Silicon Valley Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Articles Of Incorporation

Carrying on from last episode’s concluding conundrum, Richard Hendricks realizes that the cheque Peter Gregory drew him is against his company. This leads the gang to scramble in order to get their name registered. There’s just one problem though and it’s all too familiar: Pied Piper as a name is already taken by an irrigation company. Now Richard must try and convince that Pied Piper’s owner to lend him the name and “negotiate” a tough deal.

This episode pretty much gives all characters some headroom to shine. Except Monica, who remains perhaps the most underdeveloped thus far, everyone gets subplots and exchanges that run amok and induce hysterical laughter. Jared begins to come out on his own as well, as he reveals his real name, only to be slammed back into his Gavin Belson granted name. He also engages in a funny session to name the company with Dinesh and Gilfoyle, who come up with convincing ways to shoot down every session.

The unspoken rivalry between Dinesh and Gilfoyle is now starting to show on screen through incessant jabs which, at times border on sensitive issues like race and immigration. It’s still fun to watch the duo spar words at each other and this looks like the beginning of a long-standing tug-of-war. Richard meanwhile is forced to confront a 60s man-with-no-name type figure Arnold who has a firm demeanor to let go of the name, but articles published about Richard’s “billionaire status” threaten to turn the tides against him. He also learns an important lesson; in the world of Palo Alto, a handshake deal doesn’t mean squat.

Silicon Valley S1E3 Peter Gregory Burger King

Gregory meanwhile takes a complete tangent when one of his invested companies comes with pleas to raise $15 million or risk shutting down. Instead, he calmly orders everything from Burger King and begins dissecting the common elements in them. Eventually we do draw a connection between this idiosyncratic behavior and the funding needed but it comes at the cost of exasperating others around him; it’s all fun to watch and paints Gregory as yet another eccentric character in Mike Judge’s world filled with such people.

And who can be more eccentric than Erlich Bachman. T. J. Miller gets sent on a quest to come up with a great company name (by none other than himself) and after an amusing hallucinegic episode, he finds solace in the best name for the company: Pied Piper. The diversion does seem a bit off-track but miller fully embraces the crazyness of the character and makes it his own. In fact, everyone begins coming a bit out on their own; Richard embraces his confidence issues and tries to confront them to some extent but it’s going to take a while for him to undergo a Mark Zuckerberg level of transition, even as the parallels are quite striking.

All this while, Mike Judge continues taking potshots at the Valley culture and nowhere is this evident than in the guy who demonstrates his “parking app” that’s simply a specialized version of notepad. Apps that are merely subsets or clones of other apps come out in dozens and more often than not, these fail with the founders failing to realize why their product wasn’t accepted. As is the case here, the product tries to fulfill a need that’s already been addressed by another app in the market with a wider user base, negating the need for a different, specialized app to solve the same purpose. This exchange reflects that in a humorous way but the underlying message is all too real to be dismissed.

The entire premise of Articles of Incorporation rests around Pied Piper incorporating itself as a registered corporation and the ensuing troubles they deal with. They’re pushed to the brink of this thanks to Gavin Belson’s Hooli who is working on a way to reverse engineer Pied Piper’s compression algorithm from the website that Richard handed over to its programmers. Fortunately for Richard, the world of compression is larger than audio and he’s already at work on compressing everything under the sun. The third episode then gives them a push in the right direction.

Silicon Valley Season 1 Episode 3 Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I’m doing individual episode reviews of HBO’s Silicon Valley in light of the upcoming final Season 6. While I’ve seen Seasons 1-3 before, I’m still writing with a fresh perspective, keeping references to future episodes down to a minimum.