Episode 8: The 214s

Seated cross-legged on his bed, Gordon breathes rhythmically in and out, trying to relax and center himself with a guided meditation tape. "I'm fine," he tells Donna who looks in on him with concern.

At Cardiff, the team prepares for their upcoming trip to COMDEX. As Bosworth approves the mounting expenses, Joe proudly informs them that he was able to book a booth in a choice location next to Commodore and Tandy.

Charged by the prospect of selling The Giant at COMDEX, Cameron and Joe make love in her office. Afterwards, he asks if she’s upset to be missing out on the trip. She reassures him that it’s fine, "It's for salesmen, right? They can just turn it on to see what I did."

Meanwhile, Gordon regales Debbie with tales of the big names and his fond memories of COMDEXs past, asking if the room she booked for him is at a centrally located hotel. "Are you going, too?" Debbie asks, explaining that Joe only requested one room.

Gordon storms into Joe’s office demanding to know why he’s being left behind. Joe tells Gordon that his presence at Comdex might deter buyers who remember his 1981 Symphonic debacle. Gordon vows to attend anyways and stomps back to his own office, where he turns on his meditation tape, only to destroy the player in a fit of rage.

Late that night, Donna finds Hunt standing on her lawn. He calls his visit "a mistake" but tells her she’s an "amazing woman" before leaving. Brian, who was lurking outside his house the entire time, asks Donna about the giant hole in their yard.

Donna scurries inside, where Gordon tells her that he has to talk to her. Nervous, Donna sits and Gordon explains that he broke their rule to discuss any purchases over $50 and used their credit card to book an expensive hotel room for Comdex. "I just… I have to be there," he tells her. "Whatever you need to do," she says numbly, surprising Gordon with her amenability.

The next morning Bosworth finds Nathan Cardiff waiting for him in his office. Cardiff tells Bosworth he has reconsidered the personal loan Bosworth requested to keep the company afloat through Comdex. "I thought if my old pal John Bosworth wants something from me, I should give it to him," says Cardiff. Unnerved, Bosworth pours himself a drink.

Perhaps sensing a hidden message in Cardiff’s visit, Bosworth leaves Nathan to join a meeting with Cameron, Joe and the marketing team. He interrupts the proceedings to say that the only way to stand out from competitors is to spotlight the people who created The Giant – now the PC’s official name. "The future is coming whether we like it or not," Bosworth says. "But it ain’t written anywhere that it includes any of us."

FBI agents swarm the office and arrest Bosworth. An agent announces that they’re shutting Cardiff Electric down until further notice and forbids anyone to leave with company property.

Gordon, watching the FBI confiscating computers, dashes into The Kill Room where he quickly disassembles The Giant and hides it, lest it be taken as evidence.

At Texas Instruments, Donna is surprised to learn that Hunt has resigned and thinks it might be because of what happened between them in Lubbock.

Joe informs Cameron the authorities are looking for evidence of hacking, "Bosworth couldn't do that. He knows maybe three people who could." Joe's accusatory gaze lands on Cameron, who admits she helped Bosworth hack into a bank to steal Nathan Cardiff’s money for the PC division, with the intention of settling up after COMDEX.

Cameron admits the same to Gordon when the three convene later in Gordon’s garage. "You two are perfect for each other," says Gordon, revealing Joe’s role in the BIOS crash. Cameron punches Joe and storms out.

Gordon calls Donna to relay the bad news. Overwhelmed that the past is repeating itself, Donna can find no words and hangs up.

The programmers gather on Yo-Yo’s porch and trash-talk Bosworth. Cameron stews quietly, unable to defend him without implicating herself.

At home, Joe calls a business associate to try and secure an early order for The Giant. The associate says he’s holding out for IBM’s rumored portable PC early the following year. Enraged, Joe breaks his bat.

Donna tells her mother that Gordon is in trouble again. Her mother advises Donna to ask herself why she keeps ending up in the same "miserable" place with Gordon. "You need to figure out what's best for you and for your children."

Gordon breaks into the Cardiff Electric offices and retrieves The Giant. In the middle of the night, Donna finds him reassembling the PC in the garage. She’s rattled, but Gordon assures her this time it won’t be anything like the Symphonic. "This is shit," he tells her as he smashes the Symphonic on the ground. He excitedly explains his plan to go to COMDEX with Joe and Cameron and sell The Giant. "I know it’s crazy, but you’re crazy, too," he says. "Be crazy with me!" He rushes off to go find Cameron.

Donna calls her mother and reports she’s planning to leave Gordon.

Gordon convinces Cameron to join him at COMDEX. "We’re the talent," he tells her. They go to Joe’s apartment, but he’s not home so they decide to wait. Gordon calls Donna to check in, but Donna let's the phone ring without answering.

Donna goes to the garage and boots up The Giant, smiling at the operating system’s personality. She opens a tool drawer and finds a jewelry box inside. She tears up.

Gordon and Cameron drink beer in Joe’s apartment, talking about their first computers. He tells her about how Donna sold her engagement ring to buy him his first Altair kit — saying he could get her a new ring when they sold their first PC. He goes on to explain that he bought her a new and identical ring last week.

Joe, having rashly traveled to New York, confronts his father in his childhood home. Joe Sr. confirms the rumors of IBM's portable PC and chastises Joe for thinking the project was a way to hurt him. "You think I could alter the course of the aircraft carrier that is IBM, make them build one, just to hurt you?" Then Joe Sr. asks where Joe disappeared to after leaving IBM. Joe says he traveled the country to learn about his dead mother, whom Joe Sr. sent away and then lied to Joe about the fact that she abandoned them both, and died 23 years before she actually did.

"Do I remind you of her? Is that why you hate me?" Joe asks. Joe Sr. says he loved her but sent her away because she nearly killed Joe. He then invites Joe back to IBM. Joe agrees on the condition that he oversees the portable PC division.

Back in Dallas, Joe tells Cameron and Gordon that he’s returning to IBM. Gordon calls him a coward and urges him to stay, arguing that the scandal surrounding Bosworth may actually be an asset at COMDEX: "People will be lining up to see the train wreck that is Cardiff Electric. And when they do, we blow them away!" Won over, Joe rejoins the team but admits that, despite his showy facade, he doesn’t have any money to fund their trip. "How much is the car worth?" Cameron asks.

Joe, Gordon and Cameron return to Gordon’s house after selling Joe’s Porsche. Gordon finds Donna sitting at the table next to a packed suitcase. He fears the worst, but "I’m going with you," she says. Gordon smiles, she has decided to "be crazy" too.

Cameron stops by Barry Shield’s house, where Bosworth is free on bail."They’re never going to believe you did this alone," she tells him. He surprises her by describing exactly what was needed to hack into the bank, just enough to convince the authorities that he acted alone. She smiles despite herself, tells him they’re going to COMDEX. "Knock 'em dead. Do that for me," he tells her. She throws her arms around him before leaving, tears in her eyes.

The team piles into Gordon’s station wagon and hits the road for COMDEX in Las Vegas.

Halt and Catch Fire Season 1 

Episode 8

View photos from Season 1 Episode 8, "The 214s"

Guest stars:
John Getz - Joe MacMillian Sr
Mike Pniewski - Barry Shields
Bianca Malinowski - Debbie
Louanne LaFortune - Maylene
Graham Beckel - Nathan Cardriff
Will Greenberg - Brian Braswell
August Emerson - Lev
Cooper Andrews - Yo-Yo
Pete Burris - Ed
Eric Goins - Larry
Randy Havens - Stan
Scott Michael Foster - Hunt Whitmarsh
Sharon Blackwood - Gloria
Annette O’Toole - Susan Emerson
Whitney Goin - Gayle
Grant Murray - Agt. Calligan
Ted Huckabee - FBI Agt.
Sean Bury - Coder

Written By: Dahvi Walker and Zack Whedon

Directed By: Daisy von Scherler Mayer

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Next Episode: Up Helly Aa

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Unforeseen adversaries and new complications threaten to derail all that the Cardiff Electric team has worked for at COMDEX.

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