Silicon Valley season 5 is capitalizing on the most interesting aspect of the show: the question of where Richard Hendricks stands morally. The season premiered strong with an episode showing off his descent into villainy. This week’s episode showed how he can still be a well-intentioned underdog.
I found the reminder of the case for Richard as underdog who earnestly wants to improve things enjoyable. Unfortunately, in order to accomplish that, this episode occasionally exaggerated things to a cartoonish degree. Characters suddenly having absurd levels of public speaking anxiety works on episodic sitcoms. But, on a show like Silicon Valley, it stuck out that Richard was suddenly more awkward than he’s ever been.
The episode also turned on a completely unbelievable plot beat. Richard delivered a great speech to his employees that served as a reminder to the audience how genuine and noble his intentions are. Of course, since this is a satire, that had to be undercut in some way. But, the choice to have nearly all of his employees abruptly walk out made almost no sense. It was unclear why anyone would leave a pretty great job simply because the CEO is somewhat awkward at public speaking. And it was especially unclear why anyone would walk out at this particular moment.
Prior to that ridiculous turn, I enjoyed this episode a lot. Richard struggling to interact with others while wanting desperately to simply build his idea was a nice, back-to-basics plotline.
The subplot in which Bertram Gilfoyle tortured Dinesh Chugtai by riding around in a truly odd electric vehicle was great. It was a by-the-books Gilfoyle and Dinesh plot, but their shenanigans continue to be consistently enjoyable. Plus, it was satisfying and funny that Dinesh’s anger at Gilfoyle inadvertently led Jian Yang to his big decision to take over Erlich Bachman’s house and kick the guys out.