Promotion and paranoia sat side-by-side on this week’s Halt and Catch Fire as the series bounced back from the previous dud episode High Plains Hardware.
For those not playing along at home, Joe MacMillian (Lee ‘great hair’ Pace) is leading a personal computer project at an electronics company with nothing to lose, Cardiff Electric, and he’s being assisted by a team of engineers led by Gordon Clarke (Scoot ‘how good is the name Scoot’ McNairy). Writing the code that will eventually boot up the computer is the punk programmer Cameron Howe (Mackenzie ‘never trust someone with two last names’ Davis).
After Joe does his usual sales pitch to the staff on the progress of the hardware being built for the PC project, he informs everyone that a journalist is coming to visit to write a story that could generate real interest in their work. The excitement is sullied when Joe meets with the journo who reveals that he’s only there as a favour and there is nothing special at Cardiff Electric that hasn’t happened at any of their competitors during PC development. Joe pleads with the writer to spend time looking for an underdog angle but juicy story is already in the works because Cameron’s entire code has been wiped from her computer due to a power surge. Close to the Metal captured all the horror of losing a gigantic body of work to a computer fault and not having any back-ups. The desperate search for back-ups on floppy disks sent chills down my spine, in fact, I’m saving this recap right now. And again just to be safe.
Everyone is shaken by the loss and it hits Cameron the hardest who goes for a cry on the roof. Gordon forgets to pick his kids up for school and arrives just in time to find his wife Donna (Kerry ‘the best thing about the show’ Bishe) hasn’t. Donna asserts her command in the relationship because Gordon is a pretty useless husband but somehow he convinces her to come back to Cardiff Electric to help them retrieve the lost data. Donna agrees and it’s family problem solving night at Cardiff Electric. Donna asserts her intelligence over a room of goofball engineers and even has time to give Cameron a lecture that later backfires when Cameron gets word from Donna and Gordon’s kids that their parents think she’s trash. Cameron is starting to become like Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman in her ability to fly off the handle. While Donna is showing computer bytes whose boss retrieving the lost code, Cameron steals her car keys and drives to the Clarke’s house to trash it. Luckily, Cameron is stopped by a neighbour (the one Gordon fired in the previous episode) who talks her out it in the best way a guy in a bathrobe holding a shotgun can.
Donna saves the day and all the men give her the look that they want to propose marriage (myself included). The hovering journalist takes an interest in Donna but Gordon makes sure to give a fake name so Donna doesn’t get in trouble with her employer. There’s a lot of male back patting as Donna blends into the background as the unsung hero but she has an ace up her sleeve. Just when you think it’s all done Close to the Metal Pulls a Usual Suspects and goes for the shock twist; Joe planned power surge to create a story. Another point in the douchbaggery box for Joe.
They don’t let Donna sit on her high horse for too long because when she shows up to work the next day her boss grills her about the article and poor work performance at her actual job. Donna gets the bad news that she’s on probation and she levels-up in under-appreciation. Joe hits the road in his Porsche feeling good about himself when two karma police show up to engage in a little rough justice. It’s all revealed to be a power play by Joe’s boss at Cardiff Electric that was a really boring part of the episode.
The episode ends with Gordon and Joe chatting about the bullet they missed and Joe realises how important Donna is to the future success of the project. Cameron eats a day old sandwich so I’d guess the next episode starts with her and a case of food poisoning.
The obvious was reinstated again in Close to the Metal but it was done much better. Joe is still a sleazy enigma, Gordon is useless, Cameron is angry and Donna is awesome. It was also an important public service announcement in the importance of backing-up all your work. Save early, save often.
Cameron Williams – follow Cam on Twitter here: @MrCamW