Tuesday, October 4, 2016

REVIEW: 'Halt and Catch Fire' - Everyone Deals with the Consequences of Their Actions in 'You Are Not Safe'

AMC's Halt and Catch Fire - Episode 3.08 "You Are Not Safe"

Donna, Bos and Diane go on the road to build support for Mutiny, while everyone else anxiously awaits the big day. Joe asks Cam for a favor.

Last week's episode of Halt and Catch Fire was very combustible. It was the hour that exploded every single storyline. It featured characters passionately defending their opinions and clashing with the people around them. It was phenomenal to watch. And now, the final three episodes have to deal with the fallout of what happened in those passionate moments. Decisions were made. Friendships were broken. Partnerships were destroyed. It was an hour that changed everything and set a new path forward for all of the characters. And now, they are in the aftermath of those decisions. They have to continue moving forward because this is the life they have chosen for themselves. They can't undo what they did last week. Ultimatums were given and secrets were revealed to the world. Everyone is dealing with the consequences of their actions. Some look to the future with hopefulness and optimism. But this hour highlights just how broken these characters really are without each other. That can be very devastating to their ambitions in life.

Cameron and Donna both had their visions for what Mutiny should be. Because of the tension between them, they couldn't passionately argue for their way as two friends. It's been so heartbreaking to watch the two of them fall apart like they have this season. They both stated that they would leave Mutiny if they didn't get what they wanted. In the end, Donna won out. Cameron has been ousted from the company she founded. That's such a crushing blow. It's a life of fun and excitement for her. It gives her purpose in this world. Yes, she has happiness with Tom. Without that, she would really be spiraling right now. And yet, her overall life is one of handing out Halloween candy and getting rid of a bee nest. It's not as exciting as life was at Mutiny. She's already starting to move on too. She's not actively trying to rejoin the company. She still holds shares and will benefit from the company going public. She'll become a millionaire just like everyone else. But she's planning for a whole new life with Tom. He's being sent to Japan for his job and she thinks it's a wonderful idea. She's willing to go because there is no longer any reason for her to stay in California.

Meanwhile, Donna has to explain to potential investors why Cameron has left the company. She can't tell the truth. She no longer has anything good to say about her former partner. She sees Cameron as narcissistic and reckless. Those aren't the values that can help sell this new company. But the publicity tour leading up to the IPO isn't that exciting either. It doesn't receive too much screen time throughout this episode. Last week, the biggest issue Mutiny faced was getting everything ready in time for the IPO. But that's not really an issue here. The hour plays around with time a little bit. It's more important that Donna, Diane and Bos are on the road building exciting for Mutiny despite some troubling figures. The company isn't growing as quickly as it was and the founder has left. Those affect public perception. Donna is in unchartered waters because she's the woman in charge now. Every decision is hers to make. She can explain the technical side of things. But at the end of the day, the consumers only want to know what they can buy on Mutiny. This tour isn't really something Donna is good at. She has to do it though. But nothing can really prepare any of the characters for what happens after the IPO.

So, Mutiny goes public. It's a cause for celebration for all. The company is excited to see what it's evaluation is going to be and how much money they'll be making. And then, the show just pulls out a stunning twist in having Mutiny open very low and only get worse after a few minutes. It's not the outcome anyone was expecting. Everything pointed to this being a phenomenal launch for Mutiny. Diane believed the company was ready to make this move. It's because of her urging that Donna decided to do it. Everyone was onboard with it except for Cameron. She wanted to delay until the system was improved. This failure isn't anyone's fault though. It's not a case of Cameron being right and Donna paying for it severely. It's a case of their epic falling out stopping all of the buzz around the actual product. Mutiny was Donna and Cameron. Without Cameron, Mutiny doesn't know what it is yet. The evaluation showed that. Cameron still wanted to know what it was. She's still invested in the company. But it's just so devastating to watch as Donna breaks down after this massive loss. It's a crushing defeat that only further isolates her.

That's certainly the overall tone "You Are Not Safe" is going for. It depicts a world where things aren't as hopeful or optimistic as the characters believed. They have all been so passionate about what they've believed in all season long. They didn't want anything to come in the way of their plans for the future. It's an endearing quality that has made the show such a rousing success. And yet, complications always arise that affect these dreams and ambitions. Donna and Cameron couldn't have foreseen this riff in their friendship. But it still happened. And now, the two of them don't even feel comfortable enough to talk to each other when they are both at the grocery store. Donna's daughters run up to Cameron not knowing that so much has changed. All Donna and Cameron do are wave at each other. So much has changed between them. They now feel like strangers. That tension is palpable on the screen. Both of them really need each other right now given the amount of loss in both of their lives. And yet, neither one of them feels comfortable going up to the other and just letting it all out. They are both just internalizing the cruelty of this world. They don't have the same release that they did when they were friends. They are still close to each other physically but they couldn't be further apart.

Meanwhile, Ryan wasn't so successful in releasing the security code from MacMillan Utilities. The feds have new ways of investigating the crime that frighten him. This is a big episode for Ryan. He has been an important character throughout the season. That has largely meant being someone new in Joe's orbit. It hasn't always been that interesting of a performance. And yet, his presence has truly meant something to Joe this year. It's through Ryan that Joe has become more grounded once again. He started the season as this aloof tech mogul who stepped on the dreams and ideas of others to get where he was. But somehow, Joe and Ryan formed a genuine friendship. Joe still kept things from Ryan. The paranoia sinks in. That's what motivates Ryan throughout these last two episodes. He's afraid that he's being cut out of this process completely. He believes Joe and Gordon will escape unharmed and be able to build the NSFNET to success. He thinks he'll be blamed for everything. His life is essentially over because he released the program for free to the world. He was idealistic about all of this. He did it because he believed it was the right thing to do. But now, it has only led to more problems for both him and Joe.

And yet, it's still a shocking moment when Ryan decides to kill himself and take full responsibility for his actions. He does so with a clear head. He spends the hour in the wind. Cameron is able to find him for Joe. She's the reason why he comes back to town. But it still doesn't make this situation any better. Ryan is still faced with a future of either running and thus killing the NSFNET deal or confessing to his crimes and doing some time in prison. Neither options sound all that great. When Joe presents them, Ryan fully understands what everyone said when they warned him about Joe. He is a hypocrite. Joe wanted to do all these revolutionary things but then never followed through with them. Ryan did and is now more isolated than ever. He understands that security is an illusion meant to bring us peace and comfort. But it's essentially meaningless. Joe didn't think Ryan would kill himself. It's a shock to him when he wakes up to police at his door and Ryan gone with the door to the balcony open. It's a devastating moment. One that affects everyone on the show. Everyone knew Ryan. They didn't all have important relationships with him. But his death is still crucial for the overall mentality of the characters. This is a depressing time for all. The consequences of one's actions can be devastating sometimes. People have to be smart and aware of the world they are in. The characters fell in love with the fantasy and are now dealing with all the horrifying repercussions of their actions.

Some more thoughts:
  • "You Are Not Safe" was written by Lisa Albert & Alison Tatlock and directed by Reed Morano.
  • Joe understands that the only way to keep the NSFNET deal alive is for him to walk away completely. Gordon needs to be the one in charge because his hands are clean. And yet, Gordon knows he can't because of his disease. A fact that he shares with Joe.
  • It is so awkward to watch Gordon try to ask Joe if he and Ryan were ever romantically involved. It's easy to understand why Gordon would think that considering how much Joe cares about Ryan. But it wasn't true at all.
  • That scene between Joe and Cameron didn't have the same tension that their scenes usually have. They are very similar right now with both being ousted by their companies. And yet, Cameron can sense that Joe has changed and genuinely cares about Ryan and Gordon.
  • Donna's daughters really couldn't care less about what their mother is trying to do with Mutiny. They don't want to talk to her on Halloween. Plus, they can barely stay awake during her big TV debut.
  • The jumping around in time structure doesn't completely work throughout the episode. It's a great hour because of what happens. But the need to keep track of time is more than a little distracting.
  • Will Cameron actually go with Tom to Japan? She seems all for the idea. Ryan's death does hit her hard. But not enough to actually delay her flight. She may be running away again to a new life. Will anything or anyone be able to convince her to stay? Or would that just doom her relationship with Tom?