Halt and Catch Fire Series Finale Review: Destination Unknown

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Finales can be very final. Sometimes we crave that finality and feel the need to visualize the end for characters we've grown to love.

That's not the kind of world we've lived in for four seasons, and beginning with Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 9, instead of an ending, we saw the beginning of a new chapter.

Now that the cages of the sometimes angsty characters we've followed have been rattled by the death of Gordon Clark, they've received the message. Life is short. Too short to let relationships drag them down, friendships hang in the balance, or work overshadow what should be a life well lived.

Partners Forever - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10

Joe MacMillan first strode onto the scene with big dreams and visions of a bigger future, but he also saw the best in everyone around him and for better or worse, wanted to them to achieve their best so he could use their talents to capture his dreams.

Did Joe ever expect to fall in love with so many of the people he originally only intended to use? Probably not, but there was no better indication of Joe's incredible journey than peering around his office in the final scene of Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10.

At the same time Joe was dragging Gordon into his risky existence, Donna's heart was broken to think Gordon might give up his stable career to poke around with some guy he barely knew because his job "wasn't enough."

Celebrating - Halt and Catch Fire

Yet as Halt and Catch Fire draws to a close, that's exactly where we found Donna.

After Gordon's death, she's realized she could either make herself happy swimming her life away or she could risk it all again to relive the best years of her life – the years she spent working with Cameron at Mutiny.

It was hard hearing they'd had so little time to rebuild their relationship after they reconnected, but their lives were full without each other. Finding time to catch up amidst demanding jobs with children and lovers isn't easy.

But when Cameron began stretching her goodbye visit on her drive out of town into an afternoon-to-evening affair, the stalling was evident on both sides. 

Cameron initially thought she was on a quest to find Joe. Was she finished loving him? Why did he leave without saying goodbye? Instead, she found the remains of the most solid and supportive relationship she'd ever experienced.

Darker Hair - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10

For so long, Donna and Cameron both wanted the other to admit how much they were needed.

Their stubborn (and similar) nature was the only thing driving a wedge between them. They have the drive to succeed without the help of others, even their partner, and closest friend.

Whether or not that will remain the cast now that they've realized how much they want to work together again, how much they've needed to work together and never should have stopped what could have been a thriving partnership if not for their inability to properly communicate we will never know.

An Idea - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10

But I'd like to think they've matured enough that the pain they've experienced without each other to lean on during some incredibly painful times will continue to remind them how lucky they are to have someone at their side who understands them, works well with them, and is ultimately willing to forgive.

With their bond stronger, they'll also be available for Joanie and Haley.

Joanie went around the world and found Budda, as well as her father's presence residing next to a face inside some tree roots before she realized it's her similarity to her mother that has kept them at arm's length for so long.

The Clarks - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10

The girls can use some stability in their world, and their appreciation of Cameron has never gone unnoticed. 

Cam and Donna finally had a conversation about Haley and her possible budding homosexuality.

Donna: You know sometimes I think maybe...
Cameron: Haley's gay?
Donna: Yeah.
Cameron: Yeah.
Donna: You know, these girls are...amazing.

There was so much budding with Haley as a result of the turmoil in her life, and she threw her sexuality out the window at her first rejection, rather taking to wearing makeup and skirts, even getting a boyfriend.

Haley, who was the de facto founder of Comet, lost her interest in it after Gordon's death. Joe never lost sight of Haley's moods and was eager to please her, to bring her out of her doldrums.

What Was - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10

Haley's rejection of Joe coincided with the introduction of the Yahoo toolbar button on Netscape and the demise of Comet. 

The world has to be falling apart for Joe to head off to a fortune teller, but hearing his fortune, getting the Ten of Swords, seeing total destruction except for the glimmer of hope behind it brought everything full circle.

21st Century - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10

Throughout the finale, there were callbacks to where we've been. Bos was still worried about his health and almost shocked at his discovery he'd likely live to see the 21st Century with its futuristic gizmos and missions to Mars.

Still, he yearns for the simpler times of the past like so many of us who have been around long enough for a comparison.

He may have access to state of the art television sets, but Bos can still find beauty in a clean garage and a clean, vintage Cardiff radio so he can dance with the woman he loves.

Start Living - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 Episode 10

As the futures of Cameron and Donna, Bos and Diane started to grow clearer, it was Joe who left for the East Coast, destination unknown. Cameron imagined him right back where he started, in his hometown on Armonk, swimming with the big fishes once again at IBM. After all, his letter to Haley was postmarked Armonk.

They tried to make their love work, and Cameron's even fleeting belief that Joe would return to that life is proof they were wrong for each other no matter how deeply Joe wanted to make it work with her. 

Joe's introspection after Gordon's death had led him down many different paths. He recalled one of the first articles he'd read from Gordon, the one that sparked his interest and created a partnership and friendship that would shape his life for years to come.

Joe: The thing that gets you to the thing.
Cameron: Huh?
Joe: It was you. It was always you.

Cameron didn't get the reference, but seeing Joe's office as what I assume is a professor in a humanities department near his hometown confirms what he took away from his years as either a visionary or a fraud (and is any visionary not also a fraud at least part of the time?) is a deep love and respect for those he met.

The Uncertain Future - Halt and Catch Fire

His environment was one of comfort, surrounding him with everything he loved from companies where he worked to people he helped shape and vice versa.

Gordon and Haley had the prime real estate on his desk, and with his innate ability to bring out of everyone in his path their very best (even if he might have been at his worst), he couldn't have chosen better people to watch over him while he now shapes the minds of the future.

Let me start by asking a question.


The end isn't as violent as the beginning. Joe isn't the smart-ass upstart he once was, taking everything and everyone for granted. He paid the price of admission to his life many times over, but the smile on his face as he looks at the generation who will take his place says he regrets nothing.

If you want to relive the magic, you can watch Halt and Catch Fire online. It's been a pleasure spending the last two years with you. Until the next gem comes along...

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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 4 Episode 9 Quotes

I get a little lightheaded sometimes if I shit real big.


There's one more person I want to mention. A huge part of the soul of this place is no longer here. Comet began with Haley Clark. Comet began back in 1983. And I told him, computers aren't the thing. They're the thing that gets us to the thing. And this is...