1984 brought us another presidential term for Ronald Reagan, the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the return of "Jeopardy! to television" (with Alex Trebek as host), and the birth of Hulkamania, Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, LeBron James and Ethan Renner.
But perhaps most notably, at least for the purposes of this recap, 1984 featured the debut of The Macintosh, Apple's first machine that targeted the everyman, with an eye on taking down IBM. Its arrival at the end of the last episode, and the memorable Super Bowl commercial that announced its introduction, form a prominent backdrop for the season finale of "Halt and Catch Fire."
Gordon is giving Donna the cold shoulder as the episode opens, insisting on sleeping on the couch and the like. This has been going on for a week, we learn, but Donna announces that their fight is over, and that he's sleeping in the bed with her tonight. "I'm still very mad at you," he tells her. She laughs in his face and so ends their latest round of conflict.
The interaction between these two characters has been my least favorite part of this series, perhaps because I see more of myself in Gordon than I'm willing to talk about.
Joe and Gordon meet with Nathan Cardiff, Cardiff's owner, to show them their Giant. Joe tells him that they already have an order for the machine that will net Cardiff $40 million.
"I'm 65 years old. Why would I want $40 million when I can settle for $5 million and just kick back, Jack?" he asks. He tells them that he has had offers to sell the company, and that he's considering shutting the place down and washing his hands of it after the unpleasantness with John Bosworth.
"I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about legacy," Joe counters. He pitches turning the company's focus entirely on computers -- with himself at the helm, of course. "You both run it. As equals," Cardiff responds, "Because you are a rattlesnake," he says to Joe, "and you, you're a bunny rabbit, but you're the brains behind this thing," he tells Gordon.
After some quick thinking, Joe cuts a deal that gives him and Gordon 8 percent of the company to split. Joe and Gordon shake hands. They have their deal.
Some time later, the first test shipment of Giants arrives at Cardiff. Gordon has the staff test each machine in advance of their release.
Joe, meanwhile, is in John's old office, watching a VHS copy of the Super Bowl from the day before. He isn't watching for the game itself, though. He calls Gordon in to watch one of the most famous commercials of all time, Apple's
"1984" ad. "They're telling the world that they're going to topple IBM," he says.
Apple's ad has Joe plotting. He suggests delaying shipment on the Giant in order to change it, or to package some software with it that will make people remember it. Gordon tells him that it's too late for that, reminding him they sacrificed their chance to be memorable in order to get their machine out there.
Gordon then jets off to pick up Donna for lunch -- right after she quits her job at Texas Instruments, clearing the way for her to come aboard at Cardiff, presumably. Cameron, meanwhile, has taken a job at a phone company, where we see that she has plenty of time on her hands to check in with her former programming team.
Back at Cardiff, some of Gordon's hardware team have found a bug in one of the test units. "Look, I know this is unfortunate. But life gives you lemons, right?" Joe says. He's lobbying for a delayed shipment that would allow the software team to bundle something with the Giant.
The bug sure couldn't have come at a better time for him to make his point, a fact that isn't lost on Gordon. And it isn't exactly beneath Joe to deal in subterfuge.
"In 60 days, I want a killer app ready to ship with the Giant. A top-notch program for our top-notch machine," Joe tells the software team, giving them a deadline to carry out his vision.
"I think Joe did it on purpose," Gordon tells Donna later. "He can't live in reality. He's always chasing some fantasy... The truth is that I can't trust him."
"You have worked too hard and risked too much to get here. We both have," Donna says. "Nothing can be allowed to jeopardize that... I think you know what I'm saying."
She's saying that you need to be a man, Gordon. Can you do that? There's a showdown looming.
After a day at work, Gordon returns home to a very stoned Donna, who is clearly enjoying her current unemployment. "What is Joe's Achilles heel?" he asks. "Casualwear," Donna replies. I laughed. He tells her that he plans to use Cameron to force Joe out of Cardiff. He'll turn her in to the government for her role in the hacking scheme, unless Joe leaves.
At the same time, Joe is visiting Cameron, who has already quit her job at the phone company. "I can't do this without you," he tells her. "Oh God, you're pathetic," she tells him. Joe asks her to come back to Cardiff, then to start her own company, then tells her that they should start their own company in California.
"That sounds nice. Build something together, a partnership, make our own future. Yeah, except you're not the future. You're a footnote. For a while you had me fooled. I mean, I thought I heard a heartbeat," Cameron says. "There wasn't a heartbeat. It was an echo. I loved you because you recited my own ideas back to me and pretended they were your own. You want to know the truth? You're still exactly what you were the day your mom let you fall off that roof. Yeah. Just a sad little boy with a lot of wasted potential," she says, closing the door in Joe's face.
Joe arrives at Cardiff the next day and Gordon tells him that the entire software team has left to work for Mutiny, a new company that Cameron has started. She moves quickly.