‘Halt and Catch Fire’ season 3, episode 6 review: You only live once

So far on “Halt and Catch Fire” season 3, there has been a decided note of mortality, of questioning what the future holds and whether or not these characters could keep up. Maybe there is a fear of death, or maybe there is a fear that technology will pass them by and force them to be the one thing they fear the most: Forgotten.

For Joe MacMillan, a man whose life was almost thrown into the balance with a phone call last week, he suffered a fate on Tuesday night’s episode that may be viewed as equal to death in his mind: The board for MacMillan Utility turning on him, stripping him of all creative power and forcing him to effectively be Big Head from “Silicon Valley” when Gavin Belson paid him to sit around on a roof somewhere. He is left to be a shell after the board failed to bite on his networking concept, especially the part of it that screamed “non-profit.” All of a sudden, there wasn’t much that he had at his disposal.

The death of Joe’s ambition led to him killing something else in his life, and that was the lawsuit from Gordon Clark. He admitted in a deposition that he stole Gordon’s work, and that he was entitled to ownership. Maybe this was the action of a depressed man, maybe this was Cameron’s words during a brief conversation earlier sticking with him, or maybe this was Joe realizing in this moment that handing over credit to Gordon would mean that he could find new life.

No matter what, Joe is left clinging to something, and for Gordon, having this credit could be his spark of life in a dark time where trying to beat “Super Mario Bros.” is one of the few things that brings that spark to his eyes. Cameron learned about his condition tonight, one that he is still keeping secret. It forges their bond, but as a result of the Joe conversation we learned that she still cares about what he says more so than anything else. If nothing else, his words were enough for her to run off and marry Tom without much prior notice. The same goes for moving out. She’s very much like Joe in her desire to buck expectations, no matter the reason for it.

In the midst of all of these decisions (which included Bosworth and Diane Gould sleeping together), Donna’s journey to think about an acquisition offer led to her getting a little bit of a break, and being put in a place where she and Cameron could briefly reflect and forgive each other for the past. They realize now that Mutiny’s next phase could come via an acquisition, but whether or not they are ready for that remains to be seen.

Ultimately, this was an episode about pondering, about heartache, and about desperation when it looks like someone has figured you out; for a show that seemed to dwell a good bit tonight on death, it is ironic that it also showed these characters living and breathing more than ever. Grade: A.

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