Episode 6: Landfall

Heavily fatigued from yet another all-nighter at work, Gordon dreams of a flower sprouting out of the Cardiff PC's motherboard. When he reaches in to pull it out, he receives an electric shock and snaps awake in the Kill Room, alone late at night. On the radio, a report warns of Hurricane Alicia approaching the coast of Texas.

Cameron and Joe have sex at Joe's apartment. Cameron, wanting more of an emotional connection with Joe, asks him how he really got his scars. Joe makes up a series of stories that Cameron knows are false, which angers her. Joe pushes back. Cameron is the one who determined their routine, "Now all of a sudden you're getting pissed off because I don't want to play house?" Cameron tells Joe he's getting boring, and that he's just "a thousand dollar suit with nothing inside." She storms out.

Gordon arrives home and drunkenly wakes up Donna. She rebuffs his advances, citing a busy day of work and errands ahead. He offers to help, promising to pick up a Cabbage Patch Kid for Joanie.

The next morning, while waiting for his car to be washed, Joe notices a billboard featuring a male model wearing a suit with no tie. With Cameron's derisions of his image still ringing in his head, Joe removes his tie and jacket to mirror the model in the ad.

Cameron is now living in an old house with Yo-Yo and Kyle, a dim but sexy rocker friend of Yo-Yo's. Yo-Yo gives Cameron a custom copy of Adventure that he's created just for her. She awkwardly thanks him—it's clear he has a bit of a crush on her—and accepts a ride to work from him.

Joe gathers the Cardiff employees to power up their prototype PC for the first time, but before he can hit the switch, Lev proposes that Bosworth do the honors. "Boz! Boz! Boz!" the room chants. Joe, caught off guard, reluctantly steps aside for Bosworth, who hits the key. The screen lights up and the room cheers. In a private moment, we see that this modest success actually creates a moment of pride in Bosworth.

Gordon, looking to ease the residual tension with Joe, invites him to a celebratory dinner at his house. Joe accepts and they shake hands.

In her office, Cameron plays Yo-Yo's modified Adventure. "Are you Cameron Howe?" the screen asks. "Yes," she enters. "Congratulations, you are a rad programmer," it responds. Cameron smiles, hatching an idea.

Cameron proposes to Gordon a new operating system that interacts with users: "It needs a soul, it needs to be something that people can fall in love with," she declares. But when she asks for additional memory in the machine, Gordon refuses, saying it would slow the PC down. "At some point, you have to stop changing things," he condescendingly tells her. She retaliates by claiming Gordon is just afraid to do anything truly out of the box.

Cameron runs her proposal by Joe. She shows him a stuffed animal her dad made for her. "He wiggled its head and he gave it a voice and he brought it to life," she says. "I fell in love with it. This is the sort of loyalty we can create." Joe entertains the idea but pragmatically tables it. She criticizes his lack of vision.

At Texas Instruments, Hunt and Donna chat about Gordon's project over lunch. It seems Donna is on steadier ground with Hunt, and has, perhaps, even found a confidant in him. He praises Donna's reports and invites her on a business trip to present her findings.

Gordon rails against Joe for considering Cameron's idea, saying he would need to rethink the entire layout of the motherboard. Joe coldly insists that Gordon will do whatever he's told to do, because it's Joe who has the final word.

At home, Donna urges Gordon to defend his PC. "You built a beautiful machine, you have to stand up for it," she says. Gordon reveals he invited Joe to dinner. She's not pleased, but agrees to have him over, if only to help Gordon win this battle.

In her bedroom, Cameron writes code for her new OS, typing furiously as punk music blares on the radio. She hits a wall. Unable to go further, she destroys her radio and stomps out into the hallway. "I'm stuck," she tells Kyle, who's standing shirtless in the other room.

The next day, Cameron, now "unstuck," furiously types in her bedroom. Yo-Yo enters to ask if she needs a ride to work—she doesn't, she's "on a roll." Yo-Yo then notices a post-coital Kyle in her bed. He lingers in the doorway, a little sad. Cameron, bothered by his interruption and continued presence, asks what else he wants. Yo-Yo leaves.

Back at Cardiff, Gordon learns that Cameron has re-tasked the coders and now has them working on her OS expansion. He tells Lev to return to work on peripheral drivers instead. "You can trust me," Gordon says. "I'm not screwing the project manager to get my way." Lev is shocked by the revelation.

Debbie gives Gordon a message from Donna reminding him to pick up the Cabbage Patch doll for Joanie. He drives to a toy store, but the dolls are sold out. A stranger in the parking lot offers to sell him one for $80, but it turns out to be a gift-wrapped rock.

Cameron finds out that Gordon has given the coders contrary direction to hers. She gathers them all in her office and orders them to listen only to her. One coder asks if she's "banging" Joe MacMillan. Everyone snickers.

After calling numerous toy stores, Gordon finally finds one with a Cabbage Patch doll. He asks them to put the toy on hold and rushes out of Cardiff Electric.

Cameron, angered that Gordon told the coders about her and Joe, strides up to Gordon and kisses him on the mouth in front of the entire office. "You were incredible last night," she says. "I would never..." stammers Gordon. Bosworth looks on worriedly.

Joe arrives at the Clark residence for dinner and Donna invites him in. Meanwhile, Gordon drives to the toy store through torrential rain – Hurricane Alicia is picking-up.

Joe tries to keep a curious and playful Joanie and Haley out of his hair by building them a fort. Afterward, Donna brings up Cameron's experimental OS idea and reminds Joe that the computer is already "a work of art." Joe mentions that "there's something to be said for ingenuity," but Donna's argument is a compelling one.

Bosworth invites Cameron into his office for a drink. She complains about Gordon, whom she says "wants to build a computer to impress all the other people who build computers." She, on the other hand, wants to build a computer for everyone. Bosworth cautions her against public theatrics, saying some people want to see her fail. "You're the future," he says. "Ain't nothin' scarier than that."

Still waiting for Gordon, Donna comforts the girls as thunder strikes. Joe gives them "hurricane zappers" – flashlights – that he says will protect them from the storm outside.

In the midst of the elements, Gordon arrives at the toy store, but it's closed. As a matter of fact, the entire street is deserted—the storm rages all around him. Desperate, he throws the rock from the fake Cabbage Patch doll proprietor through the window and steals two Cabbage Patch dolls on display. He's about to abscond when he hears the crackle of a downed power line and goes to investigate. Lying in the street is the dead body of a man who's been electrocuted. Gordon is mortified by what he sees, and flees.

The girls say that the storm is getting too bad for their hurricane zappers to protect them. Joe offers to go outside so that he can demonstrate their full power to combat the hurricane. On his way to the front door, Joe finds out that the girls named their flashlights. "They're your friends," he notes, remembering Cameron's OS pitch and the story of her homemade stuffed animal. Outside in the rain, he dazzles the girls by dramatically "fighting" off the storm with the flashlights, and in that moment, is finally able to step outside his constructed buttoned-up image.

Gordon, still traumatized, rushes into the house and apologizes for being late. Joe thanks him for the dinner invitation and goes to leave. Gordon tries to get him to stay — he still wants to talk to Joe about the OS — but Donna tells Gordon that he and Joe can talk tomorrow. Once Joe is gone, Donna can see how disturbed her husband is. He leaves the kitchen with barely another word.

Outside, a soaked and filthy Joe catches his reflection in his car. It's a far cry from the manicured identity that he saw earlier at the gas station. He turns back to the Clark house, gazing out on everything he doesn't have.

Joe knocks on Cameron's door. "If you got stuck in the hurricane, do you have anybody you would call?" he asks. "I don't," he admits. He then asks to see her progress on the new OS.

Joe "talks" with Cameron's computer through a series of screen prompts. It's enough to shake loose some real feelings inside him. He tells Cameron the real story behind his scars: his mother often experimented with drugs and would take him as a young boy up onto the roof of their home to look out at the stars. One night, she let go of his hand and he fell. He landed on a fence and spent two years in a hospital. Moved by his truthfulness and vulnerability, Cameron kisses him.

Joe, too, finds something powerful in their new connection. "Cameron," he says. "This is good."

Halt and Catch Fire Season 1 Episode 6

View photos from Season 1 Episode 6, "Landfall"

Guest stars:
Alana Cavanauugh - Haley Clark
Morgan Hinkleman - Joanie Clark
Bianca Malinowski - Debbie
Cooper Andrews - Kenneth "Yo-Yo" Engberk
Eric Goins - Larry
Scott Michael Foster - Hunt Whitmarsh
Damon Lipari - Kyle
Pat Young - Attendant
August Emerson - Malcom "Lev" Levitan
Steven Archer - Timmy
Jack A. Landry - Ernie

Written By: Zack Whedon

Directed By: Larysa Kondracki

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When a person from Joe's past visits, his connection with Cameron is threatened.

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