Halt and Catch Fire: S3 E2: One Way or Another
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I have been doing recaps of #HaltAMC since Joe (Lee Pace) went to the Starck Club in Dallas during S2. At the end of each recap, I will ask some questions, if you know the answers, leave a comment! I plan to join in on any discussions.
Also, if you want me version of Easter Eggs, click on any bolded text.
So, let's get to the recap. Oh, and remember *Spoiler Alert*
Smiling VC's Like To "Grin Screw You"
One of the best things about Halt and Catch Fire is that while the show lists four, the true leads of the show are Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna (Kerry Bishe). That is not to say that Joe (Lee Pace) and Gordon (Scoot McNairy) aren't awesome, they are awesome. But they play supporting roles to as John Bosworth (Toby Huss) calls them, "The Brain Trust."
In fact, Cameron and Donna together are so badass that often you forget that they are two women running a tech company in the 1980's. Or, perhaps more accurately (now that they have moved from Texas), you forget that they are two women running a tech company in California in the 1980's.
As you might have heard, even today, the tech corridor in California is not particularly awesome for women. One can only imagine how bad it was at a time when women were just starting to break down workplace barriers.
Only now, because of Halt and Catch Fire, I no longer have to "only imagine."
Cameron and Donna spend most of Episode 2 hunting down VC money for their new idea (transactional interactions). Like the fellows of Lambda Lambda Lambda in Revenge of the Nerds, they have been turned down by every VC they have tried except one.
Sadly, unlike Lambda Lambda Lambda, it turns out the one Venture Capital firm that wants to think about funding them received the pictures.
So, Cameron and Donna show up to a dinner that they think they are attending to sew up their $1.4 Million Venture Capital agreement. Sadly, that is not what goes down.
When they arrive, they are told that they are no longer getting any of the promised money, but that they might get some good faith money if they prove that they are trustworthy and a "good fit."
When they object, one of the Venture Capitalists actually says that "nobody would wear that shade of lipstick to a meeting unless they came to play."
I saw this episode two times and I caught even more of the depressing innuendos between the two meetings. Truly a spectacularly sad display of chauvinism.
It is really a disgusting scene. It is made even more disgusting when you think how many real women have had to live through demeaning and depressing meetings just like the one that was depicted here.
Luckily, they leave and having failed to secure shark money, they decide to search out smaller boutique investment firms.
During one of these meetings guess who walks into the room? Diane Gould (Annabeth Gish). So, now we know how Gould will fit into the season, she will fit in as the woman with the money.
The meeting ends up being short, they hand out proposals and start to present their case but are cut off and summarily dismissed by Dianne, but have no idea why.
Donna immediately assumes it is because of the altercation between their daughters, but Cameron thinks it was something wrong with their presentation.
So, back at the house, Cameron starts looking through the presentation while she is talking to Gordon and Donna's daughter Joanie Clark (Morgan Hinkleman) who is not thrilled with being forced by her parents to have a birthday party.
Next thing we know, we are at at the birthday party, and somehow Diane and her daughter were invited (despite both girls hating each other).
Later we find out, through a conversation between Gordon and his daughter, that Cameron paid her to invite Diane's daughter to the party. Obviously, she was hoping for a second bite at the apple with Diane. Gordon later finds out how Cameron used Joanie and makes sure Cameron knows that he knows.
They get their second meeting with Diane (at the birthday party) and she tells them that the reason she flat denied them at the first meeting was because another company has an 18-month head start developing a different version of the same idea.
Anyway, Cameron and Donna go back to the drawing board, do their research, and find out that while the company has a good product which they are calling "Swap Meet" that company doesn't have a good user base or as aggressive enough idea for selling their product to make it work.
Cameron and Donna go back to see Dianne and convince her to help them buy Swap Meet and corner the market.
So, now Mutiny is on the road to becoming eBay.
And Donna and Cameron are still a badass team.
"I Hacked Your Security Company"
The episode actually started with Joe sitting on a beach getting ready to surf.
It is a great shot with the ocean reflected in his glasses. It reminds me a bit of the beginning of Barton Fink.
Barton Fink is the most interesting movie about writer's block ever made. I believe that Barton Fink was the result of what came out of the Cohen Brother's imagination when they were themselves blocked. It is possible to look at Mad Man Mundt as literally the devil confounding the writing process (he was very balled up at the "head" office).
I think that this might be an intentional reference, in many ways Joe is more than a little akin to Barton (John Turturro). They both are extremely talented accidental tourists. Hustling strangers in the same strange land.
A few seconds later, we see Joe walking with his surfboard just as Ryan shows up to talk to him.
Ryan Ray (Manish Dayal) is clearly very ambitious. He is being mentored at Mutiny by Gordon (an actual inventor of several major improvements in technology) but craves working for Joe (who gets all of the attention for the improvements in technology that he figures out how to market). Joe basically ignores him or at least seems uninterested in hiring him. Ryan admits that he checked 11 of the 13 breaks in San Francisco that Joe thinks are worth surfing.
Later, we see Ryan sitting in Joe's office waiting for an appointment. After a bit of exposition, we find out that Ryan has an appointment because he has hacked Joe's computer in order to give himself a morning appointment every day for the rest of the week. This is even more impressive, at least theoretically, because Joe currently runs the biggest computer security company in America.
It must have mildly impressed Joe because he gives him three minutes to impress him. Unfortunately, Ryan spends most of his time making confused statements and running down Gordon (a particularly bad move, as much as Joe competes with Gordon, he respect-hates Gordon for being everything that he wishes that he was). Joe sees himself as a fraud which is one of the reasons he is so self-loathing and self-destructive.
Anyway, Joe tells Ryan that his three minutes are up.
End of meeting.
"Those Are Not The Droids I'm Looking For"
The relationship between Joe and Gordon has always been very complicated.
Joe is extremely charismatic and charming but he really does not know how to build computers or code software or hardware. If you remember the episodes with his Father, he never truly believes that anything he does will be worthwhile. He believes that he is, at his core, a hustler and that nothing he builds is real or valuable. Or that even if it is real or valuable it is not because of anything he himself did to make it that way.
This self-loathing and self-doubt informs his relationship with Gordon. He can run circles around Gordon psychologically, but he knows that everything that Gordon does is real and quality and innovative. He loves and loathes Gordon. He craves what Gordon has.
Gordon has other problems, but his relationship with Joe is filled with rage at him for destroying the products that he created in fits of self-destructive rage. He is also angry with himself for desiring so desperately to live in Joe's orbit. At the core of Gordon is a desire to be "cool." Gordon is an engineer who feels like he should be embraced by the tech world but is never embraced despite his many contributions.
In a sense, combining the two of them together might make them a complete human being.
We are way past that now, now they are just angry at each other.
Gordon shows up for his deposition in his lawsuit against Joe only to have Joe come in and offer Gordon 50% of his business as long as Gordon agrees to help him run his company. Gordon only seems to get more upset so Joe offers 60%...then 70%. Joe's lawyer is going crazy trying to stop him and Gordon's lawyer is begging him to jump at the deal.
Gordon won't budge.
Joe says, "I guess we know what this is really about now."
Gordon just wants to hurt Joe like Joe hurt him. It is not at all about the money. And now Joe has let Gordon know that his lawsuit is just about proving to the world that Joe can't create anything. Gordon knows just where to hurt Joe, he would rather make no money as long as the public knows that Joe didn't create one damn thing.
So, Gordon has taken the task of running the administration of the coders (including the blue mohawked coder) out of John Bosworth's hands. Since his pot smoking experience at Mutiny, he is starting to feel that he has found his place in the business.
In addition, he has taken on the task of bringing along Ryan. The Task of helping translate Ryan's ideas into something actionable. Oddly enough, despite the fact that Gordon might really be the only person that can help Ryan turn his visions into practical creations. But, Ryan is in love with the idea of Joe and his magical charisma and power.
Gordon sees in Ryan an opportunity to be the cool mentor to the smartest coder in the room.
After Gordon turned down Joe's offers (as I am pretty sure Joe knew he would) Joe calls Ryan and tells him he has a job as long as he does one thing for him.
Ryan has to tell Gordon that he is leaving to work for Joe.
Joe knows just where to hurt Gordon. Joe is reminding Gordon that he will always be the cool mentor and that Gordon will always just be the smart "mole" in the basement
Gordon almost strokes out. This competition might actually kill him.
When I mentioned before that together Joe and Gordon might combine to make a complete human being, it becomes increasingly obvious that as much as they may hate each other, they need to be together.
Gordon needs Joe to serve as a conduit validating his genius to the world and Joe needs Gordon to feel like he is a person of substance and worth (Gordon adds substance to his schtick and checks his worst instincts).
The only loose end involved John Bosworth's gift to Gordon's daughter. It was a cheesy Robot Butler. A cheesy robot butler that didn't work.
The strange thing is it did look just a bit like the Mr. Robot on the television shows logo.
Did Halt and Catch Fire just take a shot at Mr. Robot?
Okay, well, that is it for Episode 2 (and yes, I am aware that the logo says the show is on Sundays when it is now on Tuesdays.
Will Ryan find fulfillment working with Joe or would he have been better off staying mentored by Gordon?
What is the best song ever used during an episode of Halt and Catch Fire?
Let me know what you think of Season 3 Episode 2, let me know, leave a comment!