WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
Storms were brewing throughout the sixth episode of the AMC summer series “Halt And Catch Fire,” on the weather-front and within the ranks of Cardiff Electric as differing visions created emotional conflict. Just as Cardiff had achieved a measure of success regarding their new personal computer, ideas emerged that could put the project back at square one. The battle that resulted from the philosophical division, pitted Cameron Howe and her team of coders against Gordon Clark and his group of engineers with Senior Product Development Manager Joe MacMillan caught in the crossfire.
The episode opened in MacMillan’s apartment as the on-again/off-again friends with benefits relationship with Ms. Howe was back in full force as the couple got down to business. As Cameron started kissing Joe’s chest, she asked him of the true origin of the scars that cover his torso. MacMillan starts telling her a story about a 1964 bright-yellow car that he fell in love with and bought as a teen. As he started to describe a winter auto accident, Howe stops him and asks if he is lying once again.
A sheepish grin crosses his face and he begins again, this time weaving a tale that took place when he was seven, when Cameron cuts him short, accusing him of lying once again. MacMillan asks her why she wants to know so badly, that their outside the office relationship is purely physical and she calls the shots, as to when and where their encounters take place. Although it is obvious to the viewer that she really wants to know the real Joe, Howe berates him for being nothing more than an empty thousand dollar suit and leaves the apartment.
Back at Cardiff, Gordon is at his desk soldering the circuit board when he spies something amiss, after pulling out a magnifying glass he sees a little flower with pink blossoms peeking over its tiny green leaves. He tries to pull the plant out with his fingers, but a force is stopping his hand from reaching it. In reality he nodded off at his desk and when he awakens he gets knocked out of his chair from the force of a shock he received from the board.
The scene shifts to the office of Hunt, Donna Clark’s boss at Texas Instruments and former high-school friend, as he looks through a report she just handed in to him. He tells her that she may have to explain it more simply to him, as it is far over his head. He then tells her that he is going to travel to the company’s headquarters and he would like her by his side, if she would consent on going on a business trip with him. Although slightly flustered Donna immediately agrees to go.
Donna is in bed and asleep when Gordon comes home, three-sheets to the wind and reeking of beer. He attempts to seduce his wife, but she gently tells him she has a tough day ahead of her. She then tells her husband that one of their daughters is so obsessed with getting the hot-new-toy, a Cabbage-Patch Kid that she started crying earlier. Gordon in his drunken haze volunteers to get the doll the next day, a pledge that had evaporated from his mind, by the time he woke up.
MacMillan wakes up, opens his blinds to his spectacular view, then steps into his closet and picks out his suit, tie and shirt and walks out looking sharp as a tack. He drives over to a local car-wash and when the process finishes, the attendant gives Joe a rain-check as a big storm’s supposed to hit the area the following day. As he’s about to enter his car, he notices a billboard behind him advertising a men’s cologne and the male model is wearing an open collar dress shirt. Inspired by the image, MacMillan takes off his jacket and tie and heads into the office in that fashion.
Cameron has new digs, as we find her living with one of her coders Yo-Yo and his roommate a local musician. Yo-Yo hands her a floppy-disc and tells her he created a new program based on the game Adventure as a gift for her which gets him a huge smile from his boss. He then offers her a ride to work.
Cardiff Electric is about to celebrate a momentous event as all the employees have gathered to see the bare-bones proto-type of their new personal computer come to life. After quoting Henry Ford and thanking the engineers and the coders, Joe’s ready to flip the switch on their new baby, when a voice from the crowd suggests Sales Manager John Bosworth get the honor. After most of the room chants for Bosworth, MacMillan says it’s a great idea and invites him up to turn on the computer. With a crude Good Ol’ Boy toast, Bosworth flips the switch and the screen reads “Hello World.”
As the employees share hugs and congratulations, MacMillan walks over to Clark and strongly shakes his hand while looking him in the eye and a smile beaming from his face. The pair exchange apologies and then Gordon invites Joe to his house for dinner the next evening and MacMillan immediately accepts. As they part, he walks over to Cameron and asks her the status of the peripheral drives that her crew is working on. Howe’s offended by the tone of voice that MacMillan uses and she walks away without providing an answer.
Back in her office trying to write code for the drives, she gets frustrated and pulls out the disc Yo-Yo had given her and inserts into her computer. She’s immediately transfixed as the program asks her if she is Cameron Howe and then asks her a series of questions to which she types in answers and the program responds. The look of happiness on her face is child-like as she starts to envision adding this feature to the BIOS she wrote.
She runs to the “Kill Room,” finding Gordon and most of the engineers and excitedly tells him about her idea, telling him that she needs 384K of RAM to accomplish her goal. Gordon literally laughs her off, dismissing the notion and telling her he can’t allocate her that amount of memory. Clark tells her they have already designed the perfect machine, but Howe vehemently disagrees and calls him a coward.
She heads to MacMillan’s office telling him she wants to give their machine a soul and although he’s intrigued with her thought-process, tells her that it might be more appropriate as their second model of the computer. Cameron then leaves in a huff and Joe heads to the break area and encounters Gordon, who immediately asks if Joe has heard about Howe’s new vision. Although we just saw MacMillan telling Cameron he’s against the idea, he tells Clark that he’s giving it serious consideration. Gordon explodes, saying that he accomplished the impossible for Joe and he won’t change a thing. MacMillan replies that Clark will do what ever he’s told, as that’s the nature of their relationship.
Gordon arrives home feeling like a beaten man and tells Donna what happened that day and that he had also invited MacMillan to dinner for the next night, before the conflict arose. Donna tells her husband that he’s created a perfect machine and to stand his ground against Joe, not allowing him to ruin his project. She agrees to have him for dinner in an effort to bolster Gordon’s cause. Donna then asks about the Cabbage-Patch Kids and he lies to her telling her it’s in his office so their daughter won’t find it. Although she remains silent, Donna realizes Clark forgot all about his promise.
The storm that the car-wash attendant had predicted was raging the next morning. Clark pushed aside all his work assignments and devoted the day to track down a Cabbage-Patch kid. He drives to a local toy store, and sees a hand-written note on the door stating they were out of the dolls and starts to head back to his car, when a guy in the parking lot carrying a wrapped package, asks him if he was in search of the hard to find toy. Gordon joyously tells him that he is and he gives the guy the eighty-dollars that he told Clark he paid for it. As soon as he gets the money, he runs to car and peels out of the parking lot, causing Gordon to finally realize he’s been duped.
Back at Cardiff he and Joe’s secretary call every toy-store in the vicinity to get that elusive toy. After a series of frustrated attempts, Gordon finds a store that tells him they have the Cabbage-Patch Kid and he tells the person on the other end of the phone to hold the doll and he will head over. What he fails to realize is that the storm is turning rather ugly and not a great time to drive.
Cameron is about to head home when Bosworth comes into her office and asks her and then tells her they are going to have a drink in his office. We rejoin the pair a couple of drinks in, when the alcohol has broken down the barriers each usually hide behind. John displays a tenderness and warmth that he previously kept hidden and Howe opens up to him, about her childhood and how she came to fall in love with writing code. Bosworth tells her that there are many at Cardiff Electric who would be overjoyed to see her fail, as she represents the future and that scares them.
Joe arrives at the Clark’s house long with a fancy bottle of wine and Donna tells him that Gordon hasn’t gotten home yet, because he probably is searching for a Cabbage-Patch Kid. After she introduces her daughters to Joe, the girls are smitten and one of them grabs his calf and sits down on the floor, well not exactly on the floor; on one of MacMillan’s shoes. He tells the child that the shoe she is sitting on comes from Italy, who asks where that country’s located. We can see that Joe is doing his best to tolerate the two children.
Gordon is battling the elements as he drives in search of the doll his daughter longs for and we hear the radio in the car talking about a hurricane. He finally reaches the store and finds it’s closed, but there’s a display in the window with two Cabbage-Patch Kids. In the next few seconds my thought process jumped from Gordon wouldn’t do that to realizing that Clark would smash the window and grab the two dolls. Just after he takes them he hears a sound nearby and runs to find out the source and sees a dead-body on the side of the road next to a sparking electrical wire. He runs back to his car drenched to the bone and puts the dolls in his vehicle and heads for home.
MacMillan is still being fussed over by the Clark girls, when he asks them if they would like to build a fort and when then say yes, tells them to get some blankets. The girls rush back with the blankets and Joe turns around some chairs, drapes the blanket over them and tells the girls to enter the fort with him, which he exits as soon as they get in. The two adults exchange anecdotes about storms from their childhood and Joe mentions that his mother used to take him up to the roof of their Victorian home to watch storms. Donna and he start to talk about the Cardiff computer and wages a pretty compelling argument to leave the machine as is.
The storm gets more intense and the two girls get scared and run over to hold their mother. Joe tells them they have no worries as they have two hurricane zappers at the ready and gives each girl a flashlight. He tells them that the beam zaps away the storms and in a little storm like the one they were experiencing, it could stop the storms by beaming the light at the ceiling. Their new weapons occupy them for a while but return when the storm’s harshness increased and ask MacMillan if they need to use the zappers, which they have named outside. Joe realizes that the girls have become attached to their new “friends” and agrees to their request and puts on a performance worthy of a Super-Hero. The storm does decrease in strength and the girls think MacMillan is a life-saver.
Gordon arrives home minutes later and Donna expresses her concern about his safety. Joe then tells the family, that it’s time for him to leave, but Clark tells MacMillan that he really wants to talk to him, but he replies to get settled in with his family and they will talk the next day.
He then drives over to Cameron’s and she answers the door. He asks her if she’s alright and did he have someone to protect her from the storm because he didn’t. She lets him in and he asks to see her work, she turns on the program and it asks him what’s his name. When he types in Joe, it then asks him what he would like to do, causing him to feel the same emotions that Cameron had when she encountered Yo-Yo’s game. He then tells her that he got his scars as a boy, as his mother used to take him to the roof of their Victorian home to look at the stars. He said his mother was unstable and had experimented with drugs and one night she let go of his hand and he fell onto a fence and spent most of the next two years in hospitals. Cameron believes him and starts kissing him believing they’ve reached a breakthrough in their relationship. However, after talking about the roof with Donna, was this just one more concocted tale?
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“