Halt and Catch Fire Season 2 is really focusing on its characters.
The burgeoning chat rooms (plus online dating), the shooter game, the concept of a personalized computer, all the tech-related ideas and more are fascinating to see evolve and become something.
And of course, it was fun and nostalgic hearing the Mario theme play in the background as Gordon’s kids played… what was that called… oh, yeah, Nintendo.
But that fascination has been truly escalated by the sophomore season’s ability to really flesh out its characters beyond their freshman season identities. I’m far more invested in continuing the journey of whatever tech-related focus because of the characters.
Just thinking back to Halt and Catch Fire Season 1 – a mixed bag of pacing, ideas and moments – the creation of the Giant computer seemed far more prominent than say Joe, Cameron, or Gordon. And perhaps that’s because the series was figuring out what it wanted to do, its strengths, its weaknesses, but each of those three never felt like they expanded past visionary, prodigy and engineer.
As the second season has been showing, and continued in Halt and Catch Fire Season 2 Episode 5, the characters and their own journeys are proving to be interesting and engaging. The characters are feeling more and more like real people.
Take Joe, that arrogant and confident salesman, who still holds those traits, but has become something beyond that ever since leaving Cardiff, ever since being with Sara. And it's great we get to see that chink in his armor, to see him feel awkward and uncomfortable around Cameron. Even seeing him choose to sign the papers to prove to Sara that he’s not after her for her money is a big deal.
Yeah, he’s still got that passion and hunger to do something successful and innovative, like with his project involving the mainframes, but we’re getting new sides to Joe.
I’m still having a harder time warming up to Cameron, but it was nice seeing her in a happy mood with Tom. There’s a good chemistry there, though I feel like some trouble won’t be far behind to mess with what they’ve got.
Certainly, there was some lack of communication later in the hour as I thought Tom and Cameron were no more. And after seeing her ex-flame, learning he was the one in charge of the mainframes for her company, feeling like she was a part of some plan, and then learning Tom was going to see some “girl,” I understood her frustration and emotional breakdown.
So it was a bit of a shock to see Tom crawl through the window to see her, the “girl” he said he was going to see. He obviously saw something was wrong, and it was a solid moment seeing him there to comfort her rather than climbing back out the window to avoid the entire situation.
The Donna and Gordon relationship is interesting to watch as well, especially as Donna becomes far more immersed in her work (even with a baby on the way.) And Gordon has been really supportive.
I was even more impressed he decided to tell Donna about Joe, rather than that mystery being dragged out over a couple episodes. Granted, I think it had been a few weeks as far as the show’s time period was concerned, but things on Halt and Catch Fire are moving right along.
If anything, I really felt for Gordon this hour, and actor Scoot McNairy really captured that lost feeling, that yearning for connection.
To learn that he had brain damage, that it wasn’t curable was a devastating moment for him and clearly one that made him try and re-evaluate. It was sad that he didn’t tell Donna, almost not wanting to get in the way of all that she was dealing with.
Seeing him in the club thinking about his and Donna’s past or seeing him try and get closer with Donna’s parents (which, man, was that a drastic turn when she made him pay back the money?) continued his attempts at trying to deal with his life change.
But it was that tearful phone call to his brother that hit home. He wanted to visit to see his family, and he had to ask to make sure his brother actually wanted him to come. Some heartbreaking stuff. McNairy definitely shined this hour.
This was another great episode of Halt and Catch Fire Season 2, and "The Terminator" reference was a fun added touch. It’s great to see that the series is definitely headed in the right direction.
What did you think of Gordon’s news? Will Tom and Cameron make it as a couple? Sound off below, and be sure to catch all the excitement when you watch Halt and Catch Fire online.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.