Halt And Catch Fire: Nightmare On Nerd Street

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

There are no truly good or bad characters so far in the second season of the AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” although all of them are capable of having selfless, as well as destructive moments. In the episode entitled “The Way In,” we saw a lot of those destructive moments while still leaving time for some selfless acts. Much like the nation in 1985, our characters are in a state of flux as they attempt to find a foothold where life’s deposited them.

We start out in the home of Gordon and Donna Clark, as Gordon’s sitting at his computer trying to perfect a mapping program he’s developing for Mutiny. Donna takes the headphones off her husband’s head and tells him it’s time for him to take their daughters to school. He tells her he’s close to completing the program and she says he’s been obsessed with it for the last two weeks. He tells her he’s named the program Sinorous.

Tom Rendon shows up for his first day at Mutiny on a bicycle, explaining to Cameron he doesn’t have a car. She asks if he has a horn, he replies he left it at home along with his rubber nose, leaving the viewer to realize this will lead to another rocky relationship for Howe.

John Bosworth pays a visit to former Cardiff Electric executive Barry Shields, who stored Bosworth’s vintage Mustang while he was in prison. John says his ex-wife got the house, the government got all the rest but he still has his ride thanks to Shields. Barry says that Bosworth more than earned the favor, putting food on his family’s table for 20-years. He shouts in glee when Bosworth climbs into the car and starts up the engine.

Joe MacMillan’s beyond miserable working in the data entry department of Jacob Wheeler’s oil-company, he suggests to his supervisor Eugene Bowdich a way to minimize reoccurring errors. Bowdich tells him that data control takes care of that situation, then suggests that MacMillan develop a hobby, Bowdich says his hobby’s collecting Tito Fuentes records. Joe asks his supervisor if he’d like some coffee, then leaves the office and sits down on the floor of a hallway.

Lev is giving a presentation for a new game he’s designed to the Coder-Monkeys, his concept’s that a pair of hands grab a dish of Jell-O from a refrigerator shelf and if you grab the plate you win the game. Yo-Yo and Bodie think that the game would be tons more fun, that if the Jell-O was rancid and the object was to poison the family to death. Cameron quickly puts a stop to the sniping, then asks Rendon if he has any avenues to explore, he mentions something and Howe asks if his idea has a story and Tom asks if it has to? The conversation’s further proof that these folks aren’t on the same page.

Cameron then hands out floppy-disks to everyone that contain copies of chapter 22 of Parallax, their most successful game. She tells them to look it over during the next few hours and then they’ll meet back later and discuss everyone’s opinions.

Bosworth’s driving his car with Johnny Cash blaring on the stereo as he sings along. We see him pull into the parking lot of the El Royale Hotel, an attractive blonde tells him he’s late and John asks if he’s making her late for her other boyfriends? The woman smiles and says let them wait, as they enter the room.

Sarah Wheeler’s going through a bout of writer’s block, when Joe calls and complains how rudimentary their systems are in his department. He suggests they invite Gordon and Donna Clark over for dinner, she replies she thought those people made them uncomfortable. Just then Bowdich belly’s up to Joe’s desk and MacMillan says he needs to go and hangs up. Bowdich asks if that was a personal call, Joe remains silent and picks up the phone again and asks to speak with Jacob Wheeler. He tells the person on the other end that an appointment at 4:00 pm would be a perfect time for him. Bowdich’s face loses all color as Joe hangs up the phone.

We head back to the El Royale and we find out that the attractive blonde that Bosworth had some afternoon delight is his ex-wife Ginny. She’s still a flight-attendant, apparently the same job she had when she first met him, calling him the man in 25-B. She then tells him that she just got a new long overseas route with a layover in Tokyo. That could put a crimp in plans for future meetings, but he says he’ll just come by the house.

She says she doesn’t think that’s a good idea and he says he’ll see her this weekend. She responds she hopes he’s joking. He asks her if their encounter was just a bribe to keep him from coming to Galveston and she asks him to promise he won’t go down there. He stays silent but sort of nods his head.

Joe waits for Wheeler to finish his phone conversation, then Jacob says let me have it. MacMillan suggests that the company combine data collection and analytics into one department. The move will curtail the leaking of data, decrease risks and increase profits. Wheeler says enough and MacMillan smiles and says he isn’t finished, Jacob says that he is and for Joe to go ahead and do it. He then asks whose in charge down there and Joe tells him Eugene Bowdich and Wheeler says to fire him and gut the entire staff. He says things will work better if MacMillan hires his own team.

Joe’s thrown for a loop by Wheeler’s reaction, then says he’ll need a few days to get his act together and Wheeler says take as long as he needs. As Joe turns to leave, Jacob says that if you’re on a packed train it’s okay not to take an empty seat, your stop might be next, or you could be a Good Samaritan. But some think they don’t deserve it, implying that he has confidence in his daughter’s fiancée.

Gordon and Donna are flabbergasted to find a message on their answering machine, from Joe inviting them over to dinner with he and his fiancée Thursday night. At first their conversation centers on what this fiancée must look and be like, Donna imagines a blonde fashion-model type, a woman who’s haughty. Gordon thinks she’s more submissive, after Joe’s experience with Cameron. However to Donna’s surprise Gordon wants to go to the dinner.

Back at Mutiny Headquarters Cameron’s asking the Coder-Monkeys their thoughts on the new edition of Parallax and the room stays kind of quiet. Bodie then says he likes the female vampires with the fish-bodies, Cameron then asks Tom what’s his opinion and he says they should talk privately later. However Howe forces him to voice his thoughts and he tells her he hates the game.

He then goes on to say that Cameron’s taken the story from one chapter and the graphics from another and then threw them in a blender. He then mentions a character that he wanted to grab by the pubic-hair and have the character transport him to another game. Howe then goes into her room and starts pacing and thinking over what he said, likely agreeing with everything Rendon told her.

Gordon says to Donna that they should beg off of the dinner, but she won’t hear of it telling her husband he should have declined the invitation when they received it. She goes off to get ready and he starts quoting Marlon Brando as Jor-El in Superman, saying that earthlings are good but need guidance. He then sends Sinorous over to Mutiny.

Gordon and Donna are dressed up like they’re heading to a fancy restaurant, while Joe and Sarah are sporting chinos and t-shirts, which makes for an even more uncomfortable start to the evening. Donna says that the place is cozy and Joe says they have a bigger property out in Austin, acting ashamed of their tiny apartment.

Bosworth sits in his Mustang and watches Ginny holding-court, outside of the restaurant they’re holding the rehearsal dinner for his son James’ wedding the following day. John doesn’t leave his car parked across the street from the restaurant, but he’s still far too close for her liking.

Back at Joe and Sarah’s apartment, Gordon tells MacMillan’s fiancée to make sure that Joe doesn’t hold out on her, with the windfall he got from the sale of Cardiff Electric. Joe then tells Gordon and Donna that he didn’t receive a penny from the sale, that Nathan Cardiff ripped up his check in front of him.

Yo-Yo summons Cameron from her room and tells her that Mutiny’s being affected by this rogue program, that’s not only infecting the network and their subscribers, but it’s erasing the games. Rendon says they have to shut the network down, but Cameron tries to get Donna on the phone. She gets the number where Gordon and Donna are at from the babysitter, then gets totally shocked when she hears Joe say hello on the other end. She remains silent and he hangs up the phone. She tells the Coder-Monkeys to shut down the network.

Bosworth’s son James climbs into the passenger seat of the Mustang and says that everybody knows he’s there. He then asks his father can’t he pick up a phone and John says he wanted to say this in person. He then puts on his glasses and reads a toast he had prepared to read at the rehearsal dinner. He says he wishes he could have been around more often in his son’s life and wishes he was a better father, but he’s extremely proud of his son.

James asks if he can take the speech to show it to his fiancée Lisa and Bosworth hands him the note. He then asks his father to come to his wedding the following day and Bosworth says that Ginny would implode. James says that he and Lisa want him there and John says some other time, then shakes his son’s hand.

Joe and Gordon are on the patio, drinking the bottle of wine that the Clarks brought with them. Clark says that Joe should have told him Nathan stiffed him, he’d have spoken up for him. Joe smiles and says he works in a basement and lives in an apartment, that’s smaller than the bathroom of his place when he worked for Cardiff. But he wouldn’t trade his life with Sarah for the check, he says she’s really special.

Donna comes out and says that Mutiny’s tried to get hold of her all night and their phones are now tied up, she says they have to leave. Gordon says it was really good to see Joe again and he’s sorry the evening had to end so soon. They leave the apartment and Joe looks lonely and very sad.

Donna starts ripping them as soon as she gets in the car, while Gordon says he was impressed with Sarah and she makes Joe happy, which in itself is a minor miracle. Donna says that MacMillan has her snowed, just like he snowed everybody at Cardiff.

Tom and Cameron are trying to assess the damage of the situation when the Clark’s car pulls up, Howe and Tom come outside and greet the couple as they’re getting out of the car. Cameron makes some snide remark about their dinner and then they get informed that some rogue program called Sinorous destroyed the network. The tension increases ten-fold, when it’s revealed that Gordon wrote and sent the program, Howe starts to go after Gordon but Yo-Yo restrains her.

Gordon tells her to calm down he’ll buy them new servers, but Rendon says the problems not server related the program destroyed games and original programs. Howe laughs that Clark scorns anything original, that he’s a sell-out. Gordon responds that if it wasn’t for Donna that Mutiny would be history, she’s paying the bills and keeping the company afloat. Donna tells Gordon to go home.

Later Donna tells Cameron that they’ve got two servers operating, Howe then says that while Donna works for Mutiny, Cameron lives there so she needs to take care of things 24-7. She then tells Donna to go home to her husband and if she pays a bill behind Howe’s back again she’s fired.

James is inside the restaurant talking with Lisa, when the valet hands him a set of keys and says your car sir. Lisa says that’s not your car, it’s Bosworth’s Mustang that he gives the couple as a wedding present. John takes a Trailways bus back to Dallas.

The following morning, Donna takes a cab back home and crawls into bed. Gordon apologizes for sending the program without telling her, she blames herself for not stopping him. He asks how bad is the damage and she gives him a look, that tells him to shut his mouth. She then grabs her spread-sheets and clutches them to her chest as she gets into bed.

Cameron goes into a full-blown panic attack just before Tom enters her room, she tells him to give her a second, then starts gasping for breath. He tells her to breathe, then sits her down and tells her to either nod or shake her head, he asks if he should call a doctor, or if she’s on medication, she shakes her head to both questions.

He then tells her to listen to his voice, and he walks her through one of the early adventures of Parallax. He tells her when he first encountered the game, it was like rediscovering the Wizard Of Oz, only better because he was inside of it. He then tells her how gifted and special she is and she regains her composure.

Joe punches his time-card then slams the door open to the department, Bowdich is on the phone and Joe tells him to meet him in the main-frame room. Bowdich says he’s just finishing his call and MacMillan growls now. While he’s waiting for Eugene, he watches as the computers come to life as the clock strikes 9:00 am. Bowdich walks in and MacMillan asks if the computers are only working from nine to five and Bowdich confirms that. Joe says then the computers are idle for 16-hours a day, Bowdich reacts matter-of-factly but a huge smile crosses Joe’s face. He’s found his new frontier.

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 10:00 pm on AMC.

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