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Josh Bids Farewell to Silicon Valley

I came to Silicon Valley late, first watching the show in 2017, around the time of its fourth season.  I loved it immediately, and I quickly caught up with those first four seasons.  I’m sad to see the show end, but I was pleased that this final seven-episode sixth season saw the show still in top comedic form, and I’m happy that the show-runners were allowed to end the series way they wanted.

After six top-notch seasons, I can certainly understand why the show-runners felt it was time to wrap things up.  I thought the show was still going strong in season five, but I could start to see the narrative wheel-spinning as the writers had to continually find ways to prevent the Pied Piper team from ever truly succeeding… but they also couldn’t ever be allowed to completely fail, because either outcome would mean the end of the show.  I don’t think this is a premise that could have continued for ten more seasons.  Six seasons feels right to me.

And so, with season six being the final season, the Pied Piper gang were allowed to both succeed and fail spectacularly.  The season begins with Pied Piper about as successful as we’ve ever seen them.  The company has grown to a huge size, with swanky offices, and Richard is called to testify before Congress about internet privacy.  It’s crazy to think the show has come so far that it’s plausible that Richard Hendricks could be called to testify before Congress!!  The idea of social-misfit Richard testifying before Congress is a beautifully genius idea, and the actual staging of that sequence didn’t disappoint.

In this final season, the show remained as funny as it ever was.  The escalating madness of Gilfoyle’s using a Gilfoyle A.I. (“Son of Anton”) to respond to Dinesh (which then winds up interacting with the Dinesh A.I. that Dinesh created) in the season premiere was as funny a story as the show has ever done.  And I howled with laughter during Richard’s episode-two confrontation with billionaire investor Maximo, during which birds continually keep ominously killing themselves by flying into Maximo’s huge window-wall.

I felt the show erred in making Richard a little too unlikable in seasons four and five, so I was pleased that pendulum thankfully swung back a little here in the final season.  This later-season Richard is still more conniving than I’d like to see, but I was glad they allowed Richard (Thomas Middleditch) to be endearingly funny again, whether that was tearing out the microphone from his table during the Congressional hearing in the season premiere or vomiting onto the plate-glass window of his office in episode three.

Long-suffering Jared (Zach Woods) got a great story this year when, feeling rejected by Richard, he decides to take on a new weird and broke computer genius to shepherd: the silent Gwart.  Every Jared-Gwart moment was gold.  Jared got a ton of terrific moments this season, such as his epic hysterical freak-out at Richard in episode two and his riding in to save the day (assisting with Pied Piper’s acquisition of Hooli) in episode three.  His passive-aggressive conflict with Richard’s new assistant Holden (which comes to a head in episode five) was fantastic, as was his encounter with his real birth parents in episode four, which was equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking!

I felt the show didn’t know what to do with Monica (Amanda Crew) for some of the middle seasons, so I was glad she was fully featured here in this final season.  I particularly enjoyed her competition with Gilfoyle in episode five as to who could get the most favorable ratings from the employees they were supervising.  She’s also fantastic in the moment in episode two when, bowled over by Maximo’s offer to invest a BILLION dollars in Pied Piper, she starts smoking two cigarettes at once.

Martin Star and Kumail Nanjiani remain comedic all-stars.  They’re both so brilliant that they elevate every scene they’re in.  Dinesh’s “courageous act of cowardice” in the finale was a particular delight.  (Mr. Nanjiani’s hilarious delivery of Dinesh’s long “No offense to me, but I am greedy and unreliable, bordering on piece of shit” monologue was spectacular.)  I also loved his monologue in episode three laying out so many of his previous misdeeds (“Did you know that instead of breaking up with a girl who scared me I called the FBI and sent her to prison?”).

Beyond the main team, I was pleased the secondary players all got fun stuff to do in the final season.  Matt Ross got lots of fun stuff to do as Gavin Belson.  Gavin is even funnier when he’s down and out than when he’s successful!  I loved the idea of Gavin as author (“Cold Ice Cream and Hot Kisses”) and also Gavin as tech ethics educator (sorry, I meant “Tethics”).  Helen Hong was terrific as Tracy, the unflappable Pied Piper Head of HR.  (I loved how she didn’t ever let Gilfoyle intimidate her!)

It was great to see Big Head (Josh Brener) again (his discovery of the origin of his nickname in the finale was a series-best moment for him — though his bumbling introduction to a student at Stanford, an institution of which he was somehow the president, came a close second).  I was happy to see Richard’s attorney Ron LaFlamme (Mad Men‘s Ben Feldman) again a few times.  And I can’t forget “fucking Gabe” and his ridiculous collapsable, wearable chair!

I really enjoyed the series finale, “Exit Event”.  I was surprised to see the show break format to present a faux documentary (in the style of The Office) set ten years after the events of the series, but I write enjoyed it!  Some of the old-age makeup was a little dodgy, but the whole thing was so much fun overall that I didn’t mind.  (And while, say, Gilfoyle looked ridiculous, the joke was that he looked ridiculous, so it worked!)  The flash-forward flash-back structure allowed the episode to look back on the show as a whole while also allowing us to see where these characters would wind up.  That was very effective.

I was wondering throughout this final season how the show would conclude.  Would our characters finally be allowed to succeed, or would they be left as the struggling near-failures they’d been for most of the series?  I was pleased they found a way, in the end, to allow them to sort of be both.  The idea that, somehow, the compression algorithm Richard created way back at the start of the show — the event that set this whole series in motion — was so good that it was bad was a great tragi-comic idea, and a wonderful way to come full circle here at the end.

Also: I loved that the Pied Piper became literal during the catastrophe with the rats.  Brilliant!!

It was sad the characters split up after the events told in flashback during the finale, but it feels correct that they wouldn’t stay together.  (Except, in a wonderful twist, for bickering rivals Gilfoyle and Dinesh.  Perfect.)  I was happy to see the glimpses of where the supporting characters ended up as well, with Laurie in prison (though we never found out for what!), Gavin as a wealthy author of romance novels (which he co-writes with Denpok!), and Russ having back his fortune by investing in hair transplants.  (I also loved seeing that the basement data-center guy John still works with Gilfoyle.  That was a sweet surprise!)  The finale teased a cameo return appearance by T.J. Miller, but I didn’t need that, so I was OK the show didn’t wind up going there.  (The suggestion that Jian-Yang found and possibly murdered Erlich, so he could impersonate him in secret, is so dark!!)

Silicon Valley has been a consistently entertaining, very funny show with a terrific cast.  I’ve been very impressed by these six, very consistent, always solid seasons.  I’m going to miss this show!

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