Silicon Valley Season 6 Episode 6 Review: RussFest
Silicon Valley roars in its penultimate outing, evoking memories of older episodes.
Remember the relentless, chaotic struggle of our gang of coders as they grappled with and dodged one tech snag after another in episodes that continuously peaked with tension? Those were the days of Seasons 1 and 2. With its penultimate episode RussFest, Silicon Valley attempts to bring back memories of those sequences where Murphy’s Law was in full effect and everything that could go wrong, does.
The premise is straightforward: Pied Piper ties up with Russ Hanneman to run his elaborate, exaggerated and extremely vile fest. Everything is digitized, with the authentications and transactions supported by Pied Piper’s infrastructure of a decentralized internet. CEO Richard Hendricks would rather side with AT&T but after the tech giant ditched them for a partnership with Yaonet, Jian Yang’s chinese rip-off of Richard’s concept, it becomes as much a battle between egos as it is a battle of wits.
But where Russ is involved, things can never be truly straightforward. There are numerous ups and downs in the episode in true Silicon Valley style and every time you’re taken in for a ride when you believe our gang has lost or won. The sequence of events is quite tightly scripted as one event leads to the next. As usual, the showrunners are spot-on with their depiction of tech, having Richard and co use SSH-key based authentication to break into Yaonet’s network and consequently realizing that their concept isn’t built to support scale.
Not all storylines mesh as seamlessly however. Gwart for instance, still comes across as a stretched subplot forced into the main narrative even as she eventually does reciprocate Jared’s please for help, playing a vital role. Even the usually absent Big Head displays a surprisingly uncanny ability of memorizing long strings of numbers which is how Richard and his team get the SSH key. And Richard’s frustration and exasperation at being told his system will never scale and they’ve wasted 6 years on it is almost as depressing as his excitement over using Gilfoyle’s AI to rewrite some of Pied Piper’s code to support that scale is. It’s all of course a bit of a stretch but the convincing writing both in the present and past means you buy into all of that.
Chris Diamantopoulus returns as the eccentric “billionaire” and while I’m a little perplexed that of all the people, he would end up being handed the series’ second-to-last episode, he’s still in top-form as the character he essayed beginning in Season 2. Even more surprising is that Matt Ross who plays Gavin Belson would direct this episode when he conveniently dropped Richard in a bucket full of trouble-soup in the last episode Tethics. Everyone else gets to shine in sequences devoted to them although the episode sticks to a core central plot this time around. The only deviation is the skirmish between Monica and Jian-Yang which is funny and weird as hell to watch.
At this point, it goes without saying I’m both incredibly excited and saddened for the final episode. While it’s great to see the show will mostly be ending on a high rather than stooping to unbearable lows, it’s going to be awful seeing these characters fade. Whatever fate Mike Judge and his team have planned for Pied Piper, the sheer amount of failings they’ve gone through has made me really want to root for them in the series finale. For what it’s worth, I hope these guys succeed and I desperately want them to, although knowing Judge’s penchant for making you believe in a happy ending only to drive a knife and twist it makes me wonder if that’s how it will end.
Either ways, we’ll find out in a few hours. My review of this episode is late by almost a week which means there’s barely enough time left now for the finale to premiere. But let’s hope Silicon Valley goes out with a bang and leaves us with a smile or tear or two to process.