Collateral attractions: Halt and Catch Fire, episode 3

I honestly thought I had nothing much to say about this episode until the last ten minutes — in which three bombs drop. That happened last week, as well — it seems like the writing really prefers the repeatedly surprising ending.

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Screen shot 2014-06-15 at 11.33.19 PMLee Pace as Joe MacMillan in Halt and Catch Fire. Source: amctv

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Up until the very end, I’d have simply confined my remarks to what a pleasure it continues to be to watch Lee Pace on screen. He’s seriously charismatic and so convincingly physical. The episode opens with shots of him topless, listening to music in his apartment — and the contrast of his stance with the scarred torso we saw last time is really edgy and interesting. (Sorry, didn’t find a cap.) My favorite moment was a brief glimpse that I also couldn’t find on the available footage — where he’s talking with his boss about the deal, and towering him over him even as his boss holds all the cards. This is a view from just before that, from a perpendicular perspective to the shot I’m thinking of.

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Screen shot 2014-06-15 at 11.06.24 PMJoe MacMillan (Lee Pace) argues with his boss over taking the financial deal they need to stay afloat, in episode 3 of Halt and Catch Fire. My cap from vid at amctv.com

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At some point, in the commentary vid, one of the show’s creators says, “Joe MacMillan is like a machine that any software program will run on,” and we really get that feeling in this episode. He will do anything to get ahead — even as he has very little space to maneuver in. Probably the most shocking moment (although it very much operates on unquestioned cultural stereotypes and prejudices about male sexuality that I hope are eroding) is the point at which he seduces his potential funder, Lulu’s husband — in order to mess up the deal. The physicality in this seen is really convincing, from the brushing of Joe’s hand over his target, to his aggressive grasping at the man’s face — to the final shot, where he’s shown, taking off his jacket, growing in energy and power somehow in a position where many men first begin to make themselves vulnerable.

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Screen shot 2014-06-15 at 11.28.53 PMScreen shot 2014-06-15 at 11.03.54 PMScreen shot 2014-06-15 at 11.07.29 PMJoe MacMillan (Lee Pace) seduces Lulu’s husband in episode 3 of Halt and Catch Fire. Source: amctv.com

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The way that Joe ends this scene — the way that he indicates to the woman with a shake of his head and a single line that he needed twenty seconds to seduce her husband — is really stunning. Wish I could give you a cap. Watch the whole “inside the episode” vid here.

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The script also gets points for the 80s music playlist it gives Cameron, and for its solid awareness of the unconscious arrogance of Texans. I loved how Lulu thought she’d one-up everyone with her knowledge of opera and got challenged by Joe. This is frighteningly spot on — I moved to Texas for the first time in 1987 and it hit me hard, as well. It’s still there, but not in quite the same way — this is the end of the oil elites and the way they played their games, as the Texas economy started to change. I also think we’re going to see some interesting gender commentary, as Gordon’s wife essentially comes up with the solution to their biggest engineering problem. Geek points to anyone who, like dad and me, were amused by the ongoing discussion of the heat sink problem, and who recognizes the keyboard that Cameron types on.

~ by Servetus on June 16, 2014.

28 Responses to “Collateral attractions: Halt and Catch Fire, episode 3”

  1. Ok for the 80’s playlist – not bad ^^

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  2. I am so addicted to this show. Thanks for the link to the “inside the episode” vid, very insightful. During that hotel scene with Cameron all I could think was ‘holy hepatitis’ and worse, especially with what goes on with her and Joe later. Ok, there is the healthcare provider in me, lol. I can’t wait to see where this all goes with Gordon’s wife, she’s the brains behind all this. I’m glad you’re blogging about this.

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    • I had to wait last night to watch the rebroadcast b/c dad wanted to watch the 9 p.m. news first. Midwesterners!!

      it’s hard for me to watch that, too, but this was before we all became experts on STDs and so on … I have zero memory of sex w/o condoms but there is a generation who does, obviously, lol.

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  3. OMG. I love this show. There was a sexual freedom and ambiguity to the 80’s. This show is just so well written. The characters are really well drawn. And Pace is chewing up the screen. The scene with LulLu after he had sex with her husband, the non-verbal eye contact and the “we decided on the port.” LOVE. Amazing writing. Really.

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  4. How was it watching that scene with your Dad? It was intense. The actor who played LuLu’s husband was really pretty awesome too.

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    • Dad was DISGUSTED. Like, ready to vomit, told me to turn off the show. (I told him to calm down.)

      That’s why I put that sentence in there about stereotypes about male sexuality — “bisexuality” is almost a cultural sign for unreliability or opportunism in our world. (I don’t think that MacMillan is bisexual — hence the scare quotes). I want to run this deal my way so bad that I’ll screw another guy … well, dad really got that message 100 percent.

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      • Your poor dad … I do feel for him. I am sure as titalating as it was for us it was just as traumatic for him.

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        • I told him I didn’t think there’d be any more of that. Rough to be 70+, from the privileged class, and have the world change to make your values no longer central to it. I do have a certain (limited) amount of sympathy.

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    • I on the other hand thought, Lee Pace could probably kiss a giraffe and make me think it was sexy. That is some amazing energy there.

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      • OMG I haven’t laughed so hard in ages!!! Thank you Servetus!!! The guy can kiss! And I have only seen the gifs.

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        • let’s hope he doesn’t have to. Although, who knows, maybe he would see that as a challenge …

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          • He probably would!! Geez what an evening- first Germany beating Portugal 4-0 at World Cup, then the Crucible rehearsal pics, and then to top it all off, my friend emailed me THOSE GIFs (she didn’t warn me so I just clicked on it totally unsuspecting of content!) — my mind is officially blown.

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            • and the US beat Ghana, which is nothing short of a miracle.

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              • Hang on a sec they have a German coach so… maybe not so much of a miracle! LOL

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                • Meant to say the US team have a German coach not Ghana. 😀

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                • yeah, Klinsi is a great coach, but this is still not a country where the good athletes dream of soccer glory …

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                  • And probably never will be… But he seems to be doing a good job nonetheless. 😀

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                    • I’m hoping for change because the population is changing so dramatically at the moment. With all the Latino kids admiring their favorite Latin American teams and stars, hopefully they’ll add all that energy to the US teams.

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                    • Fingers crossed!!! We’ve gone a little off topic here! Sorry, my fault!

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  5. The LOOK Joe gives the guy when he takes his jacket off. Dear me.

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  6. I just remember AMC has an episode sync feature online where you get background trivia during the show, I’ll have to watch all 3 episodes again! At some point we have to find out the truth about those scars and what that IMdb exec referred to as the truth of his past. He mentioned Joe’s dad in such a way it made me wonder whether his dad was affiliated with IMdb. Anyway I’m mostly oblivious to the historical development of that period and I’m curious to get a grasp on it. Off to AMC for that vid you linked.

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