This week’s Silicon Valley made me think of “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” I’m sure you remember that bouncy Deniece Williams classic from 1984’s Footloose. It’s my generation’s “My Funny Valentine.” Both are songs about a guy who gets the girl despite being so ugly he makes a platypus look like Idris Elba. It’s an understatement to say that these ditties damn with faint praise, and yet, the listener doesn’t feel sorry for the poor chap. The guy whose face only a mother could love somehow managed to find someone who shared his mama’s sentiment.
“The Blood Boy” insinuates that ugly folks have found a profession that loves them back, too. It’s called Information Technology. Into our beloved, gnarled and hallowed halls of zeroes and ones comes a pretty boy named Bryce. Bryce is this episode’s titular character, a man who literally bleeds for I.T. Bryce has a degree in C.S., but fears he is too pretty to be taken seriously by the gods and monsters who control all the code in the universe. So, to get an audience with Gavin Belson, he has become a “transfusion associate.” Like the animals say on The Flintstones, “It’s a living.”
Bryce makes his first appearance in the middle of Richard’s latest meeting with the Pied Piper: the Next Generation crew. As Richard tries to explain the challenges of the new product, Bryce shows up with a sinister-looking contraption made of two lounge chairs, an I.V., and a digital screen. If Dr. Frankenstein designed IKEA furniture, it might look like this. Silently, Bryce hooks a vein in Gavin’s arm up to this machine. A stunned Richard stares as Bryce taps his own vein.
“Is everything okay?” Gavin asks. “I don’t know,” says Richard. “Is it?” Remembering his manners, Gavin introduces Bryce to the team. “We’ve met,” Jared says. Since Jared was once Gavin’s right-hand man, he’s familiar with Bryce’s duties. But Richard is completely clueless about this new body-based technology.
“You mean you haven’t heard of parabiosis?” asks Gavin incredulously. I hadn’t either, but I went down the rabbit hole so you won’t have to; here’s an article on it. It sounds like the wet dream of a very vain vampire: Older people get blood transfusions from younger people in an attempt to stave off the aging process. In Gavin’s case, he hooks up to a blond hottie who looks “like a Nazi propaganda poster.” It used to be when a man had his midlife crisis he bought a convertible and got a much younger lover. Now, folks are literally sucking the blood out of millennials!
Pretty Boy Bryce inadvertently throws a huge monkey wrench into Richard’s plans. Gavin favors a large rollout of PP:TNG. Richard’s counter-argument is that a stealth rollout will generate interest in a staggered fashion, making it easier to control the narrative of an admittedly hard sell. The Catch-22 of Richard’s new internet is that people won’t want to use it until the performance is high, and in order for the performance to be high, people have to start using it. As soon as Richard convinces Gavin of this, Bryce contradicts him and takes Gavin’s side. Gavin forces Richard to plan for a huge rollout.
“He’s sticking his perfectly symmetrical face into smart peoples’ business!” Richard complains. Becoming the crazed buffer he promised he would, Jared repeatedly yells, “You dick!” at Bryce, scaring him off and sending him crying to Gavin.
“This is already the best job I ever had!” notes Gilfoyle.
A furious Gavin calls Richard, demanding he apologize for upsetting his transfusion associate. “Is your ego so fragile that when someone disagrees with you, you must demean them?” asks the man once known for elaborate revenge plots against people who disagreed with him. Richard visits Bryce to apologize. Bryce is not so forgiving.
“You probably thought I was some dumb jock,” he tells Richard. “You’re biased!” As Bryce complains about how Gavin is controlling every aspect of his life, from his eating habits to his exercise routine, Richard notices that Bryce shops at the same health food store that Erlich does, Geary Street Organics.
Speaking of Erlich, episode writer Adam Countee reminds us that, for all his follies and foibles, Mr. Bachman can still be quite observant. Erlich attends Laurie’s baby shower as Jian-Yang’s plus-one. “My invitation must have been lost in the email,” Erlich tells Monica. “This isn’t my doing,” she says. Ed Chen has thrown this tequila-shot-filled soiree, and the fact that Laurie and Monica are the only women at what is normally a female-centric event makes Erlich suspicious. Amid all the tech-bro attendees is the co-founder of Raviga, a man who usually appears at the office once a year, if at all.
“This isn’t a party,” Erlich tells Monica. “It’s a coup!” Laurie’s pregnancy will be used against her, and Ed Chen will usurp her power and her role while she’s on maternity leave. Monica will also be ousted, unless she pals up with Ed Chen and his misogynistic tech bros. “You either bro down or you go down,” Erlich tells her. Taking his advice, Monica does shots of tequila and feigns delight as she sits through 40 minutes of snowboarding video set to Diplo remixes. For her trouble, she learns that Erlich was right: This is a takeover attempt. Ed sends Monica on a weed run. Of course, she scores it from Erlich.
“You may have bet on the wrong horse,” Erlich tells Monica after she explains all the details of the takeover. Ed told Monica that she’s in if she keeps her mouth closed, which means he doesn’t yet have the votes to oust Laurie. So the deal isn’t set in stone. Changing her bet, Monica rats out Ed, only to discover that Laurie is one step ahead of her.
“This is my fourth child, Monica,” Laurie says. “I’m no stranger to these types of machinations.” In fact, Laurie plans to use Ed’s attempted coup to start her own company. Half of Raviga’s customers have already agreed to go with her, and she invites Monica to join as well.
“You’re a fucking ninja!” Monica says in surprise. “No,” replies Laurie succinctly. “YES!” I yelled at the screen. I don’t call her Professional Badass Laurie Bream for nothing, folks!
Meanwhile, Dinesh’s super-hacker girlfriend, Mia, poses an unforeseen dilemma. “She’s way into me,” Dinesh tells Gilfoyle and Jared, “more than a normal person should be. And the sex! There’s so much sex!” (Kumail Nanjiani’s take on the word sex is the highlight of this episode.) The problem is that, after the lovin’, Mia tells Dinesh all her former and future hacking exploits, making him an accessory to her crimes.
Terrified, Dinesh decides to break up with Mia after he attends her sister’s wedding. “I’d be more afraid about that wedding,” Gilfoyle tells him. “These are very public events. Photos will be taken, tying her forever to you.” So Dinesh comes clean to Mia about his accidental takedown of Gavin, hoping she’ll dump him. Instead, Mia sees his confession, which she already knew about, as a sign of trust. It makes her love her “Neshy” even more! “I hacked the Freedom Tower elevators!” she tells him. Taking a page from Monica’s playbook, “Neshy” rats Mia out to the FBI. She — and Dinesh’s nose — get busted at her sister’s wedding.
In a broad stroke of luck, Richard discovers that Geary Street Organics isn’t a health-food store. “It’s my weed dispensary,” says Erlich. Richard also learns that the C.S. in Bryce’s degree stands for calisthenics studies, not computer science. He returns to Bryce’s house to find that he’s not only high, but also hoarding a huge stash of Hostess products! Fruit Pie the Magician is to the munchies what the Hamburglar is to petty larceny.
“I got you, Bryce, you fucking liar!” yells Richard before launching into one of those speeches that made my programmer’s heart stand up and cheer. “You listen to me, you muscle-bound, handsome Adonis!” he bellows. “Tech is reserved for people like me, okay? The freaks, the weirdos, the misfits, the geeks, the dweebs, the dorks! Not you!” As a coder who fancies himself a rather handsome bloke, I should have been profoundly offended. But Thomas Middleditch delivers the message as a badge of honor, not an insult, just like in those aforementioned ugly-boy songs.
Unfortunately, Richard’s words backfire in spectacular fashion. Bryce decides to write a tell-all book about Gavin. Not even Richard’s positive leak about PP:TNG to C.J. Cantwell can lift Gavin’s spirits. After destroying his house (again!), Gavin leaves on a journey of self-exploration, taking with him all his money and his ideas. Matt Ross’s excellent acting should be commended here. He portrays several sides of Gavin, including his newfound self-awareness.
Gavin may be gone, but he left Richard the patent. It’s pretty useless without funding, but since when has no money stopped Richard Hendricks?