"Gordon is traumatized from being a loser his entire life."
A storm is brewing in this episode of Halt and Catch Fire. Really. A huge hurricane is about to hit Dallas. But there is a relatively calm and harmonious atmosphere at the office. Cardiff has just flipped its PC's "on" switch. And it works!
"Hello world," reads the monitor on their PC, which looks like . . . something! Though we don't really know what! It's not something you'd want to lug around every day. But it's better than the hefty desktop sitting in Cameron's office.
Everyone is in the main conference room celebrating--clapping, hugging and patting each other on the back. In a show of good will, Gordon--who'd been on rocky terms with Joe after the Japanese deal fiasco--even invites Joe to his house for dinner the next night.
Cameron, too, participates in the celebrations, but not for long. Soon she's back in her office, thinking up ways to expand the OS' capabilities. We see she didn't get promoted to a cozy corner office, and opted to hold onto her dingy basement space. (It's much more her style.)
An idea strikes Cameron while playing "Adventure," the game she loves: What if you could command your computer to do what you want, just like in video games? It would ask, "Hello, Cameron. What would you like to do?" And you could tell it, "Open word processor."
It's a completely novel idea, for the 1980s. All it requires is redesigning the entire Cardiff PC. And it would undo all of the work Gordon did to fit the pieces of the PC together. So he's opposed to her idea.
To her face, Joe is resolute, telling Cameron that now's not the time experiment. He doesn't quite sound like visionary he claimed to be when he first came to Cardiff. But when he discusses it with Gordon, Joe seems to have an open mind about the complete overhaul. Gordon might not be able to sleep with the product manager to get his way, as he puts it--nice one, Gordon--but he can use this friendly little dinner to persuade Joe to side with him.
And, yes, Cameron and Joe are back on. Or were back on. At the beginning of the episode Cameron once again ends things--this time because she's bored with Joe. If Joe's more than a one-dimensional character, he's doing a lousy job proving it. Or, as Cameron tells Joe, "Your whole thing, it attracts people. But it won't keep them around."
Then it's the night of that dinner. The hurricane is rolling over Silicon Prairie. Donna's ready for battle. She's more than willing to go to bat for Gordon over the PC design. Plus, she thinks Joe is an asshole. Joe arrives. Donna has dinner on the table. But Gordon is out being an asshat--I'm sorry, make that "trying to track down the Cabbage Patch doll he promised Donna he'd buy their daughter days ago." Naturally--in a telling detail for those viewers old enough to have lived through Cabbage Patch mania--every store is either sold out, or closed early because of the storm.
Back home, Joe and Donna are awkward, awkward, awkward. They can barely find anything to talk about. Donna just keeps repeating that Gordon should be home soon. Though surprisingly, Joe is pretty good with kids. Who knew? Maybe he's just distracting them so they stay away from his pricey Italian shoes. In any case, he helps the two daughters build a fort in the living room, and Donna warms to him a bit.
She asks him if he's considering making changes to the OS. Joe starts to open up to her somewhat, telling her he just wants to do something successful. Donna makes a pretty convincing case as to why Cardiff should stick with the PC they've got: Joe originally set out to challenge competitors by creating a computer that's faster and cheaper, and they did it.
Out and about in the unrelenting storm, Gordon found some Cabbage Patch dolls. Unfortunately, they're behind the glass window of a closed store. Being the genius that he is, Gordon decides to throw something through the window, shattering it completely. (Good Lord. Suddenly Joe is the stable one?)
Just as Gordon runs back to the car with dolls in hand, lightning strikes nearby. Gordon wanders over to the other side of the parking lot where there is a downed live wire. He sees a body lying in a puddle near the sparking cable. The unmoving man's eyes are wide open, and Gordon sees he's dead. Horrified, he runs off.
Meanwhile, Joe and Donna suddenly seem to be having a good time sitting on the couch, swapping stories while the girls play nearby. When Gordon bursts into the house, he looks like he's just seen a ghost. But he doesn't tell anyone why.
As quickly as Gordon is through the door, Joe heads out into the storm, acting mysterious and giving no reason why he's leaving so quickly. Where could he be headed?
Where else but Cameron's front door, where she finds him soaked to the skin. "If you got stuck in a hurricane, do you have anybody you would call?" he asks Cameron, looking at her with puppy dog eyes. "I don't."
Cameron takes him in, sits him down at her computer and shows him what she's been working on. Looking pensive, Joe tells her, for the first time, where he really got the scars on his chest. His mother, who had a drug problem, used to take him up to the roof to look at the stars when he was little. One time she let go of his hand, and he fell off of the roof and onto a fence.
Sensing he's telling the truth about his scars this time, Cameron kisses him. Could this be love? Probably not. But it's clear who Joe's siding with in this debate.