Tuesday, September 20, 2016

REVIEW: 'Halt and Catch Fire' - Donna and Cameron Struggle to Fix Their Broken Relationship in 'And She Was'

AMC's Halt and Catch Fire - Episode 3.06 "And She Was"

Tensions rise over an offer to buy Mutiny. Donna has a weekend alone, while Gordon and Cam bond over video games. Joe has a standoff with the board.

The tension has slowly been rising between Donna and Cameron. They are no longer communicating with each other like they once were. A weekend away together could be exactly what they need to hash out their issues and emerge stronger. It would have created a captivating episode for the show. The promise is there for that to happen. And then, it doesn't. The tension is so bad that Cameron doesn't want to be left alone with Donna. She knows that Donna lied to her about needing to keep Doug and Craig around. Donna did that because she was getting worried about Cameron's erratic decision-making in this new environment. All of these issues are coming to the surface. They are avoiding each other - which is really hard to do when they live in the same house. They have other problems as well. Donna has Gordon and his health to worry about while Cameron has lingering feelings about her sudden engagement to Tom. Both of them receive some clarity by the end of "And She Was." But it's not what either of them was expecting.

Mutiny has been given an acquisition offer for $20 million. That's a ton of money that proves just how strong a player they are in Silicon Valley. They have been steadily growing throughout the season. And now, all of their hard work is starting to pay off. Mutiny is becoming a known company throughout the world. Donna and Cameron need to be united now more than ever before. Their partnership is what makes Mutiny so great. Diane is able to see the tension the moment she delivers the offer to them. She knows something isn't right and it's going to be a major problem. She offers them her vacation house for them to clear the air and fix their problems. Donna appreciates the generosity. Cameron is completely indifferent to it. She's not ready to face Donna and her betrayal. Donna clearly wants to fix things because she knows the company needs it. But her feelings are just as important as well. Even if they don't go together, she still takes the opportunity to run away for the weekend for a vacation.

It's an interesting getaway for Donna as well. She enjoys stepping into Diane's life a little bit. She takes advantage of the amenities in this elegant house. She dresses up in Diane's clothes, treats herself to a bath right away and spots the liquor for later. And yet, she's not alone in this house. That would make for a couple solid minutes of story but not enough to sustain an entire episode. So instead, she runs into Diane's daughter, her boyfriend and his roommate. It's startling to all of them. And yet, they decide to make the most of it. Donna promises not to tell Diane about her daughter sneaking to the house with friends. And Diane's daughter promises not to tell her mom about Donna trying on her clothes. It's an even trade. One that proves beneficial as well because Donna has no problem connecting with these young people. She has grown accustomed to it through her work at Mutiny. Yes, she's the woman in charge. She's the surrogate mother for all of the employees. She needs to carefully manage all of them. She knows how to do it while still maintaining her cool edge. All she has to do in this moment is share an embarrassing college story. But it's even more impressive when she reveals she is the co-owner of Mutiny. And yet, that introduces its own set of problems.

The boyfriend wants to know if Donna is Cameron. He's so appreciative of what Mutiny offers. He was able to find the item he was searching high and low for on Mutiny in a matter of minutes. He's a fan of the new service. And yet, he associates the genius to Cameron. He doesn't know Donna at all. He knows Cameron Howe's name. That's a kind of fame that Donna doesn't have even though she is the co-owner and Cameron's partner throughout all of this. She hasn't felt like it for awhile though. She has had to make decisions for the company that have been at odds with Cameron's ambitions. She only wants what's best for the company but that has created this tension. Donna thought it was a good idea to lie to Cameron at the time. However, that only fostered further distrust in Cameron's mind. She believed that her company was being taken away from her. She doesn't want to conform to the system. She's wary about a board and how quick Donna and Diane want Mutiny to expand. Her concerns are taken seriously. But they are swallowed whole by the tension between her and Donna. Donna wants to apologize. She wants Cameron to believe that this is still a partnership between them and that she still loves her so much. Donna is given that moment. Unfortunately though, it's not actually with Cameron. Instead, she just imagines her there thanks to the drug she takes. It helps her clear her head and ready to go back to work with renewed energy. But that's not what's waiting for her back at home.

Cameron and Gordon get to spend the weekend together. It provides some quality bonding time for them. They've seem to be getting along better than either of them are with Donna. They still have their moments with her. They are just getting more fleeting. They enjoy the escape of gaming and the ham radio. That's comforting to both of them. And yet, they can't escape the realities of their lives for very long. It's clear that Gordon's health is only getting worse. He passes out while playing the game and breaks the television. It forces Cameron to confront him about what's really going on. It's somewhat surprising that she doesn't know the truth. But it does make sense that Donna and Gordon kept it a secret. He writes things down in his notebook to keep track of his symptoms but it has never gotten in the way of work. At least, it hasn't so far this season. Cameron doesn't want to lose Gordon. He has become a reliable friend for her this year. He helps her beat the game. That's the victory she feels like celebrating. And yet, it's just a game. There are other parts of her life that are worth celebrating too. Her company has just gotten a million dollar acquisition offer and she's engaged. Neither of those things seem to excite her though. Yes, she's still talking with Tom and takes the offer seriously. But they don't seem to bring her a whole lot of joy.

Instead, Cameron largely finds herself fixated on getting Joe to admit that he stole Gordon's idea in order to start MacMillian Utilities. Joe has been off on his own little show for a few episodes now. He and Cameron haven't interacted since they bumped into each other on the college campus. They've each made strides with their respective businesses. They've grown a lot. They've both become visionaries. And yet, Cameron still believes in treating other people with respect. Her conviction becomes muddied when directly dealing with Joe. He manages to unnerve her unlike anyone else. She's afraid of what he sees in her. She almost lost herself in a relationship with Joe. She's always afraid of that happening to her again. The fear is definitely real when she confronts him here. She was happy in her relationship with Tom. Yes, their engagement was sudden and happened offscreen after their brief reconnecting last week. The audience had to fill in the gaps. And now, Joe is actively questioning why she's doing it. Is she trying to embrace happiness by agreeing to marry the person she thinks is responsible for it? Is it actually real? It's clear that his skepticism gets to her. He unnerves her more than she does to him. She runs away back to Texas to get married. She doesn't care that none of her friends are there. She desperately needs happiness and believes Tom can provide it. And yet, it means nothing if she doesn't fix her bond with Donna. She doesn't want to put in that effort though. So, Mutiny could be facing a major downfall soon.

And lastly, Cameron's pleas to Joe actually do get him to admit wrongdoing during his deposition. The lawsuit really hasn't been a big part of this season. It's a way to connect the characters together without needing them to be close with one another. But Joe doesn't back down because of Cameron. He instead does it to spite his board. He finally achieved what he and Ryan have been working towards this season. Ryan has fully made the transition into being a tech guy leading a room of skeptics into the unknown and scary future in a well-tailored suit. They get the military contract. They just need to get the board's support despite the lack of financial incentive. They too take the weekend to think through all of their options. Joe's recklessness costs him this deal though. He met with the military guy long before he presented the plan to the board. The deal came together very quickly. Joe has never been a guy who cares about or waits around for others to agree with him. He's a visionary who only cares about himself. And now, that has grave consequences. Having a board is important. Yes, Joe can have all the ideas but the board helps guide the company forward. Joe's decisions can lead to great successes. But more often than not, they lead to devastating disasters. The boards knows about his pattern for destruction. They refuse to let him burn this company to the ground after his ouster from the top. So instead, Joe does it through the lawsuit. It's a clever and spontaneous decision that could have big consequences for him next week.

Some more thoughts:
  • "And She Was" was written by Angelina Burnett and directed by Michael Morris.
  • Bos just decides to go to the opera. He says he wants to immerse himself in the culture of this town more than he has. It just feels a little odd that he would do so. It's largely just an excuse for him to run into Diane again.
  • Bos and Diane really are an interesting couple. They have great chemistry. And yet, they aren't really that compatible. They act on that attraction here. They have sex in his car after ditching the opera and a bad first date. But Bos is still feeling lousy about not having any interesting stories to tell after a life lived away from his family.
  • Tom told his mom about the engagement. He was able to do that immediately despite the break in his relationship with Cameron. And yet, Cameron really struggles to tell anyone - including Gordon who is telling her about all the details of his illness.
  • Tom also mentions that he'll be coming out to California soon. So there was obviously a ticking clock for Cameron to break the news to her friends and co-workers. But she just goes back to Texas to get married right away. After that, she has no problem telling Gordon.
  • For a moment there, it seemed like the show was going to reveal that Gordon wasn't talking to anyone on the ham radio. Cameron saw that it wasn't plugged in at all. And yet, that doesn't seem to be the case at all given his final conversation with Cameron.