hbo's silicon valley

HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Ep. 4 Recap: Peter Gregory’s Super Sweet Sixteen

Plus some very wet pants.
Richard and Erlich, Wozniak and Jobs. (Photo via HBO)

Richard and Erlich, Wozniak and Jobs. (Photo via HBO)

This week on Silicon Valley, our expectations were upended and our characters were three-dimensionalized (well, some of them). We thought Richard would find his vision and finally kick Erlich to the curb. Instead, Erlich proved himself to be indispensable to Pied Piper. We thought the guys would maybe flirt with some girls at a party. Instead, Monica made an excuse to walk away from the bumbling Richard and then the only other two women they socialized with were literally being paid to talk to them.

Peter Gregory showed he was human by admitting he and Gavin Belson used to  be friends. Jared displayed insecurity and vulnerability when he wasn’t invited to the party (“were there gelatin shots?”). Dinesh and Gilfoyle carried us through with some one-liners. Black turtlenecks and heinous fleece vests were worn. And Richard remained a mess the whole way through, soaking his jeans with sink water, unlike in previous episodes, where he showed strokes of confidence at the last minute.

We’re still waiting for the show to pass the Bechdel test, but until then, here are our other thoughts:

Jordyn: My first note of the episode was “meeting with ass face lawyer.”

Molly: He was so funny! And he was Michael Ginsberg from Mad Men! I had no idea he was such a good actor. His character on Mad Men is totally different. I liked how his name was like Ron LaFlamme but Peter Gregory called him Ron La-Fla-May.

Jack: And don’t forget the receptionist Genie, yet another complex, multidimensional female character.

Molly: At least this was a really great Peter Gregory episode. He rides into the chariot at the party and says, “Thanks, Florida,” to Flo Rida. Richard later calls him Flow Rider.

Jordyn: Peter looked so unhappy and awkward on his chariot. And I was wondering, didn’t he plan that? Wasn’t he the one who wanted the chariot? Maybe he saw it on an episode of Super Sweet 16 and figured that’s just what you do at parties.

Molly: Yeah, it betrays an urge to be normal, I think. I love the reveal at the end that he and Gavin Belson used to be friends. You start to think maybe Peter just wants people to like him, but he’s such a freaking weirdo he can’t do it. This episode really humanized Peter Gregory. Also, it reminded me of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’s Diary, obviously. They’re probably going to do some kind of switcheroo where you think Gavin is the asshole all season, and then you find out it’s really Peter.

Jordyn: Let’s talk about Erlich this episode. It’s interesting because we’re supposed to dislike him and find him annoying, but I found myself feeling he was the voice of reason.

Molly: But he’s also so funny.

Jordyn: At first I thought the episode would resolve when Richard found out how to overcome Erlich, but really the lesson was Richard learning he needed him, so that was interesting. The characters are becoming more three-dimensional.

Molly: Yeah, we learned Erlich is the Don Draper of pitching startups.

Jordyn: STOP USING MAD MEN REFERENCES. Do you want me to only relate things to The L Word? Because I can do that.

Molly: I’m sorry. Wait, did I tell you about the great essay I read about sexism in Silicon Valley? It pointed out that women directed episodes three and four.

Jack: You’d never notice.

Jordyn: Yeah, again, the only women were performers.

Molly: This episode had the best direction so far, though. There were so many sound gags — the soggy pants, the inspirational Seventh Heaven guitar music playing during the pitch that grinds to a halt when Peter tells Erlich and Richard to leave. The timing in every scene was perfect.

Jordyn: But still, the women were at the party specifically to be pretty.

Molly: Yeah, but I think that was a good example of them holding a mirror to Silicon Valley. It makes me feel better about the show that they’re at least employing women to work on it behind the scenes, because it makes it seem more like what we’re seeing on the show is how these particular guys see women, not how the people making the show want us to see them.

Jack: The show has Booth Babe Syndrome.

Jordyn: Oh god, what is that? I hate it already.

Jack: They’re the women at gaming conventions who are hired to stand there and look hot to sell the new God of War sequel in loin cloths and impractical chain-mail bras.

Jordyn: That does sound impractical.

Molly: We also got to see Monica snub Richard in conversation. He’s yammering on at the party and she’s like “yeahhhh g2g.”

Jordyn: At first I thought there was going to be chemistry between them. I thought this would be the spark but she totally deviated from that. I liked it. It would have been too easy and predictable if it’d happened that way.

Molly: I’m so happy she’s still not a love interest. It would have been so easy and soooo unrealistic. It wouldn’t have helped this show pass the Bechdel test, at least, which I don’t think it does yet.

Jordyn: The only two female characters that have interacted are those two actresses.

Jack: You’re lucky if there are two women in one scene, forget them talking to each other.

Molly: Also loved when Richard said to the actresses, “What type of actressing do you do?” It was great how the guys just stared blankly when the women came up to them.

Jordyn: Ugh, all of those guys need to go on MTV’s Made.

Jack: It was so sad because they thought they were being flirted with for a second and then you could see Gilfoyle’s face drop when they said they were hired to be there.

Molly: BRB, you guys keep talking.

Jack: Do you think she’s soaking her pants in the sink right now?

Jordyn: Haha, Jared wearing Richard’s pants at the end was great. Wait, let’s talk about Big Head getting unassigned.

Jack: He’s like a tenured teacher who is removed from his classroom but can’t be fired. It reminded me of the first few months out of college and moving to my hometown. I was amazed that they hadn’t found more creative ways to pass the time. I mean, if I was rolling in dough with YEARS to kill, working at a place that’s basicfally Google? Fuck that, I’m learning 1,000 different crafts and playing pranks all day.

Molly: I was thinking, hey, maybe you could write a book! But Hooli would then claim credit for it. They’d say, “Hey, you wrote it while working here.” There’s just no way to win. You’d have to be careful even talking about tech stuff, because they’d have the rights to your ideas. If they can prove you developed something while being unassigned at Hooli, it’s theirs.

Jordyn: So literally all you can do is bounce a ball on the pavement.

Molly: So now that Erlich’s a partner I’m actually a little concerned about him and Peter eventually voting Richard out.

Jordyn: But remember the hero’s journey? I think there will come a time when Richard needs to join with Peter and vote out Erlich and it’s going to be hard for him. Erlich will have to sarifice himself like Dumbledore,and Richard will have to find the strength to do it and survive on his own.

Molly: But the actor who plays Peter died recently, remember?

Jordyn: Oh yeah :(. I wonder how they’re going to handle that.

I find it interesting that Erlich is actually really valuable. Like now that that happened, what is Richard actually good for?

Molly: Well, Richard invented the algorithm!

Jordyn: Yeah, but he’s such a crappy CEO.

Jack: I’m glad this episode didn’t end up with Richard finally finding his vision.

Molly: Yeah, some people just don’t have it and it would be disingenuous to pretend someone like Richard had the gift of gab.

Jordyn: It was interesting how Erlich ended up being really valuable. I thought he was just a leech, that’s how they made him out to be.

Jack: Naw, he’s Obi-Wan.

Jordyn: And yet his goatee is never centered.

Molly: What is he DOING with that thing. I imagine Erlich has a really overbearing mom who is basically a female version of him and she likes to yell at him about his dumb goatee.

Jack: I have a feeling the show will really pick up once we’re out of all this business development. I want to see these guys out in the real world, among the people, fighting it out after the product release.

Molly: It was smart of them to start the show at a point where only more exciting stuff can happen to the guys, rather than just picking up in the middle with an established company.

Jordyn: Still, it feels like we’re slogging a little bit through this muck, meeting with the lawyers, developing a vision.

Molly: But they’re doing a solid job of making it interesting to watch people code and talk to lawyers though.

Tune in next week when the three of us wear matching black turtlenecks and put our pants in the sink.

Click here for more Betabeat coverage of HBO’s Silicon Valley.