Silicon Valley – “Server Space” Review

The effects of Gavin Belson’s lawsuit, Erlich’s shenanigans, Dinesh and Gilfoyle’s bickering, and the general presence of Russ Hanneman, combined with running a start-up are beginning to take a toll on Richard’s health. Each morning Richard awakes drenched in an obscene amount of sweat. After a visit to the doctor (whose medical opinion I’m believing less and less) Richard learns that his condition could be a precursor to a more juvenile malady: bed wetting. The very thought of this stresses Richard out more, thus becoming a catch-22 that can only end poorly the more he dwells on it.

But a bout of night sweats won’t stop Pied Piper as the company is beginning to gather momentum, finally moving on up, and out of Erlich’s house, to a swanky brick exposed office space replete with a modeling agency neighbor. Surprisingly Dinesh is eager for the parade of gorgeous females, a nice change of pace from last season where he fell into a predictable “scared of the opposite sex” nerd archetype. Additionally, this elegant and professional workplace could lower Richard’s mounting stress. But Pied Piper can’t have nice things; that’s their thing. Hooli has strong-armed all of Pied Piper’s server options from doing business with them, thereby trying to stop them even before they start. Gosh, doesn’t that sound familiar?

Gilfoyle poses the idea that they should build their own servers (on top of build their own wells and doomsday bunkers). This comes at the cost of the office – and models. Oh, and perhaps Richard’s sanity, health, and clean sheets. It shows the amount Richard is willing to sacrifice in order to make Pied Piper succeed. It’s my favorite moment in the episode, as this decision has the potential to be the factor that allows Pied Piper to compete not only with Nucleus but all of Hooli.

Speaking of the them, back at Hooli-land, Big Head (now firmly nicknamed Bag Head) is still clueless that he’s a pawn in Gavin Belson’s lawsuit game. He spends his days making potato-gun artillery, much to the dismay of his XYZ co-head, Professor Bannerchek. Because while Bag Head is using the brightest minds for the most useless and cheapest endeavors, Bannerchek falls on the other end of the spectrum – using the brightest minds and the most high-tech innovations for the noblest of endeavors – to give an armless monkey the gift to jack off and fling feces. Despite this scientific blunder, Professor Bannerchek threatens to resign if Belson doesn’t fire Big Head.

At Erlich’s ranch home, the group is prepping to convert the garage into the server room, when they learn that, for who knows how long, Jared has been squatting in the garage –  another example of the sacrifices this group subjects themselves to. Additionally, the news of them moving out and then not doesn’t sit well with Noah, their neighbor, who was eager that a house full of renters would finally be moving out. As he sees them moving back in with more hardware, Erlich has to cut Richard short of divulging that they’re running a business out of the house as it violates zoning laws. This puts Richard on edge, especially when Gilfoyle is outside smoking and blasting music. Despite his previous estimate on how long it would take to build the server, Gilfoyle’s already a week behind schedule. It highlights the unique environment they’re all putting themselves through. While it doesn’t come close to the level of sacrifice Richard and Jared (now roommates) are experiencing, it is a burden in its own way. Imagine living with your boss, only to have him scrutinize any downtime if a deadline hasn’t been made yet.

While Richard and Gilfoyle are discussing the finer points of this confusing home-work  work-home relationship the power goes out. Upon inspecting the server room they catch Dinesh red-handed. He wanted to work with the hardware so badly that he went behind Gilfoyle’s back. However, based on Gilfoyle’s set-up, his actions not only blew out the power of their house but of the entire block as well. Noah, fed up with their antics, informs them that he’s going to report them to the City Inspector. That night Jared’s particularly aggressive “night-Germaning” sends Richard searching for another place to sleep, but the entire place is packed to the rafters with people. Richard finds a spot outside, only to hear Noah talking on the other side of the fence. On further examination Richard see him handling a pet ferret – something we know to be illegal in the state of California thanks to Erlich’s earlier dismissal of a potential “incubee”. T march next door and blackmail Noah from calling the inspector, threatening to do the same on him and his beloved pets.

Back at Hooli, Gavin reveals that with Professor Bannerchek’s resignation “Bag Head” is now the sole visionary of Hooli XYZ. It’s only here that we see through a quizative squint that Big Head might finally realize something is amiss as Gavin routinely (albeit quickly) adds that he co-founded Pied Piper. Nevertheless, he receives the praise and sits down as Gavin makes his final announcement. Nucleus will be the exclusive provider of an upcoming UFC match next month. In the Nucleus test lab, head engineers inform an executive that they’re not ready and at least 6 weeks behind schedule. She skirts telling Gavin, giving them permission to offer him the news. This leads to a series of similar conversations down the companies hierarchy, illuminating they’re much further away from their goal than 6 weeks. And even though Pied Piper might be behind with having to build a new server room, it looks like Hooli might be even further back.

This episode was more plot focused than rife with jokes, it had the occasional gag but it lacked scenes that had either montages packed with jokes or sessions of seemingly improvised banter with the entire group. And that’s entirely okay with me; I’m a fan of the story Silicon Valley is telling on top of the humor they deliver. This episode wasn’t without its moments of brevity, but they personally didn’t resonate with me. Jared talking in his sleep in fluent German was funny. And the monkey gag at Hooli was a particularly nice jab at scientists as a whole. To quote Patton Oswalt, “we’re science, all about coulda not shoulda.” Unfortunately, I didn’t find the kimono gag between Richard and Erlich to be that great, and Erlich’s character is becoming more two-dimensional while everyone else seems to be breaking out of their tropes set in season one.

With us hitting the halfway point in the season, it will be interesting to see what happens between now and the finale, which will presumably take place at CES.

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