Silicon Valley Review: “Grow Fast or Die Slow”
After last week’s plot and the thematically heavy season opener, Silicon Valley returned to its bread and butter of irreverent but rooted-in-reality comedic hijinks. From Al Gore to office politics, Silicon Valley’s second episode didn’t hold any punches, with most if not all landing even if they weren’t swung with much grace.
The episode starts with the long-running rivalry between Dinesh and Gilfoyle cranked up a notch as opposed to past seasons, with both having a bit more security given Pied Piper’s recent success. Their fight for the reserved parking spot for electric vehicles at the office feels like a perfectly executed precursor to the rise of electric vehicles. It accurately dismantles the mentality of many people who have ridden the hype train around electric vehicles without being negative of the movement as a whole.
The main plot revolves around Richard’s continued trouble at playing the role of a leader for Pied Piper. Ultimately this leads to some enjoyable comedic setups for the episode but doesn’t quite pan out into anything the show hasn’t tackled in some capacity before. The biggest reason for this seems to be the writers’ unwillingness to allow Jared to step up and take on a larger role within the company, which seems odd given how the funniest lines of each episode seem to come from Jared. He’s a delightful foil for Richard, and it’s a shame viewers don’t get to see Richard and Jared succeed against hilarious odds more often. Rather, it’s usually Jared or Richard cleaning up one another's mess that feels out of character for all we’ve seen the duo go through in the last four seasons.
Jian Yang’s subplot also continues to play a much larger role in the absence of TJ Miller’s Erlich Bachman, with Yang successfully gaining the rights to Bachman’s estate after fabricating Bachman’s death. While Yang’s lack of character development and one-dimensional nature makes these antics feel less smart than some of the other jokes on the show, the subplot has quickly moved itself along fast enough to put Yang in a position where that’s possible.
The show continues to be at its smartest when Gavin Belson is on the screen. While his subplot in the episode is completely inconsequential to the show as a whole, the way his character is used to deconstruct billionaire CEOs is hysterical. The fact that the show can make a character get so upset about his signature not appearing on a product that he hires Banksy to design his signature, but then gets angry for Banksy wanting his own signature to be under Gavin’s, and still feel believable for the character is astounding.
Where the show is beginning to fall short is that it doesn’t give viewers enough moments like this to laugh at. It’s focusing on situations that are too small scale for the intelligence of its comedy. The infighting and stupid mistakes of the protagonists made sense when they were still a startup in a living room. Viewers are ready to move on from this now. They want to see the protagonists tackle bigger and sillier charactertures of figures of the tech world. Sure, it’s relatable to see Richard have to juggle the desires of all his different employees, but he’s designing a feasible (in the reality of the show) alternative to the internet that would change society as we know it. It’s odd the show is so afraid to up the ante with its comedy when it has with its plot.
Still, the show remains more enjoyable than pretty much any other sitcom currently on the air. It seems the show continues to put small pieces into place for larger and funnier situations down the line, and seeing those small pieces fall into place is some of the funniest television you can find in 2018.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email email@example.com.