Silicon Valley, Season 2, Episode 10, “Two Days of the Condor”
Written by Alec Berg
Directed by Alec Berg
Airs Sundays at 10pm ET on HBO
What a bombshell, huh?
What’s most impressive about “Two Days of the Condor” is how it gives the most visceral ending to every possible arc of the season, while still committing to the perceived outcome last week of Richard losing Pied Piper. Richard’s code and the core group get to prove their bona fides, Erlich realizes the importance of his relationship with PP, Gavin Belson gets the boot, Big Head continues to fail his way upward, Russ is back in the three commas club, and even Richard’s lawyer gets to feel the high of a “second chance.”
But still, Richard gets fired. The fight to keep Pied Piper has been a series of Pyrrhic victories. Richard called out the head of homicide for being a double asshole, but lost the streaming sponsorship deal; Richard called out Russ Hanneman on the carpet for being a flaky douche, and he lost a third of Intersite’s porn and the bakeoff; Hooli doesn’t get to keep PP’s IP, but Richard gets fired. Silicon Valley is a harsh environment that rewards the vicious and the patient. If Richard hadn’t/wasn’t pushed to do things with Pied Piper’s systems that it wasn’t ready to do, the series of events that convinced Laurie that Richard was too messy a human element would not have taken place. Yet, Richard finally taking action and standing up to people is what gets PP to a place where Laurie would even care about its future. Similarly, Gavin’s shark-like business tactics had gotten him far, but he became so blinded by rage and jealousy about Pied Piper threatening his market share that he made increasingly rash decisions, ending in him presumably being ousted by his board of directors.
Because of where the two now former CEOs end up this episode, the events on both sides become a bit of a last hurrah before the world comes crashing down. Gavin gets his one final moment in the sun when he gets to further infantilize and “help” Richard in his own twisted way, gloating as he ties Richard’s tie for him, a titan totally unaware of his impending downfall. But the majority of the action takes place at the incubator, where Gilfoyle, Dinesh, Jared, and eventually Erlich are keeping the livestream of the guy Jared almost killed from last week going, as it becomes a viral hit in the Philippines, thanks in no small part to Filipino congressman Manny Pacquiao. Both the script and the direction by Alec Berg keep the energy and tension up without losing the audience in all of the tech jargon, doing so by using visceral visuals like the servers catching fire and Gilfoyle knocking a hole into the wall. Jared keeps referring to what is happening at the incubator as magic, and he’s not wrong. The efforts to properly scale up the livestream until the worker gets rescued serve as a nice twitchy counterpoint to the relatively calm brainstorming of the middle-out algorithm in the season one finale.
While this finale isn’t as neat as it could be—if one wanted to nitpick, one could point out how Richard’s lawyer should have probably picked up on the illegal language in Richard’s contract with Hooli—it has all the hallmarks of what makes Silicon Valley a triumph: Erlich calling people things like “ship jumping coder cunts”, Gavin Belson freaking out, Dinesh and Gilfoyle ribbing each other about their respective “garbage” work, Jared housing dark layers (“I’ve always wanted to be part of a suicide pact”), increasingly ridiculous situations like the growing list of distractions keeping the incubator team from deleting Pied Piper, and the relationship among its central characters (“Always blue! Always blue!”). Leaving the season with Richard and Gavin fired, however, demonstrates how the show has developed into using those tools to craft stories with real stakes, without repeating the completion arc from last season. Richard has had a taste of victory and had it all taken away from him, and has experience in making shady deals to further his own agenda. Now that he has nothing to lose, the real fun will begin.