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Silicon Valley Recap: That Satanist Chicken

There’s a TV commercial where a guy uses his phone to remotely control elements of his home. He turns off a faucet, kills the lights, sets the security alarm, and locks the doors. Another ad has a wife opening the car door for her husband from an airplane thousands of miles above Earth. These people always seem so pleased with themselves, pompously so, as if saying, I can start my car in Arizona from Timbuktu, and turn off the lights from Kalamazoo!

I look at these ads and think: “Why the hell do these fools trust technology? If that chick accidentally ass-dialed her car, she would make it a lot easier for a thief.” Have you ever ass-dialed someone? It always happens more than once. Before she realized what happened, Airplane Lady would unlock her car, start it up, and even make it comfortably air-conditioned for some lucky guy on the ground.

This week, Jared put his trust in technology, with dire, Christopher Cross–infused results. And he’s not the only one who realized that Billy Joel was right when he sang “it’s always been a matter of trust.” Several characters get burned because they had faith in something or someone they should not have. For Richard, it’s a double whammy, as he loses trust in his own skills, then hands it over to the wrong consultant. Dinesh’s undoing is the promise of easy sex with Satanists.

Richard is lost in the Cloud, which leads him to the “Third Party Insourcing” of this week’s title. Pied Piper is awaiting crucial code from its creator, and Richard has “Coder’s Block.” With one week to go before Tech Crunch’s demo, the Pied Piper team needs the programmer equivalent of Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolf.

“Go back in there, chill them coders out, and wait for the Carver, who should be coming directly,” says Erlich in this Tarantino-inspired Vulture recap reenactment. For once, Jared agrees with Erlich, pressuring Richard to get outside help. Since Gilfoyle and Dinesh are not subject-matter experts on Cloud technology, Richard’s hand is forced. Erlich browbeats him into accepting help from a dangerous consultant named the Carver.

But first: If I had to explain the Cloud to you, I’d say it was the data storage/hardware equivalent of one of those sleazy sex motels that charge by the hour and have vibrating beds. You rent some processing power, space, and/or infrastructure, drop in your application, execute it, get satisfied, and leave your money on Amazon or Google’s night table. Thankfully, Erlich has a more technical definition:

 “[The Cloud is] this tiny little shitty area, which is becoming super important, and is in many ways the future of computing.”

Legend has it that the Carver hacked into Bank of America and took its servers down. He’s also “the Cloud-fuckin’ master” when it comes to that technology. There’s even a cool, suspenseful build-up to his appearance. Walking through a gutted office en route to the Carver’s desk, Erlich describes more amazing Carver feats before telling Richard, “Don’t touch anything! Failure is contagious.” Since I’ve already (mis)quoted Tarantino to describe the aura surrounding the Carver, let me describe his actual reality by correctly quoting a movie from Tarantino’s least favorite director, John Ford:

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

The Carver ain’t no Harvey Keitel. In fact, he looks about 14. Eyeing Richard, he compliments the Pied Piper algorithm before saying, “I thought you’d be younger.” The Carver, or Kevin, if I may use his government name, gasps when he discovers Richard is 26. The Carver would have a massive stroke if he met this programmer, who turned 44 on the day HBO aired “Third Party Insourcing.”

Kevin offers to bring Pied Piper into the world of the Cloud for $20,000. He says it’ll take him two days, which Richard finds incredulous with good reason. Here’s a handy formula for you folks out there: Multiply by 3 whatever time frame a consultant tells you. Kevin bucks my formula by completing the Cloud work on schedule, thanks to his constant pounding of “Mello Yello, Oreos, and Adderall.”

Of course, he destroys Pied Piper in the process. But that’s a story for another time.

Over in Gilfoyle and Dinesh World, an “Amy Winehouse type” female threatens to add some Playboy Channel–style naughtiness to their rivalry. Gilfoyle’s latest flame, a fellow Satanist named Tara, is visiting the house. “It’s weird having a girl in the house,” says Dinesh. “It’s a really strange energy.” That energy gets stranger when Gilfoyle drops the bombshell that Tara has the hots for Dinesh and wants to bump uglies with him. Gilfoyle is okay with this, which makes Dinesh even more mortified.

When Dinesh finds himself in the “Maybe” camp, he makes a list of pros and cons for jumping his rival’s girl. I think he got this idea from a “very special episode” of Dr. Phil. The list of cons is numerous, but there’s only one pro. If you’re a guy, you know what that pro is.

Erlich, who is in every plot line this week, can’t live with the notion that Tara finds him less attractive than Dinesh. One of his methods of trying to disprove this is attending a Satanic Baptism with Gilfoyle, Tara, and Dinesh. It was not what I was expecting; there were no horror-movie elements at all. In fact, it was a lot less scary than my own Baptist church baptism, where they threw a kid terrified of drowning into a filthy indoor church pool. At least the baptized Satanists got to eat at Chick-fil-A afterward.

“I know they’re on the Christian right,” says the priest doing the ceremony of the fast-food chain, “but darn if that chicken isn’t good. I think the Dark Lord would understand.” Dinesh later refers to Chick-fil-A as “that Satanist chicken.” I am just loving the product placement on this show!

Except for approximately six seconds, Christopher Evan Welch’s Peter Gregory is missing from this episode. But what a great six seconds it is! His appearance accidentally dooms Jared, or so we think. Jared makes the mistake of trusting Peter’s driverless car, a car that, mid-trip, changes its course from Palo Alto to Peter Gregory’s newest project, Arallon, a half-built island that straddles the International Date Line. Yes, the car makes it there, proving that Google Maps isn’t the only one with a sense of humor about navigating the Pacific Ocean.

In this episode, Jared gets tortured enough to give Erlich a bigger boner than Tara does. Jared tortures us back by nervously singing Christopher Cross’s Grammy-winning ipecac syrup of a song, “Sailing.” The Jared shenanigans are more silly than absurd (why doesn’t he just get out of the damn car?), and while I appreciated how “Third Party Insourcing” stitches in the theme of misplaced trust, plot-wise, the episode’s all over the map. T.J. Miller saves it with his tour-de-force Erlich turn. His scene with the “Church Candy” kid and his swimming-pool-based Calvin Klein ad of a botched seduction are season highlights.

Kevin the Carver proves the oft-heard phrase among full-time employees that you should NEVER trust the consultant. The execution here is rather lazy, though, something I’m not used to, as the series has been so clever. It’s a minor letdown of an episode.

With Jared presumably gone for good, Richard loses his voice of reason. This can only lead to more Cloudy Days for Pied Piper.

Photo: HBO