Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 3 Review: Flipping the Switch

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The raw emotions felt on any given hour of Halt and Catch Fire easily trump an hour of Grey's Anatomy.

Sure, they may be coming from a different place, but they're deeper and more visceral than what is shown on your average sudser.

The frustration exhibited by Gordon and the pain by Joe on Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 3 were so raw that it hurt me to sit here with my reactions all bottled up inside. Don't you hate when that happens?

First of all, as much as I DO NOT WANT to complain about the overabundance of photos of Lee Pace as Joe, there were not any photos of Scoot McNairy as Gordon for this episode, and he's someone I want to talk about in detail.

So let's just pretend we see Gordon here. Hi Gordon!

When Gordon got sick, his company fell apart and he was really just flitting about in the wind, I wondered just what kind of story the character would maintain going forward. 

It turns out being Donna's wealthy husband, bored and extremely talented, suffering from a condition that gets worse when under extreme pressure, adding what he can when he can, really works. 

It didn't seem like it would, but McNairy has been acting the crap out of what he's been written and even if it might not have looked good on the page (who are we to know?), it sure comes off as interesting on screen. 

CQ CQ...for shit's sake! Is anybody out there?


The desperation with which Gordon was searching for a companion on his ham radio showed just how much he needs someone of his own to share what's happening to him. It doesn't even matter who it is as long as they are willing to lend a kind ear.

The arguments with Donna and Cameron got to him, and part of it is because he doesn't have the full story on Mutiny's behind the scenes drama. The other part is because they're not willing to see beyond their own crap.

No amount of apologizing or explaining in detail the hidden relationships that have created Mutiny will ever take away the fact Gordon can see Cameron with a more critical eye than Donna. 

He's right. They're often waiting on Cameron, and she doesn't like to delegate. 

Their squabble at the end felt like it was meant to be. They're family, and the reason they're not talking to Joe is because he's family, too. Doesn't everyone have a story of the black sheep nobody talks to any longer and why? That's Joe.

Still Learning - Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 3

Which brings me to Joe. Poor, pitiful, successful, attractive, searching Joe.

Joe is searching for someone just like Gordon. Gordon uses a ham radio, Joe uses a coding fan who happened to be a Mutiny employee, like Ryan.

Ryan was a bit of a disappointment to Joe because Joe initially thought Ryan was going to speak his mind. 

Ryan: Uh, Mr. MacMillan? I just wanted to say I don't think you should charge for the user version.
Joe: Why didn't you say that in the meeting?
Ryan: I've been here, what, a week? And you plop me down in some senior staff meeting. What was I supposed to say? I just agreed with everyone else. But I'm sorry. That's now what I think.
Joe: I'm sorry you couldn't keep up in the meeting.

Joe was hoping for validation, a like mind, some backup. Considering Ryan came to the party and was confused, arrived at the office and didn't know what to do, Joe should have seen the writing on the wall. Ryan is a young kid. He's a good coder, but he's looking up to Joe for direction.

Joe's still figuring things out. Sure, he tells his board he's stopped thinking what people think, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Joe has never stopped caring. He's stopped showing his emotions, and that hasn't done him a whole world of good.

It's wonderful that he's learning to code. Hopefully his run-in with Cameron doesn't stop him from continuing to pursue something that he always wanted to know. He never liked being touted as the salesman who couldn't code, and he looked comfortable at the keyboard.

You don't have to buy it, Cam. Haven't you heard? I'm givin' it away for free.


When he had the opportunity to say that to Cameron, it was written in stone.

New Revenue Stream - Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 3

It was interesting how differently he and Cam saw Ryan, but now that he understands Cameron truly thought Ryan was one of the best minds in the valley, he'll put him to good use.

Joe will make good on version 2.0 of his user software remaining free for consumers, and he'll use Ryan's ability to find another revenue stream to make his board happy. And Ryan will be happy, too, because he'll feel like he's a part of something big and altruistic.

But with Ryan not going back to Mutiny for sure, that opened up those bickering floodgates I touched upon earlier. After that dies down, the reality is they'll probably assign coding Swap Meet to someone in house or to one of the gobbled up new employees.

Saving Money - Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 3

John Bosworth got the company a very good deal. It seemed touch and go at first, as both Gordon and Diane seemed nonplussed about sending John alone to deliver the offer to the Swap Meet company owners.

There was definitely something up when John got there, though, and with Diane appearing as backup, they had the power to knock about one third off the asking price of the company for not sharing the true nature of things.

It's doubtful the same outcome would have resulted had Donna and Cameron delivered the offer. Cameron is a bit of a hot head, and imagining her storming out of a dark and desolate office doesn't seem far fetched.

Where do you think this season will take us? Is there any hope for Gordon and Joe to realize they loneliness they feel is for each other? I don't think Joe, if pressed, would deny it, and after the Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 premiere, maybe Gordon is getting closer, too. 

Share your thoughts with me in the comments. Writing this is a labor of love. There aren't many of you here, so if you are, stop by for a chat. Say hello! 

If you need to catch up, you can watch Halt and Catch Fire online right here via TV Fanatic. Don't miss out on this wonderful series!

Flipping the Switch Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 3 Quotes

Ryan: You sure do have a lot of friends, huh?
Joe: I don't call these people my friends. Most of these people don't even know whose house they're in.

CQ CQ...for shit's sake! Is anybody out there?