Caution: contains spoilers. Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur and Times reporter Tricia Romano dissect, rehash and dish on Sunday night's episode of HBO's "Silicon Valley."
Last week, Pied Piper lost its CEO “Action” Jack Barker (played by the great character actor Stephen Tobolowsky) when Laurie Bream kicked him out after the “box” fiasco. That left the “CEO chair” — one of those awesome, complicated Herman Miller-esque designs — empty. And Richard, of course wanted to take back the throne.
Though this episode — fittingly called “The Empty Chair” — was all about Richard’s quest to be the boss again, Gilfoyle really owned this episode. We discuss:
Tricia Romano: Is there a one-liner that Martin Starr can’t deliver with deadpan perfection?
Nicole Brodeur: I am a Gilfoyle Girl. I love his whole Nerd Jesus thing.
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Tricia: Every stupid thing that happens, I wait with anticipation to see what line they’ve given Gilfoyle. He’s so droll and dripping with contempt. So, they’ve figured out that once again they don’t have any money, and they have to fire everyone and have a sale of all the fancy chairs.
Nicole: Did you know that he is a Laveyan Satanist? My son looked it up … “It’s a religious movement focusing on individualism, self-indulgence and retribution.” (He’s telling me this while he’s walking around the house in sweatpants eating Swedish Fish. Very casual.) Perfect for Gilfoyle.
Tricia: Ha! I remember that from the first season but they haven’t brought it up since then. That’s a missed opportunity!
Nicole: Ah, I think he’s dark enough without Beelzebub sitting in the chair behind him.
Tricia: True. So, they sell all the stuff in the office which looks suspiciously similar to many real-life tech offices.
Nicole: I wouldn’t know. The fanciest office I’ve ever been in was at The Gates Foundation. Where, by the way, I pocketed every pen I could get my paws on. I don’t think they missed them. And hey — those chandeliers in Pied Piper’s office? They’re from IKEA. I know. I was there yesterday with 3,500 screaming babies and their zombie parents. I wonder how many couples spend their Saturday nights building IKEA furniture while their children sleep. It’s like every Sunday is Christmas morning.
Tricia: I love a good pen. I love IKEA but I have to time myself when I go there, otherwise I pass out from the sensory overload. I also love how Jared takes over the “garage” sale of the stuff and sells it to people.
Nicole: Yes! Can we talk about Jared and his earnestness? “This is kind of my wheelhouse. I have a lot of elderly friends.” The poor thing. Living in the garage at Bachman’s while his condo is an Airbnb for an Airbnb-er.
Tricia: What did he say when he was selling the chairs? “The Haworths are like a spa day for the buttocks.” And, “That’s a fun item—that’s a hardware fan!” Amazing. They were supposed to liquidate everything and hire 12 coders, but they only sold $70,000 or so worth of inventory. In the meantime, Richard is supposed to do an interview with a blogger at Code/Rag (a stand-in for Geek Wire that has an actual faux website), because she’s been writing that his code is bad and he’s got to set the record straight.
Nicole: So he goes into a room with the PR woman and rants for 10 minutes, spilling EVERYTHING, asking all the while if he can say this or that to the reporter. And she says yes … you can say anything you want. And it turns out she’s the reporter. She didn’t tell him until he was finished telling her everything. That brings up all kinds of ethical issues for me … but if I’m being completely honest, I probably would have just sat there, too, with my heart racing and my mind thinking, “This guy’s an idiot.” He also didn’t really give her a chance to cut in. Poor Richard just can’t get out of his own awkward way.
Tricia: Me too. Maybe. This is why they can’t have nice things. And Laurie had just told Monica that she was going to make Richard CEO again, but she needed to make it look like she was vetting all these other bigwigs (including, um, Big Head) to make it look like he was the best choice out of many, not the defacto choice. The reporter tells him that she’ll spike the story (which is going up at noon the next day — way too late in my opinion) if he brings her something better. And Big Head eventually does.
Nicole: Laurie. What did they call her? “The Laurie-bot 6000.” When someone referenced a failed company called Clinkle, she said, “Stop saying Clinkle. It jars the ear.”
Big Head ended up sinking Gavin Belson of Hooli with a tip to the Code/Rag reporter. But is he allowed to do that? Isn’t there some kind of non-disclosure form that comes with $20 million????
Tricia: Probably, a book’s worth of NDAs? But, I don’t think she quoted him or named him. And she’s a blogger. They run wild and free. In the middle of all this, Dinesh realizes that his personal hard drive that had all the Pied Piper software on it had been sold along with all the other hard drives in the office sale. His hard drive had been tracked by Jared, who proclaimed that he would succeed: “I found my biological father in a militia up in the Ozarks,” and traces it back to a grandpa. Gilfoyle impersonates a Geek Squad employee and shows up unannounced. When the old man asks why he’s not wearing his shirt, he says, “I spilled coffee on it. I’m a nerd” and “fixes” the hard drive by drilling a hole through it with a drill.
Nicole: Then when the real Geek Squad guy shows up, he deadpans: “That one’s gonna be a replacement.” He does what needs to be done. Can we talk about Erlich Bachman and his barrettes and sideburns? He looks like what I did to my Barbies after about 41 Pixy Sticks and a Fresca chaser.
Tricia: I have no idea why he had his hair in barrettes. He’s preposterous and ridiculous and I love him. It’s a simple, effective sight gag, just like the robes he’s always giving to everyone.
Nicole: Man, the guy can go on. He talks like he’s in Richard III one minute, John Wayne the next, Yul Brynner in “The King and I,” and then Rita Hayworth in a bathrobe just before he walks out. He loves a good exit line.
Tricia: I love how he puffs out his chest and acts like he knows what he’s talking about.
Nicole: And the apples at Big Head’s house! Probably some kind of genetically engineered superfruit. How did Big Head explain it? “I’ve got a Fruit Guy.” Ah, the things money can buy. I just go to McPherson’s on Beacon Hill and poke around the discount bin and wash everything within an inch of its life.
Tricia: Big Head is living the Dream. Erlich manages to talk Big Head into joining forces — they’ve formed a new company Bachmanetti, which brings Big Head back into the Pied Piper fold. By the end of the episode, with Richard having gifted the blogger the Hooli scoop that Gavin Belson wipes negative links about the company out of the search engine, the post about his rant is killed and he’s CEO. Jared, doting Jared, is besides himself. He gives a “Oh Captain, my Captain,” speech. He tries to awkward-hug Richard.
Nicole: And they roll out the CEO chair that they didn’t sell and tell him that they used the garage sale money to outsource some coders. Richard tries to take the chair and meet his new employees, via Skype.
Tricia: He clumsily tries to set up the chair and ends up falling backwards. Cue Gilfoyle.
Nicole: “You’re making a great first impression.” And that is why I’m a Gilfoyle Girl.