Shining Vale – Season 2 Episode 1 “Homecoming” Recap & Review


Shining Vale Season 2 Episode 1 starts with a shot of the Phelps house looking rundown. Gaynor is making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and giving the crusts to Roxy, the dog. She shouts for Jake to get ready for school. She’s clearly doing everything while Pat is in the mental hospital and Terry is recovering from his brain injury in the hospital.

We see Terry learning to walk again and learning simple things like “father,” “daughter,” “mother,” aided by a doctor. Pat is in the hospital and looks like she’s getting some sort of electric shock therapy. All of this is happening with a song being played over it by Gaynor, that she seemingly wrote about her mum hitting her dad with an axe. This is confirmed when we see her playing it on guitar and singing in a coffee shop, with punters giving her money in a tip jar. “Thank you, Shining Vale,” she announces to the audience. 

It’s Sunday, and Terry returns home to see Jake and Gaynor. He appears to have flashbacks about what happened to him. Pat is in a meeting with a doctor. She says she’s better now and wants to be released. She gets rejected because she can’t remember what she had for breakfast. She’s had 66 treatments so far. She begs to go, as she’s been here four months. The doctor tells her the recommended stay is three years!

It’s two days later, and Pat checks out because her insurance has run out. Pat’s mum picks her up and they both leave the hospital. Pat returns home, and calls out to Jake and Gaynor, announcing “Mummy’s home.” She sees Roxy and picks her up. The weirdness starts up again as a door opens on its own. Pat convinces herself that it’s nothing and that she is in control. 

Jake scares her with a creepy mask on and asks her if they have pizza pockets. His friends are here, all dressed in weird costumes as well, and he tells Pat that he’s a sport mascot now. She tells him she missed him. 

Gaynor is dealing with all the overloaded dishes in the kitchen sink when Pat walks in, and Gaynor runs to her and hugs her. The nice moment is ruined when Pat says she forgives her for getting her committed. Gaynor makes it clear that it had to happen, and an argument breaks out. 

Pat insists she’s better and is ready to return to her role as head of the household, when Gaynor tells her Terry doesn’t remember her. 

Pat sees Terry next to the piano. She moves towards him, but he moves away. He says his phone is helping with his memory. He asks, “Was I a good husband?” Pat says he was, and he follows this up by asking, “Were you a good wife?” This question proves not so easy for Pat to answer, but she promises to improve. 

Gaynor tells Pat that she dropped out of school, and Pat is horrified. Terry tries to get out the door but struggles with his walking frame. Neither Gaynor nor Pat rush to help him. Gaynor insists Pat not touch him, protective over her father. Gaynor and Pat fight over who rules the roost. 

Gaynor drives Jake to school, with Terry in the car. Terry has made a shopping list, but Gaynor tells him to stay in the car while she goes to work. He ignores his daughter and gets out, and within seconds, a bus runs over his walking frame. Terry decides to explore the town of Shining Vale. 

Pat is washing the dishes, and Roxy is barking like mad. She reaches into the sink and pulls something disgusting out of the plug. She picks Roxy up and ventures down to the basement to investigate strange noises. She sees the tiki bar looking unloved and follows footsteps made in paint. Frightened, she runs upstairs. She answers the door all flustered, and it’s her editor, Kam. 

Elsewhere, Gaynor gets back in the car, and Terry gets in the back seat, smoking a cigarette.

Kam and Pat discuss the book and disagree about the direction of it. The marketing team has gone ahead and done the book without her permission, and turned it into a pulpy slasher. 

Pat visits her mum, and tells her nobody cares about her getting out of hospital. Her mum tells her there’s no way of getting rid of mental illness. Pat asks to stay with her, but she tells her to go home and fight for her family.

Pat has made meatloaf surprise, and Gaynor and Jake return home. Gaynor tells her nobody wants her here. Terry walks in and says none of them are normal, having gotten to meet them all over again. He utters, “We are Phelps.” The whole family starts shouting, “We are Phelps.” The lights are flickering as the family shouts their saying. Then, a lady dressed as a 50s housewife is at the door with a pie, and says, “Hello dear, it’s so good to see you.”

The Episode Review

Courteney Cox and Greg Kinnear return in this kooky horror comedy, and the opening five minutes make it known that there is still a lot of story left to tell in this show. Things have changed in the four months Pat has been in the mental hospital, and all is not good with her family when she returns.

The episode goes by so quick, with the usual fast pace, cramming lots of information into the first episode, but it remains entertaining throughout. The standout character in this episode is Gaynor, played with the right amount of teenage angst by Gus Birney. She performs an amazing song about her mum hitting her dad with an axe, and holds the episode together, just like her character has been holding her damaged family together in Pat’s absence.

There’s a strong commentary on mental illness that runs throughout the first episode, but when the weirdness starts up again, you know this season is going to be an absolute riot. 


Next Episode

You can look forward to a full season review when this show ends!

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