Silicon Valley: "Proof of Concept"

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<em>Silicon Valley</em>: "Proof of Concept"

For the first time in its inaugural season, it seems as if Silicon Valley is dragging its feet a bit, biding its sweet time until it can land the big haymaker of a final episode in two weeks. I’m still not entirely clear what the delay is, other than to maybe have it match up with the penultimate episodes of Veep and Game of Thrones. That still doesn’t detract from the notion that tonight was just a buffer before the big showdown between Hooli and Pied Piper. And to get them to that point, there was very miscommunication, many comedy of error.

The group descends upon TechCrunch Disrupt for their unveiling of Pied Piper in the startup competition, tripping over their own feet the whole way. Their biggest concern is that, years ago, Erlich slept with the ex-wife of one of the judges. He attempts to set things right, but in doing so sleeps with the judge’s current wife.

For Richard, his efforts to finish the demo of Pied Piper get upended by an ex-girlfriend who has been telling people that he is obsessed with her. Which, of course, leads him to become obsessed and cyberstalking to the point that when they do a tech run of their presentation, the first thing people see on the big screen is a picture of this girl. And poor Jarred tries to do his part for the company and is blocked at every step by Peter Gregory’s assistant, Monica, who keeps taking care of everything.

The stumbling blocks get settled in typical Mike Judge style. Richard’s ex overhears Jarred pleading to Monica about how much he cares about and caters to every last need of his partner. Naturally, she thinks the two men are in a relationship and apologizes. As a result, Richard makes a point of letting Jarred know how much he is appreciated, reducing the poor guy to tears. Believe you me, there’s nothing funnier than Zach Woods acting as if he’s trying to keep himself from crying. Finally, just as Erlich is about to give his bloviating presentation in the first round of the TechCrunch, the cuckolded judge attacks him.

The real fun in the episode is how writer Clay Tarver provides plenty of space to poke fun at the tech universe. Every one of the Disrupt presentations talk up their hope to “make the world a better place” and use some variation on the idea of connecting mobile, social and local. They save the best for last with a ridiculous presentation by Human Heater, a company that wants to make a system to keep people warm by microwaving their skin. The deluded mad scientist behind it is convinced that there’s nothing unsafe about it, even as the judges are telling him, “No one is ever going to buy one of these … ever.”

It was a fine stopgap episode to tide us over until Pied Piper can really show itself to the world. And the nice thing is that there is no clear indication of what is going to happen. You’d like to think that Richard and the gang win some huge victory, but they could just as easily get plowed over by Gavin Belson and Hooli. Or they could win some small victory while still getting plowed over. One has to hope for the best in these situations. With Mike Judge in the driver’s seat, there’s no telling where we’ll end up.

Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.

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