Silicon Valley is back. Well, not for me technically, since I’m binge watching anyway. But the HBO comedy centered around the famed tech valley returns in Season 2 to carry forward its startup premise, as new threats and challenges emerge. And in the process, the show gives a touching farewell to an actor who played a beloved character, delivering a quirky, eccentric performance in few short notes, making it his own.
Undoubtedly, the episode’s talking point is Peter Gregory and how the showrunners send him with an off-screen death. Having said that, they do mine Gregory’s demise to its fullest with an assortment of jokes built around the reveal of how he died. The real deal though occurs at the end when he gets a touching farewell / tribute comprising of a few CEOs and entrepreneurs speaking out more about their companies than Gregory. And boy was it something to see Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel cameo in this scene.
Perhaps the best bit comes from Gavin Belson who, we know from a behind the scenes look at him, is a shrewd businessman. And yet, to see his human side come up and deliver a heartfelt speech reminiscing about his friendship with Peter Gregory while putting rivalry aside for a brief moment; there’s no way you wouldn’t buy that as a viewer. So when Richard Hendricks remarks he’s a human after all, it resonates pretty hard. Personally, his speech was one of the best bits in the episode, because it felt real, like an actor paying a tribute to another actor instead of someone reciting their lines from a script.
With Pied Piper having won Techcrunch Disrupt, it’s now time to fundraise and start a company. Enter the first round, also called Series A. Richard and Erlich quickly realize that they’re in the driver’s seat, which means instead of being afraid of VCs, they can “negate the negg”. Or in other words, act as if they don’t care about the money and sh*t all over the presentation and the investors will come running with their money. It’s similar to the psychology of teens being attracted to people who ignore them entirely. For the most part, it works until Monica advises Richard something to the contrary.
A lot of the side-plots got a bit subdued in favor of giving Richard and Monica some screen time, as well as giving Peter Gregory his due farewell. Also introduced as Peter’s replacement is Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream, who comes across as a female Peter Gregory with her own set of traits that border as much on eccentric and bizarre as Gregory’s did. Clearly, she was meant to fill in the void left by Christopher Evan Velch and his strangely winning performance and if her scenes are any indication, she should be every bit as succcesful in accomplishing that.
Richard and Erlich going all over seeking VC money provides for some fairly hilarious set pieces, and it’s awkwardly funny to see Richard struggle at coming across as rude when he deliberately wants to. On the good side, Amanda Crew gets a lot more focus as Monica, after being largely ignored on the first season. The other characters are delegated to the backseat, since there’s only so much a 30-minute episode can handle. Regardless, it handles it pretty well and I’m looking forward to see what challenges await our nerd gang this season.
Silicon Valley Season 2 Episode 1 Rating: 8.5 out of 10
I’m doing individual episode reviews of HBO’s Silicon Valley in light of the upcoming final Season 6. While I’ve seen Seasons 1-4 before, I’m still writing with a fresh perspective, keeping references to future episodes down to a minimum.