Silicon Valley: The Empty Chair
May 22, 2016 10:09 PM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Richard gets inarticulate when stressed, Laurie is not here just for fun, and Bachmanity ensues. Written by Megan Amram.
posted by rhizome (37 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
"I spilled coffee on it. I'm a nerrrrd."
posted by town of cats at 11:32 PM on May 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


So did Big Head just lose his $20 million severance by publicly disparaging Hooli? I hope so; I really don't like seeing Bachman being such a complete mercenary asshole. He's always been a kinda likable selfish ass so for me his scheme to rip off Big Head is difficult to watch. It seems just a way to drive his character into the mud in a way it hasn't been driven before. Unlike watching Richard being stupid, there's not much comic payoff there.
posted by mediareport at 4:14 AM on May 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Not so many lols in this episode and a lot of telegraphing. I still haven't figured out what Monica is supposed to be doing.
posted by arzakh at 4:24 AM on May 23, 2016


Big head always seems to come out on top, so I'd be surprised if he lost his severance. Or if he does he'll get all that money back and then some because Hooli will be found in court to have retaliated against a whistleblower and he'll be owed a billion in damages or something.
posted by town of cats at 7:41 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Did he really publicly disparage Hooli? He just told a reporter, right? I assumed he'd be quoted as an anonymous former senior executive in the know and Hooli wouldn't be able to claw back his severance package.

I'm starting to get really tired of Richard failing at everything. I get it, it's funny, it's part of his character, but I'd really like to see some growth for once. I called him going into the wrong conference room once the receptionist specified it was the "small" conference room and he blew off her offer to show him where it was. His failures have just become so obvious ahead of time that it's getting a bit boring. That's not going to stop me from watching, but now I'm just watching for everyone but Richard.
posted by noneuclidean at 8:15 AM on May 23, 2016


I hope so; I really don't like seeing Bachman being such a complete mercenary asshole. He's always been a kinda likable selfish ass so for me his scheme to rip off Big Head is difficult to watch.

Yeah, I adore Bachman, and seeing him fleece Big Head is bothering me. I think because Big Head is such a lamb among all the characters. I want to see Big Head keep failing upwards.

Did we know what a Dickensian character Jared was before this episode?
posted by gladly at 9:05 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was so excited to finally have a scene between two women in this show, but that scene ended up being a huge disappointment filled with nothing. It's like the writers have never met a woman before and they are just guessing at how they would talk.
posted by joan cusack the second at 9:08 AM on May 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


Well, it's more like in an episode where all of the characters acted like exaggerated caricatures of themselves, Laurie's robotness came out especially pronounced.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:10 AM on May 23, 2016


Also, maybe this is too tangential to the discussion of this week's episode, but my frustration over the poor representation of women on this show really came to a breaking point during this episode: I met a guy once who was going on and on about how he didn't find Melissa McCarthy or Amy Poehler funny, so I pushed him to name an actress he did find funny. And he named Monica from Silicon Valley. In season 1. And I die a little bit every time I remember that.
posted by joan cusack the second at 9:12 AM on May 23, 2016 [12 favorites]


I too hope this prolonged bullying of Big Head pays off soon, I also find it hard to watch. I guess it's realistic that a sweet idiot with more money than he can imagine would immediately be taken advantage of but its still not particularly funny. I also was thinking like, really, Richard fucking everything up again? You don't say? Can you just not fuck something up for once? But that's like the entire premise of the show. if they didn't do that it would be wrong and weird. It's also realistic, in my experience the first time I do anything it's a giant emotional disaster; the next time I get it right. Everything that's happening to Richard is a first.

Also I am not one to nitpick this kind of thing but why didn't he just swap out the hard drive? I mean I know why, so they will have to start over next week. Yes the guys daughter said he didn't want a new one but he also thought he was talking to Geek Squad, they could have told him anything. It had that ring of falseness that broke my suspension of disbelief.
posted by bleep at 10:02 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also I am not one to nitpick this kind of thing but why didn't he just swap out the hard drive?

The one thing Gilfoyle loves more than succeeding is seeing -- or, even better -- making Dinesh fail.
posted by Etrigan at 10:08 AM on May 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Oh wow somehow that had not occurred to me but now that you point it out I get it. I guess discussing things is good!
posted by bleep at 10:27 AM on May 23, 2016


It's like the writers have never met a woman before and they are just guessing at how they would talk.

Sounds pretty much like guys from Silicon Valley, then.
posted by happyroach at 10:42 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also I am not one to nitpick this kind of thing but why didn't he just swap out the hard drive? I mean I know why, so they will have to start over next week.

I didn't get the sense that there was irreplaceable data on the drive, just that it was sensitive IP that would be bad to let fall into anyone else's hands.
posted by Pryde at 1:14 PM on May 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


My impression was that the drill was the quickest way to get the job done in case he got interrupted.
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


joan cusack the second: It's like the writers have never met a woman before and they are just guessing at how they would talk.

I'd just like to point out this episode was written by writer/comedian Megan Amram.
posted by bluecore at 4:51 PM on May 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


I feel like the writers know how to write jokes but not stories.
posted by clockzero at 5:06 PM on May 23, 2016


Nothing here yet on how Richard's interview was so stressful I had to leave the room? (Or the complete lack of ethics on the journalist's part--which may be part of why she's a blogger and not a journalist?)

Solid episode but it probably took at least a week off my life.
posted by thecaddy at 7:57 AM on May 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


That was a massive and well-deserved swipe against Techcrunch.
posted by rhizome at 9:17 AM on May 24, 2016


I called him going into the wrong conference room once the receptionist specified it was the "small" conference room and he blew off her offer to show him where it was.

Well, but that's so something a guy like Richard would do.
posted by zutalors! at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2016


thecaddy - that was SO painful. In a good way.

My husband also pointed out that she ethically should have announced herself as a journalist and that she was recording...but yeah, it's TV.
posted by radioamy at 12:40 PM on May 24, 2016


> Well, but that's so something a guy like Richard would do.

It's exactly something Richard would do, but I ended up just wanting the scene of him yelling at the blogger/journalist to end sooner since the punchline was so obvious.
posted by noneuclidean at 12:41 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


That scene with the blogger made me very uncomfortable as well. It was well done but I really wanted it to end. I did figure there'd be a way out of it but I didn't see the Hooli scoop coming. I used to like Erlich but I'm getting tired of him beating up on poor Big Head.

This episode was ok, but not my favorite. It'll be more interesting to see Gavin's reaction and the fallout.

I'm kind of tired of the stupid mistakes that cause potential catastrophe that they easily get out of. The lost drive, talking to the reporter, the plan to undermine 'the box'. It happens over and over going back to the beginning with the IP possibly belonging to Hooli, deleting the porn client's files, taking a huge risk on stage at TechCrunch, etc. It's a funny gag, but it needs to not be the only one.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:17 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, thecaddy, I was covering my eyes and yelling "Richard! Stop! For the love of god, stop!" at my screen.
posted by town of cats at 2:26 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you had told me that a graphic scene of two horses having sex would be the second most cringeworthy thing on this season of Silicon Valley...
posted by Itaxpica at 4:15 PM on May 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


This whole episode was a dig at Twitter and their endless pursuit of not Jack Dorsey before going back to Jack Dorsey, right? Now that I think about it, Stephen Tobolowski is kind of a ringer for Dick Costolo.
posted by TwoWordReview at 7:41 AM on May 25, 2016


I'm kind of tired of the stupid mistakes that cause potential catastrophe that they easily get out of.

I think the point of (most of) these plotlines is that there is so much stupidity in the tech world that there are endless ways you can make millions and millions and millions of dollars by being stupid in slightly different ways. Disruptive stupidity, as it were.
posted by Etrigan at 7:48 AM on May 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


I enjoyed this episode as well, but I couldn't believe that Richard and crew were able to fire everybody without at least running it by Monica/Laurie/Raviga? Is that really what it means to be the "ranking officer," that you can fire three-quarters of the staff without consulting the board? Some of these stories just felt a little more "plot hole" than the usual "delightful backwardsness and kookiness and failing-upwards of the world of the show."
posted by Zephyrial at 9:56 AM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's not entirely kosher, but it wouldn't be unprecedented for Pied Piper to have a boilerplate succession plan where in the absence of a CEO, the CTO is the interim CEO.
posted by Etrigan at 10:18 AM on May 25, 2016


I think the point of (most of) these plotlines is that there is so much stupidity in the tech world that there are endless ways you can make millions and millions and millions of dollars by being stupid in slightly different ways.

I don't really see it as being stupid so much as failing, but yes, there are many ways to do it. And many of them are personified by different people on the show.
  • Big Head has failed effortlessly upward from the start. He's a funny counterpoint to the others but there's a reason he appears sparingly.
  • Erlich had one small success, cashed out, and failed to do anything of note since then. (Russ is similar, except substitute "massive" for "small.")
  • Richard is failing laterally because his ego won't let him focus on what he's good at. It's the show's cruelest joke that he's the protagonist because it ensures he won't find peace/success until whenever it ends.
  • Gavin managed to Peter-Principle his way up to CEO of a big company and, having reached that height, is immune from the effects of his massive failures (a.k.a. the Fiorina effect).
  • Jack could have gone out on top but he failed to develop any sense of perspective about outcomes and just attempted to coast on winning people (some, not all; investors, mostly) over in the short term. It got him axed.

posted by psoas at 11:46 AM on May 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


I just rewatched and I think I've come to the conclusion that Jared is my favorite character in the series. We learn a lot about his life in this episode: he has many elderly friends and is an expert at estate sales, he's adopted and his biological father is from the Ozarks, he doesn't know what his birthday is, and he's apparently seen a naked dead man before. But best of all, he is just over the top thrilled when Richard is reinstated as CEO.

Also, I honestly thought, since the name was so bad, that Clinkle was a made up company. I googled it to see if anyone had made a parody site, and it turns out it was a real company. TechCrunch has an article where it describes the company as "frequently mocked".
posted by noneuclidean at 6:10 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


he has many elderly friends and is an expert at estate sales, he's adopted and his biological father is from the Ozarks, he doesn't know what his birthday is, and he's apparently seen a naked dead man before.

Three of those things probably go together.
posted by tracicle at 6:58 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm telling you, Jared Dunn-Richard Splett double spinoff. It's GOLD, Jerry!
posted by Etrigan at 7:19 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I used to get stressed too, but then I just think about what is really the worst case secario. Young, unattached geeks who go back to making Nip Alert, which seems like what they really want to be doing anyway. And nothing gets bad enough that they don't find a distraction anyway (ie. Improving the video feed). Richard gets all stressed because he is high functioning, but Pied Piper isn't his main focus anyway. He's more concerned about spaces and tabs. Every other concern takes a backseat. Big Head is happy as long as he has a Big Gulp.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:55 AM on May 30, 2016


We decided to pick this show up after recommendations fro friends. It was pretty enjoyable, but this show is getting painful to watch. Like was mentioned above, they keep getting themselves into suspenseful situations that can make or break the company and then get out of them. Also, did the actor for Jack have other commitments or something? It seemed really weird to have him be a really cool guy that was looking forward to working with Richard and then turn him into a total dick.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:25 AM on May 31


In what way is that weird. It's very much like real life? As is what we're all criticizing as jumping from plot to plot. I mean this is how real life is. And how fiction works. Every day there's a new dire calamity that seems like the end of world until it turns out that it's not and a new one takes its place. You guys want fewer plot points or something?
posted by bleep at 12:24 PM on May 31


It'd be nice if the plot involved more than them just making dumb mistakes.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:31 PM on May 31


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