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Even though Halt and Cach Fire is still in its infancy at only six episodes old, it seems hell bent on raising itself on vacuous, unneeded relationship drama. “Landfall” could become an interesting breaking point for the show as it showed both the potential for what the show could be butted heads with what the show actually is.
The episode perfectly represented all of the show’s lesser qualities while also allowing for particular character traits to shine through despite the rigorous application of what the show wants the characters to be.
What “Landfall” did right was opening up a whole new side to Joe’s character that the audience had no clue even existed. Playing off of Joe’s image conscious, routine oriented lifestyle in the beginning of the episode with a getting ready for work montage was juxtaposed very well with Joe’s visit to Gordon and Donna’s house for supper later in the episode. While it seemed a bit of a stretch that Joe would emulate a cologne billboard in hopes of becoming a tad more relatable to his work minions it was clear by the end of “Landfall” that Joe is capable of being a real human every once in a while.
Relating with Gordon and Donna’s kids was something completely unforeseen. It was surprising enough to see Joe actually engage the kids but there was certainly a change in Joe’s character somewhere around him doling out the storm fighting flashlights. This was a sweeter, gentler Joe that, perhaps, he wasn’t even aware he could be. These scenes with Donna and her kids also cause Joe to try and open up to her, with what is supposedly the truth, which Cameron chided him about in the opening of the episode. While it wasn’t exactly clear what precipitated his newfound sympathies and emotions the fact that Joe is capable of them is enough at this stage in the show. Hopefully this will begin at least a minor change in his character.
While Joe was hamming it up for Gordon’s kids out in the storm, Gordon was breaking into toy stores for Cabbage Patch Kids (way to shoehorn some 1980s kitsch in there). Needless to say Gordon’s character is as stupid as it ever was. As I’ve argued before, Gordon’s character still does not offer any redeeming or even necessary qualities for the show thus far. Sure, he has put a lot of work in on building the motherboard but all the ideas came from Donna. We have been told multiple times, including in "Landfall," that Gordon is in fact a genius. But when it is his wife who comes up with the groundbreaking ideas and cleans up the office’s messes while Gordon mopes whines all day it certainly does not lend much credibility to those statements.
In recent episodes, Gordon has become about as buffoonish as you can possibly get without slipping on banana peels. “Landfall” is no different. Not only does the opening scene show him being zapped by the computer he has just built – as he is dreaming no less – but he also let’s the entire office know that Cameron is sleeping with Joe without realizing what he has done and gets easily duped into buying a brick in a wrapped box that is supposed to be a Cabbage Patch Kid. Womp, womp. Halt and Catch Fire loves the whole hardware versus operating system dynamic and if it wasn’t old by the third episode it’s certainly geriatric by now. And the fact that Gordon is at the epicenter of this idiotic feud only inspires louder groans.
As mentioned previously, Gordon does take matters into his own hands at the end of the episode by stealing two Cabbage Patch Kids. Of course this action will probably have no effect on his character, much like his firing of his neighbor earlier in the season, but hey at least he’s not a complete pushover. But hey Gordon got those toys and arrived home just in the knick of time to miss Joe make a stronger connection with Gordon’s family than he ever has in the show.
The universe also haunted Gordon via metaphor. Gordon’s opening dream was about a flower growing in the middle of his motherboard, which causes him to reach out and shock himself in real life. After stealing the toys, Gordon sees a person who has just died by way of built up storm water and a blown over electrical line. Perhaps it is a cosmic warning that too much time spent on electrical machines will kill him or just a friendly reminder that he is not a God and nature will be more powerful than his machine. Whatever the case may be, it will remain to be seen if this has any lasting effect on Gordon and/or if this will be a motif carried out through the rest of the season.
Cameron’s character didn’t have much to do this week outside of her pissing match with Gordon over who was "The Boss." She broke up with Joe in the beginning of the episode because he was lying about how he got the huge scars across his chest.
This incident marked a very unwanted possibility of Joe and Cameron actually dating and becoming romantically entangled. Their relationship up to this point was tolerable, although the constant sticking point of Joe trying to be her boss but still have sex with her was stale, the desire for Cameron to want him to open up and, seemingly, act more relationship-y is troubling. The last thing the show is another layer of fights to add to the three main characters and couples’ quarrels are always the most annoying. Her desire to program the operating system to have a “personality” was the main fight between herself and Gordon and while we are reminded, again, that she is truly the visionary of the three main characters it seemed like a wasted idea if it doesn’t go past "Landfall."
Halt and Catch Fire needs to walk without its crutch of pointless arguments between Joe, Gordon, and Cameron and begin to have more scenes like Joe with Donna and her kids. It is time for these characters to start acting more like human beings. The whole one-off style of arguments (i.e. this week’s argument won’t pertain to the previous week’s) also need to cease. Everyone gets it, these characters are all strong headed. “Landfall” may have shown included some of the show’s strongest moments thus far but they were bogged down by Halt and Catch Fire's need to add facetious fighting.
image courtesy of ACE/INFphoto.com