Silicon Valley, Season 2, Episode 4, “The Lady”
Written by Carson Mell
Directed by Alec Berg
Airs Sundays at 10pm ET on HBO
Running a business is hard. Hell, being in charge of anything is hard. Decisions have to be made that affect the vague notion of a collective, and these have tangible impacts on the egos of the guys (and gal) lower on the totem pole than the decision-maker. Sometimes these bruised egos manifest themselves in worker complaints calling the leader a pussy for supposedly paying a new employee too much. At other times, this means a board member will go on a tirade about the tyranny of wide spoons and the inefficient design of Fage yogurt containers. A new investor could poach a prospective employee from the company and use the wrong logo on $30,000 dollars worth of swag for the company. Of course, none of that could matter if your arch nemesis is using your old friend and colleague as a cog in an evil plan to discredit you and your work.
Silicon Valley is on a real slow burn. Part of that has to do with the expanded episode order from last season. Following the death of Christopher Evan Welch, the show restructured its back half in order to accommodate the absence of Peter Gregory, shortening its episode order for the first season from ten to eight. So part of the experience of watching season two involves trying to figure out how the new pacing of the show works. With two extra episodes of content, the show feels like it is taking longer to reach its endpoint this season, even though, with the show being renewed for at least a third season, season two is more indicative of how the show operates than season one.
Richard and Jared, rechristened other Jared for now (OJ for short), are hiring two new employees to help Pied Piper get its beta in order in time to be competitive with Nucleus. Meanwhile, Big Head, or Baghead, as he’s called around Hooli, is being named Co-Head Dreamer of Hooli XYZ, as part of Gavin Belson’s plan to take down Pied Piper. If this were still an eight-episode season, Belson would be a more integral part of the episode, because this would be the halfway point. But because there are still six episodes left, the B-plot of “The Lady” is instead the shenanigans between Dinesh, Gilfoyle, and new hire Carla (Alice Wetterlund), who immediately begins messing with OJ by asking if talking about her friend “Cunty” is offensive, and goes about convincing Dinesh and Gilfoyle that she makes more money than them.
And that’s a good thing! Introducing a new character and new dynamic in the incubator will help keep the banter fresh, and Carla’s skills as a coder gives Pied Piper an advantage that Gavin Belson is not (yet) aware of. The issue of pacing, then, is not so much a problem of the show, but a problem of the changing landscape of TV. Watching and writing about a show (relatively) live on a weekly basis is a weird and soon-to-be outdated experience. Week-to-week viewing of a whole story is a purposefully slow experience that is exacerbated in Silicon Valley’s case, due to trying to figure out how two additional episodes affects the story structure. At the end of the season, when five hours of the show can be mainlined in one sitting, and the jokes can build up while one starts to see the story threads connect sooner, arguably creates an easier viewing experience. But by viewing week-to-week, it is easier to stew in wonderful moments, like Erlich’s spoon tirade or Russ Hanneman and Richard volleying back and forth different, increasingly ridiculous pronunciations of “swag.” For many years, television has been about the journey, not the destination, but with the advent of DVRs and on demand content, the destination has become easier to reach, and so much of watching TV now requires a reminder that the journey is still important.