SILICON VALLEY Recap: “The Cap Table”

     April 13, 2014


The most important element of Silicon Valley‘s “The Cap Table” was that it was an episode devoted to what most series would have made a montage.  The nitty gritty of Richard starting his own company, building it up from scratch, and getting his team in place (and using Wikipedia to find out about business plans) was something many would skip over.  But Silicon Valley is exactly interested in this minutia, following Richard’s journey from a start-up to either a global empire, or another tech gravestone in Palo Alto.  Hit the jump for why “that’s why he’s a billionaire.  He knows where and when to be an asshole.”

silicon-valley-recap“The Cap Table” took the framing plot of Richard building up his business, learning how and when to be an asshole, and turned it into a great half hour of character building.  Through Richard vetting his roommates as business associates, Gilfoyle and Dinesh gained a few dimensions, but none more so than poor Big Head, universally agreed upon as useless (except, of course, by Richard).

Silicon Valley did a great job of subverting tropes when it came to the confrontation between Richard and his best friend.  He wanted to keep him in the company, and ultimately stood up for him against a chorus of dissension.  Though Big Head took a good opportunity while he had it (as Gavin Belson’s VP of Spite, as Dinesh termed it), he didn’t do so with hard feelings.  He later called Richard to tell him that Belson’s programmers were reverse engineering his code and calling it “Nucleus,” giving Richard and the Pied Piper team a heads-up.

It was also a great moment when Richard found out that Peter Gregory wanted to help steer a ship … not give directions in how to build one.  Richard’s stress over his decision and the lack of mentoring that Gregory was offering him was a realistic moment.  “This isn’t college!”  Gregory stresses, using his favorite scapegoat.  But “The Cap Table” didn’t leave Richard completely floundering; Jared, jumping off the Hooli wagon after being inspired by Richard, came in to help him organize things.  And this time, with more context, Jared was shown to be just as weird and completely awkward as the rest of the denizens of Erlich’s incubator (Erlich most of all).

Richard learned how to be an asshole, and to whom, and it was a nice capsule episode that did a lot of structural work after that great prologue of a premiere.  Silicon Valley is interested in the small things, and it’s what makes the show so good.  Every line is dynamite, and the little touches (like Jared bowing to Erlich and then apologizing for it, or Dinesh’s comment about his first handshake being with “a post-man lady,” which Gilfoyle blows right past, and the dig at Siri when Belson asks “Play John Lennon’s Imagine!” only to get back, “queuing John Wayne in a mansion”) are what separate the show from other comedies.  It’s layered and very funny, but casually so.  It has a point, and so far, each episode, it gets to it.

silicon-valley-recapEpisode Rating: B+

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Jared killed me with his talk of his ghost-like features and people wanting to diagnose him with a wasting disease because of his slim figure.

— Only giving this a B+ because I think the show can be even more excellent down the road.

— Erlich’s advice to Richard about not being a slut was valid, just not when it comes to Jared.

— “Who’s Chevy Volt is that out there??” – Erlich.

— Most of the obvious satire comes with Belson’s character, but it doesn’t make it any less great.  The idea that he would hire Big Head back as a replacement for Richard “stealing” Jared was a nice touch, especially since it was told second-hand.

— Absolutely loved Gilfoyle’s rant and then Dinesh breaking down why it’s BS.

— Excellent comedy with the editing to find Big Head overhearing the others talking about him beyond just that initial time.  And also that he just basically brushed it off (after running to Mocacino and freaking her out with his Nip App).

— Jared: “Most CEO’s don’t have a best friend just hanging around” Big Head: “Sergey Brin does. Larry doesn’t do shit!”

— I really loved how this episode was so interested in the minutia of setting up one’s own business when you have no idea how to begin, particularly the scene in the bank where Richard can’t deposit the check because he hasn’t set up an LLC and cleared it with the IRS.

— Have you ever taken a sip from an empty cup just so you had something to do?  I have.  Many times …

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