Halt and Catch Fire 1×07 ‘Giant’: Becoming relevant

Halt and Catch Fire 1x07 Cover

In a continuation of the current trend of Halt and Catch Fire taking a step forward and then taking another back, “Giant” moves us into Season 1’s final act with a some great ideas that are horribly muddled by deeply flawed storytelling.  While it continues to examine the notion that everybody wants to leave some sort of legacy and therefore longs for relevance in a changing world, we don’t know enough about these characters to really understand their internal desire for those things.  And considering how the season needs to start kicking its plotting into high gear soon, these half-baked attempts at character development are going to make the season, as a whole, much worse if the final three episodes don’t do something to reverse the damage.

Halt and Catch Fire 1x07-1

Source: AMC

Let’s get the frustrating moments out of the way.  Donna kissing her boss made sense, but it was telegraphed with such obviousness that it was met with more eye rolling than genuine shock.  If there’s one thing, above all else, that Halt and Catch Fire is bad at, it’s romantic chemistry, and Donna’s feelings for her boss don’t amount to much more than contrived writing.  Joe and Cameron’s relationship is just as contrived, as there’s never really anything to bring them together in any compatible way.  All of a sudden, Cameron and Joe are invested in this relationship because he opened up for a moment about something real.  I mean, I get it, Joe is trying to become somebody with authenticity and Cameron is searching for acceptance, but there’s nothing beyond that to suggest that they are in any way compatible.  And, of course, we still have the obvious symbolism, from the dead man in the streets to the “grave” in the backyard.  However, one symbol that I genuinely enjoyed was the blood dripping into the sink the same way that the water was dripping moments earlier.  It neatly brings up Gordon’s escalation in a strong, interesting way.

Halt and Catch Fire 1x07-3

Source: AMC

As for the rest of the episode, there’s not much to speak of.  Joe has an old friend Simon come by to help design the computer, though Gordon is obviously frustrated that his work isn’t amounting to anything.  We do finally see Joe’s bisexuality brought up again, and while it seems an attempt to expand on what we saw earlier in the season, it feels like too little too late.  It’s great that we’re seeing an expansion on how Joe views others sexually and how Joe views intimacy outside of Cameron, but we don’t know enough about his and Simon’s relationship (nor do we really care about Joe/Cameron) to really understand how this impacts more than that quest for authenticity.  Within the confusion of sexuality, there’s always a struggle for self-definition.  And Joe understands this more than most.  He can’t commit to Cameron in the way she wants him to because he’s still suffering from the inability to latch onto any solid definition of himself.

Halt and Catch Fire 1x07-2

Source: AMC

As for Gordon, he’s losing it because he’s slowly realizing the power others wield over him.  He saw his one big chance to stay relevant in the Symphonic, a genius computer design that theoretically would have revolutionized computers but instead ended up not working.  So he attempts to regain power by feeding the kids whatever he wanted, by trying to fix the sink.  But in doing so, he only makes things worse.  He cuts himself using a knife to fix the sink.  He sees his kids digging in the backyard and ends up digging for the Giant in a craze.  There’s one thing that Gordon wants in the world, but obtaining it isn’t going to save him.  He isn’t going to be Bill Gates.  And we, as people living in a world where relevance doesn’t mean much for very long, need to learn that our relevance comes from the relationships around us.  Gordon just doesn’t want to acknowledge that because the relationships around him aren’t what he desires.

Overall, Halt and Catch Fire has become a little better, but the change is only incremental.  And the change may not be enough to elevate the plot into becoming something better during these last three episodes of the season.  But it’s still great to see Halt and Catch Fire at least attempting to provide dissection on a couple important ideas, whether they be the idea of legacy or relevance.  Because, considering that the computer race of the 80s was all about making the latest and greatest and then fading into oblivion, the plight of the protagonists should easily resonate.  It’s just a matter of improving the writing to the point where the protagonists feel like real people instead of figures moved around to fit the plot.

So what did you think of the episode?  Do you think Halt and Catch Fire will improve over the last three episodes or will it only get worse?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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