Silicon Valley is one of the shows I consistently look forward to week after week. Unfortunately, the quality of episodes has dropped precipitously after the mid-season mark, but I have high hopes for bringing the series home on a high note.
We started this season with Richard feeling disillusioned with the direction his company has taken. Pied Piper was meant to be a storage space compression app, and it took a sharp left-turn to become a video chat platform. Richard feels like his lofty goals have been trivialized, and now he wants out. He leaves the company, taking only the patent for his compression algorithm with him. He’s set a new goal: he’s going to create a new internet.
Richard wants to develop a peer-to-peer internet hosted by thousands of personal devices. The catch? Hooli’s founder (Gavin Belson) already has the patent for the idea.
In the meantime, Dinesh has been newly elected CEO of Pied Piper’s video chat company. He promptly runs the app into the ground with a series of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations. Turns out that his user-base is primarily under 13 years old (and haven’t consented to a terms of service agreement) and it is heavily implied that older users are preying on underage users.
Luckily for him, Gavin Belson asserts a claim over the Pied Piper technology and forces Dinesh into signing over the company to Hooli. Hooli quickly discovers the COPPA violations, resulting in billions of dollars in fines, and the company fires Gavin.
After Gavin leaves Hooli, Richard approaches him about securing the patent to the peer-to-peer internet, and the two agree to partner. Gavin will fund Richard’s enterprise, and allow him use of his patent, in exchange for his technical expertise. This all goes south as soon as Gavin decides he wants to ‘find himself’ and takes off on a jet plane, leaving Richard flying solo.
After the mid-season episode, Richard spends his time fighting off a patent troll (in a particularly weak episode), while a desperate-for-work Bachman joins Raviga’s spinoff firm. Dinesh has a romantic sub-plot involving a female hacker who he sends to prison rather than break up with her.
Earlier in the season, Erlich convinced Jin Yang to partner with him on what Erlich thinks is a new virtual reality, “Oculus” app. Instead, it turns out to be an “octopus” recipe app for sea food. And with that, Jin Yang continues to be a racist receptacle for lazy, ‘he’s so foreign!’ jokes.
Erlich pivots and turns Jin Yang’s app idea into an image recognition program, “See Food,” like a Shazam for food. Though the team has trouble training the app to recognize multiple images of food, it does turn out to have use filtering graphic images on the internet. Jin Yang sells the app for millions to Periscope, cons Erlich out of his cut, and proceeds to buy a fancy smart fridge with his spoils.
All in all, it’s been a solid showing for Silicon Valley. The new-car smell of the first few seasons has worn off, but the snappy dialogue and lambasting humor of the tech industry are as fresh as ever.