Silicon Valley’s most recent episode, “Homicide,” picks up with Hooli and Pied Piper a month later as they gather in their respective offices to watch the highly touted UFC match via Nucleus. At first, the stream goes swimmingly as Gavin peppers the intro with fight analogies and shatters transition after needless transition; but then the fight starts. Almost immediately, the image begins to degrade until it finally freezes at the worst moment, as the announcers excitedly comment on the battle’s quick and stunning finish over the frozen frame. Gavin’s expletives reverberate off the walls, while those in Erlich’s house can breathe easy knowing that – at least for now – they’re head and shoulders above Nucleus.
As the gang debriefs from Hooli’s failure, Monica sees an opportunity for them to (and I apologize for this fighting metaphor) counter with a live streaming event of their own. Even though that isn’t their forte, they’re all ready to do what Nucleus couldn’t. Even Erlich (cognizant enough of his role) is “prepared to brag about it and release publicity.” Problem is they don’t have an event lined up. Jared suggests they stream the nesting egg of a California Condor. It’s a nice example of character continuity as Jared–who has mentioned his binoculars were stolen during an impromptu bird watching outing–would be aware of an imminent hatching. Erlich poses a better idea claiming to know Aaron Anderson – the owner of Homicide Energy Drinks, a parallel to Red Bull and its stunt fueled advertising. Having booby-trapped the house with “corporate resources”, Jared suggests they “SWOT” (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) the idea – a way to best evaluate a difficult decision. Naturally, since it’s Jared’s idea, the group dismisses the notion.
Cut to the Homicide warehouse, where Aaron Anderson (or “Double A”) walks Richard and Erlich through the stunt as Dinesh and Gilfoyle split off with Gina, who gives them a tour of Homicide’s data center. While examining the space, Dinesh deftly flirts with her and the prospect of romance gets him overly excited. That is right up until Gilfoyle (as he is wont to do) spins Dinesh around so he can see her making out with the company’s stunt driver. She introduces them to the driver, Blaine, who is abruptly rude to them. Despite this treatment, Dinesh and Gilfoyle notice that his calculations for the stunt are off. They try to tell him about the mistake, but he cuts them off again with even poorer treatment. The two leave; conflicted about what they should do.
When Erlich is out of earshot, Aaron confides in Richard that he actually hates Erlich due to his penchant to interrupt people. This character flaw is further highlighted as the three of them resume talks regarding the nuts and bolts of the platform and what Pied Piper aims to achieve from this joint venture. Aaron tells him to come back the following day without Erlich or the deal is off. Erlich is a character that I have yet to embrace. TJ Miller does a fantastic job and delivers some of the best lines (“You look like a ferret that gave up on himself six months ago”) but the character is so grating that he’s difficult to enjoy. I had the same problem with Steve Carell’s portrayal of Michael Scott, and ultimately warmed up to him so this might be more of a “me problem” than it is a problem with the show.
As Gavin deals with the embarrassing fallout of the Nucleus disaster, he vents to his Svengali “Yes man” about his Hooli “Yes men”. John Oliver’s comment about Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz and his recent Race Together campaign sums it up best, “I think it’s pretty clear that no one has said ‘No’ to this guy in 25 years.” But after the spectacular failure, Gavin is looking at the product on his own without any middlemen to give him only the good news. As he watches a focus group about the new Nucleus-based operating system, Gavin is faced with the blunt truth: Nucleus is bad – very, very, bad.
Torn between whether or not to tell Blaine about his miscalculation, Dinesh and Gilfoyle begin to weigh the pros and cons regarding his demise. The show delightfully brings the joke full circle, as they use Jared’s SWOT analysis to weigh their decision. Richard reveals to Erlich that Aaron doesn’t like him. Erlich swallows his pride and advises Richard that Aaron isn’t as nice as he may seem and that they also had a nickname for him in college: Double Asshole. The following day, Aaron treats Richard in a detached second rate manner. As Richard goes off to do as he’s told, he sees that Homicide isn’t honoring their agreement of putting Pied Piper’s logo on the player.
Dinesh and Gilfoyle are deep in their SWOT analysis of deciding whether or not to “Let Blaine Die” when he comes in to apologize for his rudeness the other day. His apology is heartfelt and exposes his mental and emotional state, all while a massive cork board weighing the Pro and Cons of his passing looms behind him. The two nearly make out without him seeing their work but he sees at the last seconds as he reads the morbid bullet points.
When Richard confronts Double A about the player logo, he pathetically rationalizes the new banner and tells Richard to get back to work; that they’ll add a banner next time. As Aaron is walking away, Richard puts his foot down and calls him by his college nickname: Double Asshole. It’s a true record scratch moment as the warehouse skids to a halt as Double A lifts up his shirt to reveal the origins of the nickname: a colostomy bag – his second asshole. Dinesh and Gilfoyle fearing for their safety scurry past Richard telling him it’s time to leave as Blaine continues to read the possible Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, or Threats created from his own demise. Erlich laughs heartily at the circumstances that led to their severely severed relationship with Homicide. It’s an example of how great TJ Miller is in the role, even though his laughter stems from a terrible exchange the emotion feels so genuine that you can’t help but laugh along.
Back at square one with no live event to stream, Jared proposes the nesting option once again. It’s something they have to resort to and it’s a wholly unremarkable demo, which is why Richard is confused when Russ (a decidedly not bird savvy person) congratulates them on the live stream – and the name change. Richard switches to the Homicide live stream to see a company named End Frame sponsoring the event. Russ is livid when he learns that this company didn’t illegally steal their idea, but that it’s the result of Richard and the team over sharing their methods during a preliminary meeting. Even if Hooli’s Nucleus is terrible, it isn’t the only threat to Pied Piper. The whole valley is working on middle out compression and others are gaining on them – even if Richard had to give them the push they needed.
“Homicide” was better than the last couple episodes, for the simple fact that this one had some of the best lines of the season. Most of them came from Gilfoyle dishing out insults to Jared, Erlich, and Dinesh with dry contempt that is his forte.