The week's episode of Halt and Catch Fire revolves around daddy issues. (So that's why they're all so nuts!)
In Gordon's case, it's actually issues with his father-in-law, Gary. One morning, Gordon returns back to his house, slightly on the ripe side after two days of sleeping and working at the office. Turns it's Gary birthday and he and Donna's mom are visiting. But Gordon barely acknowledges them, and when Gary asks his son-in-law to join him for a round of golf later, Gordon lowers his eyes and mumbles he has to work. Which is probably true! But at moments like this, you wonder how someone as socially inept as Gordon's ever got with someone as gorgeous and brilliant as Donna.
The two men do go golfing--but only because Gordon needs a screen manufacturer for his PC, and Gary, who publishes a technology catalog, has connections with a possible partner in Japan. Gary reluctantly agrees to set up an introduction, looking dispirited. He thought Gordon actually wanted to play golf …
Back at the ranch, Cameron returns from a short vacation--who knows? maybe she even showered!--to find that she's not the company's lead developer anymore. This is her prize for finishing the BIOS. (btw: YAY!) While she was away, Joe hired a larger dev team and a software development manager named Steve, who is straight out of Stanford B-School. (The B stands for bullshit, according to Cameron.) By the way, Joe: brilliant managerial move there, Einstein. Bringing in a new dev team and a boss for Cameron when she's on vacation? Yeah, she won't mind at all.
Needless to say, Cameron does not get along with her exasperating new boss and his flow charts and checklists, and soon enough she's storming into Joe's office, demanding he fire that "tool." To which he replies: "Which one?" Kind of cute, him and Cameron joking around. And, since they're sleeping together, it makes sense.
Oops--spoke too soon. Joe tells Cameron he doesn't want her thinking that she gets any special treatment because "of this thing we've got going on." So Cameron decides to eliminate the complication by ending the relationship, and grabs Joe's apartment keys so she can grab what she left at his place.
She gets there and meets Joe's father, Joe MacMillan, Sr.--who, you might recall, works for Cardiff's target, IBM.
Joe knew his dad was in town, and the two were to meet in his hotel lobby. But at the last minute Joe decides to blow it off. Boooooooo! We were so close to seeing a showdown between Mr. Big Blue and Joe. Instead, we get Mr. MacMillan and Cameron meeting cute. Not happy about being stood up, Mr. MacMillan decided to wait for Joe in his apartment. When she asks how he got in, he replies, "You say something with the right authority, you generally get what you want."
(Something Joe has long known. Now we know why.)
Joe's dad is unusually interested in Cameron. After he realizes who she is--IBM has a full report on its Cardiff Electric challengers, including a "Cameron Howe"--he asks her to stay for a drink.
Surprisingly, Cameron agrees. Perhaps she's interested in finding out more about her ex-quasi-boyfriend's past. Cameron learns she and Joe are both military brats. But Cameron's father died in the Vietnam War when she was young.
And we see that one reason the father-son relationship is so strained is because Mr. MacMillan dislikes some familiar qualities in Joe. "Do you know how he got his three promotions at IBM?" he asks Cameron. "He took them." Apparently Joe once walked right up to his supervisor and told the man he should resign.
"Well, if you say something with the right authority, you generally get what you want," Cameron replies.
Mr. MacMillan thinks he's connecting with Cameron, and it's obvious he's hoping to recruit her. But Cameron's not feeling it. Time for her to go, but not before, in an exquisitely daddy-issue moment, he hands her a business card, explaining it's for when Cameron figures out it's only a matter of time before Joe "blows everything up."
Meanwhile, Joe is at a steakhouse with Gordon, convincing representatives from the Japanese company to work with Cardiff. As always, Joe makes it look all too easy. He tells the two men to take a lower margin on their LCD screens, and he'll give them a percentage of Cardiff's profit. Almost unbelievably, they agree. All that's left is to ink the deal. But first, out comes the alcohol.
Dun dun dun dun. Who here can't hold their liquor?
We find out when Gordon chats with his new unofficial business partner while they're relieving themselves in the men's room. Bad idea: he decides to trash talk his father-in-law, harping on "the shlock" that Gary sells. Then he starts repeating the word "schlock," over and over again. In short order, the deal is off, and Joe looks ready to punch Gordon in the face.
But the next morning, Joe seems to be in a better mood. Good thing, because Cameron wants to try something. She strolls up to him and asks if he wants his software developed for half the price. He's interested.
Earlier, Cameron had introduced the developer team to a new game called "Adventure." All got addicted, but only a handful figured out that you need to cheat to get as far along in the game as Cameron had. Cameron asks the cheaters to raise their hands. Then, she tells the rest--with the right authority, natch-- they're fired. Including Steve.
Maybe Joe created a monster, but, ever the slight sociopath, he seems thrilled. He beams at Cameron, then tells Steve that he'll write him a nice letter of recommendation.
And what of the technology deal? Well, Joe thinks he's saved the day when he drives to the Japanese businessmen's hotel and profusely apologizes for Gordon. Respect for one's father is something Joe values greatly. (Let's all roll our eyes together.) They accept the apology.
But later Gordon tells Joe that he didn't save the day. Gary had. After dinner Gordon went to his father-in-law's house and pleaded with Gary to make another phone call to the Japanese businessmen. Whatever Gary said, he miraculously managed to smooth things over. The deal is back on.
We still don't know why Donna and her family are so gracious and forgiving with Gordon. But we do know, if this PC ever gets made, Cardiff owes them all a huge thank-you.