‘Halt and Catch Fire’ season 3, episode 5 review: The cost of doing business

The title above was one of the lines that struck us most in Tuesday night’s new episode of “Halt and Catch Fire,” and a show that continues to do its best to exercise restraint when it so easily could go careening into the next room screaming its face off. “Yerba Buena” reminded us of the early days of San Francisco while also plowing forward, and giving us a fairly clear sense of what the future could be for Joe MacMillan and other key characters.

Unfortunately, tonight the future was not bright. You could see the headlines coming into the window at Cameron in the closing minutes, or in the direction of Joe MacMillan’s heart when he received the phone call on his condition.

Does Joe have HIV? Playing like a sibling show in “Mad Men,” the writing didn’t spell it out, and neither did the masterful performance from Lee Pace. You can interpret the smile on Joe’s face as relief that he knows the answer, even if it is a bad answer; or, it could just be relief that he knows that he will make it out of this okay. Whether or not he has it may not be as immediately relevant as Joe facing his own mortality and legacy, and knowing that he has to do something more than creating a shell of a company with no purpose for humanity. That is why Ryan is there, and what he is building to.

As for everyone else, the climb to the future is made all the more challenging by boulders careening on them from the past. While Gordon’s stay-cation with Donna certainly started wonderfully enough, either his illness or simple a sense of isolation crept in the morning after. Maybe he as just really upset over Donna not being a fan of camping. Cameron meanwhile faced her family and her history, and faced off against Bosworth in the process in Texas, forcing them into a stand-off that left her MIA for days and Donna on a ledge with the company. She tried her best to cover for her, but it feels clear that her actions left Mutiny in a tough position where it’s hard to see her vision when there are so many roadblocks in the way.

Yet, despite her own lengthy absence, it is Cameron who may feeling the biggest pain of all given her conversation with Diane at the end of the episode, which made it very clear to her that Donna lied about whether or not they needed to keep the new guys on board. It’s hardly a collaboration, and Mutiny may be becoming anarchy once more. Once again, wonderful stuff here by Mackenzie Davis as she still tries to channel and process this pain.

In the end, what a stellar episode this was, from the subtle moments (Cameron remembering what was on the rooftop) to Joe and Ryan ultimately finding their own networked creation and now determining where to run with it. If you love this show, how do you not love the product that was presented tonight. Grade: A.

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