Halt and Catch Fire 2×10 ‘Heaven is a Place’: Running in circles

Halt and Catch Fire 2x10 Cover

In the end, journeys aren’t necessarily linear paths from one stop to the next.  They’re circuitous, looping back on themselves, often hitting the same points again and again with the hope that a new trajectory will be reached.  And that’s why our own lives are ultimately so frustrating.  We expect progress to come to us as we age.  We believe that we’ll become wiser, progress further into our career, get married at a respectable time, have children at a respectable time, basically be what society deems to be a “normal human being”.  But what happens when our marriages fall apart, when we don’t feel any wiser, when our careers seems to be stagnant or spiraling downward? Does that make us worth any less?  Does the lack of progress as defined by modern society make us any less of a person?  The answer to these is “no”, it doesn’t diminish our worth, but it’s one thing to tell yourself that another to actually believe it.  And believing it means completely rewiring your mind.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x10-2

Source: AMC

In the Halt and Catch Fire season (and hopefully not series) finale, the circuitous nature of the main characters’ journeys is revealed.  Cameron ends up alone, engulfed in the next stage of her vision.  Donna ends up pursuing new ventures, still stuck in her marital troubles.  Gordon ends up paranoid, without purpose, trailing behind the rest of the characters.  And Joe ends up as dismal and jaded as he was before, still trying to create something new, still hoping that his brilliance can be realized.  Everybody is at a different place than they were at the beginning of the season, but they’re also not at a different place.  They’re still searching for meaning in their lives, and none of them are particularly closer to any answers.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x10-1

Source: AMC

But that’s not necessarily an unsatisfying way to leave the season, or even the entire series if that’s the way AMC plays it.  Within our lives, answers to life’s most confounding questions aren’t something that we can easily answer by simply pursuing them.  If we’re not willing to change the way that we view the world and the way that we view our own lives, then how are we supposed to change our perspective?  Cameron had no problem razing earth, blowing up Joe’s life and, subsequently, Gordon’s life in the process.  If she plays with others with the abandon that she does, what does she expect from relationships around her.  The only relationships left that really mean something to her are with Donna and Bosworth, and even those haven’t been immune to her destructive ways.  This isn’t to say that Cameron’s work hasn’t been worthwhile, or that she’s even a bad boss.  In taking down WestNet and eviscerating Westgroup’s stock, costing them millions, she has been able to rebuild Mutiny with new and improved ideas, all without the competition that would have destroyed her.  And, in moving the company to California, she is now able to utilize a network that won’t cost her more and more as they get increasingly successful.  But there is a price to be paid for her success, and she will have to come to terms with it sooner or later.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x10-3

Source: AMC

Gordon and Donna are also too stuck in their ways to be able to compromise with the other.  Gordon is so driven to find purpose and meaning in his life that he’s descending into paranoia, and he doesn’t utilize his group therapy in a way to really help him.  Donna, on the other hand, is so driven by her work at Mutiny that she’s not able to be there for him in a way that makes him feel secure.  Both are responsible for their predicament, but neither are wholly responsible.  If Gordon were more secure in himself, he would be able to venture freely into new terrain and find a career path that is fulfilling for him.  And if Donna weren’t so obsessed with Mutiny and with staying at pace with Cameron, she might be able to strike a balance between family and work.  But neither is willing to acknowledge that, so Gordon and Donna fight about Gordon’s affair and Donna’s absence in a way that doesn’t suggest resolution.  Donna has Gordon invest his remaining money in Mutiny and work for them as a way to attempt to resolve things, but even that doesn’t necessarily do anything.  When Gordon suggests maybe having another child in the future, Donna remembers the abortion she had and the secrets that still hang over their marriage.  Since neither are able to fully acknowledge their failings, neither are able to resolve the damage that still impacts their marriage.  And thus they’re stuck in the same loop they’ve always been stuck in, even though it’s certainly possible that a change in scenery will help them to acknowledge those things before it’s too late.

Halt and Catch Fire 2x10-4

Source: AMC

And Joe, now that he’s newly divorced and pushed completely out of Westgroup, reverts completely back to his old self in order to secure something for himself.  Alone, without Cameron or Sara, being laughed out of meetings with other businessmen, he doesn’t seem to have any prospects last.  That is, until Gordon passes him the anti-virus fix that will undo Sonaris’s damage, and he uses it to secure a multi-million dollar deal to create anti-virus software.  It’s a deal that he tries to bring Gordon into, but realizes that Gordon cares more about his family than about him.  The people that Joe surrounds himself with ultimately leave him, and while it turns him into the shell of a person that we see in the season’s (or series’) final shot, it also allows him to become the bitter, malicious person that can utilize the power and influence that he wields.  He has become the person that we saw in Season 1, only now there is a season of character development behind that person, and he feels like a full human being instead of a one-dimensional type.

Halt and Catch Fire has had an immensely improved second season, enough that I would say that it’s the best show AMC has on its channel.  The Walking Dead aspires for greatness but never quite reaches it, and Better Call Saul will always live in the shadow of Breaking Bad.  Even Halt and Catch Fire, in its first season, lived in the shadow of Mad Men because it tried to hard to aspire to it.  But here, in its second season, Halt and Catch Fire has been able to assert itself as a great and original television show, not necessarily because it has tried harder to achieve greatness, but because it let go of those aspirations and tried to become its own entity.  If it isn’t renewed for another season, I’ll certainly be heartbroken.  This has been a great season of television, and I would love to see what, Joe, Donna, Cameron, and Gordon do next.

So what did you think of Season 2 of Halt and Catch Fire?  Do you believe it deserves a third season?  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.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.