doesn’t want to leave his friend.
They drive… and drive and drive. The visuals are excellent here – broad overhead shots of the van driving down the highway and the subtle fade from daylight to night. A car passes them and Walter points out, “See? Florida license plate.”
Shrier is still unconvinced and wonders aloud if it’s all an exercise “to see what we’d do if we were deployed here. At home.”
They finally end up in what looks like a deserted town. This scene very much had a “Twilight Zone” feel to it, and looked to me like a movie set. (I found out later that it’s actually the set where season 1 of “The Good Place” was filmed!) Lights suddenly flip on and a man comes toward them. Shrier’s reaction is to tackle the guy, and then they realize he’s an older man just carrying a flashlight.
We cut to Heidi’s office, where Walter is chuckling about the story. It was a retirement community.
Here we start to see a little more of Walter’s borderline flirtatious behavior. He describes living with his unit as similar to taking a long road trip. When you get to that point where there’s nothing left to talk about, that’s when you really get to know someone. Heidi is visibly uncomfortable, as maybe she’s realizing some things about herself. Has she been too closed off?
And yet, when she gets home, she finds Anthony packing up and saying they aren’t on the same page. And Heidi is more than fine with it, telling him to get out.
Of course, this is when Colin calls. And this time we see Colin at home at his daughter’s birthday party. Except that he’s not really mentally present, but distracted by not only his conversation with Heidi but also wandering around outside his house, looking in the windows of people’s parked cars. His behavior is more than odd and I’m looking forward to unpeeling the layers of his story.
Colin wants to kick Shrier and Cruz out of the program, but Heidi strongly and successfully advocates for Walter to stay.
Finally, we move to 2022 and see Heidi meeting Anthony in a bar. She reached out to him to fish for information to fill in her memory. She admits to him that she remembers moving down to Tampa and “that’s all.”
Thomas finally finds a brochure for Homecoming and sees a photo of Heidi in it. He finds her file, which states she was terminated 5/15/18 – the same day Walter Cruz left the program. Heidi’s file says she was hospitalized, while Walter’s says there was violence. Is there a connection? Or is this a red herring and something completely different is going on?
At the end of every podcast, we talk about the episode title, the question overlay on the episode thumbnail, and how they fit into the episode. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Episode title: Optics
Question: WHAT HAPPENED ON 5/15/18?
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