Caution: contains spoilers. Two Seattle Times reporters dissect, rehash and dish on season 3, episode 7 of HBO's "Silicon Valley."
Every episode of “Silicon Valley” has the same basic trajectory: Everything is awesome, then everything sucks, and then they have to fix it. The Pied Piper boys are always having high-highs and low-lows, with no in-betweens. That happened in several different ways this episode, “To Build a Better Beta,” as Erlich comes down off the high of the tiki party realizing he’s out of money, and the Pied Piper crew tries to launch a beta, which may or may not be the worst piece of crap ever to hit the market. Cue the anxiety:
Nicole Brodeur: The crew gets 10 beta invites a piece, which sets the perfect table for Gilfoyle’s deadpan quips. He says he only has one friend, his girlfriend, who Skypes in with a snake on her arm and a rave for the beta. (She must be destroyed; he’s mine!) I also see that actress everywhere, and it should be said that some of the smaller parts are increasingly being filled with up-and-comers. (Just like Bachman. Heh.)
Tricia Romano: That should be easy enough to get her out of the picture. Is she even someone he sees In Real Life? My favorite part of that scene is where she flirts with Dinesh and smiles at him, and like a five-year-old boy, he runs away.
So the beta-invite challenge starts a “Friend-Off” between Gilfoyle and Dinesh to see who has the most real-life friends. (Spoiler alert: they are starting to realize that they are each other’s besties, which again prompts Dinesh to run out of the room.) Dinesh has to create fake friends, because he only has Gilfoyle. But we only learn they are fake after he starts bragging about his “boys.” A quick GPS reveals they are in the same place. That’s when they see that someone with a beta invite is at Hooli.
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Nicole: Over at Hooli, Gavin Belson’s security guy (why are security guys always bald and mustachioed?) found a Hoolio who had wrangled a beta invite from Richard. Their team is stunned at what they see. Belson wants his brogrammers to duplicate what they’ve done, NOW. Overnight. Because the impossible is possible at Hooli, right?
Tricia: Once the Pied Piper team figures it out, Gilfoyle ports into a Hooli brogrammer’s laptop like the demi-God that he is.
Nicole: Isn’t he dreamy? Window after window of turds at Hooli! It’s beautiful. Real quick? It’s always weird to hear Richard curse. He sounds like a kid trying out the F-word just to see how it sounds, and if anyone notices. We notice. It’s strange. And one more thing? They have MUDHONEY POSTER on the wall!
Tricia: Ha, a nerd using a bad word! Who would have the Mudhoney poster, you think?
Nicole: Gilfoyle’s touch. Of course. He has exceptional taste.
Tricia: So the Friend-Off leads to a discovery that all the beta users must be fake. To viewers, it didn’t make sense that the reviews were all positive when Monica made an icky face when she was using it. She later tells it straight to Richard that she hated it and said it was “over-engineered.” (I’m not sure what that means but it sounds pretty bad.) But, she tells Richard, she passed on Slack and may not be the best judge of what’s great (however, she might be a genius since a bunch of companies are ditching it).
But the boys are in love with the praise of their beta, prompting Jared to beam. “I don’t want to count chickens before they hatch,” he says and pauses, “Three percent of hatchlings are born mutated or dead.” Everything Jared says is like a Russian nesting doll or verbal origami. The jokes keep building on each phrase.
Nicole: Meanwhile, over at Big Head’s amazing incubator, the movers have arrived and are carting off everything Big Head apparently RENTED. Including a Civil War cannon. They let him keep the balls, though. Two of them. So there’s his dignity, which he carries around in a tote bag.
Tricia: And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you blow through $20 million, in what, a few months?
Nicole: Hey, now. That luau on Alcatraz (Good God) was a “tasteful Polynesian affair,” as Bachman put it. I love the way he dignifies everything … except his sideburns.
Tricia: The sideburns are a genius comic creation. So Jared, sweet, sweet, devoted Jared goes through Bachman’s finances and discovers an accounting discrepancy (more than 70 percent went to taxes). Bachman drags Big Head into the accountant’s office to accuse the accountant of fraud and threaten to go to the D.A. The accountant dismisses his claims. Bachman stands up and says, “Very well then.”
Nicole: Bachman, bless him and all his bloviating, is almost to the door when the accountant folds. “I may have moved around some of your money in a way that wasn’t conventional.” So we have a Silicon Valley version of Bernie Madoff on our hands.
Tricia: When Bachman and Big Head visit the D.A., she is unmoved: they are a bunch of spoiled tech bros, she tells them, and jurors will not be sympathetic. This means Bachman’s out — a lawsuit — is a dead end, and he’s spurred to sell his shares.
Nicole: So as they count down to the big launch, and Richard prepares to press down on the most important click of his life, the biggest blowhard in the house is the quietest. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t even want to stay for the previews of next week. Let me just sit here in the dark.