Silicon Valley, Ep. 3.03: The Pied Piper Crew Slow Down the Momentum in “Meinertzhagen’s Haversack”

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Silicon Valley, Season 3, Episode 3: “Meinertzhagen’s Haversack”
Written by Adam Countee
Directed by Charlie McDowell
Airs Sundays at 10pm on HBO

The end of last week’s episode of Silicon Valley was the biggest blow to Richard’s original Pied Piper vision yet; the new CEO Barker had gone all in on the presumably misguided advice of his salespeople and decided to turn Pied Piper into some kind of appliance. It hasn’t really been explained, but it seems to be some kind of storage for secure information. Barker is only concerned with short-term profits, and the box is about as short-term as it gets.

The episode opens on Richard, Dinesh, and Guilfoyle touring a server farm while a hilariously deadpan engineer tries to show them every possible spot their box could be placed. When Richard meets with Barker to fight for his original platform, Barker points to his Conjoined Triangles of Success diagram, which happens to make a – wait for it – box. Barker might consider letting Richard build the platform after finishing the box, but it’s far from a sure thing.

Richard’s only course of action is to go over Barker’s head by complaining to Bream, their investor. She agrees that ditching the platform would be a mistake, but when Barker forces her to fire him if she wants the platform, she relents. Firing two CEOs in short succession would make Pied Piper look too chaotic, so she lets him stay in place and continue with the box.

The group is about to give in and sacrifice their ambitions and principles to build the box, until Erlich steps in to save the day. He suggests the build their platform in secret, all while pretending to be working on the box. Barker won’t fire them because it will make him look incompetent, and Bream will be happy to have the platform she always preferred. But they’ll have to be wary of Meinertzhagen’s Haversack, which Jared helpfully reminds them means that they’ll have to continue to act the same. So they’ll need to continue to act miserable while they build their platform.

They return to work the next day, ready to work, until Jared makes a hilariously off-color joke about Dinesh’s new chain (keeping things the same also means continuing to make fun of his chain). Richard is taken off guard by the joke, trips on a hose meant to water the indoor shrubbery, and spills all the secret Pied Piper papers he’s carrying. One of the salespeople grabs a diagram for the platform, rushes off to Barker, and within a matter of 30 seconds they’re being called into his office.

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“Meinertzhagen’s Haversack” lacked the forward momentum of the first two episodes of the season; it was all about planning to do something rather than actually doing something. Still, the episode had some great bits with Erlich, and Stephen Tobolowsky continued to be excellent as Barker. Tobolowsky’s Southern twang makes him seem folksy, even as he spouts out ridiculous business jargon. Jared was also characteristically great when he decided to join in on making fun of Dinesh for his new gold chain. I almost spit out my drink laughing when he made his crude sexual joke about Dinesh, his mother, and the gold chain in the episode’s final moments.

Silicon Valley is never not funny, but this episode was a bit lighter on the jokes than previous episodes this season. It was somewhat counterintuitive since there was less plot, which should have left more room for pure comedy. Perhaps next week will manage to ramp up the humor and the forward motion.

Stray Thoughts

  • Richard: “Once you’ve seen once space in a rack, you’ve kind of seen them all.” Server engineer: “That’s what I used to think, until I saw them all.”
  • The guy showing them around the server facility has an amazing haircut on his ID badge. It’s the little details like that that really matter.
  • Erlich has to walk closer and repeat “Or do we?!” when no one hears him the first time.
  • Dinesh: “Ocean’s 11?” Jared: “It’s a 2001 casino heist film starring Julia Roberts and eleven men.”
  • Carla briefly appears in this episode, then disappears, presumably forever. She was barely developed last season and it seems like a waste of time to even put her in this episode. This show isn’t great about doing women characters, which is partly justified by how terrible the tech industry is about hiring and promoting women. But more meaningful parts for women would be a nice addition.

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