Halt and Catch Fire Recap: “10BROAD36”
Well, it took 6 weeks, but old Joe has finally resurfaced. And he’s up to his old tricks. With the exception of Gordon, this week’s episode was pretty focused, so I’m going to dive right into the negotiations. We open with Joe being lonely and pathetic, eating the most pathetic of cereals, GrapeNuts (I bet he didn’t even heat them in the microwave or put sugar on top). He calls Sarah Wheeler, clearly missing her. But she won’t answer. But her father does, with the bad news that Mutiny’s prices are going up… from $3 to $5 an hour.
Joe argues about how unacceptable that is with Mr. Wheeler, saying they were given and promised a lower rate (not mentioning it was contingent on Gordon doing the job). But Mr. Wheeler refuses, and demands he negotiate to get them up to at least $3.50. So Joe heads to Mutiny to drive Cameron and Donna nuts.
Gordon has gone to visit his brother in California, so Donna is visiting with her mother, and tells her that she had a miscarriage. Honestly, I was really confused at first, and thought “did I miss something last week?” before realizing she’s lying to her mother. But the scene is great, and Donna and her mother’s interactions feel so authentic to a real mother-daughter.
Donna heads to work and sees Tom jumping out Cameron’s window, after they were disturbed by the frat boys known as the Mutiny staff while also trying to steal cable. You just want to say to these knuckleheads “private is private, leave Cameron alone.” She’s interrupted and runs downstairs only to come face to face with Joe, looking all slick and 80s yuppie.
Joe tells them that the pricing is increasing, and quotes them upfront, $5 an hour (almost twice as much as Joe promised Gordon). Now, I don’t want Gordon to get involved AGAIN, but, I do wish Donna knew that contingent on hooking Joe’s system up, was their beneficial pricing. Because technically, Joe should be forced to honor that deal. But Donna doesn’t know, so now Joe is back to having all the control. And when Joe has all the control, he becomes old Joe… and no one likes old Joe.
Cameron loses her temper and Donna tries to talk her down and negotiate (great scene). So Donna takes over the negotiations, and lays it out matter-of-factly that she is going to offer $3.50, Joe will offer $4.50, and they’ll agree to $4. Instead of taking that offer, Joe gets the idea (we literally see him get a lightbulb moment), and tells her the pricing is “non-negotiable.” Joe, you truly are an asshole.
Donna, like we’ve never seen her before, loses it and for a few seconds starts to cry. Cameron and Joe both look amazed that that could even happen to Donna and for a few moments Joe looks like he’s feeling really, really bad. Then, Donna jumps up, starts knocking stuff over, and yelling at Joe. Words are exchanged and Joe walks away with Donna telling Cameron that this is all part of negotiating. Well, maybe. Joe seems to think he’s a cable company negotiating with a difficult network, and takes Mutiny offline without warning. And Cameron is furious with Donna, yelling,“Can you have your day on the rag some other time?” WTF Cameron!
Cameron tends to have a problem working with other women, and throwing “female” issues at them as if they should feel guilty for being women. She’s done it when talking about Donna about her kids, and did it again this week. And surprise, surprise, Bos is the one to stand up to Cameron. And he nailed her with a little truth bomb… most of the time, Cameron acts exactly the way Donna acted and lets Donna clean up her mess. Bos, I loved you this week…
This was probably the one time they should have let Bos deal with negotiating (isn’t that kind of his job right now at Mutiny). Especially, because he knows how underhanded Joe can be.
Instead, Donna, needing to prove herself, goes to Joe and tries negotiating, first by apologizing and then by laying Mutiny’s financial needs on the table. Joe, even more Joe like than before, tells her he will give her $3.50 pricing, if they make “a few changes,” adding information tickers about things like weather and stocks, mail messaging in Mutiny, and make Mutiny available on another computer system… which would require a lot of coding time that Mutiny can’t afford to spend when offline.
Donna returns with the offers, and Tom suggests creating a mock system and pre-programming games to play offline, with a recording of dial in. Tom, smarter about computer programming than Tom apparently believes, figures it out, breaks everything and walks out in a huff.
But, turns out, he wasn’t mad. He was impressed. Mutiny could do all three, but only two in the time period given. The third, making it available on the new system, they mocked up, but while doing this, stubbled upon broadband. Which as we all know, will be the wave of the future. Joe knows this, and knows that kind of knowledge and ingenuity is most profitable when under corporate control (so he can claim their intellectual property)… like Gordon and Joe were at Cardiff. So Joe tells Mr. Wheeler that they shouldn’t just be renters who can pay or not pay. Mutiny is a company worth acquiring (dum, dum, dum!).
While all this is going on, Gordon is off in California getting into trouble. He goes with the girls to see his brother and tells him about the brain damage. His brother however has his own problems, and fears that the family business is going down the drain. That might be because his brother has a serious drinking problem.
Gordon meets up with his (and his brother’s) high school girlfriend and has a pot fueled one night stand, which his brother figures out pretty darn fast. The two brothers are yelling and screaming, and Gordon has clearly rattled his daughter by being away all day and night. So he calls Donna to help put them back to bed and sing them their bedtime song. Donna wasn’t planning to answer the phone because she’s just gotten home, having decided to have an abortion.
- Tonight’s episode, while not as plot heavy as some, was pretty emotionally draining.
- I really like Donna and Cameron’s meeting before Donna’s breakdown, when they were trying to work together and negotiate as a team. Unfortunately, that did not last long.
- The fact that Cameron took Donna (and Donna felt comfortable asking her) to the abortion clinic was touching.
- We finally got a Joe and Tom conversation… and it was as awkward as I hoped. Tom quizzing him on “how’s your security” was just so wonderful.
- Kerry Bishe’s song for her daughter (and answering the phone when Gordon called in a panic) was pretty special… and why I like focusing on Donna and Gordon’s family as much as I do. They really seem to try to repair the damage they cause.
- My lack of stray thoughts on the episode are just because this was a really tight episode (and felt a little more like the first season in tone than the second has). But I think this was an excellent episode and good start to the second half.
- Line of the week: “Well, this is Mutiny.” The perfect way to bring Joe into the house for the first time.
Lesley Coffin is a New York transplant from the midwest. She is the New York-based writer/podcast editor for Filmoria and film contributor at The Interrobang. When not doing that, she’s writing books on classic Hollywood, including Lew Ayres: Hollywood’s Conscientious Objector and her new book Hitchcock’s Stars: Alfred Hitchcock and the Hollywood Studio System.