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POP A RECAP: AMC’S HALT AND CATCH FIRE – EPISODE 6 ‘LANDFALL’

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Last week I spoke about the motto for AMC being ‘something more’.  In the opening moments of Landfall we find Joe and Cameron having sex again (snore) and I thought to myself ‘more like something bore’.  I was punished for this terrible pun with the best episode of the season so far as Halt and Catch Fire begins to approach the finish line of its 10 episode run.

During Joe and Cameron’s sexy time we hear more lies from Joe about the origins of his heavily scarred body.  Joe senses he’s getting close to intimacy with Cameron and he plays it cool as she lectures him about authenticity.  A neat montage of Joe’s morning routine oozes with the influence of American Psycho as the camera pans across tailored suits and shirts.  In the next scene Joe stops at a car wash to get his Porsche cleaned where he’s informed there’s special because it’s going to rain later that day.  Yes, Joe is the kind of guy who gets his car cleaned rain, hail or shine; all hail the king of the yuppies.

The rain mentioned isn’t just a passing shower but a hurricane that has everyone in the office a little spooked but Joe arrives at Cardiff Electric where they turn on their computer for the first time and it works.  The screen says ‘hello world’ and Gordon seems happy enough with the result to invite Joe over for dinner with the family.  Meanwhile, Cameron gets a love token from her programming buddy, Yo-Yo, that’s an edited version of a text based adventure game called ‘Adventure’.  The game inspires Cameron with the idea of giving their computer’s operating system a personality, kind of like the great grandfather of Apple’s Siri.  Despite Cameron being pumped for the idea, Joe’s not convinced and Gordon says no.  Cameron starts creating the operating system anyway while the secret gets out at the office that she’s sleeping with Joe which results in lots of beardy guys going ‘OOoooooOOO’.

Here comes my favourite part of the Landfall, as the hurricane approaches Gordon sets off on a mission to get a Cabbage Patch Kid for one of his children, but guess what?  No store has them.  In a scene that’s straight out of Child’s Play, Gordon buys a Cabbage Patch Kid from a stranger in a parking lot but the wrapped package turns out to be a brick in an empty box; classic Gordon.  Across town Joe arrives for dinner at Gordon’s place and plays house with Donna Clark and the kids for a bit.  During a conversation Joe mentions that his mother used to take him on the roof as a kid to look at the stars and then lightning flashes as if to herald the arrival of the truth about Joe’s injuries (finally!)  But not yet (dang!)

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While Joe is doing some liturgical dancing on the front lawn with flashlights to show Gordon’s kids that he’s ‘fighting the storm’, Gordon throws a brick through the window of a toy store to get the Cabbage Patch Kids.  Moments after the theft Gordon has a Stand By Me moment when he discovers a dead body.  A fallen power pole sits next to a body freshly electrocuted, the person’s eyes are milky white and terrifying.  Both these sequences were crafted beautifully to show Joe on the cusp of being comfortable with himself and Gordon’s flirtations with madness in the eye of a storm.

Gordon doesn’t report the dead person to the police but returns home shaken from the experience or terrified from his first encounter with Cabbage Patch Kids, it’s hard to tell.  Joe visits Cameron and she shows him the operating system with a personality.  Joe takes the computer’s question very seriously when it asks ‘who are you?’  It’s time for that lightning face thingy at the Clark’s house to pay off.  Joe reveals to Cameron that as a kid his mother was a loose cannon who used to get into drinking and drugs.  Little Joe fell off the roof during one of their star gazing nights and got impaled on a fence.  Joe lost two years of his adolescence recovering in hospital and now lives with gigantic chest scars.  As we’ve been taught by Keanu Reeves, ‘chicks dig scars.’

Landfall proved that Halt and Catch Fire can be a great show when it’s exploring the oddities in the world around these intriguing characters and it stops being coy with Joe’s puzzle box backstory.  I like seeing Gordon being aggravated by something as simple as Cabbage Patch Kids and an intuitive operating system pushing Joe to question who he really is as a person.   Inanimate objects controlling our lives.  Hmmmm that sounds familiar.

Cameron Williams – follow Cam on Twitter here: @MrCamW

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