There are many nice things to be said about Silicon Valley and steadily fewer nice things to be said about the show’s supposed protagonists. Even Richard, the only member of the Pied Piper crew who isn’t reflexively selfish, waves back and forth limply in the breeze and stands his ground only when pissed on, like a wet leaf on pavement. The sixth episode of the second season - dubbed “Homicide” - a subplot that sees Gilfoyle and Dinesh considering whether or not to let a stuntman kill himself with bad math is a masterful portrait of beta male dickishness, which is fast becoming the show’s major theme.
The passive murder subplot clearly illustrates that these characters are not underdogs. When their (somewhat unrealistic) command of math puts them in a position of relative power compared to Blaine, the emotionally untethered guy who has to risk his life driving cars off of buildings to make a living, they decide that he is not worthy of life.
Tyranny is still tyranny even when it’s funny looking and bad at public speaking.
As for Richard, he manages to stand up for himself and his team by calling out an old friend of Ehrlich’s who wants to use his compression software to broadcast Blake’s stunt - in the wake of a Hooli/UFC broadcast misfire - without giving Pied Piper proper credit. The only problem is that he stands up by calling the energy drink kingpin “Double Asshole,” an ugly nickname he’s unaware refers to a colostomy bag hidden beneath his foe’s (of course) hoodie. It’s a shitty situation and that shiftiness is Richard’s fault. Rather than making a mutually beneficial deal in a professional way, he’s leaning on existing relationships and just hoping a guy he doesn’t know will care about his interests. It’s naive and passive and that passivity makes the final confrontation inevitable.
The only guy who isn’t being an asshole, when it comes down to it, is Ehrlich, who gets sidelined after being called out for his logorrhea. Ehrlich is annoying and egomaniacal, but he’s also happy for his successful friend and genuinely interested in the wellbeing of his coworkers and his company. He’s a better guy because he has an ego and can therefore put it aside.
But the best asshole involved with the show continues to be Mike Judge, whose comprehensive approach to cruel jokes is on full display in the scene in which Gilfoyle and Dinesh use a board to map out reasons to allow Blaine to die. Stop the scene on an HD TV and you start to get a sense of how thoroughly they’ve considered this thing: “Strengths: After hitting building, flat bill of cap might actually bend”; “Death captured in high resolution holds up on repeated viewing”; “Saves assholes from making mistakes in math.”
Being smart and being good have nothing to do with each other.