Sunday, October 15, 2017

TV Show Review: Halt and Catch Fire (Season 4)

The final season of AMC's brilliant period piece follows the rapid development of technology in the early nineties as search engines take the forefront of innovation. The latest season pushes the inventors into the 90s after years of building computers and programs, the work has turned to the internet. Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) and Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) are working on a new site but they rely on Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) who is in Japan but not always communicative. Cameron has been working on a new video game that is so complicated, it frustrates average users. Donna Emerson (Kerry Bishé) is working at a new company as a project manager with Diane Gould (Annabeth Gish) and John Bosworth (Toby Huss). 

When Cameron returns to America, she strikes up a phone conversation with Joe that lasts nearly a whole episode as a bad review comes in for her game. Gordon faces competition from his ex-wife company as Donna promotes Tanya Reese (Sasha Morfaw) to help lead their competing browser. Gordon finds out about the web skills of his daughter Haley (Susanna Skaggs) and interests her on working on their new web browser with Joe. She finds a lot of success and melds with their new company well. Donna is not thrilled with Gordon employing Haley and she also struggles with their other daughter Joanie (Kathryn Newton) who acts out against her parents.

Cameron decides to buy a piece of land and move out there in a trailer. Bosworth is trying to hide his massive investment debts from Diane as he helps Donna on their web browser. Gordon starts a relationship with a new employee Katie Herman (Anna Chlumsky). Bosworth goes to Cameron for help on the coding issues for their browser unbeknownst to Donna but she's suspicious when the problems are suddenly fixed. Cameron also keeps it a secret from Joe as well even though he questions how their competitor has a major breakthrough. When Bosworth becomes sick in the hospital, a lot of truth comes out as Donna confronts Cameron and Cameron admits to Joe what she did.

The show has a real gut punch in the seventh episode when Gordon dies suddenly. The last few episodes are full of grief and reminiscing as the friends are forced to come together and deal with everything that Gordon left behind. In the end, Bosworth gets a clean bill of health and makes up with Diane to enjoy retirement. Haley takes up a new project as Joanie travel to Tibet. Donna gathers women in tech and makes a rousing speech only to have a comical splash end it as Cameron falls in the pool. Cameron had set out to leave but she proposes that Donna and she should work together again and it looks like they have a new idea. Joe disappears to return home and teach humanities but he keeps memories of his friends close.

I almost gave up on Halt and Catch Fire in the second season but I caught up before the third and I'm so happy I stuck with it because this show is amazing. The last few episodes were so funny and sad and just a beautiful show that ends so well. Looking back, it was an incredible journey led by extraordinary performances from Lee Pace's ambitious Joe to Kerry Bishé's cutthroat Donna. Mackenzie Davis will be a star but this is the role that brought her into the spotlight and while Scoot McNairy has plenty of small roles in films, this show could be a highlight in a huge career. Toby Huss is also hilarious as Bosworth. I enjoyed this show so much and will be thinking about it as one of the best of the year. 

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