NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Silicon Valley” are present in this review
Silicon Valley created some inspired fresh obstacles for the Pied Piper team this week, in the wake of Gavin Belson departing to find himself. “Customer Service” was all about Richard and co. trying to push forward Richard’s new internet idea without the resources and business savvy of Gavin, made all the more difficult by the fact that no seeding firm in the city remains willing to give Pied Piper a chance on any of their pitches.
This is also timed to coincide with Monica and Laurie beginning the first phase of launching their new firm, with their split from Raviga apparently happening entirely off-screen. This is a bit disappointing, since obstacles like Ed Chen, Laurie’s saboteurs and other such Raviga obstacles are ultimately swept completely under the rug, not to mention that it probably would have been pretty funny to see exactly how Monica and Laurie ended up severing ties with their former firm. There’s also a quick throwaway excuse used to explain why Monica and Laurie didn’t seed Richard’s new internet idea, plus another excuse for why Russ Hanneman wasn’t willing to seed it either, and neither of them felt terribly satisfying.
This slight story stretch thankfully didn’t disturb what was still a pretty great episode of Silicon Valley overall though, as a core plot provides a superb throwback to the first season of the show, while an amusing subplot unfolds in the latest turn for the legendary Dinesh/Gilfoyle rivalry. Erlich also floats around various storylines in this episode, as characters start commenting that Erlich needs to find something else to do. This idea of Erlich needing to find another venture, which is teased when his bad attitude inadvertently leads to him making an influential friend in an up-and-coming VR wunderkind (seemingly a fictional rendition of Oculus’ real-life founder, Palmer Luckey), seems to be in place to start setting up T.J. Miller’s exit from the show after this season. It will be sad to see him go, but hopefully, this reasoning for Erlich leaving will provide some great climactic laughs for his character throughout this season’s remaining handful of episodes.
Before Erlich is trying to woo Monica and Laurie with his new VR buddy however (disappointingly, Jian-Yang almost entirely sits this episode out once again, beyond a quick cameo at the start), he’s assisting Richard with pitching his technology directly to potential customers, rather than seed funders. After the two inevitably botch several meetings (mostly due to them failing to disclose that Gavin Belson has left their company), they finally find an audience with a kindly woman that appears to help manage a successful business venture. The only issue is when she has to call in her fiance and company CTO to make sure that Richard’s and Erlich’s pitch is on the level, and said fiance and CTO is none other than Dan Melcher! Remember him from Techcrunch Disrupt, way back during the climax of Season One? Yeah, needless to say, Dan isn’t too happy to see Erlich.
This further highlights Erlich’s place on the series diminishing, no doubt intentionally, due to T.J. Miller’s days on this show now being numbered, namely as Richard tells Erlich to sit out the evaluation portion of the deal-making phase, to avoid Erlich hooking up with the woman, and screwing Pied Piper over again. This seemingly has Richard in the clear to secure a straightforward evaluation for his new compression technology, but surprisingly, the show hilariously has Richard end up seduced by Dan’s fiancee instead, after she mistakes his pitch for an examination of her nuptial insecurity. This was a really funny and inspired way to bring Richard down to Erlich’s level, since he has to keep this dirty secret from Dan, even as Dan’s fiancee later tells Richard that the sex was awful, and if anything, he did her a favour by dispelling her marriage insecurities. I’m not sure if Dan will see it that way, but with the episode ending as Richard must share an elevator with Dan, it will be interesting to see how this accidental hook-up inevitably comes back to haunt Richard later.
This just leaves the subplot with Dinesh, Gilfoyle and Jared, which nicely rounded out another funny and entertaining episode of Silicon Valley. After Dinesh and Gilfoyle try to perform a data conversion test for Richard, the two find out that they accidentally swapped the data on each other’s phones, meaning that they can see all of each other’s incriminating personal information. This subplot basically amounted to pure joke fodder, but it was often when the episode was at its funniest, as Dinesh and Gilfoyle inevitably end up trying to exacerbate each other’s likely embarrassment at the idea of the other person snooping through their phone history, while Jared is inevitably caught in the middle. The psychological warfare between the two ending in them both destroying each other’s phones was fantastically funny as well, and nicely leaves what may have been briefly accessible to both rivals fittingly up to the viewer’s imagination.
Silicon Valley continues to stay reliably strong in this week’s episode, even when having to pick up the pieces from Gavin’s sudden departure, while also having to prepare for Erlich’s imminent departure. Pied Piper being forced into working with Dan Melcher had to result from some contrivances, especially when even Monica and Laurie refuse to fund Richard’s revolutionary technology for no real reason (I get that it’s a risky investment, but surely, they have more than enough reason to recognize Richard’s programming skills by now?), but the show does seem to be doing a solid job of laying out an exit path for Erlich, while also rounding out the holes with an especially funny new psychological battle between Dinesh and Gilfoyle. Now that both Richard and Erlich seem to have their professional ducks in a row once again, even without Gavin around, it will be amusing to see just how their latest challenge will put them to the test again, especially when we know that, whatever happens with Erlich, it will probably have more consequences for him, since we now know for sure that he won’t be back next season.
- Erlich starting to realize his need to move on
- Richard having to realize that he's no better than Erlich
- Hilarious privacy battle between Dinesh and Gilfoyle
- Some story contrivances in forcing Pied Piper to work with Dan Melcher
- Laurie and Monica quitting Raviga off-screen is a let-down