In last night's episode of HBO's Silicon Valley, actor TJ Miller, who plays Erlich, once again proved himself to be the show's greatest comedic asset, and we finally get to see fictional rival tech titans Peter Gregory and Gavin Belson having to face each other in a Peninsula restaurant. Also, Pied Piper gets a logo, and maybe there's a hint of a love interest?
We open with Erlich taking Dinesh and Gilfoyle on a tour of a scary looking neighborhood in San Jose or East Palo Alto in search of graffiti artist Chuy Ramirez, whom Erlich wants to design a cool logo for Pied Piper. As he puts it, looking at Chuy painting over someone else's work in an alley, "This is what we need. Something raw. We already have kind of a shitty name. Pied Piper. But the last thing we want is two lower-case P's in a square like the motherfuckers across the freeway would make." Chuy, of course, has friends who got stock options for doing artwork at Facebook, so he wants stock. Or a couple of Erlich's percentage points. But, when he mistakes Dinesh for a Latino, thinking this is a Latino-friendly company, he agrees to do a logo for $10,000, starting with a draft on the front of Erlich's garage. Keep scrolling and this will get NSFW...
This is what he comes up with, which is amazing.
Chuy says it comments on "the whole Latino struggle for acceptance in America," and that would be Dinesh as an Aztec warrior penetrating the Statue of Liberty. Erlich tells him to revise it, saying maybe he shouldn't be "fucking the actual symbol of freedom."
Once he fixes it, though, it looks like this. And Erlich needs to order himself a new garage door.
But not before the police arrive and tell him he needs to paint over it, and Richard decides to open the garage door and reveal... Erlich's marijuana grow! Yeah, since this isn't San Francisco and he doesn't have himself a "personal use" medical excuse, the cops confiscate the plants.
The main drama this week stems from the fact that Richard entered Pied Piper in a startup competition months before without telling anyone, and they get accepted into it. This is actually a major faux pas because they already have their seed funding from Peter Gregory, and they should have removed themselves from the competition. Gavin Belson notices this and immediately wonders what his rival is up to. He calls Big Head into his office in what becomes a hilarious, Mike Judge-style parody of modern technology, in which Gavin first appears in glitchy, hologram form. He soon cuts out, except the audio still works, and we hear him screaming and swearing because they just acquired this company for billions of dollars and, well, "audio worked 100 years ago." Then they get on Hooli video chat, which also cuts out. And then Gavin calls him on his cell, which also cuts out. Basically, he's trying to figure out if Peter Gregory is up to something with Pied Piper being in this startup smackdown thing, which of course he isn't, which leads to the confrontation in the restaurant where Peter gets incensed after Gavin informs him of the Pied Piper thing.
His underling Monica then sits Richard and Erlich down to tell them how pissed Peter is, and to tell them that they've now only got eight weeks to pull their product together.
"I'm gonna be straight with you," she tells them. "Peter Gregory doesn't care. [About] you. Any of you. Pied Piper... He'd spend a million dollars just to mildly annoy Gavin. These are billionaires, Richard. Humiliating each other is worth more to them than we'll make in a lifetime." And now Richard knows that he turned down $10 million in order to be a pawn in this game, and not because Monica or Peter really believed in him in particular.
But! Monica shows up at the house and we get some weird interaction that implies Richard may, at the very least, get to make out with a girl before this season is over. She apologizes for playing him a little, but tells him she's invested 10% of her own salary for a stake in Pied Piper, something she hasn't done for any of Peter's other startup investments. "I know 8 weeks isn't a lot of time to get this ready, but I get the feeling you're the kind of guy who works better with a fire lit under his ass." And she's real flirty about it.
And while she's there, the new logo gets completed on the new garage door (Erlich returned the original door to Chuy, who sold it for $500,000.) It's two lower-case P's in a box, alright.
Once again, the show closes with a hilarious kicker, and I can't stress enough how polished and cinematic this whole show has been and by cinematic I mean tightly written, perfectly paced, and consistently hilarious much like Judge's earlier work. Also, while Looking may have succeeded in being indie-cinematic in its tone and overall look, Silicon Valley is another HBO show, like Girls, with a thing to teach Looking's writing team about constructing tight story arcs and packing in comedic beats throughout in this episode alone we all of the above, as well as a some funny, tech geek competition hilarity between Dinesh and Gilfoyle, and a running joke about Erlich not knowing what's racist. By the close of this 8-episode debut season, this is going to feel like a 4-hour comedic masterpiece about contemporary life in the Valley, divided in 8 tight chapters a boon for everyone who'll be binge-watching it later.
This, kids, is the kicker. The Chuy Ramirez garage door featuring Dinesh fucking Erlich-as-the-Statue-of-Liberty ends up gracing the campus of Hooli. Belson was the buyer, and he doesn't know who's depicted. You see him with his guru asking if the work isn't a little too "incendiary" or "raunchy" for the new offices. "You got where you are by challenging sensibilities," the guru assures him.