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Halt and Catch Fire Recap: “The Way In”

Mutiny down.


And… Mutiny got hacked. Now that wasn’t a surprise was it? They’ve essentially been on the verge since episode one of season two. And in episode two, Tom proved it could be done. But what we weren’t expecting was to see Gordon do it. But in the first scene of this episode, we see that he just can’t help himself. And the result is an imploding Mutiny… and Cameron and Donna’s already fragile relationship.

So, let’s get started with Gordon in his garage, causing trouble. Donna is preoccupied with work, but is still at home enough to know that Gordon has been doing some coding on Mutiny’s behalf to try to figure out how many active users they actually have… not just paying customers. I’ll be honest… I’m really confused about what Gordon’s new program is supposed to do (and actually did) except essentially create an accidental virus. But Donna isn’t putting her foot down to butt out of her work… and she’ll live to regret it. The two flirt, with a little Superman role playing (I never expected Gordon to think of himself as Clark Kent with the glasses), and then go back to their work… she off to Mutiny, he struggling to open a Jolt cola.

Last episode I was “glad” that the cause of that nose bleed in episode one seemed to be due to his coke habit. But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, and while the combination of Jolt cola and coke seem dangerous, it seems pretty clear that Gordon has a bigger health problem we are going to need to be concerned about. It comes back later in the episode when he can’t grip the wires to take them out of computers and throws the computer off his desk in frustration. We got exactly one episode of Gordon’s computer toy joy we saw in episode two.

Cameron is having a meeting for new pitches, although Donna and Bos are both absent. The pitch for a new game looks appropriately 80s weird. A game called Jiggles about getting Jell-O out of the refrigerator seems odd (and a little sexual), but I had the Atari game Bouncing Babies as a kid, and that isn’t any less realistic (actually, I could see Halt and Catch Fire putting some of these games up on iTunes for promotion). Tom is clearly not fitting into Mutiny, a little to put together and dry for the group, and tells it like it is without bowing down to Cameron’s genius. He wants technology to lead the way, Cameron wants story. Which is why she hands out the latest chapter of her game, Parallax.

Bos got his fancy car back, thanks to the loyalty of Cardiff who saved it from the law and his wife. Bos is clearly grateful, and spends the rest of the episode trying to reconnect with his family. It’s interesting that Cardiff felt such loyalty to Bos, and such animosity towards Joe, who is now stuck in the basement of Jacob Wheeler’s company doing data entry. And his frustration when he tells his boss about a better way to do this is so identifiable. When Joe is told not to concern himself with being productive with “shovel the sand, don’t count it” my empathy completely shifted to Joe. Seeing changes which can be made to make everyone’s work easier is one of the most frustrating things to observe… and why computer technology changed the way we work and live.

Joe calls his girlfriend Sarah to vent, and we find out they moved to a cheaper apartment and decide to have a dinner party so Sarah can meet Joe’s “friends” Gordon and Donna. Joe’s annoying boss is upset that he is making “personal calls” so old Joe responds by making an appointment to meet with Jacob Wheeler… right in front of his boss. Even though nepotism isn’t good, and Joe is taking full advantage, Joe’s Office Space style frustration is so understandable. I like that he took the step.

Donna is in heaven because her forum turned out to be a hit. I wish it wouldn’t have been such an abrupt switch from failure to hit, but I’m glad to see that it happened. And it’s even better that Cameron can appreciate the value in creating that kind of community (which is why the turn in the episode is so hard to watch). Then Joe has an upturn, when Mr. Wheeler (I’m loving James Cromwell on this show) listens to Joe’s pitch that they combine data entry and data processing… and gives him the job to run that department. He’s “proud” that he stuck with the job. I like Joe with Wheeler and hope there is some sincere changes for his character and he isn’t just scheming. I do think Joe sincerely wants to make amends with Gordon and Donna, although neither can believe they’ve been invited to his house. They are even rerunning his message on the old-school answering machine.

Cameron is having another meeting to discuss Parallax and everyone seems to be in LOVE with her latest chapter… except for Tom. Tom thinks its derivative and that she’s borrowing from other parts of the game. And Cameron IS MAD. Sometimes Cameron seems like someone who is a little too full of herself to take constructive criticism…and now we know that. She’s filled her company with yes men, and that is a problem. She can’t take Tom’s criticism (or Donna’s) and Bos is nowhere to be found either. Bos is still enjoying his car, and goes for a roll in the hay with his wife…who doesn’t want him back.

Gordon launches his new code before going out for the evening (good timing dude) with Donna to have dinner with Joe. Dressed to the nines, Joe and Sarah are pretty casual for their intimate dinner party. After how badly Donna was treated by Joe and Cameron, seeing her and Gordon be the same to Sarah is unsettling. And it doesn’t help that Joe is trying to be the big shot. But I was happy to see soft-spoken Sarah has a pretty strong backbone and tells him to cut it out and be honest about their living condition. She even puts Gordon in his place when it comes to talking about her career like its something to be ashamed of. And much to Joe’s credit, he admits to being cut out of Cardiff… and Gordon sincerely seems upset to hear this. Based on Donna’s comments in the car, she doesn’t see as much change from Joe, and thinks Sarah is being used for her money.

While Gordon is putting the pieces back together with Joe, he’s pulling everything apart for Mutiny. His new code is acting like a virus for all their uses, and they have to pull everything offline. Cameron screams that she needs Donna to help her, and she gets the double disappointment of her not being around… and realizing that Donna and Gordon are in touch with Joe. Tom is a big help, but it’s too little too late, and they have to send out new disks and pay to reimburse users who lost equipment due to the virus. The idea of having to shell out that much money, all the work involved, and losing subscribers, seems to be all too much for Cameron. When Gordon and Donna finally show up to check on them, Cameron and Gordon have it out, putting Donna right in the middle… and guess who she picks. Not Gordon.

Even though she picked Gordon and sent him home (after yelling at Cameron for not appreciating them for paying her bills), Cameron is pissed. She hates that Donna knew that Gordon was up to something and didn’t stop it. Hates that she’s been paying bills out-of-pocket. And most of all, she hates that she and Gordon are still “friends with Joe.” Cameron makes a good point that because this is also her house, if something goes wrong, she has to deal with it in the now. She can never check out, and that kind of pressure is getting to her, which also led to a nice scene with Tom helping her during a panic attack.

While Cameron is having a meltdown, and Donna and Gordon are on the outs, Joe seems newly inspired by Joseph Wheeler’s offer to take over data (especially when seeing the room of computers which aren’t being put to good use). And Bos actually makes amends at his son’s rehearsal dinner. Disinvited to the dinner, his son invites him to the wedding anyway. Bos turns the offer down, but gives his son the speech he would have read (one of the nicest scenes in the history of the show), and then gives his son the one thing he owned and cherished from his pre-prison life… the car. His only asset gone, he finally gets some sleep on the way home.

Stray Thoughts:

  • What is going on with Gordon’s health?
  • Is it just me, or are Cameron and Donna fights more stressful than Gordon and Joe fights?
  • I don’t know what Joe is planning to do with those computers, but it is probably going to be questionable.
  • Bravo Mackenzie Davis for this episode… she was amazing this week.
  • Do you think insurance will pay for those new disks and reimbursements? Do you think Mutiny even has insurance?
  • Line of the episode: “Shovel the sand, don’t count it.” I know I already mentioned it, but it was just so frustrating to hear. Doesn’t it sound like something Gary Cole in Office Space would have said in a memo? I had to mention it again.

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.

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