Silicon Valley The Keenan Vortex Review
Written by Graham Wagner, Rachele Lynn
Directed by Jamie Babbit
Richard Hendricks: Thomas Middleditch
Gilfoyle: Martin Starr
Erlich Bachman: TJ Miller
Dinesh: Kumail Nanjiani
Jared: Zach Woods
Jian Yang: Jimmy O. Yang
Big Head: Josh Brener
Monica: Amanda Crew
Laurie: Suzanne Cryer
Gavin Belson: Matt Ross
Russ Hanneman: Chris Diamantopoulos
Dan Melcher: Jake Broder
Keenan Feldspar: Haley Joel Osment
Jack Barker: Stephen Tobolowsky
Finally, Silicon Valley finally feels like it’s building towards an end. After Richard battled the patent troll, his next battle comes in the form of Keenan Feldspar. Not a huge fan of Virtual Reality, Richard sees Keenan as an “asshole” with a fad product. While everyone else has been sucked in by The Keenan Vortex, Richard remains adamant on his feelings towards the man-child.
Pied Piper Is Saved By VR
Even when Keenan decides to buy Pied Piper, he’s told by Jared, “if you don’t take the deal…you’ll have a mutiny.” Pied Piper is in the red, hemorrhaging money and unable to pay their Microsoft Assure bill. Thus lies the ‘catch-22’ for Richard; take Keenan’s offer and walk away with millions but leave behind the algorithm, or suffer the consequences of not paying debts and run the risk of losing the algorithm and the respect of his team.
In that moment, wanting Richard to win for all his setbacks, I wanted him to take the money, feeling frustrated when he begrudgingly counteroffered a ridiculous $25 million. Yet, it pays off but with some caveats, mainly Erlich having to leave his job at Bream/Hall to negotiate a new deal with Ed Chang at Reviga.
The Keenan Vortex felt like the end of the season with the Pied Piper team celebrating with champagne underneath Erlich’s palapa. Richard holding the check for $25 million, it truly felt like the end of a long, tasking journey for Pied Piper. Then the episode takes a turn that I should’ve seen coming; another setback.
Though this time it felt different. The stakes for this new setback have been raised. This just hasn’t affected Richard and his team, it’s affected Erlich who, again, has lost everything. Monica’s words of caution to Richard weren’t enough to warn him about how bad Keenan’s vortex would be until he saw Erlich sitting underneath his burning palapa.
Finally Building Drama…Too Late In The Season
Eight episodes in and Silicon Valley feels like it has a purpose. Keenan Feldspar is this season’s Gavin Belson, a figurehead of opposition that presents a load of problems for Pied Piper. All of Pied Piper’s unfortunate roadblocks felt like bad, blind luck.
We even get to see what exactly is happening at Hooli only because it serves the Keenan Feldspar narrative. While I enjoyed seeing Jack Barker again, it comes too late into the season to feel any sort of tension for Pied Piper. Hooli has been so disconnected from the main story that jumping back into Barker’s office felt jarring.
Why couldn’t we get small glimpses of Hooli’s progression with the Box II? At least, the season would have been building towards an end goal. The Keenan Vortex would have been the perfect mid-season episode.
Breaking from his shell, Richard is presented with an opportunity to help save Pied Piper from folding using his cunning, dark side. Without Box II to present (and no box-related puns), what is Jack Barker’s plan for presentation? I can’t remember much from Hooli’s plot, but is their compression algorithm any good?
Setting out to outdo Gavin Belson’s knack for presentation, Jack’s forced partnership with Keenan could backfire. In season three Jack Barker was a force to be reckoned with. While not as big as Gavin Belson, he felt like his own type of monster. Even at the beginning of this season, he came off submissive. He doesn’t come across as an opposing force for the Pied Piper team as he once did.
Unlike Better Call Saul or Fargo, Silicon Valley doesn’t raise any stakes because of the show’s track record end with a happy ending and with TJ Miller’s announcement he’s not returning for the fifth season. I just hope the writing improves and The Keenan Vortex is a step in the right direction.