Silicon Valley Season 2 Episode 3 Review: “Bad Money”

Silicon Valley

Up until this point on Silicon Valley, most of the threats to the Pied Piper gang have been external. Whether it’s Gavin Belson or an ex-girlfriend, the group’s problems have been outside forces impacting the way they do work and the success of their emerging company. In “Bad Money,” however, that changes a bit, as Richard invites the lion that is Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos, doing some really funny work) into the Pied Piper inner circle, accepting Russ’s financial backing, despite how toxic everyone says he is, and thus making his company’s greatest challenge the guy who’s controlling it.

Although Peter Gregory could definitely be difficult during Silicon Valley‘s first season, Richard and the rest of the guys were still able to talk to and reason with him for the most part. Sure, their conversations could go to some interesting places, but Peter believed in Pied Piper and, more importantly, believed in Richard. While he wanted to make money, it was more than that for him: he wanted to watch these guys create something great.

Russ couldn’t be any different from Peter. He’s essentially the world’s biggest and richest douchebag, who can’t stop reminding the guys that he made over a billion dollars by putting “radio on the internet.” Unlike Peter, Russ doesn’t really believe in Pied Piper; he sees potential and wants it to succeed, but this all about the bottom line for him. He wants to make another billion dollars, and if the signs aren’t pointing in that direction, then he’ll be out of the company as quickly as he joined it.

Silicon Valley has always be a series about underdogs, even while it’s also being a biting satire, but the main story that the show really been telling overs its first 11 episodes is of Richard gaining and asserting his independence. There’s a lot of talk in “Bad Money” about what Richard should do versus what he wants to do, and while he is, for the most part, “his own man” throughout the episode, his choices ultimately cost him the independence that he has always sought. By following Russ’s advice to do what he wants, Richard robs himself of any freedom; he’s no longer calling the shots–Russ is, and it’s only a matter of time until the two of them disagree on such a major level that it causes the collapse of what Richard has been able to build up until this point.

“Bad Money” does a terrific job of continuing the story of Richard’s constant struggle to claim power in the ultra-competitive world of Silicon Valley (it’s also an incredibly funny half hour of television). However, instead of simply retelling the same old tale (Gavin Belson does something bad; Richard has to fight back against it), the episode, in a way, makes Richard his own worst enemy, having him strangle any type of autonomy he has just as he believes he’s doing the opposite, and promising that Pied Piper’s biggest obstacle will soon be itself.

And all while that’s transpiring, Big Head is quickly becoming a pawn in Gavin Belson’s game, yet another strategic move in the never-ending chess match between Hooli and Pied Piper. While the gang certainly has some internal issues it needs to work out, that’s not stopping those constant outside threats from coming. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Other thoughts:

– Chris Diamantopoulos is so good in this episode. He’s just the right kind of ridiculous, never getting too over-the-top or annoying.

– Jared continues to be my favorite character on Silicon Valley, as he keeps referencing Julia Roberts’s movies in the opening of the episode. Let’s hope he finally watches My Best Friend’s Wedding sometime soon, though.

– Gavin Belson comparing billionaires to Jews during the Holocaust was probably the funniest part of “Bad Money” for me. It’s completely absurd but also so in character for Belson. I loved it.

– Russ’s fascination with both Jared and Gilfoyle was terrific, as was his total indifference to Erlich.

– Monica tells Richard that Russ has calf implants, but Erlich asks the very important question: “How do they look?”

– “Every day here has been like that shopping spree scene. I’m putting on hats.”

What did everyone else think about this week’s episode of Silicon Valley? Are you loving Season 2 as much as I am?

[Photo via HBO]

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