On Mirrored Pond: A Recap of Homecoming "Pineapple"

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Homecoming S1 E2 “Pineapple” (Are We Really In Florida?)

I am writing this on Veterans Day and given the subject of this television show, it seems particularly important to wish a Happy Veterans Day to all current and former military service personnel.

The Mandarin

The very first scene in the entire series starts with the camera focused on several palm trees in front of a starry night sky…but, as the camera pulls back we find out  that what we were actually seeing were a few fake palm trees in the bottom of a fish bowl.

So, while struggling to contemplate eating another plate of pineapple cobbler (I didn’t even know there was such a thing), Joseph Shrier suggests to Walter Cruz that the Homecoming Transitional Support Facility, despite what they have been told, is not actually in Florida at all.

Walter appears to see this as paranoia on the part of Shrier.

The unmistakable suggestion here, supported by multiple cool interludes between the different scenes showing empty areas of the facility at night, is that the “volunteers” residing at  the Homecoming Transitional Support Facility are in a fishbowl too.

Perhaps a Panopticon?

The point is likely NOT the rehabilitation of the soldiers but rather an investigation of them or of what the “medicine” does to them.

I think there is something else important here:

Shrier doesn’t just make his argument about why the transition center isn’t in Florida and then let it go. No, Shrier makes his argument and then loses his temper, appears to be entirely irrational, and totally loses control.

If you remember, during episode 1 another soldier - during the soft skills employment interview - also lost control in what appeared to be a fit of irrational anger.

I am sure you also remember that Colin Belfast told Heidi during that same episode that they were testing a drug of some kind and that the results would help get congressional appropriations to expand the program and move that drug forward.

What we don’t know is what that drug is for, how it is being delivered, and what the drug is actually designed to do.

For some reason, this made me think about the drug “Extremis” in the mostly awful and forgettable movie Iron Man 3 and the designs on the Raptors in the equally awful Jurassic World movie. It is certainly possible that the true purpose of the Homecoming facility is not to help traumatized military personnel transition back to a healthy civilian life but is instead designed to see if military personnel could be medicinally triggered to anger and violence.

Probably a stretch, and hard to understand why they would need to trigger rage, it might be what the show Black Mirror refers to as the “Men Against Fire” problem (most infantry soldiers have a very hard time shooting to kill when facing other human beings).

But I certainly would not put it past the DOD to participate in using traumatized former soldiers in this way. Look back in history and you will find many examples from nuclear testing on human soldiers to purposefully dosing soldiers (and civilians) with hallucinogenic drugs.
Also, I could be wrong about the food since many of the residents of the facility are seen taking what look to be horse pills at different times throughout this episode.

But there is ONE reason why they would both give the soldiers drugs and drug the food, and Shrier demonstrates it..paranoid or angry people might spit out the drugs but because their were drugs to spit out, they might go ahead and eat the food.

Titanic Rising

Okay, now we are back in 2022

Heidi has another appointment with Walter who tells her both about a member of his squad who died in combat and about, in a very well-written monologue, about a prank that member of his squad played on another member of his squad about an imaginary sequel to Titanic called “Titanic Rising.”

I feel like this will be of importance later, it was too specific to be a throwaway bit of dialog, and it speaks a great deal to the danger of folks being most vulnerable to confidence-jobs or pranks when those pranks are grounded in something that someone really wants to believe.

Walter wants most to believe that he is at the facility to deal with his PTSD and suicidal thoughts. And the program has been as a facade with several of its programs speaking directly to that desire.

Walter wants to believe the system is trying to help him while the scales have definitely fallen from Shrier’s eyes.

Later, we also see Heidi hang out with her Mom, who really wants her to find a way to go back and work and the Homecoming facility or for Geist Industries (Colin informs us later that this is the name of the company behind the facility).

Most important here is probably that just like Heidi didn’t remember Walter Cruz she also doesn’t remember that she did not move home either because her Mom feel or because her Mom needed help. Apparently, her Mom fell after Heidi returned home and she refused to tell her Mom at the time why she left Geist or why she moved home.

Originally, I thought her responses to Thomas Carrasco questions during episode 1 were an attempt to dissemble, now I am starting to think her memory may have been erased as part of her departure from the company and facility.

Oh, also her mom Ellen is played by Sissy Spacek which is pretty cool.

The Maltese Falcon

Speaking of Thomas Carrasco, Shea Whigham is doing an amazing job of playing the put-upon low-level detective who is way too competent for his position and whose ability is totally underappreciated and underutilized.

His character is a very standard detective story trope, which makes me innately suspicious, almost like it is TOO much a standard character for me to believe it.

But there are two important things here:

  1. Nobody aside from him gives a damn about following up on this complaint. He is not being officially dissuaded, his boss literally doesn’t care. She sees it as sausage that does not need to be made.

  2. If you watch closely during the scenes when Thomas is working at his desk you will see that Walter Cruz gets kicked out - or something like that - for “Misconduct Violence” on 5/15/2018 which is a month and after his first meeting with Heidi.

So, we know the guy in episode 1, Shrier in episode 2 (who has been there longer than Walter), and Walter all have violent incidents while at the Homecoming Transition Facility.

Not too much with Colin here, but he ends his phone call with Heidi and ends up on a golf course trying to hustle what looks like a General  

The episode ends with Walter being ordered to leave his room and with Shrier locked in the room all alone for the night.

Ominous.

Okay, that’s it for the week. Will try to get another recap out as soon as possible, sorry this one took so long.

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Josh is the co-host of the Decarceration Nation podcast and is a blogger and freelance writer who writes about criminal justice reform, television, movies, music, politics, race, ethics, and more.