TV Review – Silicon Valley S03E05: The Empty Chair

This week’s episode of Silicon Valley features some new beginnings. “The Empty Chair” opens with Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) attempting to decipher the actions of Raviga’s Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer) by reading through tech blogs. Furious that Laurie is interviewing what seems to be every potential CEO in the valley, Richard declares, “Apparently Jack’s empty f—ing chair is a better choice than I am.” Richard’s emotional outbursts decorate the entire episode and threaten his position, but his personal drive and professional initiative do not go unnoticed.

O Captain! My Captain!

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I’d like to be one of millions to congratulate Richard on his promotion to CEO of Pied Piper. Last week’s episode of Silicon Valley left me wondering whether or not Laurie would act as interim manager, but her decision to fulfill Richard’s wishes is even more intriguing. Richard offers a complex dynamic of stability and instability. On one hand, he has the drive, perseverance, and technological knowledge to keep the company on its feet. On the other, he can be a basket case, devolving the role of leader to that of inarticulate goon. It seems, however, that his many mishaps have been overshadowed by his recent show of professionalism, earning him Laurie’s respect and perhaps even admiration.

© Home Box Office

I am excited to see Richard perform in his new role, though that excitement is riddled with apprehension. Richard has yet to take charge without bungling his efforts and I have a hard time believing his era of ineptitude has come to an end. The days preceding Richard’s promotion are a perfect example of what we can expect from him: moments of direct, firm leadership and moments of complete and utter failure. His initiative to redirect Pied Piper from limbo and begin downsizing was a bold and responsible move, but his debacle with Code/Rag’s reporter was nothing short of painful. His hotheadedness and lack of attention to detail nearly destroyed his company and his reputation this week, and we still have five more weeks to go! 

Laurietron 6000

© Home Box Office

This is the second episode of Silicon Valley in which we see a little more of Laurie Bream’s humanity. Last week, we saw her near-emotional decision to can Jack Barker and this week she actually admits to “error.” Laurie apologizes, though reluctantly, to Monica (Amanda Crew) for underestimating dear ol’ Richard and for removing him from the position of CEO. Monica, like the rest of us, responds with shock and commends Laurie for her humility. Meanwhile, Richard, unknowingly tells reporter CJ Cantwell (Annie Sertich) that the “Laurietron 6000 isn’t programmed to admit when she’s made a mistake.” 

Though the nickname definitely produced a laugh, the past two episodes force me to question its accuracy. Laurie’s near-robotic responses and unemotional decisions are beginning to break down to reveal the human underneath. She, like the rest of us, is prone to error and she, like the rest of us, does not like to admit when she’s wrong. Laurie, in just two quick episodes, has been transformed from the untouchable Laurietron 6000 to a relatable character, albeit a strange one.

Silicon Valley S03E05 3
© Home Box Office

Bachmanity Insanity

TJ Miller’s character, Erlich Bachman, is definitely in my top five favorite characters from the show. Actually, who am I kidding? I love them all! Erlich, however, has a certain charm about him that makes him utterly fantastic and enjoyable. This shining quality pairs well with his knack for manipulation, as his partnership with Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti (Josh Brener) perfectly demonstrates. Erlich convinces Big Head to relinquish all assets and devote himself to project Bachmanity despite what seems to be his better judgement. Though Big Head momentarily exhibits a healthy amount of reluctance, Erlich is able to win him over with perhaps the most sound argument of the year: Every successful partnership is about “committing fully, blindly, and without concern of the consequences… like marriage.”

Silicon Valley S03E05 5
© Home Box Office

Though Erlich has slowly devolved into what feels like a minor secondary character since Pied Piper’s takeoff, I’m pleased that he will be demonstrating a larger role in episodes to come. TJ Miller’s perfectly delivered lines and priceless facial expressions are what initially drew me to Silicon Valley, so more of Erlich is a great thing. 

Final Thoughts on Silicon Valley  S03E05

The fifth episode of this season was not a disappointment! Though I could have lived without the Geek Squad sequence of events, the rest of the episode was fluid and engaging. Next week we have “Bachmanity Instanity,” which will undoubtedly feature Silicon Valley’s emerging “financial behemoth,” but the true curiosity revolves around Richard’s new role. It may only be a matter of time before things truly go wrong.

  • “If I’m being honest, like a ventriloquist dummy.” – What every Richard wants to hear. Thanks, Erlich.
  • “Have you ever seen a naked dead person?” – Why, Jared, why!?

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About the author

Anastasia Dotzauer

Anastasia is the Senior Editor at WotN. She enjoys losing herself in the fantastical worlds of literature, graphic novels, and television. Though reading and writing are her primary passions, art and photography tie as a close second. Her favorite fandoms are Game of Thrones, Green Lantern, Harry Potter, and Star Trek.

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