Episode 5 of “Halt and Catch Fire” Season 2 was a rough one for Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy)! After spending the first half of the season idle and digging himself into a hole with Donna (Kerry Bishé) and Mutiny, things got worse for the engineer when he was diagnosed with untreatable brain damage. The bad news set Gordon on an episode-long quest to reconnect with his family and friends. Scoot McNairy spoke with International Business Times over the weekend to discuss his character’s fragile state of mind.
International Business Times: Can you break down Gordon’s mindset after getting the bad news from the doctor?
Scoot McNairy: I think at first he is still a little bit in denial in regards to him thinking that he can actually fix this. I think the doctor is telling him these things and Gordon doesn’t want to believe him and is like, “Get to the point. How do I fix this?” Even when he is told that it is terminal, there is a bit of denial that it will be fine, but like most things you want to go to tell somebody else and get it off your chest. In regards to the episode, which is really all about community and communicating, he is having a lot of trouble getting somebody to listen to him.
IBTimes: Is he actually planning to tell Donna throughout the episode or is he just trying to score some time with her again?
McNairy: I think it’s both. I think he wants a moment with her because when you get news like this you don’t really know how to process it, but he is so happy that she has [Mutiny] and is doing what she wants to do and he doesn’t want to take away from that. He wants to tell her about it, but he can’t get her to focus on him.
IBTimes: There’s a lot of space between Gordon and Donna right now despite his recent attempts to be a better husband. How will Donna react when she finds out about his brain damage and how will it affect their marriage?
McNairy: I don’t think Gordon knows at this point. I think he just wants to know that there is someone out there who cares about him. He hasn’t really thought about it in a long time and after this diagnosis he starts reaching out to just about everyone just to see who is really there for him in the end.
IBTimes: So when his mother-in-law makes their conversation about paying her back for the Symphonic is it a big disappointment?
McNairy: Absolutely! I think he came over there to spend time with his mother-in-law and I think he’s kind of wrestling with what he’s feeling. He comes over for something completely different and something that’s constantly been on his shoulders for a long time gets brought up and it’s disappointing and discouraging and it upsets him.
IBTimes: How does Joe (Lee Pace) factor into Gordon’s quest for connection?
McNairy: I think Joe and Gordon’s friendship is really at the beginning of its blossoming now. I think the relationship they had in the first season was strictly a work relationship. They shared some of the same goals, but Gordon never really got to know Joe. I think that their relationship has come a little further, but he can’t lay something like [his brain damage diagnosis] on Joe. He doesn’t trust him enough yet.
IBTimes: Gordon has a touching phone call with his brother in the episode. Will we meet his family?
McNairy: Yeah, I think so! That’s probably one of the most important scenes in the episode for Gordon. He finally gets what he’s been looking for – someone who actually cares and does want to see him. I think he’s a little bit overwhelmed with emotion that there is somebody who cares and I think that’s the first place he’s going to run after getting that information.
IBTimes: It sounded like Gordon has not seen his extended family in a long time.
McNairy: Yeah, when we first met Gordon in the first season he’s completely overwhelmed with work and had been in a very dark place. In terms of work and finances he hasn’t been able to go home for a while. He probably hasn’t seen his family in a good four or five years.
IBTimes: Does Gordon’s custom computer business go on the back burner now after his diagnosis?
McNairy: Well, like anything, you get hurdles thrown at you in life and you can’t just check out. Life goes on. I think that’s an endeavor that Gordon’s had and I don’t think it is one that will go away. I just think anything he wants to do is going to become a lot harder now, but your dreams and your goals don’t change. You just have to reevaluate them.
IBTimes: Gordon gets some of the more odd, borderline surreal scenes in the show, such as episode 5's trippy dance club sequence. Do you enjoy those as an actor?
McNairy: Yeah, they're interesting. As an actor we always dive into the character's head, but it's really interesting to dive into the character's head visually. There's a lot of it in the first season with Gordon as well, like when he sees the plant growing out of the computer. Gordon is definitely a character where we explore his brain more than some of the other characters.
IBTimes: Is there a reason for that?
McNairy: I will say there is an interesting parallel between some of those Season 1 scenes and his brain diagnosis.
How will Donna react to Gordon's diagnosis? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.