In its third episode, “Articles of Incorporation,” Silicon Valley continued to explore every step of the startup process. As the series has shown, almost all aspects are ripe for satire. “Articles of Incorporation” also deftly continued the process not only of Richard learning and developing as the head of his business, but deepening the relationships among the central characters, giving them both believable and comically absurd facets. Hit the jump for why “small is the new big!”
There could not have been a more perfect way to kick off an episode of Silicon Valley than to have Gavin Belson in a ridiculous video touting the Nucleus project, ending with: “if we can make your audio and video files smaller, we can make cancer smaller. And hunger. And AIDS.” Gavin may be the broadest and most ridiculous of all the characters so far on the show (yes, including Erlich), because he’s so many parodies rolled into one. Less is more, though, (“small is the new big!”) and the show knows how to pepper Gavin in just enough to give rise to the absurdities of that tech haven, but not to go too far.
That’s a hard thing to suggest — that is, that the show doesn’t go too far — when later in the episode Erlich went on a vision quest in the desert, where tech logos grew out of cacti, and rained upon him until he was reduced to the fetal position, repeating “make the world a better place” over and over again in a waking nightmare of corporate tech speak (later still, we learned he smeared Richard’s name and phone number on a bathroom wall in shit).
As ridiculous and funny as Erlich is though, making him remain too over the top will eventually ruin his role, because understatement is what the show does best. The series’ brilliance comes from its layered jokes and density of material. The visual gag of the t-shirts Richard bought was augmented by everyone’s quips about it, but that all led into Richard’s defensive stance about the name of the company. It was a joke that was laced throughout the episode, but also served as its narrative crux: in the end, Richard got the name he wanted, and negotiated (kinda) his way into what he had originally agreed upon for its cost.
Other jokes like Dinesh’s comments about Gilfoyle’s illegal status weren’t just one-offs, but a repartee that continued throughout the episode, and even provided further insight into those characters. Jared also got a few more opportunities to share his arsenal of bizarre facts, including the personal fact that his name is actual Donald. His seemingly throwaway line about saying your name so your attacker has to humanize you came back though when the housemates prepared to defend themselves against the original Pied Piper owner. So far, every episode of Silicon Valley has been insular and self-reflective to a huge degree — it makes the show that much more satisfying.
The real scene-stealer though continues to be Christopher Evan Welch as Peter Gregory, with his fascinations about Burger King, sesame seeds, and cicadas. He showed why he’s brilliant and rich, yet also socially inept and somewhat childlike. The way Welch plays him, and delivers those strange lines, is both hilarious and mesmerizing. The tragic flip side to this is that Welch died from lung cancer halfway through filming. I’m not sure which episode will be his last, but savor him while you can. Silicon Valley teaches us that every small trial and triumph deserves to be noted, and Welch’s turn as Peter Gregory is one of the greatest small roles I can remember. Small is the new big.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
– “It looks like a guy sucking a dick, and then he has another dick behind his ear for later” – Dinesh.
– Despite Jared’s real name being Donald, I will keep calling him Jared. I also loved how he switched names halfway through his defensive repetition.
– Thomas Middleditch is just perfect in the way he plays Richard. He’s so awkward and vulnerable and likable, but there’s a little backbone there (which is always tempers with slightly spastic behavior).
– My only complaint with the show is not necessarily just a lack of women, but that the women (Read: one woman, Monica), has almost nothing to do. Hopefully her role will be expanded somehow moving forward, especially comedically (but for now, she has to play it straight next to Peter Gregory, because he’s so crazy).
– The dialogue on the show is so good, like the conversation between Dinesh and Richard about how Richard is not a negotiator: the outcome of their discussion proved the point (as Richard conceded, “Ok, well, I’m a decent negotiator).
– “Smiler is also something guys call women’s assholes” – Dinesh.
– The guy who played Jaime, currently (and probably soon formerly) of Bevmo, did such a great job of showing his total emotional collapse when he found out Richard was actually broke.
– Oh my dear lord, the ending where Erlich had stolen that child and said it was him reincarnated in the same time … I lost it.
– “Hitler played the bassoon, so technically, Hitler is the Hitler of music” – Jared.