Halt and Catch Fire S3 E6: And She Was
The episode is called "And She Was" but why is Joe always "Burning Down the House?"
No #Bluemohawkguy this week (sigh). I did get a few comments this week about his possible backstory
As usual, there will be questions at the end of the recap and if you have not seen S3 E6 "And She Was" stop now * Spoiler Alert *
And She Was Lying In The Grass
The episode starts with Donna (Kerry Bishe) and Cameron (Makenzie Davis) bickering over Cameron summarily firing the "Swap Meet" guys.
Well technically it starts with Gordon and Bos commiserating over how Cam and Donna have been bickering, but then the "Brain Trust" appears.
Cameron fired the swap meet guys without consulting Donna so, Donna responds with something like "Dianne will not be happy," which Cameron lets Donna know that she knows is total bullshit. As usual, this was Cameron's passive aggressive way of letting Donna know in no uncertain terms that she knows about Donna's "Diane Lie."
Just as things are starting to get heated, they are told that Diane (Annabeth Gish) has arrived at Mutiny to have an unscheduled sit down with the two of them. It turns out the success of Mutiny's trading system has drawn a purchase offer from Compuserve for 20 Million Dollars.
Diane lets them know that both because they drew the offer and because they are the leader in online trading, they will start to inspire imitators who will challenge their dominant market position. Diane suggests the best response is to offer an IPO (go public) Donna likes the idea and Cameron's response is (as usual) to fear and oppose the possible corporate takeover of her company. Another session of bickering breaks out and Diane offers the two of them her vacation home in Sonoma for them to "get on the same page."
After Diane leaves, Cameron tells Donna that she has no desire to spend the weekend with her in California wine country (or anywhere else) so Donna decides to go by herself.
This "vacay" is, I suspect, one of the reasons why the episode references the Talking Heads song which finishes with the lyric:
"Joining the world of missing persons (and she was)"
"Missing enough to feel alright (and she was)"
And that is exactly what Donna does, she starts out exploring Diane's beautiful life, in her beautiful house until, as she takes a bath, Diane's daughter (and friends) show up unannounced.
She hangs out with them, shares stories, gets high, and then takes pills (not sure what she took but from her reaction it seemed like it might have been X (I mean ummm...I have no idea).
Anyway, Donna ends up going out to the yard and lying alone in the grass, and she hallucinates that Cameron is with her discussing all of their issues.
Donna, despite being one of the nicest people on earth, has recently started to do things very out or character for her including lying to Cameron.
She says a close approximation of the following things to Faux Cameron:
"It didn't feel like a lie, it felt like I was doing what was best for the company"
"I am just as good at this as you are, but everyone assumes you (Cameron) are the genius."
So, now, the truth is starting to come out. Remember, this whole series started with Donna working a dead end job and watching the kids despite being more of an engineering and technology badass than anyone in the company she worked at.
Now, she has finally helped build a successful company, but still feels unfulfilled. She still feels that she isn't getting credit for the things she has done. Whether it is her coders, potential investors, or even Cameron.
Faux Cameron tells her to remember that "She could never do it without her (Donna)."
Anyway, the song is about a woman who is living one life in public and another in fantasy in which she is at least "missing enough to feel alright."
And She Was.
It seems appropriate that the Talking Heads song "And She Was" never plays during the episode itself. In some ways, it is like a ghost haunting the rest of the proceedings. In many ways, this is an episode about the secrets that drive us.
Cameron has always lived in secret space. Cameron lives in spaces filled with so many secrets that she can barely let anyone else inside her bubble ever. One of her secrets is that she married Tom Rendon (Mark O'Brian) on her trip to Dallas.
This even caught me by surprise, not because her parents and problems with Donna and Mutiny were causing her to crave something radically new, a rebirth, but something she could trust. It surprised me because it doesn't seem very genuine.
No matter how talented a coder Tom was, she was mostly horrible to him. Sure, part of that is because it is easier to be terrible to someone who loves you than it is to be vulnerable to them. But, in this case, I think it was because he was a poor substitute for what Joe offered her (excitement).
At several times, she chats with Tom from the Mutiny interface. In two of the three instances, a song called "No Fun" is playing while she chats.
At one level, this probably just refers to his question "has she told anyone yet?" Which she, of course, has not. This would certainly be no fun. But, I also think she knows she needs to be sitting on the roof of a building swigging liquor from a flask while fireworks go off.
I think "No Fun" is what she knows Tom is in her life.
Since she did not go to Sonoma, she decides to spend the weekend with Gordon (Scoot McNairy) at home. Remember, Gordon is also becoming increasingly withdrawn into a world of notepads and ham radios. Gordon is having a very hard time accepting what is happening to him (and sharing information about what he is experiencing and feeling).
Gordon is also living in the distance between his wife and what pushed him to infidelity. Gordon continues to withdraw partially because he is seeing more and more space between who he thinks Donna was and who she really is. As sad as this sounds, when they were first married he was proud of her but he was the genius, the major breadwinner, the inventor. And Donna was his loving wife who loved to go camping with him in Yosemite.
Now, he is losing neurological control of himself, has no company, and is increasingly seeing the truly capable dynamo his wife really is. She doesn't need him in order to succeed. She is capable of her own independent dreams and desires. Last week I compared what Gordon is going through to what happened to the Tom Cruise character in "Eyes Wide Shut" and I think that is accurate.
So, in a very real sense, Cameron and Gordon are living parallel lives.
Cameron craves "emotionally safe" human attention so badly that earlier in the season she was hacking her own clients to feel like she was participating in their lives and randomly goes and marries an ex-boyfriend she never talks to just to feel, for even a moment, that she is not alone.
Gordon craves "emotionally safe" human attention so badly that he hides from is wife in a closet talking to strangers on a ham radio.
Most of the weekend, Gordon and Cameron play Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo Entertainment System (even to the exclusion and expulsion of Gordon's kids). But, after they conquer Mario, Gordon tells Cameron about his diagnosis (she is the first person other than Donna that he has informed). And later, he shows Cameron his Ham radio set-up.
And later, Cameron tells Gordon she is married to Tom. Of course, this happens after she moves out without telling Gordon and Donna and after she herself buys and sets up her own ham radio system. Yes, of course, she tells Gordon over ham radio.
Basically, what they both seem to need is a buffer between them and the people that they want to care about and love. Cameron is more comfortable talking to her "husband" over Mutiny chat than she is in being with him (in the physical sense). And Gordon chooses to hide from his real "wife" in order to chat to strangers on a ham radio (an idea Cameron appropriates for herself)Anyway, this bonding, and learning the truth about Gordon's condition, partially leads Cameron to visit Joe. I say partially because while they do not consummate any physical connection you could catch the sexual tension with a knife (in her meeting with Tom in Dallas she seemed more awkward and pleading).
Cameron tells Joe that he needs to give Gordon credit for his invention of the program that Joe used to "invent" McMillan Security.
Joe immediately notices the wedding ring and calls her out for it by offering her a sarcastic congratulation.
She suggests that she is only visiting him to talk about Gordon.
Joe seems unconvinced, he says "you were waiting in my hallway to talk to me about Gordon?"
And then, just as it seems like the truth could come out, Joe says one of the meanest things he could say:
"You thought you were happy for a minute and though the person standing next to you was the source, trust me, I've been there before."
For those keeping score, Joe was telling Cameron that he knows she doesn't love whoever it is she married and that whoever it is that she married means just as much to her as Cameron now means to him.
And what an incredibly written scene.
Cameron disengages and tells him that he needs to make things right with Joe.
No Fun indeed.
I still suspect Cameron will end up with Joe pretty soon after Tom arrives.
Shake The Hippie
Bosworth (Toby Huss) is, in his own way, also living a double life.
He is trying to be the lovable "face man" from Texas, but there is a darkness he is hiding too. Poor Diane, who seems to be an authentically capable but heartbroken newly divorced wife and Mother obviously likes Bos but he walked out on her first invitation and treated her pretty poorly again tonight.
My running theory has been that he has never gotten over his life leaving him (after his arrest) and his son hating him. He is holding on to this family he has "in name only" and keeping these people in his life now at a careful distance using his charm. He doesn't feel fulfilled at work and misses the family that apparently hates him. He still seems charming, but with an anger building up inside of him that sometimes runs to cruelty.
Diane runs into him at the Opera (Turandot). Turandot is about a man trying to wed a cold princess, who initially rejects him. I suspect this appeals to him because it is how he feels about his actual wife (that he both desires her back and at the same time feels that she has been cold and cruel to him). I believe part of his current arc is about his desire, like at the end of Turandot, to reconcile the love and hate between him and his wife.
Unfortunately, Bos uses that charm on Diane, who authentically seems to like him. They end up having some form of sexual congress in his car and she asks him to come to her house for a nightcap (clearly very interested in a relationship with him IMO). For the second time, Bos shoots down this rich, beautiful, smart, and cool woman.
We men are often idiots. Sometimes cruel idiots.
The open vulnerability on her face turns to cynical acceptance and she agrees to have him drive her to her car instead.
This was an emotionally tough episode if you were paying close attention, almost devastating. There has been no evidence Bosworth's wife even cares about him anymore, certainly not in as open a way as Diane tries to be with him (maybe born of sadness and desperation but still, she doesn't look down on him or treat him poorly at all).
There is a line Diane's daughter says to Donna about how Diane needs friends because her Father left her with none.
Shame on you Bos.
Burning Down The House
Classic Joe (Lee Pace).
So, Joe and Ryan build the infrastructure for their backbone for what will become the backbone for an area of what we now know as the internet. Joe and Ryan sell the owners of the Arpanet on their plan. They are ready to roll.
Except, they never cleared it with the McMillan Security Board first.
So, Joe tries to sell it to them after he has spent an enormous chunk of their money.
Ken Diebold (Matthew Lillard) stops the meeting and tables the idea. He pulls Joe aside and tells him to spend no more money on this project.
Of course, Joe ignores him and makes the deal with the Arpanet folks.
So, Ken comes back (right before Joe's deposition in the lawsuit Gordon initiated) and tells Joe that he has gone to the board and removed him from power as anything other than a figurehead. He warns him that if he tries to leave he will get none of his equity and that they have a non-compete on him for 6 years. He tells him that his only job from now on is to play nice with the tech press...period.
So, of course, Joe decides to blow everything up.
He tells the lawyer for Gordon on camera that he stole the entire suite of things that created McMillan Security from Gordon Clark.
Take that Ken Diebold.
As usual, Joe does the right thing for the wrong reasons. But, I suspect, that the entire future of McMillan is now in the hands of Gordon Clark.
I will speculate, and I don't think that this is a stretch, that Gordon and Joe will team up one more time to make Joe's vision for the future of the internet into a reality.
Let's see if together they can finally "play nice" together.
Oh, and by the way, Cameron and Gordon are pretty good at Super Mario Brothers.
Does anyone want to take a stab at what #BlueMohawkGuy was up to this week? All theories accepted, the funnier the better!
Do you have an alternate theory for how the McMillan Security drama will shake out?
What is your prediction for the Tom and Cameron marriage?
What is your favorite Mario game (mine is Mario World 64) and why?
Let me know, Leave a comment!