Recap 'Silicon Valley' Before The Coding Party Continues

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Season 3 of Silicon Valley focused on the battle for Pied Piper’s soul as it unveiled the new, but not really improved, Pied Piper. Before the premiere on April 23, take a moment to recap Season 3 of Silicon Valley and hold on to the hope that Season 4 is where Pied Piper will be finally granted big player status in the tech startup world.

Silicon Valley really shines whenever the gang attempts to maintain a professional image as a company. This trend continues as they move out and then move back into Erlich’s incubator home. Richard loses his CEO position to Jack Barker, who immediately sets out to give Pied Piper a business makeover. Not happy with his CTO status, Richard and Jack engage in a power struggle: Richard wants to build up the platform and share it with world and Jack wants to make an immediate profit through business ventures.

After Jack is ousted, Richard regains power as CEO and finally gets to show his leadership, which is often overshadowed by his neuroses (never has a space bar sounded so sinister). However, like every good hero, Richard faces ethical questions that continuously put Pied Piper’s future in the balance.

Without the aid of a compression algorithm, here is a breakdown of Season 3’s best moments:

Gavin Belson Is Officially The Evil Villain
Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Let’s address the dead elephant in the room: Gavin Belson outdoes himself as this season’s corporate bad guy. Gavin’s hatred for Pied Piper isn’t slowing down as he attempts to rebuild his status at Hooli. Unfortunately, no one has the patience for Gavin’s competitive obsession, especially the Hooli employees he fired and then rehired as End Frame employees without recognizing them.

Gavin’s attempts to poach Pied Piper’s beta also fail as he is ousted by his own board and forced to claw his way back to the top. His rise back to CEO isn’t permanent, and his inappropriate habits of using live animals as props and being outsmarted by Big Head leave Gavin's future unknown.

The Future of Skunkworks Lies In Dinesh’s Chain

Richard’s animosity and Gavin's attempt to secure his position on top comes down to a little black box, the product former Pied Pied CEO Jack Barker believes will make the compression algorithm more appealing to businesses. At the beginning of the season, Richard is faced with abandoning his algorithm and following Jack's lead.

This leads to Skunkworks, the perfect act of resistance where they will work on the platform in secret. Episode 3 focuses entirely on this secret plan, including "Meinertzhagen's Haversack," which according to Jared will help them blend in without any suspicion.

With Meinertzhagen's Haversack in place, Gilfoyle realizes that have to continue making fun of Dinesh’s new chain necklace in order to keep Skunkworks under wraps. However, Dinesh’s chain doesn’t get the mocking it deserves because when they arrive at the office, Richard trips and the folder containing the secret plan spills out, alerting Jack.

Erlich Fails And Big Head Keeps Winning

The biggest mystery of Silicon Valley is whether or not Big Head is a genius or just really, really lucky. After he receives his $20 million severance package from Hooli, Big Head purchases a mansion where he invites his friends to incubate their start-ups because he feels lonely. Erlich sees Big Head as his new meal ticket and the two form Bachmanity, throwing a $1 million luau in which Erlich loses everything. In a desperate attempt to pay off his creditors, Erlich sells his shares of Pied Piper, without telling Richard.

With no money and no investments and having Jian-Yang as a free houseguest, Erlich begins his journey of redemption when Richard gives him the head of PR position at Pied Piper, but continues to struggle making it back to the top.

With Erlich and Big Head working together, there is an obvious, and very funny, difference in their parallel storylines. Between his accidental rise through the Hooli ranks to ending Season 3 as part owner of Pied Piper, Big Head is officially the king of Silicon Valley. To quote Big Head, "it feels ironic."

Richard Forgets About The Users
Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

The Pied Piper beta is a huge success, but Richard forgets one small detail: to send the invite to actual users instead of engineers. Monica is the first to notice something is wrong with Pied Piper, and she attempts to tell them this in her "bad news" beige outfit. However, she doesn't get a chance and Pied Piper is introduced to the world. The downloads are successful, but Pied Piper is missing daily active users. Each focus group is a failure, until Richard jumps in (manipulating the outcome) and teaches Pied Piper to the users. It works, but the outreach isn't as successful as he hopes.

The DAU conundrum is typical for Silicon Valley: Pied Piper is too good for its own good. The future of the company now depends on the paper clip-like assistant, "Pipey," and Bernice from the focus group.

The Power Of CJ Cantwell

Let's take a moment to celebrate Code/Rag blogger CJ Cantwell who was smack in the middle of Season 3's ups and downs. CJ's power is first introduced at the beginning of the season after Richard word vomits his Pied Piper grievances at her, thinking she is his PR coach. The team is terrified of CJ running the story, especially with Richard's CEO position back on the table.

In a natural turn of events, Big Head lets it slip that Gavin had his employees remove all negative publicity about Hooli from the internet. Unsurprisingly, CJ prefers Big Head’s news to Richard’s and Pied Piper is once again safe. When Gavin threatens CJ to reveal her source, Erlich and Big Head purchase her blog, which is then sold, allowing Big Head and Erlich to buy Pied Piper right out from Gavin's clutches.

The Future Of Pied Piper

While Erlich has his share of ethical dilemmas, the worst one of all comes from Jared. With the DAUs falling short, Jared purchases fake users from a click farm. When Jared and Richard come clean and humiliate Elrich in a deal, Pied Piper is facing oblivion once again when Laurie forces a sale to Gavin. As a season finale, the fears of "The Uptick" show how far the team will go to stay together and to keep Pied Piper afloat. In a not-so-dramatic board meeting, it is revealed that Elrich and Big Head are now the new owners of Pied Piper.

The season ends with the team back at the house, beginning their new path as a video chat company. What started out as a shallow way for Dinesh to meet women turns into a reboot for the Pied Piper gang despite a season of constant changes, struggles to keep investors, and looming threats of closure.

Season 3's message to Silicon Valley fans was clear: in a world of Gavin Belsons, keep your friends, and algorithm, close.