Maybe it’s not a particularly popular opinion, but so far this season of “Silicon Valley” has been decidedly mediocre. As a matter of fact, we’d argue that Sunday night’s new episode was the weakest episode of the entire series. Its problems are not shark-jumping or show ending by any means; instead, they’re mostly structural and based on the place the writers have decided to take Pied Piper as a company. Also, there’s the issue of how realistic to make the show as opposed to how much comedy you can throw in there.
This brings us to the Jack Barker dilemma. Other than being a horse breeder (which made for a particularly jarring scene, though not one that was laugh-out-loud hilarious by any means), the humor here mostly just comes from him being a good business-first CEO. He’s clearly adversarial to Richard given that his goals have little regard for idealism or some of Pied Piper’s original IPs, but there is little about him that is inherently funny.
Also, his scenes with Richard can get a little stale since both of them in some ways fill the straight-man void. Whether it was with Peter Gregory in season 1 or Russ in season 2, the joy of Richard as a character comes with him interacting with someone who is completely off their rocker. While a little quirky, Barker is effective and seems well-liked by everyone else around him. Dinesh and Gilfoyle seems placated by what they have been given, and really don’t even care that the original concept of the company has been changed. Richard’s the only person with a problem.
What may compound this “not enough crazy” problem is that with the new office, Erlich’s role has been slightly reduced alongside the other members of the team. Was it funny seeing Yian Jang destroy his brotherhood kimono in the garbage disposal? Sure, but it was attached to a Jared story that had some flaws of its own. Jared learned after suing an Airbnb tenant that it could take a year to get him out of the property, which led to Yian Jang emulating that. Maybe we’re not fresh enough on the law, but why not just wait for the person to leave, and then kick them out and throw their stuff to the curb? Doesn’t that work? We’re down for wacky Jared stories (the driverless car), but we couldn’t tell if this one was hilarious enough to ignore the logic of it.
At least this episode did introduce a potential Pied Piper threat, as it seems some soon-to-be-disposed Nucleus employees may have discovered something on accident while working on an algorithm change.
In the end we still love “Silicon Valley,” but despite the great Andy Daly cameo at the start, we’re just not sure this season is funny enough to date. Luckily, there’s enough time left to turn it around. Grade: C+.
If you want to get some other news on “Silicon Valley,” be sure to head over to this link now. Also, sign up over here to get some other TV news on all we cover, sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: HBO.)