Tonight We Said Goodbye to Halt and Catch Fire

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I’ve watched a lot of TV shows in my life, but tonight I watched the finale of one of the most incredibly inventive, sincere, and unique TV shows I’ve ever watched. There will never be anything quite like Halt and Catch Fire again, I believe. Tonight’s end was the culmination of four years of something so special that I’m not sure how to put into words how grateful I am to AMC for finishing this series the way it deserved to be finished when by all rights it should have been cancelled long ago. There were weeks that this show got less than 200,000 viewers. For the duration, the ratings were rock bottom. I think there were a few episodes that, at its peak, might have hit 2 million viewers, but for the most part, nobody watched this show. It never got the awards recognition it deserved, it never got the viewers it deserved, and it never got the sheer attention that this incredible show warranted.

And I feel sorry for everybody that missed out.

Tonight’s two-hour finale was pretty much just a ‘everybody says goodbye’ kind of episode, one that let us see where everyone ended up and how their lives are going. But more than that, it was really about new beginnings and everybody continuing on in the same way that though some things must come to an end, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t worth having in the first place. Joanie left to travel the world and find herself halt-and-catch-fire-episode-409-donna-bishe-2-935with her new beginning. Cameron and Joe, though they really did love each other, just weren’t meant to be, so Joe went back east and found a new start, this time as a humanities teacher. Haley keeps her dad close as she starts over with who she wants to be and who she’s growing into. Cameron planned to leave and travel the country and start over, while Donna finally has reached the point where she realizes she wants to create again. The final visit to the Mutiny building they did together was just something incredible. That whole Phoenix scene was something so beautiful and such a perfect synecdoche of the entire story of their lives. I absolutely loved that the ending is a new beginning for Donna and Cameron. Their friendship/rivalry has been something so beautiful to watch build and change that this seems like the absolute most perfect ending for them, in that it’s not an ending at all.

Halt and Catch Fire involves so much that I want to see on television and rarely do, and all of it was in one package. The only reason I even heard of this show is because my friend was a big Lee Pace fan and talked about it. I didn’t watch it until after season 1 had already aired, and within a single episode, I was hooked. These characters were all so human. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Very few pieces of fiction manage to capture halt-and-catch-fire-episode-409-donna-bishe-5-935characters who are so real that you can understand them even when you hate what they’re doing. They all had flaws. There were no perfect people, it was always just people. The way they grew and changed over the years was just beautifully written and crafted into something perfectly believable. There’s just something so wonderful about the way we watched a decade of some people’s lives on our screen. That’s really what it feels like.

Artistically, there’s so much to be said about the way this show was crafted all these years. The cinematography is unparalleled, the sound work is impeccable, the costuming is phenomenal, the performances of the actors was always just fantastic, and this was just something so well directed that it never, not once, felt anything less than authentic. But more than that, there’s so much content here that fulfills the wants in representation of women and queer people that’s missing.

The women in this show. Good God, every woman in this entire four season series is a person. That sounds ridiculously obvious to those who don’t recognize the failures of female representation in media, but to have the women matter so much and be flawed and more than just their relationship to a man is something so special. Donna in halt-and-catch-fire-episode-410-cameron-davis-935particular is so amazing because she exemplifies everything a woman can be all in one person: She’s a mother and a wife, but she’s also an intellectual and a creator. She can solder circuits and build a company, she can become a high-powered business leader in the tech industry in the 80s and 90s and still have compassion and humanity. This character not just being what she was but doing it alongside another woman of similar strengths and weaknesses and working together and against each other and just being people is something so revolutionary because you don’t see that on movies and TV. You don’t see women doing their own thing without sacrificing the other parts of their lives. You don’t see women being women, not just a wife or mother or love interest or daughter unless they are not those things at all. To show women who are badass but not cold and distant, nurturing but still leaders, the sum of both mother/lover AND entrepreneur all without sacrificing either thing… it’s just beautiful.

Similarly, this was the first show I ever saw with a bisexual character whose sexuality was never the butt of a joke. They don’t shy away from Joe being bisexual a single time. The whole series long, who he is is never used as a plot device. Shit, he was openly bisexual in the 80s and 90s on this show and yet it never turned to something about AIDs or his sexuality being used against him some way. He’s just a character who happens to be bisexual. We see him with men and women and it’s never a big deal. It’s just him. As ahalt-and-catch-fire-episode-410-joe-pace-2-935 bisexual person, when I first realized what was happening, I couldn’t believe that it was real. I was seeing a bisexual person whose sexuality wasn’t a punchline or tragedy trope. Even though his main love interest for the duration of the series is a woman, they don’t magically turn him straight, he has male lovers and boyfriends in the background and it’s never shied away from. And then to have the reveal at the end that Hailey, one of the children we’ve watched grow up, be a lesbian and have it, once again, not be a big deal, it was just great. Hers was a bit more of a plot point, because she was struggling and the ‘why’ turned out to be that she’s met a girl she likes, but at no point did anybody confront her over it. Even Joe, he just recognized it in her and didn’t treat her differently. There’s just something so different about how this show dealt with sexuality that, much like the women, it feels different and special and I’m so thankful I got to see this.

On episode one, we saw Joe MacMillan roll into town and change the lives of a whole group of people forever, and much like he said both to Gordon and to Cameron, he was ‘the thing that gets you to the other thing’. He got them to where they are. He altered the courses of their lives forever. I think it’s safe to say that after four seasons, Halt and Catch Fire was the thing that got us all to the other thing, and that is the experience of a rock solid TV show that will forever alter each and every viewer’s expectations for television in the future.

I will miss this show more than I probably have ever missed any show, and that’s saying a lot. I genuinely am grateful to AMC for giving us something this wonderful. I hope that you all have enjoyed this journey that we’ve shared together, and as always, and for the last time, I welcome you to comment or tweet me and keep the conversation about this groundbreaking TV series going.

Thank you, all of you, for reading along with me for the past two seasons in which I’ve been doing these review posts. I’m very grateful for your interactions.

 

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Halt and Catch Fire Dehydrates Viewers With Its Penultimate Episode

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If you’re anything like me, you love Halt and Catch Fire because the characters are so human and realistic and we feel them like they’re in the world with us. After Gordon’s death last week, I knew all along that this episode would be really sad, but I should have known that it would feel real just like everything else in this show.

I don’t have nearly as much to say this week simply because the amount of grief the characters are suffering this episode was so palpable that I feel like I’ve lost a friend, too. Gordon was a friend to us all. Watching these characters we’ve come to know and love all this time suffer is just heartbreaking. The worst part of all of it was the girls. Everything with the girls was so gut-wrenching. Joe’s pain was terrible, but the way the girls reacted to things was so realistic and painful. Seeing Hailey and Joe hacf_408_tr_0627_0552-rttogether was beautiful and yet so sad, too. And the way that Joanie and Donna used Gordon against one another was just so hard to see. The part where Hailey and Joanie hugged and lay together in the bed and Hailey asked, “You’re not gonna go away, too, are you?” just broke me. That’s basically all I can say about this episode, honestly. My heart is broken. I cried so much watching this episode that every time I about stopped, something made me start up again.

If you had asked me in season 1 if Gordon dying would do this to me, I would have never imagined the answer would be yes.

Since I did a really terrible job reviewing this week, please feel free to comment with things you want to talk about, either here or on twitter, because I feel really bad about being too sad to really give a solid post to you guys.

Halt and Catch Fire’s Long Awaited Tragedy Finally Happens

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I’ve been expecting this to come since… hell, the season Gordon got diagnosed. I really expected it after the episode where there were all the lens flares while Gordon burned his symptom journals. That said, I never thought this episode would be the one where it finally happened. Yes, my dear readers and fellow Halt views, the tragedy we all knew would come sooner or later has finally happened.

Gordon Clarke is dead.

In a lot of ways, I feel like, looking back, I should’ve known this episode was going to end this way. This whole episode felt to me like one of the episodes that gives us a ‘so this is where everybody is at’ rundown before a big shift. Viewing the episode through, I thought the big shift was going to be Comet’s big re-design/re-launch, because we kept talking about all the characters and where they are right now in their lives and in proximity to each other. But after it’s over, I feel like I understand better now that this was a snapshot of Gordon Clarke’s last day on earth with of all those he cares about most.

We started out with Gordon and his daughters, dealing with the fact that he and Haley had this falling out, him knowing that Haley is gay now but her not knowing he knows, and with Joanie trying to talk to him about her sister in that ‘I know her better than you’ halt-and-catch-fire-episode-407-donna-bishe-3-935way that sisters have (we do, trust me). The nostalgia with which he goes around Haley’s room later on to return her test to her helped remind us how much of their lives we’ve seen so far. We viewers have watched the Clarke family grow up and change for over a decade now, and this is another change that is a forever change the family is now facing. It’s so hard to see Gordon’s last interactions with his children be something so tense, but at least we got the sweet moment where Joe called Haley to ask her to come back, and to have her tell her dad “I’ll see you tonight” even though, crushingly, it wasn’t true. My mother lost her dad when she was a teenager, and to have a real understanding of how much Haley and Joanie won’t get with their dad is so upsetting. (Yes, it’s fiction, but in that context, they are still ‘people’.) It’s just good that they didn’t have a fight be their last interaction, however indirect. It still hurts to think that Haley won’t ever get to hear from Gordon that he knows she’s gay and accepts her for it.

Beyond the children, there were a lot of allusions to the past this episode that should have made me realize where it was going. Bos getting married at the start should’ve really given me a clue, because Halt and Catch Fire is the type of show that would balance a beginning with an ending, and the only real ending that was coming down thehalt-and-catch-fire-episode-407-donna-bishe-2-935 pipe all along was the ending of Gordon’s life. We had a lot of talk about the people they used to be versus the people they’ve become as well. Cameron mentioning her and Joe both having failed marriages in the past (I had forgotten he was married before, actually), Alexa bringing up Cameron’s time at Mutiny and her rivalry with Donna and how their visions changed along the way, Joe talking to Donna about knowing what it’s like to have people think of you as ruthless, all of these things were ways of bringing the past into the present in such a skillful way that we viewers are reminded of who these people used to be and where they are now. It forces you to think about their stories and their lives and how naturally all of this progression has gone, and it puts you in a mood of caring more about them before it ultimately pulled the rug out from under us and took one of them away.

This episode is, and I highly suspect next week’s episode will also be, a huge reminder that this show is made so perfect by its writing. Yes, the acting is impeccable, the cinematography is the stuff that would win film DP’s Oscars, and the sound work is mind-blowing. But this show? It’s always been about the writing. The writers of this show are one of the main reasons that Halt and Catch Fire deserves to be on everybody’s top 10 shows of all time list. It’s truly worth of AMC giving it the full four seasons in spite of absolutely shit ratings. There are episodes of this show that have only had 100,000 viewers. That’s how low the ratings for Halt are. But it’s always worthy of not being canceled and I’m so grateful that AMC recognized this and finished it. I’ll be heartbroken when it’s gone, but the writing of this show is possibly the best I’ve ever seen.

halt-and-catch-fire-episode-407-gordon-mcnairy-935I’m going to miss Gordon Clarke – or Weirdy McBeardy as my friend and I started calling him way back in season 1 – more than I have most any character on TV, not because I thought he was ever perfect or someone to admire, but because he’s written and developed in a way that’s so human that it hurts. Halt and Catch Fire is something so special, and to have a lead character die is just so painful and yet, the way it was done, with his last dying moments being a hallucination of the lives of his children, was so fair to him, and I like to think that, as tragic as it is, Gordon Clarke got the ending he deserved.

There’s only two weeks of this show left and I’m sure all of you are just as devastated by that thought as I am, so please, feel free to comment or tweet me about Halt and Catch Fire while we still can.

 

Halt and Catch Fire Creeps Closer To A Close and Still Kills It

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The one thing I keep talking about this season is how much the characters have grown from where we began at the start of season 1 and how naturally that transition has gone. Nothing exemplifies that better than the way in which we find that Gordon, Haley, Cam, and Joe have become this little family together. The episode opens with such a wonderful family moment and I feel like this entire episode has been about growth in some way or another and yet how change doesn’t always mean that nothing remains the same.

To start with, can you believe that Cameron and Gordon are the friends they are today remembering how much they were at each other’s throats in the beginning? Cameron and Gordon’s rivalry was so bitter when they first met, and now, even after Gordon found out about Cameron writing the algorithm for Bos that gave Rover the ability to crush Comet, they’re able to sit and chat all friendly. It’s a mark of how both of them have grown as people. They’re able to put things behind them that, once upon a time, they would’ve never even dreamed of letting go, choosing instead to cling to that bitterness until it dragged them both down. Season 3 was when their friendship really began to formulate, but these days, they’re very at peace with each other. They have a healthy friendship, really. There is no better way to describe that.

Joe talks to Bos when they meet up about how it is crazy even to him to think that the person he used to be is the same person as he is now, and it is to us viewers too, except the transition has been so believable and realistic. Joe MacMillan in season 1 was a cold, hard, desperate man who had been forced by life to become an island of one, focusing only on himself and his own success. Joe even says to Bos that that Joe “Wanted everything, and didn’t care who he had to go through to get it”, which is absolutely true. The Joe we have now is a person who has seen what that does, hacf_406_tr_0602_0310-rt_1multiple times, and as he’s grown as a person and come to accept himself better, he just doesn’t want what he once did.

He mentions wanting children, and I think that we’ve seen a very natural progression from Joe being all about me, me, me to being a person who wants to stop running at the next big thing and just stop and enjoy what he has. The way he treats people is enough of an example of how he wants these people in his life and wants to keep them now, he doesn’t just want to use them up and go on to the next ones. It’s such a really interesting move to have him and Haley bond so much, especially after the big reveal that Haley’s issues relate to her being queer just like he is. I love that Joe sees her for who she is and immediately recognizes himself. I think that now that Gordon has also gotten a glimpse at Haley being queer after realizing the bird tattoos are the drawings from Haley’s rocket, he’s going to understand her a lot better, too.

While all this positive growth has been going on, over on Donna’s side of the fence, things aren’t going so well, and we get a glimpse at what I think this whole season has been building to, and that’s Donna realizing that the person he has become isn’t necessarily one she likes. Her life is so career oriented, and everything in her life is focused on being the biggest and baddest boss bitch of all, and she’s great at it. But at the same time, we constantly get shown how her big, modern, fancy house is empty, she drinks a lot, and even at work, she’s pushing people. She has so much pride and refuses1506098420417to budge, and now it’s costing her at work as well.

What really makes it the most obvious how empty her life is even though she is at her most successful is the way that, when she gets stopped for drunk driving, the only person who she can call to come get her is Gordon, her ex-husband. Her little speech about how she was imagining herself crushing 22 year old Donna was heartbreaking, because you see that she’s finally starting to break under the weight of her own success. I also really enjoy the way that, though their marriage wasn’t successful, Gordon and Donna are still each other’s rock when times get tough. You’ve seen it a few times before, but Gordon and Donna have so much history that even now, years after they’ve been split up, they still get each other better than anybody else. It’s just another one of those examples of how they’ve each grown as people and yet are still the same person they always were deep down.

I’m really excited to see where this all goes. Cameron is starting on a new adventure and I’m eager to see what that is. Donna causes a rift between Joe and Gordon in some way, or so the previews show, and I’m eager to see what that is. I want to see what they do with the news that Haley has a secret crush/girlfriend and this is why she has been acting so strangely. I wonder if the “Joe wants kids” thing is going to go anywhere. I wonder if Bos and Diane are gonna get married. There’s just so much left to look forward to and so little time left! I’m going to miss everything about this show once it’s finished, but I will spend the rest of my days hyping it until everybody I know has given in and watched it and regretted not watching it while it was airing.

What did you guys think? Any comments you want to make? Any thoughts you want to share? I’m always eager to see what others have to say!

 

So I Watched A Few Episodes of Fortitude Without Stopping To Review Them…

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I’m now on episode…. 7? I think? The last one was the one where they found *SPOILER*’s body and WOW was it emotional. Man, when *SPOILER* was in that *SPOILER* and *SPOILER* was holding them, I really thought *SPOILER* was going to talk *SPOILER* into not doing what they did, but DAMN they went there.

I’m suspicious of this girl that Runar likes, too. I feel something really messed up about her. Maybe she’s just a dick, but it seems like it might be deeper than that. Also, DAMN Dan(iel okay I’ll stop with 3 year old memes now sorry), was that really necessary? This show is getting ever more creepy and I’m not sure what the fuck is gonna happen next, but I bet it’s gonna be a plot twist from hell and I’ll be absolutely shocked and pretty damn terrified.

I wish I could give more details but this is such a big spoiler that, even though I’ve given pretty serious spoilers in the other post, I just can’t here. Just wow. Who would’ve thought that person would die?

Not me.

Fortitude Season 2 Episode 5: Still Scary As Hell

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Tonight’s episode involves discovering who is making the ‘reindeer juice’, who the dead girl is, and a little bit more about what’s happening with the Scary Parka Guy.

I’m really getting sick of the new governor dude. He’s one of those “NOTHING IS GOING ON HERE LA LA LA *fingers in the ears*” kind of dicks who knows bad things are happening and just wants to pretend it’s not so he doesn’t have to deal with it. They’re the worst kind of people. Also, I’m really sick of Sheriff Erik. Seriously, dude, you were cheating on your wife with his best friend for months last season and now you freak out and attack someone she PLATONICLY shared a hotel room with while trying to figure out what all kind of shit is going on? Erik is the worst kind of asshole.

Psycho Dan is def onto the Evil Dr. Lady who I’m pretty sure is def a serial killer back on the mainland. However, he’s being scary as hell right about now and it’s really freaking me out. Also, Petra is becoming a hardcore alcoholic and it’s kinda frightening. Just go be gay with Ingrid! (I hope I didn’t mix their names up, lol)

Also, there’s this really beautiful guy hanging around the Dying Lady and I’m not sure if she’s a lover or a secret son maybe? They have similar (freaking beautiful) eyes, but that could always be coincidence. Very interested to see where Pretty Shaman Guy goes in the story.

It’s late but I think I’ll watch one more episode tonight. Not sure if I’ll write the review, but I’ll see!

Fortitude Season 2: WAY Scarier Than Season 1

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So, while I suspect these reviews will continue to be really short, since there are more questions than answers with each episode, I have come to the conclusion that while season 1 was freaky, it was more of a mystery.

This is straight up horror.

I’m scared shitless after finishing episode 3. I shouldn’t have watched this so late at night. I’m lucky my cat is sitting in my lap or I would probably be pissing myself.

In tonight’s episode, Governor Lady and Dennis Quaid go to a Russian village because of a strange call from the mayor of the town. While they’re gone, Not-Sheriff Erik and Maybe Gay For Each Other Cops Ingrid and Petra arrest and question the taxidermist, who had the dead guy’s head in his fridge. Ingrid also has to arrest her brother because his belt was found at the home of the dead guy. All the while, Dan is awake and wandering around town in a hospital gown which nobody seems to find as worrisome as a normal person would, and Dr. Creepy Lady is def experimenting on Elena in the research lab.

It gets really scary when Vince and Lady Whose Name I Forget find a fucking reindeer eating a polar bear, what the hell, and then at night, when another body is found while the ‘killer’ is locked up, the SCARY GOGGLES DUDE SHOWS UP AGAIN!

I’m terrified and it’s nearly midnight but I have to watch one more. I have to! May not write the next review tonight, but another episode is necessary!