We need to play catch up. Please bear with me as we are seven episodes deep into season four.
4.1 – Success Failure
Due to the clickfarm scandal from last season, the guys of Pied Piper are struggling to find funding for their video-chat app to keep up with their rapidly growing user base. Richard goes to an unlikely source to try to get that funding, Russ Hanneman, and realizes that he does not want to continue working on a project he does not believe in and quits to pursue a more ambitious project: a new, decentralized and free internet based on smartphones and users instead of companies and mainframes. His only requests are that he stills owns the algorithm and he gets to keep the name Pied Piper, everyone is fine with that. He suggests Dinesh take over as CEO. Jared is heartbroken. Meanwhile, Gavin is still an asshole and is butting heads with Jack (Jack asks that the jet fly him straight to see his family which is out of the way to where Gavin is going), as they are coming home from China after closing a deal to open a factory there. Gavin then retaliates by “promoting” Jack to a position at a desk in Hooli’s data center, which is way under ground.
4.2 – Terms of Service
PiperChat is gathering lots of attention from investors and has a steady stream of daily users. In the short amount of time that Dinesh has been CEO he has completely let it go to his head. Richard, while working on his “new internet”, goes to Dinesh for access to PiperChat’s data repository, Dinesh informs him that he has blocked him and all other former employees out. Big Head secretly gives Richard his login access, and Richard finds out most of Piperchat’s users are children and since the app’s terms of service did not include a clause that prevented them from using the app and Dinesh never bothered to port Pied Piper’s terms of service to PiperChat, this is in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Violation of this can result in a $21 billion penalty for them. Meanwhile, Jack takes his “promotion” well, so Gavin assumes that Jack is up to something and tries to spy on his video chat sessions. Jack is using PiperChat, so the only way Gavin can have access to them is by acquiring PiperChat. Gavin (still an asshole) reaches out to Dinesh to acquire PiperChat from him, oblivious of their legal issues, (meets him in the same restaurant and hoodie he met Richard in before) and accuses him of stealing Hooli Chat’s tech and threatens him with a lawsuit. Dinesh, who has previously planned to shut down the app, happily agrees.
4.3 – Intellectual Property
It has finally happened! Gavin has been FIRED from Hooli due to the aftermath of PiperChat. Jian-Yang has a pitch and Erlich mistakenly believes it’s for a VR app. It turns out to be an app that has different ways to make octopus. To save face Erlch starts describing a different and convinces them that the app is more like a “Shazam for food”, which Raviga ends up investing in. It ends up in Monica’s hands as she is put in charge of it. Elrich quickly gets Dinesh and Gilfoyle to help them create this non-existent app. Dinesh also starts dating a hacker who hates Gilfoyle as well. Feeling pressure from his dad Big Head applies to Stanford and as his dumb luck continues they end up making him a guest professor. Richard is obsessively working on the new internet. Monica tells him that Peter Gregory had worked on a similar project before. Richard gains access to Gregory’s archives and starts going through his notes after he finds that they have come to some of the same conclusions. Jared finds that the whole concept was patented in the name of Hooli years ago, when Gregory founded the company with Gavin. Richard ends up seeking Gavin out , at Gavin’s house, to meet with him. Shit…
4.4 – Teambuilding Exercise
This one picks up right where we left off from last week. Richard is in Gavin’s house (in a fit of rage Gavin destroyed everything) and pitches his idea for the “new internet”. At first Gavin is reluctant to partner with Richard, but comes around once realizing it will leave Hooli’s servers (and Jack’s box) obsolete, he agrees. Richard goes back to the incubator and, knowing that the guys would not want to work for Gavin, starts searching for new people to assemble the platform, Jared and Gilfoyle both end up coming to the team. Testing Jian-Yang’s SeeFood app and finding that it only works for recognizing if something is a hotdog or not, Erlich goes to Big Heads class to get them to take thousands of pictures of food so the app will work properly. The class ends up meeting with the company Erlich and Jian-Yang originally met with and creates their own app, leaving SeeFood useless. Erlich then trades his equity for the Corvette Jian-Yang bought with money from the intial funding. At a job interview with Periscope Jian-Yang manages to sell his project as a filter for dick pics for $4 million. Dinesh is still the apps main programmer ends up having to look at penises on the internet all day long, much to the delight of Gilfoyle.
4.5 – The Blood Boy
Richard presents his idea for a discreet launch, but Bryce, a handsome jock who donates blood to Gavin, influences Gavin that it should be a big launch. Afterwards, Richard and Jared warn Bryce not to interfere with their company. Later, Gavin demands that Richard apologize. Richard goes to Bryce’s home and eventually finds out that Bryce smokes marijuana and eats sugary foods all stuff the Gavin did not want in his blood. Meanwhile, Erlich predicts that Monica is being pushed out of Raviga and tells Monica. Monica then tells Laurie, which Laurie knew, but rewards Monica for her loyalty by offering her an invitation to become partners on a new Venture Capitalist fund. After finding out Mia has hacked access to the elevators at the Freedom Tower, Dinesh calls the FBI to have Mia arrested. Dinesh then offers his service to Richard. Finding out about Bryce and the recent firing, Gavin’s mid-life crisis is in full swing. Gavin opens up to Richard (and making me ACTUALLY feel bad for him) and Richard decides to do the big announcement launch opposed to the quiet one he wanted to cheer Gavin up, but it doesn’t work. Having given over full ownership of the patent to Richard, Gavin decides to leave Palo Alto…possibly forever.
4.6 – Customer Service
Russ Hanneman shows up angry as hell and confronts Richard about going to Gavin with the “new internet” idea, because he believes he is a co-owner. Richard tries to get Russ to fund them, which only leads to Russ urinating in Erlich’s car. Richard then decides to go straight to the customers, have them buy before it is built. Unfortunately, word has gotten out that Gavin has jumped ship and that was the reason they got so many meetings. They pitch their idea to Liz, Head of Compliance at an insurance company who just so happens to be fiancés with the CTO, Dan Melcher (he punched Erlich at TechCrunch Disrupt after he slept with Dan’s two former wives). Richard keeps Erlich away so Erlich does not try to seduce Liz, but he himself ends up having sex with her during a late night meeting. The deal falls ultimately falls through. Erlich accidentally finds himself in a tech meeting with Keenan Feldspar, whose VR headset has everyone in the Valley extremely excited. He brings him toe Bream-Hall, Laurie and Monica’s new company that he unsuccessfully tried to convince them to hire him earlier, and uses Feldspar as leverage to get a job with them.
4.7 – The Patent Troll
Pied Piper’s space saving app has done it! They have cracked the top 500 apps on the Hooli Store, though it is in certain subgenres. Unfortunately for them, a retired attorney who lives off royalties earned by patent trolling musicians and tech companies contacts them. He asks for a licensing fee of $20,000, as he owns the patent for the “storage of media files on a network”. Richard tries to get some of the other top 500 apps owners to do a joint litigation, it’s cheaper if they were to do it together instead of separately, but, the plan backfires and they all just pay him the settlement he asks for which is a discounted rate. He then bumps the price up for Richard to $300,000 to settle. Richard retaliates by using his old Pied Piper app to create a flaw in one of the previous copyright claims, regaining control of his patent without having to pay. Though, the celebration is short lived as they have to pay the attorney $22,000. Meanwhile, Jian-Yang buys a smart refrigerator, which Gilfoyle hacks into. Keenan Feldspar signs with Bream-Hall and Monica and Laurie try to avoid hiring Erlich by offering him a finder’s fee. Erlich begs them for a job as he has already told everyone he got it and offered to give them half of the fee back; they accept.
Overall, I think this season has been really great. My biggest complaint about the season this far is I was looking forward to watching how Richard and Gavin would work together. Though I dislike Gavin (did I mention that he is an asshole?) I think that could have made for some great TV. I also wish that they would give Monica more juicy arcs. Since she stood up to Laurie at the end of Season 3 we haven’t seen her have as strong a role. Besides those things I love this season and look forward to watching and talking about the rest with you all.
Also, before I go, and I know this is forever long, but I think this is important to talk about, if you hadn’t heard TJ Miller, who plays Erlich Bachman, is leaving the show after this season. What do you think they are going to do without him?