Whenever you’re watching an AMC show a little graphic on the bottom right hand side of the screen occasionally flashes the network’s tagline: something more. Five episodes into Halt and Catch Fire I want something more, a lot more than what was on offer in Adventure.
The employees at Cardiff Electric were revealed to have more daddy issues than Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle. The personal computer project was humming along in the background of Adventure but Joe, Gordon and Cameron were dealing with all different father archetypes. Joe’s papa was in town, Gordon’s father-in-law was celebrating a birthday and Cameron was dealing with a ghost dad; but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Joe’s demands to make the Cardiff Electric’s PC lighter is proving to still be a challenge to Gordon’s team of engineers until a television wristwatch shows up via Gordon’s father-in-law. Gordon comes up with the idea to use the LCD technology in the watch to solve his weight problem. An awkward golf game follows with Gordon begging his father-in-law for an introduction to the Japanese businessmen from the awesome TV wristwatch company. A meeting is secured and Joe seems kind of happy for once.
Meanwhile, Cameron returns from a mini vacation to find that Joe has hired an entire team of programmers to work on the PC project now that the BIOS code is done. Cameron is no longer the programming wunderkind, she has a manager and is surrounded by varying 1980s computer nerd stereotypes. One of them even has the nickname ‘yo-yo’. To that I say no-no. It doesn’t take long for Cameron to snap, she tells Joe the new team isn’t going to work and then cancels their weird sex arrangement. Cameron takes the keys to Joe’s apartment and visits to pick up some of her stuff. She finds Joe’s dad (also named Joe) standing in the apartment waiting for his son to arrive home and hopefully give us some answers about Joe Junior. Cameron and Joe Senior have a conversation about little Joe and his ruthlessness. Joe Senior continues Halt and Catch Fire’s annoying habit of being vague about their leading salesman by proclaiming ‘you have no idea what you’ve gotten into’. The show needs to start showing its hand a little in the Joe department instead of giving more hints about hints. During the conversation we do get to know a bit more about Cameron’s father and she reveals that her he was a pilot in the Vietnam War who never came home. The military flourishes in Cameron’s wardrobe suddenly make sense and it’s clear that her emotional wounds have not yet healed. Before the discussion is over Cameron’s bullshit detector sounds off and she tells Joe Senior that she isn’t buying his sympathy act or letting him manipulate her to feed info to his son.
On the LCD front Joe and Gordon do a deal with the Japanese businessmen from the awesome TV wristwatch company but Gordon botches the deal when he drunkenly badmouths his father-in-law during a bathroom break. Gordon realises that the only way to fix his mistake is to show up to his father-in-law’s house drunk; classic Gordon.
The next day Joe tries to be a hero by catching the Japanese businessmen on their way to their airport and apologising. The deal is back on and Joe goes to see Gordon to gloat. Gordon shuts down Joe pretty quickly by saying that it was his late night drunken begging on the in-law’s doorstep that did it; classic Gordon. This scene best showcased the passive aggressive excellence of Halt and Catch Fire that works so well when the actors spark off each other. For the first time in the series I noticed how Lee Pace’s Joe rarely blinks during a majority of his scenes. Pace adds intensity to his character with a long cold stare.
There always has to be a character that has the final say in Halt and Catch Fire and this week it went to Cameron who asserted her power in the programming area by convincing Joe to fire a majority of the new team and make her manager. Her wish is granted and then she gifts Joe with the knowledge that his father was at the apartment. With that info Joe shows up in the next scene at a Cardiff Electric company barbeque where employees are paying money to smash a car with a sledge hammer. Joe offers up a wad of cash to pummel away his dad rage and Cameron is in awe with a look that says ‘our weird sex arrangement is back on’.
Adventure gets points for flexing those passive aggressive muscles and the performances are all still fantastic but the series still has me wanting more. Something more. You win this round AMC.
Cameron Williams – follow Cam on Twitter here: @MrCamW