If you watch enough movies or TV shows, you start to train yourself to pick up on the symbolism cooked into the work playing out before you onscreen. Some are overt and in-your-face, but more often than not, the writers and directors of these works weave these ideas in subtly so that you might not pick up on them during your first viewing.
Mike Judge and the writers of Silicon Valley wasted no such time with the second episode of the show’s third season. They wanted to emphasize the feeling that Richard is having of being fucked by the people who are supposed to be supporting his vision. Rather than beat around the proverbial bush, they gave us the perfect visual representation of his mindset. A big one, too. Without so much a slight bit of pixelation, we got to get a good look at a gigantic horse cock right before it went about penetrating a willing mare. And we got to see Jack Barker enjoying the show a little too much.
Any other series—particularly a show not on pay cable—would have hinted around the actual act of equine copulation, or gone to some pathetically gross-out extreme, by having Richard or one of his Pied Piper teammates being the ones on the receiving end of this stallion’s horsehood. Silicon Valley opts to exist between the two extremes, allowing us a full frontal view of animal breeding, while Barker and his new charge argue about the future of their company.
Everything about this scene lays out exactly what Richard’s position is within this new version of Pied Piper and his discomfort with it. As the scene cuts between the two men, you get Barker standing confidently by and defending his actions as CEO, while the breeding goes on loudly behind him. On the other side, Richard is gamely trying to stand his ground, while also visibly trying to keep himself from watching what is happening. He is in the defensive position and doesn’t have the strength to fight for his future, as he’s being metaphorically rogered.
Beyond the symbolism and keen framing and editing… the whole scenario is funny as all get out. Like most of Judge’s projects, Silicon Valley has found that perfect sweet spot where smart comedy and dumb comedy collide. And it located it very early on, as evidenced by that still-genius scene at the end of Season One where all the Pied Piper engineers, realizing their imminent defeat at TechCrunch Disrupt, decided to devote their time to calculating the fastest way to jerk off a room full of men. It’s just what a gaggle of geeks would do, and they went about the task with zeal.
There’s no doubt that the comedic talent working in the Silicon Valley writers room could churn out some loud, brash show a la the dreck that’s cluttering up the multiplexes right now. They know it too as it’s something they’re obviously concerned about. Just think about Idiocracy’s world, where folks watch a man get endlessly abused on TV, and two bare bottoms farting. They want better for us as much as they want to dip their toes into the waters of pure indecency. And what finer way to express that, than to blindside the viewers of their show with the sight of steed schlong and the disquieting sounds that two ponies make as they get it on.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. Follow him on Twitter.