Tina Rowden / AMC

No Means No On Halt And Catch Fire

Donna and Cameron can't get a VC to say yes to their latest plans. Ryan can't get Joe to hire him. And Gordon just can't catch a break.

Cameron and Donna are all in on the Let's eBay the Hell Out Of Mutiny idea they hatched at the end of the last episode; it's just too bad they can't get any venture capitalists to pony up the $1.4 million they'll need to pull off this scheme. Oh, a VC firm headed by Melrose Place's Doug Savant will do a deal for decidedly less money, but only if Donna or Cameron -- or possibly both! -- are amenable to a little pleasure with their business. That's what you get for wearing lipstick, apparently.

Eventually, Cameron and Donna approach another VC firm -- wouldn't you know it's headed by Diane Gould, the mother of the girl Joanie pounded into submission during the last episode -- and she gives them a hard pass. It's not because the younger Clark turned the younger Gould into a punching bag, as Donna first guesses, but rather because Diane's firm is looking at funding another company that's further along with its e-commerce plans than Mutiny. The solution? Cameron and Donna want Diane to help them buy out this company, so they can use the already-in-place infrastructure to implement their far-superior business plan. Why, it's just crazy enough to work?

Tina Rowden / AMC

Tina Rowden / AMC

Speaking of crazy things at work, let's spend more time with Ryan, who's been stalking Joe MacMillan in an as-yet fruitless attempt to bond their creepiness into a Voltron-like super-creep. Ryan stakes out all the surfing places Joe's been known to frequent, and hacks Joe's calendar so that the two can finally meet. None of this seems to impress Joe as much as Ryan's bulgy-eye fanaticism does. By the end of the episode, Ryan is the latest hire by MacMillan Utility.

That's a big blow to Gordon, not only because he saw a little bit of his sadsack self in this hugely unpopular Mutiny employee, but also because Ryan is going to work for Joe, Gordon's mortal enemy. It's especially awkward given that Joe's just offered Gordon a 70% stake in McMillan Utility, but only if Gordon would come and run the company, and Gordon turned him down flat.

Halt And Catch Fire-ish Element Present?
Business Crisis Of The Week So many problems for Mutiny, it's hard to pick just one. Sexist pig VC hoping you and/or your business partner will be his fourth for bridge? Check. Another VC firm rejecting you cold because there's another company doing the same thing you want to do? Double check. Your twitchy new character quitting to join up with the one guy who's meant nothing but trouble for you personally and professionally? Why don't you have all the check marks?

At least the problem presented by the existence of the company that's already way ahead of Mutiny on this e-commerce business seems to have been solved by the end credits, in keeping with Halt And Catch Fire's fine tradition of not letting these problems linger for too long.

Cameron Howe: Punk Rock Girl We will grudgingly concede that paying a child $20 to invite a girl she can't stand to her birthday part just so that you can have another crack at pitching the girl's venture-capitalist mom is pretty hardcore, though Season 1 Cameron would have just spray-painted somebody or gotten a makeshift prison tattoo.
Donna Clark: One Tough Mother Don't get me wrong: Donna's all right in this episode. But she's wrong about why Diane Gould gave Mutiny the cold shoulder. And when she heads to the restroom to celebrate getting Diane on board with the plan to buy out the rival e-commerce company, she inadvertently terrifies someone already using the bathroom and then acts embarrassed about it. No, Donna -- you own your restroom celebrations. That woman should be terrified when she pees.
Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves "So much for sisters are doing it for themselves," Donna hisses as she and Cameron are rejected cold by Diane Gould. And you know what, Kerry Bishé? I'll thank you not to do meta-criticism of my work. I don't spend time analyzing everything you do.

[Goes back and reads the back catalog of Halt And Catch Fire posts. Realizes that this is all I pretty much do.]

Oh.

Anyhow, it seems that Donna and Cameron can now include Diane as part of their plot to turn Mutiny into the Amazon.com of its time.

Gordon Clark: Gloomy Sadsack Poor Gordon. He thought he would have a sadsack protégé in Ryan -- or at least someone more socially awkward hanging around Mutiny than Gordon is -- and now Ryan's off to join Joe's Big Scary Company Inc. And any time an episode ends with you jotting down your level of pain in a journal you keep handy for when your CTE flares up, well, that's just not a winning week for our Gordon.
Joe MacMillan: Super Genius The show continues to treat Joe as some sort of lab experiment that crossed Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, which would be quite fine if he didn't walk around in those odd pants the whole episode.

It's hard to tell which scene shows Joe at his cruelest: the one where he interviews Ryan or the one where he tempts Gordon with the promise of untold riches if only he joins MacMillan Utility. All I know is that if someone ever offered me a job in the creepy way Joe does -- "Take a look around... Now forget them because you don't work with those people anymore" -- I'd run screaming to HR to rescind my two weeks' notice.

The Crumbling Clark Marriage "Has Donna unloaded that loser she's married to yet?" my wife asks as I type this up.

"No -- in fact, their marriage seems as solid as ever," I tell her.

"That's the real tragedy of this show," she says.

Who can disagree?

The Wit And Wisdom Of John Bosworth John Bosworth, on the differences between California and Texas: "All these smiling VCs out here like to grin-screw you. At least in Texas, they stab you in the front."
Meet The New Guy Look, I know we're supposed to sympathize with Ryan's sense of quiet (and, at times, not-so-quiet longing) about missing out on the Next Big Thing: "I know that something's coming -- something big, like a train," he tells Joe during their terrible job interview. "And all I want to do is jump on board." But Manish Dayal is playing this less like Guy Who Just Doesn't Fit In and more Guy Who Shouldn't Be Trusted With Forks. Maybe I'm just cross because he spoke rudely to Boz. Nobody who does that deserves happiness.

Also, apparently Gordon invited Ryan to his child's birthday party. And he has the nerve to be angry at Cameron for bribing the kid to invite the VC mom's kid? "Look, honey, it's the twitchy outcast from my workplace here to wish you a happy birthday and rant about how no one understands him."

Period Piece Accuracy At Joanie's birthday party, Boz's present is a robot butler. You may be as incredulous as Gordon as to why someone would want a slow-moving robot to carry beverages toward you at a snail's pace, but allow Boz to reassure you: "Because he's a butler, man, that's what he does." From your Teddy Ruxpins to your Chuck E. Cheeses, I can verify that much of the 1980s was spent dreaming of robot servants who would entertain and care for us. That Boz's robot falls apart instantly only underscores the heartbreak of this scene and indeed of the 1980s themselves.
8 / 10
Final Score
80%
Halt And Catch Fire
20%
Shark Tank meets Indecent Proposal
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