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Home Featured ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ 1.04 Episode Recap and Review: Close to the Metal
‘Halt and Catch Fire’ 1.04 Episode Recap and Review: Close to the Metal

‘Halt and Catch Fire’ 1.04 Episode Recap and Review: Close to the Metal


Gloriosky and hallelujah, something has finally gone right with Cardiff Electric’s thus far ill-fated PC project. They’ve passed the Doherty Threshold of System Response Time, which is faux computer speak for “they done good things fast.” (A brief Google search leads me to believe that this is a term created by the show, since the first five results are for Halt and Catch Fire, followed by a website for a trucking company.)

The timing couldn’t be better, since Joe has called in a favor and has a reporter from the Wall Street Quarterly coming in tomorrow. He’s a little concerned about the appearance of the office. To be honest, he’s more concerned about the appearance of Cameron, whose workspace and personal appearance don’t exactly project confidence. He talks one of the lady admins into getting her out of the office long enough for a cleaning crew to come through.

On the Big Day, Joe escorts Ron the Reporter around, spouting off tons of jargon that he doesn’t really understand (as is Joe’s wont). Ron calls him on it, saying that everyone reaches the Doherty Threshold in initial testing and that there’s no story here. The story unfortunately creates itself when Cam returns to her area to find that the cleaning crew has plugged a vacuum cleaner into the wrong outlet, causing a power surge to fry her computer. She has backup disks, but they’ve all been wiped by sitting too close to her speakers. Everything has gone merrily to hell in five minutes, and the reporter was there to see it all happen.

Gordon brings in the best data recovery person he knows, Donna. She sweeps in and delivers a bit of a “grow up” speech to Cam. Fortunately, the episode narrowly saves itself from passing the Bechdel test when Cam admits to still sleeping with Joe. That was close, guys. Regardless, the set-down was much-needed and long in coming. Donna proceeds to absolutely school the engineers on how to save the data and gets to work. Cameron does her part by offering to take care of Gordon and Donna’s girls, who are currently bored and sitter-less, since both of their parents are wrapped up in saving this project.

That turns out to be a bit of a mistake when the girls innocently confess that Gordon has called Cam “white trash” in their hearing. She frightens them away by showing them how breath spray is flammable (which I would have thought was awesome at their age, but maybe that’s just me). Cam then steals Donna’s keys and heads to their house, full of vindictive intent. She has a can of black spray paint in hand when she’s caught by the jerk-ish neighbor who was fired last episode. He eggs her on, but only succeeds in showing her the dark path that vengeance would set her on.

Back at CE, Donna succeeds in saving about 94% of the data, much to everyone’s relief. Of course, since the reporter is there and Donna is neither male nor an actual employee of Cardiff Electric, she gets little to no credit for the accomplishment. Once Ron and the engineers have congratulated each other out of the room, Donna finishes up setting things to rights. In the process, she notices something off. For one, there’s no carpet in Cam’s workspace, so there shouldn’t have been a vacuum cleaner to begin with. Two, Cam’s dead backup disks were old and never had code on them to begin with.

Donna pieces everything together and figures out that Joe set up the whole disaster in order to get the reporter interested in their story. He had the real backups stored safely in his desk the whole time. He tells Donna that if she’s smart, she won’t tell anyone, not even Gordon.

She’s even smarter than Joe gives her credit for, because she spills the whole thing to Gordon later that night. Of course, Gordon is less intelligent than Donna gave him credit for, because his first question is whether or not Joe’s ploy worked. Bad move, Gordon, bad move. The next morning, Donna gets called on the carpet at her own job. Her work is slipping, since she’s having to juggle her career, her family, and now her husband’s project all on her own. Her boss puts her on probation until her work improves.

While all of this is going down, Bosworth is getting called on a carpet of his own. Mr. Cardiff has heard that Bosworth is losing control of both Joe and the company as a whole. Cardiff tells him to fix it. It’s rather heavily implied that Bosworth’s method of “fixing it” involves having Joe arrested and beaten by a couple of Bos’s local cop buddies. It’s possible that the beatdown got the message across about Joe’s place in the pecking order, but given what we know of the character thus far, it doesn’t seem likely.

With the dust finally settled at Cardiff Electric, Cameron puts the finishing touches on the BIOS and smiles quietly.

It looks like Halt and Catch Fire is trying hard to ride the anti-hero protagonist trend with Lee Pace’s character. Joe is pretty thoroughly unlikeable, though he does gain a smidge of humanity when he brought Cam a sandwich about halfway through the episode. I’d love to see some actual development in his character in the upcoming episodes.

If this episode gave me nothing else, it showed me just how much Donna is my favorite character on the show. She seems to be the only one in town who isn’t a douche, a child, or a combination of the two. Please oh please oh please let her take a little more control of her life as this show develops. Otherwise, I fear that the standard plotline of “Joe is a Machiavellian jerk and no one likes women” is going to get old quickly.


Things to Ponder:

  • Think they’ll keep using the dead animal symbolism thing? I feel like I should start a tally. Thus far we’ve got a dead horse (Bosworth’s career), a dead bird (Gordon’s marriage), and a dead armadillo (I dunno, maybe Joe’s humanity).
  • Note to self: never fire the next-door neighbor mid-car accident. Especially not if he owns a rifle. It’s just awkward later.

Photo Credit: Blake Tyers/AMC

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rennlark Jenn is a contributing writer for Having been raised Geek Orthodox, Jenn has a love of most things sci-fi. Thanks to Georgia Tech, she also has an honest appreciation for the “sci” as well as the “fi”. Her current favorite shows include, but are not limited to: Doctor Who, Being Human, Sleepy Hollow, and various Joss Whedon offerings.


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