If you would like to read my individual episode reviews, click here.
Through its first four seasons, Silicon Valley has consistently been one of the best comedies on television and this season was no different. Beit the tech stuff, the workplace comedy or just the camaraderie between the guys, there is something for everyone. Whether they succeed or fail, it is fun to watch every step of the way.
Last season ended with Pied Piper becoming a video chat company but ever since then, Richard could never get into it. Also, after the click farm controversy, the company had difficulty finding VC help so the rest of the guys wanted to remove him from the company, making Dinesh the new CEO. It didn’t matter much to him since he wanted to leave anyway and start his own company. This was definitely a different dynamic early on. Having separate groups made things interesting to watch although we all knew that they would ultimately get back together again.
The fracturing of the characters did allow the season to focus on some of the other characters by giving them fun subplots. Jian-Yang has mostly been misunderstood as a character because of his Chinese accent. This is what made the discovery of his new app a wonderfully odd moment when it wasn’t what everyone thought it was. An app about seafood recipes became a shazam-type app for food and finally an app that can detect male genitalia.
Just as the dynamic changed within Pied Piper, it had also changed within Hooli. Now that Belson and Barker were in the same fold, it was inevitable that their personalities would clash but the contrast between them was great to watch and was occasionally hilarious. The season also managed to weave this subplot into the main story with the rivalry between Belson and Barker leading to Belson buying the video chat company without knowing that it was facing billions in fines for having underage users. This saved Dinesh who was way over his head as CEO.
In other subplots, Dinesh started dating a hacker named Mia (Phoebe Neidhardt) who had a connection to Guilfoyle. Guilfoyle enjoyed using this knowledge against Dinesh for his amusement by making him paranoid of her hacking ability. She was only impressed in him for what he did to Belson and became obsessed with him but he was too scared to tell her the truth about what really happened so he set her up to get arrested.
Big Head wasn’t doing much with his life so his dad wanted him to go to school. He decided to apply to Stanford but didn’t have high enough grades. It didn’t matter being the oblivious tech celebrity he was. He knew next to nothing about computer science, however, this just snowballed into him becoming a lecturer that only showed movies in his class.
Monica was being buried in Raviga so she wanted to prove herself to Laurie to get back in her good graces. Standing in her way was Ed Chen (Tim Chiou). Her attempts to sabotage him always seemed to backfire until Laurie, sensing that she was being forced out, decided to start a new VC firm and brought Monica with her because of her loyalty.
Richard’s idea was to use his algorithm and create a truly decentralized internet. This was not easy for him and it started to affect his everyday life. This subplot surprisingly connected to the first season and Peter Gregory as he was working on the same thing back then but the technology wasn’t there at the time. Richard found some of his old notes and his patent, however, it was owned by Belson who was now fired from Hooli and replaced with Barker after buying PiperChat. This circumstance brought the former rivals together to start a new company with all the guys eventually joining him. This also meant the departure of Belson who left for some much needed soul-searching.
With the team seemingly back together, they were now all in on Richard’s idea. Unfortunately, Richard’s problems with financing were still there so instead of taking the traditional route, he struck a business relationship with a man named Dan Melcher, who just happens to be the guy who’s wife Erlich slept with in Season 1, offering to store his insurance company’s data over their experimental network. Over their time together, he also worked with Melcher’s fiancee Liz Tinsdale (Leisha Hailey). Each of them misinterpreted their relationship which led to them sleeping together and Melcher figuring it out by the end.
Belson was not the only one looking for purpose as Erlich was also looking for something to do with himself. He tried to join Laurie and Monica’s new VC firm, Bream Hall, but was refused. It wasn’t until a chance meeting with a tech mogul named Keenan Feldspar (Haley Joel Osment) that they began to take him seriously. They struck a friendship and Erlich presented him to Bream Hall which led to a job offer.
Feldspar also played a role in the main story as he became a potential second client once they could no longer afford to store Melcher’s data. Richard’s pitch was ultimately hijacked by Feldspar as the rest of the guys were sucked in by his sheer coolness and also a demo on his new VR technology. Richard became jealous of him so when he offered to buy Pied Piper, he overpriced himself to dissuade him but Feldspar agreed to Richard’s higher price. After a warning from Monica, Richard decided against the deal and was saved when Feldspar had left them all for Hooli who Barker had bought his technology in order to save his failing presentation at the upcoming Hooli Con.
There was still hope as Monica offered to finance them at Bream Hall if they proved that they can store all of Melcher’s increasing data. Richard’s plan was to go to Hooli Con and covertly install their code on the surplus of smartphones that will be present to create a large enough network to store the data. The problem with this was that their added code caused a large amount of Hooli phones to explode. It looked like they were going to fail when Hooli planned to replace the phones, they were saved when their network was intact on a network of smart fridges thanks to Guilfoyle’s hack on Jian-Yang’s new smart fridge.
Of course it had been highly publicized that TJ Miller was leaving the show after this season and the circumstances relating to his departure involved him going on a trip to Tibet on Richard’s behalf after an invitation from Belson. Belson was not exactly happy to see Erlich but when he heard about Hooli’s problems, he used this as an opportunity to get back in the good graces of the Hooli board and get his job back. On his way back, he left Erlich behind.
The season ended with a meeting between Richard and Belson. Belson got his position back at Hooli and wanted to work with Richard again so he offered to buy their company. Richard refused and was convinced that he would devour Belson in the future instead of Belson devouring him for not taking the offer, setting up a battle between both of them next season.
The acting was great across the board, highlighted by the chemistry between the cast, making them fun to watch. Richard had his usual Richard moments. Dinesh and Guilfoyle had their moments, including Dinesh’s paranoia and Guilfoyle’s vendetta against the smart fridge, and their banter was excellent with Guilfoyle constantly riling Dinesh up for his own amusement. Erlich’s quest for purpose was compelling. Laurie’s lack of care about being pregnant was funny. The real standout here was Zach Woods as Jared. He was the best character by far this season, stealing most of the scenes he was in through a combination of his performance, the writing, and probably some improvisation on his part.
Overall, this was an excellent season, full of hilarious ups and downs and was fun to watch every step of the way thanks to these characters that we’ve learned to love over the last four seasons and the great writing over that time. Seeing Erlich go was sad but the finale sets up an interesting battle between Richard and Belson which could make for an exciting season 5.
Categories: TV Reviews