tv review – AMC’s Halt And Catch Fire, episode 1.3

Despite some questionable decisions, Halt And Catch Fire‘s third episode was another solid outing that, once again, said something interesting about its three main characters while leaving viewers guessing simultaneously. The inclusion of new character Brian who suddenly turned out to be besties with Gordon was very peculiar and served more as another reminder of Gordon’s impressionability than anything else. He was a type, just there the entire episode to influence Gordon and, suddenly, Gordon had had enough of it, wrecked his car and walked away. It was a very clunky way of reinforcing some of Gordon’s character traits, and Brian himself certainly seemed like a shallow one-off character. It’ll be interesting to see though what this little plot strand will mean for Gordon going forward. Will he be a stronger and confident man? Will he learn to stand up to alpha dog Joe, for example? Only time will tell, but it was pretty overt that ‘High Plains Hardware’ wanted to push Gordon forward and tell us a little more about the people around him which, paradoxically, in the case of his wife was one of the highlights of the episode.

It was very nice to see was the attention given to Gordon’s wife Donna. While we knew Donna is a smart woman, previously she essentially came off as the nagging wife, an archetype often used in film and TV to create obstacles for the male character. While she was given some depth in episode 2, the third entry in the series really highlighted her skills, outlook and her work ethic. Donna is a woman who is strong and independent, but chooses to be there for her husband and her children, and will do what needs doing. Throughout the episode we were witness to her professional desires and ambitions, but also to her loyalty to her family: she pushed her own work aside to help her husband out, which ultimately resulted in her not meeting her own goals. There’s a sense that Donna has sacrificed a lot for her family and because of her husband in the past, and, the episode’s final shot seemed to suggest she’s quite fed up that, while it simultaneously saw her mercy-kill a dying bird. Gordon himself is a dreamer, a genius but also a man who needs strong support while he is busy doing what he feels he needs to do. He’s not someone who can get over himself or look past his own ambitions to see what it means for his family or what his wife actually does for him. Donna’s mother certainly wasn’t happy with her daughter’s current husband and it’ll be interesting to see how much Donna will keep taking from Gordon.

Meanwhile Joe and boss man John tried to scrape some funding together for Cardiff’s new portable PC, with little luck. Again the goings-on themselves weren’t all that interesting, but the decisions the characters made were. When John brought Joe to Louise, a rich woman who wanted to help the duo out but asked a lot in return, Joe couldn’t control himself and hurled insults at her. Louise, a smart woman, then went over Joe’s head and addressed John, effectively solidifying the deal anyway, beating Joe. What happened next was this episode’s WTF moment: Joe went after Louise’s younger plaything and lapdog, forcefully seduced him, souring the relationship between that man and Louise and thereby he also ruined the deal, to John’s dismay and desperation. Time and time again we’re shown that Joe isn’t afraid to get very personal and that he’s ruthless when it comes to the things he desires. He’s a dangerous character, but Lee Pace still plays with a lot of charisma and vulnerability at times, which makes the character such an enigma. Another enigma is Cameron, who meanwhile seemed to be going crazy over coming up with the BIOS code and relieved pressure by spending all her hard-earned cash at once and spending time with a ragtag group of junkies. It seems that computers are the only stable thing in her life and that, aside from that, she has a lot of trouble keeping it together; she’s not responsible and she’s oblivious to social conventions, doing whatever she pleases. While this little bit of development was quite erratic, it seemed like that was exactly the point and, like Gordon and Joe, Cameron seems like another ticking time bomb.

‘High Plains Hardware’ served up even more questions for viewers, while the show’s three main characters struggled for solutions and sanity. It was a bit clunky here and there, but Halt And Catch Fire‘s third outing was another mesmerizing watch. 8/10

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