Halt and Catch Fire 2×03 ‘The Way In’: Becoming the new you

Halt and Catch Fire 2x03 Cover

We all want to be better.  But how do we do that?  We have to think about what it means to be better, what it means for us to be better, what we have to do to become better, how we even begin to do that.  One thing that the HBO show Girls so eloquently professes is that growth is extremely messy, that it’s often a step forwards, then backwards, then to the side, then forwards again.  It’s extremely difficult to figure out what will make us better people.  Changing our ways may be horribly challenging, but it’s often the first step because we don’t even know if that change is what we want for ourselves.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x03-4

Source: AMC

“The Way In” is one of the best episodes Halt and Catch Fire has had to offer so far, and that can be chalked up to the excellent way that the episode’s theme runs through every character.  Everybody in the show wants to become a better person, but continually suffers setbacks when they attempt to do so.  It’s not for a lack of trying; it’s more from an inability to gain perspective on the thing that has been plaguing them for as long as we’ve known them.  Because none of them understand that whatever solution they’re looking for can’t be found by running through the same set of tricks they’ve been using their entire lives.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x03-2

Source: AMC

Just look at the way that Cameron has been running Mutiny.  Gordon isn’t wrong when he tells Cameron that his money has been keeping the company afloat, and when she yells at Donna about it, she’s angrier at herself for being unable to conform to business standards.  She has to be a leader and she doesn’t see being a leader and an innovator as two things that can be achieved together.  Mutiny has been pulled in two directions all season now, and Cameron is feeling to pressure to become something that she’s not.  Tom is able to calm her down when she’s having a panic attack, something that comes on when she finally realizes how alone and powerless she is, but she’s still feeling lost, unable to figure out exactly how to become the thing she’s always wanted to be.  Or, rather, unable to figure out exactly what that thing is she wants to be.  Because, while she rails at Donna for having a life, she doesn’t have anything other than Mutiny.  And even if Mutiny does take off and become something huge, she will still be a person without a life to go home to.

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Source: AMC

Joe and Gordon are two characters who are also trying to figure out what they want from themselves.  Gordon is so excited to be useful to somebody that he uploads Sonaris to Mutiny’s systems without adequately testing it and ends up almost eviscerating the systems.  It’s a move that is played up enough so that it feels cataclysmic and justifies Cameron’s extreme reaction.  He ends up going home and destroying his computers, angry at himself for feeling so passionate about something that he didn’t create himself.  Because he’s essentially hijacking Mutiny in order to make himself feel better.  Joe, on the other hand, shies away from causing destruction when Jacob gives him the authority to wipe out his department and rebuild it, which would mean that people would lose their jobs for Joe’s benefit.  Of course, this is easier for Joe to understand, as he already cost people jobs when he ran Cardiff.  So when he looks at the machines that handle the processed data, he comes up with a “way in”, something that will continue to push him forward but not cost him the humanity he’s regaining along the way.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x03-1

Source: AMC

But Bosworth is the real star of the show here.  He’s unwilling to work at Mutiny because he has to really face his past down, so he tries to talk to his ex-wife and he apologizes to his son for his absence.  Being in prison has really changed him and forced him to get in touch with what he really wants from his life, and shedding his ego and possessions is his way to attempt to atone for his sins.  And it’s not as if his attempts to atone are useless.  His son forgives him and seems genuinely touched when he hands over the car.  But it doesn’t undo the damage Bosworth has done through his actions.  He’s warned from coming to his son’s wedding rehearsal dinner, so he’s only able to come by the parking lot in order to talk to his son for a moment.  He’s barely able to even read his speech for his son because of the pain of the loss he’s caused.  But that’s how growth happens.  We have to face down the past and look at all of the damage we’ve done in order to move past it.

“The Way In” doesn’t necessarily have a lot of direction, as it’s still part of the season’s first act, but it’s doing an excellent job reorienting the series’ characters into people who are trying to shed their past and become something better.  “The Way In” is Halt and Catch Fire at its best, where it boasts a rich story with a theme that laces its way through all of the characters.  And it doesn’t offer any easy way out for anybody, showing that even shedding your possessions won’t make you into a new person.  There’s no real way to become a new person, at least no way that we’re readily aware of.  There’s only aimless stumbling, attempting to find our way through the dark to some sort of safe haven, hoping that maybe it’ll be worthwhile.

So what do you think of Halt and Catch Fire’s second season so far?  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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