Airtime: Sundays at 10PM on HBO
Episode: Season 3, Episode 4 (S03E04)
Tweetable Takeaway: Pied Piper can’t make a lackluster product no matter how hard they try
In last week’s SILICON VALLEY, Richard and Pied Piper were really backed into a corner after their epic Skunkworks plan came crashing down. This week’s episode picks up right where last week’s ended. Jack seems poised to fire them but Richard is quick on his feet and reminds Jack that they’re among the few talented enough to build the box within the limited timetable who’s not a competitor. Richard even goes a step further and gets Jack to agree to let them develop their platform. Right before the audience gets the impression that our nebbish hero has turned a more confident corner, Richard hits his face against Jack’s desk, triggering a nose bleed. Whoops.
Richard and Co. start work on the box, but soon their quest for innovative work takes hold. It doesn’t help that product designer Deng delivers a bunch of uninspired designs to Richard. Pied Piper can’t just phone it in, even as they’re writing humdrum code. When Richard goes to show Jack a prototype, he’s shocked to find out that Maleant is pulling out. Richard, though, knows that their box is better and convinces Maleant to hang tough.
Later at a board meeting, Richard, Elrich, Jack, Monica, and Laurie convene to review the Maleant contract. Monica notices that some sneaky contract wording gives Maleant exclusive rights to Richard’s algorithm for several years, meaning that Pied Piper can’t use it for other purposes. Jack and Laurie don’t care, but Monica actually backs Richard this time and successfully shoots down the contract. Monica hasn’t been given much to do this season, especially in wake of not backing Richard when he was ousted as CEO. The show gives Monica a bit of high-minded dialogue to explain the motivations behind her decision here, but it doesn’t feel fully earned. We needed to see her conflicted in the previous episodes.
There are no long lasting victories on Silicon Valley, though, and news soon breaks that Hooli purchased Endframe for $250 million. The team seems crushed, until Erlich, in the midst of smoking a bong and coughing incessantly, realizes that Gavin has just set the market price for their platform. This episode didn’t deliver that many laughs, but Erlich’s “A Ha” Moment, delivered between his hacks, is hilarious. The fact that the show is delivering a lot of much-needed exposition here is cleverly masked by Erlich’s coughing fit.
Oh, Jack is ousted as CEO of Pied Piper on this episode, too. It kind of betrays what the show set up not too long ago, that getting rid of two CEOs within a short time frame wasn’t a good look. However, this means Richard can go back to head honcho, right? Wrong. Laurie decrees that the CEO chair will remain empty for now.
Ade Adeniji | Contributor