A review of the “Silicon Valley” season 2 finale – and thoughts on this season as a whole – coming up just as soon as I become a meme in the Philippines…
The “Entourage” movie pretty much came and went at the box office last weekend, and with it came a lot of mockery of the no consequences ethos of the “Entourage” universe, where no one's future is ever really in jeopardy, because Kanye West will turn up at the last second with his private plane, or Vince will have held onto Turtle's tequila investment behind his back.
I complained about that kind of narrative laziness and lack of stakes for most of the run of “Entourage.” But I have to admit that there have been times throughout this season of “Silicon Valley” where Richard has been so close to financial ruin – sometimes, as the result of his own mistakes, sometimes due to actions beyond his control – where I've found myself wishing for a less stressful viewing experience like the one Vince and his boys provided. Scenes like Russ's tequila bottle destroying the porn site deal, or Richard being unable to reach the guys to cancel the order to erase Pied Piper, often have me looking at the screen through my fingers like it's a horror film, as I ask myself, “Why am I watching this?”
And then moments later, the show will answer that question with a great comic set piece like the guys taking forever to get a lemon and enjoy the celebratory drink. That wasn't quite on the level of the middle-out brainstorming session from season 1's finale in terms of explosive laughs that built in waves and waves – this season's highlights in that neighborhood were the list of porn site names (Non-Consensual Santa, Blackmailed Into Gay) or the contents of the SWOT board when Dinesh and Gilfoyle were debating whether to let the stunt man live – but it was still awfully funny, and in a way that was only possible precisely because the stakes were so high and Richard stood to lose so much.
In the end, Richard achieves a victory that seems slightly out of left field, but the end result makes that okay. Not only is that other compression site still wandering around with all the advice Richard stupidly gave them, but in buying out Russ(*) and his two board seats, she gets to force out Richard as CEO. And after seeing all the screw-ups Richard was responsible for over these last two seasons, can you blame her? He's a brilliant programmer, but his skills in every other area are sorely lacking. I'm not clear on the exact ramifications of this, and whether Richard still has his original stake in the company (and can thus profit enormously if Pied Piper succeeds under Laurie's watch), but the idea of him being stuck on the outside looking in – and likely trying to figure a way to leverage himself back into that job – provides a lot of good story possibilities for season 3. Particularly since Gavin may be doing the same thing now that he's out – and Big Head appears to be in – at Hooli. A Richard/Gavin team-up could be a lot of fun, now that I think about it.
(*) I'm okay with not seeing Russ again, if that's how things turn out. There seemed to be about a season's worth of jokes in his dude-bro obliviousness, and Laurie seems a more interesting and durable foil for the group for next season.
And for all of the idiocy that has happened in that house, the sequence where Dinesh, Gilfoyle, Erlich and Jared team up to keep the condor preserve feed from coming down was a reminder of both their skills (Erlich is a serious coder, it turns out) and of the joys of being a scrappy start-up like this in the first place. Erlich wonders why on earth Jared would have left a lucrative and secure job Hooli to work with them; by the time the feed turns off right as the rescuers make their way down the cliff, his decision makes total sense in a Jared kind of way.
Christopher Evan Welch remains a big loss, though Peter Gregory's absence allowed for a lot of this season's chaos to happen, and the show did a lot of smart things to expand the world of Pied Piper. The running gag from a few weeks ago where Jared tries to force Monica and their one female coder (whom I hope comes back at some point next season) to bond was really sharp, and, along with the introduction of Laurie, a good and funny response to all the calls for the show to add more women.
Very glad this show will be around a while, even if I may need some family-sized bottles of Maalox to get through another season of it.
What did everybody else think?