Halt and Catch Fire began its run on AMC last year with an intriguing but subtle premise. Its look into the world of computers and its diverse quartet of main characters seemed like a nice idea for a show that could follow in the footsteps of AMC’s Golden Generation. The first season finale even set up an intriguing plotline for a second season so it was a delight to hear that it was renewed despite low ratings. While season one was a slow ascent in terms of creative quality, season two is the opposite. Season two begins as a show in complete control of itself, but Halt and Catch Fire slowly loses momentum as the season goes on. Not enough to say that it has become bad, but just enough to make me not care if the show survives for another season.
The second season of Halt and Catch Fire picks up with Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna (Kerry Bishe) carrying out their business plan to create a social network through computers now known as Mutiny. At the same time Gordon (Scoot McNairy) looks for something to do after achieving his goals and Joe (Lee Pace) tries to live a life in which he never is trying to disguise what he really wants again. Joe’s plotline seems particularly vague because it kind of is in season two. Joe was certainly the main character of season one, but here he just seems like a character in search of a storyline that occasionally causes problems for the other three characters only to just have a reason for him to still be on the show. It’s a major weakness of the second season that only gets worse as the season goes on.
That being said the Cameron and Donna storyline begins with a lot of energy. The underrated Kerry Bishe and Mackenzie Davis are doing career best work here, and it will honestly be a shame when neither one of these actresses are up for an Emmy next year. The storyline ultimately does fizzle out at the end with entrances from Joe and a cliché-riddled romance subplot, but it also allows director Juan Jose Campanella to play with the series in a way that hasn’t been done before visually. Gordon’s plotline also brings out some great moments of the season. Gordon’s intricacies can get a bit annoying at points, but the subtle way in which Gordon’s struggle to find the next great thing to do with his life is portrayed and written is a sight to behold.
Season two of Halt and Catch Fire isn’t ultimately as good as its debut season, but it still provides ample opportunities to see some of the best acting on television.