Changes are afoot in the third season of Silicon Valley. This is to be expected, as the last few minutes of the last episode of season two threw everyone’s world into a state of what I’ll call Happysad Double Flux. Change was inevitable, and it’s coming in many forms: a new office, a new CEO, a new collection of plots and schemes to save the day, etc. But lest you think all that change will somehow make Silicon Valley a fundamentally different show, let me also pass along this mild spoiler: Within the first few minutes of the season premiere, before the opening credits even roll, T.J. Miller’s character, Erlich, repeatedly kicks a robotic deer while screaming the c-word at it. Silicon Valley is changing, but it is also very much the same. That’s a good thing.
The end of season two, quickly: Richard (Thomas Middleditch) won his arbitration against Hooli, surprising everyone, including himself, seeing as he had just sent his team a text telling them to delete the entire Pied Piper code so he wouldn’t have to turn it over. But, the computer froze mid-deletion and the program was saved. But, immediately after realizing the program survived, he received a call from the board saying he had been voted out as CEO. The whole thing was a whirlwind of emotion, executed perfectly (and hilariously), which left Pied Piper free of one potential villain (Hooli), but facing another (the new CEO, who was still an unknown at that point).
That brings us to season three. Without giving too much away, here’s what I’ll tell you: The new season opens moments after the previous one ended. The new CEO is Jack “Action Jack” Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky, who has been in everything, but who casual consumers of pop culture will recognize as Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day), a veteran executive of tech companies who comes in and promptly begins shaking things up. Dinesh and Gilfoyle (Kumail Nanjiani and Martin Starr, respectively) are still greedy little blackhearted coders who steal every scene they’re in, often by being extremely mean to each other. At some point during the season, if the trailer is to be believed, this happens.
And here’s something else I’ll tell you: It’s still really good. In its first two seasons, the show did a great job of building a season-long conflict, with little mini-triumphs sprinkled in. Season one was about getting a small startup off the ground. Season two was about the struggles of a young, hot company. If the first three episodes are any indication, season three is about the next step in Pied Piper’s evolution: going corporate. Action Jack has big plans for the company, and I don’t think it should come as a surprise to learn that those plans do not always match up with the ones Richard and his crew have. The comedy mines for this kind of development run deep and are lined with gold, because if there’s one thing funnier than clueless/evil tech people, it’s clueless/evil business people. (One of the great joys through the first few episodes is Richard holding meetings with Action Jack’s new sales team.) And anytime you can set a rag-tag group principled schlubs against their slick fat cat overlords, I mean, that’s just good television.
The trick here will be the payoff, which is something Silicon Valley has been almost unreasonably good at so far. The season two finale was everything I said it was and more, tying together and ripping apart threads that had been running more or less since the premiere, and it’s still only the second-most-memorable Silicon Valley season finale. The top spot goes to season one, which revealed that every episode to that point had been building toward a now legendary, mathematically correct, day-saving dick joke. Silicon Valley is a good show.
Will the show be able to pull a rabbit out of its hat again? Well, I don’t know. I sure hope so, if only because it’s been a smart, funny half-hour of comedy, and it would be really nice if that continues. It’s definitely done a nice job of setting things up through the first three episodes. Episode three, especially, is a ton of fun, because there’s an all-timer plot okie-doke in there that resulted in me somehow shouting “Nooooooooo” through abdomen-clenching laughter. It kills me that I can’t talk to you about it. So everyone please watch this show and we’ll meet back here in three weeks to discuss. It’s not like it will be hard. Just leave the TV on after Game of Thrones.
Season three of Silicon Valley debuts Sunday, April 24 at 10 p.m.