Tag Archives: Randall P. Havens

Halt And Catch Fire: Jacob Wheeler Gets Revenge

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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