[For Silicon Valley “The Empty Chair” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
The Empty Chair. Richard lets his ego get in the way at an interview; Dinesh, Gilfoyle, and Jared misplace hardware.
The theme of “The Empty Chair” revolves around Jack’s CEO chair, a symbol of taking charge, and nowadays in Silicon Valley everybody’s taking charge, qualified or not. The episode picks up as Richard stands next to the empty CEO chair complaining. He’s upset because tech internet gossip blogs are obsessed with Laurie interviewing every possible candidate for his old job as Pied Piper CEO. Because Richard is stillCTO and that makes him the sole executive officer, he has the right to make company decisions. So, when they look at Pied Piper’s bottom line and find out Jack’s spendthrift ways have the company sinking fast, Richard takes action. More thematically, he takes charge. As his first order of business with Jack gone, Richard fires all the salespeople. Then he packs up and sells all the office contents and leaves their pricey digs, thus returning Pied Piper to Erlich’s incubator. These moves are essential because Pied Piper must save every penny in order to get the engineers they need to build the platform.
Meanwhile Erlich and Big Head finalize their agreement to share assets and become one venture – a single incubator. It’s inspiring how Erlich takes charge in Big Head’s home and incubator. He’s truly a master of “owning the room” and literally wins the day and gets his way with bravado and zero resources. The contract Erlich composes for Bachmanity, their new joint venture means Big Head will contribute all of his assets (we’re talking $20m) but meanwhile Erlich (who has o cash) gets to keep his interest in Pied Piper, virtually the only thing he has of any value. Big Head then talks to his business manager who highlights concerns about this contract. Erlich, of course, takes any inquiries as an “insult to his honor,” though the questions are valid.
Back at Pied Piper, Richard feels insulted by a tech blogger who maligns his coding abilities so he wants to meet with the writer of the article. He calls Laurie about it and she insists he meet with the head of Raviga’s PR department for interview pointers first. Because Richard gets a little loony and tongue-tied under pressure, this seems wise. Speaking of which, right before he’s about to meet with the Raviga PR Director, Richard finds out Laurie called Big Head about the Pied Piper CEO position. This sets him off kilter. Thus, Richard doesn’t handle the interview with the PR person at Raviga well. He rants and raves, saying all the wrong things. Then Richard’s raging soliloquy gets interrupted by the ACTUAL PR person at Raviga. Turns out he was talking to the tech blogger that whole time. She tells him unless he comes to her with a juicier story before noon the next day, his rant’s getting published verbatim.
Meanwhile on the other side of Silicon Valley Laurie takes Monica out for a glass of wine and to apologize. She admits to making a mistake with Richard and says she should have left him as the CEO. Laurie then explains that she’s been interviewing all these people for the CEO position publicly in order to illustrate that Richard wasn’t just the most expedient candidate but really the carefully chosen perfect one. Her plan puts Richard in charge of Pied Piper as CEO once again.
Monica, Richard’s biggest fan, loves this news until the next morning when he tells her out about his blogger rant. This Pied Piper news item will certainly change Laurie’s mind about reinstating him as CEO once published. So, Monica suggests Richard apologize to Laurie. But then, thanks to Big Head, Richard finds a less humiliating solution. Big Head comes over to Erlich’s to make peace and join companies after all despite his business manager’s hesitancy. Even with all the unfairness in that contract, Erlich’s “take charge” attitude is apparently irresistible. While signing the contracts to create Bachmanity with the Pied Piper team watching, Big head mentions how Gavin “scrubbed the Internet” to remove all the bad tidings written about himself and Hooli. This crazy unethical behavior actually makes a better story for the tech blogger and thus now Richard found his solution. He brings the tech blogger Big Head’s shocking Hooli story and she subsequently squashes Richard’s.
So, Richard ends up in the “The Empty Chair” as CEO of Pied Piper again. In his absence, Dinesh, Gilfoyle and Jared “took charge” and decided to outsource the platform engineering to foreign workers rather than paying the inordinate price required for local Silicon Valley coders. This penny pinching move makes Richard happy but he’s about to get even more so. Jared brings out “The Empty Chair” which was the one thing they didn’t sell from Action Jack’s fancy offices. He gives it to Richard, granting him a place of honor to sit and introduce himself to the new team through computer monitors in Erlich’s living room. Of course, Richard falls out of the CEO chair at first but once in “take charge” mode, he rights himself and can finally begin his mission to build the Pied Piper platform as CEO.
We loved the shift into victory at the end of this episode and can’t wait to see the birth of Bachmanity in the next one. It’s certain to be a spectacle of hilarity. The incredible thing about Silicon Valley is how it keeps us riveted and laughing even while only delivering one of the three required elements of entertainment – Power. There’s no sex or violence to speak of in this show, especially this season. Yet, we love it more than ever. Bravo, nerds, for only you could pull off this semi-esteemable but certainly noteworthy accomplishment.