TV RECAP: Silicon Valley, S05E06, Homicide

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Last week we hoped that putting plot on hold would be something that Silicon Valley would avoid in the remaining episodes of the season. Unfortunately it’s not happened with this episode, but ‘Homicide’ is filled with enough great little moments that we’ll have to give them a pass.

Following on from their announcement last week, the Nucleus team are in the midst of their UFC fight demo launch. With the world and the Pied Piper team watching, the problems that the programmers were too scared to tell Gavin about come back to bite them. The stream lags and is so blocky that it looks like Minecraft. It’s the first big defeat for Hooli and a real boost for Richard and his team.

Monica suggests that they do their own stream to capitalise on Nucleus’ moment of weakness and, despite Richard’s initial reluctance that it’s not the direction he wants to take the company in, the rest of the team say they can get it up and running really quickly. The only question is what to stream, with Jared amusingly suggesting that they live stream the hatching of a Condor egg, “I don’t wanna be inflammatory but next to a Condor an Eagle looks like a common gackling.”

It’s a good episode for Jared (Zach Woods), with the character as his most funnily earnest; trying his hardest to get Carla and Monica to be bffs (after Carla had said that when they are just two women in a company “Everybody puts this super weird pressure on you to be friends. It’s creepy”)  and revealing that he’s booby-trapped the house with corporate resources. Jared recommends they perform a SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities threats) analysis of the situation (“People love Condors. Strengths”). Instead Erlich knows a guy from college, ‘Double A’ (“Kind of a mentor mentee sort of thing.” “Coming from a manatee sort of thing.”), who owns the amazingly named Homicide energy drink company and whose extreme stunts they could stream.

The team head-off to Homicide to do the deal, where Richard learns that Double A actually hates Erlich because he’s always talking and interrupting people (or parties), earning himself the nickname ‘Kool-Aid’. AA tells Richard that he won’t do the deal with Erlich there, and we see some more growth for Richard in the fact that he actually tells Erlich the situation rather than trying to avoid it. Unfortunately that growth is stunted by him returning to his out-bursting ways when AA tries to cheat him out of the PR exposure they agreed. Instead of staying strong and becoming a leader Richard throws AA’s other nickname and a load of other insults at him with awkward results.

The other plot revolves around Dinesh and Gilfoyle meeting Gina, one of Homicide’s event managers, and Dinesh is immediately in love (“Act like you’ve seen a woman before”). It turns out though that she’s with Blaine, the guy who’ll be driving the car for the stunt. He’s immediately dismissive and condescending towards them, but as they walk away they notice he’s calculated the velocity wrong, jeopardising the whole stunt. Despite the fact he’s been an asshole they go back and try to help him. Instead he shouts at them and tells them he’s too busy for their shit. They then find themselves weighing up whether or not to tell Blaine about his miscalculations, “There is the moral problem with letting him die….Though he did tell us to shut up.”

It’s great to see Dinesh and Gilfoyle team up and take on someone that hate even more than each other, and they actually end up using Jared’s SWOT analysis. This results in the great scene when Blaine walks in on them conducting their analysis (Strengths: “One less guy called Blaine” Weaknesses: “Blaine dies super fast”) to apologise for earlier, and the moment where he turns around and realises is expertly stretched out and out to maximise the cringe-factor.

Even though Pied Piper pull of the Homicide deal and end up with only 17 viewers on the condor egg stream it looks like it’s a minor win for the Pied Piper team, who’ve proved that they’re the only company who can handle this kind of video compression. They get a congratulatory call from Russ who’s watching the stream, but the problem is he’s congratulating them on the Homicide stunt stream. The team discover that just when it looked like they’d defeated one enemy, a new one has popped up, and it’s one they created themselves. The ‘brain rapists’ from a couple of episodes back have started their own middle-out compression company called EndFrame and have Pied Piper’s secret to success – Richard’s algorithm.

­­Their original enemy Gavin Belson only has a couple of three scenes this week but they all have excellent pay-offs. The first is the catastrophic failure of the UFC stream, then a scene where he tries to get to the bottom of his company’s communication problem, asking his guru if he’s surrounded himself with sycophantic yes men. His response? A perfect pained gulp and feeble no. The third is a great little segment where he watches a focus group from behind a two-way mirror and discovers that they hate Nucleus and this is an Apple Maps size screw-up. The hilariously neutral, machine-like manner in which the group leader talks, the way he continually repeats all participant’s names and the way the glass warps and can’t contain Belson’s angry screams are all brilliant touches.

While Silicon Valley’s problems with narrative progression still persist, this episode is full of enough fun moments that it feels like it doesn’t matter so much. The introduction of EndFrame bodes well though, as it means that Pied Piper can no longer sit on their laurels. With another company possessing the algorithm they have to get moving or they’ll be dead fast.

Silicon Valley air Wednesday nights on Foxtel’s The Comedy Channel.

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