‘FUD’, which stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, served as a wonderful counterpart to Halt And Catch Fire‘s premiere episode. ‘I/O’ left off with our three main characters staring at the IBM legal team that entered the Cardiff building to question Joe, Cameron and Gordon about the origins of their codes meant for building a PC clone. Unsurprisingly the trio talked their way through these interrogations no problem during the first moments of ‘FUD’, but during the rest of the episode Halt And Catch Fire managed to keep viewers on their toes, with many cases of elegantly executed misdirection and the effective use of the intrigue surrounding its three main players. This show really takes its time to develop its plot and its characters simultaneously, and does the latter by showing who these people are through their behavior and then it gradually pulls back the curtain on their past. Quite a bit happened during this episode: IBM tried to undercut Cardiff by making their clients leave and even went as far as to offer Joe the opportunity to come work for them again, all just to make sure that IBM didn’t get a competitor. As interesting as these moments were, Halt And Catch Fire works so well because of its core cast of characters; unpredictable and damaged underdogs who will stop at nothing to make their PC clone as success.
It was immediately evident from ‘I/O’ that Joe was a troubled individual, but that got up-played even more during ‘FUD’. He lost his temper during many moments, and even lost it in a stereo store where he turned on all the stereo systems simultaneously and assaulted the store owner. Why? Because he was lost in his own head, looking for answers, desperate. We don’t know what Joe’s condition is exactly and what happened at IBM, where his father apparently works, but that he’s not healthy psychologically is pretty evident from all we’ve been shown and from what his old IBM colleague said to him: “You may like it here now, but let’s see what happens when they find out what you really are.” Joe was also clearly moved when the same man told him his father was disappointed in him, which makes you wonder what Joe’s relationship with his father is like. When a discussion between Joe and Gordon escalated later, Gordon tore Joe’s shirt, revealing many scars on Joe’s torso. Joe then went on to lie about the origins of these scars, manipulating Gordon into working with him again, but intriguing Cameron who was onto him. The dynamic between these three damaged but very different people is the highlight of the show so far and clearly the focus of the show, even though the PC business certainly is an interesting and unique backdrop to set these character arcs against.
While Joe is clearly the show’s antihero protagonist, Gordon and Cameron are getting nicely rendered too. A moment with Gordon and his wife, where Gordon didn’t mention the fact that Cameron is a woman, hinted at a larger problem from his past, again pulling the curtain just slightly to give make the viewers question what’s happening and why exactly. Did Gordon also cheat on his wife in the past, in addition to being a drunkard? Cameron on the other hand is clearly having problems with authority and was also shown to be a shoplifter who carries a knife in her bag. Halt And Catch Fire cleverly suggests a lot about these characters, without telling us immediately who these people are and what their story is, which makes for very exciting and slow-burning character drama. The dynamic between the main characters, who clash and bond because of various personality traits, is intelligently written and, again, keeps you guessing because there’s a sense that these people are in it for themselves. Will they throw each other under the bus when it serves their needs or do they prove to be loyal to each other? That’s the question at the heart of this series and, so far, we really have no clue yet.
Halt And Catch Fire‘s second episode made it clear that AMC’s new show is indeed a strong one. It’s expertly crafted and contains the most interesting new characters on television. 9/10