NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Silicon Valley” are present in this review
I guess I should have known better than to fully count Gavin out. While there’s probably not enough runway left in Silicon Valley to present another serious chance at definitively ruining Richard’s dreams, Gavin once again manages to crawl out from obscurity and defeat in, “Tethics”, by introducing a toothless PR pledge to improve responsibility in the tech industry. Naturally, this greatly upsets Richard, who keeps trying to convince everyone that Gavin is a hypocrite. At the same time, Dinesh takes a trip to Hawaii, in probably the most significant storyline he’s had all season so far, while Gilfoyle and Monica get some surprising results from their latest performance reviews.
After the rather messy, overstuffed narrative of the previous episode, “Tethics” thankfully tightens the storytelling a bit, even if there’s still a storyline or two that ends up getting lost in the shuffle. Dinesh in particular gets short-changed here, despite finally getting something of actual worth to do for the first time all season. There’s kind of a funny idea explored, wherein annoying employee, Gabe ends up being stuck on the trip to Hawaii with Dinesh, gradually stealing all of Dinesh’s incentives, which eventually culminates in a jealous Dinesh giving himself a violent allergic reaction from a lei. This subplot is a little funny, but it’s ultimately another under-utilized Dinesh storyline that isn’t really able to fully flesh out the good joke behind it. Dinesh even spends the final seconds of the episode in the desert with the other leads, albeit with a hat and sunglasses, making one wonder why the show even bothered to make him sensitive to sunlight after his reaction.
Why is everyone in the desert? Well, that’s thanks to Russ Hanneman, who once again returns in this episode, eager to present an exciting new pitch to Pied Piper; Russfest! The idea behind Russfest is for Russ to essentially throw a giant charity celebration through which to make rich people look good, primarily himself. Russ wants Pied Piper to do the online setup for the event, but naturally, Richard refuses, much to Russ’s frustration. This ends up coming back around at the end of the episode though, when Pied Piper are naturally forced to go along with Russ’s crazy idea, after Gavin once again backs them into a corner. I guess Gavin had some fight left in him after all, even after his entire company has since been absorbed into Pied Piper.
I also have to admit that it’s very funny to see Richard yet again be the instrument of his own misery here. Richard’s not technically wrong when he says that Gavin is a fraud, and doesn’t truly care about better ethics in tech, but his aggressive desire to prove it only ends up creating a swath of problems for Pied Piper. After a humourous Twitter gaffe regarding Gavin makes Richard a laughingstock in front of AT&T, who want to partner with Pied Piper to launch PiperNet, Richard starts becoming determined to disprove Gavin’s intentions. With some help from Jared (I guess he’s just hanging around Pied Piper again for some reason?), Richard does indeed find out that Gavin plagiarized his entire pledge from various food and pharmaceutical company pledges as well, giving him all the ammunition he needs to publicly out Gavin as a fraud at the coming, “Tethics” rally!
This was a storyline that once again had Silicon Valley working at top form, as it came together in a beautifully hilarious and karmic payoff for Richard. After Richard reveals to Gavin, shortly before Pied Piper’s, “Tethics” pledge, that he knows Gavin plagiarized his entire mission statement (and apparently even his recently-published book!), Gavin gets up on stage and falls on his sword, admitting that he’s a fraud, and that his tenure at Hooli was full of corruption and dishonesty. This initially has Richard believing that Gavin has admitted defeat, but in reality, Gavin has forced an investigation on Pied Piper, by forcing an investigation on Hooli. This not only prevents Pied Piper from acquiring any further personnel or assets from Hooli until the investigation is finished, but also leaves Richard on the hook for any fines that are incurred during the investigation. It’s a wonderful payoff to Richard once again letting his insecurity and self-interest get the better of him, which in turn forces Pied Piper to take part in Russfest, in order to salvage their new internet launch.
Finally, the Gilfoyle/Monica subplot in this episode also ended up being pretty strong, even though it was another subplot that was almost entirely presented for silly laughs. After Tracy calls Gilfoyle into the HR office, in order to discuss his outstanding work results, but terrible people skills, Monica is surprised to learn at the same meeting that she also has poor interpersonal feedback from various Pied Piper employees. This leads to a bet between Gilfoyle and Monica to see who can turn their employee score around faster, which Gilfoyle ends up winning, after he uses, “Social engineering” to manipulate people into liking him more. This is a humourous defeat for Monica, but it ends in an even better payoff, when Gilfoyle suggests hacking the PiperPulse HR program to make it look like Tracy has poor PR scores, which of course, they do. This leads to a panicked Tracy scrapping the PiperPulse program entirely, resulting in a very satisfying comedic team-up between Gilfoyle and Monica, two characters that really don’t seem to go together, but did nonetheless find a way to team up with a highly humourous payoff in this case!
Gavin’s latest clever ploy has once again left Pied Piper facing a massive obstacle over Silicon Valley’s final two episodes to come though, and that’s currently the biggest concern among all of the lead characters. It’s fitting however that Richard’s vague egomania would yet again leave Pied Piper under threat of destruction, and I’d expect nothing less than the same old dilemma for Richard, which he just seems to keep bringing down on his and his employees’ heads. “Tethics” still couldn’t quite juggle all of its story ideas, with Dinesh and Jared in particular getting shafted amid more interesting and funnier developments, namely between Richard’s core plot, and the Gilfoyle/Monica subplot, though it did manage to be a noticeably better episode than the previous one. I’m starting to wonder how Silicon Valley is supposed to wrap up most of its ongoing antagonist arcs, when Gavin has once again seemingly put Pied Piper on the chopping block single-handedly, even in virtual defeat, but I suppose that the presence of Russ Hanneman will nonetheless ensure that the final decisive fight for Pied Piper will at least be very memorable, and likely very colourful!
- Richard's arrogance once again provoking Gavin in a big way
- Russ being the begrudging lifeline for Richard, again
- Funny performance review subplot with Gilfoyle and Monica
- Dinesh subplot feels undercooked
- What exactly is Jared doing at Pied Piper?