Screen: AMC

Mutiny Makes A Big Move In Halt And Catch Fire's Season Finale -- Or Is That Series Finale?

The Mutiny gang is moving to California and inexplicably taking Gordon with them. But will there sill be a show waiting for them by the time they land?

It's a tale of two companies at the beginning of this episode, as Westgroup finds that its stock has plunged 8% in the wake of the Westnet disaster. The Westgroup board has decided that Joe is to blame, but opts not to pursue legal action for...reasons. Jacob Wheeler is not so lucky: he's out as CEO, as we learn from the cover of BusinessTrade magazine that Joe is flipping through while waiting to sign his divorce papers. (You know, BusinessTrade...from the publishers of Plot Point Monthly and Relevant Headline Illustrated.)

This is not to say Joe is escaping this entire incident unscathed. There's that whole divorce thing, of course, with his former wife showing up to sign the papers early expressly to avoid seeing him. And Joe has become as toxic as Jacob once predicted, with a venture capitalist taking a meeting with Joe for the sole purpose of marveling at his batshit craziness. "I've never met legitimate psychopath before," marvels the VC, who I think is the same guy who spurned Mutiny back in Episode 2? The point is, Joe is at a crossroads, professionally. Also, there is, like, one VC firm in the Dallas metroplex, apparently.

As for Mutiny: hey, things are swinging, man. They've expanded into Houston. It has literally been hours since the last time their business was on the brink of collapse. And the team is hard at work creating an interface for the Mutiny community that lets you upgrade to a more elaborate avatar the more time you spend online. That's right: Mutiny has invented Second Life. Hope it works out better for them than the actual Second Life.

In fact, the only real challenge facing Mutiny this week is hardware-related. Cameron, understandably, doesn't want to keep renting space on other people's servers, because if it's not someone trying to steal Mutiny's business like Westgroup, it's someone jacking up rates as Mutiny becomes more successful, as their current provider is doing. There's a mainframe for sale out in California, but the cost of buying it and shipping it to Texas would so cost-prohibitive, it makes more sense just to move the company out there. Hey, let's hold that thought for the rest of the episode.

As for the Clarks, things finally come to a head over Gordon's Pot Smoking and Waitress Banging Adventure in California when one of the Clark's interchangeable daughters lets it slip that Gordon and his brother had a big blow-out. Donna lets the matter drop until she and Gordon have a blow-out of their own over the Sonaris escapade: Donna confesses that she and Cameron were behind it, and Gordon expresses shock over how they could do that to poor, sinister Joe. All right then, Donna demands, how come your brother kicked you out of his house? "Because, Donna, I had an affair," says Gordon, who does not play his cards close to the vest in this confrontation, as it turns out. Anyhow, there's much fretting and fussing and a whole lof of "Maybe our marriage isn't working out so great" ruminations so the audience at home can scream "YOU THINK?" at the TV. It isn't until the Clark kid who ratted out Gordon goes missing that the two of them pull together as a team, and Donna makes Gordon an offer he can't refuse: he will buy that mainframe computer out in California, and he will join Mutiny as its mainframe computer repair guy, and they will remain married. Also, he and Donna and the kids are going to move out to California, too, because that's where Cameron decides she's moving the company. Besides, the divorce laws are much more accommodating in the Golden State.

Photo: Richard DuCree / AMC

Photo: Richard DuCree / AMC

Joe spends most of the episode moping about until an apologetic Gordon stops by with a disk he whipped up that helps alleviate some of the damage the Sonaris virus causes. Maybe Joe can use that to undo some of the damage at Westgroup and get back in that company's good graces, Gordon suggests. Joe does him one better: he heads back to that VC's office and infects his computer with Sonaris, then uses the disk Gordon prepared to show him how it can be stopped. And that's how the anti-virus software industry was created, kids. "And you came up with this all on your own?" the VC guy asks. Joe just smiles. (He does later call up Gordon to ask him to join his exciting new venture, and Gordon's like, Can't do it, dude, marriage crumbling. Joe does give Gordon the PROM chip from the IBM machine they reverse-engineered last season as a token of his esteem, so at least he has that.)

The episode and season (and series?) ends with the entire Mutiny crew boarding the Dallas-to-Somewhere in Northern California flight, and as Lev and Yo-Yo and Bodie and the rest tromp down the aisle, you have to feel for the rest of the passengers on this flight. "I begged the government not to deregulate the airline industry, but would they listen to me? No," a businessman is probably fuming. Also, on the flight: Boz, rejoining Mutiny after an emotionally unrewarding stint in a job his son lined up for him. Not on the flight: Tom, despite Cameron's having left him a ticket. Already in San Francisco: Joe, who has gotten VC funding for his anti-virus company and is picking out extremely pricey real estate for a startup. Our last shot is Joe staring at out the San Francisco skyline, doubtlessly wondering which business he's going to undermine first.

Halt And Catch Fire-ish Element Present?
Business Crisis Of The Week After everything Mutiny's been through this year, "How Are We Going To Afford This Mainframe Computer?" is not really up there on lists of crises to lose much sleep over. It'd be like basing an episode around "Shit, Our Office Supply Shipment Hasn't Come And We're Low On Staples" or "Who Forgot To Brew A New Pot Of Coffee? It Was You, Gary, Wasn't It? Goddammit, We've Discussed This."
Cameron Howe: Punk Rock Girl I suppose uprooting your company from Dallas to Silicon Valley on a whim is pretty punk rock (and removing one of the last vestiges of Halt And Catch Fire's original premise to boot). But given that Cameron spends the bulk of the episode mooning over Tom's departure, this category probably would have gotten more traction had I named it Cameron Howe Is Boy Crazy.
Donna Clark: One Tough Mother Let's enjoy one last stellar turn by Kerry Bishé before this series goes into the deep freeze. She's great throughout the episode, but her best moment comes at the end, after she's brokered her peace agreement with Gordon and they're on the plane. That's when Gordon starts yammering about how maybe once they're settled in California, they could think about having another kid, and Donna excuses herself to go to the lavatory where she is totally not going to think about her secret abortion from early this season and cry. Anyhow, no one is better on this show than Kerry Bishé at saying everything without saying a word.
Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves This is Cameron's advice when Donna outlines the trouble with her marriage: "I do know once in a while, life can give us a sign, point us to a different place. Make good things out of bad." Cameron is a shit marriage counselor. But their business partnership seems like it's humming along.
Gordon Clark: Gloomy Sadsack Perhaps the most Gordon-esque moment of this episode features our hero sitting alone in the airplane after his wife has gone to the lavatory to sob. So he's passing the time reading a magazine -- perhaps the latest issue of BusinessTrade or The Daily Plot Advancer -- where he learns that Joe is getting tens of millions of dollars for his anti-virus company. And Gordon just groans and slumps forward and I laugh.

Should this series return, I hope Season 3 features Gordon followed around by a band everywhere, only it's just trombonists who play sad notes every time something happens to him.

Joe MacMillan: Super Genius Remember when the VC laughs about how completely deranged Joe is at their first meeting? Yeah, not laughing so much when Joe infects his computer and then produces software that can eliminate the virus. Let that be a lesson to the kids out there: you can be a complete monster, so long as you have a marketable idea.
The Crumbling Clark Marriage Maybe, Donna muses, after she and Gordon have confessed their mutual contempt for one another, this has been going on for some time, and "we're the only ones who don't know it." I hope my forty-foot stone engraving of the word "YES" arrived at their house in time.
Where In The World Is John Bosworth? Hey, everyone: Boz is back! That's reason enough to re-up for a third season, if you ask me, AMC. Boz's one scene, other than the one of him boarding the plane, features him at his new job, where his employers are absolutely enamored of his skill set and hang on every word of his stories. It is like the scenes in Parks And Recreation where Ben Wyatt visits the accounting firm that regards him as a rock star. All that scene was missing was Bosworth explaining the rules to The Cones Of Dunshire.
Meet The Nerd Herd All you need to know about Bodie is that when they were testing out avatars on the newly redesigned community page, he gave himself a skull. Meet your new seatmate, unwitting passenger seated in 14F. Time of tonight's flight to San Francisco? A seeming eternity.
That '80s Show< In addition to the ginned-up cover of BusinessTrade, we're also treated to shots of Newsweek and Fortune featuring Bruce Springsteen and Steve Jobs, respectively. Fun fact: both covers are real and were on newsstands at the same time the first week of August 1985. Yes, yes, younger readers, I know what you're asking: What the hell is a magazine? Ask your grandparents.

The show's title "Heaven Is A Place" comes from the Talking Heads song that closes out the episode. The rest of the lyric -- "where nothing ever happens" -- is kind of a grim comment on the show's future, when you think about it. But I suppose it's better than playing off the season to "Road To Nowhere."

8 / 10
Final Score
80%
Halt And Catch Fire
20%
An Hour-Long Plea for AMC to Renew the Show
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