HBO comedy retains humor, wit, charm in fourth season
“Silicon Valley” is a good show. The story of computer genius Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) and his ragtag team of developer friends has been intricate and hilarious since the beginning, and continues an upstanding tradition of excellence in its fourth season. So it bears repeating that “Silicon Valley” is a very good show — a simple statement, sure. However, in Hendricks’ world — where funding and friends are always in flux — simplicity might be most appreciated.
It is fortunate that the show recognizes that, too. By any show’s fourth season, there are several temptations to convolute the winning formula, and “Silicon Valley” wisely evades all of these. That’s not to say the show is static — it’s not. Rather, there has never been a situation in the show that has compromised what we know of the characters or of the unforgiving, breakneck nature of the Valley. The same holds in season four’s premiere episode, “Success Failure.”
To make this abundantly clear, the episode presents its highlight within the first five minutes — a pseudo Uber ride and desperate sales pitch for Pied Piper’s newest product, PiperChat. With the awkward help of his friends, Richard not-so-subtly presents PiperChat’s high video quality to his passenger — a venture capitalist and potential funder who soon realizes the intentions of his driver. He demands to be let out, and the main characters debate kidnapping him, but Richard finally relents and pulls the car to the side of the road. Subsequently, the passenger cusses all of the men out for their ill-conceived idea. Then, he gives them his business card in the event their company actually starts succeeding. It’s “Silicon Valley” in a fantastic nutshell.
Thomas Middleditch remains as revelatory as ever as the central protagonist, blending the just-right elements of awkwardness, introversion, arrogance and brilliance into his character, who would be far less charming in less-talented hands. The supporting cast continues its own charming streak through comedy, particularly in frenemies Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) — who build off each other in the process of verbally beating each other down. And of course, none of it would be possible without the show’s continued wit. An inspired music choice for the exit of the braggadocious Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos) stands out as one of several laugh-out-loud moments.
The rest of the episode keeps with “Silicon Valley” tradition, and although some of the character dynamics shifted dramatically by the episode’s end, nothing feels different because it is in many ways more of the same. As a result, “Silicon Valley” will likely be criticized by others for its redundancy — the upcoming season will reveal to what extent those concerns are legitimate.
For now, though, the show instills confidence by virtue of its excellent cast and writing. Because of these elements, there’s nothing about “Success Failure” that indicates potential problems down the road for the show. And it would be wrong to pretend that “Silicon Valley” is anything like Pied Piper — the company on which it focuses. By its fourth season, it is nowhere near a start-up — it is an absolute powerhouse.