Given all the effort Silicon Valley has taken to reboot itself, it has at least done something with the reset. With this week’s episode, “Bachmanity Insanity,” the return to Erlich Bachman’s incubator is funny and familiar, and the main characters’ personal lives are front-and-center. Richard, Dinesh, and Jared all pursue different women while Bachman pursues a different kind of catch: a lavish industry party funded entirely by someone else’s fortune—in this case, Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti.
After a night out celebrating his return as CEO, Richard meets and starts dating a Facebook employee named Winnie. His subsequent gushing about his successful encounter with a woman inspires Dinesh and Jared to jump into the dating game too. Dinesh musters the courage to flirt via video chat with Elisabet, one of Pied Piper’s outsourced Estonian programmers. Their relationship progresses in pace with the increasing resolution of their video chats, hilariously climaxing when she can at last get a clear view of Dinesh for the first time. At that point it’s obvious that she isn’t interested in him anymore. Dinesh’s frustrations are compounded by Jared, whose attempts to dive into the dating pool are immediately fruitful. His ability to get women into bed (or, specifically, the garage) despite living in a server room and sleeping on a cot finally brings closure to Russ Hanneman’s perpetual season-two prediction: “This guy fucks.”
Richard’s atypical success with Winnie soon withers, as predicted by Gilfoyle, mostly due to Richard’s neurotic approach to his craft. Apparently, there’s a pointless war among programmers that exists not just in the show but also in reality: whether to indent using tabs or spaces when writing source code. Either option is ultimately workable because, once compiled, the difference disappears. But in source format, there are advantages and disadvantages to both styles and each one has fierce defenders in a Freudian “narcissism of small differences” kind of way. I know this is a real-life conflict because my boyfriend paused the show to rant about which style is better as soon as the topic came up. He’s a spaces man.
Richard insists on tabs. He yells at his friends about it, he yells at his staff about it, and, upon finding out that she prefers spaces, he yells at Winnie about it. When she refuses to change her coding practices, he melts down, verbally erupts, and leaves her. It’s awkward to watch as someone who basically wants to see Richard succeed and be happy. It’s also awkward to watch as a writer. The story line seemed like an expanded tweet from Modern Seinfeld (@SeinfeldToday). It’s somewhat funny and mostly derivative.
Meanwhile, Bachman has used Big Head’s money to rent Alcatraz Island to throw Silicon Valley’s biggest luau. Since wrangling the keys to Bighetti’s kingdom, Bachman has spent lavishly. Bighetti’s business manager is inserting himself in an attempt to stop the hemorrhaging of cash, but to no avail.
As Bachman plans his party, Gavin Belson stews over an article published on a tech blog about how he has been manipulating his search engine’s algorithm to bury negative press on him and his company. His attempt to identify the anonymous source of this information leads Bachman to purchase the very tech blog that published the story. Between the acquisition and the party, Bachman has spent all of Bighetti’s money. The episode ends on a stark note.
This week’s writer is Carson Mell, whose credits are mainly previous episodes of Silicon Valley. He’s clearly in touch enough with these characters to write a highly personal episode, even if it only had a small effect on the Silicon Valley canon. Much like an episode of The X-Files that diverges away from the alien invasion plot line, “Bachmanity Insanity” makes no mention of Laurie Bream, Richard’s platform, or even Pied Piper’s prospects as a company. The break from the pressure is nice, but underscores the greater problem here, that furthering the success of Pied Piper is the last thing the writers seem interested in pursuing.
Louis is a Chicago-trained writer and comedian with beautiful hair, a pretty good face, and an abundance of modesty. With 10 years in technology and 15 in writing and producing comedy, his work can be read on www.cagematch.org, www.mcsweeneys.net, and numerous dismayed Facebook users’ walls (before being hastily deleted). He currently lives with his similarly gay boyfriend in the dystopian hellscape of Silicon Valley.
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