Season 3, Episode 4
Rules of Honorable Play
A game of laser tag teaches Gordon the importance of teamwork; Donna and Cameron disagree on their acquisition.
Halt and Catch Fire returns Saturday, August 19 9/8c.
Gordon takes pills at his desk and writes a new entry in his symptom diary, where he has already logged headaches, tremors, nausea and appetite loss.
In her office, Cameron insists that Doug and Craig adapt Swap Meet’s programming language to be compatible with Mutiny’s. Doug refuses, saying it’s like “asking a race car to adapt to a covered wagon.” Craig attempts to calm the situation, asking Cameron and Doug to leave their egos out of it. Cameron retorts saying she’d love to, but has to rewrite their code first. Doug throws a pencil just missing Diane who has stopped by to observe.
Diane then visits Donna and insists they fix Cameron and Doug’s hostile relationship to avoid festering resentments. She also mentions that her date for a fundraiser that night just canceled and that she’d like to invite Bosworth to schmooze with Silicon Valley big shots.
Gordon asks for a progress report from the Mutiny and Swap Meet coders. The coders grouse about each other and an argument breaks out. A Swap Meet coder accidentally punches Gordon in the head.
Cameron and Donna look at homes for Cameron. Cameron complains about Doug and Craig. Donna says there’s a dinner tomorrow night for them to all sit down and work things out. Cameron says it’s a terrible idea and wants to know who suggested it. Donna reveals that she did. “Oh great, so now you’re just informing me,” Cameron responds.
At Joe’s apartment, Joe and Ryan brainstorm new venture ideas for MacMillan Utility. Joe erases all of their ideas from a dry-erase board, assuring Ryan that they’ll remember an idea if it’s worth pursuing.
Doug tries to apologize to Cameron but the conversation goes south. Cameron’s stepfather calls to tell her that he and her mother are moving and plan to sell her father’s belongings. He encourages her to visit and claim any items that she cares about.
Craig apologizes to Cameron for Doug’s behavior. He explains that Doug is just unhappy about selling Swap Meet, which was his baby.
Over whiskey, Craig asks why Cameron refuses to change the original block of code. She admits it’s the only piece of remaining code that she wrote by herself, back when she started Mutiny. She tells him about her stepfather’s phone call and reminisces about her father’s Harley. Craig suggests she save the motorcycle. Cameron asks if Craig has ever considered a solo business venture.
Cameron arrives home and finds Gordon playing Duck Hunt on the Nintendo. Gordon complains about integrating the new Swap Meet coders. Cameron jokes that he should just shoot them.
At the fundraiser, Bosworth regales a group of partygoers with a funny anecdote. Across the room, Joe introduces himself to Diane at the bar. He brings up the Swap Meet acquisition and acts surprised that Cameron wanted to play ball with another company.
Ken pulls Joe aside to alert him that Cal Erickson, vice president of General Atomics and a major investor in MacMillan Utility, is upset after his teenage son did coke at one of Joe’s parties and then got stopped by police during a joyride. Joe tells Ken to arrange a meeting with Erickson.
Bosworth joins Joe at the party. Joe comments that everyone is lapping up Bosworth’s Texas schtick. Bosworth says it looks like he’s in a performance of his own, a one-man show kind of thing.
Diane rejoins Bosworth and admits that she invited him because she didn’t want to come alone. She comments on her divorce, but Bosworth is distracted.
The next day at MacMillan Utility, Joe and Ken meet with Erickson. Joe apologizes for unwittingly supplying cocaine to Erickson’s son. Erickson accepts his apology and quickly moves on to more causal topics. Erickson notes that some of his colleagues are “funny” with “soft handshakes.” His derogatory remarks about homosexuals continue as Joe’s face hardens. Finishing the meeting, Joe takes Erickson’s hand and issues insults back at him. The man leaves in a huff. Ken runs after him to smooth things over.
Craig stops by Cameron’s office. He comes in and types on her computer, “Might be into going solo. I love Doug, but we are not on the same page. Discuss after dinner with Diane?” She agrees.
Cameron informs Donna that she decided to retain the Swap Meet code and instead tweak the Mutiny code, but then suggests they fire Doug and Craig. Donna tells Cameron to discuss it with Diane at dinner.
Gordon gathers the coders at a laser tag bar and leads the Mutiny team into battle. They cheer for victory.
Over dinner, Doug and Craig tell Diane that they can finish the product in three weeks, sooner than expected. Donna looks for Cameron, who has yet to show up.
Gordon sits at the laser tag bar and logs zero incidents of nausea in his journal.
After Doug and Craig leave, Donna tells Diane that Cameron wants to fire Doug and Craig. Diane admits she wouldn’t be happy but gives her consent, not wanting to force a toxic relationship on Cameron. “I just hope it’s the guys that are the problem,” she adds.
Bosworth stops by the laser tag bar. Gordon recalls how intimidating Bosworth seemed at Cardiff Electric, compared to now. The coders insist Bosworth join them for a round of laser tag. Bosworth sternly refuses.
Donna finds Cameron asleep at her desk. Cameron, who didn’t intend to miss the dinner, apologizes profusely. Donna lies and says Diane refused to let them fire Doug and Craig. Cameron looks disappointed but thanks Donna for asking.
Ryan arrives at Joe’s apartment for a last-minute work session. Joe tells Ryan they lost General Atomics, which represents 37 percent of their annual billing. He gives Ryan log-in credentials for the Department of Defense’s ARPANET and tells him to map it before General Atomics cancels his credentials. Joe tasks Ryan with generating upgrade ideas for the DOD’s antiquated network.
Cameron and Gordon play Duck Hunt at home. Cameron notices Gordon’s trembling hand.
In the kitchen, Donna invites Cameron to stay at their house for as long as she needs.
Cameron quietly returns to the living room and asks Gordon, “When did you know you were losing Cardiff?”