Tina Rowden / AMC

Idealism Battles Capitalism For The Soul Of Joe's Antivirus Software On Halt And Catch Fire

Ryan discovers that Joe may not be a great guy, while Diane discovers that Boz definitely is.

Challenged to respond to the unwelcome surprise of Ryan's defection to MacMillan Utility, the executives he's left behind at Mutiny pretty much all handle it badly. Cameron ambushes Ryan at his house to warn him not to trust Joe, which is somewhat unprofessional; Gordon suggests hiring Tom to handle the coding Ryan won't be doing, and when Donna overrules that idea on the basis of Tom's history with Cameron, he screams at her in the middle of a staff meeting about HIS infidelity, which is extremely unprofessional yet also extremely Gordon. Maybe everyone would quit fighting with each other about it if they knew Ryan's new gig isn't turning out to be as great as he thought: having been lured to MacMillan after Joe's showy announcement that his antivirus software will be made available to users for free, he's soon confronted by cold, money-grubbing reality, which is that the company's about to start charging for it after all. Fortunately for Ryan, though, Joe's enrolled at San Francisco City College to learn BASIC, and a little idealism may have snuck in there too.

Halt And Catch Fire-ish Element Present?
Business Crisis Of The Week Oh my no. Donna and Cameron deputize Boz to head over to Swap Meet with the purchase offer, which he's surprised to see Diane show up for, apparently since she ERRONEOUSLY thinks he might need a babysitter. But both are immediately on their guard when they're left alone outside the mostly empty office (adjacent to its mostly empty parking lot), and their suspicions are confirmed when a phone starts ringing in the middle of their meeting with the Swap Meet founders and there's no receptionist to answer it. Correctly suspecting that Swap Meet is on the skids, Boz literally tears up the offer letter he'd brought over with him and hits them with one that's much lower and...much more fair. Maybe I'm misreading Diane's reaction but I'm pretty sure the way Boz handles it makes her warm for his form, OR MAYBE THAT'S JUST ME.
Cameron Howe: Punk Rock Girl How many times must we see Cameron get all fragile and mousy in the presence of Joe? Particularly this Joe, who runs into her after she's given a talk at San Francisco City College and makes himself vulnerable by admitting that he's learning how to code like a goddamn nerd? She's his superior!
Donna Clark: One Tough Mother Gordon accuses Donna, in front of Cameron and Boz, of continuing to hold his cheating against him, on the assumption that she's already told Cameron anyway, and Donna runs after him to tell him, angrily, that she didn't, instead of possibly that she gets to hold his cheating against him forever and that it doesn't behoove HIM to act pissy about it?
Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves Donna and Cameron don't get a lot to do together, but I'm still going to checkmark this one for Donna's G&T-filled lunch with Diane. Donna may return to the office a little tipsy, but it's just business-drunk!
Gordon Clark: Gloomy Sadsack Gordon opens the episode searching for human connection via the ham radio in his closet. Maybe that's where he should live from now on.
Joe MacMillan: Super Genius Joe certainly burnishes his evil genius credentials by going along with a plan to start charging $14.95 for his software after the epic bait-and-switch that was his "free" offer in the season premiere. But when a disillusioned Ryan privately confronts him about it later, he also shows his genius for pivoting. From now on, Ryan's going to be working out of Joe's place: "If we're not charging for 2.0, we've got to find a new income stream."
The Crumbling Clark Marriage If Boz and Cameron weren't certain before about the scope of Gordon and Donna's problems, Gordon's petulant boardroom screaming has removed all doubt. Donna makes Gordon apologize to them the next day, but Cameron primarily doesn't want to talk about it anymore. (She also tells Gordon privately, at home, that Donna never told her about Gordon's infidelity; Gordon appreciates it, but he also makes it clear that he wants Cameron to move out soon, so look for that to continue being an issue haunting the marriage.)
The Wit And Wisdom Of John Bosworth In addition to his masterful performance at the Swap Meet...ing, Boz gets a nice moment with Donna, after Gordon's temper tantrum, to give her a chance to talk about Donna and Gordon's marriage. She declines the opportunity to shit on Gordon the way others might, but still, it's nice of Boz to be a friend.
Meet The New Guy The occasion of a hedonistic party at Joe's lets Ryan inform us all that he's been a bit sheltered from this kind of sexy, druggy stuff. We probably could have guessed?
Period Piece Accuracy Joe scores his coding homework with "The Boy In The Bubble" from Paul Simon's Graceland, still a relatively new release; Donna's lunch with Diane is her first-ever encounter with "riz...auto?" (Don't worry, she learns how to pronounce "risotto" by the end of the episode.)
7 / 10
Final Score
70%
Halt And Catch Fire
30%
Finding out the hard way what "freemium" means
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