Review: On ‘Silicon Valley,’ will Richard outmaneuver Jack or screw up again?

A few thoughts on tonight's Silicon Valley coming up just as soon as we drench the garage in hawk urine…

I didn't get a chance to write about last week's episode, but I felt conflicted about its ending. On the one hand, following up an entire Ocean's Eleven-style caper planning episode with the caper being foiled within 30 seconds of the guys walking into the office was a completely unexpected, unapologetically cruel joke. On the other, it seemed to be taking the show's anti-Entourage philosophy to its extreme: “Things are going to go badly for the guys, and we don't care how quickly we have to make that happen.” Some viewers seemed convinced that the fiasco with the skunkworks documents was actually part of the scam – a feint within a feint to keep Jack off-guard – and while it didn't play that way to me (none of those guys are good enough actors for that), I almost hoped it would, because this was inept even by Richard's previous standards.

“Maleant Data Systems Solutions” shows that this wasn't a feint – Richard really did screw up – but very cleverly works around the mistake. First, Richard feels confident enough to cut a deal with Jack – and his faceplant on the desk right at his moment of triumph felt much more along the lines of the kind of humiliations he should tonally suffer – and then his unexpected desire to make the box as good as it can be threatens to put the Pied Piper platform on hold for years. This was more interesting, and more fun, than the guys being idiots. Here, it's their own talent and pride that creates a new problem, and for once everything turns out okay: Monica stands up for Richard like she once promised to, Gavin inadvertently sets the market price for a middle-out compression company, and Laurie finally has the confidence to oust Jack as CEO. (I'll miss Tobolowsky, but it was time.)

This was a really fun episode, between the coders trying to pretend they didn't care about the box even as they competed to make it better, Gavin's guru manipulating his way back into power, and Big Head's continued upward failure for once helping out someone else (in this case, Erlich). I'm sure things will quickly grow more difficult for the guys as soon as next week, but it was a relief to see them win for once, and in a very funny episode.

What did everybody else think?