Saturday, September 16, 2017

REVIEW: 'Halt and Catch Fire' - Fights with Cameron and Donna Push Bos Over the Edge in 'Nowhere Man'

AMC's Halt and Catch Fire - Episode 4.05 "Nowhere Man"

Donna struggles with suspicion. Bos hits a breaking point. Joe confesses to Gordon while Cameron faces past mistakes.

Cameron's decision to write the new code for Rover is coming back to hurt her right away. That was apparent the moment she did it last week. Donna had her suspicions that the coder for the company couldn't have possibly done it after struggling for several months. Meanwhile, Joe was furious that Rover was stepping up its game to really become competitive once more. It seemed like Cameron was destined to once again blow up her life. She was feeling angsty out there in the woods. She did this as a favor to Bos for all that he has done for her. But this action has the potential to destroy everything good in her life while also bringing her back to Donna, the one person she wants nothing to do with. All of these conflicting feelings only get more complicated in "Nowhere Man." Cameron can't just have anonymity with the coding. She wanted it to be a one-time thing. She helped Bos when he needed it the most. She didn't want to explain her actions to anyone. But it's not as simple as that. That one piece of coding has the potential to change everything for the companies at the center of this season. This hour is all about everyone realizing just how big a deal it is. Cameron needs to accept that it was something she did that will have harsh consequences for Comet. Donna and Bos are fighting it out because of this lie and the damage it could do to their professional partnership. It defines so much of this hour. But both companies are still thriving at the moment. Right now, it's just everyone learning what Cameron did. No one truly understands why she did it or what comes next. This is just an action that is making everyone very nervous and paranoid about what comes next.

Cameron fears what helping Rover will do to Joe and his company. She has those insecurities about hiding this from him long before she has her fight with Bos. As such, she retreats to her trailer. She's cutting herself off from the world even further. She's disconnecting from Joe. He wants her help in order to reinvent Comet. He understands that she had the better idea for the future and how Comet's business model is destined to become irrelevant once the internet starts growing exponentially. He wants her insight in order to keep up with the competition. But she's distant because she knows she can't get pulled into this business. She can't be helping both Rover and Comet. She feels torn between the two companies. Both sides have people she loves and wants to help. But she made her decision. She chose to help Bos with Rover. That is now compromising her relationship with Joe. She flees to the trailer. But even that isn't an action that can completely cut her off from the world. It's Tom who surprisingly finds her out there. It's such an unexpected moment. He only shows up to get her to sign the papers finalizing their divorce. They have a nice moment of bonding. And yet, this connection isn't healthy for her either. The marriage fell apart for a reason. Her actions and indecisiveness over them were significant contributing factors. She is only now starting to realize that.

Meanwhile, Donna is being incredibly passive aggressive in trying to get the truth from Bos and the company. She knows that someone else did the coding. And now, she's potentially putting the company at risk to do so. Her doubts are right. Her instincts are very keen and accurate. But she doesn't know what to expect. All she sees is her team lying to her about what's really going on. So, she's putting the pressure on them until they tell her the truth. Bos gets the brunt of that vitriol. It's really quite destructive to watch. Donna is still such a rich and complicated character. But this season she's been really icy and villainous as well. Her humanity is still on display when it comes to her children. She is still seen playing Pilgrim and being the first person to actually break the secret code that Cameron made for the game. She's the one person who has actually made progress with it. She's smart enough to see just how different and genius it is. But that doesn't change her feelings towards Cameron. Nor does it change her tactics as a businesswoman. She's being very forceful and rough with Bos. She's even throwing around the truth about why she hired him for this job in the first place. She was simply doing a favor for Diane who feared that he was getting bored at the house all day. This doesn't break Bos though. He can be very critical of Donna as well with the tactics she's employing in this business. But all of this is put into perspective after Bos suffers a heart attack.

It's a little conventional that a character suffers a heart attack after having big fights with the most important people in his life. First, it's with Cameron. Bos comes over to her house to get her to explain to the coder what she actually did for the program so they can get the appropriate patent. She refuses because she never wanted to be a part of this business again. She thinks any respectable coder would be able to figure out what she did as well. If not, then Bos is dealing with someone incredibly incompetent. That may not be true because Cameron is just so smart when it comes to this. Her perception of what's easy to see and understand may be different than the average coder's. But it's still a big fight between them. That is followed by Donna at dinner that night. She's not being subtle at all with her forceful jabs at him to get him to spill the truth. He's holding onto Cameron's secret. Everything is just becoming too much for him to handle. He knows this ruse can't be kept up forever because of the pressure from Donna and the refusal to cooperate from Cameron. All of this is on top of his already crushing debts that he still hasn't paid off. Donna doesn't even know about those. She's surprised to hear it for the first time when Gordon mentions it following Bos' hospitalization. That puts things into perspective for her as well. All of this does for everyone. Bos could potential die and things have just gotten so complicated in the personal dynamics.

Of course, not everything is great. Not everyone realizes that things need to change in order to prevent something like this from happening again. In fact, it's mostly just an eye-opening experience that makes everyone realize that they can't continue to lie to the people they love. Cameron doesn't tell Donna that she was the one who wrote the code for Rover. But she doesn't have to either. Donna is able to connect the dots with the simple knowledge that Cameron and Bos have been working closely once more. It's the only explanation for why the two of them got into a fight that day. And Donna still refuses to work with Cameron again. The feeling is mutual. But it's also incredibly toxic. Donna fears that Cameron is working some kind of long con to destroy everything she has built over the last few years. That's not healthy at all that could only build to more disaster if it is allowed to fester. And yet, Donna still plays Cameron's game. The two of them are still connected in a way that can be very beneficial. Repeating past patterns though may keep them at odds for the remainder of this season. The same is also true for Cameron and Joe. Cameron may just be repeating the same pattern of lying and betraying the person she's in love with. With Tom, she cheated on him with Joe. With Joe, she cheated on him with Rover. It's a complicated dynamic because Cameron clearly wants to work but has no outlet to properly express herself. She believes she's doing the right thing in telling Joe what she did for Bos. She's doing it because she loves him not because she wants to destroy their relationship. But she also felt that way with Tom and is just now realizing the truth in her actions. So, this may destroy things for the two of them once more. They've found each other again this season after so much time has passed. And yet, time may never actually be right for the two of them as a couple because they are never comfortable living in the present for what it truly is. They are both too angsty to ever really be healthy.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Nowhere Man" was written by Angelina Burnett and directed by So Yong Kim.
  • It's a bit surprising to see how quickly things have turned romantic between Gordon and Katie. That was the obvious direction the show was heading in. But here, the two of them are already having sex and she already knows about his medical condition. It's jumping ahead. But it still works largely because of how Anna Chlumsky is playing this character. Her presence makes it feel believable.
  • Of course, this episode also brings a lot of focus back on Gordon's disease. At the start of the season, Joe told Cameron that Gordon doesn't really talk about it much anymore. It seemed as if the show actually forgot about it. But it seems like it's about to come roaring back in an important way. Katie is intrigued to know more about his symptoms and their patterns. But he then burns all of the books in the end. That's seen as a destructive act that may affect him moving forward.
  • Both Gordon and Donna agree that Haley is coming out of her shell more because she's working at Comet. And yet, she's still an awkward teenage girl who doesn't know how to express herself. It's a bit of a mystery as well. She's suddenly uncomfortable around Katie now that she knows things are sexual in her relationship with Gordon.
  • So basically, everyone knows about Bos' crushing debts except for his wife, Diane. That seems like a disastrous decision as well. One that could signal that things are going to end badly between them. Of course, he needs to survive this cardiac event as well. But that could only increase the expenses he has to keep track of now.
  • Tom is moving to the suburbs and starting a family with his new girlfriend. It's the life he always wanted that Cameron just couldn't provide for him while still being happy. It's a bittersweet moment. She wants to be happy for him. But it's still so awkward and complicated for her because this time in her life was still such a big deal.