Review: On 'Silicon Valley,' Erlich faces (more) public humiliation
A review of tonight's Silicon Valley coming up just as soon as I tell you I'm a pescepescetarian...
There was a brief moment in "Bachman's Earning's Over-Ride" where I made like Chandler on Friends and said, "This is the episode of Silicon Valley where there's some kind of misunderstanding." This was right as Richard was starting to yell at Monica because he assumed she was the one who sold her stock, but that mix-up got cleared up instantly, leading to the far more interesting meat of the episode: would Richard ruin Erlich's career prospects in order to protect Pied Piper's reputation?
For once, this wasn't the guys dealing with some outside agitator — especially since the episode also detailed the end of Hooli's feud with the company, and the end (for now, but not forever, I'm guessing) of Gavin's role as Silicon Valley supervillain. Instead, the conflict was entirely internal, which made it both tenser and funnier (especially since Erlich and Richard's big fight took place while Erlich was still wearing the unicorn costume) than those times when Richard is spiraling due to forces beyond his control. It also continued this season's ever-so-slight, but satisfying, shift into more pathos and a tiny bit more maturity from Erlich. Having the most humiliated guy in the Valley functioning as your corporate spokesman probably seems like a bad idea, but on the whole it's a task more suited to Erlich's skillset, as few people on the show are better at spinning and pushing a line of BS than him.
And because the initial misunderstanding got dealt with almost immediately, that set us up for the cruel but funny one in the episode's payoff, as Erlich discovers that CJ had no idea about his travails, and the ugliness she was referring to was the Pied Piper baseball jacket that Jared commissioned.
The reintroduction of Russ Hanneman, and the reminder that Richard made a terrible deal with him that Laurie now owns the rights to, also suggests interesting new sources of conflict now that Pied Piper seems on the verge of genuine, sustainable success. Obviously, there's still the threat of Gavin and Jack Barker forming a supervillain team-up once their private planes meet each other in Jackson Hole (because each of them is too spoiled and egotistical to just fly on the other guy's plane), but we are hopefully past the stage where Pied Piper was on the verge of ruin by the second act of every episode. There can, and will, be problems ahead, but these recent episodes suggest Silicon Valley is finding other ways to tell stories that still leave it feeling like itself.
Some other thoughts:
* Speaking of breaking from pattern, there's a part of that keeps hoping for Dinesh to significantly get the better of Gilfoyle in one of their arguments, but that part is inevitably shouted down by how goddamn funny Martin Starr and Kumail Nanjiani are at playing, respectively, Gilfoyle's smugness in victory and Dinesh's exasperation in defeat.
* Also, the run of insults about the jacket rivaled the ones about Dinesh's gold chain (which he fairly pointed out was much less egregious than the jacket). I particularly liked Gilfoyle suggesting, "If my mother was naked and dead in the street, I would not cover her body with that."
* At karaoke, Dinesh sings "The Pied Piper" by Crispian St. Peters.
* Gavin + animals = funny. Always.
* Richard's metaphor for how he believes Monica screwed them over suggests a particularly dark incident in his past, or just his usual crippling neuroses.
* Because they are now corporate siblings with HitFix, I chuckled especially much at the "Even Uproxx?"/"Yes, even them" Erlich/Richard exchange.
* Note how all the players at Richard's table immediately started demanding their own version of Erlich's fish dish once they saw someone eating something new. Trend followers!
What did everybody else think?