If Pied Piper’s compression algorithm began with odds equivalent to a snowball’s chance in hell, then maybe after this episode the thermostat just dropped a degree. Maybe it won’t melt and boil after all. Of course when you’re five guys in a kitchen on macbooks against a company clearly outfitted as a facsimile of Google, that doesn’t mean it’s going to get any easier.
Since the discovery of Nucleus, Gavin Belson’s hate-fueled response to Pied Piper, the immediate threat has subsided since the copy being reverse engineered is inferior and limited. But now the race is on not only to beat Nucleus to market, but to build a company around Pied Piper from the ground up. That starts with a name. A name that Richard has to secure from the company already using it with what little funds he can scrounge from a credit card threatening to max out. In the meantime Dinesh starts laying into Bertram over the fact that he is an illegal Canadian immigrant and how much that pisses him off given his arduous immigration process. Erlich heads off into the wilderness on a vision quest, or more accurately, he’s goes out into the desert to eat ‘shrooms and trip balls thinking about the internet. All the while Peter Gregory contemplates Burger King.
Mmmmm Burger King. You want some Burger King? I don’t want Burger King, who would want Burger King? Here’s how Peter Gregory is established as a venture capitalist. He’ behind his desk using browsing some sort of venture capital database to find his next big investment. While representatives from a startup he’s funded grovel for a money injection after a plant has fallen through, Peter starts thinking about the fast food chain. From there he goes to burgers, to buns, to sesame seeds, to cicadas, to investment opportunity. Now, this guy isn’t normal. That’s kind of a given from a man who declares on camera that College doesn’t offer anything but broken dreams and debt. He’s a creative type, at such an extreme level you might think that he has a learning disability until you consider that he’s a billionaire and therefore he’s just an eccentric genius. But this episode spends so much time on the idea of Burger King leading up to a brilliant idea that it seems he was already invested in, it seems like there wasn’t enough of an idea to Richard going after the name Pied Piper and Bertram being an illegal. It’s fun to watch Peter contemplate cheap burgers and listen to his seemingly incoherent babble come together, but in the end it comes off hollow simply for the fact that it’s taking a lot of time in an already short show away from the guys we’re supposed to be learning to love. Of course, when one of these guys is a Satanist, it might require a more delicate approach.
The chemistry between all the characters is reminiscent of Mike Judge’s classic movie “Office Space”. Computer programmers all stuck in their own little world until one of them in a moment of emotional upheaval decides that they can have something greater if they simply decide to reach for it, unaware of the rippling implications this might have for their lives. It even follows the same template. Richard would be Peter, Dinesh is Samir, Bertram is Michael, and Elrich would be Lawrence. Jared would have to be Milton then, given how he was so easily stepped on by Gavin. It would be easier to care about that stuff if it weren’t for the fact that this show is really funny. And with this being the third episode in the series, the characters have time to shed the chrysalis of their base personalities and grow into beautiful antisocial butterflies.
The most important thing this episode shows is that Richard isn’t entirely the wet blanket he lets himself be. Assertiveness doesn’t come easy for him, but his ability to rationalize has de-escalated more than one problem so far. He’s got room to grow, to be that asshole Erlich believes he can be, but for now he’s proven that he might have what it takes to make this momentary lapse into ambition a little promising. Of course, it would be a bit more attainable if Richard didn’t surround himself with this kind of madness.
Here’s a preview for next week: