DAVID BIANCULLI

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The Final Year of ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ and the Birth of the World Wide Web
August 19, 2017  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 

The fourth and final season of AMC’s dawn-of-the-Internet tale Halt and Catch Fire starts with a solid interface between personal and high-tech drama.

The last 10 episodes kick off with a doubleheader Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

While almost by definition much of the computer talk on Halt and Catch Fire has always sailed above the heads of civilians, all signs in the fourth season point toward a showdown over something everyone will grasp: the birth of the World Wide Web.

Set in the early 1980s, Halt and Catch Fire conjures the time not so long ago when thousands of computer functions we now take for granted were just crazy notions begging for someone to rope them in.

The core group here is a cauldron of dreams, visions, successes and, often, failures.

In the fourth season, a few years down the line from the show’s origin, they’re all still in what’s now a considerably advanced game, with the World Wide Web increasingly looking like the next big score.  

The question is who will develop a way to make it happen, and in what potential alliance.

Obsessive Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace, top) has been pushing groundbreaking computer code for years, sometimes alongside the edgy Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis, right). They’ve also had an on-and-off personal relationship, and one of Joe’s several issues is that he wants it to be on.

As we rejoin the story, he’s upset that Cameron recently disappeared for several months, and only partly because her failure to finish some coding enabled their competitor Mosaic to do some serious catching up.

Joe’s original partner Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy, below), who thinks Joe needs to think bigger, is still in the game. So is Gordon’s ex-wife Donna (Kerry Bishe).

But Donna is playing on another team. She has joined Diane Gould (Annabeth Gish), a venture capitalist who wants the kind of product that will bring a fast and large return.

Neither Diane nor Donna has much patience for what they see as thinking small, so they find great appeal in this World Wide Web notion.

Halt and Catch Fire has always been good with the nuances of the tech game. It lets its characters hit a lot of dead ends while also acknowledging that smart tech people in the 1980s could almost always find a good payoff somewhere.

Mackenzie has become a solo star by developing computer games, one of her original passions. Gordon has done well, too.

They just still have a burning passion to develop the Big Idea, the one that will burn their names into computer history.

There are subplots as well in Halt and Catch Fire, and it’s no certainty that any of these characters can overcome their personal neuroses no matter how brilliantly they can write code or sell a concept.

But for the boutique audience it has drawn over its run, Halt and Catch Fire seems on track to wrap up this origin story in an intriguing way. Credit AMC with letting the tale play out despite its modest viewership.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Scott C
I've enjoyed the series because of the content but the characters really aren't likeable people. Cameron is so whiny and Joe is such BS.
Aug 19, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
 
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