TV Recap: Silicon Valley, S02E05, Server Space

The narrative progress of Silicon Valley has always been ‘one step forward, two steps back’ for the Pied Piper team. Unfortunately this has often also been the case for the show as a whole. After what looked like progress last week when it fixed problems that had become apparent (like a lack of story advancement, a lack of good female characters, and the diminution of Erlich), we find ourselves going backwards again.

Richard is getting increasingly stressed out with all the issues surrounding Pied Piper, resulting to severe night sweats that the doctor cautions could lead to bedwetting if he’s not careful. The increase in staff from last week’s episode means the team have to move out of the incubator and into some real offices, and Richard thinks this is really going to help his stress levels. Dinesh cannot wait to move into the new offices, not least because of the exposed brick work (“Why would anyone hide brick?!”) and the fact that there just happens to be a modelling agency upstairs.

Even though the chemistry of the team appears to work best when they’re in an enclosed space, it’s important for the development of the show that the company actually makes some progress. The show is going to be unsustainable if it keeps trying to maintain the status quo, which it does in this episode by having Gavin Belson sabotage Pied Piper’s plans again. Belson puts pressure on the hosting companies so that no one will take the team’s business, and without servers they’ve got nothing. Rather than turn to their douchebag investor Russ, who would probably make things worse or get them to spend money with one of his own crappy businesses, Gilfoyle says that they can spend the lease money building their own servers right there in the incubator.

This plot point gives us some good character moments, like learning that Jared has been living in the garage, more conflict between Dinesh and Gilfoyle over building the servers, or a chance to show more sides to Erlich. T.J. Miller continues to carry large parts of the show, bringing an energy that the other players lack. Here Erlich’s anger about Pied Piper still being in the incubator from last week is revealed to all be for show, and he’s happy to have them back in the house. His gifting of a kimono to Richard was actually quite sweet and earnest, and his longing look towards the empty work space was telling. He needs these guys, and not just because they’re the only of his ‘incubees’ who’ve ever had a half-decent idea.

But the whole thing had a feel of time-killing, another meaningless obstacle put in their path. Yes, the success of the Pied Piper team might actually be an anathema to the success of the show, but it can be trying watching them make the same mistakes, going backwards again and again.

Elsewhere, believability is also being stretched thin with Gavin Belson appearing to be willing to thrown millions of dollars away and sacrifice his whole company just to beat Richard. He accepts the resignation of Dr Bannercheck as co-head dreamer of Hooli XYZ (who’s been working on a non-invasive robotic appendage for an armless monkey, which the writers use for a ‘spanking the monkey’ joke that doesn’t quite land) and gives Bighead sole control of the department. Bighead’s face is the same as it’s been throughout the series, dumb obliviousness. He surely cannot be this clueless or would have died long ago crossing the street.

Pied Piper might actually make some progress soon though, with the reveal that despite Belson’s plan for Nucleus to provide video streaming for an upcoming UFC, his team are anywhere from 2 to 6 to 15 to god-knows how many weeks away from functionality.

Silicon Valley is as guilty of making as many mistakes as its protagonists and, like them, often the same ones over and over. It can feel like the show’s plot is stuck in a holding pattern, unsure of what path to take forward. It’s a problem that needs to be sorted or will result in a severely shortened life-span.

Silicon Valley air Wednesday nights on Foxtel’s The Comedy Channel

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