Episode 3 Q&A: Aleksa Palladino (Sara Wheeler)
The actress talks about '80s fashion and what it felt like to use a typerwriter in Episode 3.
Season 2, Episode 3
John tries to reconnect with his former life; Gordon and Donna receive a surprising invitation.
Halt and Catch Fire is currently not in season.
In his garage, Gordon, who has decided to learn programming in his more than ample free time, is hard at work on a new program called Sonaris - intended to identify the potential number of users on Mutiny and map the actual size of their network. Gordon suspects having information like that at hand could significantly affect their valuation and ability to attract financing. He unveils his work to Donna, who is too engrossed in transcripts of the Mutiny Community chats to pay him the attention he craves. Once she leaves, Gordon pulls out a can of Jolt soda to fuel his quest, but winces from pain in his finger joints as he tries to open it. Nonplussed, he plunges a screwdriver into the can to open it.
Bosworth, who has taken some time off from Mutiny, visits Barry Shields, who has been holding his 1967 Mustang Fastback for Bosworth while he was in prison. Bosworth hands over ten dollars and “buys” it back from his good friend, explaining how his ex-wife got the house and the Feds everything else. “Not this,” Barry boasts. He wants the old Bosworth back and encourages him to get in and “drive it like a man!”
At work, Joe attempts to increase efficiency at Westgroup by posing that their group harvest the company’s data, not just enter it, but his supervisor, Eugene Bowdich, isn’t responsive to his ideas. Bowdich explains that there’s already a division devoted to data processing, and that their work is very straightforward. Frustrated at the lack of entrepreneurial spirit and potential for growth in this menial job, Joe takes solace alone in the mainframe room.
At Mutiny, Cameron hears some underwhelming game pitches from her staff. Tom then explains a new immersive gaming technology he’s working on. Cameron asks him to come up with a narrative to accompany his idea, explaining the difference between creating content for online play, rather than arcade or cartridge games. “You’re trying to draw players into the world, not just hustle them for quarters.” Tom pushes back, but Cameron shuts him down condescendingly - she has something new for the coders to vet and debug. Excitement dwindles as she hands out yet another chapter of Parallax.
Bosworth drives his Mustang at a leisurely pace, enjoying the simple rhythms of a favorite tune and his old pal. He pulls up to a run-down, out of the way motel, tailor-made for liaisons. He approaches a room, when a half-dressed stewardess opens the door and leads him inside.
Joe calls Sara to blow off steam about work, and interrupts her from her own lack of progress with her magazine piece. They muse that maybe it was a mistake to move to Dallas at all. Joe proposes they throw a dinner party to raise their spirits. Sara suggests he invite his Dallas friends, of which he has very few.
Eugene admonishes Joe for making a personal call. Joe responds by calling Jacob Wheeler’s office and making an appointment. Eugene’s surprise betrays that he’s never heard someone just call Jacob Wheeler.
Back at Mutiny, Donna excitedly pronounces to Cameron that Community is really taking off, ”Give people a dial up and they’ll talk about anything.” She explains to Cameron that they have to split Community into multiple forums and she needs a coder. Cameron gives her Lev. They both enjoy the fact that Mutiny, as a company, is gaining 50 users every week, thanks to Tom’s PBX solution.
In the midst of post-coital contentment, we realize Bosworth’s tryst is with his ex-wife, Ginny. It becomes evident to Bosworth that the only reason Ginny met up with him was to convince him not to attend their son James’ upcoming wedding in Galveston. Bosworth protests but eventually concedes.
Joe explains to Wheeler that the company is bleeding data and that the data analytics and collection divisions should be folded into a single department. To his surprise, Jacob is completely on board, instructing him to fire Eugene and rebuild his own department. Jacob’s only note of surprise is that Joe wants to remain “on the basement level,” but defers to Joe if that’s his goal.
Back at home, Donna and Gordon repeatedly rewind, listen, and laugh as they play a message on their answering machine from Joe, inviting them to dinner with his fiancée. They decide to accept the invitation out of sheer curiosity.
Days later, on the evening of the dinner, Gordon plays Tank Battle in the garage and second-guesses their decision to go to dinner. After Donna convinces Gordon to stick with the plan, she goes to get ready and Gordon inserts Sonaris into his floppy drive, deploying it with the intention to make Mutiny better able to succeed in the marketplace.
At a staff meeting, the coders give Cameron polite feedback on Chapter 22 of Parallax, all except for Tom, who is brutally honest with her. “It’s a rehash,” he tells her. “This shouldn’t be updated, it should be destroyed.” There’s pin drop silence from the rest of the coders. Nobody has ever dared to speak the truth like this to Cameron.
In anticipation of Joe’s slick lifestyle, Gordon and Donna arrive at Joe and Sara’s apartment dressed to the nines. To their surprise, Joe is dressed, uncharacteristically, very casually. In an effort to relieve the awkwardness, Sara introduces herself and offers them a drink.
Against Ginny’s wishes, Bosworth has driven to Galveston, where he’s parked outside the restaurant in which James’ rehearsal dinner is being held. Ginny catches sight of him and throws him a warning look to stay away.
Over cocktails, Joe makes excuses to the Clarks for their small apartment, brags about his new promotion, and criticizes Sara’s friends, who didn’t show up. Sara angrily pulls Joe aside. “Who are you right now?” she scolds. Back in the living room, leaving his old, slick persona in the dust, a chastened Joe admits to Gordon and Donna that he didn’t get any money from the sale of Cardiff Electric.
At Mutiny, the coders panic as a strain of bad software hits the network and infects their drives as well as all of the connected subscribers’ drives. Cameron gets a contact number for Donna from the babysitter to alert her of the urgent situation, but immediately hangs up when she hears Joe answer the phone. She orders Lev to shut down the network.
Post dinner, on the apartment’s balcony, Gordon and Joe share some wine and open up about their current lives. Gordon explains how hard Donna has been working and Joe asks how Cameron is doing. Gordon compliments Sara, “You traded up,” he assures Joe. After checking in with the babysitter, Donna tells Gordon that Mutiny tried to reach her and insists they get going and stop at Mutiny on their way home. In the car, Donna cattily remarks that Sara must have a “savior complex” to be with Joe. Gordon points out that Joe is happy. “Of course he is, he’s got her completely snowed,” Donna says, alluding to Sara’s wealthy upbringing.
James steps out of his rehearsal dinner to talk to Bosworth who is still waiting outside the venue in his Mustang. Bosworth reads the speech aloud that he wrote for James’ rehearsal dinner, in which he laments being an absent father. James explains that he’s already forgiven Bosworth and urges him to attend the wedding. Bosworth declines, knowing how much it would anger Ginny, but they agree to see each other soon.
At Mutiny, Tom has figured out what sort of program infected them. He explains the scope of the damage to Cameron - they’ll need to take the network offline, send out new copies of their games and reimburse users whose data was destroyed by Mutiny’s rogue software. He laments how many subscribers they’ve likely lost for good as a result.
Donna and Gordon arrive at Mutiny, where they learn that the rogue program that destroyed Mutiny was Sonaris. Upon realizing Sonaris was Gordon’s program, Cameron screams at him for interfering. Gordon reveals that Mutiny wouldn’t even exist if Donna hadn’t signed the lease and secretly been paying their utility bills. As the argument escalates, Donna steps in and tells Gordon to go home.
After the rehearsal dinner, a valet brings James and Lisa a car that doesn’t belong to them: Bosworth’s Mustang— a wedding gift. Bosworth rides the bus home alone.
Back at home, in his garage, Gordon approaches the Commodore on which he wrote Sonaris. When his fingers fail him in his attempt to unplug it, he angrily shoves it off the table. Once again, he winces from joint pain.
Back at Mutiny, Donna assesses the damage and apologizes to Cameron again but reminds her that she, too, is affected – “we’re partners.” Cameron clarifies that Donna has a life outside of Mutiny whereas Mutiny is everything to her. Cameron lashes out at Donna for being secretive about her dinner with Joe. She then threatens to fire Donna if she ever puts her own money into Mutiny without telling her again.
Demoralized, Donna starts to head home then changes her mind, deciding to stick around and help the coders mitigate the damage.
At her computer, Cameron notices that not a single subscriber is logged onto the network and begins to have a panic attack. Tom calms her down by gently talking her through a chapter of Parallax. He shares with Cameron how incredibly special and exciting the early chapters of Parallax were for him.
At home, Gordon apologizes to Donna, admitting he should have tested Sonaris more rigorously, and told her he was launching it. “I let it happen,” Donna says, accepting responsibility, and taking a stack of Community transcripts with her to bed.
The next morning, Joe strides into work and orders Eugene to meet him in the mainframe room with the intention of firing him. His plan changes when he hears the Cardiff Electric machines whirl to life and realizes that the machines operate during the same hours — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — as the employees. “Millions of dollars of hardware sitting unused for 16 hours a day,” Joe realizes. Eugene asks what Joe means. “The way in,” he responds.
The actress talks about '80s fashion and what it felt like to use a typerwriter in Episode 3.