Silicon Valley Season 6 Episode 4 Review: Maximizing Alphaness

As with every concept it tackles, Silicon Valley presented its own twisted take on the alpha-male as Richard is forced to confront his ex-manager post their acquisition of his former company Hooli. It results in a fair bit of laughs and clever gags. But while the humor is sound, the episode also hands us an unexpectedly touching subplot when Jared lands up meeting his parents, resulting in some of the season’s strongest moments.

Richard’s struggle with alphaness is presented by disguising it as a bullying issue. With Pied Piper having acquired Hooli in an unimaginable turn of events (at least back when the show premiered), Richard’s ex-boss Ethan joins the firm as a competent, but prickly employee. His skill with handling tech and people means it’s difficult to fire him but he constantly gets on Richard’s nerves by bringing up embarrassing tidbits from his beginner past, essentially bullying the CEO of his new company.

It’s a tough spot for Richard to be in and Dinesh coming to the rescue isn’t enough to get him out of the pickle. Dinesh’s solution is also a neat satire at the countless online channels who preach values with the implication that merely watching the videos will turn your life over. Ethan holds a certain kind of power and dominance over Richard that goes beyond the two sharing an employee-CEO dynamic. It’s eventually resolved through a strangely unpredictable but quite satisfying development.

Silicon Valley S06E04 Alpha Richard

To prevent Ethan’s antics from hijacking the episode, everyone gets doled out subplots of their own. Monica gets a chance to attend a women centered conference around female entrepreneurs but ends up sabotaging the opportunity by handing over key responsibilities to a subordinate. It’s quite ironical how staying with Richard means his bad luck has begun rubbing in on her as well. Gavin’s subplot was perhaps the least interesting but his attempts at moving away from the tech world only for everyone to want anything but that from him induced some chuckles.

Undoubtedly, the most touching was Jared’s tryst with meeting his parents and the subsequent, cruel realization that his parents abandoned him despite having three more children. It’s the worst possible outcome he could’ve hoped for; sensing absolutely no regret or remorse in their eyes (okay, maybe a little but not enough) and going on with their family dinner, leaving poor Jared as the only one stranded when he could’ve easily grown up into a loving, caring household. As with most other things, Silicon Valley is subtle in depicting Jared’s heartbreak but it stings immensely to see him standing there, wondering what did he do wrong to deserve this fate. Between his emotional outburst this season and this, it looks like the writers are tying up some loose ends to put some of Jared’s weird antics into context.

As emotional as it was, there were some humorous bits to be found in another unlikely duo. Gilfoyle and John emerged as the show’s unlikely wild card as the duo share personality traits to the extent that you’d be forgiven for mistaking them as father and son. I mean, it would be quite something to see them actually turn out to be related somehow but John’s antics are so freakishly similar to Gilfoyle’s (and deliberately so on the writers’ part) that it makes for an engaging back-and-forth. Gilfoyle is being heavily challenged in Pied Piper, first by the HR and then by John and it looks like a recurring theme the writers are mining to great effect.

Overall then, this half-hour of Silicon Valley was a bit less impactful than previous outings but a fun one nonetheless. For a final season, it still doesn’t look like Mike Judge and team are headed toward any sort of reasonable conclusion. Still, it’s always entertaining to watch the techie crowd’s antics and the lack of humor was made up by an extra pinch of emotion thrown at us courtesy Jared’s storyline.

Silicon Valley Season 5 Episode 4 Rating: 8 out of 10