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.

 

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!

 

Halt and Catch Fire’s Long-Expected Train Wreck Finally Hits Head On

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On this weeks Halt and Catch Fire the building tangle of lies and secrets finally collides in a way that very few of us could’ve seen coming. With the lies getting more complicated to hide behind, Bos and the chief programmer of Rover are under Donna’s scrutiny and she knows that there is no way that they’re telling her the truth about the algorithm that Cameron actually wrote in secret. Joe and Cameron are fighting over Cameron trying to deal with the guilt of what she did when put in the position of supporting her surrogate father or her boyfriend, and because of it, Joe starts to question his place in life, which is never what you want Joe to do. Gordon is left to deal with Joe’s prickly attitude as he gets all existential on him, and on top of that, his budding relationship is tested by the ‘girlfriend vs daughters’ experiment.

The real focus I want to put my thoughts into this week is about Cameron. She is just having a very rough time right now, and as a character that was once annoying to the point I was sick of her, I find myself wanting so badly for things to go right for her for once. The situation she’s gotten into between Bos and Joe is so hard. I don’t think I can really fault her for what she did to Comet (potentially) when she did so out of her love and loyalty to Bos.

Cameron and Bos’s relationship from the beginning to now is one of my favorites to have watched unfold, because from the very start, their lives are so different and their personalities are so different, and yet I’ve rarely seen a more convincing father/daughter bond in television. They both have made a lot of mistakes in conjunction with their halt-and-catch-fire-season-4-episode-5relationship over the years, which is very realistic. No family is fully absent of problems, and to Cameron, Bos is the most permanent family she’s ever had. Their lives are so separate and yet the love they have and that father/daughter bond is something that never fades, even when they have little to do with each other.  It’s really easy to understand why she would betray her friends/boyfriend to help Bos when he needs her. I’ve seen a lot of people (among the few who watch this show) berating her for doing this, but honestly? I get it. It’s really good writing, because it’s so human of her to want to help her family even though she knows it’s ‘wrong’.

Her situation with Joe is so hard. Her life is in such a rough place right now with Atari and with her divorce, and through it all, for once in their decade long ‘thing’, she and Joe are in a place where they aren’t bad for each other, and in hurting Comet she hurt him at a time when they finally aren’t in that type of toxic relationship. Joe and Cameron have hacf_405_tr_0522_0022-rt-e1498600705919always loved each other, but they’re finally older and mature enough to really do that without holding back, and I love that she confessed. I figured she would after the scene with Tom when they talked without animosity and she found out that he and his new lady are having a baby. She’s ready to move on fully and to do that, and to really love Joe, she had to tell him what she did. Though Bos’s heart attack and Donna confronting her might have been a catalyst, I think she was planning on it at some point already. She just wanted to go ahead and do it while she was already hurting, which is so painfully human that it made my chest tight with the emotions from it. There’s something about how much faith she’s putting in Joe Macmillan after so long of not really trusting him that makes me want to find these writers and hug them for developing such a brilliantly done relationship.

Though I mostly wanted to talk about Cameron, I also have to give a shout out to the cinematographic choices once again, and especially in the final scene. Set to Hailey hcf_s4_405_inside-800x450listening to PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’ while she goes to bed, the crosscutting between Donna playing Cameron’s game and Gordon burning his journals about his symptoms is full of lens flares that are absent from the rest of the episode, and it really helps give this feeling of jarring anticipation of what sort of tumultuous events are coming next. I really have feared all along that Gordon is going to die at the end of all of this, and him tossing out his journals only makes that fear worse. I know that’s probably not what was intended to be conveyed there, but the violence of the music and the way it was highlighted by these lens flares really gives that impression and it scares the hell out of me.

I cannot wait to see what happens next, and I hope you guys are all just as excited as I am.

 

 

Halt and Catch Fire Returned This Week With Another Great Episode

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After being off a weekend, Halt and Catch Fire returned this week with another incredibly clever cultural parallel to the dynamics of the characters in the aptly named “Tonya and Nancy” (referring, of course, to the famed figure skating scandal of the 1994 Winter Olympics). In fact there are so many characters on this show that perfectly fit the stereotypes of Tonya vs Nancy that I find myself amazed by how well it fits.

I love that this show has managed to keep the core of its characters alive even as they’ve changed over time. This episode shows how Gordon and Joe are still Gordon and Joe, in that Gordon is about the business and Joe is the dreamer, and they integrate that into hcf-s4-otn-sqz-promoting-404-800x450Comet in a way that, for once, doesn’t seem doomed to fail. While we all know that of course, Donna’s Rover and its algorithm based indexing is the actual future that came, in the present in the show, Comet represents Gordon and Joe, the dreamers wanting to do something great and fun. We see this in how Haley and the others they hire have their Friday Funday sort of thing, and how they’re turning down acquisition offers because they want to keep their ‘dream’ going. On the other side of all of this, Donna is very much on the right track, but she’s losing who she is in doing so. It’s clear to her family and her employees that she’s stressed and on the edge of giving up on this project, even though she knows it’s gonna be worth it in the end.

Cameron is in a bit of a transition period and we see that her plans to ‘start over’ aren’t going super well. She jokes to Bos at one point that she seems to be having an early midlife crisis, and that’s essentially what’s going on. She’s lost in a lot of ways and trying to find herself, but it isn’t working so well. Her choice to buy the trailer and the plot of land is a good project for her, but it’s clearly a band-aid for the real problem. I still find her and Joe’s relationship shockingly healthy after everything they did to each other in the past, and I’m kind of sad that, though it isn’t about ‘them’, they’re going to probably 5wrhnqgcome to a serious bump in the road when it comes out that Cameron helped with Rover’s sudden success. Next week’s fireworks seem to be about Rover getting the funding to take off and bury Comet, and when it gets traced back to Cameron, Joe is going to feel very betrayed, even though it wasn’t about wanting to sabotage Comet, it was about wanting to help Bos since he’s like a father to her and is in a tough spot.

This was another episode where a lot of time elapses and we know that we’re setting up for a big episode next time. This is a preparation episode, and it unveiled the steps that build up to what’s going to explode very well. There are a lot of people all heading towards a stunning collision, but mostly the focus we have here is on the coming storm, and when it comes, I suspect the fireworks will be fantastic.

As always, I can’t wait to hear from you guys, so feel free to comment or tweet me your thoughts about the episode!

 

Halt and Catch Fire Sets To Pit Family Against One Another In The Latest Episode of AMC’s Hit Series

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Though the beginning of tonight’s episode, “Miscellaneous”, was a bit muddled, Halt and Catch Fire once again took us a bit of a springboard leap forward into the fight to create the first website indexing site, which today we know of primarily as Google. The episode begins with Gordon and Joe having to sell their company and look for their next endeavor. Joe sets his sights up on Comet, Hailey’s pet project at indexing. Little do they know, Donna has her own team set on doing the same thing with their version, Rover, which is using an algorithm to index sites at a much quicker pace.

I loved so much about this week’s episode, and most of it was character moments. Though there were plenty of wonderful cinematographic moments, the real win this episode was character study moments. I absolutely loved the way Gordon analogized Cameron and Joe as two trains who think, ‘hey, we’re both trains, this will be great’ without knowing they’re on the same track headed towards a disastrous ending in catastrophe. Because up until now, that has been very true. Cameron and Joe have been toxic for each other all along, but finally, I’m seeing a difference.

Joe isn’t the same person he once was. We’ve had this happen before, where Joe seems to be leaving behind “Joe MacMillan” and becoming someone that’s less of a sociopath, and hcf_s4_403_sp-800x450it always ended in him reverting to his old self. However, this time, Joe is really different. We’ve had an era of sustained de-Joe-ification in which he seems to be becoming a real human being in his middle age years. It’s somewhat believable this time that he can actually be this Joe for good now. Also, Cameron is changed as well. She’s grown up and become an actual adult, and because of that, it seems that she finally has more realistic feelings about who Joe is and what they can be together. It’s absolutely amazing how organic and believable this shift has been over four seasons, and I’m eager to see what happens next between them.

Gordon as a father has always been something I liked. He is a good dad even when he’s 285472not so great at other things. His relationship with Joanie last season near the end was really fascinating, but to explore his relationship with Hailey now is intriguing. I loved that he was reluctant to allow her to get mixed up with Joe MacMillan. I don’t think that Joe is a danger to her like he is with most people, not on purpose at least, but I still really admire the way that Gordon is trying to be cautious yet not totally dampen who she is and what she wants.

Also, the thing with the porn was amazingly hilarious.

On the flip side of this, we have Donna, who has become as far from the Donna Clarke hcfs4otnthisseasonon-800x450we all know and love as possible. She’s still a very relatable and realistic character, but it’s nice to see her reaching this point where badass businesswoman Donna is coming into conflict with Donna Clarke, the woman we knew as a great mother and a badass. Her pregnancy speech about Joanie and the, ‘kiss that baby every chance you get’ thing made me tear up, because I think it was a reminder to her that she used to be someone so very different from who she is now.

I also loved the heart to heart Gordon had with Cameron. They have had their issues over time, but I feel like, deep down, Gordon and Cameron have always been very much alike, and we saw some of this last season, with them bonding over video games, but I’m glad we got to see a little more with him telling her he would be happy if his girls turned out like her.

I just really love how this show shows various different ideas of success and family and most of all, of women. Cameron is a very interesting woman. Donna is a very interesting woman. Now Joanie and Hailey are both very interesting young girls. And I’m absolutely ready to see Donna having to go up against her own child in business. It’s going to be insanely fascinating.

Sadly, we have a two week wait before we can see what comes next, but as always, feel free to tell me what your thoughts are about this wonderful show in the comments or on twitter!

Halt and Catch Fire Returns For Its Final Season

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Last season when Halt and Catch Fire aired one of TV’s most compelling television show seasons in recent history, I created this blog in what I hoped would be a way to keep a weekly blog running about television I watch. Well, the only success I ever had was in writing about Halt and Catch Fire and this year, I hesitated to bring this back because I know this blog will only go silent after this series runs it’s course.

However, after watching the premiere back-to-back episodes of Halt and Catch Fire I have decided that it’s impossible for me to not get my thoughts out to the world regarding the final season of what will likely always be the most criminally under-watched television show in TV history.

The first two episodes, “So It Goes” and “Signal to Noise”, serve as more of a catch-up to the present than previous premieres have given us. In the past, the premiere episode of Halt and Catch Fire was made to draw us in and get us hooked, but this season it’s obvious that, as it is the last season and things are already set in stone, AMC decided to go ‘fuck it!’ and focus on crafting a story worthy of the AMC brand (not to say this hasn’t been the case for the entire duration of the show) and get the viewer back into the groove of things. Last season’s finale ended on a jump forward into the 90s and set the scene for this season’s story: the rise of the World Wide Web and the dream of indexing websites into one searchable location.

In “So It Goes”, we discover what has become of the way season 3 ended with the original three back as a team as Gordon, Joe, and Cameron begin their quest to build the beginnings of the Web, pushing Donna out of her own idea and driving her to Europe to work on the project with CERN. As we watch Gordon and Joe building up their product, with Cameron working remotely from Japan after returning there with her husband and confessing to her indiscretion with Joe at Comdex, the viewer is reminded why this show is so phenomenal on an artistic standpoint. The constantly moving camera showing the changing of time in a faux-long shot inside the warehouse is the stuff of cinematographers dreams. It’s beautiful and absolutely carries the right tone for the story it’s trying to convey to us.

After we get up to speed, the second episode, “Signal to Noise”, really gets the ball rolling and we get a look at all this season is going to entail. One of my favorite things about this halt-and-catch-fire-season-4-premiere-kerry-bishehow is the women, and the progression from Donna the Housewife to Donna the Feared Tech Giant is absolutely the most organic character development over a TV series that I’ve ever seen. Everything about the way Donna is shown so far shows that she’s become more ruthless, but it’s shown in such a clear “I am the boss and I earned this” way that it isn’t some “turn the woman into a bitch” trope, it’s a powerful woman who isn’t trying to make it in a male dominated field in the early nineties, it’s a woman who is making it in a male dominated field, and it’s so refreshing. To see those techies tremble before her judgment is such a liberating experience, and the best part is that over time, she’s experienced basically a trade in positions with Joe MacMillan. She is Joe MacMillan. New Decade, New Tech Giant.

Joe, we see, has gone from the ruthless businessman in season 1 and 2 to an idealistic genius in season 3 and now has descended – quite literally – to being a basement-dwelling hacf_402_ed_0413_0153-rt-400x240techie who has an obsession with an idea that he devotes all his time to at the level of rejecting his former way of outgoing, manipulative friendship living to becoming solely focused on this goal. He’s been driven to this point by the trauma he still carries over Ryan’s suicide last season and the blame he still puts on himself for that combined with his love for Cameron and the rejection he feels at her choosing to stay with her husband and not even talk to him (and Gordon) anymore. The Joe MacMillan we all knew is gone, essentially, and in his place is a damaged yet, in many ways, freer Joe who knows what he really wants in life, finally, and only seeks those things rather than glorification of his self and name.

As for Cameron, the Cameron we see this season is lost. She’s lost her extreme drive, she’s lost her sense of who she is, and we find a woman who has grown from an idealistic narcissist who needs things to be her way or no way at all to a woman who, season-4-halt-and-catch-firethough still carrying some of those traits, has been kicked by life a few times too many to be so sure of what she really wants. Her gaming career has hit a few snags related to her idealism but her reaction is far less certain than it would have been before all of these things in her life started to crack at the edges. The one thing we do get to see, however, is that she’s starting to come around to the idea that its possible this new, changed Joe may be the Joe she wanted to love all these years. Their past has been littered with the consequences of their toxic desire for each other, but after a decade of knowing each other and interacting intermittently, both have grown into the type of people who might actually be able to finally be good for one another. The way scenes where they sit up all night talking and reading and just hanging out while the other sleeps shows the fruition of all the build up that’s existed between these two over the past 3 seasons, and I honestly cannot wait to see what unfolds in the rest of season 4.

I cannot stress enough how high my anticipation is for this final season of one of the best television series to ever exist. I will never not be absolutely flummoxed at the low viewing numbers of this show, but I stand with my fellow lovers of Halt and Catch Fire in waiting eagerly for the next episode as we count down to the culmination of the stories of these characters we all love so much.

 

Halt and Catch Fire finale: Setting the Scene for the Fourth and Final Season

One day after the amazing news that Halt and Catch Fire was renewed for a fourth and final season, we had tonight’s phenomenal 2-episode season finale!

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The episode starts with the news that A) Donna and Gordon divorced, and B) it’s been 4 years and it’s now 1990. Time has changed a lot, it seems! One thing that is immediately made clear is that everyone’s lives are very different. Donna is now a partner at her firm, Gordon is now seemingly just a typical single guy with nothing but time on his hands, Cameron has had success with her video game while living in Tokyo with Tom, and Joe seems to be doing well in the stock market.

Everything comes to the turbulent start of a last hurrah for our original four at Comdex. I love the allusion to the past. Season 1 Comdex was the start of the split, this time it’s the start of the re-convergence. Donna asks Joe to go and deliver a message to Cameron and ends up going herself as well, which turns out to be good, since Joe gives Cameron a little something else besides a memo, if you know what I mean *wiggly eyebrows*

(Side note: FOUR YEARS without burritos? Oh God, that poor woman!)

Joe’s appearance is made obvious by the fact that Cameron has to look straight up form her table to see look his tall ass in the face, and oh, how weird that has to be. Seeing Joe after so halt-and-catch-fire-episode-309-joe-pace-3-935long. Joe and Cameron hanging out at Comdex was such a blast from the past. The crazy printer brothers, the parties, all these throwbacks to season 1, it was just great. We also get a look at how Joe still hasn’t ever really recovered well after Ryan’s suicide. He’s a mess and it’s pretty sad. Because Joe MacMillan is not being Joe MacMillan these days. Donna’s arrival not being met well is not a shock, and neither is the fact that, after running into Donna and having a bad reaction, Cameron ends up sleeping with Joe. Of course they slept together.

As I said on twitter:

And of course, when Joe picks up the memo off his fax machine after returning home, we see what this is all about: the birth of the World Wide Web. I’m crazy excited for that final season now!

When we got into the second episode of the finale, it went from ‘catching up with the team’ to actually getting into the set-up for next season! I love how Donna gets the original three (and Tom) together at the Mutiny office to start pitching ideas and brainstorming, because there’s something very natural about the idea of paring it down to the essential charactershalt-and-catch-fire-episode-310-donna-bische-935 for this final journey. It’s really great to see everybody working together, no matter how reluctantly that may be.

Tom being suspicious and sort of a dick is expected. His jab at Joe about, “I don’t want to see Cameron end up like Ryan.” was sooo cold! Joe’s reply about, “Good thing wives don’t get a vote” was equally harsh but not nearly as bad. The ensuing fight was totally warranted, in my opinion.

I find all of this ‘birth of the internet’ stuff so interesting, because we’re getting into stuff I know something about. Hearing about HTML and HTTP in its infancy is always fun. Also, it’s really funny that I realized this is set around Christmas of 1990, meaning a few weeks before I was born (January 9, 1991- yeah, I’m probably younger than some of you assumed, lol). About this time in the story, my extremely pregnant mother was off peeing herself at the movies because she was dumb enough to go watch Home Alone while pregnant (true story, she laughed until she peed, lol)

And of course, we all saw Donna and Cameron’s talk not working out. Everybody saw it screenhunter_576-oct-11-23-59coming that Cameron would pull away from Donna, but I doubt anybody saw it coming that Donna would actually go there after their fight (both literally and figuratively, because ‘she went there!’ actually means ‘flying to Switzerland’ int his case). I’m eager to see where Donna lets her betrayal take her.

Also, I loved how, at the end, Joe finally says what we’ve all known for three seasons now but in the most casual way ever. Gordon is like, “Where’s Cameron?” and Joe’s just like, “I’m in love with her,” and then they both go on with their lives. Now we’re here! Back with the original three! Ready for their final big idea, working together again, for Season 4 to give us a final chapter of the lives of Gordon Clarke, Joe MacMillan, and Cameron Howe (or Rendon, whatever)!

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What are you guys looking most forward to next season? What do you think will go down with Donna and CERN? How do you think this will all end for our fateful trio? How long do you think we’ll have to wait for our final season?

For those of you who only read the Halt and Catch Fire posts, I’ll see you next season! And thank you for all the hits and all the likes.

 

 

 

 

Halt and Catch Fire’s “You Are Not Safe” Will Leave You Breathless

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Halt and Catch Fire is known for leaving you reeling when the credits roll, but I think that none of us could have ever expected exactly how shocking this episode would end up being. In the past, there have been thrilling twists and turns that leave you shocked and surprised, but tonight’s episode offered something different: a hint at what was to come that told you something was going to happen only for it to still leave you utterly stunned.

At the beginning of “You Are Not Safe” we find Joe in a tight spot he can’t talk himself out of. This time, with Ryan on the run after violating federal law, Joe is left in the wake of Ryan’s source code dump scrabbling with Gordon to try and salvage what they can of the halt-and-catch-fire-episode-308-joe-pace-935NSFNet deal. The time jump in-episode is pretty unique, and at first it threw me off some. Time jumped around a lot tonight, but in the end, it was all very logical and well handled.

The only thing I didn’t like was that we didn’t get to see how Joe and Gordon progressed to being friends again with the time jumps. We go from Gordon rubbing it into Joe’s face how much he hates him one episode to, “We’ll figure this all out together” this episode. But it was still very well done.

Kerry Bishé absolutely owned this episode for how little it focused on her. She is just such a stellar actor that it’s hard to remember that at one point, she was just “Gordon’s wife” to us devoted viewers. I love the way it went between Donna being this Boss Ass Bitch and Cameron lazing around at home to show the contract of their lives post-‘divorce’ with hcf-otn-sqz-307-promoting-308_01-800x450Mutiny. Donna is clearly working hard but isn’t terribly happy. When the IPO finally opens, it’s a devastating blow that is felt throughout the entire ensemble.

I really loved this interesting little scene where Joe came to see Cameron to ask about Ryan. The way that scene was set up was so good. I loved the way the distance between them is exaggerated with the framing of them each on the very edge of the otherwise empty screen. Even the sound design and how it echoes in the room makes the distance seem so much more vast than it is. Artistically, it was just really beautifully done.

Also, I may be going a little ‘artsy-fartsy’ here, but the wasp thing, to me, was a great symbol for the danger on the horizon with the IPO and with Ryan and with how much this episode was going to sting. That may not even be where that was meant to be going, but that’s how I read it after seeing the full episode. Very tricky and intricate little nuanced symbolism.

This episode was all about change, but just in the story and events, but in the people as well. We see Cameron and Tom’s decision to move to Japan, we see Donna’s progression as a personality of the company, and we get Joe and Gordon working together smoothly as friends. Also, there is more talk about Ryan than Ryan actually on screen, and yet I feel like he was more present now than ever. With Joe clearly worrying and missing him, we got both the little exchange with Gordon where Joe proclaims “He’s my friend.” and Gordon replies “I thought I was your friend.” Also, Gordon finally asks what we’ve all suspected (though comically) and gets an answer on whether or not Joe and Ryan had sexual feelings for each other. I think we all thought they were dating or on their way there, to be honest.

And finally, the end was far more shocking and devastating than I think any of us thought it might be. From the opening scene, I suspected something bad happened to Ryan. With Joe ctdkqxoweaaitfastaring into space and the police talking to him, it was the obvious conclusion. However, the manner in which it happened was absolutely startling. From the discussion Joe and Ryan had about his options, I think at the time, I presumed he would leave after an argument with Joe and get into an accident, or something, but the way it happened in the end was so much worse. Ryan telling Joe that, “You’re a hypocrite and you always have been” will probably be with him for the rest of his life.

I loved the way it was done, though. I love that, rather than say it with words, there was the subtle sound of wind after Joe saw the blankets folded on the couch, and when he opened the door it got slightly louder, and you could hear police sirens, and then the cop just asked, “Was Ryan Ray in your apartment last night?” you just knew, and when Joe turned and we saw the door to the balcony standing open and the curtain fluttering, it hit you like a ton of bricks.

The showing everyone’s reactions was done very well. The way it showed each person while the voice over read Ryan’s letter was unique and moving and I have to admit, I actually shed a tear. I don’t know if we’ve ever heard Joe tell Gordon he’s sorry, but it was so vulnerable and fitting that it was like an extra kick in the gut.

This episode was one of the most unique and one of my favorites of this entire show, and honestly, I had to check to see if that wasn’t the finale done snuck up on me, because the somber ending with that beautiful dolly zoom of Joe and the bridge was absolutely stunning.

Next week’s two-hour finale may well be its last, with the low ratings this show has suffered through its entire run, so I hope you all join me in cherishing every moment we have left of such a phenomenal show.