Season 1, Episode 10
Gordon and Joe prepare to transport the Giant; a suspicious defect causes a rift in the partnership.
Halt and Catch Fire is currently not in season.
A week after the events of COMDEX, Gordon still hasn't forgiven Donna for her indiscretions with Hunt. He gives her the cold shoulder as he works over the dinner dishes, part of him perhaps perversely enjoying this rare moment atop the moral high ground. After another monosyllabic night in front of the TV, Donna decides that this has gone on long enough. She tells Gordon that she is done feeling bad about this, and orders him to sleep in their bed with her tonight. "I'm still very mad at you," Gordon insists, but he can't help smiling. He's been defeated by Donna's charm and shuffles off to join his wife in bed.
A technician inspects Cameron's damaged home phone, which she has seemingly destroyed in a fit of rage. "Maybe someone got tired of it ringing," she offers by way of explanation, leaving the technician to his work. She then hands him her personal wire strippers to fix the phone. Impressed, he mentions off-handedly that the phone company is hiring.
At Cardiff Electric, Nathan Cardiff scolds Joe and Gordon for taking the Giant to COMDEX without his permission. When Joe tries to smooth things over by telling Cardiff that they closed a deal that will net the company over $40 million in profit, Nathan is unimpressed. "I'm 65 years old. What do I need with $30 million when I can settle for five and kick-back-jack?" Joe and Gordon capably counter by appealing to Cardiff's sense of legacy – they've become quite a convincing team – and ultimately sway Nathan to cede them each a percentage of the company, and joint operational control.
The staff cheers as Gordon triumphantly unpacks the first batch of Cardiff Giants. He instructs the team to test the entire shipment of machines and, in a gesture of appreciation, bestows one to Debbie as a gift.
Gordon finds Joe alone in Bosworth's office watching Apple's famous "1984" Super Bowl ad, and lamenting that people won't remember the Giant in the same way. Joe suggests that they delay shipping to make some innovative tweaks, perhaps develop a "killer app". Gordon nixes the idea, telling Joe, "You wanted a computer. You have a computer. You need to sell your computer."
At Texas Instruments, Donna deliberately torpedoes a performance review with Hunt's replacement, and asks that it be her last day. Afterward, she is met by Gordon in the parking lot. He waits for her in his brand new red Porsche.
Back at the Cardiff offices, Yo-Yo and Lev excitedly test a modem and firmware that Cameron has engineered with knowledge gleaned from her new job at the phone company. After a pixilated image appears on their computer screen, they call her to rave about the speed at which data is moving across the network and the exciting possibilities this presents.
Gordon panics when the engineers find a bug in one of the Giants. As he sets his team to finding out how many of the computers are compromised, Joe seizes the opportunity and asks the software programmers to design a "killer app" to bundle with the computer. Based on Joe's prior antics with Cameron, Gordon can't help but suspect that Joe has engineered this crisis to get his way.
Back at the Clark house, a now unemployed Donna greets Gordon wearing nothing but a robe. They make love on the living room floor. Afterwards, Gordon tells Donna he suspects Joe created the computer bug in order to delay shipping. They agree that Joe has to be removed from his post at Cardiff Electric if Gordon is ever to be successful in his new role.
At the phone company, Cameron's boss lectures her for misusing the phone network to transmit data. His paranoia belies the fact that he knows she's on to something important. She quits on the spot.
In the garage, Donna shelves her work files and possessions and in the process discovers an old bag of marijuana.
Back at Cardiff, the software programmers pitch their lackluster application ideas to Joe, who urges them to think bigger. "So Cameron was the only one of you that had any real ideas," he challenges them. "Well, what are your ideas, man?" Lev challenges right back.
Gordon shares with Donna his plan to force Joe out of the company by threatening to turn Cameron in for hacking. Anticipating that Joe might call Gordon's bluff, Donna hands him a sheet of print driver code and suggests that he tell Joe it is a bank document tracing hacking activity to Cameron's computer, knowing he'd never know the difference.
Joe visits Cameron and begs her to return to Cardiff Electric, but she refuses. "I loved you because you recited my own ideas back to me and pretended they were your own," she says. "You're still exactly what you were the day your mom let you fall off that roof: Just a sad little boy with a lot of wasted potential." She slams the door in his face.
Upon Joe's arrival at the office the next day, Gordon informs Joe that all the programmers have left Cardiff to work for a company called Mutiny. Joe has never heard of this company and Gordon laughs bitterly. "That's the best part."
Meanwhile, all the former C0rdiff programmers camp out in Cameron's living room, where a "Welcome to Mutiny" sign has been spray-painted on the wall. Lev and Yo-Yo tell Cameron they need a dedicated hardware engineer. Eyeing one of the coders spilling pizza onto a motherboard, he adds, "Preferably an adult."
Cameron visits Donna and invites her to work for Mutiny, a company that will allow users to play computer games with each other via dial-up modems. Donna is amazed by Mutiny's high-speed protocol but, assuming she is a "revenge hire" to get back at Gordon, she declines the job offer.
At Cardiff, Joe admits to Gordon that the application idea is a no-go and green lights the first shipment, despite the bug, assuring Gordon that it's a non-issue in the long run. After Joe leaves, Gordon crumples the fake evidence against Cameron and abandons the plan to fire his partner.
Later, Gordon and Donna get dressed for a party celebrating the launch of the Giant. As Gordon inspects himself in the mirror, he decides his look needs an update, and shaves his beard.
At the party, Joe stares glumly at the Giant displayed behind glass. Meanwhile, Gordon takes Donna into the Kill Room and gives her the polyalphabetic cipher engagement ring he bought her prior to COMDEX to replace her original ring. "I made a promise to you nine years ago," Gordon says, kissing her. Donna accepts the ring tearfully and does not admit to Gordon that she had already discovered it accidentally.
Gordon invites the staff out to the parking lot, where the first shipment of Cardiff Giants is waiting to be christened. He toasts to Joe: "The Cardiff Giant is an incarnation of everything you are. It shows the reach and power of your vision and the very best of your abilities as a leader." After also toasting an intoxicated Donna,Gordon breaks a bottle of champagne on the freight truck holding the inaugural shipment to wild applause from the crowd.
After the party, a solemn Joe stares inscrutably at the truck. "Thanks, for everything," Gordon tells him before leaving.
Gordon and Donna leave the party in his new Porsche, and reflect on the year they've had. Suddenly, they are rear-ended. When Gordon gets out of the car to inspect the damage, two men attack him, throwing him to the ground. One of the attackers speeds away with Donna still in the car, throwing her out roughly fifty yards down the road.
Unable to be content with the machine he's made, Joe drives the freight truck to a remote location and lights it on fire. He takes off his suit jacket, and tosses it into the blaze as well, watching the fire consume his work and identity.
Gordon and Donna, arm in a sling, arrive home from the longest night of their lives. Gordon then receives a call alerting him that Joe MacMillan has left the company in dramatic fashion.
Weeks later, Gordon prepares the girls for school as Donna sits quietly on the couch watching TV. "You can't just sit here and stew. You should do whatever it is you want to do," Gordon tells her with genuine encouragement. He invites Donna to work as head engineer at Cardiff Electric. Donna thanks him, and tells him she's already decided to take a different job offer. "Where?" he asks enthusiastically.
Later, Cameron gives a pep talk to the Mutiny team and warns them that many people will want them to fail. "But that's because we're the future, and there's nothing scarier than that," she says, echoing Bosworth's advice to her. Everyone claps as Donna walks in, ready for her first day on the job. Cameron smiles and introduces her to the team.
At Cardiff Electric, Gordon sits lost in thought as Ed reads a review calling the Giant "a wise value at such a low price." Gordon interrupts and asks what's next. "If Joe MacMillan were here, he'd have us build a damn spaceship," jokes one of the engineers, and we sense that this question will be a hard one for them to answer.
Later, Gordon sits alone in the conference room, dwelling on the cost and underwhelming results of his Pyrrhic victory. It doesn't feel the way he thought it would.
In a remote area of Texas hill country, Joe pulls a pick up truck into a gas station and asks the attendant for directions to the nearby observatory because he can't find it on the map. "What you wanna see up there?" the attendant asks.
Joe smiles. Armed with a stargazing map, he shoulders his backpack and walks off into the wilderness.