Silicon Valley Hooli-Con Review
Written by Chris Provenzano
Directed by Mike Judge
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
Hoover: Chris Williams
Silicon Valley has suffered this year in terms of quality. The show, at times, is a much lesser hull of its former self, unable to reach the highs of season two and season three. There hasn’t been a “Middle-Out-Jerk” scene of season four yet and with the writing not as strong as before I really don’t see it happening. The first half of season four took a very long time to get going. Every episode felt like another false start placing Richard and the Pied Piper team back to the very beginning every week. The Keenan Vortex was a step in the right direction, pushing the show in the direction it needs so desperately needed. Hooli-Con is the much-needed continuation of that trajectory.
Jared’s Growth, Erlich’s Lack Thereof
At times, I feel it might be a bit too late for Silicon Valley to redeem itself at this stage in the season. Just one episode remains, the season finale, before the story wraps and we say goodbye to TJ Miller’s beloved Erlich Bachman.
Knowing that bit of news takes the sting out of any inkling of drama that may have arisen during the final thirty minutes of the season. Rather, Hooli-Con drops subtle hints Zach Woods’ Jared might be leaving the show. Aside from Erlich, Jared is not only a fan favorite with his mysterious background and odd quips about his forced adoption, but because his character is given depth.
Unlike Dinesh and Gilfoyle who seldom grow throughout each season, Jared’s character endures a slight change. From his split personality in his impression of Ed Chang – to Ed Chambers, a frat boy-wannabe – to his outburst at the blood boy, Jared makes a real change.
The season three finale showed Richard wasn’t afraid to flirt with breaking the law to save his company; we saw glimpses of that Richard in The Patent Troll and we get to see a fully realized super-villain version of him here. Possessing all of the attributes of a C-level Superman foe with the neuroses of a tech geek from Silicon Valley, Richard hatches a plan to secretly install the Pied Piper app in the phones of the Hooli-Con attendees.
A Superb Episode (Co-Starring Deus Ex Machina)
Nearly everything about this episode worked for me from Richard’s pettiness about Winnie’s new boyfriend to Erlich’s absent-minded move to Tibet. This was the culmination of characteristics helping push the story forward.
However, Hoover’s plan against Jack Barker doesn’t work for me. Since Gavin Belson’s firing from Hooli early in the season, there wasn’t any glimpse into Hooli once Jack Barker took over as CEO. The Keenan Vortex showed a small preview of how Jack conducts business, treating his employees, but it was a little too late. Hoover’s undying loyalty to Gavin was shown in the first episode of the season, along with a bit of rivalry between Denpok, but was then dropped to service Richard’s tumultuous journey with internet idea.
Hoover saving Pied Piper is deus ex machina at work, with its only purpose to help bail out the heroes at their lowest point. I wouldn’t have a problem with the outcome of this story thread if the show gave us some introspection into Hoover’s life at Hooli. Plus, Gavin was treated coldly by Hoover when turning over his parking pass; if the writers were able to show a brief shot of Hoover upset about what he had to do, or shot that scene differently, it would have made all the difference.
Richard’s Moral Barometer
Hooli-Con presents a discussion of what is morally right and wrong to serve the greater good. For Richard, it’s anything means necessary and for Jared, it means following the rules. This isn’t the first time Richard has done something highly questionable to save his company and as Jared points out to him, might not be his last.
My hope for the finale is for Richard to explain his actions to Gilfoyle and Dinesh. Nearly everyone on Pied Piper felt Richard was a hinderance on the company moving forward and would be ideal for Richard to explain his actions. He very nearly jeopardized Pied Piper for a pity feud against an ex’s new beau.
Fingers crossed season five will deal with a much more realized, morally gray Richard and the hole he’s willing to dig to get what he needs (read: wants).