As someone who grew up as an awkward geek, I can’t help but appreciate how Mike Judge and the creators of Silicon Valley know how to mine that same kind of awkwardness and geekiness for laughs. They don’t mock these young geniuses. They write the characters honestly and just let them go through the motions, knowing there’s ample comedy in their discomfort with women, confrontation, and, in Richard’s case, explaining what the heck his vision for Pied Piper succinctly.
It’s that last wrinkle that throws Richard for a loop in tonight’s episode. To the point that, at Peter Gregory’s yoga party (or “orgy of caring” as the soft-spoken investor says), he gets hammered and ends up adding Erlich to the Pied Piper board. Considering Erlich’s predilection for bloviating and drug-induced nonsense, Richard is reticent to commit to that.
They play up the discomfort of all the guys in various ways, with Gilfoyle, Dinesh and Richard all getting chatted up by a pair of girls at the toga party. They don’t know at all how to react and seem almost relieved when they learn that the women are actresses hired to liven up parties. Too, poor Jared has to do the sheepish thing of asking Richard why he wasn’t invited to Peter’s party. Again, Zach Woods reveals his particular genius with that uncomfortable little scene.
By contrast, the person most comfortable in his own skin is Big Head. But he runs into trouble at Hooli when he reveals that he has no idea how Richard built the compression algorithm. He is then taken off the Nucleus team, but not reassigned. He’s not fired as he’s still under contract. But he can’t quit or else his stock options won’t vest. So, he is now being paid to wander the grounds of Hooli unattached. In its own way, Big Head’s lucrative ordeal is yet another commentary on the geeky tendency to avoid confrontation.
Erlich may fancy himself a bit of a geek, but he proves that he’s actually the one with enough sense of self to project the charisma he may really lack. He’s the one that comes to the rescue when Richard has to meet with Peter and lay out the vision for Pied Piper. Really that’s only because Richard is having such a panic attack that he fears he may throw up all over the place. Feel-good show that it is, Erlich lands the knockout punch, outlining their vision to offer a cloud-based service for people to compress their files within. “It’s everything that was in my head but I couldn’t say!” Richard marvels afterward. And then he throws up on Erlich.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.