‘Silicon Valley’ – “The Lady”

This week’s episode of Silicon Valley, The Lady, admittedly flies under the radar in terms of plot compared to Season 2’s previous episodes. While the first three episodes dealt with Pied Piper acquiring its funding, this episode focuses on the challenges that come with scaling up a company. Board meetings, new hires, and HR grievances, are new headaches that Richard has to deal with.

The episode opens with Richard and Jared interviewing a slew of potential hires and finding out that compared to everyone else they’re in the shallow end of Palo Alto’s weird pool. That being said, I personally admired the candidate who held a strict standard for what constitutes “crushing it” and had the honesty to look at himself and realize that he wasn’t doing it. (He later got back to said “crushing” standard too for what it’s worth.) But none of these hold a candle to Jared Patakian, who after having a pacemaker installed, has adopted a cyborg lifestyle.

From there we’re treated to Erlich informing Jin Yang of the house’s proper trash sorting procedures. Up until this point, referring to Jin Yang as an obscure character would be overstating his role. As far as I can remember, in the entire series he’s: been introduced to the house, walked in on Richard in the bathroom, and informed the gang of Peter Gregory’s death. I hope the dynamic between Erlich and Jin Yang will continue as an off-speed B story to the traditional Gilfoyle and Dinesh antics. Even without speaking, their opposing physiques and mannerisms are hilarious. And with the pretense of Jin Yang being a foreigner, he can get under Erlich’s skin in a way no one else in the group can. Now Silicon Valley isn’t really a show that rests on it own laurels by referring back to previous jokes, but it’s my hope that I hear TJ Miller yelling “God Dammit Jin Yang” in future episodes.

As Erlich teaches him these nuances to the garbage, he sees Jared (the ‘Borg) getting into his car. The two have a history from his Aviato endeavor, and says he’ll have to pass. (Actually, he says he’ll have to “Pasadena Trina” but dammit, I’m neither cool enough nor clueless enough to pull that off.) In the first season Richard might have succumbed to Erlich’s wish, but we’re seeing more spine from Jared this year and he stands up to him – albeit politely.

Across town at the Hooli compound, Gavin Belson’s plan to legitimize Pied Piper  is slowly being implemented as BigHead is promoted to the newly established flagship program – Hooli XYZ. It goes without saying that everybody wants the spot BigHead is in, and his interaction with Hooli’s HR rep following the conference plays like a deleted scene from Office Space. BigHead and Richard are foils to one another yet they serve a similar purpose. Richard is the straight man, acting as our proxy to the quirky and all around “weird” world of the start-up culture. Conversely, BigHead – though a moron compared to Richard – acts as the straight man within the absurd, free flowing, culture prevalent among certain Tech juggernauts.

Then there’s the addition of Carla (played by Alice Wetterlund), an all-star Engineer who has the ability to treat Dinesh and Gilfoyle the way they treat, well, practically everyone else. It’s great that the showrunners have brought in another female character with substance. With Carla and Laurie’s additions this season they’ve effectively tripled the number of recurring female leads. Better still, is how these female characters have varied personalities. And since Silicon Valley is very much an ensemble piece, it’ll be great to see how these characters with very unique personalities engage with one another. I immediately enjoyed the interaction between her and Jared, and am looking forward to how she and Monica interact with one another.

Now I realize I’m just rattling off how much I enjoy all these new characters, but Russ Hanneman (played by Chris Diamantopoulos) is yet another example of how the writers create fresh personalities for the core cast members to interact with. I don’t expect Russ to be a permanent fixture in the show, but he provides a new source of problems for Richard and the gang to field that is different than the looming Gavin Bellson. It also steers the plot away from consistent in-fighting, as there is the right amount of that currently.

The conflict between Erlich and Richard comes to a head after Richard feels bad about Elrich’s failed night out at a major networking event. He altruistically offers to forgo hiring the Cyborg, leading to an argument that Daffy and Bugs would be proud of. It ends with Richard calling up Jared to deliver the bad news only to find out that he went with another offer made by….Russ Hanneman. Similar to last week’s ending, Russ – who always talks a big game – does another shifty move keeping them under his thumb. This is pure speculation, but these actions make me wonder if Russ is as dumb as everyone believes he is.

Silicon Valley airs Sundays at 10PM EST on HBO.

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