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Halt and Catch Fire: Season 2
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Halt and Catch Fire is about the costs of daring to dream big at the dawn of the Information Age. In Season One, a visionary, an engineer, a prodigy and a working mother came together and were subsequently torn apart by their quest to build a personal computer. In the end they were left with the harsh realization that in history, only the truly disruptive ideas are destined to matter. Season Two, which takes place in early 1985, centers on the rise of Mutiny, Cameron and Donna's start-up company, which is built upon the most disruptive idea of the modern era the Internet. In short order, Joe, Gordon, and Bosworth, too, are caught up in the online wave remaking the tech landscape all around them, even as they attempt to heal old wounds and deal with the fallout of Season One. Halt and Catch Fire Season Two explores themes that tap directly into the modern zeitgeist such as the thin line separating genius from self-delusion, the fragility of human connection, and everyone s desire, especially in today's tech-obsessed world, to leave a meaningful mark and do something that truly matters.
Inside Episodes 201-210
History of Now
Joe's Strategic Benchmarks
Tour of An 80s Startup
Set Tour With Lee Pace And Scoot McNairy
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While Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers were talented enough to create “Halt and Catch Fire,” their episodes in the first season were the least interesting, and the series really thrived at the hands of other writers (“The Sopranos”’ Jason Cahill, Zack Whedon, Jamie Pachino, and “Mad Men” alumnus Dahvi Waller) led by show runner Jonathan Lisco. In the second season, Cantwell and Rogers step up their game, writing episodes that are among the best of the season; the season finale “Heaven Is A Place” is particularly great, and is not only the best of Season Two, but the program’s best season finale to date (having not yet aired its fourth season and series finale).
At the end of each season, it’s bold tradition for the show to shake up the setting and character relationships in preparation for the season ahead. So, Season Two further pursues the changes that occurred in the Season One finale “1984,” picking up over a year after. Rather than the computer business alone, the show now focuses on the burgeoning subscription-driven internet via Cameron’s company Mutiny. While the season starts off very well, things don’t really click until Episode Five, and, in typical “Halt and Catch Fire” fashion, the drama is written with an eye to being absorbed as a season-long arc, so story elements that might seem trivial may have their impact come to full fruition only later on in the season, always with very satisfying results.
While “Halt and Catch Fire” had major, if not equally important, roles for its female characters Cameron Howe and Donna Clark in Season One, they take the lead in actively driving the drama this season. Cam’s as impulsive and temperamental as ever, while Donna feels obsessively obliged to bring stability and order to the company they head together. It’s engaging stuff, making this one of the most feminist shows around, if not the most feminist. Most programs use female characters as sexual titillation or, at best, a supplement to generate drama for its central male ones. (Anything by J.J. Abrams and his team of writers, who are among the most sought in Hollywood this last decade, comes to mind.) “Halt and Catch Fire” never does.
However, this leaves Joe MacMillan and Gordon Clark taking a slight backseat dramatically, which makes for slightly less engaging storytelling. This isn’t necessarily an issue arising from screen time or because the women are given higher profiles. It’s that the more passive roles given these men occasionally result in exasperating storytelling, particularly Joe’s relationship to his fiancée at the start of the season and Gordon’s obstacles in the penultimate episode. Yet, it’s also worth noting that the storylines for all, including the two main male leads and John Bosworth, are largely dramatically innovative – just more so for the female leads.
Indeed, this is the first season that has been critically acclaimed by most TV critics. In a TV landscape content to condescendingly write about “regular people” with little intelligence beyond street smarts, this series thankfully has a main cast of truly brilliant yet relatable characters; this can sometimes make it hard to keep up. Much like “Mad Men,” this show is better appreciated and comprehended upon repeated viewings.
The series remains as unpredictable as ever and adds fascinating new characters -- specifically Tom Rendon. However, the reliance on substance abuse through drugs and alcohol to create levity is a turn off; for such smart, original-thinking characters to lower themselves to partake in such stereotypical notions of what a “good time” entails is depressing; yet it’s a minor gripe in an otherwise beautifully written, subtle, often funny, realistic series that remains as moving and surprising as ever. Despite a setting revolving around computers and the internet, about which I know little beyond my own utilitarian relationship to it, what pulls me into the narrative is that “Halt and Catch Fire” is centered on the very relatable, human story of the search for love and the need for connection that remains its beautiful core.