Gordon Clark may no longer be with us, but he still appears in flashbacks throughout Saturday’s Halt and Catch Fire.
We begin the episode at the end of the Fourth of July weekend in 1977. Gordon and Donna are living in a small San Francisco apartment with baby Joanie, and the in-laws have just left for the airport. After Donna brings up her parents’ offer to buy them a house if they move back to Dallas, the young couple gets into an argument. Donna isn’t opposed to her folks’ idea, but Gordon wants to stay in California and build a computer. Eventually, Donna goes to comfort Joanie, and Gordon storms out — and stays out for the entire night.
Back in the present, when Donna takes Joanie and Haley over to Gordon’s house to sort through his stuff, she stumbles upon a drawer full of family photos. But before she can get too emotional, the doorbell rings: It’s Joe and Cameron with boxes and bubble wrap. There’s mention of not only a beautiful memorial service for Gordon but also Joe’s eulogy. After heading inside, Donna asks Cameron to put on some music. They settle on the Dire Straits album Brothers in Arms, setting up the song “So Far Away” to accompany a packing montage. As Donna is cleaning out the kitchen, she notices a picture of Gordon and Katie on the fridge. Cameron, meanwhile, finds a treasure trove of snapshots taken back at Cardiff Electric.
When Donna goes into Joanie’s room to help her pack, she finds all of her daughter’s incomplete college applications, and a screaming match ensues. At one point, Donna touches a nerve by bringing up Gordon, sending Joanie off to rebel by smoking a cigarette. Cameron tries to explain that she needs to cut her mom some slack and suggests that, if Joanie chooses to attend college, she’s sure to find it a freeing experience.
Afterwards, Joe returns from dropping off at Goodwill all of Gordon’s clothes — including a green sweater that Haley wanted to hold on to as a keepsake. Joe tells her that it’s not too late to get it back, and they make their way to Goodwill. When they arrive, he tears apart eight of the nine bags he brought in but is unable to find the sweater. There’s a ninth bag in sight, but before Joe can get into it, he’s stopped by a Goodwill employee, who tells him that it’s against policy for him to look through what’s already been donated. When Joe and Haley walk out, he hands her his keys and tells her to bring his truck around. Then he runs back inside, steals what he thinks is the ninth bag, then hops in the truck and speeds off. Unfortunately, it’s someone else’s donated clothing that he’s snatched, and now there’s no way of retrieving the sweater.
Back at the house, Donna tells Cameron that she completed her video game, Pilgrim. Acknowledging its complexities, Cameron says, “I made it for people like you. Unfortunately, there aren’t many people like you.” Donna smiles. Cameron thanks her for playing it and says it means a lot. Donna then apologizes for blowing up at her while Bosworth was in the hospital. (Watch the scene here.)
Soon after, Katie arrives, her car packed and ready to move to Seattle for a fresh start. When she heads inside, Donna gives her the picture from the fridge and tells her to take a look around and see if there’s anything she wants. Though Katie declines the offer, she does mention a picture she always loved of Gordon and Donna when they were younger. Katie says she’s jealous that she didn’t get to know that version of Gordon, and wishes she’d had more time with him. She then makes her way into the living room, freezing up when she realizes that this is where she found Gordon dead. Overwhelmed, she heads back to her car. Haley and Joe pull up moments later, but Katie can’t bring herself to get out and confront Gordon’s daughter. The two exchange a friendly wave, then Katie steps on the gas and drives away.
Afterwards, Haley goes up to Joanie’s room and asks her older sister why she didn’t apply to college. She wouldn’t have gotten in, anyway, Joanie replies. The siblings embrace, and Haley asks Joanie if she plans on leaving after high school. Joanie doesn’t have an answer. Back downstairs, Bosworth is cooking up a pot of chili. He tries to reminisce with Joe about the first time he noticed Gordon back at Cardiff, but the discussion is too painful for Joe to bear.
Outside, an overwhelmed Cameron struggles to fight back her tears. “I didn’t realize how hard this would be,” she admits to Donna. “I lost a really good friend, and I don’t have that many of those to spare.” She then tells Donna that in the wake of Gordon’s death, Joe has made it known that he wants kids, which has only put pressure on Cameron, who has never wanted to have children of her own. Donna says that she shouldn’t have to change her mind just to appease the situation. She then breaks down, saying how much she not only misses Gordon, but misses Cameron and their friendship. “I’m right here,” Cameron says. And just like that, the ex-Mutiny partners appear to have buried the hatchet. (Yay!)
When Donna and Cameron head back inside and join Joe and Bosworth at the dinner table, Joanie and Haley follow suit. Once seated, Joe apologies to Haley for not being able to get Gordon’s sweater back. She accepts his apology, but a deep sadness continues to wash over him.
We then return to the flashback that started the episode. It’s the following morning, and Gordon hasn’t returned home. He has instead gone to the quarry that Donna previously described at lengths to Joanie during Episode 6. Gordon strips down, runs towards the edge and jumps into the swimming hole. He comes up for air and lets out an enthusiastic “Woo!” He then returns home, where he finds Donna singing a quiet lullaby to Joanie. It’s nearly identical to the scene that played out in Gordon’s head during the stroke. Donna puts Joanie down, then goes to embrace her husband.
“Don’t you ever do that to me again,” she says. “I won’t,” Gordon replies before the episode fades to black.
What did you think of this week’s Halt and Catch Fire? (The two-hour series finale airs next Saturday, Oct. 14.)