This week on “Silicon Valley” Richard and his motley Pied Piper clan edged closer to the inevitable face-off with Gavin Belson and his rip-off product Nucleus. While some of the humor was pointed, much was the usual sitcom stuff — jealous husbands, a running out of toiler paper mishap, misinterpreted information, taking shots at the resident punching bag — though the end result was a mostly palatable mishmash, depending on how you feel about one straight guy teasing another about being “gay” for his code.
The guys pack up (or really, only Erlich packs up — Gilfoyle takes all he needs for a business trip in a plastic supermarket bag) and head out to TechCrunch Disrupt, where Pied Piper will face off against Nucleus. The show is going to take their time building the tension here — the episode ends before Erlich has given more than a few seconds of the Pied Piper demonstration — and the good news is this allows for some pointed digs at the Palo Alto scene.
In addition to a montage of bland presentations (and one very funny one about using microwaves for a Human Heater) featuring the same trendy lingo of the moment, Monica warns the guys to stay focused — while the start-up community is usually 2 percent female, the ratio blasts up to fifteen percent at TechCrunch Disrupt. “Goddamn meat market,” Gilfoyle grumbles as he scans the (largely male) crowd.
Of course, with those odds we had to have more women in this episode, and two of the three with speaking roles busily clamored into bed with our main characters. The third presents the other end of the spectrum, though, so that's something. It seems Richard dated a former classmate once or twice years ago, and now Sherry is telling everyone he “stalked” her.
Richard being Richard, this leads him to become obsessed with proving otherwise, looking her up on the Internet and, in traditional sitcom fashion, accidentally slapping a picture of her up on the TechCrunch presentation screen while she's in the room. Ultimately, Richard's reputation is only restored by Jared's meltdown.
Since returning from his four day unplanned journey to Peter Gregory's island, he discovers that Monica is taking care of everything — and the guys don't help matters by declaring him “unnecessary personnel” during the presentation walk-through before sending him back to man the booth like a naughty Irish Setter. He doesn't even show up in a smart phone app that tracks the meaningful people attending the summit.
Jared, who walks around the show floor looking like he's suffering a series of small strokes, finally confronts Monica about how she's overstepped her bounds because he's given his life to his “partner” Richard and knows everything about him. As luck (or the sitcom gods) would have it, Sherry's walking by at that moment and misinterprets Jared's tears and definition of Richard as his “partner.” Zoinks!
Sherry apologizes to Richard, who tells her he has “a lot” of partners. She thinks he's gay and promiscuous! Cue the laugh track! Richard doesn't realize Sherry's mistake, and I hope we don't revisit this particular joke. It's not that funny, and I think the last time it seemed fresh was on “Three's Company.”
Slightly better is the squabble between Dinesh and Gilfoyle, which happens after Gilfoyle writes some Java coding for the cute girl at the booth behind Pied Piper's, which Dinesh unwittingly reads and, because of it, falls hard for the girl in the belief she wrote it. When Gilfoyle discovers Dinesh's newfound crush, he teases his co-worker mercilessly until Dinesh can't even seal the deal with the cute girl — he's too freaked out about the idea that he's really turned on by something Gilfoyle wrote instead of his date.
Really, it's not so much a gay joke as one about Dinesh finding everything about Gilfoyle so unpalatable he can't accept the idea anything he's created could give him a warm and fuzzy feeling. But what may be more disappointing about is that Gilfoyle botched Dinesh's plans to hook up last week, too. It may be a running joke, or it may just speak to a lack of ideas.
As to that third female, she helped bring about an important plot twist. When Erlich discovers a Mr. Melcher is going to be judging the presentations, he's a little concerned — he slept with Melcher's wife years ago, but he doesn't know if Melcher found out. Thus, Erlich tracks down Melcher's hotel room and finds not the woman he slept with, but a new wife. Guess who he sleeps with this time? Yes, Wife #2 gets the Erlich treatment, and when Erlich takes the stage to present, we find out for sure that Melcher knows about his indiscretion because he lunges across the stage to beat the hell out of him. Suddenly, things are looking pretty bleak for Pied Piper, despite Erlich's calls for spotlights and dramatic music. Richard will probably have to present, which everyone agrees is the worst possible outcome.
We also see Big Head for a hot minute, as he breaks away from the Hooli crowd to tell Richard how much he's enjoying his life of leisure and share that he's buying a boat. I wish we'd see a little more of Big Head (it's not like he isn't available), as Richard sorely needs someone on whom to unload. Of course, that may be too touchy feely, and if we've learned anything from “Silicon Valley,” it that these brainiacs are either out of touch or purposefully childish, falling back on poop jokes and practical jokes to deal with the stress of a path that has the highest of stakes.
What do you think of “Silicon Valley” so far? Do you think Pied Piper will beat out Nucleus? Would you have taken the ten million dollars?