Sunday, June 4, 2017

Silicon Valley recap: Season 4, Episode 7, “The Patent Troll”

On Silicon Valley, good things come to those who do nothing in particular, and what appears at first to be a stroke of good luck often turns out to be quite the opposite—or vice versa. In “The Patent Troll,” Bachman (T.J. Miller) doubles down on his dumb luck in “Customer Service,” when he happened to sit at big-fish Keenan’s table in a coffee shop, and gets himself pity-hired by Bream/Hall. His new position is as unearned as Jian-Yang’s (Jimmy O. Yang) windfall for See Food or Bighead’s guest lecture position at Stanford—maybe more so, since Jian-Yang did enough coding to create a hot-dog/not-hot-dog detector and Bighead shows signs of having some talent for teaching.

Bachman’s luck will probably turn soon, though, since he’s sure to do something stupid at work if he does anything at all. This being Bachman, doing nothing is always a possibility, but here’s hoping that the show’s writers will find some spectacularly boneheaded way for the character to flame out as Miller exits the HBO series at the end of this season.

A fall from the roof of his garage turns out to be the break Bachman needed, since his injured leg lets him claim the cred of participating in Ed Chen’s (Tim Chiou) VC basketball game by keeping score while sparing him the humiliation of having to play. And what initially appears to be good news for Pied Piper’s Space Saver app, the fact that it’s in the top 500 in the Hooli app store—albeit in utilities, subgroup mobile, subgroup storage—immediately proves to be bad news when patent troll Stuart Burke (Allan Miller) threatens to sue Richard (Thomas Middleditch) for patent infringement.

Male bluster and bravado is also front and center in the episode. When Bachman deflates his puffed-up front to beg Laurie (Suzanne Cryer) for a job, even that glimpse of the neediness he works so hard to hide is a reminder that his strutting-rooster façade is more pitiable than pompous. Equally poignant but funny, thanks to Middleditch’s gift for translating Richard’s neuroses into twitchy physicality, is the nerdy machismo that Burke’s challenge activates in Richard, sending him into eye-popping, neck-tensing battle mode. Read the rest on The House Next Door

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