Tag Archives: August Emerson

Halt And Catch Fire: Tabula Rosa

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Life’s far from perfect, just when you’ve won a battle you realize that you’ve still got to fight another three, before you can finally take a breath and relax. The characters on the AMC Network Original Series”Halt And Catch Fire,” constantly battle, whether fighting the demons within themselves, or those around them. Even when they find happiness and contentment, it never lasts for long. They don’t believe they deserve to have it all, so they find a way to sabotage relationships and then become saddened when they examine the bridges they napalmed.

The second season finale concluded with the characters embarking on a new adventure and what they hoped to be a fresh start, however things weren’t rosy for all as the episode and season ended. An unexpected move by one of the characters, didn’t conclude with the desired results. And although we shouldn’t have felt surprised, one of the characters reverted back to form, taking advantage of a helpful gesture by a friend, for their own financial gain.

Our first image is that of Joe MacMillan driving through Dallas in an old pick-up truck. Then we quickly move over to Western-Group Industries, where Jesse Evans’ informs Jacob Wheeler of all the damage caused by Sinorous. Wheeler barks out to just give him the numbers and Evans tells him the company’s stock’s lost 8% and the company stands to lose millions. Jacob asks what about Joe and Evans says the board believes he’s responsible for the damage, but don’t feel it’s prudent to press criminal charges against him. Wheeler realizes what that means and says to Evans that they’ll need a scapegoat.

MacMillan walks into a lawyer’s conference room and the woman who shows him in, says that they’ll be right with him. Joe says he’d like to talk to his wife before the proceedings and the woman says as soon as she arrives she’ll bring her into the conference room. He sees some magazines on a countertop and the one on top’s Business Trade and their cover story says Wheeler’s Out At Western-Group.

Over at Mutiny, they’re playing around with a new videogame they created, where the user can create their character to look any way the player chooses. One of the Coder-Monkeys, whose now in charge of accounting asks Cameron if he can take over Tom Rendon’s old desk, as it has two drawers. We see that Yo-Yo’s back at Mutiny and he tells Donna and Cameron that he just signed up two more markets for Mutiny.

Back at the attorney’s office, the lawyer walks in with the dissolution of marriage papers for Joe to sign. MacMillan says he hoped to speak to his wife first, but the lawyer says Sara was already there earlier that morning. With her signature already on the paper he adds his. He gets into his truck and starts pushing the accelerator to the floor, then closes his eyes and lifts his hands off the wheel. The sound of a car horn brings him back and he slows down and starts driving again.

Cameron’s exploding because their new network’s hiking their rates. Donna says that’s the way the game’s played when you’re leasing space on a third-party network. Clark says she can do the dance and try to get the new network to lower the increase, but Cameron says she doesn’t want to do the dance, she wants to change the music. Donna tells Cameron she has to pick Gordon up from his group-therapy session.

Gordon’s attending a stress management session and we can see by the expression on his face, that this is the last place he wants to be. The counselor asks Joe to perform an exercise in front of the group and although he seems to open up to the counselor for a second, he then shuts right down and shows his contempt. He doesn’t realize that Donna’s watched the whole incident from outside the door.

Donna’s in the unfamiliar role of serving herb two daughters breakfast and she’s lost in her own kitchen, as Gordon’s reorganized everything since he’s become Mr. Mom. Joni, the oldest daughter says her waffle’s frozen in the middle and Donna blows off the complaint, so Joni picks up the waffle and flings it across the kitchen floor. Donna’s shocked and asks her daughter what’s going on and Joni asks why can’t Gordon serve them breakfast, as she sucks at this.

Donna takes a breath and says we all need to work together, your father got upset and the little one asks like he did in California? Joni tells her younger sister to shut-up and Donna then asks Joni what happened in California? Her daughter tells her that Gordon and his brother Henry got into a scream-fest and they had to spend a night in a motel. Donna asks what the fight was about and Joni runs to her room.

Joe meets with three executives from Stokes Capital and tries to pitch them a concept of a nationwide network, that could connect a user to any city in the nation. The spokesman for the trio Timothy Bondham, interrupts MacMillan at that point and asks if he was the guy that brought networking to Western-Group? Joe responds that he came up with the concept to lease their mainframe to third-party companies and Bondham asks him why he destroyed it? MacMillan says he didn’t destroy it, but Bondham says despite what the word out on the street is, he has good friends at Western-Group and they all say Joe’s responsible.

He then says they’re not going to give him a dime, they just took the meeting out of morbid curiosity. Bondham says he did some digging on MacMillan and brings up Joe torching the Cardiff Electric truck filled with 100 computers. He says he’s blown away, he’s never met a legitimate psychopath before. Joe gets up and walks out of the meeting as the three guys smile like fifth-graders.

Cameron comes up to Donna at Mutiny and says we should buy this, it’s an ad for IBM 30/30 mainframe, the machine’s ten-years-old and is old-school even for 1985. It would cost Mutiny every bit of liquid capital they had, plus their projected earnings for the next year. Also it’s located in Daly City, California and might be too big or costly to ship to Texas. Donna says it’s a reach even for them and Cameron says okay, but we can tell she’s not giving up on this yet.

Gordon goes into his garage cranks up his boom-box and opens the garage door and starts checking out these model trains he has stored on a shelf. Then Joe walks in, he says he rang the doorbell then he heard the music. He says he just stopped by to give Gordon a small present, it’s a piece from the IBM PC that they first rebuilt. He says he kept it as a Talisman and now he wants to give it to Gordon. It’s as if he’s planning to kill himself. Clark says he heard about what happened at Western-Group and he offers to help fix things. Joe says to him that Gordon looks great, Clark asks what about Sara and Joe says it was good seeing him and drives off.

That evening, things go from bad to worse rapidly at the Clark house. Donna comes home from Mutiny and Gordon’s in bed reading the article in Business Trade Magazine about Western-Group. Gordon says he feels bad for Joe and asks Donna if she has any misgivings of how Cameron destroyed Joe’s life? Things get nasty very quickly, as Donna tells Gordon that she was in on the plan to sabotage Western-Group. (Although in reality, I don’t believe she knew beforehand.)

This escalates the argument to dangerous levels as Gordon asks his wife what’s she’s become. She then asks him the same question and brings up the fact that he doesn’t take his therapy seriously. He asks her if she’s spying on him and she then asks why he didn’t tell her about the shouting-match between Henry and himself and Gordon spits out cause he had an affair. He says when he got sick, he looked for his marriage and couldn’t find it. He says she never was there and that’s why he held off telling her for two-months that he was sick. He then says perhaps their marriage is broken and they’re the only ones who don’t know it. Donna sees Joni outside their bedroom door, but Joni runs back in her room and locks the door.

Cameron attempts to make herself a cup of coffee, but the coffeemaker’s broken. She then heads into the living room and sees Donna sitting at her desk. Cameron remarks that Donna’s there early and Donna unloads her burden.

I don’t if Gordon and I love each other anymore. I don’t know if we can fix it. And I don’t know if I really want to fix it.

Howe grabs a chair and pulls it next to Donna, then she says she doesn’t know anything about marriage. She says what Gordon and her have, or don’t have is up to them to figure out. However, she says she believes that life gives us signs that lead us in the right direction. If she never worked for Cardiff, then Mutiny wouldn’t exist. If not for Gordon Clark the two of them would still be strangers. She then says sometimes you need a fresh start, how about we move to California?

She then says if Mutiny can’t bring the mainframe to Texas, then Mutiny should move to California. She says it’s a new life and a fresh start, something they both could use. Donna’s face’s a mixture of excitement and dread, she’s tempted by the project, but she’s not sure she’s ready to give up her marriage.

We move to a restaurant, the setting for a business luncheon held by the company that John Bosworth and his son James work for. Boz hold’s court among the senior management team, cracking them up with a bunch of his stories. The company’s CEO tells John he’s done great work so far, which is the reason that he’s been invited to this luncheon. He’s only middle-management right now, but he values Bosworth’s input. He then tells a joke to the group, but we can see that Boz suddenly feels out of place.

Gordon heads over to Joe’s apartment and he sees his former co-worker’s living a Spartan existence, a box-spring and mattress on the floor in the corner and a 15 inch TV set with a VCR on top of it. Gordon then tells Joe he feels terrible about what happened at Western-Group and MacMillan says it’s not Gordon’s fault. Clark says it’s not Joe’s fault either. He then says that MacMillan makes it tough for people to realize, but he’s actually a good man. He then pulls out a floppy-disc labeled Tabula Rosa and says that it’s the fix for the damage that Sinorous caused Western-Group.

Gordon says perhaps he can use it to win Sara back, then says what they had was something special and you have to hold onto that. Then he says he’s not sure it lasts even if you do hold on. He then hugs Joe, who hugs him back and Gordon leaves the apartment, while MacMillan’s fighting back the tears.

Donna’s standing in the backyard of Mutiny and she’s also fighting back tears, when Gordon enters Mutiny through the front door and keeps asking is she here. Cameron tries to tell Gordon he needs to leave when Donna hears the commotion and comes back in the house. He asks if Joni’s with her, that her younger sister says she ran away.

The couple head back to their house and Donna calls every friend of Joni’s she can think of. Gordon comes in and says he scoured the entire neighborhood. Donna says their daughter took her backpack, her lunchbox and her sleeping bag, suddenly their younger daughter calls them to the window. They see their camping lantern in the window of their toolshed and realize that Joni’s hiding in there.

When they go to talk to her, Joni says she had to run away as she told a secret and now Gordon and Donna don’t love each other anymore. They both tell her she did nothing wrong and then Joni asks if they’re getting divorced. Donna says Mommy and Daddy love each other very much, but they have some things they need to work out. They tell her to head in the house and that she and her sister should think of what kind of pizza they want.

Donna and Gordon start to talk things over and she says she doesn’t want to be the wife to leave a sick husband, but she’ll do it if she has to. She then says that Gordon’s going to write a check for almost every penny they have to buy a mainframe and she and he are going to repair it together. She then says that they’re moving to California and Cameron’s going to offer him a position at Mutiny and he’s going to accept it so they can work together.

Gordon asks her if that’s extortion and she says it’s an investment. From now on it’s not going to be one of them holding the kite strings, while the other soars, they’ll soar together. Gordon asks if Donna believes moving to California will solve all their problems and she says she hopes so. However she knows that the relationship’s doomed if they stay there.

MacMillan’s shown up again at Stokes Capitol without an appointment and he’s waited three hours when Timothy Bondham emerges from his office and says he just wanted to se how long Joe would wait. Joe has a face of stone and walks past Bondham and enters the office first and puts a floppy-disk into Bondham’s terminal at his desk. It’s got Sinorous on it and it soon infects the terminal and MacMillan tells him this is the same virus that destroyed Western-Group and soon it will infect their entire network.

Bondham says he’s calling security and picks up the phone, but Joe hangs it up and says that’s not the security he wants. He then says to Bondham that the exec doesn’t know what Joe will do next, hence the lack of trust. He says you have to build a wall around your system so you don’t have to rely on trust. He then takes out the first floppy and inserts Tabula Rosa and the virus disappears. Bondham asks him what he did to get rid of the virus and Joe smiles and says this is the vaccine and after what happened to Western-Group, companies are going to want this vaccine.

Pizza arrives at the Clark house when the phone rings and Gordon picks it up and it’s Joe. He’s ecstatic and says create the sickness sell the cure. Gordon says he’s got to go and MacMillan says hear me out, you just came up with this incredible product and we need to partner up and sell it. Clark says they’re moving to California and Joe says we can do this from California. Gordon says he has to start concentrating more on his family and he’s going to work for Mutiny. MacMillan slams down the phone.

A graphic appears that says 30 days later and Cameron goes to Tom Rendon’s house to tell him they’re moving to California and they want him on board. If he wants to do it meet them at DFW Airport that evening for the flight to San Francisco. Tom says that it’s awfully short notice and Cameron says look at it as not to long to over think it.

We’re on the plane as the Coder-Monkeys start boarding, Carl and Bodie are having a discussion and Bodie tells Carl to shut-up. We see the Clark girls sitting together coloring and Gordon and Donna are across the aisle from them. She says their such good girls and Gordon says maybe when we get settled we can have another. Donna smiles and then says she needs to go to the restroom. When she gets inside, she starts crying over the child she aborted a few months before.

Cameron’s looking for Tom but he has yet to show. Suddenly the Coder-Monkeys start cheering as Boz comes on the plane wearing a cowboy hat. He says he never thought he’d say it but time to move to the left coast. The bulkhead door gets closed and Tom never arrived, we see the sadness in Cameron’s eyes.

Waiting for Donna to return from the restroom, Gordon starts thumbing through a computer magazine, when an article nearly takes his breath away. The headline of the article reads “MacMillan Utility Nets Ten Million Backing For ‘Anti-Virus’ Software Venture.” Gordon quietly says son of a, then cuts himself off and puts his head in his hands.

Our final scene’s Joe being shown some prime San Francisco office space. The realtor tells him that he’s have the whole floor which can handle 100 desks. She says because of the view of the Bay there are other bids out there, MacMillan says get the papers and lets sign, he doesn’t care about the price. He stares at the skyline from his window as the realtor goes to get the paperwork.

Halt And Catch Fire: Jacob Wheeler Gets Revenge

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Even when Joe MacMillan attempts to do the right thing, he ends up alienating people he tried to help. Rather than allowing his former girlfriend Cameron Howe, to sell her company Mutiny in a deal that he setup, MacMillan resigned his position with Western-Group Industries and told Cameron not to consummate the deal. However, he failed to realize just how low Jacob Wheeler would sink to show his new son-in-law that he still held the winning hand. Although Joe’s a master of playing both sides against the middle, Wheeler’s played the game far longer and has likely forgotten tricks, that Joe has yet to learn.

MacMillan’s far from the only character on the AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” dealing with unforeseen problems in the latest episode. Gordon Clark’s brain damage’s becoming more apparent each week, dulling his skills and making him incredibly paranoid, leading him to lose his employees Ed and Larry and spy on his friend Stan.

Cameron comes to grips with the reality, that in order for Mutiny to stand out from the rest, they have to make games less of a priority than their chat-network Community. Gaining new game subscribers has flat-lined for Mutiny, while Community’s become the tail wagging the dog, a point that she finally accepts and understands, after talking with a subscriber.

The episode begins at Mutiny headquarters, as Cameron’s writing code with headphones on while Donna stands in front of Howe’s desk. Cameron takes off her headphones and tells Donna, that Joe told her not to sell Mutiny that they’d ruin it. Donna’s shocked, as Cameron distrusts MacMillan and she’s always bad mouthing him, however she says she believes him. Donna says that almost all the employees wanted to sell and Cameron says she’s not apologizing. Donna says they best find a network pronto, Cameron agrees.

Joe and Sara arrive at Jacob Wheeler’s office and inform him they just got married at city-hall and Wheeler’s upset that Sara didn’t tell him before they got married. He asks Joe if the idea emanated from him and Sara says she’s the one who came up with the plan and she insisted on it. She then tells her father she’s going to share the news with Caroline, which causes Wheeler to realize that he and Joe are about to have another discussion, because Sara hates Caroline.

MacMillan tells his new father-in-law that he truly appreciates Wheeler giving him a job and so much support, but he and Sara are leaving Dallas and heading to Silicon Valley and live in California. He says he’s sorry to drop all this on Jacob at once, but Wheeler says perhaps this is for the best. He says no hard feelings and shakes MacMillan’s hand and wishes him good luck in all his future endeavors. He then tells Joe that he’s got a ’57 Bel-Air convertible in mint condition and tells him they should borrow it for two weeks and have a honeymoon.

Gordon and Donna are in bed asleep, when he wakes up in the middle of the night. He’s kind of half sitting up when he sees Jules Duffy standing at the foot of his bed and she says Hi Gordon. Gordon freaks and turns on the light, then realizes he hallucinated seeing Jules. He turns out the light and tries to get back to sleep.

Mutiny’s holding a picnic for their subscribers in the house’s backyard. There’s a huge paper banner with Welcome Mutiny Users in spray-paint. Everybody’s pumped for the party except for Cameron. She stays involved working writing code and fine-tune the new game they created.

Gordon and Larry are putting together computers, when Clark tells Larry they just got 250 orders to fill. Larry gets nervous and asks how just the three of them will assemble all those units and Gordon says they’ll hire a couple of kids to help them. The conversation breaks off when Ed comes into the garage with their buddy Stan, back from California. Gordon asks Stan how things are going on the West Coast and Stan says he’s looking at a bunch of different projects to get involved with. Gordon says unless Stan wants to grab a screwdriver and help, he better leave as they’re very busy. Stan tells the guys he’ll be at a local restaurant if they want to meet him for lunch, Ed and Larry say they will. Gordon snaps his fingers at the two engineers to get back to work.

MacMillan’s back from his honeymoon and goes to Jacob’s office and meets his replacement, Jesse Evans. Evans has gone the entrepreneurial route, he built a network and then sold it to Oracle. However he’s very excited to take over what Joe started with Western-Group. He says he expects to be operating in four-markets in the second quarter, then 24-markets by the fourth quarter. At that point his voice becomes just a droning sound as Joe’s tuned him out, now regretting his decision to resign.

The subscribers of Mutiny have now filled the backyard, as people are eating, talking and playing games. Cameron still has yet to make an appearance and Tom Rendon finds her in her room working on some stuff. She’s gone against Rendon’s wishes and copy-protected the new game they designed and Tom gets upset. Howe as usual gets defensive and lashes out, telling Tom to break up with her. He says he doesn’t want to break up, but he has the right to get upset with her. She asks well why don’t you quit Mutiny? He says he’s not quitting and that he loves her.

Cameron’s eyes get huge and she asks you love me and Rendon says she’s twisting his words. However she says no, that’s exactly what you said. Tom’s about to respond, when John Bosworth comes into the room to introduce his son James to Cameron and Tom.

Larry and Ed return from lunch with Stan and they bring him back a sandwich. Then they tell them they’re quitting, that they’re both too old to take a risk with a start-up. Gordon thinks that they’re teaming up with Stan and are starting a new company, but they tell him that’s ridiculous. Clark tells them to leave and says they’ll be on the outside looking in. They say he’s likely correct and then leave.

The phone rings and Gordon gets a call from one of his daughters, who are both at summer-camp. He thumbs through a copy of Byte Magazine while he talks to her, then sees an ad on one of the pages and curses. He tells his daughter it wasn’t anything to do with her then cuts the call short. Gordon’s suddenly obsessed with an ad for JGL Custom Computers, $799 Standard Model. We’ll Build It For You. This is exactly the same thing Gordon’s doing with Clark Computers and he believes that Stan, Ed and Larry have stolen his idea and are behind this company.

MacMillan and Evans have a conversation, in which Evans makes very clear that Joe’s no longer needed at Western-Group Industries. He says this is his project now and he’s got everything under control. Then he wishes Joe good luck in California and MacMillan realizes it’s time for him to leave.

Gordon arrives at the picnic and shows Donna the ad, saying they stole his idea and then telling her his theory about Stan, Larry and Ed. Donna says that’s silly and he shouldn’t ask them if they’re involved, he’s just feeling the sting of betrayal because Larry and Ed quit. Clark says he’s going back home to get some rest, Donna says that’s a good idea.

Cameron finally comes out to the party when Lev and Yo-Yo arrive, Lev’s on crutches but says he wasn’t going to miss this. Donna gets Cameron to get on the microphone and thanks everybody for coming. She says she’s got a special announcement to make, that Mutiny’s new game will be online the next day, but gets little reaction from the crowd. She then asks how many of them use Mutiny for the games and a small portion of the guests respond.

Joe returns to the apartment and Sara asks him about his replacement and she can tell her husband doesn’t like him. He says that he’s very young and doesn’t have the background to successfully run the division. Sara tells Joe that he’s a force of nature and he’s going to take California by storm. She then suggests they go out that night and produces a baggie with four pills, MDMA. They take one each and start getting ready to go out.

A teenage girl seeks out Cameron at the picnic and thanks her for saving her life. She says she’s found a bunch of people she can relate to on Community and now she realizes she’s not a freak. She hugs Cameron and we can see by the expression on Howe’s face, this moment’s meaningful.

Gordon drives over to Stan’s house in the dark and breaks into Stan’s garage. He sees some personal computers on the work bench and starts looking through all the shelves when Stan walks in and turns on the light. Stan washed out in Silicon Valley, the computers are repairs he’s doing to get some money. He asks Clark if he’s back on Cocaine again and Gordon says of course not, why would he even think that.

Stan tells Clark that Donna told Larry to keep an eye on him and let her know if he did anything weird. Suddenly Gordon thinks that Donna’s trying to destroy the company. Just then the police arrive, Stan called them when he heard someone in his garage and allows the officers to take Gordon into custody.

Cameron goes up to Tom on the porch and asks why he’s been avoiding her since he said he loved her. Rendon says he does love her, in fact that word likely doesn’t do justice to the feelings he has for her. You can see in Cameron’s eyes she feels the same way, but she refuses to say the words. They kiss instead.

Joe and Sara are flying high at a dance club, Joe’s looking like Don Johnson’s younger brother, rocking the Miami Vice look. They each take a second pill and Joe says there’s one more place they have to say goodbye to. Next thing we know Joe and Sara are about to have sex in the server room of Western-Group Industries. However they’re interrupted as a bunch of Western-Group Coder Monkeys, excitedly run into a room. Sara leaves but Joe stays to check out what’s going on.

Jesse Evans walks into the room and praises his Coder Monkeys to the heavens, then pops a bottle of champagne and turns on a computer monitor. Western-Group has commandeered Mutiny, taken over their site and are now calling it West-Net. Joe’s face turns white, he goes down to the limo he and Sara are in and tells the driver they have one more stop to make.

Cameron apologizes to Donna about being stubborn and not embracing Community before this moment. She says she wants to get really involved and they start brainstorming. Donna calls for Carl to write down their ideas, but he’s frozen in front of a monitor. When he finally speaks he says Mutiny’s gone. West-Net now has all of Mutiny’s subscribers and they’re controlling all the chat rooms.

Joe’s still zonked on drugs when he stumbles into Mutiny and asks to see Cameron. She comes out and glares at him, he says he didn’t know, Jacob locked him out. He’s been on his honeymoon and moving to California. You can see Cameron’s not buying anything he says and Bosworth tells MacMillan he better leave. Joe tries to collect his thoughts enough to say something, but he fails and just leaves the house.

Cameron’s sitting on the floor in the hallway, looking desolate when Donna comes to talk to her. Clark ask Howe if she believed what MacMillan said, Cameron responds not a word of it. Donna asks what do they do next and Cameron’s eyes widen, before the screen goes black.

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

Halt And Catch Fire: Life Changing Decisions

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

This time it really seems that Joe MacMillan has his priority’s in order and he’s finally ready to follow what’s in his heart and do the right thing. So why did I finish the latest episode of the AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” with the nagging suspicion, that Joe will once again screw things up? Perhaps because we’ve witnessed the self-destructive streak in MacMillan, that seems to pop-up anytime his horizons look rosy.

This is the man after all that left IBM, by flooding their computer center. Last season we watched him destroy his romance with Cameron Howe, by dumping her vision of the personal computer she designed, then ended his relationship with Cardiff Electric, by setting a truckload of their new computers on fire.

Life suddenly got real for all the characters in this episode. Even the Coder-Monkeys got serious, as one of their own got badly injured and financial matters caused dissension in the ranks. Some of these young techies showed they can get quite capitalistic, when talk of big money arises.

We start the hour in the home of Donna and Gordon Clark, we realize something’s wrong as we hear a clock ticking quite loudly, which then morphs into a voice that sounds like it’s emanating from under water. We realize it’s Gordon’s voice when he tells Donna his medical condition isn’t a death sentence. Clark’s arrived back in Dallas after visiting his brother Henry in California and finally tells his wife his doctor informed him that he’s suffered brain-damage.

Donna volunteers to resign from Mutiny and stay home and take care of him, but he says that would break his heart. He tells her that he’s already contacted four of his former engineers from Cardiff for his new venture, his office will be just 23-feet from his bed and he won’t have to drive. It appears he’s come to grips with his medical situation and he’s overcome his fear and found direction.

Jacob Wheeler and MacMillan are discussing the offer that they’re about to make to purchase Mutiny, Wheeler suggests building them an office complex away from Western-Group Industries. Joe suggests that Western-Group purchase the house that Mutiny occupies, as well as the block to give them plenty of room for expansion. Jacob says he loves the idea and tells MacMillan to close the deal.

Tom Rendon brings his mother Karen over to Mutiny to meet Cameron, she tells Howe that it’s been a long time since she’s seen her son this happy. She thanks Cameron for that and then she thanks her for lunch and says goodbye. Tom kisses Cameron and thanks for having his mother over, when the phone rings. It’s Joe telling Cameron that Western-Group wants to acquire Mutiny, then he says this is good Cameron. She stands there silently while Joe asks if she’s still on the line.

MacMillan arrives the next morning and meets with Howe, John Bosworth and Donna, he hands a one page proposal to Cameron. She looks at it for a minute, then passes it to Clark, whose eyes grow large when she looks at the document. Bosworth has pretty much the same reaction that Donna has and they start discussing details with Joe.

Cameron starts to freak and says we’re not taking the deal, but MacMillan interrupts her and asks that they leave the past behind. He says the proposal’s great for her and her employees. He then says that she’ll run things and he’ll stay out of her way. That inspires her to present the deal to the Coder-Monkeys, however the way she describes the new situation sound terrible. They’ll be working for an oil-conglomerate and have to wear ties and jackets and punch a time-clock, all of which was untrue. However the Coder-Monkeys show their support by chanting Mutiny and she tears up the proposal and Joe walks out.

The four engineers come over to Gordon’s house and he tells them his plan’s to build a personal computer line, with the base model selling for an affordable $800, but the consumer could add all the buttons and whistles they wanted for an additional cost. He then tells the four engineers to bring in their most recent pay-stubs and he’ll match their salaries.

MacMillan has Bosworth in for a meeting at Western-Group and John tells Joe upfront, that what ever they discuss John’s going to tell Cameron. Joe says that’s exactly the reason he contacted Bosworth, as he believes in Cameron and in Mutiny and he realizes it’s a good deal. Jacob Wheeler pops in to introduce himself and tells Bosworth he’s looking forward to having him on board. Joe says to Bosworth that he’s got Cameron’s ear, but he shakes his head and says the girl’s in love.

Donna takes a couple of days off from Mutiny to spend time with Gordon, but the engineers are in the zone. She asks one of the engineers Larry, how her husband’s doing and she said he’s doing great. She then asks him to watch out for Gordon and make sure he’s alright, leaving Larry looking puzzled.

Rendon then shows up at Western-Group and tells Joe that his mother cried when she saw the proposal of what Tom would get if Western-Group acquires Mutiny and cried again when her son told her he wasn’t getting the money. Joe asks Tom why he came down to the office to tell him he was upset, when he could have just called. Rendon responds since MacMillan invaded his space, he wanted to return the favor, but Joe says that Tom came because he realizes it’s a great deal.

Back at Mutiny, the Coder-Monkeys are attempting to piece the proposal together, to find out what Cameron turned down. Each employee was to receive one percent of the purchase price along with a weekly salary, Howe comes out and tells them the offer was for five million dollars. Bodie demands a vote. He and Arky both vote to sell.

Wonderboy, Carl and Bosworth all vote not to sell and Cameron asks Tom his vote, when the phone rings. Lev’s in the hospital, he was set-up by some homophobes in Community and the guy he thought he had started a relationship didn’t exist. Instead they beat him bloody when he showed up for what he thought was a date.

Unfortunately the fake account also used a phony-address, so there’s no way of tracking who beat up Lev. Donna, Cameron, Tom and John go to the hospital, but Lev’s unconscious. Cameron of course blames the police for not acting, even though they are without any clues.

Sara Wheeler has lunch with Joe and her father and she tries to tell Jacob that she’s decided to break-up with Joe. Wheeler says she’s never had any patience and because of changing dynamics, she’s throwing away a relationship with a man who loves her and has her best interests at heart. MacMillan chastises his boss for talking to his daughter like that and says Sara sees the best in everyone.

Jacob decides that they’ll meet again at the same restaurant in a week and continue the discussion. MacMillan asks Sara what he has to do to win her back. She says he needs to get away from her father and start his own company. She then gets in her car and drives away.

At the hospital Cameron asks Tom how he was going to vote. He tells her he loves Mutiny and wants to be there for a long time, but he loves her and wants to be with her for a long time as well. He then says to her, Mutiny is her company and the decision’s hers to make. She says that Mutiny belongs to them all and says she’ll call Joe and take the offer.

MacMillan and Wheeler have a celebratory drink after Joe gets the call and MacMillan starts talking about the big rollout they need to have for Mutiny’s new game. However Wheeler disagrees with him and says the games are going to fade away while Community becomes the big draw. Joe says he promised them complete creative control and Wheeler says that was smart.

The engineers build the new computer in two days, one of them boasts that it took them a year to build the Giant, six-months to build the Giant-Pro and this time just two-days. Gordon tells his engineers how proud he is of them and how Joe’s going to be excited about their accomplishments. One of the engineers asks Gordon if he’s referring to MacMillan and Gordon’s clueless as to what the engineer’s talking about. The brain-damage playing games with his memory.

Cameron’s shocked to see Joe at the hospital, he says they told him at the house what happened. He then says to Howe not to sell Mutiny to Jacob Wheeler, he’ll ruin it. He won’t mean to, but he’ll take away everything that’s special about it. He then tells Cameron he’s removing himself from the equation.

MacMillan goes to see Sara and tells her he’s giving Western-Group, his two-weeks notice. He then asks her what she wants and she says she wants to get married that day and in two weeks, move to California. He smiles at her and says you got it.

The final scene takes place at Mutiny as Cameron walks back into the house. She says that Mutiny’s hers and she’s not selling.

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

Halt And Catch Fire: The Boys Are Back In Town

Photo: Courtesy Of AMC
Photo: Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

When all’s said and done, the major difference between Joe MacMillan from the AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” and the hapless bus-driver Ralph Kramden from the Classic TV series “The Honeymooners”  is that MacMillan’s get-rich-quick schemes actually work. MacMillan even has his own Ed Norton, embodied by Gordon Clark, the guy who does most of the work, while Joe gets most of the glory.  Just like Norton, Clark keeps getting involved with projects with MacMillan, despite knowing that he’s likely to end up in a manure pile.

Episode four begins in the Clark’s kitchen as Gordon’s getting his daughters ready for school, while his wife Donna gets ready for work. Donna’s not feeling great and asks her husband if she’s got a fever. Gordon puts his lips to her head and pronounces her cool as a cucumber and she heads off to Mutiny.

Joe has a meeting with one of the middle-management members of West-Group Industries, the oil-company he’s employed at and owned by MacMillan’s future father-in-law Jacob Wheeler. The man he’s meeting with Ellis Mortimer, oversees the company’s mainframe computer system and Joe’s come to pitch him his newest idea.

He tells Mortimer, that the computers are only in operation on Mondays through Fridays from nine to five. He suggests leasing the mainframes to third-party companies, while they’re not being used. He tells Mortimer its pure profit and little overhead. Mortimer says that he’s afraid that third-party companies could get access to West-Group’s data and Joe explains that they would cordon off a section for each outside user. They wouldn’t have any access to West-Group’s confidential information.

Mortimer then asks MacMillan if he’s so high on the project, why doesn’t he present it to his future father-in-law? Joe’s flustered as he didn’t realize Mortimer was aware of his relationship with Sarah. Ellis looks him in the eye and tells him he was there before her first marriage went south, and he’ll still be there when Sarah tires of Joe.

Donna walks into the house that Mutiny’s based in and gets Cameron, then the two of them address the Coder-Monkeys about their new reality. Because of the loss of revenue after Sinorous destroyed the network, they no longer have any money to pay the employees. What Cameron and Donna offer instead of a paycheck, are shares in the company. There’s silence for about a minute, until Tom Rendon stands up and says he’s in, then most of the Coder-Monkeys follow his lead.

However, Yo-Yo and another programmer say they’re out. Cameron tries to talk to Yo-Yo, as he’d been there from the beginning, but he says he won’t work for free. She tells him he always wanted to get into game-cartridge design and here’s his excuse. He replies that he doesn’t think the shares will ever have any value and leaves the house.

A while later Howe comes out of her room and finds John Bosworth standing at the kitchen table. She asks him if he’s ready to start working for Mutiny and he responds, she can’t pay him, she’s looking for volunteers. He tells her he was on this side of town, so he brought her breakfast and then started looking at her folder of invoices. He says he’s got some ideas he thinks will help if she wants to listen, she tells him she’s all ears.

Donna and Lev are in one of the rooms working on Community, the network’s chat-rooms and Lev tells Donna he wants to go back to gaming. She says he can handle his responsibility it’s only six-rooms, he corrects her and tells her there are 18-rooms, they’ve tripled in less than a week. He asks Donna to go to Cameron for another Coder-Monkey, she responds that when they reach 30-rooms she’ll talk to Howe.

Donna walks into the kitchen as Cameron’s telling Bosworth that they sent out update disks to all their users, but still many have cancelled their subscriptions. He says Howe gave her subscribers a venereal disease and she’s not going to win them back with penicillin, she needs to send flowers. He says they need a salesman to go to their largest former subscribers and sweet-talk them back into the fold.

Cameron suggests using Lev and Donna tells her she needs him for Community and tells her the growth they’ve made. John interrupts their discussion and tells them, this is the moment they’re supposed to ask Bosworth to become their salesman. He then says after a couple of times of turning them down, they’re supposed to plead with him until he grudgingly takes the position. Bosworth’s onboard and things are looking brighter already.

Joe’s back to his old tricks at West-Group Industries, going through a back-window to get his company to realize his vision. He enlists one of the maintenance workers to pull all the wires from the mainframe up through the floor. He then tells the man he can take it from there and the worker asks what he puts on the work-order. MacMillan slips him some money and asks what work-order? Apparently he gave the man enough to walk away without further questions.

Cameron has a brainstorming session with the Coder-Monkeys to design a new game, but the only suggestion comes from Wonderboy and Howe’s underwhelmed. Just then Rendon walks into the house and Howe busts him for being late, he apologizes and sits down and joins the session. Cameron says she wants to design a shooter game, but she wants something fresh as the target for the game. Bodie suggests they shoot ET to death, to keep him from eating all the user’s Reese’s Pieces, he gets a groan from the group. Cameron says they’ll reconvene the next day, then tells Tom he has to show up on time, or it will hurt morale.

Gordon’s using his new-found free time to get into shape and he’s taken up jogging, sporting a bright-red track outfit. He’s spent, but then he sees Joe’s sitting on the bench on the Clark’s front-lawn, so he pushes himself to run up the driveway and asks MacMillan if he wants a smoothie.

They head into the garage and Joe starts pitching his idea to Clark, who thinks it’s a great idea until he realizes Joe wants him involved. He asks Joe if Sarah’s just some woman he hired to pretend she was her fiancée so MacMillan would seem normal. Joe replies he just wanted to give Gordon, the right of first refusal. Clark says thanks but no thanks.

Bosworth approaches the first house and a teenage boy answers the door, John asks if his dad’s at home and the teen’s mother comes to the door and asks what he wants. John tells her he’s the sales-manager for Mutiny and wanted to know why her son cancelled his subscription. She responds she cancelled it, due to the fact he spent all his time on the computer and has no friends.

John asks how many friends he had on Mutiny and the teen replies he has 32-friends, plus another 6-7 guys he just plays games with. The mother looks shocked, she says she never hears her son talking to anybody. He smiles at Bosworth and says his mother’s a Luddite, then tells her they communicate through their keyboards. John smiles at the mother and tells her their generation doesn’t grasp it, but to kids her son’s age Mutiny’s their place to congregate, their church.

He tells the woman he’s sorry to have bothered them then turns around and starts to walk away, but she asks him his name again. He knows he’s closed the deal and a big smile breaks out on his face before he turns around, then he says John Bosworth.

Cameron calls in Donna and tells her with their limited resources she’s decided to cut some network activities. She tells Clark that she’s eliminating Chess and Backgammon then tells her she’s eliminating Community as well. Donna’s crushed and asks why she’d do that, it’s gaining subscribers and takes up minimal bandwidth. Donna says she thinks it’s a bad plan and Howe says her comments are noted, Clark picks up her purse and heads home.

Gordon heads into his bathroom and nearly strokes out when he sees Donna lying fully clothed in the empty bathtub. She says she’s been there since he came home with the girls, she desperately needed alone time. She then tells Gordon about Cameron’s plans to cut Community and he responds that’s her baby and he realizes why she’s so down. He says that the concepts brilliant and it will be hugely successful, but his words fail to brighten her mood. He leaves her in the bathroom and we can see by the expression on his face he’s going to team-up with Joe to make his wife’s vision come true.

Cameron heads to Orson’s Family Foods to get some munchies in the middle of the night and sees Tom Rendon collecting carriages in the parking lot, with an Orson’s name-tag on his shirt. He tells her he used to work their during high-school, the owner’s giving him some late night shifts so Tom has some money. Cameron suddenly realizes that’s why Tom’s coming in late and she feels like an idiot. He tells her where her favorite candy’s located and says he’ll see her later.

Clark and MacMillan meet in a parking garage and Gordon tells Joe his terms. He says he’s in charge of the project and he doesn’t want to get paid, instead he wants Mutiny to be Joe’s first customer and to cut them a great-deal. Joe says we do this tonight, Gordon shows him a list of what he needs and MacMillan says pick it up and meet him at a bar at eight that night.

Donna’s not giving up on Community without a fight and she asks Cameron if she’s used the feature, Howe lies and says yes. Clark asks her what’s her favorite room and Cameron can’t bluff her way out of it, finally she says she knows what Community is. Donna says that she really doesn’t and walks out of the room, so Cameron logs into one of the rooms and she starts chatting with Tom.

They’re having a rather flirty conversation, when suddenly Gordon’s name comes up. Rendon types Gordon = Donna’s husband? Cameron types back, No Gordon the guy who saddled her with two kids and now she’s trapped! However she hit Control, the letter D and the exclamation point, which shared their conversation to everybody on the network. Tom comes in and tells her, a few minutes later Donna sees the message.

Gordon and Joe meet at the bar and Clark gives MacMillan the receipt for the equipment, Joe takes some money out of his pocket and says he’ll give Gordon the rest in a few days. Suddenly Clark realizes that they’re breaking into West-Group Industries and going into the mainframe without permission. Gordon says he feels like punching Joe in the face and MacMillan tells him to go ahead, however they leave the bar and head for West-Group.

Donna and Cameron meet outside and Clark asks her how Cameron thinks Donna can command any respect if Cameron degrades her. She says if you have anything to say about Gordon, tell me to my face and don’t ever bring up my daughters again. Howe apologizes, but the tension between them is palpable.

Gordon’s slotting all the boards into the mainframe and MacMillan says he’s going to get them both a can of coke. As Joe leaves the room Clark takes a step back, then suddenly gets dizzy and passes out, hitting the floor face first. He regains consciousness just as Joe returns and he says he tripped over a cord and fell, then goes back to work.

The next morning Bosworth enters the kitchen of Mutiny and starts to pour himself a cup of coffee, but Cameron walks in and takes the pot from him and pours them both a cup. She then tells John she’s done asking him to work for Mutiny, she’s telling him he’s working for Mutiny. She then says his first assignment’s helping her run the company better.

He tells her when he was her age, he was putting ham radios in boxes at Cardiff, all he did was pack boxes, punch out and drink beer. He says it takes time and she asks how long, he just smiles at her as Rendon walks in the house, John formally introduces himself to Tom.

A little later Tom’s in the backyard cleaning up all the cans on the lawn and Cameron comes out. The two start flirting with each other and the moment we’ve expected since we met Rendon happens, as the two start making out.

The final scene takes place in the Clark’s bedroom, with Gordon talking to Donna through the bathroom door. She says she thinks she caught the flu their daughter had, Clark tells her he has some great news for her. He says that the consulting job he worked on the night before, paid off big time. He says his contact at the company’s allowing Mutiny to lease their mainframe for just three dollars an hour, so now she can have a thousand rooms for Community.

Gordon’s words finally penetrate Donna’s skull and her mood brightens for a moment. He asks her if she’s vomiting and she says she is and she’ll meet him in the kitchen in a minute. However as the camera pans wide in the bathroom, we see Donna’s got a home-pregnancy test and the results are positive.

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

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.

Halt And Catch Fire: A Desperate Search For That Next Big Thing

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The first season of the AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” revolved around three core characters, that designed and produced a portable personal computer for Cardiff Electric. The final product however destroyed the creative team, as the woman who designed the software for the computer Cameron Howe, left the company after her vision was severely compromised. Joe MacMillan, the man that got Cardiff Electric to build a personal computer, burned the truck containing the first shipment of the machines.

One year later, Cardiff Electric coming off the success of their two computers, the Giant and the Giant Pro, got bought by a European conglomerate, leaving the former President of Cardiff Electric Gordon Clark, with a large payout but without a job. His wife Donna has become partners with Howe in their start-up company Mutiny, a company that transmits video-games over the phone lines, for multiple users.

MacMillan used the past year to study at the Fisk Observatory, where he met and fell in love with a reporter named Sara Wheeler, whom he proposed to last week in the season premiere. Sarah said yes without hesitation and this episode opens in the hangar of Sarah’s father Jacob Wheeler. Wheeler struck it big in the oil-industry, this private hangar’s just a tiny part of his vast holdings. One wall’s dedicated to pictures and the mounted heads of deer and elk he killed while hunting.

Wheeler’s portrayed by James Cromwell, an actor that’s left behind roles such as the farmer in “Babe” and the inventor of Warp-Drive in the “Star-Trek” universe, to concentrate on playing wealthy men of great intellect. Those characters usually are adversaries for the protagonists and Jacob Wheeler falls into that category quite comfortably.

He cuts off the small-talk quickly, then says to MacMillan he understands Joe loves his daughter, Sarah wanting the ground to open-up and swallow her father, due to his bluntness. She quickly says she’s going to talk to one of the employees, but she stays long enough to hear Joe tell her father that he loves her very much. One of the qualities that he loves about her, is she shares her father’s skepticism.

As soon as she’s out of ear-shot, Wheeler asks Joe how he proposes to support the two of them, stating that her salary’s not enough for the two of them. MacMillan says he has a few prospects he’s chasing, but Wheeler sees through the bluster and asks him about Joe working for him. MacMillan says thinks the oil-industry’s stuck in the past and he wants to be involved in tech. Jacob says with Joe’s spotty resume, he’d be fortunate to sell waffle-irons and says the offer’s there if he changes his mind.

Donna and Lev get their chat-room up and running, but their first user quickly bails when they realize there’s no game involved. There’s some ruckus at the front of the house, as John Bosworth limps in with the use of a cane and quickly asks for a chair. Seconds later he admits he’s faking and the coder-monkeys welcome him back and get pumped when they’re told he’s joining Mutiny. Donna doesn’t have the same reaction and her face reveals her dissatisfaction to Cameron immediately.

Gordon gets examined by his family doctor about his nose-bleeding episodes, the physician takes blood and starts asking Clark a series of questions. However when the nurse leaves the room Gordon admits that he was using cocaine about three or four months previously, to help him get through a series of all-nighters at work. His doctor tells him that irritating his nasal membranes, is just the minor stuff. He could have a heart-attack, or his lungs could seize up on him. Gordon says he hasn’t done it in months and then thanks his doctor.

Donna tells Cameron that if she keeps making unilateral decisions, she’ll leave. Cameron says that Donna wanted somebody to take charge and Clark responds Bosworth knows nothing about what they’re doing and he’s an ex-con which could hurt them acquiring financial backers. Cameron apologizes for not discussing it with Donna first, but she says that John Bosworth stays.

Gordon heads to the local electronics store and buys a bunch of Atari game units and Commodore personal computers, he sets them all up in his garage. He arranges everything perfectly, but he shows little desire to play with any of his toys. So he goes into his workbench and snorts a line of coke from the vial he has hidden there.

Joe and Sarah are sitting on a bench in the middle of a city-square and MacMillan tells her that Jacob offered him a job that afternoon. Sarah’s shocked that he’d even consider it, asking him about the other situations he’d been waiting on and he says they fell through. He says he did some digging over the last few hours and talks about advances in tech for the oil-industry, such as three-dimensional viewing. MacMillan says he thinks he can lead her father’s company into the future. Sarah says if that’s what Joe wants, she won’t stand in his way.

Gordon’s buzzing heavily and calls Donna at Mutiny and tells her he put in a second phone-line so they’d have a line dedicated to a modem. Donna says that’s great, but she needs to get ready for her meeting with potential financiers. Clark then connects to the game on Mutiny and realizes there’s something wrong with the game he’s playing, so he calls one of his former engineer’s Stan to come over and help him figure this out.

Donna and Cameron meet with the potential investors, but the meeting doesn’t go well. The man behind the desk how they can ascertain that there’s a large enough audience for Mutiny to make a profit, the women respond that they just know, causing the investor to roll his eyes. He then asks them about kids, saying he wants to make sure they’re fully committed and won’t give up their jobs to raise families. That basically ended the session.

In a scene that may harken Joe MacMillan’s maturation, Joe’s greeted by his new boss and he’s welcomed to his new position as a data-entry clerk, in a department that’s archaic by 1985-standards. MacMillan’s informed that he’s now an hourly employee and to make sure he punches in and out for each shift. Joe asks if Jacob’s aware of his position and the supervisor asks Jacob Wheeler, with the reverence usually reserved for Kings and God. Clearly he’s never met his employer.

Even at my age, I still have a temper, when I was Joe MacMillan’s age it ran quite-hot. Not destroying a truckload of computers, or flooding the server room of IBM hot. However, I’m not sure I could have handled myself as smoothly as Joe did given the circumstances. He simply sat at his desk and went to work.

Gordon and Stan keep playing the Mutiny game and they realize that the game’s results are random, despite whom ever actually shoots first. Gordon offers Stan some more nose-candy and he refuses, concerned that Clark’s got a substance-abuse problem. Clark says he found a vial, what was he going to do throw it out? He then says he’s going to Mutiny and asks Stan to pick up Gordon’s daughters at school, a move that was certain to go horribly wrong.

Clark heads over to Mutiny while Donna and Cameron are over meeting with the possible investors and gives Lev and Yo-Yo a patch to make the game work properly. As he’s getting pats on the back from the Coder-Monkeys, somebody picks up the phone and says Donna’s kids were almost kidnapped. Gordon speaks with Principal Hawkins and apologizes for not alerting the school he sent a friend to pick-up his daughters and says he’ll be right there. He bribes the Coder-Monkeys into silence with free pizza delivery for a month.

Donna and Cameron return to the house to find Bosworth throwing a license plate into the trash, a prank from the Coder-Monkeys. Lev calls out the front door to Cameron that she needs to see this. When she gets inside, she sees that somebody hacked their site and came up with a counterfeit copy of their top-game Parallax, but with far better graphics. The hacker identified himself on his counterfeit game as Thomas Renton, he’s one of their subscribers and they have his address, so Clark and Howe pay him a visit.

They drive to Renton’s house and he says that he meant to get caught, that’s why he identified himself on the game. He says they won’t sue him as he can help them make Mutiny far better than the current product and then starts talking code to Cameron, whose pretty amazed. Donna says they’ll drop the matter if he promises not to do it again. He says to make them happy he’ll end his subscription.

Lev gets the mail and he sees the last letter Bosworth sent Cameron from prison and he starts reading it to the Coder Monkeys in a Texas drawl. But soon the letter gets personal and sad and the guys tell Lev to stop reading it. However John walks in and he tells Lev to finish reading it, with a look of menace in his eye. Lev reads the rest of it in a quavering voice, just as Howe walks in to the kitchen. She tells him to leave and when he says he lives there, she replies he best stay out of her sight for a long time.

Just as Cameron stops shouting at Lev, she’s informed about the incredible lag-time in the game Gordon gave them the patch for. Suddenly she realizes that Renton’s hacked into their network and he’s jammed the lines with users, far more than their system can handle.

Cameron heads over to Renton’s and asked him what he did this time, he said he built a PBX that can handle a dozen users on one phone-line. Howe says that would cut her overhead by a third and he says he’ll give it to her and he doesn’t want a job. He says he loves his job and he makes good money, but Cameron realizes he’s obsessed with Mutiny, he’s logged the fourth most time spent on the site.

Cameron heads back to the office and says she thinks they should hire Renton and tells her about the PBX. Donna tells her she realizes she hired him already and if she makes another move like that, she’ll walk out the door. Cameron says she understands.

Joe calls Sarah and tells her about his new job. She immediately says that’s demeaning and that her father’s punishing MacMillan for the sins of her ex-husband Peter, who bilked her father for millions, before their divorce. Joe says that Jacob’s testing him and he’d do the same thing, in her father’s position. He tells her to hold off on calling her father.

John and Cameron talk outside of the house on some lawn-chairs and we find out that Howe’s actual first name’s Catherine. Cameron was her father’s name, she took it as her own after he died in Vietnam. She tells Bosworth that she wants him to take charge of Mutiny, he replies that it’s beautiful she’s given him this job, but he needs to take care of some personal stuff, before he can take it. He says he doesn’t know how long it will take.

Donna comes home and tells Gordon that all the Coder Monkeys think he’s the greatest because of his patch for their game. He tells Donna about the lag-time and she says that’s gotten solved as Cameron hired a guy who built a PBX that can handle ten-users on a single phone line. Clark’s amazed at this concept and tells Donna he’s going to determine their potential-user base.

Jacob Wheeler heads into the elevator to his office, when his secretary says he just received a gift, he asks if a note’s attached. She reads it to him, “Thanks for the opportunity.” She then says it’s unsigned and the gift appears to be a waffle-iron. Wheeler says he knows who sent it and the elevator doors close.

Gordon’s found himself a new project. He gets so involved with his research, that he takes the vial and throws it in the garbage can.

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

Halt And Catch Fire: The Sale Of Cardiff Electric

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Welcome back to the “Silicon Prairie” in the mid-eighties, as the second season of the AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” kicked off on Sunday night. The first season revolved around a fast talking salesman with a vision, who had no problems betraying all those around him, to get what he wanted. That salesman Joe MacMillan, walked into a moderately successful company called Cardiff Electric and turned it on its ear, convincing the owner and his Vice President of Sales, to begin manufacturing portable personal-computers.

As the season concluded, Cardiff Electric started shipping its new PC called the Giant, however the creative team that put the machine together had split up, mainly due to MacMillan’s demons. He left the company with an act of destruction, stealing the truck that contained the first shipment of the computers, then set the truck on fire in the desert.

When we last saw the characters, the chief engineer on the project Gordon Clark, was the only one of the creative team still with the company, pondering what would Cardiff’s next move would be. His wife Donna, had gone into business with former Cardiff engineer Cameron Howe, building a gaming network using phone lines to connect users to the game and each other. MacMillan decided to go on a quest to the Fisk Observatory, to further his knowledge of astronomy and to leave society behind.

The episode begins with a flashback to the first season, as we watch Joe getting dressed for work, as we hear a radio report talking about the damage that Hurricane Alicia did to Houston and Galveston. The reporter states that 1983 has become the costliest year in state history, for hurricane damage. Joe walks out of the bedroom and we see Cameron sitting on the couch playing videogames and she asks Joe to play with her.

MacMillan plays one quick game, which he wins by cheating then gets up to head to work. Cameron chastises him for not being able to take five minutes to play with her, he laughs and leaves the house. A graphic appears on the screen that it’s now 20-months later, as we’ve arrived in March, 1985. The house is now the headquarters for the Mutiny Network, the company that Cameron, Donna and the worker-drones have built during those 20-months.

Donna walks into the house, which looks far more like a frat-house, than a center of business. There are multiple violations of the electric code, as multi-socketed extension-cords, are plugged into every outlet. Donna realizes that they’re about to have a circuit overload and finds Cameron talking on the phone to a subscriber. Two of the programmers, Yo-Yo and Lev get into a wrestling match, as Lev says that the other programmer’s Backgammon app’s causing the network to shut down. Seconds later the power goes down, they took down an entire city block.

Coming back from a commercial break, we see an advertisement for the Giant and Cardiff Electric’s newest computer the Giant Pro. When the spot ends, we see that Gordon Clark, now President of Cardiff is a guest on a local financial program, DFW Moneyline. The host starts talking about the turnaround of Cardiff in the last two-years, as they started focusing on building computers. Then he asks about the upcoming sale of Cardiff Electric and Clark responds a foreign corporation’s bought the company and the office will close and he’s leaving the company.

A graphic tells us we’re now in Austin, Texas and we see Joe finishing a ten-mile run on a path in the woods, as he enters his home panting and sweating. The phone rings and he answers it, then he says that’s good news and thanks the caller, before hanging up. We see a woman’s arm’s hug him from behind, our introduction to Joe’s new girlfriend Sara Wheeler. She asks who called, he says the sale went through and he’s getting his share, but he has to go there the following day to pick the check up.

Sara tells him he earned and deserves the money, but MacMillan says he dreads going back there and seeing those people. She asks him if he wants her to cancel their guests for that night and he says no, that the distraction will be good for him.

Gordon clears out his desk as movers take out all the furniture. He’s got four boxes of stuff that he’ll take with him. Other than the check that he’ll receive the following day, that’s what he’s walking away from Cardiff with, along with the knowledge and the memories, that they helped change the world.

That evening Sara and Joe entertain a few couples, who are her friends and it appears it’s their first time meeting MacMillan. She explains that they met at the planetarium in the Fisk Observatory, she had gone there to write a piece on the Observatory’s SETI Program (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) and instead of meeting creatures from outer-space she met Joe. MacMillan basically says he’s trying to find himself, but Sara says he’s just being modest.

She tells her friends that MacMillan turned a regional company into a national rival of IBM’s and he’ll soon receive compensation for what he did. Someone asks him what he wants to do next and he says he wants to start his own company in Silicon Valley. Sara says nothing’s set in stone, but they’re really excited about the future.

Power finally returns to Mutiny headquarters, Lev tells Donna that Cameron ran extension-cords from the next door neighbors to keep things from blowing again. Donna goes to find Cameron and she tells her she can’t do that and Howe says, so they’ll send a bill and we’ll pay it. Then the Power Company calls and Donna takes the call, while all the programmers start to leave to go party.

Cameron starts to leave as well, when Donna explodes. She says she came her to do work she has great interest in, not to be the mommy, a job she already handles at home. She says that Cameron’s made Mutiny a company without a boss, but all the stuff that falls through the cracks, Clark has to handle. Howe says just leave it alone and walks out of the house.

The next morning Gordon shows up at the Cardiff office to sign for his check, then mutters under his breath when Joe enters the waiting room. A lawyer comes in and says they will summons people starting with those who will receive the most compensation. He calls two men, leaving Joe and Gordon alone on the bench, they engage in a mostly polite conversation.

Clark’s called in to sign for his check and he sees Nathan Cardiff at the other end of the conference table, giving him the stink-eye. Why he’d have any reason to be upset with Clark eludes me, but Gordon signs for his check than a man slides an envelope over to him. It’s for $838,121 and Clark asks if he can take this to the bank immediately, the lawyer responds that’s what is usually done with checks. Nathan says thanks for the memories and Gordon leaves.

Joe’s summoned into the office and he signs for his check. The man’s about to push the envelope to him, when Cardiff bangs on the table for the man to give him the check. Nathan gets up and walks over to Joe and pulls the check out of the envelope. He shows it to Joe and says this is MacMillan’s share after taking out the cost of the truck and computers he destroyed. The check’s still over 600 thousand dollars, but Cardiff rips it into pieces, telling Joe to sue him if he likes, he’d love to tell a jury what MacMillan did at Cardiff.

He then says that Joe cost people their jobs and put Nathan’s former Vice President of Sales and longtime friend John Bosworth in prison. (Conveniently forgetting, that if Nathan hadn’t pressed charges for Bosworth transferring funds to the computer division, John would be a free man.) He says that MacMillan did all that for a doorstop of a computer, without a legacy. Joe wishes Cardiff good health and leaves the room.

That evening Cameron’s sitting in her van in a parking lot, waiting for a fence to sell her two stolen IBM computers when Donna shows up, shocking Cameron. She tells Howe she asked Yo-Yo where she was and so she thought she’d join her. The guy shows up with the computers, tries upping the price from the agreed upon 500 bucks to three thousand, Cameron laughs him off and he settles for the agreed upon price, then gives them the computers and drives away.

Donna’s brought a power converter with her and they plug the machines into it in the parking lot. Donna tells Cameron unless they have someone on staff that can code in Chinese, the sleaze-ball ripped them off. The pair head to the bar that Howe knows he hangs out at.

She calls Gordon and tells him she has to work late and can’t make their celebration dinner. However Gordon keeps his daughters happy, by suggesting they go to their favorite ice-cream shop and the girls can have ice-cream for dinner.

As Cameron and Donna sit and drink while they wait for the fence, Howe admits she was really intimidated when she met her. Clark tells Cameron that she’s very intimidating in her own right, that when they tried to get the network up and running for four days straight, Howe was the only one who believed it would work. Just then they see the sleaze-ball enter the bar and they go to confront him.

Cameron says they want their money back and the crook grabs her and pushes her up against a wall, then tells them to leave. What he didn’t realize was Howe stole his keys and they head to his truck to get back the money. However Donna sees two brand new IBM computers in their boxes and they take those instead. The crook comes out to the parking lot to see them leaving.

Donna heads home a little tipsy and Gordon asks if she’s drunk, she never really gives him an answer. She says she’s exhausted and heading for bed. He tells her he got her a piece of her favorite pecan pie, she thanks him and smiles and says she’ll have it the next day.

Joe heads back to his house and tells Sara, he’s not getting the money. She hugs him and says that’s fine they don’t need it. He tells her he loves her and asks her to marry him, she immediately says yes and they kiss.

The final scene takes place as Cameron’s driving in the middle of nowhere, trying to follow a map. Suddenly we see barbed wire and institutional buildings, it’s a correctional facility. We hear John Fogerty singing his classic, “The Old Man Down The Road.”

He take the thunder from the mountain, he take the lightning from the sky,
He bring the strong man to his begging knee, he make the young girl’s mama cry.

You got to hidey-hide, you got to jump and run;
You got to hidey-hidey-hide, the Old Man is down the road.

He got the voices speak in riddles, he got the eye as black as coal,
He got a suitcase covered with rattlesnake hide, and he stands right in the road.

You got to hidey-hide, you got to jump up run away;
You got to hidey-hidey-hide, the Old Man is down the road.

She pulls into the prison-yard just as John Bosworth’s getting released, he’s pleasantly surprised to see her. She runs over to him and hugs him, he hugs her back and he laughs loudly. Mutiny might finally have someone who can be the boss.

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