Review: What happens if everything goes right for once on 'Silicon Valley'?
A review of tonight's Silicon Valley coming up just as soon as I pretend I share a room with Harriet Tubman...
Well, that was a very different — and ultimately delightful — kind of Silicon Valley episode. It's not just that everything for once went nearly perfectly for Richard and Pied Piper — even Gavin's industrial espionage backfired in a huge way, costing Hooli the engineers who seemed to best understand Richard's compression algorithm(*), and possibly doing damage to Hooli HQ as a whole — but how emotional, even wistful, so much of it was.
(*) The one thing this episode, and other recent ones, glossed over a bit was how Pied Piper got so far ahead of the combined Hooli/End Frame team, which had far greater resources and a half-stolen, half-reverse-engineered approximation of Richard's algorithm. The idea, as the show has discussed at times in the past, is that Richard is just that brilliant (and the guys — Gilfoyle in particular — a talented and nimble enough support team to compensate for Hooli's larger manpower), but I still felt surprised that the Nucleus team were that intimidated by how much further along, and simply better, the Pied Piper beta was than their platform.
Some of that wistfulness comes, of course, from Erlich selling some — or perhaps all — of his Pied Piper shares to Laurie in order to pay off his debts. The lecture from the judge about how Erlich and Big Head both fell ass-backwards into money and then squandered it all was dead on the mark (remember how incredulous Peter Gregory was that Richard had given away so much of his company to this idiot for basic room and board?). Between that and seeing how completely non-bitter Big Head was being about the whole thing, Erlich Bachman was inspired for a moment to be something other than the blowhard clown. Of course, the episode was clever enough to not dwell too much on the sadness of Erlich's blown fortune, interweaving a lot of it around perfectly-timed (and always stupid) prank phone calls from Jian-Yang, or having Erlich loudly tell the guys he has to go to the bathroom as his excuse for staying behind at Raviga.
But the whole episode did a nice job of blending nasty humor with something deeper. Gilfoyle spends much of the episode awesomely crushing fools left and right, whether he's proving to Dinesh how easily he can make a friend or trashing Gavin's personal hard drive, yet the moment where he says goodbye to the server bank in the garage felt shockingly sweet, especially coming from someone who earlier in the story suggested that, "The history of humanity is a book written in blood. We're all just animals in a pit." And, again, to remind us we are watching a comedy show, Dinesh and Gilfoyle declaring in unison "Fuck you, Jared" after he suggests they're each other's best friend was hilarious even as it was proving his point for him.
Even the Monica story more or less turned out okay, with her acknowledging — with a Peter Gregory quote, no less, to add to the sense that this was a major turning point in the series — that she put more trust in Richard than she did in her own feelings about the platform. Things were going so well, in fact, that during the final scene, I didn't have the usual sense of dread I get watching this show. Maybe the launch of the platform will go badly — and there have to be more obstacles down the road, or else it would be time to wrap up the show — but this episode felt different. This episode felt like the universe had for once turned in the guys' favor, rewarding their innovation and hard work rather than punishing them for dumb choices (or for forces entirely beyond their control).
The episode has the power that it does precisely because everything is usually such a fiasco, but this was very satisfying to witness, even as it was also awfully funny.
What did everybody else think?