HBO’s Silicon Valley returned last night with its fifth season premiere, kicking off its first season without Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller), though Bachman’s presence will continue to be felt on the series. Jìan-Yáng’s storyline this season seems to revolve around his endeavor to inherit Bachman’s estate, including the incubator and Bachman’s 10 percent stake in Pied Piper. That storyline allows, for the time being at least, Ben Feldman to make the occasional appearance as the Pied Piper attorney (after three seasons on Superstore and one season on A to Z, I’ve almost completely forgotten that Feldman broke out on Mad Men).
The A-storyline this season, however, will center on how Richard and the rest of Pied Piper deal with success, something that has eluded them for the past four seasons. Turns out, Pied Piper deals with success about the same way they dealt with failure: A mixture of incompetence, dumb luck, and the occasional stroke of genius. This season will once again pit Pied Piper against Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), who is doubling down on The Box, an archaic thingamajig that will become irrelevant if Richard succeeds in his efforts to create a decentralized Internet.
Richard’s first efforts do not inspire confidence. In an effort to save money, Richard leases windowless, obnoxiously lit office space, only to exchange it for better offices. The new space, however, is not large enough to contain the entire workforce that Richard poached from Sliceline, an app with an algorithm that allows its users to find the closest, cheapest pizza in the area. After his negotiating skills fail him, Richard exploits a weakness in the app to essentially bankrupt Sliceline so that he can steal all of its engineers, which is not likely to foster a harmonious work environment for anyone in the Pied Piper offices in the near future.
It’s also worth noting that the only character who seems to have been changed by success is Richard, who is now more spiteful, vengeful, and cheap. Richard has always displayed dickish characteristics, but he may be blossoming into full-blown asshole this season. It’s possible that he’s becoming the villain of his own show. At this point, I am kind of rooting for Gavin Belson over Richard, if only because the idea of a decentralized Internet scares me. Also, I may relate more with Gavin now, as someone who doesn’t want to be put out to pasture despite only knowing enough about Gigi Hadid to understand that she’s replaced “on fleek” as pop culture’s go-to reference for old, lame people trying to sound “hip.”
In short, it’s good to have Silicon Valley back, and there is no indication yet that it will not continue to be one of the best comedies on television; the absence of T.J. Miller may improve the series this season.
Also, the Easter Egg in the opening credits is fantastic.
During the Silicon Valley opening credits, the Facebook logo flipped from English to Russian. First-rate burn by one of the best series on TV. pic.twitter.com/zvh9ZPd3td— Adam Best (@adamcbest) March 26, 2018