Nothing in “Silicon Valley” is quite what it seems. Episode four, “Fiduciary Duties,” sends the Pied Piper gang to a toga party that—like most of the tech visionaries and lustrous companies depicted in the series—is really just a gleaming façade.
As he walks into venture capitalist Peter Gregory’s lavish toga party the night before a “big picture” meeting about the future of his startup, Richard is busy pretending he has a clear vision for Pied Piper.
(Related: Last time on “Silicon Valley”)
“Animal House” this toga party is not. When two beautiful women walk up to a dumbfounded, bed sheet-clad Richard, Dinesh and Gilfoyle, their amazement turns quickly to self-pity. The women work for a startup that sources actresses to parties to liven them up by making conversation with guests and “being interested in them.” Turns out “anyone over a 7” at the party is probably paid to be there, and “anyone under a 3” is a guest.
In anywhere but Silicon Valley, a party like this would sound strange.
The toga party simply served as impetus for this episode’s bigger theme, though: Richard and Erlich’s relationship echoing Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. It turns out that one-liner from the pilot actually carries some weight. At the party, Richard blacks out and drunkenly asks Erlich to be a Pied Piper board member, a decision he immediately regrets.
The next afternoon during Erlich’s impromptu Pied Piper company photo, Richard breaks the news to Erlich that he changed his mind. Erlich tries and fails to dramatically take off his Steve Jobs turtleneck before storming off in a huff, leaving Richard and Pied Piper’s business manager Jared to get ready for the “big picture” meeting.
But as the requisitely sleazy lawyer drawing up Pied Piper’s LLC paperwork (“Mad Men’s” Ben Feldman) smugly explains to Richard, his startup needs both halves on the brain: the Jobs and the Wozniak. Of course the lawyer buries his wisdom in a smarmy grin as he plays his guitar “signed by Sergey and Larry” while explaining “Ying and Yang” to Richard, who tries in vain to enlighten him that it’s “Yin and Yang.”
“A lot of guys come in here, they can do all the engineering stuff but they get hung up on technicalities,” the lawyer said. “They just tell you what their vision for the company is. Those guys are so [expletive deleted].”
In the bathroom of Peter Gregory’s office before the “big picture” meeting, Richard finds himself having a full-blown panic attack that ends with him pants-less—his slacks soaked in the sink—on the bathroom floor amid Jared’s clumsy attempts to calm him down.
When Richard walks out wearing Jared’s slacks, his head a jumble with an abstract vision for his company about to make a tongue-tied fool of himself in the meeting, Erlich is there, ready to be the Jobs to Richard’s Wozniak.
“Today’s user wants access to all of their files, from all of their devices, instantly,” Erlich tells Gregory in his on-the-fly speech in the meeting. “That’s why cloud-based is the Holy Grail. Now Dropbox is winning, but when it comes to audio and video files, they might as well be called Dripbox. Using our platform, Pied Piper users would be able to compress their files to the point where they would truly be able to access them instantly. We control the pipe, they just use it.”
Pied Piper has its Jobs and Wozniak: Richard to develop the ideas, and Erlich to express them. This episode was all about Pied Piper’s dynamic, and why you need the technical mind and the salesman to make a startup work—though in true “Silicon Valley” fashion, it took a strange toga party, bad drunk decisions and a panic attack to get there.
“You’re my Wozniak,” Erlich tells Richard. “I will always be there…” just as Richard, the residual effects of his panic attack returning, promptly projectile vomits directly onto Erlich’s shirt.
Odds & Ends
–Peter Gregory’s deadpan “Thank you, Florida” to rapper Flo Rida’s introduction at his toga party was hands-down the funniest one-liner of the show thus far.
–Speaking of Gregory, the late Christopher Evan Welch continues to be the show’s comedic MVP. Gregory’s entrance to the toga party, carried in on a red velvet golden chair sporting a Julius Caesar outfit and a stone-faced stare, was picture-perfect.
–In a show about awkward programmers, business manager Jared Dunn is the king. “The Office” alum Zach Woods has upped his uncoolness factor by a pair of wet, undersized slacks. As Dinesh so succinctly put it, “He’s the least cool guy I’ve ever met.”
–Big Head (Josh Brener,) had a great side plot this episode, becoming one of Hooli’s “unassigned” after the Nucleus brogrammers realize he knows absolutely nothing about compression algorithms. He meets a group of other Hooli castoffs, sitting around playing hacky sack and getting paid for it because their contracts keep them employed. They’re the tech world’s version of untouchables.
–We found out that Peter Gregory and Hooli CEO Gavin Belson were onetime partners and friends before they were professional rivals. It won’t be the last we hear of that back-story.
–Dinesh and Gilfoyle remain the show’s comic relief duo, continuing to steal every scene they’re in. It’s time to bump these guys up past a couple of one-liners an episode.