Episode 2.02 was titled “New Coke,” and it was about various characters and their companies being “reformulated” just as the Coca-Cola Company reformulated their primary product in April 1985. Thus, it seems appropriate that the subsequent episode (3.03, “The Way In”) opens with the image of another cola that debuted in 1985—the overly caffeinated Jolt, which was marketed as a legal, over-the-counter stimulant. I have my doubts that Jolt was actually available in Dallas in 1985, but perhaps Gordon has a supply shipped directly from Jolt in Rochester, New York. In any event, Gordon was one of those reformulations in the previous episode, as he found a new purpose in life after retiring as a computer engineer following the sale of Cardiff Electric—a sale that made him a rich man who would never need to work again (if he invested wisely). To give some perspective of exactly how wealthy Gordon became after receiving his share of the Cardiff sale, his check for a little over $838,000 would be equivalent to more than $1,852,000 in 2015 (according to the US Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics). He’s not Bruce Wayne, but wise investments and maintaining the same middleclass lifestyle that he and his wife, Donna, have been living (along with Donna’s salary of at least $30,000 a year at Mutiny—which is equal to about $66,000 in 2015) should allow Gordon to never have to work again. However, not working led Gordon to indulging in cocaine, which is what caused his nosebleeds in episode 2.01. Fortunately, Gordon’s “reformulation” of himself from a hardware designer into an Internet cartographer has led to him dropping cocaine in favor of eating a lot of junk food and drinking a lot of Jolt Cola instead. I guess he just traded his illegal stimulant for a legal one. Gordon is mapping Mutiny’s network, which will give Donna data she can use to get funding for the company as well as go after users playing Mutiny’s online games for free—i.e., bandwidth pirates. In other words, as the title of the episode indicates, Gordon has found “the way into” cyberspace that will allow him to make rudimentary maps of that elusive electronic realm. He calls his cyber-mapping program “Sonaris.” I have no idea what the –is indicates, but the “sonar” part of the name seems to indicate that he is “pinging” the modems connected to Mutiny’s network and then creating a map based on the time elapse between sending the signal and receiving the return ping—similar to the way sonar works in mapping objects underwater. Regarding their own lives, other characters are also looking for their own ways in. For instance, Bosworth is having an affair with his ex-wife—meeting her at highway motel several miles out in the middle of nowhere from Dallas. He thinks sex with his ex is a way in—a way back—to his family and the life he had before he went to prison. However, she sees their clandestine meetings as a way to enjoy the only part of her life she enjoyed when they were married. He’s not even invited to their son’s wedding, which leads to a poignant scene between Bosworth and his son outside the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner is being held. From his interaction with his son, it’s clear the reason Bosworth is not invited to the wedding has nothing to do with his son or his future daughter-in-law. The lack of an invitation to the event is due solely his ex-wife who wants him to stay away. She’ll meet him for sex at a run-down motel on a lonely stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere, but she’ll throw a fit that will ruin the wedding if he shows up to watch his son get married. While I’ve never served time in prison, I can nevertheless identify with Bosworth’s difficulty in finding a way into his own family due to emotional obstacles and historical ill will. In the end, Bosworth gives his son the only thing he still had from his former life; we’ll have to see if his generous wedding gift ends up being his way into the lives of his son and daughter-in-law. Conversely, Joe seemed to find a relative easy way into his future father-in-law’s favor. After working his mundane data-entry job at Westgroup Energy for a week (?),* Joe realizes that a lot of money is being wasted by having “data entry” and “data analytics” as two separate departments in the company. When he begins to make his case to his future father-in-law, Joe is told to fire his current boss and do whatever he needs to do to put his plan into action. However, just as he’s prepared to fire his boss and take over as the head of the merging departments, Joe realizes the company’s mainframe computer is from Cardiff Electric and that it only runs from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. He suddenly sees a new “way in”—a way into something that isn’t clear to me at all. However, it involves using this Cardiff Electric mainframe during the 16 hours each day (plus weekends?) in which it has otherwise been sitting idle. I’m halfway hoping the plan involves screwing Nathan Cardiff out of the money he refused to give Joe after the sale of Cardiff Electric, but it’s probably a simple plan about leasing computer time to other companies during the hours that Westgroup Energy isn’t using their machines. Finally, someone seems to have found a way into Mutiny’s database. As Cameron mopes because she didn’t invent a new game that would have impressed her new employee, Tom Rendon,** she is interrupted by Yo-Yo (that’s what they call him) who tells her that all of their data is being overwritten by a computer program that got into their system. Even worse, this malware program also overwriting all of the data on their subscribers’ computers—and many of their subscribers are already phoning in to complain. At first I suspected the originator of this malware was the aforementioned Tom Rendon, who had been complaining about the lace of innovation at Mutiny. I thought releasing a malicious software program into Mutiny’s network as a way of destroying everything and forcing a complete reconstruction was something Tom seemed likely to do. However, Tom was not responsible for the problem; it was someone else who (accidentally) found a way in and destroyed all of the data on the servers and computers of everyone on Mutiny’s network. Unfortunately, the revelation of the actual culprit responsible for the malware is significantly more devastating. In a summer television season in which I have been disappointed with many of the series I’ve been watching (or at least giving a chance to convince me to watch them)—I’m looking at you, Killjoys, Dark Matter, and (a former favorite of mine) Orphan Black—at least I can rely on Halt and Catch Fire to provide me with quality writing and acting that keeps me engaged in the story. Plus, there are always several good songs that are played on each episode—whether it’s Bosworth listening to Johnny Cash’s rendition of “Rock Island Line” while driving in his car or Cameron listening to some great punk discs while writing software code (Cameron is a cyberpunk), there is always some great music in Halt and Catch Fire. * For his data-entry job, Joe uses OCR software that can’t recognize the difference between a lowercase i (ai) and a lowercase l (el), which is a significant problem when he’s scanning documents for an oil company in which the word oil is used a lot! ** And as she feels all sad about not inventing a game that will please Tom, she listens to Stäläg 13—a rather obscure hardcore punk band from Oxnard, California for whom the great comic book creator Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets) used to create fliers and album covers back in the early- and mid-1980s. How cool is that!? Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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