Silicon Valley Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Signaling Risk

This week’s Silicon Valley episode was an absolute laugh riot. It’s almost as if all the pieces were being moved closely to coalesce into this maniacal episode that leaves you bursting with laughter on several occasions. As the gang struggles to come up with a logo for the company after settling their name business in Episode 3, Jared begins to introduce some formalization to Pied Piper’s organizational culture, which appears to be loose enough to let anyone say whatever they want. And nearly all these subplots tick off, to great effect.

Much of the plot revolves around Erlich’s attempts to get a cool company logo designed from a hip, street graphic artist. The resulting logo turns out to be too graphic for everyone’s taste, but HBO’s R-rating means the nudity can be played out fully for hilarity. That Erlich ends up shelling $10,000 for the logo which eventually turns out to be what the guys cooked up inside their incubator is both hilarious and another satire at the crazy lengths to which Silicon Valley executives can indulge in. In the process, Bachman also fails miserably at identifying racism and frequently inquires whether he’s being racist, all the time at the wrong moments.

Another truly laugh-out sequence is Gavin Belson’s interaction with Big Head being marred by technical issues. Again, it’s one of those things that, while funny in its own right, becomes all the more hilarious if you’ve ever tried to set up a conference call in your corporate where network issues plague the interaction and prevent a smooth setup. In this case, it makes for some rip-roaring riotous humor as Gavin tries his advanced hologram system, then the downgraded Hooli chat, and finally the most basic phone call, only to face a problem in everyone. Absolute rib-tickling.

Silicon Valley S1E5 Scrum Agile Jared

A super-interesting subplot is Richard registering his company for TechCrunch Disrupt (nice real-world promotional tie-in there) forcing them to come up with something in 8 weeks. Not his fault though, since he put his name before they had secured funding from Gregory but fail to withdraw it. The result is Jared introducing the team to Scrum, one of the development methodologies in Agile Project Management where epics containing user stories containing tasks is used to structure the workload with sprints happening weekly or biweekly. That Judge uses it to highlight Gilfoyle and Dinesh’s rivalry is just brilliant writing and hilarious to the core; it’s such a strangely successful mash-up of tech and humor that you can’t help but smile in delight at the on-screen depiction of something you work on an almost daily basis.

It’s also nice to see the characters come out on their own, especially Jared. I still will never understand why he’d leave his cushiony job for a startup like Pied Piper despite his immense liking for their ideologies but Jared is really shaping up to be a valuable asset and one that has traits of a CMO and COO. Gilfoyle and Dinesh are slowly exhibiting their personalities and Erlich has become far less irritable in the last episode or two. There’s also a touching bit between Gavin Belson and Peter Gregory that builds upon last week’s reveal of their friendship, made all the more emotional by the realization that this is Christopher Evan Welch’s final episode (he passed away soon after).

It’s just phenomenal how well Silicon Valley captures the spirit of the tech world while managing to being accurate a lot of times. This is a show that entertains while partly educating as it navigates you through the labirynth of the complex minutae involved into setting up a startup. Instead of making it seem easy and something that happens overnight, Silicon Valley makes you understand how frustrating and difficult it is to build a million, billion dollar company. And that’s one of its most endearing qualities as well.

Silicon Valley Season 1 Episode 5 Rating: 10 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.