The first season of Silicon Valley ended in dramatic fashion, thanks to a now legendary, mathematically accurate “middle out” dick joke saving the day and the company. It set the stage for a second season that saw Richard and the Pied Piper team try to take what they had created from an idea to, like, an actual business. The result was basically a 10-episode game of Whack-a-Mole, with the tech industry and real world serving as the mallet-swinging child at Chuck E. Cheese, swiftly batting them down every time it looked like they were making progress. Sometimes the pizza-crazed child was their massive, Google-like competitor, Hooli. Other times it was their own Fieri/Cuban hybrid investor, Russ Hanneman. Once it was a bottle of tequila sitting on a delete key and nuking thousands of hours of a potential client’s pornography. A classic small-business mistake.
This brings us to the Season 2 finale, and the brilliant little okie-doke they pulled off at the end. After about 30 really intense minutes that featured everything from legal loopholes to house fires to frantic coding because a tweet from Manny Pacquiao (“the Filipino legislator”) threatened to crash their live feed of an injured wildlife worker drinking his own urine in a desperate attempt to survive until a rescue team could get to him (lot going on in this episode), everything was lined up for the ending they had been nodding at all episode. The team would get Richard’s text telling them to delete the whole program to spite Hooli, and the surprise win in arbitration would be whacked down when he got home and discovered they’d have to start all over from scratch.
The computer froze mid-deletion, saving the program, and creating a fleeting, victorious, cathartic instant where it looked like a season of almosts would go out with the team finally getting what they had been struggling toward: a commercially viable and independent Pied Piper.
The phone rang, and Richard found out that the very success they were riding high on would be his undoing. The runaway viral buzz of the high-quality stream convinced Laurie at Raviga to buy out Russ and acquire his board seats, and the season’s parade of Pied Piper missteps convinced her to use their new 3-2 voting majority to oust Richard as CEO.
It was a roller coaster of an ending, an action-packed double happy-sad that was somehow both totally shocking and totally obvious. Like, of course Richard would be removed as CEO. We might have been blind to it because we were following Pied Piper day-in, day-out, and rooting for them to beat back all the external forces getting in their way. (Conniving competitors, ferret-loving neighbors, etc.) But if you pull back to the aerial view and look at the company as an impartial observer, I mean, it was a mess. You can practically see the progression of unflattering headlines on tech-industry blogs:
– Pied Piper Wins TechCrunch Disrupt With Revolutionary Compression Software
– Pied Piper Subject Of Furious Venture Capital Bidding War
– Hooli Claims Ownership Of TechCrunch Disrupt Winner Pied Piper, Bids Dry Up
– What Is Up With Those Stupid Pied Piper Billboards?
– Pied Piper Competitor EndFrame Emerges, Lands Major Contract
– TechCrunch Disrupt Winner Pied Piper Responsible For Massive Porn Deletion
– REPORT: Tequila Bottle Caused Massive Porn Deletion
– Does Hard-Partying Compression Firm Pied Piper Have A CEO Problem?
– Will Former Silicon Valley Darling Pied Piper Ever Get It Right?
– Pied Piper CEO Reveals In Arbitration He Called His Laptop “His Girlfriend”
– Pied Piper’s Richard Hendricks Removed As CEO
So, yeah. Not unreasonable. And it fits with the whole “one step forward, two steps back” philosophy of the show. But still, that was a hell of a way to close out a season. A great season, for the record, that punctuated the company’s Sisyphean struggle with things like hilariously morbid SWOT boards and a monkey flinging its poo with its new million-dollar robot arm. Probably better than the first, as a whole. I don’t know. Maybe I need to let it sit for a bit before I make that call.
Either way, the point I am getting at is twofold: One, Silicon Valley is a really good show. And two, between this and the dick joke from last year, Silicon Valley is really, really good at season finales.