Everything fell apart during "FUD," the second episode of AMC's freshman drama series, Halt and Catch Fire. Computer giant IBM tried to put Cardiff Electric out of business by stealing all of their top clients, which put the future of slick salesman Joe MacMillan's new personal computing venture in serious jeopardy. Near the end of this week's installment, after ripping his shirt during a fight with his business partner Gordon Clark, it was revealed that Joe has some gruesome scars all over his torso. He claimed that they were the result of cruel childhood bullying, but in the episode's final scene, gifted programmer Cameron Howe told Joe that she knew he made the whole story up. So the question remains: Where did Joe get those nasty scars?
The writers have made it abundantly clear that Joe is harboring some big secrets. Dale, Joe's former boss at IBM, said that he walked out on his job without giving any notice and then completely disappeared for a year and a half. Where did Joe go? What did he do?
Let's try to piece together the pieces of information we have so far, shall we? At the beginning of "FUD," Joe sits down one-on-one with Dale, ostensibly to talk about legal issues, but Dale says that he's more interested in finding out where Joe's been all this time. He asks Joe, "Told any of your new friends about that day?"
Later, Dale stops by Joe's apartment unannounced to give him a check for $615.38, the money IBM owes him for unused vacation days. Joe laughs at the amount of the check and remarks, "615.38? I did over two million dollars worth of damage to the data center." Okay, so Joe destroyed some property on his last day at IBM! Could that be how he got those scars? Some sort of data center-related explosion? When Joe rejects Dale's offer to return to IBM, telling him that he "likes it" at Cardiff Electric, Dale counters, "You may like it out here now, but let's see what happens when they find out what you really are." Ooh, chilling.
After telling his phony bullying story to Gordon and Cameron, Joe claims that he spent his time after IBM traveling the country, "searching for answers." Well, that's just about as vague as it gets, isn't it? Anyway, he might not even be telling the truth!
I don't know where Joe got his scars, but his mysterious backstory is definitely the most compelling thing about Halt and Catch Fire so far. No doubt more information will be revealed about Joe's past in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!