Tuesday, September 13, 2016

REVIEW: 'Halt and Catch Fire' - Cameron & Bos Return to Texas While Donna & Gordon Stay at Home in 'Yerba Buena'

AMC's Halt and Catch Fire - Episode 3.05 "Yerba Buena"

Donna and Gordon decide to treat themselves to a vacation at home instead of camping. Bos and Cameron return to Texas. Ryan and Joe have a revelation.

Halt and Catch Fire started in Texas. It made the move to California this season because it was in Mutiny's best interest. The company needed to go in order to expand. All of the main characters have made the move west. Cameron, Donna, Gordon and Bos are all working at Mutiny trying to build upon its successes while still keeping the essence of the company the same. Meanwhile, Joe has been a tech mogul of sorts wondering if he still has the vision to see where the world is heading next. Joe's story this season is really starting to stall. But the rest of the narrative is really exciting and dynamic. It's not surprising at all that some characters travel back to Texis in "Yerba Buena." These people still have roots there. California is home for the business but it's not completely home for all of them yet. Joe looks at the city with the hint of despair believing everyone who comes here is destined to fail. Ryan counters that with a message of hopefulness. But it's the trip back to Texas that forces several characters to see things more clearly.

Cameron and Donna are having yet another argument about the direction of the company. Cameron has had to change and adapt a lot with the move to California. She wants Mutiny to succeed but it has been a difficult process for her. She wants to take her time with all the big picture decisions. But this isn't an environment that rewards patience and plentiful consideration. Cameron believes they can take the time to think things through because they are the only company doing something like this. Donna wants to move more aggressively so that they can capitalize on the market desperate for these changes. The users want to be able to exchange money over Mutiny. Trading has its value. But actual online purchases can be a valuable change for the future that could take Mutiny to the next level. It's simply a question of how best to integrate that service while still maintaining its core identity. It's not a solution Cameron and Donna come to easily. In fact, the company may be tearing them apart more than they realize. The pressure is mounting and slowly getting to both of them which could have costly repercussions.

Cameron escapes to Texas with Bos under the guise of needing to pick up the things she left behind at her mother's house. And yet, the journey is never really about that moment. It's a plot that was set up previously this season. This trip to Texas was a planned thing. It doesn't come out of nowhere. Bos makes the journey as well because it's about time he saw his grandson. He's worried that he's missing out on the kid's childhood just like he did with his own son because of his business travels. It's obvious that those wounds are still there. The people at Mutiny have become a surrogate family to Bos often at the expense of his own. That's exactly what his story is about in Texas. He's frustrated that he has to leave his family behind in order to work in California. It's pushed his son away yet again. But Cameron's story isn't about her interactions with her family. It's instead focused on her finding herself again. Texas is where all this started. She's very sentimental about the beginnings of Mutiny. She appreciates the life she was able to build in Texas. It's all become so complicated in California. She wants to take the time to actually enjoy the life she has created again before going back. That's what this story is ultimately about. It's interesting and surprising to see who she spends that journey with.

Bos knows Cameron returned to Texas to deal with her family. That's ultimately where he leaves her on her journey. He has to push her out of the car just to make sure Cameron handles all of this. And then, he just drives away. He comes right back to California. He's close with Cameron and helped her many times. But his time in Texas has made him once again realize that Mutiny isn't his family. It's his job and he needs to re-establish more professional boundaries or risk losing his family for good. That's why he returns to work the following Monday with absolutely no idea or concern about where Cameron is. He doesn't know what happened after he drove away. He can't be concerned about that because he needs to take time for himself as well. He still returns on Monday though. Sure, he takes the morning to pull himself together. But he still at least shows up and does his job. Cameron doesn't return. It's a mystery where she is and how long she'll be gone. She's still in Texas. She's hanging out with Tom again. It was a massive betrayal to her when he didn't show up to get on the plane. She's still hurt by that. And yet, he is still very confronting to her as well. When she returns, she wants to reach out to him and reconnect. When she's in crisis, he's the guy she wants to run to. And obviously, she decides to stay with him for awhile.

Cameron takes a week for herself. She was only suppose to be gone for the weekend. But instead, she's gone for a week. She doesn't show up at Mutiny again until Friday. She returns with a clear head and a plan for the company. But business didn't just stop because Cameron did. The world kept on spinning without her. Donna was forced to make decisions by herself. Their partnership is the crucial element that keeps this company together. They need each other if they have any hope of running a profitable business. Donna took the weekend to clear her head as well. She had the girls stay over at a friends' house so that she could spend some alone time with Gordon. They had a pretty good time together too. They managed to have sex two times in one day. That's not something they've been able to do since before the kids were born. But it was all ruined with Donna's declaration that she doesn't like camping at all. That shows that there are still problems between Donna and Gordon with communication. Just because they made this move and are working together doesn't mean their problems are suddenly better. It was still a fun weekend for her. She returns to work on Monday willing to take on the problems at Mutiny with Cameron. Instead, she's left all alone to make important decisions about the future of the business. These are decisions Cameron has strong opinions about. And yet, she's not there to offer up her input. It's all up to Donna.

So, Donna opts to move forward with the new purchasing interface. The team spends the entire week beta testing the program. It's ready to start on Mutiny when Cameron decides to return. She returns to work with a much better solution for the problem. She suggests using routing numbers to make the service better for everyone involved. It means they'll act more like a bank. That's a much more efficient way to offer this service. It's a smart idea. But she was gone for a week. No one at Mutiny knew where she was or if she was coming back. They had to plan for a future without her. It would have been unlike Cameron to leave completely. It's still a betrayal that she didn't call to let Donna know what was going on. Cameron needed to escape this world completely in order to find this solution. But that essentially abandoned Donna all to herself to deal with the immediate problems. She had to deal with the angry users complaining about the service. She's the one dealing with the team trying to fix the solution. Cameron just walks in boasting a new plan that will be significantly better. That's true but it's alienating as well. Donna and Cameron are able to work things out. They argue but they also make up declaring their appreciation for each other. Cameron sees the world much more clearly now. But that also means knowing that Donna lied to her about needing to keep Craig and Doug because Diane said so. That's a massive betrayal to Cameron. It sends her cowering to her room unwilling to talk to Donna or Gordon. She doesn't know how to react to this news. So, this partnership may not be as good as it initially seemed.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Yerba Buena" was written by Mark Lafferty and directed by Andrew McCarthy.
  • What Joe and Ryan are trying to build is becoming less and less important with each episode. Joe has a breakthrough and decides what to do. But this story is much more about these two very different people trying to work together. It's not about the actual service and how it may change the world.
  • Of course, Joe gets a clean bill of health from his recent HIV test. The show is very manipulative with that moment. But his past decisions will not affect his future and how exciting this new plan may be.
  • Gordon is excited about getting to have sex with Donna twice in one day. But her reveal that she hates camping is enough to ruin so many cherished memories for him. She doesn't even realize that she did that. It just further showcases that these two aren't connecting as well as they should.
  • All it took to learn of Donna's lie was for Cameron to talk to Diane by herself. It's something she's more willing to do after her trip to Texas. She has a much more level-head now. But that goes out the window as soon as she learns of Donna's lie.
  • It was great to see Tom again. He was just a minor part of the story. But his relationship with Cameron meant something last season. So, it's great that he wasn't completely forgotten about with the big move to California. 
  • Bos is the happiest when he is holding is grandson. And yet, he is still causing conflict with his son. Plus, he hasn't felt completely happy at work for a few episodes now. So, is another big move in his future? What is Mutiny without Bos?