Season finale review: 'Halt and Catch Fire' - '1984': They left the keys to the brand new Porsche
"Halt and Catch Fire" wrapped up its first season tonight, and I have a few thoughts on the finale coming up just as soon as I darf you very gurp...
I wrote a long piece about the season last week, and in a way, it feels like the season concluded with that ninth episode, while "1984" was an extended epilogue — and one that brought so much closure to the series that it works as an effective series-ender, if AMC decides the ratings are too low to justify a renewal. Joe and Gordon each grapple with the hollowness of their victory — with Joe, as usual, pulling a sociopath diva move in burning the first shipment of Giants, while Gordon looks ever more like a more famous fictional '80s Gordon once he shaves his beard — while Cameron and Donna make a bolder push into the future with the networked gaming company. This show is set around the time the modern Internet was created, and Cameron's been predicting its existence since the very first episode; the idea of those two women seeing the future more clearly than their significant others, particularly in such a male-dominated field, could make for an interesting second season if we happen to get one.
A show centered around Cameron and Donna, with Gordon in a supporting role and Joe off in the desert — and off the series — could work very well creatively. There were a lot of strong pieces to this show, but only occasionally (mainly in episodes 8 & 9) in the proper balance. Joe as charismatic wild card crazy person helped generate story and conflict, but it all felt manufactured, and like a distraction from the series' main themes about creativity versus practical realities. Joe got drawn into that theme in the later episodes as he began to realize what he and the others had actually built. But the fact that he's the kind of person who would burn a truck full of computers because they reminded him of his own shortcomings — Gordon even said that the Giant reflected all Joe was — makes him more trouble than he's worth to the show, where his unpredictability becomes irritatingly predictable.
My guess is that this is moot: that the ratings are too low (and the reviews too lukewarm) for AMC to bother continuing with it, especially since Cantwell and Rogers put a pretty neat bow on everything. (Not that fan anger usually amounts to anything, but this isn't the kind of show where the (small) audience will feel like they were left hanging on a ton of major plot points.) But as I said last week, the creators and Jonathan Lisco figured out enough of what made the show work — and what could make it special, despite the many familiar elements to it — that I'd watch more if more happened to be made. Of the various AMC curios over the years, I'd easily put "Rubicon" ahead of "Halt," but "Rubicon" stumbled badly at the end, whereas "Halt" really reached its peak in these last few episodes.
What did everybody else think? Did "1984" make you more or less eager to see the story continue?