NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Silicon Valley” are present in this review
Silicon Valley finally seemed to be regaining its footing last week, and fortunately, this week’s season finale, “The Uptick” also didn’t disappoint. Pied Piper is yet again facing imminent destruction, and sure enough, it didn’t take very long for Richard to find out about Jared’s well-meaning deception. It just wasn’t enough in the end though, as Pied Piper’s integrated platform still looks to be a failure, and likely signals the death of the company.
Fortunately, despite the grim circumstances surrounding Pied Piper, there was still plenty of lovable humour throughout this episode, starting with a funny opener where the elephant that Gavin commissioned last week dies, and Gavin dumps it in the California Bay. When Patrice speaks out against this, Gavin fires her, and this gets him on the radar of CJ, who smells a pretty great headline. Gavin trying to bury the situation by buying out CJ’s blog inadvertently lands Erlich a $2 million settlement, putting him back on the map, and once again ready to save the company. It was a surprisingly clever way to work into the core story what’s otherwise a hilariously ridiculous cold opener.
Erlich immediately gets to work as well, teasing others in the tech industry about an ace-in-the-hole, even if it’s a bluff. Of course, everyone at Pied Piper itself now knows that the uptick in users was faked, which was humourously displayed when Dinesh and Gilfoyle try to present Richard with a zombie drive that can help mask the faked users. Erlich is also all for this plan, especially when he finds a new funder for Pied Piper’s platform, and all Richard has to do is sign the documents.
Unfortunately, this was the only point where the episode’s fun factor was disturbed a bit. The episode had to strain to get Richard out of what looked to be a surefire path to success, by having Richard realize that masking the faked users is fraud, then constantly whine about it. There’s a nugget of an interesting idea here, as Richard must debate bending the law to save his company, but in the end, all it amounts to is a bunch of moping and complaining about what’s honestly a pretty remote consequence. Yes, it is technically fraud, but if Richard used the zombie drive, the fraud would be untraceable, and Erlich is right when he says that the company could have fixed the situation down the line. Hell, Richard was perfectly alright with starting a skunkworks movement under Jack Barker’s nose, an arguably worse offense, so why is he all of a sudden drawing the line at astroturfing users? In a way, when Richard inevitably refuses to sign the terms of the new funders, he sort of comes off as an idiot, on top of irreversibly damaging his relationship with Erlich, or so it appears.
The fallout from Richard’s drama was a bit better than the deliberation itself, thankfully, as Laurie forces a sell of Pied Piper, not wanting to be associated with the fraud attempt that Richard blurted out, and it originally looks like they’re going to land on the lap of Hooli, with Gavin eager to acquire the company, and then destroy it out of spite. It honestly looks like Gavin is the highest and only bidder at first, though when the actual sale is held, and Monica vainly puts up a fight, only to be removed from the board, the sale goes through. Surprisingly though, the highest bidder wasn’t Gavin, but Erlich and Big Head, who revived their Bachmanity partnership, and became the new owners of Pied Piper, for bidding $1,000,001 dollars, just one dollar more than Gavin’s former bid. The clever joke of Laurie merely referring to the buyer as, “Contemptible”, and everyone assuming that she meant Gavin, not Erlich, was a brilliant way to mask this big save.
Gavin and Hooli thus ultimately ended up being a little inconsequential in the end, with their big box movement reserved for next season it seems, but the way that Silicon Valley set up big promise for Season Four next year with this new direction was pretty satisfying. Dinesh’s video chat app taking off in lieu of the integrated platform marks an interesting shift for the company, as does Erlich and Big Head in leadership roles. Even Monica looks to be officially part of Pied Piper now, with Laurie seemingly firing her, possibly setting her up as the replacement for Erlich’s former Head of PR position next season. Even Erlich’s highly aggressive reprimand and disowning of Richard is humourously forgotten about in the very next scene, since Erlich gets high, and appears to immediately forgive Richard, as Pied Piper prepares to forge on. This is a very happy ending that feels even more satisfying than Season Two’s especially gloomy conclusion last year, and as with the other happier moments throughout Season Three, it’s nice to see these guys just get a win with no strings attached, even if it’s bound not to last forever.
Silicon Valley thus concludes Season Three with a lot of anticipation for next season in 2017, ultimately delivering a season finale with plenty of surprises and good fun. The show seemed to shed a bit of laughs a few weeks ago, but fortunately, it found them again for the season’s climax, as Pied Piper yet again manages to defy the odds, and yet again finds itself moving in an entirely new direction. The integrated platform may have ended up flopping, and this may have put Gavin and Jack in the necessary position to prove Jack right about the box idea, but it all represents plenty to look forward to next year, as Pied Piper will face yet more ups and downs in finding their niche in the tech circuit. Hopefully, Dinesh being the catalyst for the new direction doesn’t turn out to be a bad omen though!
- Richard doing the right thing, and somehow squeaking by again
- Erlich's clever maneuvering, even in the midst of fraud
- Satisfying new direction and management for Pied Piper at the end
- Some of Richard's griping about the click farm is tedious