Season 3, Episode 10
Donna's vision creates a spirited discussion over the next big thing, and how to achieve it. The end result may not make everyone happy.
Halt and Catch Fire returns Saturday, August 19 9/8c.
Donna walks into the old Mutiny offices, now almost empty, and sets up a table and some chairs.
Gordon arrives and pulls Donna aside. She assures him that she’s OK with him being there. Cameron also shows up, along with Tom.
Joe, Cameron, Donna, Gordon and Tom gather around a white board. Donna draws a diagram to visualize the future of the World Wide Web and references a research paper written by Tim Berners-Lee. Tom questions her vision, but Joe embraces the web’s potential. Gordon points out that the web is currently running on overpriced and impractical NeXT hardware and software. Cameron wonders what people would do on the web, whether it’s gaming or shopping. Donna suggests a lunch break to ease the tension.
Cameron admits to Donna that the web is a good idea but has severe limitations. She nervously watches Tom approach Joe in the other room.
Tom shares his condolences about Ryan with Joe. Joe admits it was difficult. “But I’m doing so much better since I’ve reconnected with your wife,” he says.
The group reconvenes. Joe explains that he attended a conference in Paris soon after seeing Cameron at COMDEX. Tom notices Cameron’s discomfort at the mention of COMDEX. Joe says Berners-Lee was at the conference and gave him the entire web toolkit, including transfer protocol, markup language and server software. He says he also spoke to a team at CERN, the nuclear research lab, which built a basic web browser. Gordon points out that the Internet still isn’t available for commercial use. Tom stands up to leave. Cameron joins him. Donna suggests they reconvene in the morning.
Joe chases after Cameron and begs her to come back the next day. “This is a mess, Joe,” she says, and leaves with Tom.
Cameron visits Bosworth, who is working on a boat in Diane’s driveway. After catching up, she says that coming back to California was a mistake. Bosworth points out that the project must be a good idea to have brought everyone in the same room together.
Donna stops by Gordon’s house to pick up Haley’s retainer. He invites her inside.
Donna and Gordon catch up over wine. Gordon says that despite his comments at the meeting, he’s interested in working on the project. He awkwardly asks if Donna would be interested in having him set her up with a friend. Donna looks surprised, maybe even disappointed.
Cameron arrives at her hotel room to find Tom using her laptop. He tells her that his laptop battery died. She lets him know that she plans to attend the meeting in the morning. He says he will join her.
While Tom takes a shower, Cameron checks his computer and sees that the battery still works.
The next day at the Mutiny building, Joe writes the code for CERN’s web browser on the white board. Meanwhile, Donna tells Gordon she is interested in meeting his friend.
Cameron and Tom show up for the meeting. Joe kicks off the discussion and directs the group to the code for CERN’s web browser, which is the world’s first. He points out that no one is paying attention to the browser because “it’s just an online research catalog running on NeXT computers on a small network in Europe.” He says they can take CERN’s code and use it to build something bigger. Cameron, Donna and Gordon smile as Joe’s words sink in. Tom, however, loses patience and tells Cameron it’s time to go. Cameron doesn’t get up. Tom declares that he doesn’t want to see Cameron end up like Ryan. Tom runs at Joe and they wrestle each other to the ground. Gordon manages to pull them apart, but the floor collapses beneath Joe and he plummets to the basement.
Joe leaves the hospital with a cast on his arm. Gordon warns Joe that this sort of “personal bullsh-t” will destroy them before they even start the project, but says that he’s on board.
Back at the Mutiny building, Tom asks Cameron what happened between her and Joe at COMDEX. She insists nothing happened. He steps outside.
Cameron acknowledges to Donna that she, too, contributed to Mutiny’s downfall, and admits that the web project is an exciting idea. Donna offers to get rid of Joe if he poses a problem for Cameron.
The next day, Gordon and Donna power up a NeXT computer in the old Mutiny basement so that they can connect to CERN via NSFNET.
Tom drops Cameron off in the Mutiny parking lot and says he’ll meet her in Dallas, where they are spending the holidays with his family. He apologizes for not trusting her and admits that he read her emails on her laptop.
Tom apologizes to Joe. Joe accepts, then watches as Cameron and Tom kiss goodbye.
Cameron meets Donna inside and declares that she can’t work with her. She says she nearly forgave Donna. “Then you reminded me how easily you toss people aside when you feel like they’re in your way,” she says, referring to Donna’s offer to get rid of Joe. Donna angrily tells Cameron to take the project.
Donna sobs in her car. She picks up her mobile phone and tells an assistant to book a flight to Switzerland so that she can meet with CERN. She drives off.
Joe looks over Gordon’s shoulder as he types at the NeXT computer. “I’m in love with her,” Joe says, referring to Cameron.
Cameron joins Joe and Gordon and tells them that Donna left. She and Joe steal glances at each other as they all crowd around the computer.