The general consensus on this newest season of the hit HBO comedy series “Silicon Valley” is that this was perhaps the weakest season, but compensated with an incredibly satisfying conclusion. For the most part, it sticks with the same patterns of the first four seasons. The characters have victories and setbacks in equal measure, inching toward making their dreams for Pied Piper a reality. However, after four seasons of making mistakes, it seems like the characters should be learning how to avoid making such rash decisions now.
Though creator Mike Judge has said that the level of chaos on the show is actually accurate to real life in Silicon Valley, there is still something that feels overly familiar about the causes of all the characters’ problems. However, this is somewhat forgivable because of how the chaotic nature of the show creates a lot of uncertainty and suspense as to whether one situation or another will work out well for our characters. The loss of T.J. Miller’s character Erlich Bachman is felt, and I think that is a definite factor that makes this season weaker than the others.
Despite these drawbacks, there is plenty to like about this fifth season. Richard has reformed from his descent into corporate deception in Season 4, and in this season he has to deal more with running a larger-scale version of Pied Piper. The war with Gavin Belson continues as he struggles to maintain his position at the head of Hooli. Jared Dunn and Monica Hall’s roles are diminished, but they still hold vital positions in the company. Dinesh Chugtai and Bertram Gilfoyle gain a bit more independence and begin having conflicts with the new Pied Piper employees instead of just with each other. However, their rivalry remains intact, and this season features perhaps their funniest struggle yet. Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti and Laurie Bream get a little more attention and significance than usual. This is by far Jian Yang’s best season as his ambitions make for a lot of good laughs beyond his continued hatred for Erlich. A few new characters are introduced, but none that are particularly memorable.
This season shows Pied Piper as a more fully realized company that isn’t just trying to get off the ground. Where Richard and company used to try to convince venture capitalists to fund them, they are now trying to recruit other companies to join their platform. The series goes into some new technological territory, featuring Teslas and crypto coin in major ways. It even brings up data harvesting like the kind Facebook has been employing. Richard’s creation of a new, decentralized internet also brings a new tech element that could be read as a call to action for real tech companies.
While this wasn’t the best that we’ve seen from “Silicon Valley,” I do not think that it is an indication of the show’s decline either. I am already anticipating Season 6 and hope that we will get Erlich back. Even if we don’t, I trust that creators Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky will bring us something pretty good.