Sunday, June 14, 2015

REVIEW: 'Silicon Valley' - The Judge Issues His Verdict in the Pied Piper vs. Hooli Lawsuit in 'Two Days of the Condor'

HBO's Silicon Valley - Episode 2.10 "Two Days of the Condor"

As the guys await the verdict on Pied Piper's fate, an unexpected real-life drama draws a spike in traffic to their livestream and leaves them fighting to hold things together - literally. While Erlich considers his future, Richard scrambles to save Pied Piper's.

The Pied Piper team have made many mistakes this season. Those mistakes have been very costly to the company - to the point that it has almost gone under several times. Because of that, it's so triumphant when the entire team is able to come together and actually make something magical happen. Their livestream of the Condor egg has broken off onto one of a grown man having to drink his own urine in order to survive. It's the show wonderfully being able to match the high and low brows of humor. The show has always walked that line. The execution has to be perfect in order for it to payoff. It does so wondrously in this finale. "Two Days of the Condor" is a rousing success that is able to come together despite all the uncertainties over the future of Pied Piper.

This season opened up so optimistically for the Pied Piper team. That feeling wasn't able to last that long - mostly just the premiere in fact. And now, the finale presents a reality where this is as far as Pied Piper goes as a company run by Richard, Erlich, Jared, Dinesh and Gilfoyle. Gavin and the Hooli team have been able to present a strong case against them in binding arbitration. Everything Richard has worked so hard to build can disappear in an instant because of one mistake he made in the early days of the company.

Once again, the team has this miraculous opportunity to build their company. Their livesteam gets much more popularity when it comes to the real life stakes of a man possibly dying. All of their efforts may be entirely worthless. There's the sense that the ruling has already been issued and that the team needs to prepare for the defeat. Hooli will win and come in to collect the entire mainframe of the company as soon as possible. Richard has to leave in order to get that final ruling. He leaves the house when it becomes its the most magical version of itself. No one wants to give up. They are planning on deleting all the files that way Nucleus can still have a horrible debut in the coming weeks. That's their last viable option.

And yet, the entire team has to decide whether or not it's still worth it to maintain the livestream as its growing in popularity. Fulfilling that goal can be incredibly rewarding. It's one final act of greatness for the team that hasn't had a ton of success lately. If they are going down, they may as well go down creating something truly special. Everyone has to buy into that way of thinking in order to get the moment to work. No one can be distracted. That especially holds true for Erlich who sees himself as a failure as an incubator and just wants to sell his house and leave. Jared is always an optimist. That's such a foreign concept for someone like Erlich to understand. But in that moment, Jared is the exact person who can get Erlich to join this magical moment. Only Jared can get Erlich to pull out those gloves and exercise ball and get him to code again. The team pulls off this miraculous feat. They maintain the video even when the house has started on fire. All they needed to do was keep it up long enough for the man to drink his own urine and the rescue team to arrive. They do and it is such a rousing sequence. It's a victory no matter what is happening across town in the courtroom.

As satisfying as that moment was, it was never going to be the thing the finale ended on because Richard wasn't a part of it. He is the founder of this company and needed to be present during its most magical moment of the finale. Fortunately, he is. The courtroom drama isn't as miraculous and triumphant as the team coming together to make something great at the house. Instead it is a wonderful personal victory. After all the pain the lawsuit has caused the company this season, it's wonderful seeing the judge rule in Pied Piper's favor. It's all because of a technicality that the judge discovers because of the trumped charges Hooli filed against Pied Piper. That ego and power play is ultimately what did Gavin in. He will have to face an angry board when he returns to his company headquarters. Meanwhile, Richard gets to bask in the moment of being victorious. It may not last due to the problems the company has faced this season. But in that moment, the rest of the world doesn't exist. That is Richard at his proudest and it is wonderful to see.

Sure, that moment doesn't last that long because Richard then embarks on a high speed chase to stop Gilfoyle, Dinesh, Erlich and Jared from deleting the entire system. It's a sequence made up of so many contrivances to string the audience along. How far can the show push the bounds of reality while still making this sequence hilarious? Richard was able to send a text saying to delete everything. When he needs to take that back, his phone dies, he can't remember anyone's actual numbers, no one will let them borrow their phones, the emails he sends go straight to spam and he is a terribly slow runner. All of that exists in order to build up suspense. It's a mystery as to whether or not the season will end with Pied Piper still existing or being completely destroyed. For their part, the rest of the team is living out contrivances to keep the tension high - needing to drink beer, finding the perfect complimentary lemons, etc. And in the end, things do work out for Richard. He doesn't get there in time but the company's system is saved because the computer froze. It is yet another contrivance. It adds to the hilarity of this entire sequence. But it also means that the team gets to celebrate in this magical moment together.

The team is allowed that moment of happiness with everyone at the house. But the wheels never stop moving behind-the-scenes when it comes to companies on the rise such as Pied Piper. Raviga Capital has had so little to do with Pied Piper all season long. They helped get the company started but had to pull out a ton of support because of the lawsuit. Because that legal situation is now resolved, they can now take a more proactive approach at turning the company into a success. Laurie is very accurate in pointing out just how mismanaged the company has been run lately. They've made so many mistakes that some kind of drastic change needed to come. That presents as Raviga buying the two board seats from Russ Hanneman and taking over a majority stake of Pied Piper. They vote and take Richard out as CEO of his own company. That's a devastating blow that ends the season with a moment of sadness. It also sets up Laurie and Monica to be more prominent fixtures in Season 3. Alas, the same was also said of Monica at the end of the first season and she was still only used sparsely throughout these new episodes. But this end of season twist promises to be more engaging than that. The team will still manage things the way that they always do - irreverently. But now, the opportunities for success are still somehow knocking on their doors. Even with Richard out as CEO, Pied Piper still has the chance of a successful launch. That is thrilling and makes the journey so far seem worth it.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Two Days of the Condor" was written by Alec Berg and directed by Alec Berg.
  • It's amusing that people will believe that the Pied Piper team is inept enough to delete their entire program after the verdict comes in because of their disaster earlier with the Intersite deal.
  • A real estate agent is trying to get Erlich to sell the house. And yet, she doesn't seem to care whether or not the house is commissioned for professional use. That story is more about Erlich accepting his position at Pied Piper despite his misgivings as a businessman. That was a meaningful character moment.
  • Of course Dinesh wouldn't eat a lemon if it was bruised.
  • A man offering spiritual guidance and clarity to Big Head after he hears about his meteoric rise at Hooli wasn't all that funny. It was just a way to get Big Head into the episode.
  • Russ making a big deal out of which way the doors open on his cars was amusing until the very end. A very specific and wonderful character detail for a character who will probably never be seen again.
  • So will Raviga bring in someone new to run Pied Piper as CEO? Or will they choose an already established character? Speculate below in the comments.