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Halt and Catch Fire Recap: “Kali”

She’s Lost Control


Screw with Cameron’s heart and she’ll hate you forever. But mess with her company, and she’ll destroy. And seeing Cameron take down Joe and his father-in-law with one brilliant moment of hacking, and POW…it was pretty satisfying wasn’t it? Not that this episode was one big catharsis for a pretty great season. I suspect they are holding some of those moments back for next week’s finale. But they sure are building up to something…at lease it feels that way.

Still reeling from the West.Net’s invasion, Donna and Cameron try to cope with the pending flood by going shooting. Donna wants to use their reserve to find a new server, but can only do that if they withhold a payroll from their employees. Cameron has already done that when they were in trouble earlier this season and thinks one more time will send ripples through the company (probably causing more than a few to flee). Instead she proposes selling their only remaining asset…a game. The first shooter, Extract and Defend, she created with Tom.

I have to be honest that I’m not sure how the designers of Mutiny’s games get credit. Because they work for Mutiny, does Mutiny own everything, or do they have some ownership of the games they create? I’m not sure, but with Cameron planning to sell the game, I wonder if Tom will benefit at all as the co-designer. Tom certainly seems annoyed by the decision, and even more frustrated by Cameron when she sends him to get breakfast instead of talking. And I honestly don’t know if it’s an issue about being disrespected in the work place or feeling shut out of their relationship.

While Cameron is taking a shower, a power suited Donna meets with Jesse (I HATE THIS GUY SO MUCH!) and I’m assuming lies that they were given legal advice. I suspect they don’t have a lawyer on retainer. Jesse talks a lot of garbage about what they did and why it’s legal, and Donna holds her own, but clearly has trouble defending their act on a legal basis, when the act is necessarily illegal (or clear cut case of copyright or patent infringement). I do wish that Donna would have stayed and defended Mutiny during the launch…especially to witness West.Net go down. And even if they don’t have a lawyer now, I totally believed Donna when she said “I’ll see you in court.”

Joe isn’t a priority to Cameron yet (or so she says), but Donna does come away from that meeting thinking Joe isn’t involved. But no matter how hard he tries, Joe keeps getting pulled back into Westing Group like Michael in The Godfather. Even with plans to move with Sarah, and her plans to literally write a book about him, in comes Jacob Wheeler to mess up everything. He talks a good game about second chances, but Joe seems only angry for the way Mutiny got screwed. I have to say, the way Joe seems to be redeeming himself this season is pretty remarkable, especially the way he told off his father-in-law. And based on the evidence, I think he even went to the launch to defend Mutiny and Cameron in front of the press.

Cameron finally gets a bite from a buyer, from a pretty small company…FunTime. A video game company that buys games in a closet, while the big money guys sit in a spacious offices. While Donna and Cameron try selling the game, Bos goes to town selling the big wigs with the old “American Made” promise. And it seems to work. They sell for enough to get a new network and make pay roll, and get to celebrate with a little chair raising of Donna. And Cameron tells Tom “I feel lighter, I feel clear than I have in while.” She wants to break things off because by having a relationship with Tom and “being happy” she got too complacent at work. I have to say, I beg to differ Cameron. You never seemed that complacent.

While she said all this, she’s writing code on the world’s first laptop (monitor on the bed, keyboard in lap). The code is a virus with the new interface of Mutiny. Cameron goes to the launch and finds Joe. She’s all sweet and vulnerable with him, even makes some amends, but she’s planning her attack. Considering what she says to him and writes on the disk “For Joe, Always-C” does she believe anything she just said to him, or is all this revenge for what happened last season? Or is none of this personal at all?

No matter what, curiosity killed the cat, and Joe put the disk from the enemy in the computer just before the launch. Jacob Wheeler calls Joe to the stage to take credit (devilish), and Joe, being the newly principled man he is, gives Cameron the credit she deserves (Sarah looks like she’s about to cry). But only after giving that Steve Jobs speech he’s been dying to give for so long. And then…Cameron takes them down!

Meanwhile this episode, Gordon doesn’t even know what happened yet. But they are still “friends?” and Joe is Gordon’s emergency contact from jail (just like Donna was the first time they met). Gordon is looking terrible this episode and it probably isn’t just the night in jail. He suspects his wife of something (still not sure what he thinks) and wants to find the company that stole his idea for customized computers. But it does seem that Gordon and Joe are actually friends or at least want nothing but good things for each other (“get on that damn plane and put all this behind you”).

Gordon responds to the nagging suspicions about JGL by going right to the address on the ad. He parks and goes looking, but gets lost in the parking garage. After several walks through, he goes through the stairway but takes a massive tumble. He breaks his ankle, and spends hours alone. He finally manages to climb up and the man who saw him wondering the garage earlier that day sees it’s him. On the way to the hospital, he spots his car and stars crying in the back of the ambulance. Understandably concerned, doctors think he has a manic disorder brought on by the stress of brain damage diagnosis, causing the paranoia.

To end this depressing episode, Joe and Sarah seem done, and Tom and Cameron seem done. And I’m depressed about both of these break-ups. I’ll be honest, this not one of my favorite episodes of the season. But if this is on the low end for the season, that just means this has been a pretty good season over all.

Stray Thoughts:

Sorry for the delay…let’s just say computer issues still happen in 2015.

Nice Bos pep talk for Cameron…The Boss Bitch, was a pretty sweet line from a once stuffy corporate man.

The actress Katie Park, the girl working at FunTime who buys the game and knows Tom, is pre-hipster adorable and I would love to see her on the show again.

I assume that JGL stands for Joseph Gordon Levitt and the actor is just screwing with Gordon as part of an elaborate HitRecord projects.

That Cameron-Bos break up was hilariously touching, especially when Bos says he’s too old to eat three meals a day out of a toaster, and she responds “its fun.” No Cameron, that does not sound fun. And then Bos calls her Catherine and I just about cried.

Few moments on this show are better than Joe telling off Mr. Wheeler with his “we’re not friends, we’re family” speech. Pretty great Joe moment…one of the best. And as terrible as Jacob Wheeler seems, he seemed genuinely shook up by the idea of Joe cutting off a real connection between future grandchildren and Sarah.

Love the choice of music for Cameron’s revenge plot. They don’t use music that way often, but they make good choices when they do.

There was something about Sarah and Joe’s fight that I just didn’t believe. With that said, it was an emotional scene to watch.

Gordon seems to be filmed more and more in a style more reminiscent of last season, which is a choice I like. Although, it is strange that Gordon has been so separate from what is going on with the rest of the cast this entire season.

Yeah, Tom…Cameron is a lot more like Joe than she thinks. Seems like this season’s entire evolution of her character. And I’ll miss Mark O’Brien on the show if he really is gone. He provided a nice balance.

Line of the week:

Sarah calling Joe “an accident, something that happens to people who deserve better” might be the cruelest line ever spoken on this show. She made Joe MacMillan CRY!

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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