How Far is Joe Willing to Go?

by Alex Kritselis

In a surprising turn of events, Joe MacMillan seduced a Texas socialite's husband during "High Plains Hardware," the third episode of AMC's new drama series, Halt and Catch Fire. The steamy scene left viewers with a lot of questions: Is Joe gay? Is he bisexual? Is he totally not into labels? Or is he just a really committed salesman who will stop at nothing in order to get what he wants? I'm tempted to go with the latter.

After IBM stole the majority of Cardiff Electric's major client's during last week's episode, Joe's new PC project is hurting for cash. He tries to bring in an investor on his own, but his boss, John Bosworth, intentionally botches the pitch — he doesn't like the fact that Joe didn't consult him first. Nathan Cardiff, the owner of Cardiff Electric, tells Joe that going forward, John will be making all of the financial decisions. Nathan suggests that Joe and John talk to Louise Lutherford (Jean Smart) — a wealthy Texas socialite who may be interested in helping the company out.

Joe and John attend a party at Louise's home, hoping to strike a deal. When Louise makes them an insulting offer, Joe is ready to walk out the door, but somehow ends up staying for dinner, anyway. At dinner, Joe makes it clear that he doesn't want to partner with Louise, who he calls a "poisonous, bored dilettante," but John, eager to secure funding, makes the deal. When Louise sends her much younger husband Travis to find some brandy for the group so that they can celebrate, Joe follows.

Once they're alone, Joe puts the moves on Travis — and Travis is super into it. When Joe and Travis return, Louise and John have already started eating dessert. "What took you so long?" Louise asks. "It's too late for brandy." "We decided on a port," Joe responds, shooting Louise a harsh look. Louise observes Travis glancing over at Joe, and somehow, immediately deduces that the two men must have just had sex. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Maybe Travis has a habit of sleeping with dinner party guests? Who knows. Regardless, Louise is visibly shaken by this revelation and the deal ends up falling through — just like Joe wanted. John can't quite figure out what went wrong, but he suspects that Joe had something to do with it.

So, hooking up with Travis was just a part of Joe's grand plan to sabotage the partnership with Louise? Apparently. But how did Joe know that Travis would be receptive to his advances? And how did he know that Louise would instantly jump to the conclusion that Travis had just cheated on her and call the whole thing off? I have no idea. Yeah, if you ask me, this was definitely one of the more ridiculous plot points on the show so far.

Still, "High Plains Hardware" definitely proved that Joe isn't afraid to use sex in order to get what he wants. How much further is he willing to go? I suspect this is only the beginning.

Images: AMC