Search / Ten of Swords
Halt and Catch Fire is a series of failures. A group of four brilliant people and those that get pulled into their orbit jumping to reach the sky and hitting the ground after each attempt. Sometimes their feet don’t make contact first.
Halt never found a big audience. It managed to reach and keep just enough fans to keep going. In fact, the production never knew if there would be another season when they finished filming each year. Thankfully we managed to keep this show on to get it to its conclusion.
I love where this show went. It transformed and expanded past just Gordon and Joe. Halt covered a lot of time, more than a decade, and that meant the tech nexus of each season got to change with it. Four people who met in the 80s and worked on the next big thing had to keep coming up with another next big thing. Their relationships changed just as much as the tech they worked on.
In just four seasons I got really attached to Joe, Gordon, Donna, Cameron and to an extent Bos. The acting so strong that I believed everything they went through together. Their emotions and rational were tangible through every moment. That all came together in a powerful final season.
Starting with IBM clone PCs, to Mutiny, to Comet, each project started with an idea. A thought that turned into a business that would start a wave or catch one that others were chasing. While there were great successes, failure was seemingly never far behind.
It’s the bounce from those failures, how they broke and managed to piece things together to keep going, is what Halt is ultimately about.
Joe and Gordon were the easy focal points of the show at the beginning. While they were a great base to build from, where Cameron and Donna went is what I think is the shows’ greatest strength.
Cameron and Donna are fantastic characters. Both brilliant from different angles, it was often their partnership what drove the show. Joe and Gordon would not have gone anywhere without them. So when they broke apart, there was a major shift in the show. The star-crossed lovers, Joe and Cam, split up as did Gordon and Donna’s marriage. No one could trust Joe. Cameron was stubborn and a flake, nearly impossible to work with. She hated the business side of tech while Donna embraced it. That was Donna’s anchor tied to her foot. She could be ruthless and would choose “the greater good” over an individual every time. Gordon was often caught in the current the others made, an engineer who was happiest when working with his hands.
Sacrifices were made by everyone and I always questioned if they felt it was worth it. Donna’s cocktail party at the end was especially poignant for me, sharing how she reflected on her career and what it did to her life.
I really liked the end. Bos gets his second chance, a celebration of life. Comet burns out in the only way it could: they were inches short again. Joe and Cameron fall back on their tried and true trait: run. But Joe goes in a different direction. Cameron reaches out to Donna, something I didn’t think she’d do. It’s not instant though, there’s an apprehension behind their potential future and they talk about it.
And this extends to Gordon and Donna’s kids. Haley travels abroad to find herself and in Thailand relays a beautiful experience to her mother (after only talking to Haley for weeks). Haley’s time working with her father at Comet was a pivotal time in her life. She also comes of age with her own questions about herself. She’ll continue her father’s legacy, using him as her inspiration and her guiding star.
No matter what there’s always talk of the future on Halt. The talk of the next big thing, what could be next, what can they do and how do they avoid what always happens to them? Cam says, “I don’t know, I don’t have any more ideas.” and then later the inspiration comes from Donna, “I have an idea.”
Nothing is perfect and few things work out the way we want. Gordon and Donna drifted apart. Joe and Cameron found that they wanted different things. A tragedy doesn’t signal the end. You just need to find the opportunities to follow and the guts to pursue them.