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'Silicon Valley’: Moonshots, Muir Woods and More

Life imitates art which was imitating life at the beginning of the season. Or something.


Welcome to the fourth installment of our “Silicon Valley” Re/cap, where we connect HBO’s satire to the real world. Or, at least, Silicon Valley.

There’s no topping last week’s excitement. After all, that episode featured our own Kara and Walt as Kara and Walt. But this week’s nerd-capital satire had its own insider thrills, and Re/code is here to point them out for you. (Warning: Spoilers below.)

Plotwise, Erlich and Richard had a brief power struggle, Pied Piper hired an engineer-who-happens-to-be-a-woman and Hooli continued to try to create the illusion that Pied Piper was developed on its campus. And there were some gossipy moments that insiders might not have caught.

First of all, Hooli [XYZ] is clearly, with its postmodern bracketed name, Google[x], the semi-secret off-campus campus where Google is designing its driverless car (woohoo!) and Google Glass (doh!). That division is led by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, alongside scientist Astro Teller, dubbed “Captain of Moonshots” at the “Moonshot Factory.” And yes, HBO built the website that was posted in the scene’s PowerPoint presentation.

But is Astro Teller a direct corollary to the fictional Professor Bannerchek? Our on-staff jury is still out, citing Ray Kurzweil, Andy Rubin and James Kuffner as possibilities — a director of engineering, the former head of robotics and the current head of robotics at Google, respectively. Or maybe he’s just ’50s-era TV comedian Jimmy Barrett.

The Save Muir Woods event, which actually namechecks Sean Parker, is surely a reference to Parker’s crazy-ass wedding held in Big Sur in 2013. Parker himself referred to it as a performance-art piece, and that is probably the kindest way to look at it, because the other way to look at it is that it was an insane way to spend time and money: Parker hired an Oscar-winning costume designer to create the attire for each of the 364 guests, filled the old-growth forest with furry beds and bunnies and had his first dance with his new bride to a “Little Mermaid” song. I’ll just go ahead and admit it sounds awesome. But the backlash against Parker was intense, and he did, in fact, have to pledge a reported $2.5 million to the California Coastal Commission, which is a much more sane way to spend money.

And, of course, “The Lady” of the episode’s title was the smart-home nanny at Russ Hanneman’s house. Of the smart-home innovations we have covered, none have quite gone this far. But it’s worth noting that the character of Hanneman’s son was named Aspen in the episode, the child actor is named Maverick and Sean Parker’s actual son is named Winter. Welcome to California!

Now, speaking purely as a human being who is an editor at this publication, this moment earned my eternal devotion, because appositives:


And I’m irritated that there was an Armenian character, Jared Patakian, who is not mentioned in the credits. The production office let me know that the actor is Carey Embry, who is evidently not Armenian, but that’s okay. He’s funny.

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