Season 3, Episode 1
Valley of the Heart’s Delight
Donna and Cameron explore their options to expand beyond chat. Gordon settles in at Mutiny. Joe launches his latest product.
Halt and Catch Fire returns Saturday, August 19 9/8c.
At a party, John Bosworth sings to a crowd in Mutiny’s new California office space. Donna and Gordon are hard at work on a large machine on the deserted floor right below. Cameron peers at Bosworth’s performance from another room. The crowd, full of familiar Mutiny employees, cheer him on.
A man in the crowd checks his watch.
Downstairs Gordon tinkers with the mainframe, telling Donna they should’ve waited to celebrate until it was working. “Bos says hurry up — the reporter’s going to leave,” a Mutiny employee calls down to Donna and Gordon. They try to boot up the computer, but it doesn’t work. Donna catches Gordon clenching his fingers. “Scale of one to 10?” she asks. “Two, three max,” he replies
Upstairs Bos introduces Cameron. She makes her way to the reporter who’s growing impatient. He asks what the hold up is. The computer boots up just in time.
Donna and Cameron give a speech. They announce that Mutiny has crossed 100,000 users and that Bos is now a grandfather. Cameron thanks all the employees for their dedication and hard work since moving the company to Silicon Valley from Texas several months before. Donna gives a special thanks to Gordon. Cameron quickly escapes into a quiet room.
In their new kitchen, Donna reacts to a negative article about Mutiny. Cameron walks in with wet hair and makes herself breakfast. Donna lets Gordon know they have to meet with Joanie’s principal because she got in a fight. Cameron gives Donna and Gordon a minute alone.
Donna and Gordon whisper about the inconvenience of Cameron’s temporary living situation stretching into what’s now been five months. They’re interrupted as the ground starts to rumble. It’s an earthquake. Physically everyone’s fine, but emotionally they’re unraveling.
Two avatars stand next to each other on a computer screen. It’s Cameron and Donna. They sit together in the office playing their personalized avatars on Mutiny. They’re interrupted by one of their coders named Ryan, who reminds them of their 9 a.m. meeting.
Gordon peeks around on the floor below with a flashlight, discovering that dust is falling through the floorboards above onto the mainframe.
Ryan stands in front of a whiteboard, struggling to clearly explain his ideas to a confused Donna and Cameron. Inadvertently insulting Mutiny’s work to-date, Ryan finally explains that private chats aren’t private at all. In fact, he hacked into private chats to figure this out. Cameron and Donna reprimand him for violating their user agreement. He lays out a solution to the problem, but they make clear they won’t be implementing it.
Over in the bullpen, Gordon tinkers with wiring under a desk.
“Look, it has a date now,” one of the coders says, pointing to the back of a newspaper with an ominous “Are You Safe?” ad plastered over a red background. The date is for today. Gordon tells the team that Joe MacMillan is behind it. They ask Gordon if Joe stole his idea and made a bunch of money. “Yeah,” he says, “but I’m suing the son of a bitch, aren’t I?”
Bosworth sits in his office with his feet up on his desk, talking on the phone. Gordon walks in looking defeated. “How do you deal with all this nonsense?” he asks Bos, looking out into the bullpen. Bos realizes he’s talking about Donna and Cameron and advises him not to interfere with the “brain trust.”
The phone rings. Bos picks up and hears a familiar voice on the other end asking, “Boy or girl?” It’s Joe, he’s calling to congratulate Bos on his grandchild. Joe hangs up, leaving Bos confused on how he even knew in the first place.
Donna and Gordon sit in a school hallway. Gordon floats the idea of him pursuing other opportunities after the mainframe is solved. Diane, the mother of the student that Joanie fought, shows up before Donna can respond. The mother explains that her daughter, Jennifer, is lashing out because of the divorce.
Back at Mutiny, Bos asks Cameron if she told anyone else about his grandson. She hasn’t. She asks him to give Ryan a raise.
At his desk in the basement, Ryan scribbles in a notebook. The guys ask him to come to lunch with them, but he refuses, saying he doesn’t have the time because he’s working on something important. He opens a newspaper finding the “Are You Safe?” ad.
Gordon waits for Donna in the car outside of the school, with a tense Joanie in the back seat. He tells his daughter he knows it’s hard in California, but they have to commit for it to feel like home. He seems to be speaking to himself more than her.
Cameron walks into a restaurant and sits down across from a man she identifies by his Mutiny avatar name. She assesses the controller he brought for her, the purpose of their meeting. She acknowledges the paint on the controller, noting “he” was a big Niners fan. The man, confused, says he only ever spoke of the son he lost in private chats. “How do you know about him at all?” he asks Cameron. “Those conversations were supposed to be private.” A shaken Cameron walks out without giving him an answer.
At Mutiny, Gordon shows the coders the “tandy shandy,” his method for handling long nights. It’s lots of beers. They offer him their technique: a homemade bong.
At a bar, Bos has a table of men cracking up. He excuses himself to make a call. Getting his son’s answering machine, he apologizes for missing him, saying he realized he didn’t even know his new grandson’s name. The machine cuts him off.
Gordon takes a hit from the homemade bong. He tells the guys about the day he brought Joe the code that he’s now turned into a multi-million dollar business. “Joe’s brilliant. When you’re in that guy’s thrall, it feels like a drug.” Gordon says, speaking to no one in particular. “You feel like the most important person in the world. That’s when you wake up with your neck slit bleeding all over the floor.”
Cameron comes home to find Donna reviewing the private chat transcripts Ryan gave to them. Stressed about their ability to succeed, they try to come up with their next big idea using real interactions pulled from the transcripts as inspiration. They realize people are making transactions, buying or swapping things with each other. They debate whether this idea is “it.”
They agree they’ll create a way for users to make transactions on Mutiny. Donna says to do so, they need to trust each other. She asks Cameron to close the back door to the private chat code. Cameron agrees, dumping the chat transcripts in the trash on her way out of the room.
Audience members take their seats as Joe MacMillan walks onto a stage. The words “Are You Safe?” stand tall on the wall behind him. Joe tells the audience that his antivirus company is not selling fear, but truth.
Bos gets back to his office and plays a voicemail from his son. He finally learns his grandson’s name.
Cameron sits up at night working on Mutiny.
Donna looks out her bedroom window.
Joe tells his audience that he’s been asking himself, “How much should we pay to feel safe?” He reveals he’s launching security software for consumer computers, free of charge.
The audience stands in applause with a stunned Ryan among them.