Halt and Catch Fire 2×08 ‘Limbo’: Crushing the new

Halt and Catch Fire 2x08 Cover

There’s a reason that, as people grow older, they become increasingly frustrated with younger generations.  As people get into their 40s, 50s, they see young people that have new perceptions of the world around them, new ways of navigating it.  And that threatens the older generation’s life choices, their values and beliefs, their way of navigating the world around them.  New ideas are scary because they not only have an element of validity, but also because that validity challenges and outdates older ideas.  The older generations have trouble understanding how to challenge their ideas, and subsequently, attempt to put down new ideas in order to retain their comfort.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x08-1

Source: AMC

That’s what we see happening here in “Limbo”.  Older ideas attempt to squash the new, and as of right now, they’re successful in doing so.  In what is the most horrific and shocking plot twist on Halt and Catch Fire to date, Westgroup effectively steals Mutiny’s work, using the network connection to block Cameron and the other Mutiny workers from accessing it, all while changing the name to WestNet and taking over administration themselves.  It’s horrifying in that it both obliterates Cameron and Donna’s dreams and has Joe incidentally destroying the brilliant ideas around him, even though he’s only trying to help.  Season 2 has taken Joe’s character and done some amazing things, having him come to terms with his poisonous ways only to watch them tragically harm others when he’s attempting to move forward.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x08-2

Source: AMC

That scene at the end of the episode was phenomenal, one of the best of the series.  Cameron spends the episode coming to terms with her place in Mutiny, how Donna’s community idea is an extremely important component of Mutiny’s draw, how she needs to include other people in her life, in her ideas.  When she meets the girl who said that community helped her get through tough times, she realizes that importance, that it’s not just about innovation but also about creating something that truly services people.  And Donna spends the episode meeting the community, seeing the good work that her time and effort has accomplished.  But none of that matters when they try to log on to their project only to see that it’s all gone.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x08-3

Source: AMC

While Westgroup is the real enemy here, it’s heartbreaking to see Joe and Gordon, as symbols for the past, completely unable to overcome their own suffering to really contribute to the world.  Gordon wants to start up his new company, but his paranoia is so intense that he pushes away his workers and breaks into Stan’s garage when he thinks Stan is trying to steal his company idea.  When Stan calls the cops and tells Gordon that Donna wanted Gordon to be monitored, it only sets off that paranoia further.  As he mutters to himself in the back of the cop car, wondering why Donna would try to cross him, we’re witnessing the end of Gordon’s attempt at crafting a legacy.  His mental instability is destroying any semblance of a chance he has at creating something new.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x08-4

Source: AMC

Joe, on the other hand, does have a chance to create something new.   He has ideas, great ideas that could really become something new, but he doesn’t know how to harness that desire, that passion.  He envies Cameron in this regard; he wishes that he had Cameron’s ability to put himself out there, to become vulnerable in that way.  But he’s certainly trying to move forward.  He quits Westgroup and is replaced by a businessman, one who doesn’t care at all about anything but money.  And it bothers him, because businessmen that him are the kind of people who run industries that could be innovating and inventing so much more.  So Joe tries to put it all behind him, taking ecstasy with his new wife Sara, dancing and partying before they move to California for good.  Only Joe can’t just put away the ramifications of his past decisions.  In order to truly shed his past, he needs to witness the consequences that have come from Joe’s old self.  And those consequences are truly devastating, even more so when Joe doesn’t want to hurt anybody at all.

Halt and Catch Fire, in its first season, never really impressed me all that much.  There were a few points where I was excited to see the plot unfold, but it was so tedious and convoluted that I never truly cared.  But here, in the late stages of its second season, Halt and Catch Fire has elevated itself to the likes of great shows such as Masters of Sex and Game of Thrones.  What we see when Mutiny is taken over, when Gordon is muttering in the back of a police car, when Joe is high and trying to comprehend just how much damage he’s done, is the theme that tried so hard to present itself in the first season finally packing its full punch.  What a great season of television.

So what do you think will happen next?  What do you think Cameron and Donna will do to take back Mutiny?  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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