Halt and Catch Fire Season Premiere Review: Sisters Doin' It for Themselves

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No matter where you go, there you are.

Yep, that's an annoying phrase, but it still holds true as as we take a bit of a time jump at the beginning of Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 1.

It's 1986 and Mutiny has been successfully ensconced in what will become a very busy Silicon Valley for about six months.

There is a lot of room in the new digs, and a lot of new faces. Mutiny's customer base has expanded and there's a celebration for 100,000 users, a mainframe computer, and the expansion of John Bosworth's family. He has a new grandson.

But even as well as everything is going, there are still problems, and many followed them to California. Not that you can tell they're in California, just like it's not blatantly obvious the show takes place in 1986.

The subtleties of place and time are one of the best aspects of Halt and Catch Fire. The series takes place in the '80s but isn't about the '80s, even though the subject matter couldn't occur in any other time.

We're not weighed down by reminders that we're in another decade, but I can appreciate the references, such as the authentic bag of Doritos Gordon was munching away on during Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 2

So what's new after the move? Well, Gordon's health is better, but he's still fighting through his bad days, noting just how bad they get in a notebook he carries with him at all times.

The Clark's marriage isn't great, but they're working on it. Cameron living with them in their daughter's room isn't the best solution, and they're lacking privacy. 

Gordon is fighting with Joe in a legal battle about the software code he gave to Joe which Joe then turned into a multimillion dollar anti-virus company without any compensation for Gordon.

There are new faces at Mutiny, and with them, new ideas springing forth. Not all of them are welcome. Cameron still holds very tightly the original coding she did and gets flustered if someone calls her out on course corrections.

Discovering your private chat platform isn't at all private is a big deal. Trying to sweep it under the rug when Ryan brought it to the attention of Cameron and Donna was a bad move which was made even worse when they gave him a 15% raise in lieu of taking his advice.

The New Guy - Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 1

In that moment, it became clear Ryan was going to play a large part this season. He's aching to be a part of something. The way he shut himself off from the others in the basement isn't the same as being shut out of the business at hand. 

His dedication and desire to be a part of something big was written in stone when he attended the seminar Joe gave about his latest idea.

Joe has already cashed in on corporations and made millions off of their business trying to stay safe from the prying eyes of hackers. His next target is the general household user. 

The Latest Product - Halt and Catch Fire

Giving the software (software he wouldn't even have if not for Gordon) to people for free doesn't seem like a money making venture. And I don't think it is. Could he be so lost he's willing to create viruses that the average Joe (ha) will have to turn to him to fix? Probably not with Ryan by his side.

Joe is such an intriguing character. Because he's not the best communicator, he's been shut out of the lives of his friends. He can't turn it around. When Ryan finally made time to see Joe, he went about it all wrong.

Ryan: This is going to sound weird, and it sounds ridiculous even saying this, but I know something's coming. Something big. Like a train, and all I want is to jump on board, but it's getting faster and faster and I'm terrified that I'm gonna miss it. That night, that night that you spoke at the Castro, I was like, finally, somebody sees the world the way I do. And I knew, right then, that this was my ticket aboard that train. I don't know what else to tell you, man. I just want to work with you. NEED to work with you. On anything. Please. Nobody listens to me. Nobody takes me seriously. I don't want to get left behind.
Joe: Your three minutes are up.

Insulting Gordon wasn't the way to get to Joe. But it inspired Joe to break into Gordon's deposition and make an odd appeal to Gordon's friendship. Joe does miss their friendship, as much as Gordon misses Joe's.

They're just unable to come to a middle ground and make amends. Maybe too much dirt has fallen on their relationship at this point to ever repair what they had.

Gordon: I don't want to work with you, Joe.
Joe: I think we now know what this lawsuit is really about.
Attorney: Returning to the date of July 30th 1985. Mr. Clark, from your perspective, did MacMillan come to your residence at 2824 DePew Drive as a business partner or a friend?
Gordon: I have no idea.

That scene was beautifully filmed. It led to even more amazing work with the two men using Ryan as a pawn. Gordon didn't know that, of course. He was just trying to toss Ryan a bone and allow him some intellectual freedom at Mutiny. And Gordon wanted someone to share his passions.

Joe probably knew that Gordon would find a kindred spirit in Ryan, and taking that away from Gordon would give him pleasure only a dramatic villain with an aching, soft heart would feel.

But I need to know what Joe asked Ryan to take before he left Mutiny, because he did ask, right? And Ryan should have had some twinges of doubt about Joe, especially after hearing what he originally attributed to Joe was done by Gordon. Oh well, he'll learn.

The Pawn - Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 2

It's still always shocking to me to see the Mutiny software on the screen. It's so primitive in comparison to what we have in 2016. What has happened in 30 years is astounding. When I think of CGI against the graphics of Mutiny Community, well, we've come a long way, baby.

I was alive and far more than a tadpole in 1986. I got my first personal computer at home in 1992. That was my first foray into chatrooms and stuff. I don't remember if I used them at work before that (chatrooms, not computers). 

The point being the world they're depicting on Halt and Catch Fire is so primitive I don't have any experience with it, and it never ceases to fascinate me. Still, if I had been the poor Joystick guy, learning Cameron was reading my personal chats, I would have been livid.

Their error did give them their next avenue of profitability, however. 

Cameron's three thoughts on why Diane's firm passed on the pitch so quickly were surprising. It was obvious to me someone got there before them just by the timing of their pass. Granted, I've been on Ebay since 1996, so I have some inside information, but still.

Nineteen eighty-six is a full nine years earlier than Ebay hit the market, so it would be brilliant if a little alternate history was written here and Swap Meet (assuming Mutiny goes with their purchased product's title over the less-than-exciting Exchange) hit the ground running.

For Mutiny to meet with some of the success Joe has seen would be a welcome change. Sure, they've grown, but his villainous uber-expansion hardly seems fair, even if he has had to lose himself in the process.

This was a fantastic premiere to a wonderful series. Thank you, AMC for continuing to support Halt and Catch Fire. For those of us who have been smart enough to catch on, it burns bright.

If you have missed any of the series and want to find out why AMC stands behind a show that isn't a ratings juggernaut, watch Halt and Catch Fire online to find out. It's worth your time!

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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Halt and Catch Fire Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

Cameron: What's up, Squirt?
Haley: Family Circus still sucks.
Donna/Gordon: Language!

  • Permalink: Language!
  • Added:

Ryan: Oh, and I have to say it: something like this is way better for Mutiny than putting a bow tie on an avatar.