tv review – AMC’s Halt And Catch Fire, episode 1.5

‘Adventure’ was another solid episode of Halt And Catch Fire, an entry that delved a little deeper into some of the characters’ pasts than the previous outings did. What was perhaps most surprising about the episode was that ‘Adventure’ didn’t start off with retaliation. We were shown Joe’s bruises, the result of Bosworth’s actions from ‘Close To The Metal’, and then we saw him practicing a swing with his baseball bat, visibly fighting his way through the pain caused by his injuries. But after he had performed to his own satisfaction, he didn’t force his revenge. Instead he went on like nothing had happened and he was just a little passive-aggressive in a business meeting led by Bosworth. But since Joe also wants Cardiff to succeed he didn’t keep that attitude up for long and took over the meeting to win the business partners over, after which he continued to pour his soul into his work.

Joe’s strategy seemed to be that he wanted to keep his head high and show Bosworth that he couldn’t be broken. Only during the final scene Joe showed his aggression, but by then it wasn’t solely aimed at the Cardiff boss: it was a performance to show Cameron (who had left him), Bosworth (who had harmed him) and anyone who wanted to watch that he is still very much the alpha dog who won’t back down and who will take whatever he wants. It was a showcase of machismo that certainly seemed to impress all attendees, but we’ve also seen before that breaking things is one of the few ways Joe knows to blow off steam. Singlehandedly wrecking a car seems to suggest that this week’s episode’s events really got to him; he avoided meeting his father who stopped by and additionally he was fed up with Gordon. Not so much because Gordon had had his stepfather set up a business meeting with a Japanese company that could supply Cardiff with LCD screens for their PC clone, which Gordon also immediately wrecked, but because Joe was publicly humiliated the next day. After Gordon had gotten drunk and scared off the Japanese, Joe surprised the two businessmen the next morning and Joe thought that, by doing so, he had actually saved this valuable business connection. While throwing that in Gordon’s face at work later, Gordon responded that he had talked to his stepdad immediately after the meeting, who had then smoothed things over with the Japanese already. Embarrassed and angered Joe left the room. The thing is: Joe was only humiliated because of his own vanity, demanding public praise from Gordon. This once again underlined what we already knew about Joe; that he isn’t only dangerous to others, but also to himself.

We also learned that Joe MacMillan Jr. really took after his dad. Joe MacMillan Sr. came into town wanting to meet up with his son before flying off elsewhere, but Joe didn’t have any of it. While he did set up a meeting with his dad, he changed his mind later, at the last minute, staring at his father through the hotel window. When Sr. visited Jr.’s home later he met Cameron instead, who visited Joe’s to pick up her stuff from his apartment after having broken off their sexual relationship. Sr. then tried to use her to learn more about his son and to temper with Cardiff’s plans, but Cameron saw right through it; she told the old man off, after which he left. Their encounter led to some interesting insight into Cam’s background though: we learned that her dad died in Vietnam when she was only ten years old, which obviously set her on her current path and explains her anti-establishment attitude. While this fact was just a little nugget of information, because of the show’s secrecy, it felt like a big revelation and an eventful moment, thanks in large part to Mackenzie Davis’ performance: her Cameron immediately shut herself off when the subject of her dad came up and took refuge in another apartment room to get herself together. What was even more interesting was that Cameron, after her conversation with Sr. and her brief moment of vulnerability, decided to make a change: she took initiative at work, which got her promoted and now has her leading a team of skilled hacker types. It’s exciting stuff and the constant flux of power and interpersonal dynamics is what makes Halt And Catch Fire such an interesting show to watch. What didn’t work quite as well on that front was the sudden shift in Donna’s dynamic with her boss and ex-flame, though: he was very flirtatious all of a sudden and she was very receptive of his change in demeanor. Donna is such an interesting character, which begs the question: is an impending affair really what the character and the show need? It seems too trite compared to everything else the series has to offer.

‘Adventure’ continued Halt And Catch Fire‘s streak of quality with interesting developments on a personal and business level. 9/10

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