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Silicon Valley - "Meinhertzhagen's Haversack" & "Maleant Data Systems Solutions" - Double Review: "Skunkworks"

21 May 2016

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Silicon Valley Season 3 Episode Guide
3.01 "Founder Friendly" - Review!
3.02 "Two in the Box" - Review!
3.03 "Meinertzhagen's Haversack" Review!
3.04 "Maleant Data Systems Solutions" Review!
3.05 "The Empty Chair" (Airs May 22)
3.06 "Bachmanity Insanity" (Airs May 29)

Silicon Valley 3.03 "Meinertzhagen's Haversack"
Directed by Charlie McDowell & Written by Adam Countee

Well, it didn't take long for Jack Barker to reveal what he was up to this week with Richard, and it turns out that he's just like everyone that Richard has worked under before. It seems that Jack is at least honest however, something that Richard isn't, because he's still trying to pull off his Ocean's Eleven style heist plot with Laurie. That doesn't stop Jack from warning Richard about the costs of going directly for the "King." Wounding him won't be good enough, metaphorically speaking of course. Richard would have to stop him for good. This was one of the best scenes of the episode and showed us just how good Stephen Tobolowsky can be. Laurie however warns Richard that they can't lose two CEOs in a month.

Gilfoyle meanwhile had resigned from Pied Piper and as a result we had some amusing scenes where he kept getting offered items from companies trying to woo him after he'd posted on LinkedIn. His experience earns him a multidue of gifts in attempt to win his service, which Gilfoyle, being Gilfoyle, manages to take full advantage of. One of these gifts includes a Hoverboard, but there's plenty more where that came from. Gilfoyle eventually earns the attention of "someone from Men in Black" according to Jian-Yang who arrives at Erlich's house, and instead decides that he'll only offer Gilfoyle a gift after he meets with his client, something that Gilfoyle admires. And the client is none other than End Frame, who have gained people from Nucleus and know a bit more about Pied Piper than Jack Barker would have liked them to as a rival company. So when Gilfoyle imforms Richard, he's now going from bad to worse.

And this is where Erlich comes up with a plan, leading the team to form a "skunkworks", which is effectively a secret company that operates within a company. The Ocean's Eleven-style plan sequence worked, and provided Gilfoyle with an effective reason to get back behind Team Richard again. The group start to celebrate with End Frame's alcohol, but Jared warns them, bringing up the titular Meinertzhagen's Haversack. If Jack sees that they are all starting to get along and embracing Pied Piper then the game will be up. They will have to continue to act as though they dislike him and the appliance. This really brings another great moment to the forefront when the group use this excuse to continue teasing Dinesh about his newly purchased gold chain. And you know you've just been humiliated when even Jared is able to get off with a hit.

Of course, the plan doesn't last long. It never does, and not even the most badass slow-motion style walk into Pied Piper can go unnoticed from Jack, who calls the team into their office. Richard has used Pied Piper's shredder because Erlich doesn't have them, and to make matters worse, the "skankworks" plan is ruined when the papers are failed to be disposed of in time. In any other show this probably would have been the start of a new direction for the series, but not with Silicon Valley, the group's Meinertzhagen's Haversack plan didn't even last one day.

Overall Episode Verdict: A-
+Gilfoyle taking advantage of all the gifts.
+Everything going sideways.

Silicon Valley 3.04 "Maleant Data Systems Solutions"
Directed by Charlie McDowell & Written by Donick Cary

Following the cliffhanger of the previous episode it was almost to be expected that Jack would come down on the team hard, or at least until Richard came up with a backup plan to also work in a platform deal. It was an effective way to keep the team in the loop and also showed just how important Richard is to the team, he needs leverage and it was great to see him set his new terms to Jack, holding out for a bargaining chip. Turns out that the spectacular disaster at the end of the previous episode didn't quite have as big an effect as I expected it to, but then, it hasn't been the first time Silicon Valley has pulled something like that on us this season before, and I'm of course talking about how the writers dealt with Richard being fired from his own company.

The episode sees the group actually end up trying to improve the box significantly and ends up with a far better end product than their original attempts to just simply phone it in, as they tried to compete against each other and show off their skills. This ends up working but again it isn't long before Silicon Valley throws their optimism and regained enthusiasm out of the window again, when it is discovered that the cost is too high, and as a result Jack is able to sign away the new Maleant contract. This also allowed for Monica to make good on her promise in the premiere, siding with Richard here. An exact opposite of the decision that she made in regards to the CEO position, where she sided with Laurie.

Erlich meanwhile had problems of his own in an episode that finally gave him something to do even if it didn't quite have a bigger impact as the rest of the group's actions. He ended up teaming up with Big Head which served as an effective way to bring both characters into the forefront a bit more. Now if only we could see more of the criminally underused Amanda Crew, who so far has a lot of wasted potential that we haven't yet seen with Monica's character. But for the moment though the partnership of Erlich and Big Head is a solid one, with Erlich's exit being ruined by a car that didn't start being an effective one.

Unfortunately Silicon Valley can't always make consistent episodes so as a result Gavin's storyline was the casualty this week of simply not being interesting enough, despite some cool moments here and there. He unknowingly ended up re-hiring many of the engineers he had just fired after buying Endframe to ensure that Nucleus got back on track. Just not all of the jokes worked here (those that did really shined though) and as a result this felt like the most uninteresting chapter.

However, Gavin's deal was enough for Pied Piper to lose Jack Barker, meaning that he's been essentially head of the organization for a meagre four episodes. This meant that the team finally managed to get something that resembled a result for them as for once they were able to end on an uplifting ending rather than a downbeat one. I don't think this'll last long though, so it was nice for Richard and company to get what was effectively a win for them while they can.

Overall Episode Verdict: A-
+Erlich getting something to do.
+The ending.
+Working a way around the cliffhanger from the previous episode.
-A few of Monica's lines felt too expositionary.
-Gavin's storyline was too hit/miss.

Be sure to catch the next episode of Silicon Valley at 10pm after Game of Thrones on Sunday via HBO and remember to let me know what you thought of these two episodes in the comments below! And stay turned forr my review of last Sunday's Veep episode tomorrow, along with a review of the pilot of AMC's new show Preacher at some point during the week!

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Hell on Wheels, Murder in the First, Narcos, Preacher, The Shannara Chronicles and Veep for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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