Season 1, Episode 5
Cameron bristles under a new manager as Joe and Gordon attempt to procure a key piece of new technology for the computer.
Halt and Catch Fire returns Saturday, August 19 9/8c.
Joe dresses gingerly at home, nursing the bruises he incurred at the hands of Bosworth's Sheriff friends. Meanwhile, Cameron, on a trip to pick up the computer's new BIOS chip from the manufacturer, wakes comfortably in a hotel room and treats herself to room service.
Joe reads Ron Kane's Wall Street Quarterly article about Cardiff Electric. In order to steel himself for the day ahead, he swings his bat repeatedly, working through the pain of his injuries.
Following another all-nighter, Gordon returns home to shower and finds his in-laws gathered for breakfast. Gordon, frustrated by their presence, turns down his father-in-law Gary's invitation to play golf. The kids intently watch TV on a new Kuzoku wristwatch Gary bestowed upon them, further getting under Gordon's skin. Gary notes he arranged an exclusive deal with Kuzoku to carry the watch in his company's fall catalog.
In the Cardiff conference room, Joe watches Bosworth squirm as he attempts to pitch the PC to a group of retailers, stumbling over technical questions. Bosworth is forced to appeal to Joe, who takes the reins with a slick sales pitch. The retailers clamor for details.
Back from her trip, Cameron discovers that Joe has hired a software team led by a new manager named Steve. She argues that she can program the software herself, but Joe insists on "throwing as many people at the problem as Bosworth will approve."
In the Kill Room, the engineers debate what to name the BIOS. Cameron insists that is her call, and that it should be named "Lovelace," after the first computer programmer Ada Lovelace. Gordon tests the BIOS chip: It works. The engineers cheer, but Joe deflates them by pointing out that the machine on the table is still a far cry from the one he's been pitching to retailers. It's still not good enough.
At Texas Instruments, Hunt scolds Donna for failing to turn in a report. She points out that he had it all along, buried under a supplemental analysis she provided.
Back at Cardiff, Gordon proposes using an LCD screen, like that used by the Kozoku TV watch, to reduce the PC's weight. Stan argues that LCDs are cost prohibitive. "Not if you know a guy," Gordon says.
Cameron meets her new cubicle-mates: two programmers, Lev and YoYo, whom Steve has assigned to remedial tasks. "Welcome to the short bus," Lev says to Cameron after Steve assigns her to print drivers.
But instead of doing as she has been told, Cameron loads an addictive computer game, Adventure, onto Cardiff's mainframe and entices the other programmers to play.
Over a game of golf, Gordon implores Gary to introduce him to his contacts at Kuzoku. Gary reluctantly agrees but is wary of subjecting Donna to another one of Gordon's doomed PC pipe dreams.
At the office, Debbie tells Joe that his father called and is in town. Joe arranges to meet his father at his hotel, but only makes it as far as the lobby door, where he spies his father through the window. Joe leaves, standing his father up.
Back at the office, Joe tells Gordon that LCD screens are too expensive and chides him for scheduling a meeting with Kozoku without him. Gordon says he has a connection that would allow for access to heavily discounted LCD screens. "Nice work," Joe begrudgingly tells Gordon.
Steve again badgers Cameron about her work. She tells him off, then storms into Joe's office, demanding that Steve be fired. Joe defends Steve and critiques Cameron's lack of professionalism. After accusing Joe of being unable to separate their professional and personal relationships, Cameron grabs his keys in order to retrieve her belongings from his apartment.
Gordon and Joe greet the Japanese Kuzoku executives at a restaurant. Over dinner, Joe offers Kuzoku a percentage of the back-end profits in exchange for a discount on their LCD screens. Kuzoku accepts.
At Joe's apartment, Cameron finds Joe Sr. waiting in the living room, having convinced the apartment superintendent to let him in. "Say something with the right authority, you generally get what you want," he tells Cameron. Joe Sr. manipulates Cameron into having a drink with him by telling her that his colleagues at IBM called her a modern day Ada Lovelace.
Meanwhile, the Cardiff programmers all addictively play Adventure at the office. Even Bosworth has fallen prey to the game - he calls the new coder kids into his office: "How the hell do I get out of this god-forsaken cave?" he demands.
Back in the restaurant bathroom, Gordon drunkenly badmouths Gary to the junior Kuzoku executive. Taken aback, the young executive excuses himself abruptly.
Over drinks, Joe Sr. reminisces about his early days at IBM and tells Cameron he's surprised she turned down their job offer. When she snaps back at him, telling him that she has more of an opportunity at Cardiff to actually "do" something great, he apologizes, telling her Joe's the one he's mad at.
"It's a tricky thing, fathers and sons," Joe Sr. says, pressing her on her relationship with her own father - then intuits that Cameron's father never made it back from Vietnam. Visibly shaken, Cameron excuses herself from the room. Joe Sr. smiles, upsetting Cameron, perhaps, all part of the plan.
After dinner, Joe yells at Gordon for botching the Kuzoku deal. "Nothing says ‘don't trust us' quite like badmouthing your own father-in-law," he says before zooming off in his Porsche.
In a panic over the lost deal, Gordon calls Donna. She wearily reassures him it will all work out, increasingly tired of having to play this role. She then gets a call from Hunt, who praises her work and apologizes for snapping at her earlier. They linger on the phone together somewhat flirtatiously.
Gordon, still drunk, visits Gary at home.
Cameron accuses Joe Sr. of trying to manipulate her into defending him to Joe. "I gave him the world, and he spat in my face," Joe Sr. says. "It's only a matter of time before he blows everything up. He always does."
The next morning, Joe approaches the Kuzoku execs at their hotel and apologizes on Gordon's behalf for the breach of decorum. Joe praises his own father to impress the men from Kuzoku and they accept his apology.
At the same hotel, Joe Sr. reads the article about Cardiff Electric in Wall Street Quarterly, looks at his watch and leaves. A bellhop alerts Joe Sr. that he left the magazine behind, but he replies that he's "done with that." Joe Sr. then leaves the hotel having just missed his son.
Taking a cue from Joe Sr., who earlier related a story about Joe using the same tactic at IBM, Cameron walks into Steve's office and fires him. She then tells Joe she can program the software for half of what he's spending.
She gathers the coders and asks which of them cheated at Adventure and dismisses those who didn't. "To play an honest game, you have to be good at solving puzzles," she explains. "But to cheat you have to be great at solving code." Impressed, Joe consents and fires Steve.
The engineers toast Gordon for landing the Kuzoku deal. Joe tries to take credit for saving the deal, but Gordon says it was Gary who intervened after Gordon begged him. "The deal was done before you ever got to the hotel," Gordon says.
Joe sits alone in a dark conference room licking his wounds. Cameron checks on him, and he asks her to return the copy of Wall Street Quarterly she took from his apartment. She says it was Joe Sr. who took the magazine, not her.
Later, at a "Whack a Datsun" charity event at the Big Star Bowl, cheers abound for Bosworth as he swings a sledgehammer at a brand new Japanese-made Datsun for $5 a swing. Joe puts down a wad of cash and fiercely pummels the vehicle. He stares intensely at Cameron, who meets his gaze, understanding a little more about Joe and his demons, and possibly falling for him just a bit harder as a result.