Jul 27, 2018

[TV] Silicon Valley: Season 5 Review

Silicon Valley remains to be an odd source of entertainment for me given how it's a different brand of geeky entertainment with some pretty wild moments here and there. It's a smart show with a lot of odd twists and turns that nicely mirror aspects of the actual tech business community in the US.

I'm a little surprised at how the show just seems to keep on going and this fifth season certainly represented an interesting evolution in the show as it lost a major cast member. But I think that change may have helped the show find its second wind and should help it farther in the long run.

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

After all the upheaval of the fourth season, the season begins with Pied Piper moving into a new office and even hiring a team of coders to work on Richard's (Thomas Middleditch) new internet project. Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Naniani) are still Richard's lieutenants and are in charge of screening the new hires in the hopes of finding skilled coders to join their efforts. But it doesn't help that Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) over at Hooli ends up hiring the many prospects that Pied Piper had initially interviewed.

Meanwhile Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang) is determined to take full control of the house and thus needs to prove that Ehrlich (T.J. Miller) is in fact dead. This leads to rather elaborate schemes to produce some sort of a body and a death certificate to support this claim in front of a judge, but it also turns out that gaining Ehrlich's assets also means inheriting his debt.

What I Liked: Showing Richard finally having to deal with having an actual company and a coding team beyond the likes of Gilfoyle and Dinesh was certainly a big step up for his character. And it also provided a unique opportunity to elevate his seeming-assistant Jared (Zach Woods) to the COO of the new company. Beyond the literal promotion, this season was a realization of how far he's come as a character in terms of confidence and such.

Beyond the core team, I was also rather fascinated by Jian-Yang's journey. It was easy to dismiss him before as a supporting character to Ehrlich's antics but with Miller gone from the show, they found a way to push his quirkiness to a new level that helped drive the comedy even better. I also loved how this season managed to touch on a lot of tech trends in a meaningful way such as the company weighing to go with an ICO instead of a typical fundraising effort and how China seems to be copying everything that proves to be successful in other countries.

What Could Have Been Better: I'm getting a little tired of Gilfoyle saving the day. Before it felt innovative and interesting but after the repeat action with the fridges in the last season and the big ending in this season, it's becoming very old hat. Throw in the usual bicker between him and Dinesh and you're really feeling the characters getting stuck in a bit of a rut that isn't all that creative or fulfilling.

The A.I. subplot was sort of interesting at the start but it felt like they didn't really know where they wanted to go with it. Beyond the A.I. overwhelming the network it still felt like some sort of throwaway piece with a very violent end. Given it got a few episodes in a show with relatively short seasons, it felt like a story that got more attention than it should have as as a one-off but not enough to really make sense of why it went on as long as it did.

TL;DR: Silicon Valley may never be the same without T.J. Miller but it looks like it may have found itself a path to pursue in order to grow into something much more. I'm excited for the future that this season manages to setup. Thus the season gets a good 5 "octopipers" that Richard gets on the PiperNet platform out of a possible 5.

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