Thematically, the important thing to know in this episode is that there’s a bird dying in Gordon’s front yard. Donna wants Gordon to take it to the vet, Neighbor/co-worker Brian wants him to put it out of its misery. Gordon is on the fence. Keep this somewhat in mind for later.
So thanks to IBM’s customer-stealing retaliation, Cardiff Electric is having to downsize hardcore, and it’s Gordon who’s stuck handing out the pink slips. He cuts the pool down to just a handful with any kind of microprocessing experience, and even they aren’t exactly on board with Joe’s seemingly over-ambitious plans. Talk in the newly-named “Kill Room” is that it just can’t be done. Gordon takes the ideas home to Donna, who comes up with a brilliant new layout that could bring everything together.
When Gordon brings the new design in for the engineering team, his second-in-command (and neighbor) Brian quietly convinces him to scrap it, saying that they’d never be able to get that design produced in the amount of time that they have. Gordon dejectedly agrees and pulls the plug, but still doesn’t quite manage to tell Joe that his PC scheme is seemingly impossible.
That’s not the end of Joe’s problems this week. To shore up CE’s rapidly failing financials, Joe goes behind Bosworth’s back to bring in a venture capitalist. Bosworth isn’t thrilled, but obviously does his best to win over the money guy. Unfortunately, his good-ol’-boy, grassroots Texas attitude leaves the VC cold and kills the deal. (You could see the irritation rolling off Joe in waves as it was going down. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so painful to watch.)
Lunch with Mr. Cardiff brings a mild dressing-down for Joe. Cardiff gives Bosworth the contact info for one Mrs. Louise Lutherford, a snappy, cougar-ish venture capitalist with a long-standing relationship with Cardiff Electric. She’s absolutely a shark, and she already knows that CE’s blood is in the water. She wants 80% of the project for a $10 million investment, which is just on this side of ludicrous. Joe tries to shoot her down, but Bosworth knows that the company is over a barrel and agrees to her terms over Joe’s loud objections. Joe being Joe, he finds another way to sour the deal. Namely by having a quickie with Mrs. Lutherford’s current boy toy. She all but throws the Cardiff Electric guys out on their ears.
Meanwhile, down in Cameron’s “office,” our token Edgy Hacker Chick has run into a major stumbling block in writing the BIOS. She takes a break and goes out on a splurge when she gets her first paycheck. During her little “me time,” she befriends some slacker teens in an alley and gets them a hotel room to trash (which didn’t turn out nearly as interesting as I’d hoped). Neither booze nor partying make much of a dent in her block, so she turns up at Joe’s late that night, looking to “work out” her problems another way (y’all, don’t even get me started).
Gordon and Brian get into a car accident the very next day, which seems to shock a bit of backbone into Gordon, at least temporarily. He fires Brian on the spot for being such a wet blanket. Then goes home to sulk in Donna’s general direction, as per usual.
Remember the dying bird? It’s managed to cling to life for a couple of days now, but it’s weak, suffering, and covered in ants. Donna, fed up with Gordon’s lack of will to actually do anything (anything at all), takes a shovel out to the front yard and decisively puts the poor thing out of its misery. Whether the bird is a metaphor for her failing marriage, her failing husband, or the failing PC project is left up to your imagination.
I’m still interested to see where Halt and Catch Fire goes, but I’ll admit to having numerous bones to pick. Granted, those bones are mostly with the portrayal of the two (count ‘em, two) female characters in the series. Cameron seems to exist largely to look edgy and to try to bone Lee Pace, while Donna is the long-suffering, under-appreciated wife. I hold out hope that one of these two will get a strong story in an upcoming episode, but right now they’re both just hard to watch.
On the positive side, I will never in my life get tired of watching Jean Smart play a sassy Southern woman. I’ve loved her acting since Designing Women, and her character was certainly the bright spot in this episode (Lee Pace’s bare backside notwithstanding). I realize that she was almost certainly a one-off character, but I would desperately love to see her back as a solid antagonist for both Joe and Bosworth.
Things to Ponder:
- Is it me, or does Cameron type remarkably slowly for someone who’s supposed to be an amazing programmer. Hunt-and-peck? Really?
- I want to see Gordon/Donna’s new design succeed. How are they going to get past Brian’s concerns about manufacturing issues?
Photo Credit: Blake Tyers/AMC