Silicon Valley Recap: Grand Opening, Grand Closing

Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh, Martin Starr as Gilfoyle. Photo: HBO
Silicon Valley
Episode Title
Bachmanity Insanity
Editor’s Rating

"Birds do it. Bees do it. Guys on Silicon Valley do it … "

With apologies to Cole Porter, this is the best way I can describe "Bachmanity Insanity." Romance is in the air for Richard and Dinesh, and rumpy-pumpy is in the server room for Jared. The former Donald Dunn is a veritable sex machine, picking up beautiful women and leaving them as "sassyfied" as a "Strokin'" Clarence Carter. It turns out the perpetually wrong-headed Russ Hanneman was right about something: This guy fucks. Add Jared to the Silicon Valley Sexytime List, folks!

As we soon see in this week's episode, Dinesh wants to usurp Jared's title. While Gilfoyle cringes in the background, Dinesh flirts online with one of the new programmers, an Estonian woman named Elisabet Kirsipuu. He compliments her code, and "the lovely fingers that typed it." It's apparent that Pied Piper doesn't have an HR department, because this is something South Park's Sexual Harassment Panda warned against doing. I've had enough mandatory ethics classes crammed down my throat at work to know this could lead to problems.

But this is HBO, not a skittish Wall Street investment bank, so Dinesh's only problem is that he can't get a very good look at Elisabet on Hooli Facetime. "The packet loss over Estonian broadband is terrible," Gilfoyle says. "She could be hideous." (Maybe I watched too many dirty movies on scrambled cable back in the day, but I saw her quite easily.) When Jared points out that looks don't matter to Dinesh, he agrees, but also slips in that he hopes she's not "a dog-face." The self-proclaimed "Pakistani Denzel Washington" can barely hide his shallow nature.

Prior to Denzel's — I mean, Dinesh's — lousy attempts at game, Richard scolds the offshore team over the use of spaces in code instead of tabs. The Pied Piper style sheet explicitly endorses tabs, but one of the coders opts for spaces. That Richard would notice indicates how compulsive he is, because it all looks the same visually. Since compilers strip out "white space," there's technically no difference between tabs and space. You may have found this plot point unbelievable, but this is a real issue for some coders.

"At Hooli, I once saw an argument get so heated that the two guys almost made physical contact!" Jared says of the spaces-versus-tabs debate. I once had a code reviewer who fired you if you used spaces, and another who thought tabs were a sign of the Apocalypse. So, yes, this silly battle exists. And, hell no, I'm not telling you what I use! I will say this, though: When I started writing code in 1987, the languages I used were still based on punch cards, and therefore had specific, static columns where code needed to start and end. At the time, a tab was a smart idea. Nowadays, Java and other languages are freed from those restrictions. Their indentations, tab-related or otherwise, are more for the programmer's eyes than the compiler's hash tables — so this debate is as petty as it is passionately argued.

Richard thinks anyone who doesn't use tabs is a moron. Can you see where this is going? If you guessed that the nice Facebook programmer he's dating is a literal space cadet, congratulations! You've seen a sitcom before! The cliché is forgivable, though, as Winnie is a thoroughly charming MIT graduate and not the "founder hounder" Erlich assumes she is. She even earns Gilfoyle's begrudging respect. "I like her," he says to Dinesh. "It's too bad Richard's gonna fuck it up."

And eff it up he does. "Richard is a bit of a zealot in the tabs-versus-spaces holy war," Dinesh warns Winnie. She brings this up on their date, and Richard halfheartedly denies it. But later, despite the promise of the first sex he's had in three years, Winnie's constant pressing of the space bar sends him over the edge. (Who the hell writes code on a date?!) Director Eric Appel shoots each space-bar press as a hilarious violation, a travesty rendered in extreme close-up. "Oh my God, this really bugs you!" Winnie says with disbelief.

"This isn't going to work!" Richard yells, leaping off Winnie's couch and practically running away from her. She responds by hitting the space bar a few more times. Richard retaliates by insulting Winnie, asking, "We were going to bring kids into the world with this over their heads?!"

As I wrote in my notes, "This is the point where Richard's penis punches him in the balls and tells him to shut up." Close, but not quite — Richard's penis throws him down the stairs instead. Winnie finds him in a crumpled heap beside the front door. Somewhere in my warped imagination, Dave Chappelle's Prince announced the outcome of this battle: "Game … spaces."

At Hacker Hostel, success in love and coding awaits Dinesh. He's rewritten some peer-to-peer code to help speed up the connection so he can get a good look at Elisabet. To his relief, she's quite fetching. Elisabet also gets a good look at Dinesh. To her chagrin, he's not the Pakistani Denzel Washington. He's the Pakistani George Washington. Immediately, Elisabet cops to having a boyfriend — no, husband! Then she hangs up on Dinesh's petty ass.

"Either she froze time, met the love of her life, married him, then unfroze time to video-chat with you," begins Gilfoyle. "Or you're the dog-face. Which one do you think it is? I'm on the fence."

With all these minor shenanigans, I must admit that "Bachmanity Insanity" is a bit of a letdown after several weeks of intense, suspenseful, plot-heavy machinations. It's still a decent entry, of course, a pleasant respite that allows us to catch our breath and spend some downtime with the Pied Piper crew. Writer Carson Mell spreads the wealth; each of the guys gets a moment to shine, including Big Head, who gets the episode's last word and revenge against Erlich.

Erlich's latest attempt to bleed dry Big Head's $20 million Hooli severance involves a party on Alcatraz to announce the launching of Bachmanity, their joint venture. Erlich, wanting to gloat in front of all of his critics, bypasses the prison theme, and opts instead to turn Al Capone's former home into Hawaii. It would have been cheaper to just throw the party in Hawaii, but no detractors would show up for that.

Speaking of detractors, Gavin has some new ones to contend with now that C.J.'s data-scrubbing exposé has been published on her CodeRag blog. One of the protesters outside Hooli throws a bucket of suds on Gavin as he tries to evade the melee, a clever touch I hope more protesters employ. Gavin's lawyers tell him he can't sue for libel if the written words are true, so Gavin instead opts to sue C.J. Cantwell for the identity of her "unnamed source," a.k.a. Big Head.

When Big Head informs Erlich that C.J. is panicking, Erlich is unfazed until Big Head mentions that talking to her violated his Hooli nondisclosure agreement. T.J. Miller's slow burn makes him this episode's MVP. Calmly, he asks, "Why in the holy fuck didn't you tell me about the NDA, you sweet, helpless piece of shit?!" "Well the NDA was part of the NDA," Big Head responds. "So if I told you about it, I'd be violating it." This, ladies and gentlemen, is a reminder that NDAs are as ridiculous as arguments over spaces and tabs.

But no matter. Erlich buys C.J. Cantwell's silence for a modest $500,00 of Big Head's money. "We own a blog!" Erlich cheerfully tells Big Head. They'll need a lot of click bait to break even on this one.

Upon hearing the blog news, Big Head's financial planner Arthur Clayman demands to speak to Erlich. Erlich evades him, but the brutal truth will soon catch up with Mr. Bachman. Big Head hasn't been too wise with his $20 million, using it for a variety of pursuits any sane person would find frivolous. Arthur sifts through Big Head's terrible record keeping only to discover that he's already pulled an M.C. Hammer. Nelson Bighetti is bankrupt, and by extension, so is Bachmanity.

Erlich learns this news as he takes the party stage on Alcatraz. In shock, and with all of his enemies staring at him, Erlich can only muster a single "Aloha." "That means hello," Big Head says. Then he ends the episode with a deliciously appropriate capper: "Oh, it also means good-bye!" Grand opening, grand closing!