Silicon Valley finally frees its characters from the shackles of the incubator as the gang heads out to confront their accidental submission to the Valley’s largest startup battlefield: Techcrunch Disrupt. We see the gang intermingle with others in fun, hilarious and unexpected ways as they try their best to focus on the presentation at hand. Unfortunately, Erlich’s misadventures in the past threaten to kick the group out before they even get a fair shot.
The event itself provides a great opportunity for the gang and for us to see what’s happening in the Valley. Showrunner Mike Judge pokes plenty of fun at the self-referential culture with some ludicrous, redundant apps and all the bustling and hustling makes the area come alive. It’s funny to see Jared’s struggles with helping the team once outside their comfort zone, what with Monica ensuring that every need is taken care of well in advance and in a better way. It causes an emotional outbust from Jared later on that’s at once touching but also downright amusing.
As we learn who the judges are, Erlich discovers he’s slept with his wife in the past, complicating matters further. This leads into a hilarious subplot where Erlich confronts the judge’s wife with a twist; this particular plot also ends up closing out the episode in literally its final seconds. For once, Erlich is less obnoxious as the episode progresses and actually grows into a somewhat endearing and quite useful character, as he takes over presenting duties from a highly distracted Richard.
Richard meanwhile comes into contact with an ex-crush he was obsessed about and that’s played for a few laughs, but not as much. More amusing is the continued rivalry between Dinesh and Gilfoyle with both ending up helping a girl with Java code; Dinesh’s subsequent attraction is laugh-out-loud hilarious for its reasoning. It’s telling how starved the guys in Palo Alto are for women when statistics like a bump in the percentage of women from 2% to 15% or the presence of 12 women in a huge party make heads turn.
The best bit is the montage of startup presentations, all launching a myriad of duplicate apps that pledge to make the world a better place. It’s Mike Judge writing heavy satire on the Valley culture where every other app has to push a global agenda, regardless of its importance. One of the contestants actually presents an app that’s downright harmful to humans, yet is living in plausible deniability, refusing to see the fault in the service.
Hooli unexpectedly steals the show by reverse-engineering Richard’s algorithm and building a suite of services on top of it, putting the team into a tough spot. I must admit, despite Hooli’s relative incompetence, Gavin Belson makes for an impressive showman as he delivers a compelling presentation carefully orchestrated by his company’s marketing team. It’s also a good question of how these startup guys are to compete with the big heavyweights when their core competence, the algorithm, is no longer proprietary and exclusive.
Silicon Valley delivers a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining penultimate outing setting the stage for the Techcrunch Disrupt finale. The use of a real world event integrated seamlessly into the show lends it a level of authenticity not found in other shows of this caliber. The sharp writing, excelleng direction and strong production values for a show of this nature help Silicon Valley score its second perfect run in the eyes of this reviewer.
Silicon Valley Season 1 Episode 7 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.