Jul 23, 2018

[TV] Silicon Valley: Season 4 Review

The ups and downs of Silicon Valley's third season certainly did a lot to shake-up the status quo for our little startup in a ways that we could not have fully foreseen at the time. And this is pretty much where the fourth season dives into to push things forward.

It's funny to think of how things started where the focus company Pied Piper was initially all about compression and by this season things have splintered such that the company is now into video chat and something much bigger if Richard gets his way. But that's part of the message of this show - how the tech world is constantly in a state of flux in an effort to always present something new or to answer some question that people may not necessarily remember asking.

I liked the last season since its efforts to spin things in a new direction were certainly interesting and the efforts to sort of "disrupt" its own pattern made for funnier television. This fourth season tried to bring things back to the "normal" state of things that felt closer to earlier seasons but of course our sense of normal is very different now.

Synopsis: Silicon Valley is an American comedy television show created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky for HBO. As of the time of this blog the show has already completed its fifth season and has been confirmed for a sixth.

Pied Piper as a company has now pivoted to focus on PiperChat, the video chat service that Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) had created based on the Pied Piper platform that had previously been trying to launch. As this is nothing like what Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) had envisioned for his technology when they started all this, he decides to step down as CEO in order to focus on creating a decentralized internet as a "new internet".

Meanwhile at Hooli, Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) is full steam ahead with the Hooli Endframe box as conceived by Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky) and the two close a deal in China for its production. But Jack's actions inevitably infuriate Gavin such that he ends up "promoting" Jack to a new position such that his office is deep in Hooli's data center. But the drama between the two isn't over as is seen when the season unfolds.

What I Liked: It was rather nice at first to see Richard re-energized by this idea of a new internet as it's sort of how we like to think of these innovators at their purest - when they're motivated by a new idea and do whatever they can to make it happen. Of course there are a lot of different roadblocks that he still needs to resolve but the way they structured this season and ended up tying together the fates of both Richard and Gavin made for some interesting twists.

And I appreciated how change and upheaval really defined a lot of the story arcs here whether it's Richard leaving Pied Piper or even Gavin's movement in Hooli or the surprise twist of the threats to Laurie's (Suzanne Cryer) position at Raviga. Everyone finds themselves under fire to one degree or another but the way each responds to the situation remains unique and in line with their different characterizations. And that's where the show shines when we see how each character handles things in drastically different ways in line with them reflecting different types of personalities that we do encounter in the tech world.

What Could Have Been Better: I'm a little disappointed that Dinesh has become rather one note even with the twist of him taking over Pied Piper as CEO (mainly because of PiperChat). His squabbles with Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) at funny at times and I suppose that never gets old. But in other ways he starts to feel pretty ridiculous or even irrational in that he can never seem to get past his frustrations and insecurities and this only results in courses of actions of a certain variety. Dinesh can be so much more! Or at least maybe he narratively deserves an actual win and not something he ends up sabotaging or losing.

Monica (Amanda Crew) is another character who has faded into the background and often merely feels like an extension of Laurie or perhaps and outward manifestation of some of the emotions that Laurie may actually be feeling but never chooses to show. I don't necessarily want to see any sort of romantic angle between Monica and pretty much any of the other characters in the show but I do want to see her holding her own more or having her own story apart from watching out for Laurie or being the voice of reason when Richard gets particularly nutty.

TL;DR: The fourth season of Silicon Valley is fun one that feels like a crazy game of musical chairs and results in everyone in different places often doing different things once the dust settles. It's a season that elevates Gavin Belson to be more than just a distant antagonist but it also manages to end with a mad tech solution that sort of feels like other season finales of the show. Thus the season gets a fun 5 people who end up being upset with Richard because of his new internet efforts out of a possible 5.

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