Halt and Catch Fire ended its terrific four-season run this weekend with an emotional, satisfying finale. Alan Sepinwall already wrote his recap and tribute to the show, but Brian Grubb and Josh Kurp also had things to say about it all, so this is them doing that.
“I have an idea.”
Josh: Does it matter what Donna’s idea was? Not really — but it also doesn’t matter what happened in The Sopranos series finale, which is also set in a diner and involves someone parking, after the cut to black, and we’ve spent the last 10 years obsessing over the man in the Members Only jacket. It’s fun to play the “let’s over-analyze everything” game (I last played it during The Leftovers finale — Nora was totally lying), but that’s not the point of the scene. It’s about putting a friendship on the line for “an idea,” despite Donna and Cameron knowing there’s a 95 percent chance it’s going to end in flames (like where a Phoenix comes from). But yeah, she invented PayPal, right?
Brian: Yeah, that’s the thing. On one hand, it doesn’t matter at all what the idea is. And it’s kind of better that we don’t know, because if they told us then we’d do the nitpicking thing you mentioned where we compare it to real life and say “Well, does this mean X company doesn’t exist or is this another idea that gets swallowed by history like the Comet/Yahoo fiasco”? The show wasn’t really even about that anyway. The idea was just a way to get them back together, and seeing the excitement in both of their eyes as it happened made the seasons of turmoil between them kind of worth it. Maybe they’ll become billionaires. Maybe it’ll play out exactly like their imaginary company, Phoenix. Again, not important. Not today at least. The point is that Donna and Cam are a team again. I love it.
But on the other hand, not knowing is killing me a little bit. Just a little. I’m fine. Basically.
The Ballad of Cam and Donna
Brian: I was really happy that the last hour of the show focused almost entirely on Donna and Cameron. They were the beating heart of the show and had been ever since it made the move in season two to follow them as they built Mutiny, instead of following Joe as he did… Joe things. It was very cool to see them come full circle to become partners again (probably!), thanks to Haley’s broken computer and Donna’s inspiring speech and Cam taking an accidental dive into the pool in front of everyone.
Josh: That will not be the last time we bring up the pool splash, I promise. Anyway, yes, Donna and Cameron (Dameron? It’s already the last name of a Star Wars character, but Oscar Isaac doesn’t mind sharing). Theirs is one of my favorite relationships, romantic or otherwise, I have ever seen on television. It always felt real. They squabbled, they made nice; they brought out the worst in each other, they brought out the best in each other; they knew the right thing to say at the wrong time to annoy the other, they knew the right thing to say at the right time to make the other feel better. Halt and Catch Fire became a great show once it focused on Donna and Cameron. So, it’s no coincidence that, unlike most prestige dramas overseen by a male creator (or male creators), both episodes of the finale were directed by women.
Emotional moments in the finale, ranked
Josh: These are the three times I cried, with the line that got me the most.
3. Joe and Cam’s farewell — “I wanted this to work.” (The moment when you admit to yourself that something you wanted so hard to succeed isn’t going to? Yeah. Ouch.)
2. Cameron and Bos’ farewell — “You got a lot of love in you. More than anybody I ever met. It’s bursting out of you. You’re taking the world in these in these big gulps, and you can’t help but to let yourself get drowned in it. Overwhelms you, makes you live like you’re ready to explode at any minute. They don’t see it. I do. It’s a burden you carry.” (Bos is not a great father, but he is a wonderful father figure.)
1. Donna’s speech — “I am a partner by trade and a mother and a sister by design.” (Someday in the future, I would like to attend a fancy party where Kerry Bishé gives an inspiring speech about feminism, and MacKenzie Davis accidentally falls into a pool. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.)