Silicon Valley: Binding Arbitration

After last week’s delete fiasco involving Russ and his three-comma bottle of tequila, it looked like it couldn’t get any worse for the Pied Piper team.Well, “Binding Arbitration” proves it actually can.

All of the new coders have quit (Carla Walton, how little we knew ye!) and it’s the end of days. The only bright spot is Big Head swiping a Nucleus team member’s new prototype phone at the bar and showing it to Richard. Sadly, Pied Piper could have beaten this product. Easily.

But for as clueless as Big Head may seem with his potato guns, he’s still a little savvier than Richard when it comes to what to do with this phone.

“Jesus, Richard, am I actually ahead of you on this?” said Big Head, advocating for Richard to use it as a bargaining chip with Gavin.

With his lawyer Ron LaFlamme in the room, Richard calls Gavin and tries to make a deal: He’ll give the phone back but Gavin has to drop the lawsuit. Gavin counters with his lawyers in the room, saying that Richard could end up in prison for what he’s done. It’s decided that there will be a two-day arbitration to finally answer who Piped Piper belongs to.

“So this will all be resolved next week?” says Jared, in the most meta way possible since next week is the season finale.

Ron LaFlamme gets them a new litigator, Monahan (played by Matt McCoy), who agrees to take their case on spec because he’s been in trouble with the law himself, incarcerated and disbarred. He can’t practice law, but he can do arbitration.

Monahan asks Richard three key questions that will help the case: Did his work on Pied Piper overlap with his Hooli work? Did he ever work on Pied Piper on Hooli time? And did he use any Hooli equipment to create Pied Piper?

Monahan also asks whether there’s anyone who might have details to leak about the case, like a girlfriend. Or even a boyfriend.

“Not gay,” says Richard. “Just busy.”

While Monahan is figuring out the case, Jared is trying to figure out what happened to the condor in Pied Piper’s ill-fated live feed. The mother of the condor hasn’t been back in a while, which troubles Jared. Even though they’re buried in paperwork for the arbitration, Dinesh and Gilfoyle still have time to mess with Jared, telling him not to call and check on the condor since that might actually kill the condor, according to Schrodinger’s cat theory. Afraid that his attention on this matter might actually harm the bird, Jared remains unsure of what to do.

After looking through Richard’s emails, Monahan discovers that Richard used to call his computer his “girlfriend” (which makes the arbitrator feel better when one email says that the girlfriend shit the bed), but this discovery also highlights one worrisome fact: Richard used a Hooli computer to do initial testing when his “girlfriend” was in the shop for three days. The only way they can salvage the case at this point is if Richard lies.

“Are you telling us this entire case hinges on people believing Richard has a girlfriend?” says Gilfoyle.

“We are fucked,” says Dinesh.

On arbitration day, Gavin’s team calls their first witness. Nelson Bighetti. The lawyer puts him on the stand and tries to build Big Head up. Monahan thinks they’re bluffing. They’ve got nothing.

Big Head admits that he didn’t have anything to do with XYZ, Pied Piper, or even the AIDS Foundation Hooli slapped his name on. He ends up scoring big points with the judge anyway because of how unpretentious and humble he is, which is a rarity in the tech community.

Seeing how the judge reacted to Big Head, Monahan offers his own power play: Erlich. He puts him on the stand and negs him, asking whether he’s a joke in this town and how he’s incubated a series of failed apps. Unfortunately, Monahan gets Erlich to have a “You can’t handle the truth moment” and accidentally admit that Richard’s laptop was in the shop for three days.

This gets Gavin’s team spinning, and naturally they cross-examine him about what he did while his “girlfriend” was out of commission. Richard has a nice soliloquy and admits that he used one Hooli computer to test and modify one block, even if Erlich stands up and tries to change the story to him being Richard’s “girlfriend.” It looks like Gavin’s team has won. Pied Piper may finally be his.

Back at Pied Piper headquarters, Jared calls the museum, and they’re going to send someone in to check on the condor. But when they send the guy into the cave, the guy tumbles with the camera down the crevasse, putting him in his very own live-feed version of 127 Hours. Gilfoyle and Dinesh were right. Jared should have just left things alone.

“I just got a text from Richard,” says Dinesh. “I’m not gonna read it.”

What did you think of “Binding Arbitration?” Was this the “bake-off” you were expecting last week? Do you have a nickname for your laptop? How do you think this season will end?

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