Joe, by contrast, is traveling light: It’s just him and all his millions. For a while there, it looked like the simultaneous collapse of his career, his reputation, and his marriage had Joe on the brink of suicide. (As with Gordon’s frequent displays of the avoidant personality typical to members of an alcoholic’s family, Joe’s warning-sign giveaway of items important to him shows how sharp the series can be about mental illness.) But he managed to capitalize on his toxicity by becoming, in Sara’s insulting words, “something that happens to people who don’t deserve it.” Using an anti-virus program Gordon gave him, Joe terrifies an venture capitalist who’d previously called him “a legitimate psychopath” into setting him up as a security specialist. Now he’s got a San Francisco-based empire in the making, but the office is as empty as his life. He ends this season the same way he started the first: staring out a window, alone in the world.
Closing out the core quartet is Cameron, who has plenty of company, just not quite the one she wants. Her old pal Yo-Yo is on board, as is John Bosworth, who makes the surprise decision to return to the fold when he realizes life as a backroom backslapper is no longer for him. (God bless Toby Huss, who could not be better in that role if he were an online avatar programmed for the job.) But as the Talking Heads’ haunting “Heaven” plays on the soundtrack, Cam stares wide-eyed at the entrance to her plane to California, looking for Tom Rendon to rejoin Mutiny and restart their romance. Then the door closes, and she’s left like Donna harboring her secret, or Gordon resenting Joe for his success — all of them flying to stand still.
It’s a knockout sequence, the climax of 10 episodes of increasingly intricate character dynamics and rock-solid writing, acting, and directing. Whether or not there’s a Season Three awaiting the gang when they land, this was the year Halt caught fire.
Previously: She’s Lost Control