“Bachmanity Insanity” Written by Carson Mell Directed by Eric Appel …
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.”
Richard Hendricks can’t have nice things. It’s not that he doesn’t allow himself to have nice things or even that he doesn’t want to have nice things, it is that he is almost karmicly incapable of having nice things. Through either incredible worry or the incredible stupidity of others, Richard is never allowed to be on unqualified winner. Part of this is due to Richard being an unconfident dweeb, but it is also due to the fact that Richard is the main character on a TV show and thus can’t be top dog for very long. Stories of winners constantly winning become boring because deserved success is boring. It’s fun to watch a single arc of a story be about winning (Friday Night Lights season one) but eventually that team has to start losing (Friday Night Lights season two). So, by the transitive property of TV trope math, because Richard Hendricks is a TV character, he can’t have nice things.
For as much as the show splits up the cast into Richard/Erlich A-plots and Dinesh/Gilfoyle B-plots, with Jared playing utility man, the core of the show is still the interaction between all of those characters, so by having them all sit down to discuss what they’re going to do about End Frame gives the show that opportunity to have its main cast play off of each other. Gilfoyle gets to dryly ask a series of “What ifs”, Erlich righteously declares that he solely increases porn traffic on the interent by one percent, Richard and Dinesh get to vacillate between shock and supposed moral authority, Jared is there to provide background information. It’s a good scene that gets to the heart of what makes the show enjoyable: Easy chemistry resulting in banter in either hyper-nerdy tech speak or insults like calling someone a “fucking king-sized asshole.”
Justice is nice and all but it’s not really dramatic. Want audiences really want is poetic justice, that sense that the justice we’re seeing given out has a twinge of retribution to it as well. It’s no fun to watch someone lose out on an opportunity because they don’t deserve it, it’s a blast to watch someone lose out on an opportunity because they don’t deserve it AND because they messed up in such a way that directly led to their losing of said opportunity. Sure, Gavin Belson is an ass and it’s good TV to watch Nucleus sputter and freeze during its big soft opening of a livestream, but Nucleus’ great public plunder is so entertaining because Gavin Belson is directly responsible, through the firing of Richard and surrounding himself with sycophants, for the Nucleus streamers missing the UFC finishing move of the century.
Silicon Valley is a show about pride. Even with all its expertly dumb gags like the aforementioned monkey spanking the monkey and Richard paranoid that his night sweats are going to turn into bed wetting, the show is following through with this idea that pride is the main motivator for the movers and shakers within Silicon Valley the place. At Hooli, that pride is causing Gavin Belson to give not two shits about one of the brightest minds in the world who has come to work for his company in favor of putting all of his effort into a guy who spends valuable resources making a giant potato cannon that may have to power to kill. For Belson, losing the compression race to Pied Piper, a company started by a guy he used to employ, will be the ultimate blow to his ego and so he, being made entirely of ego and juice cleanses, will stop at nothing in order to prevent that shameful loss. And fear of shame seems to be something of a corporate culture at Hooli, as Belson’s drones working on Nucleus are too afraid to tell their superior how incredibly behind schedule they are.
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 refigure out how the 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.