NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Silicon Valley” are present in this review
Silicon Valley is building upon a very interesting pivot for Pied Piper this week, as Richard goes to the estate of Gavin Belson to personally beg for a license to Gavin’s patent on his unified internet pitch. “Teambuilding Exercise” moved each of the lead characters further into new working arrangements in that regard, resulting in another mostly strong episode, even if it did mean that the show had to backtrack on a couple more developments, which it sometimes has an annoying habit of doing when it suddenly gets a better story idea.
Despite being initially hesitant to let Richard in on his patent, Gavin is eventually swayed to go into business with Richard, after Richard demonstrates how he can realize Peter Gregory’s aborted idea with smartphones. This puts the two into recruitment mode, as they start trying to build a ‘new’ Pied Piper together. It’s very interesting to see such a bitter foe of the company suddenly become its greatest ally, though fortunately, this also didn’t come at the expense of the unhinged Gavin Belson that we know and love. Richard walking into a mansion where Gavin has destroyed most of his belongings in a fit of off-screen rage is great proof of that. The two both getting to stick it to Jack Barker and Hooli is further icing on the cake too!
Meanwhile, Erlich, Jian-Yang, Monica, Dinesh and Gilfoyle are all back at Erlich’s place to go over the proposed ‘Seefood’ app, while Big Head continues to give phony lectures at Stanford. After it hilariously comes out that Jian-Yang’s app only recognizes hot dogs, and foods that are not hot dogs though, Erlich tries to order him to dig for pictures of every conceivable food in existence from the internet. The two inevitably butt heads on a new level, as Jian-Yang tries to say it’s boring, and subsequently refuses to do the work. Jian-Yang even spends the rest of the Raviga funding on an expensive and douche-y new Corvette, backing both Erlich and Monica into a corner, and seemingly destroying Seefood before it even gets off the ground.
As one last-ditch effort to resurrect the app, Erlich tries to get Big Head’s students to find the food pictures for him, which Big Head seems to be oblivious to, after simply screening various loose tech-related movies to the class he’s supposed to be lecturing for. When the students find Erlich’s speaking to Big Head objectionable though, they learn who he is, and pull competing funding to build their own food identification app, further obliterating Seefood before it even properly launches. This was one of the more notable annoying story pivots in the episode, since the Seefood app seemed like it had a lot of comedic potential that Silicon Valley just didn’t bother to tap. Maybe it will still be an interesting concept for this new third party to wield against the show’s protagonists, though for now, it’s the latest false start for another story idea that was never truly allowed to gel, before the show awkwardly pushes it aside.
That said though, the domino effect of events that lead to a continued increased role for Jian-Yang on Silicon Valley generally worked very well. Even though Jian-Yang’s actions should have had major consequences, especially with Erlich cashing out, he instead fumbled his way into another big opportunity, Big Head-style, which was very funny to see. After Jian-Yang tries and fails to get a job with Richard and Gavin, he takes another job interview with Periscope, where he gets a huge funding offer on the revolutionary examining technology that he accidentally created with Seefood. Upon Erlich facetiously taking a picture of his penis to mock Jian-Yang’s hot dog app though, he discovers that the examining app can be used to identify penis pictures on Periscope, which Raviga is all too happy to back for him. The best part of this storyline is how it ended with surprising karmic consequences for Monica and Erlich as well, as the investor that Monica tried to manipulate ends up getting credit for Jian-Yang’s technology, along with a promotion, while Erlich ends up stuck outside of a huge payday, with Jian-Yang’s ill-advised Corvette purchase. Those were some surprising (and funny!) consequences for both of them!
Surprisingly, there was only so much time dedicated to the recruitment effort by Richard and Gavin, with this story arc feeling like it was somewhat positioned in the background, while Jian-Yang’s app took up a bit more focus in the overall plot. Still, Jared taking a job with Richard to keep watch over him while he’s working with Gavin was a predictable turn that I’m surprised took this long to execute, even if Gilfoyle wanting a job, and being too proud to ask for it, still led to a lot of funny, passive-aggressive scribblings over other potential resumes. Gilfoyle eventually makes it seem like he’s doing Richard a favour by taking the job however, so that he and Gavin don’t, “Screw up good technology”, and Dinesh even gets some humourous consequences here as well, after staying with Jian-Yang’s new examiner technology. Someone needs to find and identify all of those penis pictures, after all, and that’s none other than Dinesh, who ended up with an even worse version of Jian-Yang’s original thankless Seefood job, while Gilfoyle mocks him for having to look at penises all day for at least a year. Even as the stooge he normally is, you really have to feel terribly for Dinesh there. I wonder what Mia is going to say about that!
Speaking of Mia, there was another subplot of sorts with Dinesh and Gifoyle in relation to Mia, even though it largely felt like filler material, whereupon Gilfoyle starts becoming suspicious that Mia is tapping the house. Even then though, there were too many other funny and surprising developments going on in, “Teambuilding Exercise” to take much notice of this. The humour was great as ever in this latest episode of Silicon Valley however, even if Jian-Yang’s new Seefood app felt like it was scrapped a little too quickly. Nonetheless, there might still be plenty of potential to mine from the underlying examiner technology, especially with the core group of protagonists now having a more even split between Richard’s new internet idea, and Jian-Yang’s Periscope effort. I’m just happy that Jian-Yang is still becoming a larger part of the core ensemble, even if I doubt that Dinesh would agree with me at this point!
- Gavin proving to be a surprisingly helpful ally to Richard
- New, clever sequence of beneficial events for Jian-Yang
- Humourous karmic consequences for Monica, Erlich and Dinesh
- Seefood app is abandoned a little too quickly
- Mia subplot feels undercooked