One really excellent element of Sunday's pitch-perfect episode of Silicon Valley was its fortuitous timing, airing after news this week that Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel had secretly funded a lawsuit against Gawker Media in a semi-personal vendetta. Similarly, Gavin Belson, Hooli's CEO, finds himself at war with the press after the fictional website Coderag publishes a story about his company scrubbing negative news from its search results. "You know 100 years ago, men like me could have had people like that killed, just like that," Belson says of protesters outside his offices, exhibiting a disdain for critics and the media that smacks of the attitude of which Thiel has been accused of harboring. "You think captains of industry like Andrew Carnegie or Cornelius Vanderbilt would have batted an eyelid? Times sure have changed... Or have they?" Belson asks suggestively, looking for encouragement from his staff, who don't offer anything but bewildered disgust. "Of course they have," he concedes. "For the better.... Unless?" As an underling points out to Belson, "Libel laws don't really apply when what's said is true," so Belson finds himself in a Thiel-like position: "I'll just have to light a fire under this reporter's ass... you know, there was a time, not so long ago, when it could have been a literal fire. But, as discussed, those days are gone. Unless?"

This episode, called "Bachmanity Insanity," boasts another trenchant dig at tech culture in a commentary on lavish launch parties. Erlich, who now runs a vague incubator/VC company fueled by funds from Big Head which they've called Bachmanity, is renting Alcatraz for an event with a ridiculous luau theme. But that venture is under threat when Gavin intimidates the reporter from Coderag, whose source for her story was Big Head. She isn't willing to take the fall for her source: "Journalist?" she scoffs. "I'm a tech blogger, I write stories for the internet, about the internet. I am not going to jail for that." So, to protect his interests, Erlich buys Coderag. Owning the press is, after all, the best way to control any narrative.

Those parodies aside, most of the of the episode isn't dedicated to the usual tech-skewering and business woes of the Pied Piper team. Instead, we see the group's romantic side, or where that romantic side would be. First, Richard meets a love interest at a bar, stunning the group. How could she be interested in him? "She's a founder hounder?" Dinesh suggests. No, in fact, she works for Facebook and makes more money than any of the Pied Piper folks. "But you did tell her that you're the CEO of your own company?" Of course he did. As they say: How do you know if someone is a founder? They'll tell you. "It came up," Richard says, "but honestly, how else was I going to explain that me and my friends were at a bar?" Dinesh agrees with the tactic. "Every time you are near a woman,” he says, “it is important to explain why. Otherwise, they get nervous.”

But Richard's romance with that woman, Winnie, who is smart and charming, is cleverly undone by his pedantic insistence on code formatting. Richard insists that his employees use tabs instead of spaces in their code in a long-running conflict that one character refers to as a "holy war." As Jared puts the stakes: "At Hooli I once saw two engineers get into a fight so vicious they almost made physical contact." Dinesh and Gilfoyle discover that Winnie herself uses spaces, which she reveals to Richard, eventually driving him, in what I see as a 2016 San Francisco version of a Seinfeld plot, to sabotage their budding relationship.

Meanwhile, Dinesh pursues his own romantic interest — a remote Pied Piper employee in Estonia whom he's taken to chatting with on Skype. "Packet loss over Estonian broadband is terrible," Gilfoyle points out. "She could be hideous." While Dinesh says he doesn't care if she "is a dogface," he's worried that Gilfoyle's right, so he uses Pied Piper's compression algorithm to improve the video quality. The move backfires. When the two digitally meet in a clearer fashion, Dinesh likes what he sees, but his would-be Estonian girlfriend does not. He's not the "Pakistani Denzel Washington" he described.

Meanwhile, as a comeuppance to all this, Jared casually introduces the group to a woman he's just slept with, a fact about which he's rather gentlemanly and sweet. "Jared, nice," Erlich says boorishly, "using that dick."

The episode culminates with the Hawaiian party on Alctraz, a useful set piece. Just as Erlich prepares to take the stage and "ejaculate his success" on his purported enemies, Big Head's financial advisor, who's been hounding them, informs the two that they're financially insolvent. When they address they're audience, they're like deer in headlights.

"Aloha" says Erlich." Big Head pauses, then snaps to. "That means hello," he says. "Oh, and goodbye," he remembers. And, scene.

Departing from the usual conflicts that plague the Pied Piper team and introducing interpersonal ones instead, Silicon Valley gave viewers a really rewarding, delightful episode that I'd happily watch again. "Nerdy men meet women" is sort of a natural, fairly hackneyed formula, but since the show hasn't really indulged in it yet, it was almost overdue. Having Richard and Winnie disagree over code, I thought, was sort of a (key)stroke of genius, and Dinesh's backfiring vanity, while in hindsight slightly predictable in a TV sort of way, was unexpected to me.

Now that funny, somewhat nuanced characters (Jared in particular) are in place, Silicon Valley doesn't have to run out of material, as I've worried about here before. With nerds we (mostly) like, this show is starting to prove it can nerd out about anything.

Previously: Silicon Valley Ep. 3.5: Watch The Chair