‘Halt and Catch Fire’ season 3, episode 2 review: Donna’s day made

The third season of “Halt and Catch Fire” on Tuesday night delivered the goods in both the first and second episodes, but we feel like by the end of the second hour, it started to become all the clearer where the writers want to take this story. We have the story of two women who can be cutthroat and yet likable and relatable in Silicon Valley, and find a way to navigate its inner circle as underdogs. It’s a story of a mutiny against the old and finding a new way of doing things.

For Donna and Cameron tonight, that new way started with Cameron bribed Donna’s own daughter to invite a rival at school to her birthday party. Why? Her mother just so happened to be Diane Gould (the amazing Annabeth Gish), a woman with the power to help fund the company and take it to new heights. When Donna and Cameron went in to pitch them for an investment, the school conflict created a work one. When matters were patched up, at least the ice was starting to fill.

Still, Gould did not just hand over a heck because their daughters had a better bond. It took Donna and Cameron learning that they had a competitor in their trading space, and figuring out that buying them, as opposed to competing against them, was the key. They are at the place now where they’re not just small-fry employees unable to take on anyone. This was a sign of growth, and seeing Donna’s bathroom celebration was all the sweeter because of what she’s been through.

Could you argue that the first two episodes were almost too much a reset given some of the drama in her life in season 2? Possibly, but we don’t mind. We’re glad seeing the other side, and much more of the same could have been depressing. The same goes for Gordon, who is slightly better but clearly still struggling through a lawsuit with Joe (one where Joe made a ridiculous offer during a deposition to test his pride) to go along with losing Ryan Ray, one of his most-brilliant programmers, to his former business associate after he made an insane pursuit of Joe, thinking him to be this idealistic corporate giant he’s really not. If nothing else, Joe is the master at painting over garbage and making everyone thinks that it belongs in a museum. With his new security company, he’s found that, and the show seems ready to embrace Lee Pace as playing the villain … at least for now. He’s not entirely despicable; he just needs a sense of validation and purpose that always feels at arm’s length.

While there may be somewhere still to go this season in terms of emotional resonance, no doubt season 3 to date has all we could hope for: Incredible storytelling, fantastic performances (Kerry Bishe) only gets better and better, and a faithfulness to the setting that is spirited and adventurous. That even includes some of the humor a la Bosworth and his butler-robot. Grade: A-.

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