Ever since Vikram Murthi crammed in for me just a few weeks in the past, I’ve been chewing on a press release he made in his assessment, that this yr Silicon Valley “excelled by shifting its focus towards episodic narratives over a strong seasonal arc.” It’s an remark I agree with, although as an alternative of utilizing it to reward the comedy I’m viewing it as the reason why one thing’s felt off to me about this season. Whereas it’s at all times been a shaggy present, every season of Silicon Valley has adhered to an arc that shepherded Pied Piper and its workers by way of a brand new stage of its existence. Season one was the corporate’s beginning and early rising pains, season two was its battle for survival and legitimacy, and season three was the battle for individuality as soon as it obtained that success.
Season 4 didn’t have any of that construction. In actual fact, references to “new Web” apart, it’s virtually felt prefer it’s rebelling towards having a construction. Silicon Valley burned by way of plot level after plot level this yr, with probably promising developments—Dinesh’s tenure as PiperChat CEO, Richard and Gavin’s partnership, Erlich’s newfound position as a enterprise capitalist—launched after which deserted inside two episodes. The comedic highs are nonetheless as excessive as Erlich, and the ensemble nonetheless retains its alchemy, nevertheless it not feels prefer it’s constructing to one thing to the diploma it as soon as did.
Within the context, “Server Error” comes up a bit quick. It’s filled with nice issues—a screaming match about fucking servers, Gilfoyle in cat’s eye contact lenses, Jack being taken hostage in China, Richard at his most desperately unhinged—however the occasions really feel like simply one other disaster versus the massive presentation/trial/deal that might beforehand outline the top of the season. Whereas the scattered nature of the season delivered (and continues to ship) short-term laughs, the consequence is fewer payoffs than, say, “The Uptick” or “Two Days Of The Condor.”
The most important drawback in “Server Error” is the anticlimactic means it treats the departure of Erlich Bachman from Silicon Valley. He will get to be the narrative instigator one final time, sharing the information of the Hooli-Con catastrophe with Gavin and instantly spurring the opposite man out of his seek for enlightenment. On the way in which residence he rapidly goes from savior to burden, complaining incessantly about not having enlightenment, to the purpose that Gavin pays their host to maintain Erlich in consolation for the following 5 years and ditches him. Erlich’s story ends in a Tibet opium den, with the one one who is aware of the place he mendacity about it, and all indications he’ll smoke himself to demise earlier than the 5 years are up. And given what we all know of T.J. Miller’s twisted sense of humor, he may properly be thrilled with the awful and anticlimactic ending he departs the present.
To Silicon Valley followers although, this exit feels totally ill-fitting a personality who was at one level the debatable co-lead of the ensemble. It could be one factor if this was the way in which we left him for the season, returning subsequent yr along with his Jheri curl shorn and a brand new Jap mysticism-based outlook marginally extra unbearable than Iron Fist. However we all know as viewers that that is the final time we’ll ever see Erlich—regardless of being diplomatic Miller hasn’t sounded open to any future return—and in context it feels disrespectful of what he as soon as met to the present. The one character he acquired any sense of closure with final week was Jian-Yang, and that was solely reinforcing that each males hated one another’s guts. They don’t handle his relationship with Richard, his rising emotions of insecurity within the trade, and even any regret over what occurred to his palapa. He’s there, after which he’s not.
However whereas disrespectful to Erlich’s legacy on the present, the truth that virtually nobody in Pied Piper even mentions him of their newest disaster does underline that the corporate has grown previous him. Their newest debacle, the place Jack’s push for a cellphone recall jeopardizes Pied Piper’s information, requires all of the scheming and bullshitting that Erlich was infamous for. Solely this time, Richard’s doing it on his personal. I stated last week that Silicon Valley was specializing in the corrosion of Richard Hendrix, and “Server Error” continues to lean into stated corrosion. He lies to Melcher concerning the standing of their server down time, he lies to Massive Head—who Silicon Valley remembered this week is a personality on the present—concerning the depth of his drawback, and he lies to Dinesh and Gilfoyle about his honesty to Massive Head. As soon as upon a time he’d be railing towards these reduce corners, and now it’s only a value of doing enterprise.
In all of this ethical decay, no sight cuts deeper than the sight of Jared handing Richard his resignation letter. (One in every of three letters he writes each time he begins a brand new job, alongside a private motion plan and a letter to his 40-year-old self.) Whereas the opposites-attract partnership of Richard and Erlich light away through the years on Silicon Valley, the near-hero worship that Jared has for Richard has taken its place. Zach Woods and Thomas Middleditch play off one another exceptionally properly on this context, Jared’s try to stay useful and supportive and tactfully point out all the issues the corporate has crashing laborious towards Richard’s extra mercenary aspect. It’s legitimately heartbreaking when Richard lastly snaps at Jared’s “second-guessing hand-ringing throat-clutching bullshit” and terminates his employment instantly.
This termination is in fact the worst transfer Richard may make. Depth of the battle institution apart, Silicon Valley’s skill to construct and execute disaster is one with few equals, and this one is nice. Middleditch is pushed to new heights of mania and desperation as Richard tries to maintain every part collectively, along with his lecture to Gilfoyle and Dinesh about their hypocrisy probably his finest particular person supply within the sequence. And the sight of Anton splattered throughout the Stanford campus is ideal dawning horror, the grim realization of how as soon as once more Richard’s achieved it to himself.
They want a miracle to save lots of them, and because of the all-purpose plot spackle that’s Richard’s algorithm, they get it. Gilfoyle off-handedly used the code to submit his profane Jian-Yang sensible fridge video, and the code will get copied in a replace to propagate to a number of fridges—inadvertently making a location the place Anton may shift all of hs information within the occasion of catastrophic failure. Once more, whereas much less satisfying than among the hail Marys of earlier finales, this satisfies as a believable resolution to the issue, becoming in with each the beforehand established development of Richard’s workers to make use of the algorithm when it fits them and the present’s love of taking these one-off jokes and making them pay narrative dividends. And people who really feel Richard wanted some comeuppance for his habits during the last couple of episodes get to see him punched within the face when his ill-advised hookup with Liz turns into public data.
Probably the most promising course for the way forward for the present comes with the reunion of Richard and Gavin at their ordinary spot. Gavin affords to resume their partnership, and Richard stands his floor, saying he sees a future the place Pied Piper is king and Hooli will not be. I used to be important of the present hitting the eject button on this team-up so early, however in definitively ending it right here is takes occasions to a private diploma that the premature demise of Christopher Evan Welch halted. Within the early seasons Gavin’s pursuit of Richard was solely out of the need to manage a probably sizzling piece of expertise, steadily curdling into malice as he stored shedding publicly to this younger upstart. Now they’ve constructed the bridges and so they’ve burned them, and the Richard versus Gavin feud is getting into the implied depths of Gavin versus Peter.
It’s one other transfer that will get us again to the established order, alongside Jared reapplying for his outdated job and Richard stating they’re going to take Bream-Corridor’s cash. Even Erlich’s departure doesn’t have critical ramifications within the short-term—though in some unspecified time in the future they’re going to should acknowledge the actual fact they’re dwelling in a home whose proprietor might be going to be declared legally lifeless within the subsequent few months. Season 4 leaves us a lot as we started, current conflicts sharpened slightly than reinvented, and at this level within the present’s life it’s time to simply accept that’s all of the ahead movement it desires. Silicon Valley continues to run alongside its success/failure parabolic curve, and whereas that will frustrate at instances, at the least that curve remains to be the most effective comedic grooves on tv.
Episode grade: B
Season grade: B+
- This week’s closing observe: “Don’t Stop,” Wu-Tang Clan (now obtainable on the official Silicon Valley soundtrack)
- UPDATE: T.J. Miller did an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after the finale aired, and it’s a reasonably outstanding learn for his private causes for leaving, what he hopes occurs to the present going ahead, and a few not-so-subtle shade thrown at Middleditch and Alec Berg.
- It seems Jared’s rental squatter left city months in the past “to promote cocaine on the Keystone pipeline protests,” which by some means makes Jared’s ongoing residence within the storage much more heartbreaking and endearing in equal measure. And the sounds of his housewarming occasion remind us, as soon as once more, this man fucks.
- Gilfoyle’s Halloween contact lenses are probably the most effective joke of the night time, and are even funnier for the truth that they don’t have any narrative cause to exist. His glasses breaking doesn’t jeopardize Anton’s survival or tie into something he’s achieved this yr, it’s solely there as a result of somebody on the inventive crew needed Martin Starr to have cat eyes for half of the episode.
- Additionally by way of jokes, it’s mildly disappointing that Erlich’s Corvette doesn’t play any form of position within the finale past being seen within the establishing pictures. This season it wound up being Chekov’s sensible fridge, not Chekov’s sports activities automobile.
- Massive Head’s newest lecture subject per the chalkboard: Old Tron (16) vs. New Tron (2). I’m assuming these factors for Tron: Legacy are the soundtrack and Jeff Bridges attending to play off of himself.
- Additionally, Massive Head’s username and password are each “password.” Why? “It was simply simpler.”
- Jared defending Richard from Melcher is ace bodily comedy.
- “You solely make that face when your dick is on fireplace.”
- “Even setting apart our CEO’s sexual extortion, adultery, and lowbrow scatological vandalism, we’re nonetheless primarily a felony operation whose solely actual product is harmful malware.”
- “I’m in Tibet, it’s proper subsequent door.”
- “I acquired it from a girl. She didn’t hit me. The person did. Due to intercourse. That I gave to her.”
- That’s a wrap on season 4 protection! As at all times, thanks for studying. See you subsequent yr!