In “Server Error,” Jared tells Richard, “I write three letters whenever I start a job: a personal action plan, a letter to my 40-year-old self, and a resignation letter.” His explanation precedes handing Richard that third letter. By this point, Richard had become something of a tyrant, and a dishonest one at that. Our resident empath could no longer stand those personality changes, so he quit. With Jared no longer around as a voice of reason, Richard did some incredibly dumb things that almost cost him Pied Piper. We learned that the Pied Piper crew looked to Jared to handle all the due diligence they consistently neglected to do. Thankfully, Jared rescinded his resignation at the end of that episode and all was well.
Fast-forward to this week’s similar, less satisfying episode, “Blood Money,” and Richard is once again staring down Jared’s third letter. Except this time, Jared blames himself for the bad advice he gave Richard regarding the Colin data-collection situation. “I let my desire to be needed by Richard lead me down a horrible path,” he told his court-appointed therapist on last week’s show. That path led to Colin turning the tables on their blackmail scheme, using the incriminating recordings Richard indexed as proof that PiperNet has a fantastic data mining algorithm. Jared was so shaken by his role in this debacle that he accidentally drove to Hacker Hostel. There, he discovered Jian-Yang running an incubator with a programmer named Gwart who could use an detail-oriented assistant. To say that Richard doesn’t handle Jared’s decision well would be putting it mildly. More on that in a minute.
Perhaps if Colin hadn’t lied about using the data he collected from gamer headsets to sell ads, Jared might have felt less guilty. Dinesh and Gilfoyle call Richard over to look at the latest PiperNet release of Colin’s Gates of Galloo. “This looks like the normal game,” says Richard. “It is,” says Dinesh, “until I put on my headset.” He mentions pizza. Immediately, a building in the medieval game turns into a Domino’s Pizza. No attempt is made to incorporate the restaurant into the game’s visual motif — it looks like a regular Domino’s, complete with a sign that takes up half the screen.
“He’s using our API to run ads directly in the game?!” asks Richard incredulously. The API is always listening and is incredibly persistent. Saying “vacation” results in a Carnival cruise ship and a Southwest Airlines jet. Anything remotely sexual brings hundreds of porn-site pop-up ads. Gamers don’t even have to say anything that makes sense to invoke an ad; a loud explosion of gibberish by Dinesh brings up a pterodactyl dragging a Massage Envy flyer behind it. I once got a massage at Massage Envy, and I swear it felt like they were rubbing a pterodactyl on me, so kudos once again to this show’s wicked, snarky use of product placement.
Since Colin’s company is keeping Pied Pier afloat, there’s nothing Richard can do about these ads. His frustration bleeds into his meeting with Jared. After earnestly explaining his reasons for leaving, and how hard the decision is for him, Jared receives the full brunt of Richard’s fury. Carson Mell’s script lets this play out as a breakup-inducing lover’s quarrel. The notion becomes explicit when Richard suddenly calls Jared a “buddy fucker, because you’re my buddy and you’re fucking me!” More red-meat dialogue for Jared-Richard slash-fic writers!
“This isn’t the Pied Piper I signed up for,” argues Jared. And it isn’t; Pied Piper is much bigger now, and Jared no longer works for his favorite person. One of his psychological quirks is latching on to an authority figure and filtering his self-worth through his service to them. He latched on to Richard back in “The Cap Table” after being unceremoniously ditched by Gavin Belson, and once he could no longer serve Richard, he’s moved on to Gwart.
Like Hoover, Gavin’s devoted security guy, Jared is capable of violence if his boss is disrespected. Richard learns this the hard way when, in a moment of true desperation, he tries to win Jared back by insulting his new master. I’ve said numerous times here that Jared was a ticking time bomb. This week, that bomb went off, giving us the most violent moment in the show’s history. Shouting a stream of blue language that would make Redd Foxx blush, Jared chases Richard through Hacker Hostel, kicking in doors and using Jian-Yang’s toy rifle to shoot an escaping Richard in the ass. Alas, this isn’t the worst thing that happens to Richard.
Before Jared tries to kill him, Richard is the subject of much ridicule at a charitable event for VCs. He and Monica attend to try and find investors who can replace Colin. Instead, they run into Professional Badass Laurie Bream. When we last left Laurie, she had invested in a lackluster Chinese knockoff of PiperNet called YaoNet. Laurie informs her former business partner that she has exited Yao and taken over the company. She’s also bringing it Stateside, putting her in direct competition with Richard. As he is spiraling down into self-pity, Richard runs into Maximo Reyes, a shady Chilean businessman who may hold the key to kicking Colin out of Pied Piper. That key takes the guise of an offer of one billion dollars! Will Richard become a member of what Russ Hanneman called “the three-commas club“? Or is this the blood money alluded to in this episode’s title?
Over at Hooli, Gavin barely has two commas to rub together. He’s called on the carpet at his latest bullshit-spouting board meeting by guest star Bernie Kopell, a.k.a. Siegfried from Get Smart, aka Doc from The Love Boat. Kopell’s lost none of his comic timing, cussing out Gavin and demanding a return on his investment in three months’ time. Gavin thinks it’ll take three years, and his slide show presentation does little to offer his board comfort. If you pause during the slides, you’ll see quotes from Ayn Rand, Confucius, Maya Angelou, Nietzsche, and Stevie Wonder. You’ll also see the hilariously outdated products Gavin managed to wrestle from Jeff Bezos. All of Hooli’s internet and search programs were absorbed by Amazon, but Bezos wisely left them Foxhole, a site that’s Ashley Madison for the military.
To save money, Gavin proposes moving Hooli to Georgia. Not the state, the country. Hoover and Gavin’s guru Denpok object to being forced to relocate there, or worse, to Belarus. But Hoover has an idea. He mentions CFIUS, a government agency that really exists, and how their laws forced the sale of Grindr by the Chinese company that owned it. Foxhole has something in common with Grindr: It, too, has plenty of dick pics, one of which belongs to a married four-star general. Hoover uses this information to get the general to use CFIUS to prevent Hooli from moving to Belarus. Gavin responds to this by punching a hole in the wall while his minions giggle with relief.
When Pied Piper was a baby, Jared handled all the HR stuff. But now that it’s full-grown, it needs a bigger human resources department. Enter Tracy, the head of HR and Gilfoyle’s newest nemesis. She calls him by his first name, Bertram, and demands that he pull his managerial weight and take on five coders to supervise. He’s two weeks behind on his project and she thinks it’s because he’s trying to do everything himself. “I’d rather be right than quick,” says Gilfoyle condescendingly.
“Oh, you’re THAT guy,” says an unimpressed Tracy. She proceeds to read Gilfoyle, describing him to a T and refusing to budge an inch in her demands. She even uses the very HR-unfriendly phrase “a dick-measuring contest,” which Dinesh misinterprets as a contest where people compete to see how many penises they can measure. Gilfoyle tries to play games with Tracy, but he realizes that she’s far better at dealing with him than he is with her. She tricks him into doing two weeks of work in 24 hours. He thinks he’s upstaging her; instead, he’s given her exactly what she wants. Gilfoyle can’t help but be impressed by her tactics.
As for that billion-dollar offer for 10 percent of PiperNet, it freaks Monica out so much she lights two cigarettes at once and runs away (Amanda Crew is this week’s MVP). In the past, Jared repeatedly turned down Reyes’s money, and had Jared still been at Pied Piper, the criminal Reyes wouldn’t have the opportunity to threaten Richard with unspeakable brutality if he doesn’t allow him access to Colin’s collected data. This is a mobster so cruel he has a tree in his living room window so it can drive birds into hitting the glass. We’ll have to wait until next week to see if a terrified Richard takes the deal.