HBO’s Silicon Valley returned this week with its sixth episode, continuing to peel back the layers of California’s tech bubble and proving everything in the valley isn’t as shiny as it may seem. “Third Party Insourcing” shows us that newer and younger may not always be better—Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and the Pied Piper team enable the help of a surly teen hacker and Jared is taken hostage by a driverless car.
The episode opens up with Richard back in his doctor’s office, telling his physician that while he had learned programming language Ruby On Rails over a weekend as a teenager, the Pied Piper lead was just unable to handle programming his product for the cloud. His doctor says that Richard looks as if he’s aged 40 years in the past seven weeks—the amount of time since preparing for his app’s debut at startup competition TechCrunch Disrupt.
With one week left until Disrupt, the team is clearly antsy to get Pied Piper up and polished. Back at the incubator, Jared (Zach Woods), Erlich (T.J. Miller), and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) beg Richard to hire a hacker to help with cloud architecture, using their packed Scrum board as evidence that they needed to get as many jobs from “Ice Box” to “Completed” as soon as possible. The team suggests “The Carver” (Austin Abrams), a hacker notorious for taking down Bank of America.
The Pied Piper team head to a building to enlist the help of “The Carver.” Upon arrival, the crew sees what used to be a startup’s headquarters being broken down—computer monitors being carried into boxes, desks being unassembled. It is a glaring example to the team of the frailty and turnover cycle of fresh startups.
Richard, Jared, Erlich, and Dinesh walk through the floors, wide-eyed and somber like civilians witnessing the aftermath of the apocalypse. There’s a chair puncturing the wall, right over a poster exclaiming “Making The World A Better Place”. Conference rooms are littered with empty coffee cups and energy drinks.
“Six months ago, these guys had 35 million in Series B financing. Now, The Carver’s here doing teardown,” Jared remarks.
The team sees The Carver huddled over three large monitors, pushing out code. When the prominent hacker turns around and faces the group, we learn that he is Kevin, a bratty high schooler who immediately jumps into sarcastic quips about Richard’s age.
“I thought you’d be younger,” Kevin says, “What are you, 25?”
“26,” Richard replies.
Silicon Valley’s youthful tech bubble is not a new concept, with attractive 20- to 30-year-olds ruling the roost at startups and beyond. This episode plays on the very real trend of children being indoctrinated into code, and tech companies’ search for nubile programming talent.
Kevin’s age is apparent despite his experience in engineering, as Erlich uses a blowjob joke to negotiate a deal—$20,000 for two days aiding the Pied Piper team.
By this sixth episode, we see the characters solidify their distinct style of dress for their roles. Richard continues his channeling of Zuckerberg in button-ups, hoodies, and corduroys. Dinesh wears a striped green and purple hoodie, while Jared sticks to his blazers and button-ups under sweaters.
Erlich wears a bright red Atari shirt with a full beard for a portion of the episode, only to change into a CSS3 shirt for the remainder, capturing geek chic with his novelty t-shirts.
In juxtaposition, Kevin’s colorfully striped hoodies over open button ups and t-shirts evokes a more childlike aura. “The Carver” is already eliciting markers of the “programmer” look but with a teenage twist in bright colors and graphics. He is much like a mini version of Richard—truly a kid coder.
Monica (Amanda Crew) returns briefly this episode to meet with Jared and offer him a ride back to Erlich’s home in Palo Alto. She is dressed in a dark turquoise sweater, light grey pencil skirt, and delicate gold accessories, once again demonstrating her power and business savvy as Peter Gregory’s assistant through her stylish and put-together outfits.
This episode fails the Bechdel test yet again: There’s not a single scene where two women talk to each other. Gilfoyle’s girlfriend Tara (Milana Vayntrub) interacts solely with the men at the Pied Piper house, and another nameless woman from Peter Gregory’s company is introduced by Monica as an assistant who made a mistake. Monica and the assistant never talk, mind you, as she explains the woman’s mistake to Jared on the phone.
When Jared suggests going back by Lyft, Monica insists that one of Peter Gregory’s cars take him back. Jared agrees, and is met by a black driverless car. Excited and chuckling, the new Pied Piper member is shuttled off to Palo Alto.
Unfortunately, the fun ride comes abruptly to a stop as the car arbitrary changes direction to Arallon—Peter Gregory’s high-tech island hidden far in the middle of an ocean—4,000 miles away. Unable to reroute the driverless car after multiple sad pleas, Jared is taken to a port and driven into a crate which is then immediately locked up.
The crate is picked up and delivered onto a giant cargo ship—Jared, in a car, in a crate, on a ship, is sailing away to Peter Gregory’s island.
Richard begins working with Kevin on Pied Piper’s cloud architecture. Dealing with Kevin’s difficult attitude, Richard continues to reveal vulnerability and asks the hacker to help him with the app’s data replication. After heading to the store and returning with snacks, Richard finds Kevin under the table, sobbing and terrified, and learns that Kevin had mistakenly overwritten the data scheme.
“The Carver” explains that the same thing had happened at Bank of America, that he was actually not hacking them but working as a consultant and had made a colossal coding mistake. The bank had only agreed not to sue him if he agreed not to tell a soul he had worked there.
With one week left to Disrupt, and the team flies into a panic trying to fix Kevin’s mistake.
“Richard, why would you let that little fetus access the DDM?” Gilfoyle snarls. Richard responds, “Because I thought that fetus was better than me, and so did you.”
Caught up in Silicon Valley’s youth-obsessed culture, the Pied Piper team immediately thought that because the young hacker had rumors of greatness trailing him, that Kevin had to be a programming prodigy. What they learned was not only that was not true, but “The Carver” had a tendency to create massive mistakes due to his inexperience.
Richard and Kevin decide to work through the night and examine every line of code to find where the mistake lay. Finally, the two are able to remedy the problem and Pied Piper is back on track to launch. In a final testament to tech’s youth culture—the immaturity mixed with power, money, and knowledge, Kevin says, “I’m going to call my mom and have her pick me up.”
“Mom?” Richard laughs.
“By the way, you owe me 20,000 dollars,” Kevin bluntly delivers.
Jared finally reaches Arallon by the end of the episode, popping out of the driverless car and crate looking disheveled and with days of unshaven facial hair. He immediately sees a forklift engulfed in boxes heading his way. Elated and desperate, Jared shouts and flags the forklift down, only to find it is (surprise!) a driverless machine.
The final moments of the episode show a beautifully composed and thematically rich shot of Jared facing a gigantic warehouse full of self-moving machines, not a human being in sight.
Jared realizes he is alone on Peter Gregory’s island, one man amidst a thousand active machines. As these instruments meticulously build the island with unparalleled skill and intelligence, even the semi-robotic Jared cannot connect with them on a sentient and compassionate level in order to get help.