Warning: Spoiler Alert
We have reached episode seven of the first season of AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” and although the personal computer designed by Cardiff Electric is near reality, the project has caused collateral damage for all involved. The episode opens with Gordon Clark back on that rainy street where he stole the Cabbage Patch Kids for his daughters and he once again approaches the dead body he saw that night. Clark however gets close enough to identify the corpse this time and he realizes the dead man is himself. He wakes up in bed startled to find his wife Donna standing at the foot of their bed and his daughter’s calling out for him. Donna tells him that he was screaming at the top of his lungs, waking the girls and perhaps the neighborhood.
Cardiff Sales Manager John Bosworth is talking with their accountant about the dire financial straits that threatens the company. With the loss of revenue due to the accounts lost to IBM and the money going towards building their computer, the bottom’s about to drop out. Bosworth tells the accountant to keep the information between them, as he leave’s John’s office, Bosworth sees Joe and Cameron laughing together before he closes his door. As he sits back down he opens his desk drawer and we see a divorce declaration, filed by his wife and waiting for his signature. There’s been no mention of Mrs. Bosworth since the series premiere when John told his secretary his wife fixed him pork chops for dinner. Apparently the hours he’s put in destroyed their relationship.
MacMillan and Cameron are eating TV-dinners and drinking wine when Joe grabs a live circuit telling Howe that it was just a few volts and then cranks up the power and says he’s turning himself on. He offers her his hand and she tentatively takes it and feels the electricity surge through her body and the two embrace and make love on the office floor. They are still recovering when Joe’s office phone rings, he heads to the office and expresses surprise at hearing whose on the other end of the line. As he gets involved in the conversation, he shuts his office door closing the conversation for Cameron who looks confused.
Back at the Clark’s home, Donna’s getting ready to leave for her overnight business trip telling Gordon last-minute instructions, but he’s seemingly oblivious as he rehearses a conversation he expects to have at the office. However when Donna, asks him if he understood what she said he repeats back the instructions exactly. He leaves the house still talking to himself as Donna tells him she loves him too.
Joe walks into his office and finds Cameron in his chair reading a trade magazine and then summarizes the stories as Joe walks in. He’s not happy as she drove off with his car while he was on the phone and after he tells Cameron that he realizes there’s someone else in the room. Joe’s old friend industrial designer Simon Church, the man on the other end of the phone has sat on the couch in the office and MacMillan’s totally flustered. He trips all over himself apologizing and welcoming him, Church realizes Joe’s caught off-guard and just plays it off.
The pair sit down in the conference room with Gordon Clark, who freaks out when he sees Simon’s designs. The look is revolutionary but Clark complains that the machines specs would need radical alteration to work in the proposed package. Church and Gordon engage in a battle of words, Simon calling the engineer pedestrian while Clark counters that the designer’s unrealistic. MacMillan tries to restore order by telling Clark that the design is the future and that they are naming their new product Contrail. Gordon becomes unhinged, telling Joe the name’s a terrible idea, that Contrail’s the vapor and dust from a plane’s exhaust. He sarcastically says they should name it Cardiff’s Giant and with that Simon packs up his designs and prepares to leave the building. Joe follows him out to the lobby which Cameron witnesses and she soon hears Church asking MacMillan what’s up with the girl? Joe asks if that’s why the designer is leaving and Simon walks into the elevator silently.
Joe heads to Gordon’s office and blasts him out, then returns to his own office and finds Cameron waiting there. Pulling no punches as usual, she asks MacMillan if he had slept with Church. Joe confessed the two were together in Europe ten-years previously, but Simon left thus ending the relationship. Cameron tells him that she’s not bothered that Joe’s been with men in the past, but we can see that she looks threatened. MacMillan tells Bosworth that his designer dropped out and asked John to reach out to his local connection. Bosworth sets up a meeting for that evening at a strip club with his guy, when Cameron finds out she asks Joe if he’s still going to the opening of a photography show by a friend of Simon’s and Joe tells her he’s not.
Donna and Hunt are at company headquarters of Texas Instruments for a presentation to the company’s executives. Their superiors ask Hunt if the latest fix they are proposing will be the cure-all for the company’s personal computer “The 99,” and Donna speaks up saying that it’s not a permanent solution, the machine’s flawed and they should stop producing it. Hunt grabs the opening and backs up his employee stating that the machine’s not making enough of a profit to deal with the problems and surprisingly the executives agree.
Entering the elevator after the meeting Hunt praises Donna for speaking her opinion and getting the executives to come to the correct conclusion. He suggests they celebrate on the company’s tab at dinner at seven and she agrees. When she arrives back to her room she sees a message from Gordon, whose drunk and has the kitchen sink in pieces trying to fix the leaky faucet. He starts unloading on Donna about his problems with Joe and Simon and she tries to get him to see the situation more optimistically. Gordon at that point slices open his thumb with a screwdriver and starts bleeding profusely and drops the phone. After he wraps a towel around his thumb he picks up the receiver and tells his wife he has to go and instead of putting the receiver in its cradle he throws it on the dish drain.
Clark goes into his daughters’ room and they ask for a bedtime story. Gordon tells them about a farmer in Cardiff, New York in the 1800’s who built a ten foot giant and buried it on his land for ten-years. He then had his men help him dig it up and all of his workers thought the giant was real and that the farmer should show the giant at his farm and charge admission. People from near and far came to see the giant and the farmer was making a tidy sum from the admissions. He then met Circus Impresario P.T. Barnum, who became the farmer’s partner and would change the farmer’s life forever. Barnum broke up the partnership, then built his own giant which he told people was real and soon they flocked to the circus and the farmer was soon forgotten.
Bosworth, MacMillan and the designer named Kenny are sharing drinks at the strip-club and Kenny’s sleaziness soon becomes apparent, through the comments he makes about the girls and trying to jack up his price with Cardiff. He tells the pair he’s aware that he wasn’t their first choice and his feelings were hurt. Joe tries to sweet talk him, but Kenny’s too sharp to fall for the compliments.
On the other side of town Cameron and the girl she met on the street earlier in the season walk into the exhibit, with Cameron rocking the young professional look. She’s asked at the door if she’s invited and tells the attendant she was and drops her friend off to drink free champagne from the bar while she goes to talk to Simon. The two trade banter and Simon tells Howe he can see why Joe likes her, but tells her to inform MacMillan that his second chance idea didn’t work. Cameron tells Church that Joe has no idea she is there.
The designer then asks her if Joe had revealed their past and she confirmed he did, he then asks did Joe tell her Simon left him and she replies that he did. He then reveals the reason he left, because he told MacMillan he loved him and could immediately sense that his statement ended the relationship and left the next morning to avoid embarrassment. He tells Cameron that he believes Joe grew bored with him and warns her the same fate awaits her. Cameron wants to leave but her friend talks her into staying and drinking champagne.
Donna and Hunt are sharing dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and Hunt is praising his employee to the heavens. They suddenly become aware of the live pianist and wish there was a more talented player at the keyboards. He finishes his song and goes to take a break and Hunt convinces Donna to play, which she eventually does and the diners enjoy her playing. A man comes and puts ten dollars in the tip jar and asks her name and she replies Susan Fairchild, her mother’s maiden name and the name she’s quoted by in the Wall Street Quarterly article on Cardiff.
Hunt and Donna are laughing as they enter the elevator and he once again starts complimenting her, he says he likes Susan Fairchild because she’s fun and bold. He then gets off at his floor telling Donna he would see her in the morning. Clark’s caught up in the moment and she toys with the idea of going to Hunt’s room when he knocks on her door. She mistakenly misinterprets his reason for coming and kisses him passionately, saying she’s taken his advice and acting bolder. Hunt is clearly uncomfortable as the reason he came to her room was a fax from Gordon had been accidentally delivered to his room. Donna wants the floor to open and swallow her whole, while Hunt tries to play it off as no big deal although he’s incredibly uncomfortable and wishes her a good rest of the night.
Donna calls the local car rental center and arranges to rent a car so she can head home immediately. Meanwhile Gordon’s attempting to fix his sink when he hears his daughters voices outside even though they were in bed. Clark goes out to find out what’s going on and the girls tell him they’re digging for the giant. He tells them there’s no giant on their property, that the story took place long ago and far away, but then tells them to hold on and he’d show them something.
Negotiations are wrapping up between the trio at the strip bar and they are about to part company, when Kenny decides to say the wrong thing at the worst possible time. He says that MacMillan never smiled at any of the strippers and then asks him if he’s “queer.” Bosworth knocks the designer down with a blow to the jaw and Kenny screams to John he’s pressing charges and Bosworth will get arrested for assault, As Joe and John leave the bar Bosworth asks Joe if there’s still any chance with Simon and Joe replies he’s about to find out.
MacMillan drives to the photo exhibition and confronts Church on what exactly his problem is, Simon responds that Cameron reminds him of Joe at her age and we see her and her friend are still at the bar. Joe replies that she’s light years ahead of where he was at her age and tells his former love that she’s the future and that he and her are now a couple, that Simon and his time had ended ten-years earlier. Cameron now sufficiently drunk and her and an attendant get into an altercation and she falls to the floor, Joe comes over gently lifts her up and escorts her out.
Donna arrives home to find the house in shambles and her daughters asleep on the living-room floor. Panic stricken she wakes one of the girls up and she tells her mother that Gordon’s in the backyard digging. She kisses her daughter good night and heads out to find Clark in a hole likely ten-feet deep. When she asks him what he’s doing he tells her he’s looking for the giant.
A cab pulls up in front of a hotel with Cameron and Joe in the backseat and Simon up front with the driver, as the taxi stops Church exits the vehicle. Joe tells Cameron he’ll walk his friend into the lobby and approaches Simon. He tells Joe he’s very ill and that the design belongs to Cardiff, then kisses Joe on the cheek and they embrace. Cameron witnesses this all, starts to cry and tells the driver to leave, but MacMillan chases down the cab and climbs inside Howe tearfully asks Joe if he’ll get bored with her and he responds he doesn’t know, but puts his arm around her and pulls her body next to his.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“