How ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ Creators Improved the Show by Blocking Out the Feedback

It’s easy to look at AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire” going into its fourth and final season as a completely different show than the one that premiered in 2015.

The drama series about technology gurus in the early days of the 1980s computer boom initially told a story about two colleagues — Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) and Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) — who were engaged in a Steve Jobs vs. Steve Wozniak style relationship. Working to create an IBM competitor, the two clashed on producing hardware and how to market the products.

Season 2, however, presented a dramatic shift. Joe and Gordon were relegated to supporting characters as Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna Clark (Kerry Bishé) began to lead. The two women started Mutiny, an early online gaming company. Over the course of this and Season 2, the show became less about the business of making technology, and more about why we do it. It became less of a period piece, and more of a way to present parallels with today’s technology.

Also Read: How AMC’s Charlie Collier Got a ‘Breaking Bad’ Meth Lab in the Smithsonian (Video)

“Is the technology we create bringing us together or driving us further apart?” co-showrunner Christopher Cantwell asked in an interview with TheWrap. “We examine that in our five characters’ relationships with each other. It’s definitely like looking at them with a macro lens in terms of today.”

Cantwell, along with Christopher C. Rogers (the two Chrises, as I like to call them), were brand new to TV when they pitched the show that would ultimately become “Halt and Catch Fire” to AMC. They met when they were both “dream-deferred writers,” Rogers explained. Despite this lack of experience, one of the first things they learned was to be flexible.

“In approaching the show, which was our first foray into television at all, we had to keep an open mind and listen to what the show was telling us,” Cantwell said.

Also Read: 13 Shows to Binge-Watch Before Labor Day: 'Stranger Things,’ 'Halt and Catch Fire,’ 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ (Photos)

So even throughout Season 1, the show was going through a transition. People in the writers’ room found themselves talking about Cameron and Donna instead of Joe and Gordon, which led to them getting more screen time in Season 2. They looked at somebody like Joe, a mysterious person who wanted to have all the answers but didn’t, and tweaked him into what they called a “two-strike hitter” — somebody who pretended to have all the answers. Gordon, who was the misunderstood genius who couldn’t connect with anybody, learned to engage in relationships, becoming the heart of the teams he was a part of.

“They’re challenging all those things we set up in the story and constantly upending them. That seemed to be where the fun was,” Cantwell explained.

AMC

Of course, the cast and crew was on board. It also wasn’t totally off base for a show that’s about invention and change, so that made the adjustments easy for the audience to swallow.

“It was true of the cast and it was true of what they brought to the performances and with the themes of reinvention and rebuilding that we brought to the show from the very beginning,” Cantwell continued.

So much changed just from the pilot that “Halt and Catch Fire” almost became a different show and critics noticed. The original response was that the show was trying, unintentionally or not, to be like AMC’s other hit “Mad Men.” Writers also found the Jobs/Wozniak dynamic to be played out, especially in early episodes where the focus was on building hardware. However, with Season 2, and even towards the end of Season 1, the reception became more positive.

That criticism changed how the two Chrises worked. While Season 1 was already complete by the time the show began airing, the response influenced Season 2 and beyond.

Also Read: 'Walking Dead’ Producers Sue AMC, Accuse Network of Hoarding Profits

“You make something and you put it out in the world for the first time and you want it to be a hit, you want everyone to love it and it was hard when it wasn’t immediately embraced,” Rogers said. “But in a way I think it was one of the teachers we could’ve had at that point in our career. I think it sent us into a ‘we have nothing to lose’ mentality. We were going to play our music, we were going to tell the story we wanted to tell and kind of block out all the feedback that was coming from outside. That really enabled us to find the rhythm of the show that we were able to settle into.”

Originally, the duo worked with Jonathan Lisco, who acted as showrunner. However, after he stepped down following Season 2, the Chrises were thrust into new “terrifying” territory. However, at this point, they had settled into their writing style and what they wanted out of the show, so it was a matter of just sitting down and creating Season 3. This season presented another huge change for audiences. Instead of setting the show in Texas, where it had been for two seasons, it was moved to Silicon Valley.

This transition not only introduced a new modern-day parallel, but introduced new conflicts for the characters as they moved from small-town, lowkey life into the middle of the technological revolution.

“We felt something beautiful,” Rogers recalled. “We really doubled down on the room dynamics and trying to creating a culture where people felt power to do their best work, on really getting good feedback with the actors.”

Season 4, however, presented the biggest change since the beginning, picking up seven years after the Season 3 finale. The showrunners said that this allows the show’s final season to explore all of the transitions that have come before it, whether it’s personal or professional.

“They spent three seasons of trying to guess the future, of trying to create a future that other people don’t see, and we put them squarely into this future they created, so they can look around going ‘what have we wrought,'” Rogers said.”It’s also a chance for our characters to look back at the journey they’ve been on. They have a lot of scars and wounds and hopefully a little wisdom to see if they can revisit the things they couldn’t get right in the first season.”

Also Read: How AMC’s Charlie Collier Got a 'Breaking Bad’ Meth Lab in the Smithsonian (Video)

It also brings them out of the 1980s and into the 90s, where the internet and Silicon Valley are on the precipice of becoming what it is today. That in itself will create a whole new environment for the characters.

Overall, going into the final season, Rogers and Cantwell feel like they’re at the height of their powers. While it was AMC’s decision to end the show — and give the creators one more season to wrap everything up — they said it was for the best.

“Forty hours was enough time to tell this story without it getting stale, without repeating ourselves and without it going into decline,” Rogers said, adding that the two were “finally comfortable this year” after four seasons of constant change, adaptation and creative stress.

So maybe in Season 4, after 10 years of a journey, maybe the characters will be comfortable too.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Anna Chlumsky Joins 'Halt and Catch Fire’ for Final Season

'Halt and Catch Fire’ Star Jokes That He Hacked Sony Pictures; EP Talks Season 2 Changes

The Scene With Kevin Smith, AMC Boss Charlie Collier at TheGrill Special Event (Photos)

Why AMC’s New Streaming Service Is a Toe-Dip Into Cord-Cutting

  • alias / age / timezone: mo / twenty-three / gmt + eight
  • preferred pronouns: she / her
  • favorite marvel character: steve rogers! but also jessica jones, sam wilson and bucky barnes <3
  • favorite faces: they change all the time and i have so many faces on my to-play list but: daniel henney, lee pace, toni mahfud, kim jonghyun, emeraude toubia!
  • how you found palindrome: it was recc’d to me~
  • what you’re looking for in palindrome: awesome muns, awesome writing, awesome plots!
  • a gif that describes you:

Imagine Thranduil: you are mine now.


Pairing: Thranduil x Reader Summary: You and Thranduil have a brief discussion. Thranduil was walking down the corridor of his halls, the meeting to sign treaties with Dale and Erebor had been tiresome and lasted all day and nothing was decided, while the travelers slept, the elven king was intrigued by the girl who wipes out her whole patience You find it. He saw a light in the meeting room and went to check, when Thranduil opened the door he came across (Y / N) the woman Bard trousse to assist him, she was leaning over the table with some papers, he remembered her words Had been addressed to him during the meeting, his hip was slightly arched and the vision sent the king waves of heat that made his body tingle, he can not stop admiring the curves of the human, her petulance caused him hatred, always provoking with answers Gross and a lot of disrespect. In a way, it pleased the Elvish king, a woman who was not intimidated and would not let herself be easily subdued, it caused her erotic thoughts to corrode his body.

“What are you doing?” Asked the king, entering the room completely.


“That does not concern you,” you replied, straightening the body. Thranduil came up behind him, “I also want to review these documents, we can check together” he said his warm breath next to his face sent you electric waves all over the body making you moan softly, you hated him more could not deny the “You can not turn your back on the king,” he said haughtily, as usual, and you hated the way he felt himself superior to the others, “You are not mine. King, "you replied,” You should keep your mouth busy, “he replied, you shrugged and headed for his chamber.

His response caused a fire in the Elven king, he felt his whole body burn in lust, he wanted and needs to be the only man in the middle land to dominate you, and he knew exactly how to keep his mouth busy. You lay in bed feeling the sheets touching your body, the bath was not enough to end the fire that spread through your body, but you are satisfied with the soft touch of the silk sheets, soon the thoughts about the elven king roamed his Head and you felt the need to touch yourself, your hand slid gently over the only fabric over your body, your thin nightdress and reached its moisture caressing its intimate point, and the other hand lowered the handle of the dress leaving one of its Breasts that were also stroked, you closed your eyes to focus on your pleasure and the fantasy of having the king at your feet.


Thranduil stopped in front of his door, and thought he could not do it, the elves’ emotions are more intense than humans, he could not enter, you would kill him or hate him for the rest of his life, or worse he’d be afraid of him, and It was the last thing he wanted, somehow to turn you away, he was afraid of those thoughts, why would the Elvish King care about an uneducated human? Because she was his, she had to be his.
"Thranduil,” you moaned softly, but the elf’s sharp hearing listened and all thoughts of him were wiped out of his mind and now he just wanted to see you, prove you and force you to kneel before him. He entered his room and you did not hear the door open and close, he was concentrating on his own pleasure, he stopped in front of the bed watching you with desire, then began to take off his cloak and boots, the touches on his own body made him His blood boil.Sugerir.
You opened your eyes in a leap when the king held his fists above his head, “What are you doing?” He asked, his face so close to his that you could feel the warm breath, and the scent of his long Hair, “What you …” his question was cut in half with a kiss, the king’s tongue invading, exploring and claiming his mouth, his lips pressed with possession and an almost painful desire, he lowered his hand to its moisture Caressing his intimidating spot without taking off his mouth. You let out ragged groans, your free hand was placed against his chest still clad in a gray tunic, his much smaller body writhing beneath him.

   “Please,” you groaned and he replied with a smile, he brought his face close to his rubbing his lips on hers, you bent to steal a kiss and he stepped back, “I just want to help you” he said smiling, and then tore His dress revealing his skin, he sat on his body holding his arms with his knees and began to take off his own clothes, leaving only his pants on. His broad shoulders, and his muscular chest worthy of a warrior made you delirious, you just wanted to run a hand over them, over the king’s body, he left his fists free and stood up to finish taking off his own clothes.

 "Please Thranduil,“ you said breathlessly, he pulled his ankles so that you were close to him and began to gently kiss his inner thigh until finally reaching his point, sucking and nibbling, his moans flooded the room, he could feel you tilt his Hip for his touches, then stopped and looked at you with a satisfied smile emblazoned on his clear face.Thranduil scaled his body as you struggled with a feigned rejection, he grabbed his fists, squeezed them tightly then kissed her with the same intensity as before, he grabbed his lower lip between his teeth, and gazed at you for a moment, his Intense blue eyes glazed on his face made you shiver "Nalyë melmenya?” He whispered, you opened his mouth in protest more was silenced with one more kiss, but this time was kind and loving, sucking his lips, pressing gently, you bowed His body up when Thranduil slid into you, his movements were jerking him away, “say you’re mine (Y / N)” he ordered with a whisper in his ear, he felt you move his hip away, then He pressed himself even harder against you, who wrapped his legs around his waist so he could get in completely, “I’m yours! I’m your Thranduil! "You moaned, his hips pressing hard, you felt as if you could feed on clouds and float with the stars, your nerves unrolling, your toes clenched indicating the end of your daydream, you Wriggled under him and was driven from his personal paradise and shortly afterwards felt Thranduil break free, and relax over his body.

You watched his perfect body settle at his side, then pulled away but was pulled into the king’s embrace, which rested his face on the side of his chest chest, his back filling and softening as the breath, a feeling of satisfaction Filled the king, he did not want to let you go, he could not let you go, just wanted to hold her forever, you could not go back home with Bard, he would not let you. "You’re not leaving,” he whispered in her ear, “What? I need to get back home, "you protested, he squeezed you harder.” Do not think about it, “he said, you relaxed over the king’s grip and I felt the fatigue engulf you,” You are mine now, “he whispered, you Listened and felt him kiss her face gently, "You are mine now, nalyë melmenya” he said smiling against his skin.

Nalyë melmenya (You are my love)

Let me know if something is wrong. I wanted a better phrase for Thranduil, but I could not find it, if you could send me, I thank you.

Halt and Catch Fire remains a luminous drama in final season: EW review

In the second episode of Halt and Catch Fire‘s fourth and final season, two people spend an entire day talking to each other on the phone. Joe (Lee Pace) is a mad-genius internet pioneer in the Frontierland of Silicon Valley trying to divine the next golden find. Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) is a brainy and headstrong video-game auteur questing for a next-level entertainment experience, something more elevated than bloody boss fights. But in this hour, they’re just two lonely souls with a fraught history and a broken relationship, connecting, repairing, and becoming enmeshed all over again.

On any other TV series, isolating lead characters and making them relate via technology might yield dramatic entropy. But the arc of this exquisitely acted conversation exemplifies Halt and Catch Fire‘s dynamic powers. The show is a period drama about our boundless pursuit of what’s next, set in the primitive pre-Wi-Fi days of the dial-up ’90s when phones were used only for talking and not yet capable of tweeting or FaceTiming or Facebooking. The story is a creation myth for hypermediated society, but the rich interpersonal dramas double as commentary on the quality of 21st-century interconnectivity. And Joe and Cameron’s epic phone call is a metaphor for the evolution of online communication. The talk ranges from sharing painful intimacies and banal status updates to yakking about pop culture and working out the language of a truth-obscuring press release. But the conversation involves real talking. Using a phone to speak to each other? How novel! We should try that!

That wide-ranging chat — which begins awkwardly, then ignites — mirrors the evolution of Halt and Catch Fire itself, a show that overcame a sputtering start to become a luminous drama. The slick, computer-age Mad Men wannabe, buggy with tired edginess, sharpened and shaped up in season 2. Season 3 found winning focus by charting the rise and fall of Cameron’s partnership with engineer-turned-suit Donna (Kerry Bishé) and their gaming/e-commerce company, Mutiny. Along the way, creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers went from aping the antihero playbook to refining it. Each of the main characters — including Donna’s now ex-husband Gordon (Scoot McNairy) and father figure Bosworth (Toby Huss) — has become incredibly compelling and unique. Their innate optimism is shaded; their flaws render them sympathetic, not alienating; and their conflicts in love, friendship, and business are thrillingly complex. You see and feel how everyone is correct and selfish, and the outcomes have profound consequences.

Season 3 concluded with two gripping eps that jumped four years to 1990, into the early days of the internet browser wars, and this penchant for rebooting makes it somewhat easy for newcomers to dive in. Season 4’s first three hours make major investments in everyone, especially Gordon, imbuing them all with deeper poignancy. There are two time jumps, a business collapse, and a new killer app to chase. Together they suggest a final chapter driving toward reflection on our always-online present and our restless search for self-realization and the next big thing. Halt and Catch Fire is an urgent story of rehumanization for a cold, wired culture. Plug in now.