Halt and Catch Fire concluded its promising but often troubled and seemingly random freshman year with a conclusion that brought arcs home and left many threads hanging. Following the stellar hour of TV that was "Up Helly Aa" this week's "1984" showed the change in the computer industry that can occur in so little time as they took to develop the Giant. The episode begins with Joe and Gordon talking to Mr. Cardiff about gaining a percentage of Cardiff Electric in their names, and when Cardiff suggests that he will just run the company himself Gordon deflects this by citing that he has no experience trouble shooting or working with the lingo that personal computers require. He relents and agrees to Joe's offer of 8% of the total company, and the profits from the Giant being upwards of 40 million after overhead, but the 8% is split between him and Gordon is fist pump worthy as they have deserved their success after working for so hard. As they begin to get test models in from the manufacturer to verify any problems with it before it ships out to computer stores, Joe tries to make him already compromised and barebones machine with a "killer app" which leads him to shoot down every suggestion that is thrown his way by the young coders, going back to Simon Church's claim that Joe is never happy with anything that he is doing at any time he is doing it and how the Giant is his main focus now that Cameron and he are over. The minor defect that they find and Joe says that they should halt production until they can boost the product in some way. Gordon's proposed blackmailing of Joe with Cameron's involvement in Bosworth's stealing to get him to ship out without the app was a nice game change. The night of the christening of the first shipment of Cardiff Giants off to the shops (a mere 100 that they were testing) Joe is distraught over having tried to visit Cameron and her simply calling him the same little boy that fell off the roof of his house when he was young. Gordon and Donna get wasted and when they are driving home they are carjacked with Donna still in the car. We think she is dead but she is simply injured and laid up at home while she recovers for a few months. So many random occurrences propel the story of this show, not character but freak things like the car accident Gordon was in in episode 3, or Joe getting beaten up by cops (arranged by Bosworth but at the time it made no sense to me), or this carjacking there is so much external world stuff that hits these characters like lightning rods and it is completely inconsequential later on, especially the stuff about the Cabbage Patch Kids. I feel like the Cabbage Patch thing was only because the writers wanted to show Joe in the rain thwarting a hurricane with flashlights and to make Gordon seem more crazy. Most of the season was wasted making us think that Gordon had gone too far and Donna had to bring him back but as the show got into these last three episodes we saw the side of him that was much more endearing and the reason he wanted to innovate technology in the first place, especially when he gives Donna the decoder ring and they say "I love you" in the decoded language was so geek worthy but likable. Joe's taking out the shipment to the wilderness and burning it along with his tux jacket was perhaps the heaviest handed metaphor handled much better by other shows. He is going to reinvent himself, again, and come back later but in 1984 after the flashforward he is nowhere to be found although it is probably known that he burned the first 100 which didn't hurt production of the Giant at all since those were only the first mass produced ones. The coders all jump ship to join Cameron's new company, called Mutiny, which is run out of her house and is an early version of the internet connecting people who play text based games like Adventure over phone lines, which she learned after hacking into the processing power of the phone company when she worked there and quits after getting the idea for the company. Cameron goes to Donna to find someone with experience and focus to come work at Mutiny, saying she can't offer her a salary but she can offer her a percentage of the company as compensation. With Donna having been carjacked and having been laid up for so long away from work and decides to join the company in the end of the episode while Gordon is read the review of the Giant in a tech magazine review of how it's a "serviceable triumph from an unknown developer," simply asking "what's next?" of the people around him as he is now on top it would seem but without Joe he seems rather deprived of a drive to harness his creative energies and be a visionary, which is something that Joe brought to the table even if it was just using others' ideas and pushing them or "repeating their own ideas back at them" as Cameron puts it Joe was an essential part of the show and one that Cardiff will need should he ever come back. Most disappointingly is seeing that Joe ends up further west going to an observatory that's off the map and where a supposedly "crazy woman" resides who I suspect might just be his mother? Although it was established that is in fact already dead. Joe is basically replicating his arc from before Season 1 started and into the Pilot between seasons (supposing we get a second season) but I think if Joe comes back different or we see more behind the mask of his faade he will be much more captivating than an empty suit. Halt's first season was filled with great installments, and some not so great, but it is no doubt TV worth watching and one that process the AMC brand can still provide great dramatic entertainment with substance. It may come off as stunted but Halt's first season boasted occasional greatness which proves that there is a story to mine in a team of creative trying to build something unique in a time of great technological innovation like the early eighties was. I only hope that the writers can take the excellent arcs of the show's superior characters (Donna and Cameron who had the best arcs of the first season) and replicate that for Gordon and Joe. Also bring back Bosworth in some form since his father/daughter dynamic with Cameron was a highlight of this season. Much like Justified did before it I am confident that writers can learn from the criticisms and make a much more consistent, stylish, and rewarding show if they get a next season to make it better since the groundwork is already there it just needs some fine-tuning. AMC, please give the show a second season it would be a shame to see it get cancelled when it has so much potential. Most of your shows start out with low viewership like Mad Men did. Just put it on Amazon/Netflix early and spread the word on social media and the word will no doubt get around and the second season will be better viewed than the first. If not, at least we will have this ten episode experience to prove to us that period storytelling can remain excellent outside of the likes of "The Americans" and "Mad Men" and shows that cable networks can still take creative risks in storytelling. moreless
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