Sunday, May 21, 2017

Silicon Valley recap, Season 4, Episode 5, “The Blood Boy”

Tonight’s episode probes the disconnect between worthiness and success in a world where sizzle almost always trumps substance. Exhibit A is Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), whose brittle ego may be collapsing under the weight of a bad case of imposter syndrome. In the cluttered old garage that Gavin has preserved as a museum to “the spirit of innovation,” he shows the Pied Piper team the workstations where he and Peter Gregory created Hooli. It’s a startling moment, partly because it reminds us that Gavin and Peter’s bitter rivalry was initially a partnership, but mainly because it conjures up an unfamiliar image of Gavin as a true visionary with more to offer than Machiavellian maneuvering and unfathomable wealth.

That uncommon impression of Gavin is reinforced at the end of "The Blood Boy," when Richard (Thomas Middleditch) says Pied Piper needs the former Hooli exec not just for his patent and his funding, but for his brain. If there were nothing more to Gavin than his bullying bluster and spoiled-rich-boy temper tantrums, it would be easy to dismiss the crisis of faith that leads him to call himself a fraud and a failure as a long-overdue moment of self-awareness. But his reminiscences and Richard’s comment hint that there may be more to Gavin than the monster he became in Silicon Valley.

Richard’s compression algorithm is a powerful solution that could vaporize countless problems in the tech world, yet he keeps getting left stranded by Silicon Valley’s VCs, flopping like a fish out of water while people throw money at inferior ideas. Gavin’s midlife crisis is just the latest upset to leave Richard without the backing he needs to launch a potentially powerful idea. Richard’s short-lived alliance with Gavin does win him back his patent, but it also allows Bryce (Graham Rogers) to screw up his carefully researched plan for a slow rollout of his peer-to-peer Internet. Bryce’s creepy, Mad Max: Fury Road-style job is to transfuse Gavin at regular intervals with his energizing young-man blood—which is apparently a thing that Silicon Valley honchos actually do. His CS degree may be in calisthenics studies rather than computer science, but in another example of sycophancy and sheer unmerited bro confidence triumphing over substance, Bryce’s proximity to power gives him enough clout to blow up Richard’s argument. Read the rest on The House Next Door

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