The most brilliant comedy on TV returns! The fourth season premiere of HBO’s Silicon Valley is titled “Success Failure,” which is a pretty accurate description of the show so far.
Richard and the rest of the Pied Piper crew have seen tiny pieces of amazing success and attention thrown at them that promise to make them enough money to live the rest of their lives, only for them to lose it all each and every time. After three seasons of this, it’s hard not to get a little bit disinterested in this motley crew, but this season started off by doing something pretty brilliant – they’re rebooting it. Or at least, they’re changing the direction of the show.
A New Title Sequence
One of the most underappreciated parts of each Silicon Valley episode is its title sequence, which changes from season-to-season. The sequence shows the Valley being built up with corporations in a mere ten seconds, so quickly that it takes a few rewatches to catch the many in-jokes each contains.
For instance, near the space where a Napster balloon floated up before imploding and falling to the ground, a massive Uber balloon rose up in season two. In season three, a smaller Lyft balloon rose up to bounce against Uber, futily. But at the start of the season 4 premiere, they’re both about the same size and knocking against each other, probably due to Uber’s incredible snafus made earlier this year and Lyft taking advantage of their rival’s bad press so expertly.
Last season, there were a couple of drones delivering bottles of champagne to buildings. This year, they’re all over the skies, delivering six-packs of beer and individual pizza slices.
Another building now has a sign for Theranos, which immediately starts to peel off the building, probably due to the multiple FBI vans outside. The company isn’t doing well, lately. There are probably a dozen more tiny references taking place on the rooftops and streets, just a small hint of the brilliant depths of the show.
The Most Silicon Valley Moment
If you think a $ 400 juicer is a stupid waste of money (it is), how about what Hooli CEO Gavin Belson gets up to in this episode? We see him with his new hire Jack Barker on the way back from a successful trip to China. Gavin becomes incredibly angry when Jack convinces him that it would be faster to drop him off at his destination first, even though it’s clearly farther. Gavin becomes so obsessed with this slight that he sends his right hand man on the exact trip from China to San Francisco to time how long each leg of the journey it takes. When he returns and confirms that it was indeed 28.3 minutes shorter if they had gone Gavin’s way, Gavin sends him back out to take five more private transcontinental flights in order to sum up the average time, to account for headwind and other variables. The purpose of this? He’s concerned with Barker’s corporate spending.
Barker ends up delightfully punished for this at the end of the episode, demoted to an “office” in the fourth sub basement next to the servers, facing the door of a men’s room.
The Doors of a Billionaire
With each of these weekly review, I plan to single out the best one-liner of the episode, so color me surprised that this one didn’t belong to something from the mouth of Erlich Bachman. We all know that T. J. Miller is king of the one-liners and will usually dominate this section, but we can’t blame him because this episode features an appearance by Chris Diamantopoulos’ Russ Hanneman, the billionaire who put radio on the internet. He appears in his ridiculous car to meet with Richard outside of his kid’s school. His greeting?
“Thanks for meeting me here. My fucking nanny got a D.U.I. and lost her license and I’m stuck picking up my own kid like an asshole. So what’s up?”
This is perhaps the tamest portion of his dialogue, which is delivered in front of horrified children and parents. Russ may be crazy, but it’s only because of this interaction that Richard realizes that he’s not fully behind the new direction of Pied Piper, and he has only one thing he can do – quit.
By far the best joke in the episode is Russ peeling out in his car after his chat with Richard, blasting Papa Roach’s “Last Resort,” the way we all wish Paul Ryan did.
The Most Inspiring Speech
Dinesh and Gilfoyle have the best (lack of) chemistry on the show, so it was perhaps shocking to think that Gilfoyle would ever back Dinesh as the new CEO of Pied Piper. But after Dinesh’s rousing speech, he had no option but to fall in line.
“Gilfoyle, can I please be CEO of Pied Piper?” pleads Dinesh.
“Spoken like a true leader,” replies our favorite anarchist. “But, since your failure as a leader is a virtual certainty, tolerating your short reign as CEO in exchange for a front-row seat to the disaster seems fair. Plus if I’m wrong, which I’m not, I get rich. So I’m down with Dinesh.”
And the new crew gets almost immediately to work on their video conferencing app, with a new gung-ho leader who’s actually interested in the product they’re creating.
Building, Not Sustaining
Richard’s problem has always been that he’s a weirdo genius. He’s an amazing engineer and the rest of the crew has admitted many times that they can’t code like he can, but he has absolutely no social skills. This is what makes the show so fun to watch, but it also means thatany time he tries to steer the ship, it’s destined to smash into pieces against rocks he didn’t even see.
Richard finally realizes that in this episode, and breaks off from the new Pied Piper video chat direction (which Dinesh is excited about, since it’s his!) to do his very own thing – and that thing is to build a new internet using his algorithm. He doesn’t even know how this will work, so this should be interesting. Will he achieve an engineering miracle, only to fall back into the same self-defeating problems? Or will he finally give up the front-facing roles of the company to people that are actually good at it? We still have a whole season ahead of us to find out.
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