It’s that time of year, when everybody’s coming out with their “Best-Of Lists” and we are adding yet another list to the pile. Welcome to The First Annual NOTTIE AWARDS, our version of the numerous Awards shows that get televised across the planet. Our list varies from other awards, in the fact that we cover the entire year of 2014. The NOTTIE AWARDS, breaks down the year starting with the 2013/2014 season’s conclusion, going through the summer shows as the first half of the year. The second half of the year covers the 2014-2015 Television season, making sure that all performances throughout the year, receive the recognition, they deserve.
As you peruse the list, you’ll notice that all categories have four names, except for two categories; Most disappointing series of the second half’s vacant. The other category that breaks the rule’s the Best Supporting Actor, in the second half, there were far too many outstanding performances to limit that category to just four actors. In all categories, the name listed first and in blue, won the category, the runner-up’s listed second and in red, the third and fourth names are just randomly listed.
All choices were made by Jason Jones and I, all decisions by the Judges are final (Although, We’d Love Your Feed-Back.)
And on to the Awards:
Best Actor: James Spader-The Blacklist, Tom Mison-Sleepy Hollow, Lee Pace- Halt and Catch Fire, Sean Bean-Legends
Best Supporting Actor: Peter Capaldi-The Musketeers, Walton Goggins-Justified, Jon Voight-Ray Donovan, Tom Felton-Murder in the First
Best Actress: Mackenzie Davis- Halt and Catch Fire, Joelle Carter-Justified, Kerry Bishe- Halt and Catch Fire, Kathleen Robertson-Murder in the First
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Acker-Person of Interest, Tamla Kari-The Musketeers, Sarah Shahi-Person of Interest, Marissa Neitling-The Last Ship
Most Disappointing Show: The Leftovers, The Black Box, Resurrection, Power
Best New Show: The Blacklist, Legends, Halt and Catch Fire, Murder in the First
Most Underrated Show: Justified, Supernatural, The Musketeers, Halt and Catch Fire
Best Show: The Blacklist, Person of Interest, Legends, Justified
Best Actor: Jeff Daniels-The Newsroom, Ioan Gruffold-Forever, Elyes Gabel-Scorpion, Matt Ryan-Constantine
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Waterston- The Newsroom, John Noble- Sleepy Hollow, Judd Hirsch-Forever, Misha Collins-Supernatural, Jesse L Martin-The Flash, Mark Sheppard-Supernatural, Michael James Shaw-Constantine, Robert Patrick-Scorpion, Mandy Patinkin-Homeland, Robin Lord Taylor-Gotham, Sean-Pertwee-Gotham, Donal Logue-Gotham, Rupert Friend-Homeland
Best Actress: Claire Danes-Homeland, Anna Gunn-Gracepoint, Emily Mortimer-The Newsroom, Alana De La Garza-Forever
Best Supporting Actress Olivia Munn-The Newsroom, Jacki Weaver-Gracepoint, Elizabeth Henstridge-Agents of SHIELD, Chloe Bennett-Agents of SHIELD
Most Disappointing Show: None Applicable
Best New Show: Forever, Scorpion, Constantine, Gotham
Most Underrated Show: Constantine, Forever, Scorpion, Sleepy Hollow
Best Show: The Newsroom, Homeland, Person of Interest, Forever
There will be further adventures of Joe MacMillan, Cameron Howe, Gordon and Donna Clark and Nathan Cardiff next summer, as “AMC, ” announced that they’ve renewed their Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire” for a second season. Although the show didn’t have overall strong ratings, Network President Charlie Collier, issued a statement praising the show and the audience it attracts.
Collier said “This is a show about invention, experimentation, and the inherent risks in trying to break new ground; themes that really resonate with us as a network and attracted a passionate audience. We have a history of demonstrating patience through the early seasons of new shows, betting on talent and building audience over time. We see that opportunity here and look forward to a second season of Halt and Catch Fire from creators Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers, and showrunner Jonathan Lisco.”
The creative team also issued a statement. They said “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to continue telling this story. Our series about creation, innovation, and taking bold risks wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for our partners at AMC, a network known for these very things. Harnessing the momentum of our first season, this next chapter will take the rich characters our audience has come to love in new and surprising directions.”
The series set in the “Silicon Prairie” of Texas in the early eighties, featured sharp writing and strong acting in its first season. In the season finale, the creative team behind the Cardiff Electric portable personal computer the “Giant,” had split apart, with Clark the only one of the trio still working for the company.
Cardiff Electric’s Senior Product Manager for their personal computer division Joe MacMillan, definitely qualifies as a man of vision; unfortunately every time he reaches the destination his dreams led him to, he feels let down by the experience. Perhaps his attention span’s too short, or maybe the buzz he experiences when he reaches his goals never live up to the expectations. However if there remained any doubt about his self-destructive tendencies, they vanished in the final episode of the first season of the AMC Original Series, “Halt And Catch Fire.”
MacMillan and lead software engineer Gordon Clark meet with the company’s owner Nathan Cardiff to discuss their future with Cardiff, as well as the future of the company itself. Although Nathan’s being told by the pair, that they have built a personal computer that will give Cardiff $40 million dollars in profits, the owner’s not happy about the situation. The “Giant,” cost Cardiff his former trusted right-hand man, Sales Manager John Bosworth, whom Nathan fired and had arrested for manipulating company funds to keep the personal computer division running. The owner has watched the company his father founded, head in a way he feels less than comfortable with.
Joe attempts his silvered-tongued-smoothie routine, but the old man cuts him short, saying he should have the former IBM employee whacked and buried in a shallow-grave in the desert. However, the pair call his bluff when he contemplates coming back and running the company himself. He negotiates a deal, putting Clark and MacMillan as equal partners to run Cardiff and will give them eight percent of the company to split between them. Gordon’s reveling in the moment, but Joe looks less than satisfied as they high-five and congratulate each other.
Cameron Howe’s parted ways with Cardiff Electric and is sitting in her apartment as a telephone repairman looks at her land-line, which appeared to have lost a battle with a sledge-hammer. He tells her that he’s got to get wire-strippers from his truck, when she reaches in a drawer and hands him a pair. The man tells her the phone company’s hiring and she just smiles.
After a week of sleeping on the couch, in retaliation to Donna telling him about kissing Hunt, Gordon’s told to come back to their bed and after telling his wife he’s still very angry, he agrees to put it behind them. Donna’s back at work at Texas Instruments, the next morning and responding to a man from the personnel division about her job performance. She purposely sabotages the interview and to her delight finds herself fired, effective immediately. As Donna goes out to the parking lot, Gordon’s there to take her to lunch in an apple-red Porsche, which she laughingly calls the most ostentatious toy she’s ever seen and then tells her husband she loves it.
Back at Cardiff, Gordon starts humming the “Ride of the Valkyries,” soon joined by the rest of the software engineers in an off-key rendition, then opens a shipping carton and pulls out the first “Giant,” fresh from the factory. He triumphantly raises it over his head, to the cheers of the staff, then tells them that every one of the 100-units requires a full inspection. He then hands one to Joe’s secretary Debbie, as a gift, for putting up with his anger and frustration throughout the project.
Joe’s taken over Bosworth’s former office and Gordon walks into to see MacMillan trying to find a spot on a VHS-Tape of the NFL game he recorded the evening before, to show Clark. However, what he wants to show his new partner’s, what has become one of the most iconic TV commercials in the history of advertising. It’s the “1984 Mackintosh ad,” that turned Apple products into a household name and a major step into making the personal computer, the omnipresent item it’s become today.
When the spot ends, Joe’s beaming with inspiration, while Gordon applauds the drama that ad evokes when “the girl who looks like Cameron” throws the hammer at the screen, but he points out that they never showed a computer in the commercial and that the Mackintosh’s a toy, while they have built a real computer. Joe then makes an eleventh-hour attempt, to delay shipping the “Giant,” so they can design an awe-inspiring software application to make the Cardiff machine special.
Clark attempts to bring his partner back to reality, by telling him that they have produced the personal computer Joe envisioned at the start of the project, a machine that nobody, including Clark thought was realistic. The “Giant’s” perfect in its present form and now they can reap the rewards for their effort. As Gordon walks out of the office, Joe says more to himself than to his partner, that the girl in the commercial did look like Cameron.
Miss Howe’s at the phone company as some supervisor threatens her with legal action, because she has misused her phone company issued equipment. Cameron, however disarms the rather grumpy man, with her knowledge of equipment and he backs down. He asks her who she works for, and seemingly for the first time since she left the Clarks and Joe at Comdex, said out loud that she doesn’t work for anybody.
The elation at Cardiff, turns sour quickly as some of the software engineers have found a flaw with one of the first five machines they tested, that causes the computer to shut itself off. The computer’s the one that Gordon gave to Debbie and in his frustration, starts accusing her of dropping or mishandling the machine. MacMillan hears the commotion and walks in and inquires about the problem, one of the older engineers jumps to the conclusion that one machine out of every five’s flawed, meaning that they would have to hold off shipping until the problem’s solved. Joe takes that as a sign that they should design the software application he pitched to Gordon earlier.
Joe heads out to the main office and gathers all of Cameron’s “Coder Monkeys,” and tells them that he’s got a challenge for them all, to create a killer application for the “Giant.” All the programmers seem very enthused about the idea and pledge to have wonderful ideas when they arrive at work the next day.
Gordon arrives home to find Donna wearing one of his white shirts as pajamas and her hair in pigtails and she announces her first day as a lady of leisure was wonderful. She tells her husband that their daughters are gone for the night at a sleepover party and asks Gordon if he’d like to have one with her, then reveals the pillows and comforter on the living-room floor. As they cuddle after making love, Gordon tells Donna that he can’t trust Joe and wonders if he’s responsible for the damaged machine. Donna tells him that Gordon’s worked too hard for MacMillan to ruin their dreams.
The next morning the presentation by the programmers of their ideas for applications are incredibly lame and MacMillan makes his displeasure readily apparent. He berates them for not thinking big picture, then asks if Cameron was the only programmer among them that possessed creativity? One of the programmers shot back what ideas did Joe have and the former IBM employee just sat there with his head hanging down.
The doorbell rings at Cameron’s apartment and she opens the door to see Joe standing there and the pain is apparent in her eyes. He tells her he needs her, begs her to come back to Cardiff, then suggests she start her own company and he’ll hire her as a vendor. Finally he says they should start a company together, move to California and build a life together.
A few less broken promises and disappointments and Cameron most likely would’ve jumped into Joe’s arms and they’d pack their things and be off to destinations unknown, but those events occurred and Howe’s heart had broken too often. She told MacMillan, she thought she heard a heartbeat, but she now realized that what she heard was an echo. She told him that she fell in love with him, because he whispered her words back to her as if they were his. She then said he was the same as the boy, whose mother let go of his hand on the roof of their home causing him to fall and be impaled on a metal fence, a sad, little boy.
Gordon tells Donna that night that he’s going to get MacMillan to leave Cardiff Electric, by threatening to implicate Cameron as Bosworth’s co-conspirator in hacking the company’s bank account, although he tells his wife he would never truly turn her in. Donna says that MacMillan would call his bluff unless he had evidence implicating Howe and gives her husband a document that will fool Joe into thinking they have evidence.
Clark greets Joe sarcastically when he arrives at the office at 11:30 am and then shows his partner that all the programmers have left Cardiff except for one. He tells MacMillan that the rest of them have quit and went to work for Mutiny, which Joe inquires who is Mutiny and Gordon provides him the answer.
Mutiny, as you might expect is the brainchild of Cameron Howe and the office is her apartment. She’s got all the programmers she could ask for, but lacks an employee with any hardware knowledge, but she thinks she knows the perfect candidate. The doorbell of the Clark’s home rings and Donna answers it to find Cameron on their doorstep. She has come to try to recruit Donna to sign on with Mutiny and become the hardware guru she’ll need by her side to make the project a success.
Howe explains that Mutiny’s main purpose’s connecting people across the planet, they’ll play real games against other customers over phone lines, the customer will buy a subscription and receive a modem and software in return. Donna tells Cameron, that phone lines would lack the speed to do the job, and Howe reveals that she has created an application that will resolve that problem. Although clearly tempted to join Cameron, she’s conflicted believing Howe may want her as revenge on Gordon and thanks her, but passes on the offer.
Joe MacMillan’s a beaten and submissive creature as he walks into Gordon’s office, wearing a long face and his tail’s tucked between his legs. He admits that with the loss of their programmers, the “Giant,’ will go to market as is, when he finds out that Debbie’s unit was the only one found defective, he tells Clark they should ship immediately.
The night that Cameron, Gordon and Joe dreamed of when they started preliminary discussions about Cardiff building their own personal computer, has arrived, but it’s a far different scenario than the one they envisioned months before. John Bosworth and Cameron have departed the company and MacMillan seems less than enthused, forcing former mousey-wallflower Gordon Clark to inherit the role of fearless leader and cheerleader for the project. Gordon and Donna get dressed for the gala-event held that evening at the Cardiff offices, as they will christen the first truck filled with “Giants,” that will soon sit on retail store’s shelves. Gordon’s wearing a new suit for the occasion and complains about the cut, but his wife tells him he looks extremely handsome. He brushes his beard looking into the mirror, then pulls off his suit jacket and tells Donna he’ll need another ten minutes.
As we enter the party at the offices we join a man and woman in conversation and it slowly dawned on this viewer that the man was Gordon Clark, now clean-shaven and without his trademark aviator glasses. A few minutes later Gordon takes Donna into his office and presents her with the engagement ring he promised her nine-years earlier as soon as they sold their first computer.
Although nobody in attendance seems to notice, Joe MacMillan’s hovering over this affair like a wraith, sadness clearly showing in his eyes and a plastered-on phony grin on his face, he looks at the computer that they have spinning slowly around to showcase it at the party and we can plainly see he’s unhappy with where they are.
Clark directs all the employees out to the parking lot and he stands behind the delivery-truck filled the Cardiff computers, as the crowd stands in front of him in a semi-circle. Gordon proposes two toasts; the first to the man he states that’s the reason they have reached this moment and thanks Joe for his vision and determination and tells his partner that the “Giant’s” a testament to Joe, for realizing the seemingly impossible could become reality. His second toast of course is to Donna, then he christens the truck smacking a champagne bottle against its side.
If the evening ended at that moment, there would have been blue skies and smooth sailing for Cardiff Electric, but any viewer who has watched every episode of the first season, realized that “Halt And Catch Fire,” would not wrap up the season that smoothly and neatly. After Gordon gets his loaded wife into their new car, he walks over to Joe in the parking lot and sincerely thanks him for getting them to where they are, but fails to notice MacMillan’s demeanor. They say goodnight and each head their separate ways.
Gordon and Donna are incredibly happy as they drive home, until they stop at a red-light and get rear-ended. Clark’s saying that the other driver best have good insurance, steps out of the car and gets knocked to the ground as one of the two men in the car cracks him in the head with a blunt instrument. The duo is out to car-jack the Porsche and when the thief gets behind the wheel, it takes a bit for Donna to realize Gordon’s not the driver, he tears off and about a thousand yards later, stops and shoves Donna’s body out of the car.
Simultaneously MacMillan’s standing outside the truck, which we can see as the camera pans back is now out in the desert courtesy o Joe. His next move’s obvious, as he grabs a container of gasoline, douses the truck and it’s contents with the liquid, then sets it aflame, throwing his suit jacket into the inferno for good measure and walks away, from the truck and his career at Cardiff Electric.
A few weeks have passed and thankfully Donna only suffered a broken arm in the car-jacking incident and Gordon’s getting his daughters prepared for school. After loading them into the mini-van, he goes back into the house and tells his wife that he supports what ever career goals she has and offers her a prestigious position with Cardiff. Although Donna’s truly touched by Gordon’s offer, she tells him she got another offer a while back and she’s going to accept it. Clark embraces his wife and congratulates her, then heads off to drive the girls to school.
Mutiny’s buzzing with conversations and laughter, when Donna shows up for her first day with the startup. Cameron announces, that the company has dispensed with titles and the project’s theirs not hers. She then repeats to the staff what Bosworth told her earlier in the season, that people will fear them, because people fear the future.
Back at Cardiff, the software engineers, seated at a conference table with Gordon at the head of the table, as the older engineer reads the review of the “Giant,” by a trade journal and the evaluation’s positive and they start congratulating each other, save Clark who asks the group what’s next and gets met by silence. One of the group says that if MacMillan were still there he’d have them building a space-ship, but the haunting look in Gordon’s eyes show that he realizes he needs Joe back at his side.
MacMillan’s in Colorado stopped at a filling station out in the middle of nowhere, asking the proprietor directions to the Fiske Observatory and the man responds that the only way to reach it from there would involve a very lengthy hike up mountain roads. Joe tells the man he’s up for the hike and then asks the man about the woman who runs the observatory and the man replies, she seems nice enough but mainly keeps to herself. Joe asks him to watch his truck and when the man agrees hands the filling-station owner his keys. As he walks off, the man asks Joe if he’s a star-gazer, a question that remains unanswered as Joe starts his hike.
Cardiff Electric’s team to sell their new personal computer have arrived in Las Vegas in episode nine of the AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” as Gordon and Donna Clark, Cameron Howe and Joe MacMillan, have brought the prototype of the Giant to the Comdex Trade show hoping to return to Dallas, with lots of orders for the new product in hand. The crew have to overcome adversities from the time they arrived and just when it looked that they were sailing into clear skies, an unseen storm came into almost capsize their boat.
As MacMillan went to the hotel’s front desk to get the keys to the three bedroom suite reserved by Cardiff, the hotel manager tells Joe that the card the company had used for the room got declined and the hotel received information that funds were frozen due to the investigation into Cardiff by the FBI, that began in the previous episode. MacMillan being a pathological liar, told the manager his name’s John Bosworth, but when he attempts to put the charge on his private credit card, the manager immediately notices the different name on the card and sends Joe on his way.
As the four sit in the lobby attempting to come up with a plan, Gordon looks through the brochure of who will feature booths at the show and recognizes two losers he had met when he and Donna attended the show two-years earlier. Clark tells Joe to head into the rest-room and put on his best blue-suit. They head to the presentation hosted by a duo with the joint personality of a slab of granite, reading notes woodenly and showing the uneasiness they feel. Gordon starts throwing out questions that emphasize the product’s problems and then asks how they expect to compete when IBM releases the same product at a cheaper price? When they ask Gordon where that information came from, he nods his head toward MacMillan standing at the back of the room and they assume he’s with IBM.
Joe plays the part perfectly as he buys the pair drinks down at the bar and the men are besides themselves as they sunk every penny they had into the suite at the hotel and the spread they were going to have for their party that night. MacMillan tells them that IBM needs more rooms and that “Big Blue” would compensate them for the suite and the food and liquor for the party, leaving the men with their funds restored.
Cardiff also lost the booth they had reserved, so Donna and Cameron purchase a new one, far from their original location in prime real estate and far too small for their planned presentation. Cameron grabs some money and tells Donna to go to the suite and get ready for the party. She soon returns with some blocks of Styrofoam, a can of red spray-paint, a briefcase, a large metal chain and a saw. She goes with a simplistic but intriguing presentation, making a wall and a podium out of Styrofoam, spray painting the message on the wall that there’s a Giant in the briefcase that’s wrapped with the chain and puts the Cardiff Suite number as well. It soon attracts a large curious crowd.
With those problems resolved Gordon and Donna encounter yet another as they try to turn on the Giant and the computer won’t boot up. They move the prototype into their bedroom to solve the hardware glitch seconds before the first guests arrive for the party. Two-hours later Joe walks into the room and asks Gordon what’s the status and the engineer responds he’s almost ready. As the main room starts to reverberate with the crowd cheering Giant. MacMillan takes the machine away from Gordon and heads out to the cheering crowd.
Joe MacMillan’s far more than a master-salesman; he’s a showman, a manipulator, along the lines of the famous circus impresario P.T. Barnum, who posted signs throughout his circus, which read “This Way To The Egress.” What the attendees didn’t realize until they found the destination that the signs guided them to was the exit, which is what the fancier word means.
Joe came out teasing the crowd with the Giant and the audience demonstrated their excitement to see the computer in action. MacMillan takes his time working his way to the front of the room, then asks the crowd if they want him to turn it on and the audience erupts. Joe, tells them he could do that, but they’re in Vegas and happen to have the porn convention at the hotel next door. He tells the engineers that Cardiff has hired four big name actresses to entertain at the party and the room explodes in cheers. He then tries the old bait-and-switch, asking if the crowd wants him to pull up some spread sheets before introducing the ladies and the boos drown him out. He announces he’ll wait, if they promise to attend their demonstration at their booth the next day and they cheer in agreement. The four women enter in hot-pants and halter-tops and the booze starts flowing while the music cranks up and dancing begins. Gordon takes the Giant back into the bedroom so he and Donna can finish repairing it.
Later that evening, MacMillan notices Cameron talking with a young engineer from Silicon Valley and trying to talk her into moving there. They debate the pros and cons and then the engineer invites her and his fellow engineers out for pancakes. Joe seems sad she’s left with the group, but quickly becomes engaged with a man named Dennis who owns and operates Computer-Land, the chain that started retail sales of personal computers and tells MacMillan that he thinks the Giant could become a big product for his stores. Joe asks him why he’d be interested in a specialty product from a first time computer manufacturer and Dennis replies to his question by asking MacMillan if he ever sold cars? Joe responds he never had and the older man replies that’s how he started in sales and that taught him to sell station-wagons a dealership needed a sports-car in the window.
The four head down the next morning to present the Giant, when they notice a large crowd gathering around one booth and the buzz of excitement can be felt throughout the hall. As they get closer, we hear a familiar voice and see a look of shock on Donna’s face as she sees her former boss at Texas Instruments Hunt, talking about his new personal computer; a stripped down basic version of the Giant. It’s far more simplistic, has a plastic case, but it’s faster and cheaper than the Giant. As he unveils drawings of the “Slingshot,” a complete rip-off of the Cardiff machine, we see that former engineer of Gordon’s and the Clark’s next-door neighbor Gary’s Hunt’s lead engineer. When Hunt asks the crowd if they have questions, Donna pounces on him and starts to attack him, until Joe and other men pull her off him.
When the four get upstairs to their suite, Gordon tells MacMillan and Howe to wait outside and after Donna enters he slams the door behind them. He then repeatedly asked his wife if she slept with Hunt and she tells him no, but she kissed him and she wanted to sleep with him, because he treated her well while Gordon took her for granted. Clark then berates his wife for allowing him to pump her for information and tells her for all his shortcomings he never even thought of breaking their vows.
We move to the bar and see Hunt apologizing to what at first seems like Donna, but it’s actually Joe he’s talking with. MacMillan threatens him with a lawsuit and Hunt counters that by the time the case hit the courts, the “Slingshot,” would be in its third generation. Joe may have finally met somebody with even fewer moral convictions than he possesses the revulsion he shows is for both of them as he walks away. He gets into the elevator, Cameron rushes in at the last second and Joe takes her hand as the doors close.
They arrive at the suite to find a tipsy Gordon has reconfigured the Giant, so that the machine’s now faster and cheaper than Hunt and Gary’s machine, however he had to remove Cameron’s interactive operating system to accomplish it. Howe breaks into tears and tells MacMillan to make him put it back the way it was, but Joe’s first a survivor and realizes that Gordon’s changes will make the computer salable. Cameron leaves the suite in tears, despite Joe’s pleas to come with him to demonstrate the Giant.
Joe and Gordon present the computer to a large but underwhelmed crowd, who expected a game-changing machine and once again MacMillan makes lemonade out of lemons. He tells his audience that the bottom line, speed and reliability make the Cardiff computer great. He tells his audience that if they want a friend get a dog, play with their kids head to the park. The purpose of the Giant is to get the job done right and quickly and for its cost it blows away the competition. The crowd slowly and then loudly applaud the speech. Dennis tells Joe that he’s thinking of ordering 60 thousand units at nine hundred dollars a machine and MacMillan responds that the order is a start; the retailer then ups the offer to 70 thousand units and Joe responds they’ll talk as the episode comes to an end.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“
Perhaps the best analogy for the eighth episode of AMC summer sensation “Halt And Catch Fire,” would be the juggler who keeps multiple plates spinning on sticks, forcing him to constantly move, ensuring that none of the plates ever hit the ground. There were so many individual brush fires burning within Cardiff Electric and in the lives of some characters, that one false move could have led to an inferno. Each of the show’s main characters were severely tested during the episode and the team behind the Cardiff Electric personal computer, dubbed the “Giant” almost led each member running to a different destination.
The episode opened on a productive morning at the Cardiff office-complex, as Sales Manager John Bosworth, programmer Cameron Howe, software engineer Gordon Clark and Senior Product Manager Joe MacMillan, planned out their itinerary for the company’s appearance at Comdex to introduce their revolutionary machine. Clark and MacMillan talk to Bosworth about all the money that the company will need to payout to make the right impression and they finish arrangements on getting a booth in prime retail space on the trade-show’s floor.
The camaraderie among the team disappears quickly when Gordon finds out that only MacMillan will represent the company at Comdex, as he naturally assumed that he was in on the trip and presentation. He ridicules Joe, telling him that although he’s great in sales, he knows nothing about the computer and he’ll be stuck if the machine glitches. MacMillan hits Clark below the belt, reminding the engineer of the disaster he and his wife Donna went through two-years earlier when they tried introducing their own personal computer the Symphonic.
Gordon goes back to his office and freaks out that he’s being left home after envisioning himself rubbing elbows, with industry visionaries like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. He tries listening to a stress-relieving cassette on his Walkman but seconds later chucks the machine against his office wall.
Donna’s back at their house, watering the back lawn, repaired from Gordon’s excavation mission in search of a Giant in the previous episode, when she realizes someone’s on her property. She heads out front to find her boss at Texas Instruments, Hunt about to get back into his car. She stops him and asks why he’s there and he becomes flustered and asks her to forget he was there. He seems interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with Donna, one she initiated in the previous episode by misreading his intentions and kissing him. She tells him that he can’t just show up at her house, he tells her she’s a fantastic woman and drives away.
She enters the house to find a very solemn Gordon and we can see that she believes that her husband’s aware of her indiscretion. However, she sighs with relief when he tells her that he broke their rule about consulting each other about purchases over fifty dollars, by spend 450 dollars for a hotel room for Comdex. She smiles blankly and tells him that’s fine.
Next morning Bosworth’s about to enter his office with a coffee cup in hand when his secretary tries to intercept him, but he brushes her off, walks into his office and sees a very angry Nathan Cardiff standing in front of his desk. John tries using his “Good Ol Boy Charm” on the owner of the company, but it fails miserably. Nathan brings up an earlier conversation between them, when Bosworth approached him to pony up the money that the personal computer division needed, but the owner denied the request and told his employee that when the division ran out of funds to shut it down.
John starts to exhibit his discomfort with the conversation, just as we realize that something’s amiss. How could the team make this giant presentation without any funds left in the budget? Bosworth tries to say that he was able to cut some unnecessary expenses and divert it to the division, but we can see by the look in Nathan’s eyes that he’s aware that his Sales Manager has done far more manipulation than what he stated.
We move to the outer office to see a group of FBI agents entering the building and we soon learn they are there for two purposes, to arrest Bosworth for hacking into the company’s bank account and diverting funds into the computer division and to shut Cardiff down and to seize all the computers on the premises. Clark walks into the office minutes after the agents arrived and heads straight to the “Kill Room” and proceeds to disassemble the Giant prototype. By the time the agents enter the room the prototype is now in pieces and arousing no suspicion from the agents, who take a computer from the office but leave all the components of the Giant behind.
Nobody can spot a scam quicker than a scam-artist, a role MacMillan has found himself in several times over the years and he grabs Cameron and pull her into an office, closing the door behind him. Joe realizes that Bosworth doesn’t have the skill-set to have hacked into the bank’s computer system and it’s unlikely anyone in his circle of friends have that knowledge either. He asks Cameron if she’s involved and the programmer tells him that she and John would have replenished the diverted funds with sales from the Giant. He leaves the office and runs into Gordon in the hallway and they make plans to meet back at the Clark’s house.
Cameron, Joe and Gordon sit down in the Clark’s garage and Gordon mistakenly believes that there’s no truth to the accusations, but MacMillan quickly makes him aware that’s incorrect. He tells Clark that Howe’s involved and the three start throwing barbs and accusations at each other and all three head their separate ways. Gordon calls Donna at her office and starts to unload all his problems, but she can’t handle it and tells him she has to attend a meeting. She brings some reports to Hunt’s office, but his secretary tells her he’s not in the office, then asks if Donna would like to sign the going-away card for Hunt, who handed in his resignation unexpectedly. Donna’s rocked by the news that he’s leaving and tries unsuccessfully to get further details from the secretary.
Gordon grabs a pair of bolt-cutters from his garage and heads into his car. We next see him in the Cardiff offices and he gathers up all the components for the Giant and carries them into his car and takes off quickly. Donna has no idea where he could be and goes to bed, but wakes up at 1:50 am and sees her husband has yet to come to bed. She finds him in the garage finishing reassembling the Giant and she screams at him that he’s tampering with evidence in a criminal case, but he corrects her as by leaving it behind during the raid, the FBI did not consider it evidence.
He tells his wife he’s crazy and she once was too, but she felt she had to mature and take on the role of the grown-up in the relationship. Gordon begs for her to remember who she was and believe in him and Donna tells him she supports him fully. He tells her that he’s driving to Austin as that’s where Cameron reportedly is, kisses his wife and takes off into the night. She heads into the house, calls her mother and tells her that she and her two daughters need to stay with them for a while. She asks her mother to pick up the girls in the morning and she plans to talk to Joe the next evening.
Howe’s playing video games at an arcade as Clark walks over to her and says he’s got next and the shock registers in her eyes. She develops a new-found respect for the engineer when he reveals he broke into Cardiff and stole the Giant, which now’s in his garage. He starts talking to her about her heading to Comdex along with him and Joe, but she’s against the idea at first, but Gordon shows some salesmanship by getting her to agree to join them.
MacMillan’s working his own angles, calling a potential customer about placing an order for some of the Cardiff computers before Comdex, but the man says he’s going to buy the IBM model. Joe counters that IBM doesn’t produce a personal computer, but the man informs him that word on the street says that “Big Blue” will have a model in production the following year. Joe decides to get the information straight from the horse’s mouth and catches a flight to New York to hear it from his estranged father. John Getz who’s cast as MacMillan Senior’s an actor that I remember as a very young man from the seventies. The characters that he played did not have the angst of either of the MacMillan men, but he’s done a great job in the role now making two appearances.
Father asks son why he’s in his office and the son responds to find out whether IBM is going into the personal computer market. MacMillan Senior replies they are and Joe takes it as an overt act by his father to crush him. The father tells his son that he has delusions of grandeur, that even if Joe Senior, wanted to accomplish that IBM would never allow it. He then says that if it’s any consolation the machine won’t start production for at least a year.
The son getting the information he came for, gets ready to depart and fly back to Dallas, but his father convinces him to have a drink and clear the air between them. We quickly get to the source of the problem between them and what led to his meltdown at IBM. Joe’ father told him, that his mother was dead for 23-years, only to find out shortly before his scary performance at IBM that she got committed to an institution for all those years and his dad told him the truth when his mother actually passed.
We learned a few episodes back Mrs. MacMillan had some severe mental problems and was abusing drugs when Joe was in grade school. One night she took him up to their roof to look at the stars and without paying attention, let go of his hand and the boy immediately lost his balance and impaled throughout his torso as he landed on a metal fence with each post topped with a point. Joe asked if his father hates him because he reminds him of his late wife and MacMillan Senior replies he loves his son and he loved his wife. He then asks his son to return to IBM and Joe replies he will if he’s in charge of the personal computer division, his father says he’ll make it happen and it looks like MacMillan is going to leave his teammates floating down the river on their own.
Donna’s waiting for her soon-to-be estranged husband at the house and she walks into the garage and heads over to the Giant and boots it up. At first we can tell she’s impressed, soon she starts to enjoy and then a broad smile covers her face as she realizes Gordon encoded an encryption that they are the only two people that can read it She sees their original computer broken on the garage floor and attempts to fix it, but as she heads into the drawer she stumbles across a red ring box, smiles and then starts to cry, moments before she’s scared that he was losing his mind, those fears vanish upon discovering the box.
Back from Austin the pair head to Joe’s and he doesn’t answer the door, however Cameron has a key and lets them both in. Not as ostentatious as Gordon imagined. After the pair get some beer and a pizza, and while are eating and drinking on MacMillan’s floor the two open enough to each other to talk about their histories. Now we get the information that so effected Donna. He tells Howe, that he and Donna met while was in college and he really wanted this kit to build your own computer, but he was deep in debt and couldn’t get everything he wanted. As she knocks on his door he is frantically searching the ring. After watching his effort in futility, she told him to stop looking for the ring, she found it and pawned it, and she got him the Computer Kit telling him that when he sells his first computer, she then would gladly take the ring back. He told Cameron that the original guy who designed their first ring duplicated it completely and he has it hidden in the garage.
Joe finds Gordon and Cameron at his apartment and questions why they are there, Gordon tells him the three of them are going to Comdex and MacMillan once again ridicules his statement. However Clark then tells Joe that he has the Giant in his garage and the three of them can go there, take orders from customers and with the sad financial strength of Cardiff Electric, Nathan’s not going to refuse to get the added revenue. They have just one problem, they need funds so Cameron convinces Joe to sell his Porsche and although totally bummed, they now have the money to show off the Giant at Comdex. They head back to Clark’s house and Donna tells her husband she’s joining him for trip to Comdex and it appears that the marriage’s back on steady ground.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“
We have reached episode seven of the first season of AMC Original Series “Halt And Catch Fire,” and although the personal computer designed by Cardiff Electric is near reality, the project has caused collateral damage for all involved. The episode opens with Gordon Clark back on that rainy street where he stole the Cabbage Patch Kids for his daughters and he once again approaches the dead body he saw that night. Clark however gets close enough to identify the corpse this time and he realizes the dead man is himself. He wakes up in bed startled to find his wife Donna standing at the foot of their bed and his daughter’s calling out for him. Donna tells him that he was screaming at the top of his lungs, waking the girls and perhaps the neighborhood.
Cardiff Sales Manager John Bosworth is talking with their accountant about the dire financial straits that threatens the company. With the loss of revenue due to the accounts lost to IBM and the money going towards building their computer, the bottom’s about to drop out. Bosworth tells the accountant to keep the information between them, as he leave’s John’s office, Bosworth sees Joe and Cameron laughing together before he closes his door. As he sits back down he opens his desk drawer and we see a divorce declaration, filed by his wife and waiting for his signature. There’s been no mention of Mrs. Bosworth since the series premiere when John told his secretary his wife fixed him pork chops for dinner. Apparently the hours he’s put in destroyed their relationship.
MacMillan and Cameron are eating TV-dinners and drinking wine when Joe grabs a live circuit telling Howe that it was just a few volts and then cranks up the power and says he’s turning himself on. He offers her his hand and she tentatively takes it and feels the electricity surge through her body and the two embrace and make love on the office floor. They are still recovering when Joe’s office phone rings, he heads to the office and expresses surprise at hearing whose on the other end of the line. As he gets involved in the conversation, he shuts his office door closing the conversation for Cameron who looks confused.
Back at the Clark’s home, Donna’s getting ready to leave for her overnight business trip telling Gordon last-minute instructions, but he’s seemingly oblivious as he rehearses a conversation he expects to have at the office. However when Donna, asks him if he understood what she said he repeats back the instructions exactly. He leaves the house still talking to himself as Donna tells him she loves him too.
Joe walks into his office and finds Cameron in his chair reading a trade magazine and then summarizes the stories as Joe walks in. He’s not happy as she drove off with his car while he was on the phone and after he tells Cameron that he realizes there’s someone else in the room. Joe’s old friend industrial designer Simon Church, the man on the other end of the phone has sat on the couch in the office and MacMillan’s totally flustered. He trips all over himself apologizing and welcoming him, Church realizes Joe’s caught off-guard and just plays it off.
The pair sit down in the conference room with Gordon Clark, who freaks out when he sees Simon’s designs. The look is revolutionary but Clark complains that the machines specs would need radical alteration to work in the proposed package. Church and Gordon engage in a battle of words, Simon calling the engineer pedestrian while Clark counters that the designer’s unrealistic. MacMillan tries to restore order by telling Clark that the design is the future and that they are naming their new product Contrail. Gordon becomes unhinged, telling Joe the name’s a terrible idea, that Contrail’s the vapor and dust from a plane’s exhaust. He sarcastically says they should name it Cardiff’s Giant and with that Simon packs up his designs and prepares to leave the building. Joe follows him out to the lobby which Cameron witnesses and she soon hears Church asking MacMillan what’s up with the girl? Joe asks if that’s why the designer is leaving and Simon walks into the elevator silently.
Joe heads to Gordon’s office and blasts him out, then returns to his own office and finds Cameron waiting there. Pulling no punches as usual, she asks MacMillan if he had slept with Church. Joe confessed the two were together in Europe ten-years previously, but Simon left thus ending the relationship. Cameron tells him that she’s not bothered that Joe’s been with men in the past, but we can see that she looks threatened. MacMillan tells Bosworth that his designer dropped out and asked John to reach out to his local connection. Bosworth sets up a meeting for that evening at a strip club with his guy, when Cameron finds out she asks Joe if he’s still going to the opening of a photography show by a friend of Simon’s and Joe tells her he’s not.
Donna and Hunt are at company headquarters of Texas Instruments for a presentation to the company’s executives. Their superiors ask Hunt if the latest fix they are proposing will be the cure-all for the company’s personal computer “The 99,” and Donna speaks up saying that it’s not a permanent solution, the machine’s flawed and they should stop producing it. Hunt grabs the opening and backs up his employee stating that the machine’s not making enough of a profit to deal with the problems and surprisingly the executives agree.
Entering the elevator after the meeting Hunt praises Donna for speaking her opinion and getting the executives to come to the correct conclusion. He suggests they celebrate on the company’s tab at dinner at seven and she agrees. When she arrives back to her room she sees a message from Gordon, whose drunk and has the kitchen sink in pieces trying to fix the leaky faucet. He starts unloading on Donna about his problems with Joe and Simon and she tries to get him to see the situation more optimistically. Gordon at that point slices open his thumb with a screwdriver and starts bleeding profusely and drops the phone. After he wraps a towel around his thumb he picks up the receiver and tells his wife he has to go and instead of putting the receiver in its cradle he throws it on the dish drain.
Clark goes into his daughters’ room and they ask for a bedtime story. Gordon tells them about a farmer in Cardiff, New York in the 1800’s who built a ten foot giant and buried it on his land for ten-years. He then had his men help him dig it up and all of his workers thought the giant was real and that the farmer should show the giant at his farm and charge admission. People from near and far came to see the giant and the farmer was making a tidy sum from the admissions. He then met Circus Impresario P.T. Barnum, who became the farmer’s partner and would change the farmer’s life forever. Barnum broke up the partnership, then built his own giant which he told people was real and soon they flocked to the circus and the farmer was soon forgotten.
Bosworth, MacMillan and the designer named Kenny are sharing drinks at the strip-club and Kenny’s sleaziness soon becomes apparent, through the comments he makes about the girls and trying to jack up his price with Cardiff. He tells the pair he’s aware that he wasn’t their first choice and his feelings were hurt. Joe tries to sweet talk him, but Kenny’s too sharp to fall for the compliments.
On the other side of town Cameron and the girl she met on the street earlier in the season walk into the exhibit, with Cameron rocking the young professional look. She’s asked at the door if she’s invited and tells the attendant she was and drops her friend off to drink free champagne from the bar while she goes to talk to Simon. The two trade banter and Simon tells Howe he can see why Joe likes her, but tells her to inform MacMillan that his second chance idea didn’t work. Cameron tells Church that Joe has no idea she is there.
The designer then asks her if Joe had revealed their past and she confirmed he did, he then asks did Joe tell her Simon left him and she replies that he did. He then reveals the reason he left, because he told MacMillan he loved him and could immediately sense that his statement ended the relationship and left the next morning to avoid embarrassment. He tells Cameron that he believes Joe grew bored with him and warns her the same fate awaits her. Cameron wants to leave but her friend talks her into staying and drinking champagne.
Donna and Hunt are sharing dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and Hunt is praising his employee to the heavens. They suddenly become aware of the live pianist and wish there was a more talented player at the keyboards. He finishes his song and goes to take a break and Hunt convinces Donna to play, which she eventually does and the diners enjoy her playing. A man comes and puts ten dollars in the tip jar and asks her name and she replies Susan Fairchild, her mother’s maiden name and the name she’s quoted by in the Wall Street Quarterly article on Cardiff.
Hunt and Donna are laughing as they enter the elevator and he once again starts complimenting her, he says he likes Susan Fairchild because she’s fun and bold. He then gets off at his floor telling Donna he would see her in the morning. Clark’s caught up in the moment and she toys with the idea of going to Hunt’s room when he knocks on her door. She mistakenly misinterprets his reason for coming and kisses him passionately, saying she’s taken his advice and acting bolder. Hunt is clearly uncomfortable as the reason he came to her room was a fax from Gordon had been accidentally delivered to his room. Donna wants the floor to open and swallow her whole, while Hunt tries to play it off as no big deal although he’s incredibly uncomfortable and wishes her a good rest of the night.
Donna calls the local car rental center and arranges to rent a car so she can head home immediately. Meanwhile Gordon’s attempting to fix his sink when he hears his daughters voices outside even though they were in bed. Clark goes out to find out what’s going on and the girls tell him they’re digging for the giant. He tells them there’s no giant on their property, that the story took place long ago and far away, but then tells them to hold on and he’d show them something.
Negotiations are wrapping up between the trio at the strip bar and they are about to part company, when Kenny decides to say the wrong thing at the worst possible time. He says that MacMillan never smiled at any of the strippers and then asks him if he’s “queer.” Bosworth knocks the designer down with a blow to the jaw and Kenny screams to John he’s pressing charges and Bosworth will get arrested for assault, As Joe and John leave the bar Bosworth asks Joe if there’s still any chance with Simon and Joe replies he’s about to find out.
MacMillan drives to the photo exhibition and confronts Church on what exactly his problem is, Simon responds that Cameron reminds him of Joe at her age and we see her and her friend are still at the bar. Joe replies that she’s light years ahead of where he was at her age and tells his former love that she’s the future and that he and her are now a couple, that Simon and his time had ended ten-years earlier. Cameron now sufficiently drunk and her and an attendant get into an altercation and she falls to the floor, Joe comes over gently lifts her up and escorts her out.
Donna arrives home to find the house in shambles and her daughters asleep on the living-room floor. Panic stricken she wakes one of the girls up and she tells her mother that Gordon’s in the backyard digging. She kisses her daughter good night and heads out to find Clark in a hole likely ten-feet deep. When she asks him what he’s doing he tells her he’s looking for the giant.
A cab pulls up in front of a hotel with Cameron and Joe in the backseat and Simon up front with the driver, as the taxi stops Church exits the vehicle. Joe tells Cameron he’ll walk his friend into the lobby and approaches Simon. He tells Joe he’s very ill and that the design belongs to Cardiff, then kisses Joe on the cheek and they embrace. Cameron witnesses this all, starts to cry and tells the driver to leave, but MacMillan chases down the cab and climbs inside Howe tearfully asks Joe if he’ll get bored with her and he responds he doesn’t know, but puts his arm around her and pulls her body next to his.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“
Storms were brewing throughout the sixth episode of the AMC summer series “Halt And Catch Fire,” on the weather-front and within the ranks of Cardiff Electric as differing visions created emotional conflict. Just as Cardiff had achieved a measure of success regarding their new personal computer, ideas emerged that could put the project back at square one. The battle that resulted from the philosophical division, pitted Cameron Howe and her team of coders against Gordon Clark and his group of engineers with Senior Product Development Manager Joe MacMillan caught in the crossfire.
The episode opened in MacMillan’s apartment as the on-again/off-again friends with benefits relationship with Ms. Howe was back in full force as the couple got down to business. As Cameron started kissing Joe’s chest, she asked him of the true origin of the scars that cover his torso. MacMillan starts telling her a story about a 1964 bright-yellow car that he fell in love with and bought as a teen. As he started to describe a winter auto accident, Howe stops him and asks if he is lying once again.
A sheepish grin crosses his face and he begins again, this time weaving a tale that took place when he was seven, when Cameron cuts him short, accusing him of lying once again. MacMillan asks her why she wants to know so badly, that their outside the office relationship is purely physical and she calls the shots, as to when and where their encounters take place. Although it is obvious to the viewer that she really wants to know the real Joe, Howe berates him for being nothing more than an empty thousand dollar suit and leaves the apartment.
Back at Cardiff, Gordon is at his desk soldering the circuit board when he spies something amiss, after pulling out a magnifying glass he sees a little flower with pink blossoms peeking over its tiny green leaves. He tries to pull the plant out with his fingers, but a force is stopping his hand from reaching it. In reality he nodded off at his desk and when he awakens he gets knocked out of his chair from the force of a shock he received from the board.
The scene shifts to the office of Hunt, Donna Clark’s boss at Texas Instruments and former high-school friend, as he looks through a report she just handed in to him. He tells her that she may have to explain it more simply to him, as it is far over his head. He then tells her that he is going to travel to the company’s headquarters and he would like her by his side, if she would consent on going on a business trip with him. Although slightly flustered Donna immediately agrees to go.
Donna is in bed and asleep when Gordon comes home, three-sheets to the wind and reeking of beer. He attempts to seduce his wife, but she gently tells him she has a tough day ahead of her. She then tells her husband that one of their daughters is so obsessed with getting the hot-new-toy, a Cabbage-Patch Kid that she started crying earlier. Gordon in his drunken haze volunteers to get the doll the next day, a pledge that had evaporated from his mind, by the time he woke up.
MacMillan wakes up, opens his blinds to his spectacular view, then steps into his closet and picks out his suit, tie and shirt and walks out looking sharp as a tack. He drives over to a local car-wash and when the process finishes, the attendant gives Joe a rain-check as a big storm’s supposed to hit the area the following day. As he’s about to enter his car, he notices a billboard behind him advertising a men’s cologne and the male model is wearing an open collar dress shirt. Inspired by the image, MacMillan takes off his jacket and tie and heads into the office in that fashion.
Cameron has new digs, as we find her living with one of her coders Yo-Yo and his roommate a local musician. Yo-Yo hands her a floppy-disc and tells her he created a new program based on the game Adventure as a gift for her which gets him a huge smile from his boss. He then offers her a ride to work.
Cardiff Electric is about to celebrate a momentous event as all the employees have gathered to see the bare-bones proto-type of their new personal computer come to life. After quoting Henry Ford and thanking the engineers and the coders, Joe’s ready to flip the switch on their new baby, when a voice from the crowd suggests Sales Manager John Bosworth get the honor. After most of the room chants for Bosworth, MacMillan says it’s a great idea and invites him up to turn on the computer. With a crude Good Ol’ Boy toast, Bosworth flips the switch and the screen reads “Hello World.”
As the employees share hugs and congratulations, MacMillan walks over to Clark and strongly shakes his hand while looking him in the eye and a smile beaming from his face. The pair exchange apologies and then Gordon invites Joe to his house for dinner the next evening and MacMillan immediately accepts. As they part, he walks over to Cameron and asks her the status of the peripheral drives that her crew is working on. Howe’s offended by the tone of voice that MacMillan uses and she walks away without providing an answer.
Back in her office trying to write code for the drives, she gets frustrated and pulls out the disc Yo-Yo had given her and inserts into her computer. She’s immediately transfixed as the program asks her if she is Cameron Howe and then asks her a series of questions to which she types in answers and the program responds. The look of happiness on her face is child-like as she starts to envision adding this feature to the BIOS she wrote.
She runs to the “Kill Room,” finding Gordon and most of the engineers and excitedly tells him about her idea, telling him that she needs 384K of RAM to accomplish her goal. Gordon literally laughs her off, dismissing the notion and telling her he can’t allocate her that amount of memory. Clark tells her they have already designed the perfect machine, but Howe vehemently disagrees and calls him a coward.
She heads to MacMillan’s office telling him she wants to give their machine a soul and although he’s intrigued with her thought-process, tells her that it might be more appropriate as their second model of the computer. Cameron then leaves in a huff and Joe heads to the break area and encounters Gordon, who immediately asks if Joe has heard about Howe’s new vision. Although we just saw MacMillan telling Cameron he’s against the idea, he tells Clark that he’s giving it serious consideration. Gordon explodes, saying that he accomplished the impossible for Joe and he won’t change a thing. MacMillan replies that Clark will do what ever he’s told, as that’s the nature of their relationship.
Gordon arrives home feeling like a beaten man and tells Donna what happened that day and that he had also invited MacMillan to dinner for the next night, before the conflict arose. Donna tells her husband that he’s created a perfect machine and to stand his ground against Joe, not allowing him to ruin his project. She agrees to have him for dinner in an effort to bolster Gordon’s cause. Donna then asks about the Cabbage-Patch Kids and he lies to her telling her it’s in his office so their daughter won’t find it. Although she remains silent, Donna realizes Clark forgot all about his promise.
The storm that the car-wash attendant had predicted was raging the next morning. Clark pushed aside all his work assignments and devoted the day to track down a Cabbage-Patch kid. He drives to a local toy store, and sees a hand-written note on the door stating they were out of the dolls and starts to head back to his car, when a guy in the parking lot carrying a wrapped package, asks him if he was in search of the hard to find toy. Gordon joyously tells him that he is and he gives the guy the eighty-dollars that he told Clark he paid for it. As soon as he gets the money, he runs to car and peels out of the parking lot, causing Gordon to finally realize he’s been duped.
Back at Cardiff he and Joe’s secretary call every toy-store in the vicinity to get that elusive toy. After a series of frustrated attempts, Gordon finds a store that tells him they have the Cabbage-Patch Kid and he tells the person on the other end of the phone to hold the doll and he will head over. What he fails to realize is that the storm is turning rather ugly and not a great time to drive.
Cameron is about to head home when Bosworth comes into her office and asks her and then tells her they are going to have a drink in his office. We rejoin the pair a couple of drinks in, when the alcohol has broken down the barriers each usually hide behind. John displays a tenderness and warmth that he previously kept hidden and Howe opens up to him, about her childhood and how she came to fall in love with writing code. Bosworth tells her that there are many at Cardiff Electric who would be overjoyed to see her fail, as she represents the future and that scares them.
Joe arrives at the Clark’s house long with a fancy bottle of wine and Donna tells him that Gordon hasn’t gotten home yet, because he probably is searching for a Cabbage-Patch Kid. After she introduces her daughters to Joe, the girls are smitten and one of them grabs his calf and sits down on the floor, well not exactly on the floor; on one of MacMillan’s shoes. He tells the child that the shoe she is sitting on comes from Italy, who asks where that country’s located. We can see that Joe is doing his best to tolerate the two children.
Gordon is battling the elements as he drives in search of the doll his daughter longs for and we hear the radio in the car talking about a hurricane. He finally reaches the store and finds it’s closed, but there’s a display in the window with two Cabbage-Patch Kids. In the next few seconds my thought process jumped from Gordon wouldn’t do that to realizing that Clark would smash the window and grab the two dolls. Just after he takes them he hears a sound nearby and runs to find out the source and sees a dead-body on the side of the road next to a sparking electrical wire. He runs back to his car drenched to the bone and puts the dolls in his vehicle and heads for home.
MacMillan is still being fussed over by the Clark girls, when he asks them if they would like to build a fort and when then say yes, tells them to get some blankets. The girls rush back with the blankets and Joe turns around some chairs, drapes the blanket over them and tells the girls to enter the fort with him, which he exits as soon as they get in. The two adults exchange anecdotes about storms from their childhood and Joe mentions that his mother used to take him up to the roof of their Victorian home to watch storms. Donna and he start to talk about the Cardiff computer and wages a pretty compelling argument to leave the machine as is.
The storm gets more intense and the two girls get scared and run over to hold their mother. Joe tells them they have no worries as they have two hurricane zappers at the ready and gives each girl a flashlight. He tells them that the beam zaps away the storms and in a little storm like the one they were experiencing, it could stop the storms by beaming the light at the ceiling. Their new weapons occupy them for a while but return when the storm’s harshness increased and ask MacMillan if they need to use the zappers, which they have named outside. Joe realizes that the girls have become attached to their new “friends” and agrees to their request and puts on a performance worthy of a Super-Hero. The storm does decrease in strength and the girls think MacMillan is a life-saver.
Gordon arrives home minutes later and Donna expresses her concern about his safety. Joe then tells the family, that it’s time for him to leave, but Clark tells MacMillan that he really wants to talk to him, but he replies to get settled in with his family and they will talk the next day.
He then drives over to Cameron’s and she answers the door. He asks her if she’s alright and did he have someone to protect her from the storm because he didn’t. She lets him in and he asks to see her work, she turns on the program and it asks him what’s his name. When he types in Joe, it then asks him what he would like to do, causing him to feel the same emotions that Cameron had when she encountered Yo-Yo’s game. He then tells her that he got his scars as a boy, as his mother used to take him to the roof of their Victorian home to look at the stars. He said his mother was unstable and had experimented with drugs and one night she let go of his hand and he fell onto a fence and spent most of the next two years in hospitals. Cameron believes him and starts kissing him believing they’ve reached a breakthrough in their relationship. However, after talking about the roof with Donna, was this just one more concocted tale?
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“
Episode five of AMC series “Halt And Catch Fire,” opened with a study in contrasts as we watch Joe MacMillan and Cameron Howe, wake up and prepare for their work-day at Cardiff Electric. MacMillan wakens still feeling pain in his torso, from the beat-down he got from some Texas police officers in the previous episode, although the bruises on his face have mostly healed. Cameron wakes up in a hotel bed and she is in far better spirits than she was waking up in her basement work-station at Cardiff. She takes a shower, washes her hair, gets dressed and then calls a taxi to take her to work.
Joe however, is grimacing with every move he makes, even having difficulty buttoning his shirt and putting on his tie. After he finishes getting dressed, he grabs his baseball bat and tries to attempt to swing it, but the pain he experiences in his first two attempts, prevents him from completing the task. Finally in his third attempt, MacMillan is able to swing through the pain and repeats the process a few more times.
Gordon Clark arrives home from Cardiff just as his wife Donna is cooking breakfast. He tells her he is just home long enough to change and grab a cup of coffee and we see the disappointment in Donna’s face. It is her father’s birthday and both her mother and dad are at the house, Donna had thought that her husband had come home to wish his father-in-law a happy birthday. At that point both of Donna’s parents walk into the kitchen and engage Gordon in conversation. Clark and his father-in-law walk into the dining room where Gordon’s two daughters are sitting at the table, entranced with the electronic gadget they are playing with. Clark assumes they have a calculator, but in fact it is a TV set the size of a wrist watch, his father-in-law Gary, tells him it is the latest hot item from Japan and he will be selling it in his next catalog.
We head to Cardiff Electric and see Sales Manager John Bosworth, holding a presentation for a bunch of prospective buyers for their upcoming personal computer, while Joe stands in the back of the room with his back against the glass and remaining silent. Bosworth is playing his “Good Ol’ Boy,” persona for all it’s worth, telling the various company executives, that because their new computer will be so light and portable, they can take their secretaries for some “Afternoon Delight,” and tote the computer with them, so they’ll never miss a memo.
The group laugh heartily at Bosworth’s joke, but then start asking him technical questions that he is not knowledgeable enough to answer. He looks to MacMillan at the back of the room and Joe tells his boss that he’s just some carpetbagger from New York and the group would have no interest in what he has to say. Bosworth realizing he’s trapped, tells his potential clients that they can look up the answers to their questions in the packages in front of them. After getting his fill of John squirming, he started talking to the group and soon had their undivided attention.
Joe MacMillan maybe a man without any redeeming qualities, however he is a superb orator and even better at sizing up a situation, to say exactly the right thing at the most opportune time. That is what makes him an extraordinary salesman, a natural shark always looking for his next kill. MacMillan could steal your watch off of your wrist and then sell it back to you, making you feel that he gave you a bargain. First he provided the answer for the new computer’s speed that had stumped Bosworth, but then he proceeded to reel his audience in. Joe told the men that Cardiff’s new machine’s designed for their “third-shelf,” with IBM occupying the first shelf and already established manufacturers taking the space on the second one.
Joe then told him that the personal computer that Cardiff would put on the market would become the new industry standard; that once the public got the chance to see the new machines, they would embrace them. Instead of concerns about something being IBM-Compatible, consumers will want Cardiff Electric-Compatible products and if they convince the CEO of each of their companies to buy the new machine, in a year each of the men in the room would be their company’s new CEO. He stopped talking and each excited executive in the room had questions to ask him.
Cameron traveled to Cincinnati at the request of MacMillan, for an apparent company project and when she arrives at Cardiff she’s overwhelmed with the changes that went on in her absence. The company hired a slew of new young programmers as well as a new software director named Steve, that Cameron takes an instant dislike to. We can sense from their first meeting, that Steve will attempt to break Cameron’s spirit and show her whose the boss.
Cameron walks into Joe’s office interrogating him on why he hired Steve instead of putting her in charge. He responds that her lack of people skills, management experience as well as her demeanor, would make her a liability in that position. He then tells her that “the thing” they have going on, doesn’t provide her more privilege at Cardiff. She then reaches into his front pants pocket, taking the key to his apartment to take all her stuff out of there.
Cameron does become friendly with two of the new programmers, a guy named Lev with horn-rimmed glasses (in an era, that they were not close to being stylish in) and a heavy-set long-haired guy, whose nickname is Yo-Yo as he always has one in his hand. Howe tells the guys that she is going to download a computer game onto the main-frame, so that everyone in the office will be able to access it from their terminal.
Gordon and his team are ready to test the chip with the new BIOS that Cameron designed and are debating names for the BIOS, when she walks into the “Kill-Room.” She announces to the group that she designed the BIOS and will name it as well and her choice is Lovelace, which make the crew giggle like a gang of high school kids. She then tells them, it’s not for porn-star Linda Lovelace but instead for a woman instrumental in the first computer, Ada Lovelace. All the men agree that it’s a fitting name for the program.
With the name decided, they test the chip and it turns on the machine. Although the crew’s excited at their accomplishment, MacMillan comes in to rain on their parade. He tells the group that what they have designed is still far too bulky to fit his concept. As he walks out Gordon thinks he has found a solution to their problem, a LCD screen which the Japanese have used to great success. One of the group say it will be far too costly, but Gordon counters that with a “connection” it might be affordable.
Joe heads back to his office and his secretary tells him that his father called, he has a layover in Dallas and wants to see his son. Joe tells his secretary to set up a 1:00 pm meeting with his father at the hotel’s bar. We have yet to meet MacMillan’s father, but we realize that the kindest way to describe their relationship is “It’s Complicated.” We are well aware that Joe’s issues with his father were most likely a factor in his leaving IBM.
He drives to the hotel and instead of walking into the bar, he looks into the establishment through the window. He sees his father sitting there waiting in a chair for his arrival. However, for what ever reason Joe heads back to his car and drives away.
The scene shifts to a golf-course and we soon see that Gordon and his father-in-law Gary are in the midst of a game. Gordon’s not a regular golfer, but Gary tells him this is the perfect time for them to play as the course is empty so they can play at a leisurely pace. Clark thanks his father-in-law for the gift for his daughters and that prompts Gary to boast about his relationship with the Japanese. That was exactly what Gordon was hoping for, as it gave him a way to discuss what’s on his mind, Gary setting up a meeting with his friends in the Far East so Gordon and Joe can talk with them about them building LCD screens for the new Cardiff Electric computer. Gary’s opposed to the idea at first but eventually gives in and will set up the meeting.
We head to Texas Instruments and it appears that Donna is once again in trouble with her former high school classmate, now her boss Hunt as he can’t find the report he assigned her to complete. Donna looks through the folders he’s holding and gives him the one he wanted. Instead of apologizing he tells her to make sure the most important folder is on top from that point forward.
Things aren’t going smoothly for Gordon at Cardiff either, as MacMillan is at first non-receptive to the meeting Clark has arranged with the Japanese manufacturers. Gordon then blows up at Joe, telling him that he has asked for the moon and now that Clark has provided a way to access it, MacMillan wants to turn it down. Gordon’s logic overcomes Joe’s stubbornness, but MacMillan tells him to change the dinner meeting to a steakhouse to appeal to their visitors. He then congratulates Gordon on setting up the connection.
Cameron heads to Joe’s apartment and gets startled when she finds his father (John Getz) inside and she has no idea who he is. He introduces himself as Joe MacMillan, but Howe tells him that she knows Joe. He responds that he’s indeed Joe senior, the father of the man she knows and asks her if she knows where his son is. She tells him she doesn’t then asks him how he got into the apartment. He replied that he showed the superintendent his license and then tells Cameron that if “you say something with the right authority, you generally get what you want.”
Cameron gathers her stuff and is about to leave the apartment when the senior MacMillan says goodbye to her he asks her what her name is and she responds Cameron. At that point his eyes get large and he asks her if she is Cameron Howe and she confirms that. He tells her that his people at IBM came back to New York praising her to the heavens, which of course makes her far more comfortable. He chastises her for not taking the offer that Big Blue extended to her and she replies, that she could be a central figure at Cardiff Electric, but just another nameless employee at IBM. He then apologizes for his misplaced anger and tells her it is his son he is angry at.
Joe and Gordon meet the two Japanese manufacturers and Joe thanks them for agreeing to the meeting and one of the men tell him they would do anything for Gary’s son-in-law. Clark then tells the men that he is the son-in-law and both men bow in his direction. As the dinner goes on Gordon proceeds to get blotto as he attempts to match the visitors drink-for-drink. They discuss the design of the screen they would need and Gordon suggests improving the image quality by adding another layer to the display. The manufacturer responds that would be more costly, when Joe proposes a deal that would have the Japanese company get less money up-front, but would get a share of the profits, which could work out as a far more favorable deal for the manufacturers. The manufacturers agree to the deal.
Back at Cardiff a bunch of the young programmers are still at their desks addicted to the computer game “Adventure” that Cameron had downloaded onto the mainframe. Bosworth comes out of his office and walks over to Yo-Yo’s cubicle and tells him to come with him, when the programmer questions why John needs him, the Sales Manager asks all the programmers into his office. When they get there, Bosworth asks them how to escape from the cave he’s trapped in as he’s also playing the game.
Gordon’s drunkenness jeopardizes the deal when he insults his father-in-law to one of the manufacturers in the rest room. He tells the man that Gary’s catalog’s filled with schlock and disgusts the man from the Far East for the lack of respect Clark has displays for his father-in-law. We move to the parking lot and Joe is screaming at Gordon that he ruined the deal by insulting Gary, to men from a culture that have great respect for their elders. He then tells Clark that he will save the deal in the morning, before the men return to Japan.
The conversation continues at Joe’s apartment between his father and Cameron. She tells the elder MacMillan that she thinks his son is wrong about his father and he seems like a good guy, but in reality she is bating him to start insulting his son. He falls for her ruse and starts verbally tearing his son apart of what he believes is an empathetic audience. She soon however tells him that he is just as bad if not worse than his son and leaves the apartment.
Gordon calls Donna from a phone-booth to confess how he ruined the deal and says that Gary will hate him forever. Donna tells her husband to come home and they will talk, she is in the middle of baking some peach pies and hangs up the receiver. Seconds later it rings again and Donna assumes its Gordon however it’s Hunt, who says he called to compliment her on her work on the project and then apologizes for snapping at her in the previous episode. He asks if he has called at a bad time and she responds that she is just baking peach pies. Hunt tells her that he loves peach pie and says if there’s any leftover he’d gladly accept it.
We head to Gary’s house as Donna’s mother Susan is talking to her son-in-law whose standing on the front door step and begs to speak to Gary. She gets her husband and stage whispers that their son-in-law’s intoxicated. He looks at Clark and asks what’s wrong and the scene ends as Gordon attempts to collect his thoughts and beg for Gary’s forgiveness and help.
The next morning as the two Japanese manufacturers are ready to leave from their hotel, Joe pulls up and apologizes for Gordon as well as himself for the lack of etiquette displayed by Clark. He then tells the men that Gordon was too ashamed to come to the hotel, but he wanted Joe to convey his sorrow as well as the respect he has for Gary. Joe then starts praising his own father as the man that turned him into the success he has attained, that his father is his biggest supporter and how much MacMillan treasures him in return.
About 300-yards away, MacMillan senior is sitting in the lobby of the same hotel, reading about his son in Wall Street Quarterly. When he walks to the front of the hotel, the two Japanese men are still there but his son has already left, missing each other by seconds.
Back at Cardiff the crew in the “Kill-Room” are toasting Gordon for the deal with the Japanese when Joe enters the room. He asks Clark if he got his message and Gordon affirmed that he had. MacMillan then asked if he deserved a thank-you from Clark and Gordon told him he didn’t. Joe morphed into his “Bully Mode” and started to insult Gordon in front of the crew and boasting he saved the deal. Gordon stopped him dead in his tracks when he tells Joe the reason the deal is back in effect, was Clark groveled and begged Gary to salvage the deal, MacMillan’s conversation that morning was not a factor.
Joe and Cameron meet in the office and she asks him if he is going to the company function that evening. He responds that he was not planning to and asks if she intends to go. She tells him that she may as some of the new programmers are heading there. Joe tells her that he noticed she removed her belongings from his apartment, but he wants back the copy of the Wall Street Quarterly he thinks she took. Howe tells him that his father was in his apartment when she arrived and he must have taken it.
The Cardiff Electric employees are having fun at what looks like a County Fair. There is a car that anyone can hit with a sledgehammer if they pay to swing the tool. Bosworth gives the attendant some money and takes a couple of swings. MacMillan shows up at that point and gives the attendant a one hundred-dollar bill and the episode concludes as Joe is trying to work off all his anger and frustration by beating that car.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“
The mood had brightened considerably at Cardiff Electric at the onset of episode four of “Halt And Catch Fire.” Cameron was nearly done with the BIOS for the new personal computer the company is designing and excitement surged through the software engineers, at the speed they had attained in testing the computer’s response time. Senior Product Manager Joe MacMillan gathered the company’s employees together and announced the good news and told the staff that a reporter from Wall Street Quarterly would be arriving soon to do research on Cardiff Electric for an upcoming story.
The only person not pleased was Sales Manager John Bosworth, concerned about all the money the company was paying out without any revenue coming in. MacMillan sarcastically told his boss that Bosworth lacked vision so of course he failed to understand Joe’s tactics. Bosworth had to take a phone call from the company’s owner, leaving MacMillan with the last word in the discussion.
Joe pulled aside his secretary and asked her if she could talk Cameron into leaving the office for a while, so he could have the cleaning crew come in and clean up her work space, before the reporter arrived. He suggested that his secretary take Cameron to the secretary’s home and possibly talk Cameron in to taking a shower and shampooing her hair. Although she was less than enthused with Joe’s plan she agreed to help him.
We switch to the home of Gordon Clark who is heading out the door to get to the office, as his wife Donna (Kerry Biche) who reminds her husband he has to pick-up his daughters at school that afternoon. Donna is working on an important project at her employer Texas Instruments and needs to complete it that afternoon. After exhausting all other options, he agrees to pick up the girls at 2:15 pm. Heading to his car he’s confronted by his neighbor and former employee Brian, whom Clark fired in the previous episode. Brian glares at Gordon from his front lawn wearing an untied bathrobe, over a t-shirt and boxers. He remains silent until Clark starts to back out of his driveway, at which point he sarcastically yells out to his former boss to have a great day.
The next scene takes place at the owner of Cardiff Electric’s ranch, as Nathan and Bosworth talk business as they watch some of Nathan’s ranch-hands determining whether one of his horses broke a leg. The company’s owner asks his Sales Manager who is running things over at Cardiff, Bosworth or MacMillan. John responds that he is in charge, but Nathan counters with rumors he’s heard, state that things are the opposite. He tells Bosworth that he has to impress on MacMillan that John is in charge and that’s the way things are going to remain.
The reporter from Wall Street Quarterly is being given the tour of Cardiff by Joe, when he interrupts him in mid-sentence. He tells MacMillan he’s bored and that he can’t envision himself writing a story on the company. MacMillan tries to convince the reporter that the company has an underdog quality that will appeal to readers and asks him to talk to some of the engineers. He agrees to stay for 15-minutes, but then he’s out the door.
Cameron returns to her basement work-station ready to finish the BIOS when she realizes her greatest nightmare has become a reality. When she attempts to log in to the computer she discovers her work is gone, she soon realizes the cleaning crew plugged their vacuum cleaner into her power strip, causing a power surge that wiped out her work. She contacts Gordon and he and some other engineers, plus Joe and the reporter head to her work-station.
Tempers flare as the engineers realize that the BIOS is gone and the floppy-discs Cameron backed her work on are blank. Cameron tries to go after the janitor, then Clark tries going after her when he realizes her speakers were too close to her back-up, which may have damaged the discs. Cameron allows the moment to get the best of her and she heads to the roof of the building, where she promptly has an anxiety attack.
The Wall Street reporter starts cackling like a hen, as the loss of the BIOS will make a tremendous story in his mind. He tells MacMillan that he will portray Cardiff Electric as a company that tried to fly to high only to have their wings destroyed by the sun. Joe tells the reporter to leave, who responds that if he leaves right then he will write a hatchet-job on the company. However if he stays and they correct the problem, it would possibly be a complimentary article.
With all the commotion at Cardiff, Gordon totally forgets he has to pick up his daughters and when he is late the school calls Donna, who in turn calls her husband. He arrives at the school-yard to find Donna, his girls and an employee of the school waiting for him. She begins to berate her husband, who responds that perhaps his priorities are greater than hers. He then asks Donna if she will come with him back to Cardiff to see if she can help recover the BIOS.
The family arrive at Cardiff only to run into Joe, who proceeds to ask Gordon why they are all in the office. Gordon replies that if they have any hopes to recover the Bios, they need to have Donna in the mix. Joe finally agrees, but tells the couple for Donna to use a fake name and tell the reporter she is a Cardiff employee.
Donna comes up with a way to recover the data, it will be tedious and painstakingly slow, but it should work. She then confronts Cameron and tries to see if the other engineer can be of any help. Cameron gets defensive and starts insulting Donna, who in turn tells the younger engineer that she feels sorry that she is such a miserable person and that Donna will save her behind.
A little while later, the girls start getting antsy and tell Donna they are hungry. She reaches into her purse and tells the girls she has nuts and raisins with her, which her daughters are not excited about. Cameron walks into the work-station at that moment and volunteers to take care of the girls while Donna and Gordon are working. After some initial hesitation, Donna gives Cameron her purse and thanks her.
Cameron and the girls are getting along fabulously, when one of Gordon’s daughters tells her that she’s not trash she’s fun. Cameron’s mood immediately changes and she asks the little girl what she meant. The younger daughter then tells the engineer that her father told her mother Cameron was white-trash, but says he was only joking as both her mom and dad laughed after he said it. Cameron basically tells the girls to beat it, that play time is over. She then realizes she still has Donna’s purse which contain the keys to her car, plus her license which has the family’s address on it.
The reporter walks into Bosworth’s office to see if he can get the Sales Manager to comment on the record. Bosworth proceeds to insult the writer and tells him to leave his office before he ends up with a face-full of fist. Just then Gordon bursts in and tells Bosworth it looks like they have recovered most of the BIOS data.
When they arrive downstairs, Donna tells them that she has recovered 93.6 of the BIOS data. When the reporter asks Donna her name, Gordon cuts her off saying her name is Susan Fairchild (actually Donna’s mother’s maiden name.) The reporter and the other engineers start walking and talking, leaving Donna behind with a pretty dissatisfied look on her face.
Cameron arrives at the Clark home intending on doing some damage, because Gordon had referred to her as white-trash. She first picks up a shovel, but then settles on a can of black spray paint and enters the house. As she looks around the house, we can see on her face whether she really wants to go through with her plan, when she sees a large modern art painting on the living-room wall. Just as she decides that might be the perfect canvas for her endeavor, Brian bursts into the house carrying a shotgun. Once he realizes its Cameron, he assumes she was also fired and she is at Gordon’s home for some payback. Brian then encourages she get her vengeance, but we can tell she will leave without doing any damage.
Donna still down in the basement starts looking closely at the floppy-discs and realizes something is amiss. She determines the discs were previously used, as they have older labels under the ones that are visible. She also examines the discs and finds a game on one and part of a presentation on another. She quickly realizes what has happened and makes a bee-line for Joe’s office.
When she arrives she accuses Joe of setting up a false crisis to get the Wall Street Quarterly’s reporter to do a story on Cardiff. MacMillan admits to Donna that she is right on the money and proceeds to pull the real back-up discs out of a desk drawer. He then tells Donna, that if she is as smart as he thinks she is, she will keep the information to herself and not even tell Gordon.
As the Clark family head to the parking lot they run into Cameron and Gordon sarcastically thanks her for taking such good care of his daughters. Donna then walks over to Cameron and tells her she scared the girls and the young engineer apologizes. She then tells Cameron that she recovered most of the BIOS. Cameron thanks her then pretends that she found Donna’s keys on the ground in the lot.
As Joe is driving home he’s stopped by a cruiser. Two policemen step out of the squad car and ask MacMillan for his license and registration. When he attempts to get them, the cops pull him out of his car and then start beating on him with their clubs. The next scene is at the police station where Joe with his face badly bruised chained to a bench. At that moment Bosworth walks into the station and starts making friendly conversation with one of the cops that beat Joe, who then unlocks him from the bench. Joe is well aware that Bosworth set up the incident, but remains silent as they walk out of the building.
Although Donna had come through for her husband, she finds out the next day she is not in good standing at her own company. Her former high-school friend informs her that she is on probation and unless her work improves she’ll face disciplinary action.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“
If there were any doubts that Cardiff Electric’s Senior Product Manager Joe MacMillan would do anything to see his vision of his company building a revolutionary personal computer on his terms, they were laid to rest in episode three of “Halt And Catch Fire.” The former IBM employee, first attempted to arrange for a revenue infusion through his own connections, then proceeded to sabotage a deal that he disapproved of. Fans of the series, that have hoped that beneath his slick exterior exists a good and righteous man heading into this episode witnessed that MacMillan will cross any barriers to attain what he wants.
The episode began in front of the home of Donna and Gordon Clark as their daughters departure to school hit a snag when the family found a badly hurt bird in their front bushes. Our first image is a close-up of Gordon’s concerned face as he examines the bird, he wants to take the creature to a veterinarian, but Donna reminds her husband that they have just one car at their disposal, as the mechanics have his car in the shop for repair. With their daughters running late for school, Gordon’s neighbor and fellow engineer at Cardiff, Brian offers to give him a ride to work.
Clark’s empathy for the wounded bird may have something to do with the mission he faces when he arrives at work. Gordon’s promotion and new office, also comes with responsibility that he is not particularly suited for. His job is to pare down the company’s staff of software engineers, from the current roster of 48 employees down to 12, meaning he has to break the news to 36 of his fellow engineers they are no longer employed.
We move on to find Cameron Howe asleep on the couch of her basement office, until woken by a janitor vacuuming. After getting dressed she goes upstairs to the main offices and starts collecting possessions of the still exiting former employees. One guy who did not take the news that well, looked at Cameron as if she were a grave-robber indignant that she had already started collecting her new stash before they had cleared the building. Howe with her omnipresent headphones affixed atop her head was rather oblivious to what the guy even said to her.
MacMillan and Sales Manager John Bosworth have a meeting with the 12 remaining engineers, however every concept that Joe comes up with, the engineers quickly plug it full of holes. Joe asks Gordon to step out into the hallway with him and expresses shock that these were the 12 men that Clark had picked to save from all the former employees. Gordon counters that their skill-sets make them by far the best they could have retained and Joe is going to have to show some patience if he wants the crew to see things his way.
We next see MacMillan talk with a well dressed man in the company’s lobby lounge. Bosworth sees the pair and Joe, goes over to him before John can reach them. MacMillan explains to Bosworth that the man is an old associate of his and a Venture Capitalist, looking to make a mark in the “Silicon Prairie” and they believe that Cardiff can be the avenue with which they get what they are looking for.
Bosworth tells Joe, that no decisions can be made unless he clears it with Cardiff’s owner Nathan, but MacMillan tells John, that he informed him early in the week. Bosworth brings Joe’s connection into his office and soon shows his disdain when he realizes this company would be heavily involved in Cardiff’s day-to-day operations. When the executive proposes that his company put an employee at Cardiff to oversee things, Bosworth reached his breaking point. He puts on his “Good Old Boy” persona and makes Cardiff sound like a Mom and Pop operation. Seeing his vision rebuffed, the Venture Capitalist shakes Bosworth’s and MacMillan’s hands and ends the negotiation.
The pair join Cardiff Electric’s owner at a steakhouse and Nathan makes it clear to Joe, that Bosworth is in charge of all financial decisions and he will not tolerate MacMillan trying to attempt a deal without John’s knowledge and approval. Joe plays the good soldier and readily agrees to play things Nathan’s way. The company owner then tells the pair that he has contacted an old friend named Lulu, who has the resources and might have the desire to bankroll the project. John and Joe will meet her the next evening at a dinner party at her house.
Later that evening Cameron goes back upstairs to the office floor to confiscate more items for her working quarters. She enters Bosworth’s office and gets startled when she finds him still there. John tells Cameron that if not for her friend Joe, he would be home by now. He then tells Cameron she can work as late as she wants at Cardiff’s headquarters, but she can not use the offices as her home.
We finally get a chance to see Donna Clark at work, as she discusses a business proposal with a fellow employee at Texas Instruments. We learn from the conversation that Donna and the man were friends in high school and judging by the uneasiness that Donna projects, they may have been more than just friends. The man asks Donna if she could have a report that she projected would take a few days to finish, by the next day and she tells him she will get it done.
Things are not running as smoothly for the software engineers over at Cardiff, as the remaining staff take over a conference room to work together as a team. Gordon and Brian are trying to come up with a design for the 15 pound portable personal computer that MacMillan has envisioned. Every time Clark comes up with a plan, Brian is the voice of doom, pointing out the difficulties they would encounter. Brian tells Gordon, that he has to talk to Joe the next day and tell him that his vision is unrealistic. Gordon begrudgingly agrees to talk with the Senior Product Manager the next day. They do accomplish one thing however, christening their new work area as the “KILL-ROOM.”
Cameron is back down in her basement dwelling and starts going through some mail on her desk. Her mood brightens drastically when she opens a check made out to her for over $382.00, she quickly leaves her office and goes out grocery shopping. Leaving the store with her arms loaded with bags filled of groceries, she comes across two guys and a woman about her age hanging out in an alley. Her momentary fear that the trio will accost her and take her stuff, vanishes when she starts talking with them. They tell her they have plans for later that day, but presently they are just hanging around in hopes of being able to get some vodka. When Cameron asks the threesome if that is the best plan they can come up with, the woman asks Howe if she has a better idea. After a pause, she smiles and says she does.
We shift to the Clark’s home and we encounter both Donna and Gordon working on their respective assignments. Gordon’s stuck and asks Donna for some advice, but she tells him she has to finish her own project. Curiosity gets the better of her seconds later and she theorizes that if the computer’s design has the circuits “piggy-backing” each other, it could solve the design problems that her husband is encountering. Gordon thinks the idea is brilliant and presents the proposal the next day at the office.
Clark shows Donna’s design to a couple of his fellow engineers the next morning, who become very excited about the prospects of the configuration. As they start to brain-storm, Brian walks into the office and immediately shoots the idea down, because it would be far too costly to build the new configuration. One can almost see the black cloud forming over Clark’s head, as he allows his neighbor’s words to convince him the plan is not practical.
Bosworth and MacMillan arrive at Lulu’s estate for dinner and Lulu greets them at the door (guest star Jean Smart) with her escort, a much younger man whose function apparently is to provide her with accompaniment for social functions. Lulu is a still attractive woman, although the years are catching up with her and the red dye she colors her hair with is not flattering. She is a rather loud and abrasive woman, a person used to calling the shots and getting her way, and she wastes little time with social niceties, as she informs MacMillan that her offer is to acquire 80% of the personal computer venture for by investing ten million dollars. Revolted by the offer, Joe turns it down without hesitation. Lulu praises his bravado, but she realizes it is false, as at this point Cardiff has nowhere else to turn. Bosworth stepped into the middle of the fray, smoothing out the ruffled feathers and suggesting they go sit down to dinner.
Turns out Cameron’s plan was to rent a hotel room, where she, the trio and some other young people are dancing and imbibing. Howe refuses an offer for some vodka, choosing to dance instead. Apparently the music and dancing are not enough to get Cameron out of her funk, so she starts chugging the vodka. A few minutes later she awakes from her drunken haze to find one of the original trio trying to tattoo her upper arm with what look like circuits. Howe throws him off her and storms into the bathroom, attempting to clean herself. As she stares at her arm we realize she has an idea for her computer. After trying to write a couple of equations on the bathroom mirror with lipstick, only to cross them out immediately, she leaves the hotel room without anyone noticing.
Back at Lulu’s party, there is polite banter going on, until she presses Joe on the subject of her offer. MacMillan proceeds to turn down the offer and tear Lulu apart verbally. After his tirade she turns to Bosworth and asks whether the deal is good enough for him, to which he replies that he will have the paper work completed the next morning. Lulu then turns to Joe and tells him, that he just needs to realize on which side of the saddle he belongs on. Lulu then asks her escort to fetch the guests some brandy for a celebration. Moments after the escort exits the room, MacMillan does the same. He finds the escort amidst a decanter collection and the man admits he does not know what brandy looks like. Joe silently puts the moves on the guy and the two of them kiss, the other man being receptive to the overture before the camera fades to black.
By the time the two men make it back to the dining room, all the other guests have left and it is just Bosworth and Lulu waiting for them. She then asks her escort what took him so long and states that it is now too late for brandy. The man replies that he and Joe chose another wine and by his newly assertive manner realizes that he and MacMillan had relations and the revelation is immediately telegraphed by the expression on her face. She’s crushed by the realization that MacMillan now has the upper hand in the situation.
Outside the home, a clueless Bosworth can’t comprehend why Lulu suddenly withdrew her offer, when they had a deal in principle, until he realizes that Joe’s poker face probably means that he was somehow responsible for the action. As MacMillan gets into his car and drives away, John asks and then screams what Joe said to Lulu.
We shift to Brian’s car as he is giving Gordon a ride home from the office. Brian is rambling on about some game of bridge he recently played in and the expression on Clark’s face tells us, he wishes Brian would just shut-up. Eventually Brian realizes that Gordon is in a funk and asks him what’s wrong. A second later Brian’s car is T-boned by another vehicle and Clark cuts his head on the dashboard. Brian, tries to put the blame for the accident on the hedges being too high, until he sees Gordon is bleeding. When he asks his neighbor if he is alright, Gordon replies that Brian’s fired. Unsure he really heard what he did, Brian asks him what he said and Clark repeats that he’s fired, gets out of the car and starts to walk home.
When Gordon gets to his front door, he hears the chirps from the injured bird and that knowledge seems to make Clark believe that there is hope to build the personal computer that Joe has envisioned. He walks in through his front door in a haze and when Donna sees him, her first concern is that her husband has a head gash. However, that is not important to Clark right then, he wanted Donna to hear the bird still chirping. His wife not realizing the symbolism that the bird still being alive has for Gordon, tells him that Animal Control told her earlier in the day that the most humane thing they could do is to kill the bird, to stop its suffering. Clark refuses to do it, telling his wife that he will not go back outside after going through the day he had. Donna goes out to the garage and grabs a shovel to help her do the deed. She looks at the bird lying there chirping with his eyes open, but his feathers are infested with flies. She looks inside the window and sees Gordon drinking a beer, she has the shovel raised when the camera fades to black.
Joe back in his office late that night gets a visit by Cameron, who tells her she’s stuck and proceeds to disrobe, ending the episode with MacMillan apparently having his second sexual encounter of the evening. Lets keep one thing in mind, the time-period that “Halt And Catch Fire” takes place in, was right at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Could MacMillan’s ruthlessness lead to both he and Cameron contracting the deadly disease? One more question that we will find the answers to in the coming weeks.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on “AMC“