hbo's silicon valley

‘Silicon Valley’ Ep. 3 Recap: The 4 Commandments of Naming Your Startup

Believe it or not, Pied Piper passes.
(Photo: siliconvalleyhbo.tumblr.com)

(Photo: siliconvalleyhbo.tumblr.com)

This week on HBO’s Silicon Valley, we see that Hooli has already made an insufferable new commercial for its new product, which is a knockoff of Richard’s Pied Piper algorithm. Richard tries to buy the name Pied Piper from a blue-collar irrigation farmer and learns how to negotiate (read: yell at people until you get your way) in the process.

Peter Gregory learns what Burger King is, and uses his knowledge of sesame seeds and cicadas as a way to advance $15 million to a pair of clients who would have otherwise had to lay off workers. 

Erlich goes on an ill-fated “vision quest” as an excuse to eat way too many hallucinogenic mushrooms. He claims he’s going to come up with a new name for Pied Piper on his journey; he ends up smearing poop on a wall and abducting a young boy from a parking lot instead.

Here are Betabeat’s thoughts:

Molly: The episode opens with that awful commercial from Gavin Belson giving his whole “small is the new big” spiel.

Jack: “If we can make your audio and video files smaller, we can make cancer smaller. And hunger. And AIDS.”

Jordyn: It reminds us of the ~central conflict~ of the series.

Molly: Ohhh what’s that!

Jordyn: The race to perfect the compression product. That’s what’s fueling the action of the show.

Molly: Oh, I thought you meant like a thematic conflict.

Jordyn: Nope guys, just reminding you of the plot.

Molly: Okay well on that note, something else super obvious was Gilfoyle’s attempt at humor with his “Jesus over Satan” remark.

Jordyn: That joke was a little too easy.

Molly: Like, go hang out at a Guitar Center, Gilfoyle. And then stop by Hot Topic.

GILFOYLE’S IMMIGRATION STATUS

Jordyn: What kind of Canadian loves Satan???

[Jordyn is Canadian.]

Jack: The illegal immigrant kind, apparently.

Jordyn: Okay, I also have a lot to say about that. There’s just NO WAY that he could go to the visa office and become legal in five minutes.

[Jordyn is currently trying to secure a work visa. It’s taking longer than five minutes.]

Molly: At least that joke was the commentary on race that we’ve been waiting for. Dinesh gets interrogated about Al Qaeda and Jared assumes he’s the illegal immigrant because he’s not white. Gilfoyle is hiding drugs in ice cream containers and walking over the border and generally acting like an asshole. And he’ll get away with all of it because he’s white.

Jordyn: I get that they’re trying to make a point but I had to hand over an orange’s skin at the border once, as I was peeling it to eat it. Just saying. Has Gilfoyle ever watched The Proposal? Has he ever met MY LIFE?

Molly: How do you feel about the way Gilfoyle represents your national identity, anyway?

Jordyn: I’m very ashamed.

Jack: Those Canadians. Drug smugglers and systems engineers, all of them.

HOW TO NAME STARTUPS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE

Molly: A major part of this episode was the struggle to rename Pied Piper. I was kind of hoping they’d rename it, to be honest. That scene where they’re all saying “Google” and “Hulu” and “Uber” while pretending to ejaculate, though…

Jack: I think watching Richard fake an orgasm while saying “Pied Piper” was the hardest thing I’ll have to see this month.

Molly: Poor choice of words. Or great choice of words?

Jack: -_-

Jack: How about the chalk board full of terrible startup names?

Jordyn: Oh man. Dwarfism 2.0.

Jack: So amazed “Compression.ly” wasn’t on there.

Molly: There should be startup name commandments.

Jordyn: 1. Thou shalt not make your startup name end with “.ly”

Molly: 2. Thou shalt not drop the vowels, as in “SMLLR”; it’s not cool.

Jordyn: 3. Thou shalt not accidentally make your startup’s name sound sexual.

Molly: 4. Thou shalt not try to find a name while tripping; you’re more likely to end up abducting a child, apparently.

Also, I was disturbed to learn the slang term “smiler.” Isn’t that what Miley Cyrus used to call her teenage fans? Smilers? So twisted.

Jack: Or perfect.

ERLICH’S ILL-FATED TRIP

Molly: So Erlich was clearly determined to go trip in the desert. He’s been waiting for an excuse to eat those mushrooms. Then he takes the single most conspicuous vehicle you could drive high. Not only is it a total eyesore, it’s got his company’s name all over it.

Jack: I was kind of disappointed by the depiction of the vision quest. Psilocybin (which he pronounces incorrectly) would be more of a bodily trip, and the sunlight would suppress most of the hallucinations. It’s kind of a juvenile depiction of a trip — or at least it’s the wrong kind of trip. Obviously he’s not an experienced tripper, popping a half of golden caps like popcorn that late in the afternoon. n00b.

Molly: Well, there’s not much sunlight in a bathroom stall.

Jordyn: There’s always someone who has to point out they know how the drugs would REALLY make you react.

Jack: I’ll be that person. Gladly.

Molly: I mean it’s clear he doesn’t know what he’s doing just from how eager he was, driving out to the desert by himself, not thinking five minutes into the future at all. He’s definitely the type to think he’s seeing all that crazy shit because he’s just like, WOW I’M ON DRUGS THIS IS SO COOL.

Jordyn: Right, like this kid in my high school who thought he was rolling all day because some guys gave him aspirin and told him it was ecstasy.

Molly: Case in point! Erlich was so desperate to trip, he made himself have this whole experience with Windows logos swirling around his head and the AOL “goodbye” playing over and over while he just muttered “making the world a better place” over and over.

Jack: He needed to have a guide with him, start earlier, self-contain and keep fluids on hand.

Molly: Okay, there’s no need to be an Eagle Scout about it, but somewhere in the middle of the Erlich-Jack spectrum is probably ideal.

EVERYBODY HATES GILFOYLE

Jordyn: I still love the Dinesh-Gilfoyle relationship. If there came a moment when Dinesh or Gilfoyle was in mortal danger, do you think one would save the other? Deep down, do they really care about each other? Or would they let the other one die?

Jack: We’re totally going to find out. There’s no way in hell that relationship doesn’t get tested in EXACTLY that way.

Molly: I think they’re the rare comedic duo where both parties hate each other. As opposed to a Fred and Ethel Mertz, a Bart and Milhouse, a Beavis and Butthead, who are all besties deep down.

Jordyn: Maybe there’s sexual tension between them. But I can’t get my hopes up.

Jack: We can only dream.

Molly: I think not only do they hate each other, they also kind of hate everyone in the group. I don’t even think they’d help Richard if he was in trouble.

Jordyn: Is anyone in Silicon Valley capable of love?

Molly: Richard! He tried with Big Head. And I think people do find friendship and love, just look at Bill and Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Sean Parker and Daenerys Targaryen. Maybe you have to already have your success before you find a mate. Still, we haven’t even seen Gavin Belson or Peter Gregory mention having a significant other.

Jack: Or anyone. In the entire show.

Molly: In any other industry, people of their stature would have settled down a long time ago. And it’s not like they’re out playing the field, they’re seemingly just working all the time. Sex and love aren’t even an afterthought.

Jordyn: Let’s not forget startup world is a place where people with no social skills can find success.

Molly: Right, but what about Tinder? How is it possible that NO ONE on this show is hooking up with anyone at all?

Jordyn: Thats a good point.

Molly: And then Mocachino shows up and they’re all terrified. It’s pretty sad.

Jordyn: Usually sex is a huge plot device. It’s either sex or money driving every character.

Molly: Yeah, it’s actually impressive to see a show that’s written without any sex or love to fall back on as a motive, even as a subplot.

Jack: Yet.

Jordyn: Yeah, Dinesh and Gilfoyle. It’ll happen.

Jack: Don’t forget Token Pretty White Woman Character working for Peter Gregory.

Molly: I’ll die before she dates any of Richard’s crew. She’s probably playing the field with a variety of handsome CEOs at this point. It’s gotta be a buyer’s market for straight women in Silicon Valley, right?

POOR RICHARD

Jordyn: We get to see Richard work on his negotiating skills.

Molly: Or, he just yells at someone. But it works! Richard had some great physical comedy in this episode, he hopped all over the place throughout all the negotiations.

Jack: And Arnold says, “My son has Asperger’s too… Aw, tremors, too, just like my boy.”

Molly: Arnold was so spot-on when he gestured at the giant servers and complained about the tech industry “coming along putting pieces of shit like that up so people can stare at their phones all day. Nobody even jerks off to magazines anymore.” It’s so true. I also love that his benchmark of “wow, we’re screwed” is the fact that people don’t jerk off to magazines anymore.

Jack: Richard’s reasoning: “If we make files smaller, there won’t be as many of those.” That was… stretching the truth.

Molly: Haha, yeah. That’s assuming no new files are created from this day forward.

Jordyn: It’s like when people drink light beer because it has fewer calories, but then they end up drinking more of them.

APP ATTACK

Molly: Can we talk about the cashier at the liquor store? That was so spot on, with his awful app.

Jordyn: He was like every tech PR person who emails us.

Molly: If the premise of your app is, “hey, this is a thing you could do without your phone, but now you can do it with your phone!” then your app sucks.

Jack: Where’s Big Head?

Molly: He’s gone.

Jack: :\

Jordyn: :( But they’ll bring him back.

Molly: Yeah, he’s their Hooli informant. He’s valuable. For now he’s probably just spending all that Hooli cash on like, 90 FitBits, a Google Glass and the biggest flatscreen he can find.

He may even be dating someone, but let’s not get crazy.

Tune in next week to see if Dinesh and Gilfoyle finally kill each other, or make out…

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