As any TV series worth its weight in DVR plays should, Silicon Valley proved to be as canny as any episodic drama about telling a longform story. The disturbingly funny conversation that Richard had with the creator of Googlibib at the start the season—the one where the deposed CEO was pushed out of his seat by the board of directors? That was pure foreshadowing for the turn of events that closed out tonight’s episode, as Richard was pushed out of the driver’s seat at Pied Piper by the folks who own the most votes on the board. But just to leave us with a little sting, right before the cut to black, they have Erlich ask, with pure sincerity, “What about me?”
It was the perfect capper for what was an incredibly strong season for this HBO sitcom. The whole half-hour was unusually emotional; a rollercoaster ride that landed us in what we thought was comfortable ground, but it turned out to be full of fire ants.
The finale was so strong that Richard’s victory in the arbitration hearing wasn’t even the most exciting part. That was Gilfoyle, Dinesh, Erlich, and Jared managing to keep the overburdened servers at Pied Piper online while their streaming webcam saw a huge spike in traffic. For a show that feels like it runs entirely on a fuel of cynicism and snark, Jared’s impassioned speech about fighting for this thing they built was absolutely inspiring. Zach Woods deserves the lion’s share of the credit on that front, as his delivery of the soliloquy was the right mixture of goggle-eyed wonder and sheer joy.
And of course there was that hilarious comedy of errors that followed Richard trying to stop his Pied Piper cohorts from deleting the algorithm to save it from being taken by Hooli. The writers must have had so much fun finding ways to drag out the scene to its breaking point with the engineers procrastinating on hitting the delete button (deciding they need a lemon for their beer and not being able to find the right lemon for the job) while they paid homage to what they built. Then, to be saved by the computer crashing was like sitting on a Whoopee cushion, dissolving all the tension in the scene.
The episode also felt like the writers and Mike Judge were hedging their bets a bit, trying to leave an exit plan in place, in case they didn’t get picked up for a third season. Having Richard getting kicked out of his own company wouldn’t have been the most satisfying ending, but that sort of stuff happens in the tech world all the time (as, again, the scene with the Googlibib ex-CEO reminded us). It balanced out the possibilities of another run of episodes with the knowledge that HBO might not have that much faith in the show.
What the episode also promised was a completely blank slate for the writers and actors to work off of for next season. Everyone’s fate is in the balance, even Gavin Belson as he faces the music with the Hooli board. There are so many roads that Mike Judge and co. could go down with the show, and I’m excited to find out which path they choose when next spring rolls around.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.