“To Build a Better Beta”

Grade: B+

“Jinx!? You owe each other a friendship.”

Maybe a quote from Donald about Gilfoyle and Dinesh’s relationship isn’t the most indicative of this episode, but it’s my favourite.

Here, all the different plots carry their weight.

The big question is do the guys release the Pied Piper beta? Are they ready to reveal an imperfect version? All but Richard think so; however, he’s won over after Gilfoyle reveals his girlfriend, Tara, who we haven’t seen in quite some time, rates it highly. She reports that there are small bugs, but that’s exactly what the beta release is for, and so out it is sent. Every member gets to give out 10 codes that allow someone they know to try out the beta and then give them feedback. They tack on a “God feature” that allows them to see which IP addresses have checked the app’s beta, and where they’re located.

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Erlich and Bighead inquire about their grand loss of money, still reeling from last week’s epic Alcatraz-located party. Turns out their finance manager had been skimming not just some, but the majority off the top; 70%, in fact. After Erlich verbally crushes him down to nothing, with one final lingering threat to visit the DA, the manager submits; however, he has no idea where the money is. Their lives are crapshoots.

Dinesh and Gilfoyle fight their feelings for one another by bickering over who has more friends (both have none). They game each other. Gilfoyle goes to buy coffee for the team and comes back with four coffees, and a friend named Kevin, who apparently paid for all the coffees. Dinesh responds by using more of his 10 invites than Gilfoyle. We learn much later that Dinesh “gave the invites” to Monica (who couldn’t get one from Richard or anyone else first), and to their house; by that I mean he just registered them to the house’s IP address. Therefore, it looks like he has five friends, but really he has none.

Gavin Belson gets what’s coming to him. For once I liked his two Hooli underlings, who have now been hired, fired, and rehired one too many times (only once, but that’s really enough). They quit when Gavin stupidly sabotages their app-building process when he thinks a virus has infected his phone and personal computer. He thinks this because he tasked his newest aid with (shadily) getting him one of Pied Piper’s beta invites, and when Gilfoyle finds out, he sends a followup “Zip bomb,” which is just a nuisance, not a virus. Things are looking down for Gavin, and that is when he’s funniest.

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This episode smartly brings Pied Piper’s future back to the fore. It has always been the most engaging part of this show because it’s what keeps all the main characters together, and the best scenes are when they’re all in the same room, playing off of each other’s idiosyncrasies.

The other great thing this episode does is revive the Richard-Monica relationship. By that I don’t mean romance, I just mean, in general, personal. They engage with each other on a very relatable level. Every comedy needs someone or something to ground it, and while it’s great the show mercilessly satirizes the tech industry to a high degree of ridiculousness, its emotions begin to feel a little intangible if we don’t get a back to basics human relationship, with human rhythm, and human faults. Monica doesn’t like the beta. She lies to Richard when he asks if she’s tested it out. She even wears her white “breaking bad news” sweater! Such a good callback! Anyway, when Richard finds out she lied to him, he’s not exactly furious, he’s just concerned. He respects her opinion, and when she’s withholding, it stresses him out, and it should.

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Ultimately, the team decides the beta is a success (because Monica seemed to give the only negative review) and asks Laurie to move up the launch of the actual product. She agrees.

I think this season’s end will bring Pied Piper to a new height, I just hope that at that new height we leave behind the common Silicon Valley Complex; that is, the constant undercut of good news.

Note: I expect this episode’s good news to be undercut.

Note: I will say it again… Bighead was never this dumb!

Note: Gilfoyle and Dinesh sitting in a tree.

Some Bits I Liked:

  •  Erlich’s extended sex disease speech
  • I could make what rises to your low standards of a friend
  • “‘Taxo alto,’ which I coined.”
  • “YEAH!” “YEAH! Sorry. Sorry.” “No you did good.”
  • Gilfoyle and Kevin’s hug
  • Monica wearing the sweater she wears to break bad news !
  • “Tastefully Polynesian affair”
  • “No of course not. The fines are more than reasonable.”
  • “I don’t keep track of my boys.”
  • “l’m happy to drag this out as long you want to.”
  • Donald and Harriet Tubman
  • Zip bomb is amazing
  • “Erlich Bacchman. Is your refrigerator rubbing? This is Mike Hunt.”
  • “Don’t invest in products, invest in people.”
  • “Pats on the back. Pats.. On the back.”
  • “Gentlemen I realized I forgot to shit. See you back at the homestead.”
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