NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Silicon Valley” are present in this review
It’s the end of an era for Pied Piper during the third episode of Silicon Valley’s final season, as the company gets presented with a hell of an opportunity, in the wake of another apparent obstacle. “Hooli Smokes!” immediately begins on a very surprising note, as it comes out that Richard actually turned down Maximo’s $1 billion offer, against the odds. This not only creates a fresh obstacle in Maximo, who now has Colin and Laurie on his side, but also leads to Richard once again being at odds with Gavin, after Gavin refuses to help Richard out of his current predicament. Things once again look pretty bad for Pied Piper, but like I said, these obstacles eventually lead to a surprising opportunity, one that will change the status quo on this series forever!
“Hooli Smokes!” feels like it has to expedite some of its storytelling in order to achieve its endgame, and because of this, some of its turns feel a little too convenient, or inconvenient, depending on the scene. There’s also a somewhat interesting subplot with Dinesh that ends up falling shy of its potential, despite Dinesh playing his own part in saving Pied Piper, after Richard turns down Maximo’s initial offer. Because Maximo has poached Colin and now owns a huge chunk of Pied Piper shares however, Maximo can just keep buying any further shares that Pied Piper attempts to sell, putting him in a position to starve the company out, and prevent them from actually achieving any real profit.
This coalition of new foes is pretty hair-raising, as Richard’s former biggest asset now works for Maximo, while Laurie and YaoNet US are also providing their own competing network for Maximo to get his hands dirty with. Things look especially bleak after an otherwise heartwarming chat with Gavin as well, wherein Gavin refuses to help Richard on principle, despite his own big predicament with Hooli. There’s the rub though; Because Gavin torpedoed the worth of Hooli, and Maximo raised the price of Pied Piper so much with his initial offer, Pied Piper can now buy out all of Hooli, which would force Maximo to dump his shares. It’s a little bit technical, but the takeaway is obvious; Pied Piper is in a position to acquire their biggest rival, the same rival that they’ve had throughout this series’ entire run to date!
There’s even a pretty amusing story device layered into this core plot as well, namely involving Richard having to get Hooli’s new board of directors to sign off on the sale to Pied Piper, which Gavin can block, but only for two hours. Since Gavin is at a charity event doing a triathlon (which goes about as well as it sounds for Gavin), Richard and co. see this as the perfect opportunity to push the Hooli purchase through. Like I said though, there are a few contrivances put into place to make this turn happen. Easy conveniences like Gilfoyle somehow being able to tap into Gavin’s smartwatch, and forced obstacles like the Hooli board head insisting on in-person signings, all stink a bit of the script moving along in a somewhat contrived manner, from both sides. It’s tough to complain too much when the jokes are still funny and the story turnouts are still satisfying, but even so, the writing dipped a bit below Silicon Valley’s usual sublime standard in this case. At least Jared being a surprising ally makes sense though, after Richard’s initial talk with Gavin inadvertently leads to Gavin buying Gwart’s project, only to shut her down out of spite.
Dinesh also headlines a subplot of sorts, like I said, which ends up tying into the main storyline to decent effect. This kicks off when Dinesh realizes just how much money Richard denied him by turning down Maximo, which leads to Gilfoyle claiming that Dinesh has bad karma, and this is why bad things are happening to him. This seems all the more true when Dinesh is subsequently approached by his cousin Wajeed as well (remember him?), the former developer of the, “Bro” app from several seasons ago. Since Wajeed’s app ended up making him incredibly rich, Dinesh is forced to re-examine his own amoral standards and unchecked greed. That’s a funny idea, but Wajeed being relegated to being a mere plot device is a bummer. Not only that, but this subplot in general often felt like it barely affected the main storyline, or had any real payoff in general, at least outside of Wajeed being one cog in the machine of the Hooli purchase. It just feels like more could have been done with this storyline, especially since it leaves a lot of Dinesh/Gilfoyle bickering opportunities on the table.
All in all though, “Hooli Smokes!” still ended with an awesome result, as Pied Piper fully acquires Hooli and all of its remaining assets, while Gavin is once again seemingly tossed out on his ass. That’s a big shift from the show’s usual dynamic, with Pied Piper’s enemy now being absorbed into them, and Gavin appearing to be all but destroyed as an obstacle. Granted, Maximo is still a very clear and present threat, but the absorption of Hooli into Pied Piper is sure to be one of the defining story turns of Silicon Valley’s final season. I wish that this episode’s plotting was tighter, especially since the Hooli buyout ultimately ended up overshadowing every other bit of character development, but like I said, it’s tough to complain when the jokes are still really funny overall. Most of all though, I’m interested to see the next major test of Richard’s character, as he’s forced to take on whatever remains of Gavin’s paltry workforce, and hopefully embrace the opportunity to be a better boss than Gavin ever was.
- Richard surprisingly turning down the billion-dollar offer, at great expense
- Gavin being comically defiant to the end
- Pied Piper successfully acquiring Hooli
- Noticeable contrivances during the Hooli purchase proceedings
- Dinesh subplot feels under-utilized