WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
The mood had brightened considerably at Cardiff Electric at the onset of episode four of “Halt And Catch Fire.” Cameron was nearly done with the BIOS for the new personal computer the company is designing and excitement surged through the software engineers, at the speed they had attained in testing the computer’s response time. Senior Product Manager Joe MacMillan gathered the company’s employees together and announced the good news and told the staff that a reporter from Wall Street Quarterly would be arriving soon to do research on Cardiff Electric for an upcoming story.
The only person not pleased was Sales Manager John Bosworth, concerned about all the money the company was paying out without any revenue coming in. MacMillan sarcastically told his boss that Bosworth lacked vision so of course he failed to understand Joe’s tactics. Bosworth had to take a phone call from the company’s owner, leaving MacMillan with the last word in the discussion.
Joe pulled aside his secretary and asked her if she could talk Cameron into leaving the office for a while, so he could have the cleaning crew come in and clean up her work space, before the reporter arrived. He suggested that his secretary take Cameron to the secretary’s home and possibly talk Cameron in to taking a shower and shampooing her hair. Although she was less than enthused with Joe’s plan she agreed to help him.
We switch to the home of Gordon Clark who is heading out the door to get to the office, as his wife Donna (Kerry Biche) who reminds her husband he has to pick-up his daughters at school that afternoon. Donna is working on an important project at her employer Texas Instruments and needs to complete it that afternoon. After exhausting all other options, he agrees to pick up the girls at 2:15 pm. Heading to his car he’s confronted by his neighbor and former employee Brian, whom Clark fired in the previous episode. Brian glares at Gordon from his front lawn wearing an untied bathrobe, over a t-shirt and boxers. He remains silent until Clark starts to back out of his driveway, at which point he sarcastically yells out to his former boss to have a great day.
The next scene takes place at the owner of Cardiff Electric’s ranch, as Nathan and Bosworth talk business as they watch some of Nathan’s ranch-hands determining whether one of his horses broke a leg. The company’s owner asks his Sales Manager who is running things over at Cardiff, Bosworth or MacMillan. John responds that he is in charge, but Nathan counters with rumors he’s heard, state that things are the opposite. He tells Bosworth that he has to impress on MacMillan that John is in charge and that’s the way things are going to remain.
The reporter from Wall Street Quarterly is being given the tour of Cardiff by Joe, when he interrupts him in mid-sentence. He tells MacMillan he’s bored and that he can’t envision himself writing a story on the company. MacMillan tries to convince the reporter that the company has an underdog quality that will appeal to readers and asks him to talk to some of the engineers. He agrees to stay for 15-minutes, but then he’s out the door.
Cameron returns to her basement work-station ready to finish the BIOS when she realizes her greatest nightmare has become a reality. When she attempts to log in to the computer she discovers her work is gone, she soon realizes the cleaning crew plugged their vacuum cleaner into her power strip, causing a power surge that wiped out her work. She contacts Gordon and he and some other engineers, plus Joe and the reporter head to her work-station.
Tempers flare as the engineers realize that the BIOS is gone and the floppy-discs Cameron backed her work on are blank. Cameron tries to go after the janitor, then Clark tries going after her when he realizes her speakers were too close to her back-up, which may have damaged the discs. Cameron allows the moment to get the best of her and she heads to the roof of the building, where she promptly has an anxiety attack.
The Wall Street reporter starts cackling like a hen, as the loss of the BIOS will make a tremendous story in his mind. He tells MacMillan that he will portray Cardiff Electric as a company that tried to fly to high only to have their wings destroyed by the sun. Joe tells the reporter to leave, who responds that if he leaves right then he will write a hatchet-job on the company. However if he stays and they correct the problem, it would possibly be a complimentary article.
With all the commotion at Cardiff, Gordon totally forgets he has to pick up his daughters and when he is late the school calls Donna, who in turn calls her husband. He arrives at the school-yard to find Donna, his girls and an employee of the school waiting for him. She begins to berate her husband, who responds that perhaps his priorities are greater than hers. He then asks Donna if she will come with him back to Cardiff to see if she can help recover the BIOS.
The family arrive at Cardiff only to run into Joe, who proceeds to ask Gordon why they are all in the office. Gordon replies that if they have any hopes to recover the Bios, they need to have Donna in the mix. Joe finally agrees, but tells the couple for Donna to use a fake name and tell the reporter she is a Cardiff employee.
Donna comes up with a way to recover the data, it will be tedious and painstakingly slow, but it should work. She then confronts Cameron and tries to see if the other engineer can be of any help. Cameron gets defensive and starts insulting Donna, who in turn tells the younger engineer that she feels sorry that she is such a miserable person and that Donna will save her behind.
A little while later, the girls start getting antsy and tell Donna they are hungry. She reaches into her purse and tells the girls she has nuts and raisins with her, which her daughters are not excited about. Cameron walks into the work-station at that moment and volunteers to take care of the girls while Donna and Gordon are working. After some initial hesitation, Donna gives Cameron her purse and thanks her.
Cameron and the girls are getting along fabulously, when one of Gordon’s daughters tells her that she’s not trash she’s fun. Cameron’s mood immediately changes and she asks the little girl what she meant. The younger daughter then tells the engineer that her father told her mother Cameron was white-trash, but says he was only joking as both her mom and dad laughed after he said it. Cameron basically tells the girls to beat it, that play time is over. She then realizes she still has Donna’s purse which contain the keys to her car, plus her license which has the family’s address on it.
The reporter walks into Bosworth’s office to see if he can get the Sales Manager to comment on the record. Bosworth proceeds to insult the writer and tells him to leave his office before he ends up with a face-full of fist. Just then Gordon bursts in and tells Bosworth it looks like they have recovered most of the BIOS data.
When they arrive downstairs, Donna tells them that she has recovered 93.6 of the BIOS data. When the reporter asks Donna her name, Gordon cuts her off saying her name is Susan Fairchild (actually Donna’s mother’s maiden name.) The reporter and the other engineers start walking and talking, leaving Donna behind with a pretty dissatisfied look on her face.
Cameron arrives at the Clark home intending on doing some damage, because Gordon had referred to her as white-trash. She first picks up a shovel, but then settles on a can of black spray paint and enters the house. As she looks around the house, we can see on her face whether she really wants to go through with her plan, when she sees a large modern art painting on the living-room wall. Just as she decides that might be the perfect canvas for her endeavor, Brian bursts into the house carrying a shotgun. Once he realizes its Cameron, he assumes she was also fired and she is at Gordon’s home for some payback. Brian then encourages she get her vengeance, but we can tell she will leave without doing any damage.
Donna still down in the basement starts looking closely at the floppy-discs and realizes something is amiss. She determines the discs were previously used, as they have older labels under the ones that are visible. She also examines the discs and finds a game on one and part of a presentation on another. She quickly realizes what has happened and makes a bee-line for Joe’s office.
When she arrives she accuses Joe of setting up a false crisis to get the Wall Street Quarterly’s reporter to do a story on Cardiff. MacMillan admits to Donna that she is right on the money and proceeds to pull the real back-up discs out of a desk drawer. He then tells Donna, that if she is as smart as he thinks she is, she will keep the information to herself and not even tell Gordon.
As the Clark family head to the parking lot they run into Cameron and Gordon sarcastically thanks her for taking such good care of his daughters. Donna then walks over to Cameron and tells her she scared the girls and the young engineer apologizes. She then tells Cameron that she recovered most of the BIOS. Cameron thanks her then pretends that she found Donna’s keys on the ground in the lot.
As Joe is driving home he’s stopped by a cruiser. Two policemen step out of the squad car and ask MacMillan for his license and registration. When he attempts to get them, the cops pull him out of his car and then start beating on him with their clubs. The next scene is at the police station where Joe with his face badly bruised chained to a bench. At that moment Bosworth walks into the station and starts making friendly conversation with one of the cops that beat Joe, who then unlocks him from the bench. Joe is well aware that Bosworth set up the incident, but remains silent as they walk out of the building.
Although Donna had come through for her husband, she finds out the next day she is not in good standing at her own company. Her former high-school friend informs her that she is on probation and unless her work improves she’ll face disciplinary action.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“