NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Silicon Valley” are present in this review
The growing conflict between Richard Hendricks and Jack Barker is starting to boil over, and this has the Pied Piper team making a very bold business move on Silicon Valley this week! “Meinertzhagen’s Haversack” saw Richard and co. immediately discontented with Barker’s idea to isolate their technology in a box, and when they’ve run out of options, they go to desperate measures. Very desperate measures.
Even Laurie is ultimately powerless to stop Barker’s plan, since Barker says that Laurie will have to fire him if she wants to proceed with the more preferable idea of an integrated platform, which is what Richard is championing for. Since Laurie can’t fire two CEO’s in the span of a month, Pied Piper is basically backed into a corner, and the guys now have to support a product that they don’t believe in, as do Laurie and Monica. Well, except for Gilfoyle. He immediately quits, and revels in the gifts of other startups trying to groom him for hiring. Of course.
Fortunately, that means that the laughs continued to come in full force within this latest episode of Silicon Valley, with, “Meinertzhagen’s Haversack” being another winning offering for HBO’s tech-based sitcom. The episode also continues to push Season Three along a very surprising, engaging path of storytelling, as even Erlich and Laurie become helpless to stop Barker’s latest decision. Fortunately, as can be expected of Erlich, he has another very bad idea up his sleeve; Start a skunkworks within Pied Piper, right under the company’s nose, in order to secretly build the integrated platform that Richard wants, and that Barker rejected.
Right from the beginning, the episode perfectly sold the aggressive monotony and lack of fulfillment in Barker’s ideas for the company, as Richard, Dinesh and Gilfoyle are marched through a seemingly endless array of servers, as if they threaten to gobble all of their creative spark. Laurie’s and Erlich’s continued eccentricity, and failed tactics, also provide plenty of amusement, though the jokes really hit the ground running once Erlich proposes the skunkworks idea.
This has the team working together as the hearty band of borderline technology outlaws that they’ve been since this series started. It was a welcome return to basics for Silicon Valley, which prevented the show from expanding too rapidly and abandoning its appealing foundation, after so many big, drastic shifts in the show’s storytelling dynamic this season so far, especially within Pied Piper’s management. While there wasn’t any more horse fornication this week, the episode still managed some memorable gags, especially when everyone dogpiles on Dinesh for wearing a gold chain, with even Jared being able to bust Dinesh’s balls about the ill-advised piece of jewelry. Man, these guys are the best when they’re really allowed to flourish in their own twisted comfort zone!
Of course, just because the team is starting a Skunkworks operation, doesn’t mean that it’s immediately going to go off without a hitch. The efforts of the guys virtually planning a heist to get their illegal operation off the ground made for plenty of funny moments, with a particular standout being them attempting to get around an engineering issue by trying to hire back Carla… Except she merely extorts the guys for $20,000, on account of back pay, lost wages from her other job that she quit, and damages from Jared sexually harassing her in trying to force her to be friends with Monica. I didn’t know that latter issue was a thing, but it was enough to get the guys to pay up, hilariously crippling their cash flow as they attempt to do something that will probably end with all of them in jail.
In an episode that had so many standout laughs, the only small sticking point was that Gilfoyle’s subplot is sort of just abandoned halfway through. The show did indeed attempt to tie this subplot into the former Nucleus crew taking the reverse-engineered Pied Piper algorithm and running away from Hooli with it, and the idea of the former Nucleus guys joining with End Frame, making End Frame an even bigger danger to Richard’s newly-hamstrung technology, was pretty inspired. It’s just too bad that Gilfoyle, “Quitting” predictably goes nowhere in this episode, and the guys ultimately don’t respond that much to End Frame becoming potentially an even bigger danger to them than Hooli is soon, especially since said danger was basically created by both Pied Piper’s and Hooli’s own carelessness.
What made up for this however was the episode’s very funny ending, which has the guys completing their skunkworks plot, and preparing to enter the Pied Piper building to put it into action… Only to have Richard get distracted by Jared, trip over a cord, and have confidential skunkworks documents spill out onto the floor, which are quickly picked up and run to Barker. Barker summons the guys into his office right as the episode ends, and that probably leaves Richard and all of his buddies screwed. Considering Barker’s nature, even if he did become angrier and more aggressive this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if the consequences for the skunkworks idea aren’t ultimately too severe (we wouldn’t have a show if these guys all end up in jail, after all), though it will be interesting to see just what kind of disciplinary action everyone is slapped with next week, if any, especially since it will give Barker all of the ammo he needs to convince Laurie to support his box idea without question now.
Silicon Valley is having a particularly great year in 2016 so far, and Season Three is continuing to do very well with, “Meinertzhagen’s Haversack”, even if it did end in complete and hilarious failure for these guys’ brilliant subterfuge. The show’s writing continues to be at the top of its game this week, especially with the neat throwback to simpler times with an interesting new spin, even if it didn’t seem to pan out at this point. It was kind of disappointing that there wasn’t more alarm behind End Frame’s exponential expansion as a threat, but I suppose that the season is still young. Besides, Barker won’t want to get rid of his A-team with those guys coming around the corner!
Silicon Valley continues to excel this week, as the guys attempt an ambitious skunkworks operation, which hilariously blows up in their faces.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Erlich and Laurie failing to stop Barker's plans
The guys' ambitious and ill-advised skunkworks idea
The guys' skunkworks idea failing in the worst possible way at the end
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
Gilfoyle/End Frame subplot ultimately doesn't go anywhere for now