Halt And Catch Fire: The Games People Play

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Episode recaps

Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The most important goal for the characters on the AMC Network’s Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” is to establish a connection on a myriad of levels. Although they’ve attained success making those connections electronically, they’ve each failed to secure those connections with the people they most care about. The episode entitled “10Broad36,” illustrated that point throughout the hour, making for painful yet compelling television.

I truly believe that Joe MacMillan, Cameron Howe, Donna and Gordon Clark, are good people who strive to do the right thing, however they approach Grand-Master level when it comes to self-destruction. Sometimes ego’s behind their bad decisions, although anger and fear, figure prominently in each character’s mind-set. So these four visionaries that want to advance global communications, find their biggest problem’s a failure to communicate with each other.

MacMillan’s embraced the “Miami Vice Look,” over the past couple of episodes, switching from suit and ties, to unstructured jackets and t-shirts. He’s eating breakfast, while going over notes when he glances up and notices an empty beer-bottle on his counter. He goes into the closet holding Sara’s clothes and realizes she was there the night before getting some of her stuff.

Joe calls his fiancée, but gets her answering machine. He leaves a message saying he knows she was there and he keeps leaving messages, but she’s yet to return one. He says it’s been a week, that he loves her and for her to please call him. He puts the phone into the cradle and it rings, he thinks it’s Sara but it’s her father, telling him he wants to meet with him.

Jacob tells Joe that his financial people have tweaked the deal they want to sign with Mutiny, chiefly raising their rate for renting the mainframe from three to five dollars an hour. MacMillan says that upping the rate that high will hamstring Mutiny and restrict their chance for growth. He says there’s a lot of talent over there, but it’s raw. However once it’s developed Mutiny could become an advantageous ally for Western-Group Industries.

Wheeler softens his stance, telling Joe to ask for five, but he’ll go as low as $3.50 an hour. Jacob says if they don’t jump at that offer, then MacMillan should move on and they’ll find new clients. Joe can now go marching over to Mutiny and come off as a hero, for offering the $3.50 an hour rate, but things are never that smooth and simple with MacMillan.

Joe and his daughters arrive at Clark’s brother Henry’s house in California. Henry’s portrayed by Kevin Rankin, whose last few roles (Gracepoint, The Newsroom) have been troubled characters and Gordon’s brother has plenty of flaws as we soon find out. However the reception’s warm as Henry gives Gordon a strong hug and his children help Gordon’s daughters get settled. Gordon tells his brother that they’ll talk about what’s troubling him later on.

Donna takes the morning off from work and has her mother over at the house and her mother tells Clark she looks tired and has bags under her eyes. She asks her daughter if everything’s alright and Donna says she had a miscarriage, she says that she didn’t even get a chance to tell Gordon she was pregnant. Her mother offers her sympathy and Donna says perhaps it was for the best.

Lev tells the Coder-Monkeys that he’s figured out that Tom Rendon and Cameron are sleeping with each other and says Rendon’s in her room right now. He runs to Cameron’s bedroom door and yells that the network got hacked and someone’s giving out free memberships.

The couple scramble to get dressed, while Cameron yells she’ll be right there. Tom sneaks out her bedroom window, but the Coder-Monkeys are standing there waiting for him. Rendon smiles sheepishly, as he realizes that they weren’t fooling anybody.

At the same moment, Cameron comes out of her room and starts yelling what’s happened, when she’s unpleasantly surprised at who she sees walking through the house’s front door. It’s MacMillan, who takes off his sunglasses when he’s right in front of Howe and exclaims well this is Mutiny.

Donna, Cameron and Joe enter Cameron’s room and Donna starts looking over the contract, then her eyes wide as she sees the rate’s been changed from three to five dollars an hour. Howe reacts angrily and starts saying this is bait-and-switch, Clark asks her to join her in another room to talk privately.

She tells Cameron that if she can keep her emotions in check, Donna will negotiate a better deal. She says he’s just posturing and that the mainframe’s the reason why their business has expanded, so calm down and Clark will get them a better rate.

Joe and Tom meet in the kitchen and they chat uncomfortably, each sizing the other guy up and making sure they don’t divulge too much information to one another. Joe thanks Rendon for the coffee and heads back to meet with Donna and Cameron.

Clark attempts to be the voice of reason in this second round of negotiations and she does a good job of it, saying to MacMillan the exact reasons that he told Wheeler, Mutiny couldn’t afford the rate increase. He smiles back at her and says the rate’s $5.00 per hour and if Mutiny can’t ante up, some other client will take their place. Donna says to Joe, this is the part where I offer $3.50 then you counter with $4.50 per hour and we settle for four dollars an hour, which is fair. Joe smiles again and says the rate’s $5.00 an hour.

Donna looses it, she starts to cry and throws the contract at MacMillan and says he’s playing dirty. MacMillan calmly stands up and walks out of the room and the house. Donna says he’s bluffing, within three-hours he’ll call back with a counter-offer. However, less than an hour later the plug’s pulled and the network goes offline. Cameron starts freaking out on Donna, until Bosworth tells Cameron to stop. Clark says she’ll fix the problem.

Gordon and Henry go to a local bar and Gordon tells his brother about his medical condition. However instead of Henry being the strong one for Gordon, Clark has to tell his brother his situation’s not that bad and he’s sorry he laid all his troubles on Henry.

Doesn’t take long before Henry’s three-sheets to the wind, while Gordon seems relatively sober. Clark asks Henry about the auto-shop started by their father, that Henry now runs and his brother says his father wants to sell the shop to Midas. Gordon suggests that he speak to their father on Henry’s behalf, but the brother says Clark’s got enough on his plate.

Henry notices the time and says they need to get back home, he asks Gordon to settle the tab while he uses the restroom. The waitress smiles as she walks over to the table, she’s Henry’s girlfriend from high school Jules Duffy. The two joke with each other for a bit, before she puts down the bill and tells Clark she expects a big tip.

Donna meets with Joe at Western-Group and apologizes for over-reacting and being unprofessional. She says she’s not leaving without a deal, so she asks Joe to tell her what she has to do. He says he’s willing to give them discounts on the rate, if they’d be willing to make some changes. The first two are simple, he wants the landing page to be multi-functional, he says he wants a news-feed or a stock-ticker on the page. His second desire’s for Mutiny to have a mail-service, aside from the chat-pages.

The third request’s the tough one, Mutiny currently only operates on Commodore 64 computers. He tells Donna that Commodore will be extinct within five years and he wants Mutiny to be able to run on the AT&T system Unix. He says that if they can make all three changes, he’ll cut their rate to $3.50 per hour.

Donna goes back to Mutiny and meets with Howe, Bosworth and Rendon and tells them Joe’s demands. The first two they have no problem with, but Cameron’s against building a new operating system for Unix. Rendon says that he doesn’t think MacMillan’s tech-savvy and says they could likely fool him by putting the guts of a Commodore inside the housing of an AT&T machine.

The next day Gordon asks Henry to borrow his truck and says he’ll drive to Sacramento to visit their father and try to talk him into keeping the shop. However Clark calls his father instead and finds out that Henry’s got the shop leveraged to the hilt. He also tells Gordon, his brother has a drinking problem, so he goes to talk to Jules Duffy about Henry instead.

The Coder-Monkeys have found that the AT&T housing’s far too small for the guts of the Commodore to fit inside. So they decide to fake the machine completely, using coaxial cable to connect one of the Commodore’s to the fake AT&T computer, they even put a mini-tape recorder inside it, so it sounds like there’s a modem and a connection.

Gordon and Jewels drive out to a scenic spot and she tells Clark that Henry’s usually in the bar at least three days a week, sometimes coming in as early as noon. Gordon asks how Henry messed up the front of his truck, Jewels tells him that his brother stayed until the bar closed one night, the week before. The next day he said he swerved to avoid a deer, Gordon responds that he told their father it was a rabbit.

The pair smoke a joint in the bed of the truck and start talking flirtatiously. They kiss, then quickly stop they start kissing again and start taking each other’s clothes off.

MacMillan arrives at Mutiny and he sits down in front of the phony AT&T computer. He’s impressed with the new landing page as well as their mail-system. Then he starts playing the games and quickly realizes the set-up’s phony. He says the unit’s melting their table, then he pries it apart. He sees the tape-recorder and the coaxial connection and storms from the house.

Howe follows him to his car and says he can’t do this to her again. He says she did it to herself this time. Then he looks at her and shakes his head and says the saddest part’s she’s so much better than this. He gets in his car and drives away.

Gordon and Jules finish having sex and she says she didn’t expect anything like that. Gordon’s already feeling guilty and says that she has to know why he did have sex with her. He tells her about his brain-damage and how terrified he is. He says he hasn’t even told his wife yet and Jules stops him. She says if he’s looking to unburden himself, he picked the wrong girl. She grabs her purse and starts walking home.

He arrives at Henry’s and Gordon’s youngest daughter’s scared, as she woke up and he wasn’t there. However Henry starts screaming at Gordon, telling him he spoke with their father and Clark never came over. He says he can smell the weed and Jules all over him, then he tells Gordon he needs to leave. Instead Gordon picks up his daughter and brings her into the room they’re sleeping in.

Cameron drives Donna somewhere at night, but we can see by the expression on Clark’s face, that this isn’t a happy mission. Howe says to Donna, Mutiny could die in the morning, don’t do this for the company. Donna smiles weakly and says that’s not the reason. She gets out of the truck and steps into a building, as Cameron follows her we see the sign says Planned Parenthood. Clarks getting an abortion.

Later that evening, Gordon calls the house and gets the answering machine. He calls to Donna and she grabs the phone and asks if everything’s okay. Gordon tells her that their youngest daughter’s scared and says that Donna does something to calm her down. He puts the receiver between he and his daughter and Donna sings the girl a lullaby, that works almost instantly. Gordon starts to close his eyes as well and the screen goes black.

However, there’s one more scene that takes place in Jacob Wheeler’s office. MacMillan says that he gave Mutiny three tasks to complete to lower their rate to $3.50 per hour. He says two of the tasks they got perfect, but they tried to trick him into thinking they completed the third task. However in their effort to try to trick him, they rigged up a broadband system. He says broadband’s too costly for practical use right now, but within ten-years they’ll have replaced most modems. He suggests to Jacob that Western-Group acquire Mutiny.

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

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